Unfortunately this post is a tad redundant as JETGO Airlines went into voluntary administration last week! The joys of running a small airline, servicing regional Australia where the margins are slim or non-existent.
However, should they get back on their feet and into the air, I have nothing but positive things to say about JETGO.
Route: Dubbo – Wollongong – Melbourne
After an initial flurry of texts stating that our flight time to Melbourne had changed, No it hadn’t, Yes, it had, No it hadn’t, the canniest member of our traveling party lobbied JETGO to move us to an earlier flight, flying to Melbourne via Wollongong rather than due south to the Victorian capital. As we were a bunch of ‘girls’ set for a relaxing ‘girlie’ weekend, we really didn’t mind where we flew as long as we got there on time, in one piece and there was wine waiting for us!
We were encouraged when our flight from Dubbo took off on time (not something that JETGO is known for normally) and it was an incredibly short 45 minutes (perhaps even less) to touch down at Illawarra Regional Airport. Who knew that the Illawarra even had an airport? The weekend was turning out to be an educational, rather than purely retail, one.
The plane from Dubbo was a 50-seater with a 1+2 seat configuration. Leg room was the usual ‘cosy’ standard we regularly experience on small regional airlines. The plane was about two thirds full from Dubbo with half the passengers disembarking on touch down (always recommended to wait before you do that), to be topped up completely with more travellers looking for a Melbourne escape.
The inflight service was pleasant and happy and the air hostess (is that politically correct?) possessed a good sense of humour dealing with five women who had been set loose for the weekend. It was the usual tea/coffee and sweet or savoury snacks, but the real highlight of the trip was the offer of Redskins and Mintie lollies! Maybe this luxury is what tipped JETGO over the edge?
Touch down in Melbourne was impressively ahead of schedule and we disembarked to the slightly dilapidated but functional, Essendon Fields Airport.
Essendon Fields is one of Melbourne’s three airports – Tullamarine being the main one. Essendon Fields is a bit out in the sticks, and also a bit tired and ramshackle, but it obviously works for the smaller regional airlines. Their website says a facility upgrade is on the drawing board and that will be universally welcomed, I’m sure.
There were signs of a café-type facility in the building, but it looked extremely closed both times we passed through the airport. I recommend you satisfy your caffeine cravings pre-arrival.
A taxi into the Melbourne CBD cost around $65, but that was for seven passengers – five in our own party and two freeloaders who didn’t offer to pay their share. Oh well, karma will get them one day!
A shuttle service, StarBus Airport Shuttle, does service the airport. They charge $15.00pp one–way into the CBD with drop off points at the Victoria Markets and Flinders Station, or $20.00pp to your door. I guess it depends on the size of your group as to which transport option is the most convenient and economical.
Route: Melbourne – Dubbo
After a laughter-filled weekend (where did the time go?) we arrived back at Essendon Fields Airport with plenty of time to spare. A good thing as it was a very ‘manual’ check-in and screening. It was a tad invasive as the security staff thoroughly searched my wallet (checking for bombs? Not sure, because there certainly wasn’t any money left in it), so allow plenty of time for a thorough going over!
The smaller plane, 37-seater with 1+2 configuration, made good time as we headed northwards back to Dubbo and there wasn’t a spare seat on board. What a shame that this service is no longer available when it is obviously in demand.
Living in small rural communities it is vital to have connectivity to our capital cities, not just for frivolous social outings such as ours, but for business operations and access to specialist health facilities.
Fingers crossed JETGO can pull a rabbit out of a hat, or a bird out of the air, and get flying again soon.
Overall rating: 8/10
What airlines would you recommend?
What: Flight number JG054 and JG43 – at the special rate of $298.00 return.
Where: Dubbo to Wollongong to Melbourne, then Melbourne to Dubbo.
When: Late May 2018.
Why: it is so much more convenient, cheaper and quicker to fly direct than via Sydney where, if you drive to the airport, we must wear exorbitant parking fees.
How: Economy seating…well it was ALL economy seating.
Who: Myself and four gorgeous friends.
Related Posts: Watch this space for posts about what to do in Melbourne…other than the shops!
Related Blogs: To preview your next airline, have a look at TripAdvisor