Sydney To Melbourne on JetStar
In the spirit of trying out various low cost carriers on my trip (and because there is no other decent travel option between Sydney and Melbourne), I have booked a ticket with JetStar, Quantas'
low cost low value subsidiary. Being the LVC, they do charge arm and leg for anything beyond the seat (check-in bags, seat selection, change fees, on-board food and drink, etc.) and I had to pay extra $40 in change fees when I decided to extend my south east Asia portion of the trip.
Getting To Sydney Airport
After sorting out my Brazilian visa, I grabbed some lunch with a local rep of the company I used to work for and headed back to Rod's place to pack up. I was already running short on time and caught a lucky break when the express bus to downtown pulled up. There, I jumped on a train for a quick (but expensive at $15) ride to the airport.
Terminal 2 And JetStar Check-in
Once out of the train, it was a quick ride up the escalator to the T2/T3 junction and another ride up to the departure area. With no lines anywhere, I got my boarding pass and the check-in baggage tag, waited a bit in line to drop off my backpack and was pleasantly surprised when the agent offered to switch me to the exit row seat at no cost. Security screening was quick and efficient and I was off to my gate.
Unfortunately, none of the lounges at Sydney participate in PriorityPass so I was not able to check out those. The only hick-up I encountered was the flight status monitors showing my flight as 'Final Call' with over an hour left before the departure. Once I got to the gate, they were boarding the flight before mine so I am guessing someone did not press the right button somewhere.
JetStar flies single class A320s on short to medium haul routes and A330s on the long haul legs. Our A320 seemed to be brand new - clean with nice leather seats and, strangely, a very nice looking combination of dark grey leather and orange accents throughout the aircraft. The only downsides were the fact that the sets were too plushy, leaving less legroom in the regular seats, nor did they have adjustable headrests. Snacks and drinks were for sale only with prices being 60% more to twice the airport prices.
It took us quite a bit to taxi out to the active runway in Sydney and then wait for our turn in a long line for takeoff. Once off the ground, the flight took a bit over an hour. The descent seemed to be very shallow and took us a while going through multiple layers of clouds, but once on the ground, it was a quick taxi to the terminal and my bag was already on the carousel by the time I got there. Good stuff!
Being far from the city, Avalon airport is being used exclusively by the low cost/value carriers JetStar and Tiger. From there, a shuttle coach takes about an hour to get to downtown Sydney (Southern Cross train station in CBD), costing $20. It left soon after we boarded and the ride reminded me driving through Iowa in the fall - flat interstate surrounded by empty fields everywhere. Once we got to the train station, it was a quick walk for me to reach David's place right next to the Crown casino in Southbank. Not a bad location to be couchsurfing at!