Howdy all, and today I review a recent flight I took (spoiler alert, actually two flights!) from Melbourne to Coolangatta/Gold Coast in Queensland on Easter Thursday this year. Air travel at a domestic level is pretty much somewhere near where it used to be pre=pandemic, and the Easter Holiday period is certainly one of the most popular times of the year.
The word on the ground and on the radio was that this was the busiest air travel and Melbourne Airport had been since the very start of the pandemic in March 2020. You know that’s only 2 and a bit years ago but it feels like a decade! Anyhoo, it also turned out that the Gold Coast was the most popular destination that weekend and it was busier I think than pre-pandemic levels.
I drove to the airport and parked at a nearby car park for I think it was $80 for the three nights/four days. The usual ‘Value’ Carpark at the airport was fully booked, so anyways this worked out fine, they had a shuttle bus to the airport and one that would bring me back on Easter Sunday.
I was a little taken aback by the number of people in the security line, but I shouldn’t have been because when I watched my footage back it didn’t seem that busy to be honest. Check in was done online, but you still scanned your code to get you bag tag for checked luggage, and the machine also printed me a new boarding pass.
The queue to get to security looked long, but took five minutes and before I knew it I was making my way to the gate. With all the warnings about delays I had given myself heaps of time and I was at the gate a full 90 or more minutes before my domestic flight.
Boarding was more or less on time, and the plane (for both flights) was a Boeing 787-800 Winglets, whatever a ‘winglet’ might be! It was a full flight, the seat width wasn’t great but the legroom was decent for economy. I actually sat next to celebrity (a chef I think although I confess I don’t know anything about him) Adam Liaw and his wife. They spoke in Japanese and wore masks so I wasn’t sure, not knowing anything about Adam other than I had seen his face on TV, but when I googled him after returning to Melbourne it said his wife was Japanese (he is Australian-Malaysian) and I knew that it must have been him!
The flight moved off a bit after scheduled departure, and with a less than 90-minute transit in Sydney I was a bit concerned. Plus I had hoped to grab lunch when I was transiting too and this was looking a little bit of a stretch as we were 45 minutes late.
The snacks on board for a one hour flight were about what you might expect. Cheesy small biscuits and a chocolate brownie (which I did eat!), plus a choice of soft drinks/water. The landing was pretty nice coming in the way we did – but the view as we took off from Sydney was really beautiful over little islands and ocean.
I was very fortunate that the gate for the second flight was Gate 5, and I had arrived Gate 7. It was fifty metres away, and I had 40 minutes. Sydney airport was incredibly busy, there was a café and a few other food choices right there luckily and so I grabbed a quick sandwich and by the time I had eaten it boarding for the Sydney to Gold Coast leg had already begun!
That suits me fine too as I don’t like waiting in line to board. Found my seat and happily made the flight. This plane, unlike the first plane, had seatback entertainment. The flight was slightly longer, around 1hr 15min I think, so not sure it was needed but I do like to follow the live flight path. Again, not a spare seat to be had, and I congratulate myself – I not once needed the bathroom on either trip! Pretty impressive, hey?
Similar leg room and width, we got in slightly late to Gold Coast but only 10 minutes or so. This airport seemed even busier than Sydney, but I suspect the fact that it’s really quite small in comparison made it seem busier than it was. This airport is surely due to be replaced or expanded because there were only three luggage belts for the whole airport – well the domestic part as it is an international airport and you collect your bags elsewhere for that before clearing customs.
The worst thing about the day was waiting for the bags, because for some reason after half the passengers had theirs, the belt just stopped and the notice board removed the flight with so many of us waiting for the bags. No announcement, nothing. And this I thought was really poor. I can deal with delays, it’s just important to let everyone know what is happening. The belt was stopped for nearly 30 minutes. Just before it started again there was an announcement, and luckily for me my bag was like the third bag out after the restart.
All in all it was a fairly proficient experience considering they were under staffed and problems have been common. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a direct flight, because I flew home direct which definitely is preferable and only takes two hours in total with less phaffing about. Qantas actually have been copping a lot of complaints recently for bad service and things going awry for passengers, it’s the most criticism I have ever seen dealt to them. Hopefully these are just the teething problems of heading back to ‘normal’ after the last two years. Lots of lost luggage and poor treatment of customers (especially in/from LA) which is not good to hear. My experience was find except for the baggage issue at the end, and they are definitely my preferred domestic carrier.
It was an expensive return flight at $506AUD. If I had booked a couple of weeks earlier it was more like $350 or less but I booked only about a month out which I generally don’t do. I certainly hadn’t expected the cost to jump so much but it was Easter weekend!
Thanks for popping by today! Wherever you are in the world, take care, and May the Journey Never End!