Friday, September 30, 2011

TRIP REPORT - Gladstone to Brisbane to Gladstone - QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines) - Dash-8-Q400

TRIP REPORT – Gladstone to Brisbane – Thursday 4 August – QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines) – QF2335 – Dash-8-Q400 – VH-QOV.

Shane T in Gladstone recently flew from Gladstone to Brisbane and back on QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines). We thank him for providing the following Trip Report.

Having flown Strategic Airlines to Gladstone some weeks ago (Trip Report HERE), I decided to take a quick ‘joyflight’ on QantasLink as they are the longer more established airline on the Gladstone to Brisbane sector. I call it a ‘joyflight’ as I flew to Brisbane and back in the day.

Check-in was pretty easy – it was pretty quiet at the terminal – and then sat down and waited for the inbound flight to arrive. Soon enough VH-QOV arrived from Brisbane to take us South.

Boarding was pretty quick and painless – I even managed a quick photo of the cabin as I found my seat – QantasLink have the Dash-8-Q400s in a 2X2 style – and VH-QOV is one of the Q400s with the old style interior.

The cabin of the Q400 ‘appears’ narrow however space and seating comfort is actually respectable despite being a regional plane, albeit on the larger side. Door closed, the engines started up, and we taxied away from the terminal and headed out to the runway.

Early rotation and we were off to Brisbane – some nice views as we got airborne of Gladstone city and the harbour.

Also a nice view of the Red-Mud Dam which is a waste deposit reserve for QAL (Queensland Alumina Ltd) of which is an eye sore from the air but completely non-viewable from the ground. In fact, unless you fly over it - nobody would even know it is there.

There is also a picture is of Boyne Island / Tannum Sands (along the coast separated by the Boyne River) as well as Benaraby (foreground) and to the left, Red-Mud Dam remains viewable

As always, the flight between Brisbane and Gladstone is quick because of the Q400's high cruise speed and unless getting caught in a holding pattern for a period of time, the flight time is generally about 50 minutes – this is similar to the A320 block time when I flew Strategic Airlines flew between the two ports.

The QantasLink cabin service was pleasant and efficient, however being a short sector, efficiency must be a given. On this mid-morning flight we were served some delicious scones, as well as a water and tea and coffee.

Cabin service done, we were soon descending into Brisbane. Some nice views over Moreton Bay and Redcliffe (with Redcliffe Aerodrome clearly visible). Flying over the Houghton Highway and the ‘Hornibrook Viaduct’ soon had us landing on Runway 14 at Brisbane.

This is the secondary runway at Brisbane mostly used by lighter/regional aircraft, and means a much longer taxi distance to the terminal. Fortunately for us the pilot taxied us to the terminal at a fair old clip and we had pulled up to our remote gate at the Qantas terminal pretty much on schedule.

One last quick photo of our Q400 as we jumped aboard a bus to take us to the terminal. Once inside the terminal, I also took a quick photo of the busy Qantas and QantasLink apron, and then took the opportunity for some plane spotting before my flight back to Gladstone in the afternoon!

A Strategic Airlines A320 was receiving attention – it was such a pity that they withdrew from Gladstone...

A new Virgin Australia B737-800 arrived – I think the new livery looks awesome – I can’t wait to see it on their new ATR aircraft – especially when then start flying to Gladstone from Brisbane.

Spotting done, back down to the QantasLink waiting area to check-in and then wait for my return flight to Gladstone. Passengers with no bags – like me – can check in at this downstairs location – which is still past security screening. There are nice views over the QantasLink apron – although several layers of glass makes photography not so good!

TRIP REPORT – Brisbane to Gladstone – Thursday 4 August – QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines) – QF2340 – Dash-8-Q400 – VH-QOX.

Soon our flight was called through Gate One (of three in the downstairs QantasLink area of the Qantas terminal), and we were made to mull around for a couple of minutes before we were walked out about 30 metres to VH-QOX which was waiting for us near the terminal.

Busses are used if the aircraft is a long way away from the terminal.
Started up and taxied away pretty much on time and we headed for departure off Runway 01 at Brisbane. The departure to the North gave us nice views of the General Aviation Apron, Runway 14, Moreton Bay, and again Redcliffe.

For the most part, the return flight to Gladstone was absolutely beautiful from the air because of the predominately clear skies and the afternoon sun.

I even got the chance to enjoy a complementary beer with the light snack that was served – although chocolate mud cake slice doesn't mix to well with beer – ha ha!!

As we flew North, the clear skies were taking on a smokier look and as we approached Gladstone we could see a few burn-offs adjacent to Awoonga Dam - the main catchment for the Gladstone Region.

A smooth landing at Gladstone and a one last photo of VH-QOX parked on the apron.

On a final note, it was interesting to note that on each and every flight that I have flown with QantasLink between Gladstone and Brisbane, their aircraft has always been booked to capacity or close to, whereas it appeared Strategic Airlines barely enticed 30 passengers per flight on an aircraft configured for 152 passengers.

Anyway two great flights with QantasLink – both very enjoyable – no problems – fantastic snacks – fantastic crews – and a fantastic ‘joyflight’ with some good spotting in Brisbane.