Sunday, August 5, 2018

TRIP REPORT – Rockhampton to Brisbane to Rockhampton – Alliance Airlines for Virgin Australia Airlines – Fokker F-100 Jet

TRIP REPORT – Rockhampton to Brisbane – Tuesday 10 July – Alliance Airlines for Virgin Australia Airlines – VA1238 – Fokker F-100 VH-XWQ

Alliance Airlines has been operating most flights on behalf of Virgin Australia into Rockhampton (amongst other places) since February 2017.  I booked flights from and back to Rocky, and each would be operated by an Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 jet. Alliance also occasionally operates the smaller F-70, while Virgin Australia Boeing B737s have also operated the occasional flight during more ‘peak’ times.

One thing I did notice was that when I was booking these flights about a month in advance, the price was pretty steep being at almost $400 for the return trip. I thought this was surprising when compared to (say) Emerald and Mackay to Brisbane and return.

Anyway, I arrived at Rockhampton pretty early and left the car in the long term park – the cost around $40 for the four days compared to double in the short term. Fairly long walk under cover though to the terminal via the old car park which is now for hire cars and pick up/drop off.

I haven’t flown out of Rockhampton Airport for some time but the basic layout remains the same. Up the northern end are the check-in counters for both Qantas and Virgin Australia (JetGo has recently folded).

In the middle of the terminal is airport management access as well as the Qantas Regional lounge and security screening through to the departure lounge. There is also one of two cafes and hire car desks.  Adjacent to the entry to security screening is the other cafe and shops.

The southern end of the terminal building still has the baggage collection carousels and the often used ‘international terminal’ featuring a part of the terminal which can be sectioned off to include customs and immigration clearance points.

Through security and a wait for the Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 to arrive from Brisbane.  VH-XWQ would be the aircraft for today.  It was acquired in 2014 by the airline after spending the previous two decades operating in the United States of America and then Europe.

Priority boarding customers went on first, followed by the rest. A walk across the tarmac to the waiting aircraft which parked on Gate 2 on the Rockhampton Airport apron. Up the stairs and on board to the Fokker’s 2 x 3 layout.

I was in seat 12G – exit row and over the wing on the right-hand (starboard) side and with a massive amount of leg room!

Rows 11 and 12 are the exit rows and so some extra reading and a briefing was required before the front door was closed.  The two Rolls Royce Tay 650-15 engines were fired up and a taxi away to the holding point at Alpha.

We entered and backtracked and the lined-up Runway 15 at Rocky.  A powerful departure followed by a right turn to set course for Thangool and then straight down to west of the Sunshine Coast.

In flight service included serving a snack (sandwich) and a cold drink followed by tea/coffee.  Pretty basic and given it is a quick flight – around an hour flight time – it was served and the cabin cleaned in a very quick manner.

Meanwhile, soon after the cabin was prepared for landing, we made a couple of left turns to fly over water north of Redcliffe, then finals onto Runway 19 at Brisbane.

Smooth touch down and taxi to the gate at the end of the Virgin Australia ‘finger’ at The Brisbane Domestic Terminal.

Obviously, a fair walk to the baggage collection point downstairs in the Brisbane terminal with bags coming out after about 5 or so minutes.

In all a great flight to Brisbane and I was looking forward to the return journey.

TRIP REPORT – Brisbane to Rockhampton – Friday 13 July – Alliance Airlines for Virgin Australia Airlines – VA1245 – Fokker F-100 VH-XWT

Back at Brisbane Airport to return to Rockhampton Airport and into the Virgin Australia section on the Southern end of the domestic terminal.  Passengers were generally being ushered to use the self-service check-in kiosks which were quite busy so I had to wait my turn.  The kiosk I eventually found wouldn’t allow me to check-in – no idea why – no explanation – I needed to proceed to the manned check-in counters.

So, after queuing there for about 35 minutes, I finally had a boarding pass and checked in my bag and was able to proceed through a busy security screening point and upstairs in the Brisbane Domestic terminal building to watch a few planes before my departure.

I proceeded to Gate 46 where we would be departing – again at the end of the Virgin Australia ‘finger’.  Looked like today’s flight would be quite full!

Soon enough, priority boarding and then general board were called.  I boarded and was this time in seat 11G same side but one row in front of the seat on the previous flight – still in the exit row but with a little bit less leg room.

Door closed.  Push back and engine start completed.  We then taxied out to Runway 19 at Brisbane with an intersection departure from ‘Alpha 3’.

I love the North-bound departure off Runway 19 at Brisbane as the Starboard side of the plane affords some great views of the River City as aircraft make a sweeping right-hand turn to establish on their Northern track.

Again, a snack was served in the form of a sandwich and drink, followed by tea/coffee.

Again, it was a quick flight and as the cabin was being prepared for landing, nice views of Gladstone, Port Alma, the Fitzroy River and Mount Archer were had out the right-hand-side of the plane before we made a series of left-hand turns to land on Rockhampton Airport’s Runway 15.

Taxi up Juliette and onto Gate 2 again on the Rocky Airport apron.

Off the plane and walking across the tarmac to enter the terminal and proceed to the baggage carousel where the bags came out about 10 minutes later – and as the outbound flight was boarding!

I do quite like Alliance Airlines – I wouldn’t have many opportunities to fly with them as they are predominantly a charter airline nowadays.  As mentioned above, they have been flying selected services to Rockhampton – and also Gladstone and Bundaberg – on behalf of Virgin Australia Airlines for a short time now and Alliance Airlines certainly offers a smooth and comfortable in-flight product.