Another Qantas vs Virgin to Canberra

I’ve really felt like flying lately, but these Sydney to Canberra runs are just too short to reach flying Nirvana. Still, it’s work paying for them so I can’t complain. We tried a sharing desktops and phone calls, but it’s hard to beat sitting together with an expert when learning a new system.

I woke up at my usual time but thought that I could let B and Alex sleep. As I shaved in the other bathroom Alex came running in.

“I want to sleep in my bed!”

Huh? Okay. So I put him in his bed. He didn’t stay. Brought him back to our bed and told him that I was just going to work.

All the disruptions and extra cuddles meant that I had to skip breakfast. I said a final goodbye, then walk out to the bus stop, caught the bus and the train to the domestic airport.

When I had checked in for my Qantas flight using my phone I strangely wasn’t given the option to select a seat. So I tried one of the Qantas kiosks. Yes, I had been assigned a centre seat and the only other free seat was also a centre. Damn! Oh well, nothing much new to see anyway, so I quickly made my way through security.

With more time than expected before my flight I decided to get some breakfast from the Qantas Club, using up one of my entry vouchers in the process. It’s not like I have many opportunities to anyway. It was busy, but there were still plenty of spaces free. I grabbed a bowl rice pudding and a couple of small pancakes out of the machine. There were also cereals, muesli, fruits and yoghurt available from the self-serve bar. It made for a decent, and free, breakfast.

I couldn’t be bothered wandering around plane spotting today, so when the time came I just made my way down to gate 9 to board the aircraft, an old Qantas 737-400. Surely it can’t be long until they have retired them all.

These flights are getting so routine that I felt little as I boarded. I waited and waited to get up again when the passenger arrived to take the empty window seat beside me. Finally the door was closed without them boarding. Hooray, I had my window seat!

Today we had a short taxi out to the main runway and were quickly taking off towards the south, up into the overcast sky.

I was great seeing the blue sky above the clouds. With nothing but clouds to look at I sat back and relaxed, listening to music over the inflight entertainment system. I enjoyed the apricot and yoghurt Wallaby bars (no honey!) and fruit juice. The sound suddenly cut out so I changed to the television channel , listened to the end of the news and the start of a Gruen Transfer episode. So much better than the American sitcoms we usually get, but it was one of the few episodes I actually saw of the last series (shampoo).

The descent was surprisingly smooth and I was soon on my way out of the terminal and into a taxi.

The taxis of Canberra are not to be trusted, so I left the offices early for the return trip. For once I got an Anglo-Saxon Australian taxi driver. In practical terms that meant that I had to put up with golden oldies on the radio and a driver who thought that I was interested in what he had to say about them.

With time to spare I visited the Virgin Australia lounge, courtesy of the government fares. There was a variety of cold platter style foods to eat, ministrone soup and caramel tarts, along with much needed drinks. I enjoyed the offerings while watching the action outside and working on my laptop, using the free wireless.

This time I waited until boarding was just about to start before relinquishing my seat in the lounge. The lady in 6E had her bag on my seat and seemed a little miffed that she had to move it. She also kept using her 3G iPad long after the captain called for electronic devices to be switched off, then inquired how come I could use my camera during descent (I pretended that they were explicitly allowed and gave her a credible explanation about electromagnetic output).

I had caught a Virgin E-jet when they were brand new. This one was looking a bit scruffy now. The take-off felt powerful, but once up in the air the E-190 shook with the turbulence of passing through cloud. Not my favourite planes.

There was no IFE on the aircraft, so I just watched the cloudscapes pass by. Just as the young crew came out to serve snacks the pilot executed a couple of tight loops to delay our arrival into Sydney. Sydney Airport was congested as usual and we would have to stay up for longer than the 28 minutes stated by Captain Hughes earlier.

No worries for me, I just enjoyed the views. We were handed small boxes containing a tiny, but tasty, brownie and box of almonds, dried cranberries and sunflower seats, as well as some juice, water or alcohol.

It was too cloudy to identify our location during the descent, but eventually it clear up that I could see us flying over the Inner West suburbs from the north. A quick landing on to the main runway, a wait for a gate, then we finally disembarked via an airbridge.

Two pleasant, but unremarkable flights above the clouds. There wasn’t much to distinguish Qantas and Virgin on the Canberra run, though I felt like the former were still a bit better with free newspapers and IFE.

When Alex and B arrived to pick me up from the station my son cried “I want to catch an airport train and fly to Japan. I want to catch an Anpanman train and have a hot bath.”

He is obsessed about our next holiday. Pity that’s more than two months away.

Filed under: