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QANTAS: Byron Bay Qantas Link service

QANTAS: Byron Bay Qantas Link service

I’m not going to review these two flights, merely make some observations about travel on QantasLink, and how it felt at both airports in Sydney and Ballina, and what the experience was like at the Qantas Sydney Business Class lounge.

Sydney Airport – Terminal 3

The terminal was as empty as it was for my last flight to Adelaide, but the service desk was operating, so since we did have checkable luggage, we headed over there. Security was a breeze. Even with only one line operating, we whizzed through, and then on and up to the lounge.

I know this is not good for the airlines, but to be honest I love the empty airport and the empty lounges. They are quiet and calm, restful even.

Get out your shotgun. Couldn’t hit anyone if you tried.

Qantas Business Lounge, Sydney

COVID-19 protocols dictate that food and drinks are served to lounge visitors, rather than picked up from the service area. My husband and I chose scrambled eggs (sans the Pepe Saya cube of butter provided in Adelaide), bacon and egg roll, and pancakes and berries.

Qantas Business Lounge scrambled eggs. The bain-marie is just behind closed doors.
Bacon and egg roll – actually a muffin
Pancakes. Is it compulsory that they make all dishes look like a map of Australia?

Do they consciously make every plate of food look like a map of Australia?

Boarding

We were at gate 1A, so down the stairs and onto a bus, where we waited until another QantasLink plane was towed, before boarding our aircraft. We had opted to check in all our luggage, including what we would usually take on board as hand luggage. Given the small overhead storage bins of these QantasLink Dash-8’s, we felt it easier to just check in everything instead of battling to fit bags in the overhead or do premium drop-off at the door of the aircraft.

The flight to Byron

Uneventful. A sweet snack and non-alcoholic drinks plus tea and coffee were offered. I had forgotten how noisy Dash-8’s are. Fortunately, I had my Bose noise cancelling in-ear pods with me.

I had to consciously remind myself that we were not going to Canberra. I associate Dash-8’s with trips to the national capital due to my former life which sometimes involved pitching communications ideas to government agencies.

Byron arrival

Byron Airport has expanded recently, although the additional space felt like it was taken up with barriers to ensure distancing around the luggage belt. Our luggage appeared promptly, and we were soon on our way by private transfer to our friends in Byron Bay.

Arrivals and baggage

Byron Bay

We had a delightful long weekend catching up with friends, and generally relaxing. It was a real tonic. The only disturbing note is how much beach erosion there is at Main Beach, where essentially all the sand has disappeared, and the ocean is threatening the sand hills. It is disturbing, but apparently an exaggerated version of the usual cycle. Lets hope the sand returns soon.

Tallows Beach. No sand loss here.

Ballina Airport

The Airport is much improved with increased space everywhere. We had a quick lunch before departure. That was pretty good since we only arrived about 30 minutes before departure.

Return flight to Sydney

Pretty much a copy of the flight out. Uneventful, but noisy. Same snack and service.

Sydney airport was essentially deserted, and we walked straight outside and caught a taxi home.

2PAXfly Takeout

The addition of Qantas to the usual Virgin, Rex and Jetstar flights on the Ballina/Byron route out of Sydney is much appreciated. You seem to pay about AU$40 over the odds to fly with Qantas, on, let’s face it a shittier and noisier plane (Dash-8) than the 737-800’s of Virgin and Jetstar. But you do get Qantas points and status credits, and I had access to the Qantas business lounge in Sydney.

Normally I would fly Virgin on this route, but with their lounges closed and uncertainty about the service levels of the reborn post administration airline, I thought Qantas was the safer option. As usual, when you priced up Jetstar with luggage etc, it proved more expensive than travelling with Qantas. The other deciding factor was, with all the uncertainty around COVID-19, I wanted to make sure I completed 4 legs on Qantas to keep my frequent flyer qualification before my anniversary date in 2021.

Would I do this on a Dash-8 again? Probably. It’s a short flight.

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