For all the pictures that accompany this report, please click here!
It is a little strange being an Australian and not having visited the Australian Outback properly. You would expect that all Australian's would do something like this as a matter of course. A lot of Aussie's haven't seen the country so I am in good company.
As a total avgeek, I decided to visit the small town of Longreach. This town has a population of about 3,000 people, a twice weekly train service from Brisbane and daily flights to Brisbane with QantasLink. There are also services on Rex (Regional Express) to a couple of places too.
I made my booking using British Airways Avios which reduces the price quite substantially. QF2532 – Brisbane to Longreach via Blackall (BNE-BKQ-LRE)
30 August 2017
Dash 8 Q400 – VH-QOI – “Tamworth”
Seat: Economy Class 2D
Departure: 11:55 Arrival: 14:50
Regional flights in Brisbane have passengers either put on a bus to the aeroplane or you walk out and board up a ramp. Today’s flight used the latter method.
I specifically chose seat 2D as I wished to see what the exit row seating is like. There are two reasons not to select this seat. First is the fact the window is way in front of you so it’s difficult to see out. Second is there is less legroom than the other seats.
Passengers needing extra room should select seat 1B which has no bulkhead in front of it. I think seat 1A also has a better window position than 2C and 2D. Glad I tried it, but won’t make that mistake again.
Each seat in the exit row has an additional safety card on it at boarding. Once sat down I read through this in detail as it outlines how to operate the emergency exit which is slightly different to larger aircraft.
When landing on water there is a second lever you need to move in order to prevent water coming in through the hatch. I found it interesting. Cabin crew come along and confirm you have read and understand the advice.
After the safety demonstration it is time to taxi out to the runway and head into the air. The Dash 8 Q400 is fairly quiet inside which is very nice, much quieter than the ATR-72. Once in the air, it is time for the meal service.
Each passenger receives a branded box and inside is a sandwich, apple and a dessert. The apple is nice, the sandwiches are generously filled and the dessert is very tasty. A combination knife/spoon comes in handy for chopping up the apple. A decent meal for complimentary airline food in Economy Class.
Most of the time I fly short haul I mainly visit the toilet to get pictures for you. The Dash 8 Q400 toilet is tiny. It also does not feature a vacuum flush.
Presumably the equipment for a vacuum flush is too heavy for a regional aircraft and I’m sure the lower altitudes the aircraft flies at is also a factor. We cruised at 18,000 feet on this flight, which is far lower than jet aircraft usually do.
QantasLink serve Longreach via Blackall on a couple of days of the week and via Barcaldine on other days. The return flights are always non-stop.
Descent into Blackall was stomach churning but we made it in good shape. Nine passengers disembarked at Blackall and eight people embarked. Everyone else remained on board.
These flights into the tiny towns are subsidised by the Queensland Government. Once everyone is on board and after a 20 minute stop it’s back into the air for the short flight to Longreach. There is no service on board and we landed without further ado.QF2535 – Longreach to Brisbane (LRE-BNE)
1 September 2017
Dash 8 Q400 – VH-QOR – “Eyre Peninsula”
Seat: Economy Class 19A
Departure: 11:15 Arrival: 13:10
After spending two nights in Longreach it was time to head back home again. Longreach Airport has one gate which is shared by QantasLink and the other airline serving the airport, Rex.
Security screening is quite quick and you sit at the gate until the inbound aircraft arrives. Once it does, boarding is called soon after passengers have disembarked.
Row 19 is the very last one in the aircraft and it features more leg room than British Airways’ European fleet. I can see just by looking at it there is more space at the knees.
Passengers from the previous stop are already on board when you get on at Longreach. We were first on so while we waited for others to board we could see the baggage loading taking place outside.
Longreach airport is home to the Qantas Outback Founders Museum and you can see the Boeing 747 and Boeing 707 Qantas donated to the museum as you head to the runway. Quite a sight at such a little airport!
Outback Queensland around Longreach is quite dry and they often experience drought conditions. During the climb out this is very evident with the brown landscape. From the last row you can see the back of the engine quite well. It is handy being behind the wing so you can have an unobstructed view of the ground below.
Once again the cabin service consisted of the QantasLink lunch box. The contents are the same, consisting of a sandwich, apple and a dessert.
The sandwiches are stuffed full, moist and bursting with flavour. It’s good to see an airline not skimping on the complimentary offering. Dessert is a Rainforest Plum Chocolate Slice and it’s quite good too.
Two trolleys are used by the two cabin crew. One goes ahead with the boxes, the other follows doing drinks. Once the person handing out lunch has finished, that person goes and assists with the drinks. It’s effective.
Everything is then cleared away and later on we landed without incident in Brisbane. This time we got on a bus to the terminal and you arrive into baggage claim. This means connecting passengers need to go through security again which is not ideal.
QantasLink operate a very decent service on the regional routes in Queensland. The complimentary Economy Class food offering would be acceptable plated up and served for afternoon tea in Business Class. Wait a minute, I think that’s what British Airways already do!
Service from the crew is very good and overall the whole experience is virtually flawless. I would take the back row over the exit row any day of the week on the Dash 8 Q400 as well, so don’t believe everything you read on SeatGuru.
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. Remember, for all the pictures that accompany this report, please click here!