It had always been a dream of mine that one day I would watch a performance at the Sydney Opera House. This weekend the stars lined up for me, and I was able to get a ticket to watch the last performance of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. I tought it was a brilliant production. The whole cast were solid. But the soprano’s rendition of the fabulous Un bel di vedremo was literally a show stopper.
Getting to the airport
At 11h40 on Sunday morning I step of the ferry from Manly and walk the short distance to Circular Quay station, from where I can catch a T8 train to Sydney airport. The journey should take about twenty minutes to the domestic terminal.
As it turns out though, they’re working on the line today. So the station is closed and trains to and from the airport are only running as far as Central station. So instead, I walk a few extra steps and board the L2 tram from Circular Quay to Central station. The journey takes about twenty minutes and both the L2 and the L3 run to Central.
And then from Central Station I catch the train to the airport. All in all, the journey from Circular Quay to the airport takes me about 45 minutes instead of 20, but I’m good for time. So no harm done. On public transport in Sydney there’s no need to buy a ticket in advance. You can just badge in and out with your credit card as you go. The maximum amount you’ll pay for a whole day of travel is AUD16.
I alight at the stop for the domestic terminals, which serves both Terminals 2 and 3. Virgin Australia operates out of Terminal 2.
Considering how big Sydney airport is, the distance from the station to the check-in area is surprisingly short.
I’ve already checked in using the app, so I head straight for security. There is no separate queue for Business Class passengers.
The Virgin Australia lounge
It’s rather nice that in Australia, on domestic flights you only have to take out laptops, and not all your liquids as well. The entrance to the Virgin lounge is off to the right as you exit security. It’s quite busy, so I don’t take a lot of photos. The lounge has a wide window front overlooking the apron and the runways beyond – perfect for some plane watching!
There is a fairly large buffet with a selection of cold snacks, such as crackers and cheese, egg sandwiches, tuna wraps, and salads. There is also a choice of two soups.
At around 14h15 I start to get bored, so I figure I mights as well make my way to the gate. Boarding should start at 14h35.
There is a separate queue for Business Class passengers and passengers travelling with children or with special needs. If you’re sitting at the back of the bus, you can actually take the stairs down onto the ramp and then walk across to board the aircraft through the rear door.
Virgin Australia has two rows of Business Class. Each seat has an adjustable headrest. I think I prefer this seat to that of QANTAS simply because of the fact that the seat back is more upright. For my liking the recline of the QANTAS seat in the upright position is a bit exagerated.
The seat pitch on row 1 is good.
And there’s a small tray that can be pulled out of the armrest for a bit of extra space.
The service begins on the ground with either still water or sparkling wine. Other than that, the crew are very friendly. What is perhaps the most noticeable difference to QANTAS is that Virgin seem to take the Covid measures a lot more seriously. As passengers board, they are reminded to put on their face masks and there’s also a recorded announcement reminding passengers how the face mask should be worn properly.
We move off stand just after 15h00 and make our way to runway 34R, which is quite a schlepp from the domestic apron.
We take off and make a sharp right turn towards the sea. In the distance I can see Bondi beach and the North and South Heads.
To eat there are two choices: a chicken katsu sandwich with Japanese mayo or a Morroccan chickpea salad. It is perhaps a tad unfortunate that both dishes start with chick…, because I actually order the chickpea salad. Only, what I end up with is the chicken. I don’t bother to point out the mistake. The flight time is only seventy minutes or so. I think I’ll live. also on the tray is a package of cheese and crackers and a small chocolate heart.
And what a dreadful meal it is. The sandwich is incredibly oily and the chicken has a revolting rubbery texture. Needless to say, I put the thing down after one bite. The crackers are good, though.
Our approach brings us in right over the city, with St. Kilda visible in the distance. The weather in Melbourne is not as nice as it was in Sydney. It’s overcast and also cooler.
We make a quick taxi to Terminal 3, which is where Virgin operates out of here in Melbourne.
Getting into Melbourne from the airport
Right outside the exit from arrivals is the bus stop for the Skybus, which runs into Melbourne every ten minutes. The journey takes about thirty minutes to Southern Cross station and a one way tickets costs AUD16.
And… it’s a double decker bus. Suitcases are stowed on the lower level, and passengers sit on the upper level. If you’re sitting on the first row, you get some great views as the bus approaches the city.