Hamilton Island – Qantas Inaugural from Brisbane !

Long are the days gone of Ansett aircraft & the connection of Mr Keith Williams to Hamilton Island.  The days of sitting next to Runway 14 & 32 at HTI, YBHM on the south western side, are long gone.  You needed to enter past the airport threshold to get on the side of the old target shooting range to get the best pictures. Or stay at the threshold at the alarming gate to see a 767 screaming at your camera lens !!

I still remember buggying around the island, seeing Barry Sheene’s motorcycle collection, walking past the yachts at the marina & treking up the hills to see Passage Peak views of the surrounding Whitsundays.  I remember watching a Rugby League Grand Final at the Yacht Club.  I more foundly remember family holidays with the ADAMs (abbreviation for my children’s christian names … in birth order!) kids staying at the fabulous Frangipani Apartment we would rent.  I remember Samson, the Island barge, delivering supplies from the Airlie Beach supermarket for our weekly stays.

At Ansett’s demise, the Whitsundays lost their domestic airline & the Whitsundays tourist boom looked not as so rosy for the future.  The five star Hayman Island, built by Sir Reginald Ansett, would suffer as a holiday location, like the many other surrounding island resorts in the Whitsundays.  Hayman Island has just recently been relaunched as One&Only Hayman Island in July 2014.

In 2001 Hamilton Island Enterprises purchased the airport from Ansett Airlines and Bankers Trust.  Airlines Jetstar, Qantas Link and Virgin Blue (Australia) would start flying into the Island.

On Wednesday July 2, 2014 Qantas commenced direct Sydney to Hamilton Island flights, the first services to the resort island in nearly a decade.  The Sydney sectors are operated by a 737-838 (BSI with registration VH-XZK on launch day).

This Friday 28th November 2014, Qantas return with direct Brisbane to Hamilton Island flights operated by Qantaslink Dash8-400s & thankfully I will be on board for a three day adventure !

Courtesy of Qantas Media

Courtesy of Qantas Media

The Dash8-400 series, known as the Q400, is a great aircraft. Seventy Four seats in a 2-2 seating DSC01871arrangement.  The Q400 is the fastest turbo props of any airline in regional Australia (*QF Fleet), with an average Cruise Speed of 667km/h (414mph), 160 kms/h faster than the -300 & compared to 737s average cruise of 853km/h (530mph).   My regular Q400 to Wagga Wagga is now so quick thanks to the -400.  The Q400 does Sydney to Wagga Wagga gate to gate normally in an hour!

It is quite poignant that the launch of the Brisbane Hamilton Island service is the week after RetroRoo arrives.  The week of her arrival, Wednesday 19th November, or is it him ?, DSC03017named Mr James Strong, was a fabulous week of celebration.  With my sectors over this week, I was able to enjoy fabulous (as always) Qantas Lounge #Retro food  to precurse the DSC03055always fabulous inflight Qantas food & service.   I was able to grab a picture of the menu during the week.

This week will see me travel to Brisbane on Thursday on a trusted Qantas 767 … every chance I can get to fly the retiring girls. Friday morning I will await the mid Friday morning flight from Brisbane Qantas Domestic Terminal.  We will cruise up the coast of Queensland, past the Sunshine Coast & Rockhampton, & across the coastline into the the Coral Sea to make approach to Hamilton island.  The inbound views will be fantastic as we swoop over the surrounding islands to approach the Aerodrome.

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Courtesy of ‘The Great Circle Mapper’

What awaits me in recollections & in new images, only time will tell.  In any case, the glorious views will be the same … relived to refresh.  The hills will still be there … to exercise on & the buggy will as much fun to drive over hill & dale.

And close by will be Whitehaven Beach, pristine silica sand that stretches over seven kilometres along Whitsunday Island.  Pick an island & visit any of the 74 Islands of Whitsundays that are just a short boat or plane ride away.  Or cruise back to the mainland at Shute Harbour, to Airlie Beach, to the vibrant nightlife scene bursting with pubs and clubs.

Hamilton island here I come & so excited to be on the Brisbane inaugural departure … thanks Qantas 🙂

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From ‘Wikipedia’

(All thoughts, comments & opinions are the author’s own & not authorised by any Third Party)

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Qantas (QF87) to Hong Kong !! :)

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It’s a while since I strode to the Qantas Sydney First Lounge in the early afternoon on the way to Hong Kong on an overnight flight.  The memories of the scheduled Airbus A330 screaming across the South China Sea en route to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) are palpable.
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Today, is an additional ‘supplementary’ 747 service positioning to HKIA for maintenance.  And thanks to a heads-up, I learned of its scheduling & grabbed a seat soon after.
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Sad as I may be that my beloved A380 Ecomony seat on the upper deck (32A is a ‘controversial’ choice amongst Frequent Flyers) won’t be mine on this flight, I am excited by the flight on the ‘Queen of the Skies’ as  her days in just a few years are numbered.  It’s the fuel price, the new metal, the avionics of new birds that bring her demise.
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But today that wiDSC01944ll be far from my mind as I walk to the aerobridge to be welcomed by the Qantas Cabin crew …. I will feel relaxed, safe & welcomed & ready for the pleasurable trip of 9 hours to the city of charm, culture & divergence that is Hong Kong.  We can discuss that recent rallies maybe impacting the fabric of the city … only time will tell.  I do not think the long term affect will be the significant, but in these socially turbulent times,  we can only continue on unperturbed.

Mid evening I will be boarding, refreshed over late lunch & evening dinner, far from the worry of the completed mornings commitments.  Thanks to the world class service, food & beverages of the unmatched Qantas Sydney First Class International Lounge.

Tomorrow morning as we descend through the early morning haze of the sunrise & late Autumn, I will hopefully see theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA pod of cargo vessels awaiting movement into or out of the distinctive harbor. I will have enjoyed, as always, great Qantas service, a movie or three & a meal & more plus some onboard sleep in the gracefully floating ‘Queen of the Skies’.

Though well watered, & fed, my mouth will be dry with anticipation of the days ahead; my mind in sensory overload .. the views, the aromas of Hong Kong environs, the interaction of culture, the distinctive street sounds of the Cantonese & Mandarin language & the hustle of the 7+ million population.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we descend through the clouds,  the mechanical noise of speed & height control waft through the cabin; then the lowering of the undercarriage as a precursor to approaching runway.  The South China Sea is close by the port window as the wheels kiss the rubber marked tarmac, first the main gear,  than if like hanging in the breeze, the nose gear follow seemingly a minute behind.

We slow as the reverse thrusters deployed with brakes & spoilers do their job.  I hear the First Officer call 80 knots & as we slow to the taxiway, the Captain motions rudders & tiller to guide us to the Gate.

It is amazing that after 9 odd hours of vectoring, we stop within 1cm or less of our target ground position.  I bid farewell to my friends .. for they await a little rest before they make the homeward journey.  I venture through the glistening glass of HKIA, & my lady’s meeting point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHong Kong !! .. I am yours for some days.  You are never mine to keep.  Your character too strong for one & your influence too widespread.

Sheung Wan

Sheung Wan 1960

What awaits me over the next days, is yet to pan out.  What I do know, is that my senses will be delighted & surprised.  My eyes filled with architecture & people, of culture & ambiance, of water & land, of food & drink.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd as my visiting time draws to a close, my thoughts are tinged with sadness, my Qantas friends will greet & treat me before I board & on the flight back home.

I will be back soon to again be among the maddening crowd & I will be back on Qantas …..

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QANTAS Returns to Coolangatta …. Happy Two Year Anniversary !!

Qantas A0JseBYCUAEw6fsresumed Sydney to Gold Coast return flights on OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunday, 28th October 2012, some four years after the airline handed over the route to low-cost sibling Jetstar.

Today, Tuesday 28th October 2014, marks the second Anniversary of those return flights.  The first return flights were flown by 737-800 VH-XZA which has (had) the names of Australians emblazoned on its fuselage.

The route consisted then & consists now, of three return daily flights, basically morning, midday & evening.  It may be considered ‘just a sector to & from Sydney’ but it has, in my opinion, opened up a whole range of connection advantages from a domestic, regional & international 678524175perspective.  The International Terminal is a short complimentary bus ride away & regional flights just a walk within the Sydney same T3  terminal.  And of course other Qantas mainline flights are right in the terminal as you arrive.

The return inaugural flight, was followed three weeks later, in November 2012, by the opening of the Coolangatta Qantas Club.  A welcome addition to the Qantas Club network for members & Qantas Frequent Flyers.DSC01351

Over the last two years, I have met so many great people via the Coolangatta ‘OOL’ Qantas lounge.  Kerri Rowe, moved from Brisbane to Manage the lounge,  & was so crucial in both getting the Lounge open & managing its day to day operation. Laura, Bella, Sheena, Mitchell, Margot, Kathy, Robyn…the names of some of people & so many more not mentioned, that make you feel most welcome as you visit the lounge.  They have a personable touch & ensure you always feel a valuable customer. The Lounge is a sanctuary. It is not easy looking after the range of issues that occur day to day.

Twelve months ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Lounge on the First Birthday.  It was a celebration of the people that had made it happen & featured a red & white day of drinks & cakes. It was a great fun day.

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Congratulations as the 2nd Anniversary arrives.  Love to see some extensions of the Sydney – Coolangatta sectors with Melbourne direct for instance.  But we will see what happens.

Whatever happens in the future, the flights will be very important to me.  Whether it is work or play, I know I can directly connect to other cities, regional ports & international destinations; & I am always happy to see my friends in the OOL Lounge.

Congratulations Qantas ….. Happy Coolangatta Birthday !!

(All thoughts, comments & opinions are the author’s own & not authorised by any Third Party)