Browsing Tag: Crazy

Airnorth operates a fleet of E120 Brasilias on the "centre run" and shorter regional routes Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Airnorth operates a fleet of E120 Brasilias on the “centre run” and shorter regional routes – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Following my excellent flight on Airnorth’s jet service from Cairns to Darwin, where I got my first real taste of outback flying in Australia, I was left longing for more outback adventures. When I was planning my trip to Darwin, I came across the “centre-run” operated once again by Airnorth. This was the perfect opportunity for me to not only get my fix of outback flying, but also to experience the Embraer E120 Brasilia for the first time – an increasingly rare aircraft type. At one point in the booking process, I did have to question my sanity. Due to time constraints, I could only do a flight same day return, meaning that I would be flying over 1600 miles in nearly eight hours on a turbo-prop in the Northern Territory’s wet season. Needless to say, my AvGeek mentality took over and I booked the flight without a second guess.

A long way to go in a turbo-prop - Source: Great Circle Mapper

A long way to go in a turbo-prop – Image: Great Circle Mapper

The “centre run” (or “milk run” as referred to by the locals), is a three segment flight from Darwin (DRW) in the top-end to Alice springs (ASP), in Australia’s Red Centre. On the way, the flight stops at Katherine (KTR) and Tennant Creek (TCA); both are key regional communities located on the Stuart Highway which stretches across the continent from Darwin to Adelaide. The route was re-launched in September of 2014 as part of the Northern Territory government’s commitment to developing air services to remote communities. In order to maintain this essential air service, the route is currently subsidized by the government.

Start 'em early! Author's son planespotting at SFO. Photo: David Delagarza

Start ’em early! Author’s son planespotting at SFO. Photo: David Delagarza

’œThat’s insane.’  That seemed to be the reaction most people, many of whom were seasoned fliers, had to our plan.  My wife and I had schemed it up over a year ago while she was pregnant with our first child.  We had always enjoyed traveling, and I had gotten into collecting miles and points when we found out that we would be adding a baby to the mix.  We didn’t want to stop traveling once the baby was born, so we booked one of the most ambitious itineraries we could think of – flying to New Zealand, with stopovers in Japan and Australia. And, yes, we would be taking the baby with us.

11 months prior to the trip, we had the miles saved up. We had accumulated enough to book the trip in business class (at least prior to the recent United Airlines MileagePlus devaluation.)  After diligently researching and waiting for availability to open up, I finally found a business class route that would work – at least until I saw the infant fare. United charges 10% of the cabin fare for lap infants on international flights.  For economy cabins, this can add up to a couple hundred dollars.  However, for the premium cabins, we were looking at paying nearly $1,000 each way.  Although I did briefly consider footing that bill, we decided to go in economy and use the extra miles to put our son in his own seat (when we could find the award space) and stay in some nicer hotels along the way.

Routing - Image: GCMapper

Routing – Image:

Our outbound itinerary ended up beginning with Denver to Tokyo Narita on United’s 787 Dreamliner.  We had a 20-hour overnight stopover before continuing onto Singapore aboard Singapore Airlines’ A380.  The final leg took us from Singapore to Christchurch, New Zealand on Singapore’s 777-220ER.   50 hours, four countries, and 14,000 miles just to get there.

Our return trip was a bit easier – Christchurch to Sydney on an Air New Zealand A320, followed by a 23-hour stopover in Sydney before continuing onto San Francisco on a United 747-400, connecting to Denver on a United A319.  The only hitch was that I was unable to find any kind of routing that made sense for the return trip once my son was born, so he was going to fly home as a lap infant.  It was sure to be quite the adventure.

QantasLink Boeing 717-200 (VH-NXH)

QantasLink Boeing 717-200 (VH-NXH)

Oh please! Are the airlines to blame for everything now-a-days? Well it sure seems passenger Jean Barnard thinks so, since she sued Qantas for, “physical and mental suffering, medical expenses and loss of income,” because a three year old passenger screamed into her ear on a QantasLink flight from Alice Springs to Darwin.

Don’t get me wrong, the hearing loss seems real. Barnard had to be taken off the plane and taken to the hospital for permanent ear damage. There is some question if she had previous hearing damage, but getting the blood-curdling scream into her ear, surely didn’t help.

However, how can this be seen as Qantas’ fault? In court, Qantas argued that they are not responsible for a child’s actions and, “Flight attendants cannot predict when children aboard an aircraft are about to scream. There is no evidence that the child was screaming in the terminal, or on board the aircraft prior to the particular scream which allegedly caused the damage.”

Qantas must have felt her argument or the idea of bad press was too great and (confidentially) settled with Barnard out of court. That is too bad, since I feel that Barnard was more out to make a few bucks than to really change how an airline operates. Other than putting a muzzle on every child, what could Qantas have done? If Barnard was walking on the street and a child did the same thing, what would she have done then? Sued the city that owns the street?

Thanks Chris S!

Source: Mail Online Image: Zach Liepa