Friday, May 10, 2019

Away for an extended weekend - Brisbane to Melbourne by plane

Every flight is different...

Except if you are flying in the dreaded middle seat, which, unfortunately for me, is the best I can hope for when flying on a plane that has a three by three configuration.

Today we're flying in a Qantas Boeing 737, but I can't tell which type it is because as a 30-row plane it could be either any one of three different types.  I didn't think Qantas had anything other than 800s but I've been known to be wrong before.

I'll check the 'in the unlikely event of an emergency' card but sometimes airlines are cagey and don't have the type or the build year which is usually on the card.

Ok, so I'm wrong and not for the first time.  It's an 800 but it's a really old one, we just heard the flaps go down, and it sounded like they'd just been freed up after have been rusted up for a year or two.  

Oops, maybe they pulled this plane out of the air museum in Longreach just for us.

Creaky old plane for creaky old passengers.

Departure time is supposed to be 8:40 pm and we're pushing back at 8:39.  It's pointed out to me that the plane is not full, so an early departure is possible.  A full plane, and quite often we're still trying to find passengers 15 minutes after the advertised departure time.

Blame the airline lounges for that, or the people who don't speak the local language.

Of course, it also means that there have been no ongoing delays to the incoming plane throughout the day, and it helps immensely to get an on-time departure if the plane arrives on time, so it can be cleaned, restocked, fuelled, and have a crew waiting.

There have been times when our crew have been lost on another flight that has suffered from endless delays.  Not today Josephine.

But back to the middle seat.  No one ever picks a middle seat by choice, especially if flying along.  That seems to be the case tonight as most of the empty seats are middle seats and those that are occupied are by people travelling in pairs.

I particularly dislike it because there is no room to move, much of less eat or drink, and if the passengers either side are larger than the specified airline median of 85 kg, which is the size the seat is meant to be comfortable, any larger and you will have discomfort in spades. Then be prepared to be a sardine for however long the flight is, and this is meant to be 1 hour 50 minutes.

And there's something else I take issue with, that might, and I use that word with a lot of caution, take that long, but it's not usually the case.

We'll see.

Perhaps next time I should book a window and an aisle seat.  Knowing our luck though we'll probably get an obnoxious person sitting between us.

Yes, it does happen. A plane full and the airline is looking to fill seats with standby people.


The time now is 8:25 -and we are still on the ground taxing towards the runway.  In the blink of an eye, we turn the corner, literally, and we are on the runway powering up the engines for take-off.

8:26 And we're hurtling down the runway gaining speed but also highlighting the fact this plane has a lot of loose parts, and, after that moment we get into the air, yes, the pilot used all of the runway before getting off the ground, there are endless shudders and sickening vibration through the whole airframe until the wheels are retracted.

After that blessed silence, or for this old plane what passes for silence, and except for the grinding noise of the flaps being retracted, we can look forward to that the wonderful whooshing sound of flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

Or perhaps I'm mistaken that refers to trapeze artists at the circus.

Let's hope this flight doesn't turn into one, oh, a circus, I mean, not a trapeze artist.

Dinner is served which we were not expecting, Heineken beer and chicken sausage pasta in a creamy sauce.  

It's not the sort of food I would create for my granddaughters, but at that late hour of the night, it hardly matters.  I wasn't hungry, but I'm always curious about pasta in white sauce.

The beer was fine, in a slim 330 ml can, and despite everything that plagues airline food, the food is great.

Began descent at 22:01, but to the news that we had encountered headwinds and having to slow down our arrival into Melbourne by a few minutes meaning that instead of being on the ground at 22:20 it will be now 22:30.

It was also said that it would take three to four minutes to get to the gate, which I maintain is impossible, but I'm prepared to be wrong again if it gets us out of this plane earlier.

The lack of more space is getting to me and I can feel the aches and pains in my lower back, which may cause problems when I have to stand up and walk.


We get on the ground at 20:28 and get to the terminal gate at 20:34  by which is almost on time.  I hesitate to say the pilots had planned this ahead of time.

Last flight in for the aircrew, I'm not surprised they wanted to get their passengers out of their seats and off the plane so they, too, can get away.  Ah. Those last few minutes of after arrival, telling us we are welcome.

I'd prefer to be off the plane as soon as possible, but as you know with 18 rows in front of you and the fact it takes a while to open the planes front door, this takes time.

And, so, you wait, in an orderly fashion, after being threatened by falling bags out of the bins above you. Then magically the throng before you slowly thins out, and suddenly takes no time to get off the plane.

But of course, the night is not over yet.

We have to pick up a hire car. And we are getting it from a new company so will be interesting to see how it goes.

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