In language testing, the Rasch model is used in psychometric measurement to determine the probability with which a minimally competent test taker will be able to provide a specific response to a particular test item correctly. This probability is interpreted as a function of the test taker’s actual language ability on the one hand, and the true level of difficulty of the item that the test taker is being subjected to and for which they must provide a response on the other hand.
As it happens, one of the leading experts on Rasch modelling is Professor Trevor Bond. Very kindly, Professor Bond has accepted for me to visit him in Townsville, QLD to pick his brain, and so that’s where I’m heading today.
Currently, the only direct service between Sydney and Townsville is with Jetstar, QANTAS’ low-cost subsidiary. All other connections require a change of aircraft in either Cairns or Brisbane.
The booking process on the Jetstar website is tedious, especially if you’re using Firefox. In which case, you’re likely not going to be able to complete the booking. Safari works reasonably well though.
Getting to the Airport
To get to the airport, I make the same journey I did on Monday, when I flew to Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Because the journey by ferry from Manly to Sydney is just so beautiful and tranquil.
Jetstar has an app, but obviously it’s not foreseen that people from outside Australia and a few Asian countries might also fly Jetstar. Which is why the app is not available for me to download onto my Swiss mobile.
You will receive a link to the web check-in page with the e-ticket confirmation you receive by mail and then one day before departure by SMS. But you will still have to print the boarding pass at home or at one of the self-service devices at the airport.
Jetstar operates out of domestic Terminal 2, along with all other domestic carriers except QANTAS.
My flight will be departing from gate 53, which is both good and bad. It’s good, because from gate 53 you have an unobstructed view of the aircraft on the approach. It’s bad, because really I should be reading up on objective standard setting in Professor Bond’s book without distraction, to brush up a little before I meet him. But it’s like a compulsion, every time I see movement from the corner of my eye, I have to stop and look up to check what airline/type it is…
Boarding starts with a minor delay. As I pass the gate, the attendant checking my boarding pass asks me if I’m aware of the fact that I’m sitting on the emergency exit. I tell her I am, but her next question catches me slightly off guard, because she asks me when was the last time I flew and sat on the emergency exit? I do a quick think and tell her that must have been two days previously. And for some reason that catches her off guard. Eventually though, she smiles and wishes me a pleasant flight.
The cabin looks well-kept and clean. I’m not sure if it’s intentional, probably not, but the orange colour in the Jetstar logo, which also features in the cabin, seriously reminds me of easyJet. But maybe that just lies in the nature of the beast.
The seat is comfortable enough for a flight of more than two hours and the seat pitch on the emergency exit it good.
There are no video screens or electricity/USB plugs available for passengers on board this aircraft.
There are five cabin crew on this flight. The young man standing by the emergency exits is kind of strange, because he looks preoccupied and rather unhappy. But I think it must be just his normal face, because he’s actually rather friendly and accommodating once the flight gets underway.
The Jetstar website allows you to purchase a whole list of ancillary services, including seat reservations, ‘comfort kits’, and food. I order the sandwich trio online, which comes with a hot drink included.
The sandwich is good. It’s probably one of the better sandwiches I’ve had on a low-cost carrier, actually.
The flight to Townsville takes two hours and fifteen minutes. The landscape on the approach is fascinating. It’s quite hilly and very green.
The airport sprawls over a vast area, mainly because it is a mixed military and civilian facility. The actual passenger terminal is rather small, with only a handful of gates and no segregation of arriving and departing passengers, which gets a bit tight during deplaning on a short turn around…
It takes me all of three minutes from stepping off the plane to arriving curb side, where I’ve arranged to meet Professor Bond.
There really isn’t very much I can say about Jetstar. They delivered me to Townsville safely. Other than that, the flight was unremarkable and calm. Pretty much like taking the bus actually.