Well, one big thing about going to Tasmania earlier this year was the fact that for the first time since late 2019 I was able to take a flight! The last flight I had taken prior to March 15th 2021 was exactly 15 months earlier, when I arrived home, on Qantas, on the 15th of December 2019. So it was that I headed to the airport in the early to mid afternoon on a Monday. I took the tollway. I then exited the tollway and returned home because, brilliantly, I had forgotten something I needed.
And then I returned back to the tollway. Yes, I had turned a comfortable ride to the airport into one which was actually a bit on the stressful side. Luckily I had already checked in. I had also prebooked my parking. For six days it was $72AUD, which I think is cheaper than I’ve experienced before, which was nice and no doubt because of the whole pandemic thing stifling flying in Australia probably as big as any place in the world. I mean, we only allow international travel for repatriation and for New Zealanders, or at least that was still the case in March and had been for 12 months.
Anyways, the drive was pretty smooth and I was soon at the renamed ‘Value Car Park’ – it used to be called the ‘Long Term Car Park’. They run the curtesy bus to the terminal, Qantas Domestic leaving from Terminal One. And the bus was actually really full, which perhaps was surprising in some ways. The terminal though, it certainly was not.
Entering in through the arrivals area, it was absolutely desolate. No baggage carousels in use at all. Barely a soul in sight. Then up an escalator to departures. A few people here and there, and someone to help with self check-in. Well, we’d checked in we were doing baggage drop but out boarding passes couldn’t be read my the machine because obviously my printer didn’t print clearly enough. I don’t know. She went to another machine and entered the numbers in manually and printed us brand new boarding passes which the machine happily read. We then popped our checked baggage onto the machine/belt and had them whisked away to the plane.
So security was, as one might expect, quick. One of the easiest security checks I’ve ever done. Easily the quickest and easiest through Melbourne Airport ever. Most shops were closed, but there were a couple of eateries including Hungry Jack’s open. It sold the occasional burger I guess. Maybe the newsagent was open, every other place I could see was closed.
Despite feeling under time pressure, there really wasn’t any and the plane started to board around fifteen minutes before scheduled departure. A Boeing 717-200 was the craft for the day. It had a small capacity for business class of about 10 seats maybe. In all there were maybe 23 rows of seats both classes included. Economy had two seats on one side and three on the other. So a capacity of around 100 I guess, and it was probably 75% full. No regulation to keep a middle seat free or anything but masks were compulsory.
The flight was operated by ‘QantasLink’ – which the ol’ interweb describes as a ‘regional brand’ of Qantas. Flying between to state capitals, but I guess they use what has an appropriate capacity, and it is Qantas for all intents and purposes. Interestingly we only had two in the cabin crew for the 60 minute flight to Hobart, but we had four on the way back where we weren’t quite as full.
We were seated in Row 20, with only three or so behind us, and I had the engine directly outside and slightly behind my seat. It wasn’t too loud, to be fair. And the take off was more or less on time, and smooth. What I had contemplated before leaving was that Hobart is south of Melbourne, and almost every flight one takes from Melbourne goes north in some way. So the view out the window was completely different to what I am accustomed too, and frankly, it was a much better view too. I could see Port Phillip Bay and the South-Eastern Suburbs where I grew up and live. There was some cloud cover, but it was pretty clear until we hit Bass Straight and the visibility was pretty good all said.
Then we could see the northern coast of Tasmania, and the views were just spectacular of lakes, hills and mountains. It is a very different experience to flying over the red centre or the dryer parts of the country, it’s a complete contrast.
Food was a small snack – almonds, small round crackers and humus in a little pack. The humus was surprisingly nice! But I certainly wouldn’t have said ‘no’ to a larger snack. Bottled water the only drink offered.
We touched down on time as well, there was a fair walk to get into the terminal building and a temperature check followed by a officer going through my ‘e-Tas’ details – a system to check the Covid related issues. My bag was already at the carousel when I got there. The airport seemed pretty small and appeared to only have a singular baggage carousel. It’s also an international airport so, you know… I guess they don’t see that many flights even when international flights are running.
Well, that’s the summary. It was a short flight, and a weird experience. Surreal perhaps is a better word. Hopefully there’s another flight or two in store for me this year. We’ll see! Thanks for popping by today – May the Journey Never End!