I had a 1 day meeting in Melbourne. Apparently the SYD to MEL is the busiest air market in the world outside of Asia (and depending on the list, 2nd in the world).
I flew Virgin Australia (VA) on a 7:00 am flight
- The Sydney airport is near the city and served by (pricey) rail. To get to the airport I took an Uber, which was $13 to the Domestic Terminal at Sydney. (It would be about a 1 hour walk). For reasons, a Train is $11. Clearly the train is overpriced, this is due to a PPP to build the train, and a poorly written contract that has never been corrected. The aim is to extract dollars from airport travelers (the high price is only for boarding or alighting at the airport, not elsewhere on the line.
- The Sydney terminals are fairly new and modern.
- Security doesn’t ask for ID. The line is short. Take out your laptop and walk through, while your bags are scanned. (Update: I am reminded that you can take your liquids with you as well.)
- The airline doesn’t ask for ID, you just show a Boarding Pass. I could be anyone. No one cares. It is not a problem.
- Boarding occurs from both the front and back of the plane, the front through the jetway, the back via steps on the tarmac. This halves boarding time. If boarding time is the bottleneck, this seems significant.
- The flight was on-time.
- The flight was not full, no one was in the middle seat
- VA has inflight app so there are no screen in the seats (lowering airplane weight by the amount of 180 small monitors, saving fuel). The working assumption is everyone has their own device. The WiFi only serviced the app, rather than the full Internet.
- They give you select drinks (but not soft drinks … which are both expensive and scarce in Australia) and a cookie complementary. It was a tastier cookie than found on US airlines.
- Deplaning at Melbourne is also via the tarmac for the back half of the plane
The return (MEL to SYD) that evening was again via VA
- VA cancelled my scheduled 8 pm flight, but rebooked automatically on a later 9:15 flight. They texted me with a few hours notice.
- I called the number in the text message, and they picked up right away. (Not 3 hours later, the way Delta operates.)
- I was rebooked on an earlier (7 pm) flight, though I got a middle seat instead of the preferred aisle. This flight was delayed 35 minutes, to 19:35 but 25 minutes earlier than the previous flight.
- Melbourne terminals are new and modern. They are not terribly distinct from most US terminals. However the airport at Tullamarine is located far from the city center and not served by rail or tram. There is a bus service we did not use (we came by taxi)
- Security at Melbourne was similar to Sydney, except I get “randomly selected” with a few other people for the magic wand treatment looking for explosives. Sadly, none were found. None are ever found.
- I would fly VA again. It’s far better than any US carrier I have experienced, despite being reschedued.
- I took the train home, because I would have to figure our where to find the Uber pickup at Sydney airport, and wait, which is about as much time as walking back from Green Square.