Flying via King Island on the Saab 340
With Covid completely under control in Australia, a week and a bit ago I decided to take the opportunity to travel interstate for the first time in two and a half years. Having flown in and out of Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, Cape Barren, and Flinders, the logical next step was King Island! Thanks to Rex’s peculiar booking engine, flying BWT-KNS-MEL is the same price as flying just one of those legs, and with the website advertising it as nonstop, the only way to tell if it is a service via KNS is the lengthier flight time, over an hour longer than direct.
|Aircraft Type||Boeing 717-200|
|Route||Hobart to Melbourne Tullamarine|
After driving up north a day prior and spending the night in Ulverstone, it was an early start for me to get to check in on time, 20 minutes before departure, as with all regional Rex flights. Masks are currently mandatory in all Australian airports and onboard all flights, so with my mask on, temperature check done and bag weighed, I headed through to the modest departure lounge at Burnie/Wynyard.
The arriving aircraft was a little delayed, so we boarded our aircraft, 24 year old Saab 340B, VH-ZXG, about ten minutes late. Rex’s Saab 340 aircraft are fitted with 33 or 34 economy seats depending upon the location of the lavatory, and arranged in a 1-2 configuration. I was seated in seat 9A with a good unimpeded window view. Legroom was alright, 30 inches, although the seats are wider than a standard A320 or 737, at 18.5 inches! The flight was fairly empty, 17 passengers total, although according to the cabin crew, it was pretty full compared to most flights over the last year or so.
Departure was uneventful and fairly smooth, and the airport was far busier than my last visit, with a few GA aircraft parked nearby. It wasn’t long before we reached our cruising altitude of 10,000ft for the 200km hop to King Island, and the first round of service was begun. A choice of soy chips or choc chip cookies and a cup of water, not exactly phenomenal, but better than nothing for a 35 minute flight.
Arrival into King Island was no where near as spectacular as Flinders or Cape Barren, although without the thick clouds I imagine the island must look very picturesque, all the dairy cows and golf courses. My YouTube has had a bit of a revamp, so I highly recommend checking it out below!
As I was continuing on to Melbourne I was not permitted to leave my seat, so I haven’t quite visited King Island in the traditional sense. During the 20 or so minute wait on the ground for cargo and bags to be loaded, the crew ordered some of King Island’s famous cheese, to pickup when flying the route the next day! With 23 passenger now on board, we taxied out and took off on runway 28 and made a sharp turn towards Melbourne.
As this second leg was a fair bit longer, there was a second service, chips or cookies again, although hot drinks were served this time, with a choice of tea or coffee. The rest of the flight was somewhat boring, thanks to the lack of views due to the cloud cover. That said, the airline magazine, True Blue, wasn’t too bad a read for once. The magazine includes a section on the history of the airline, from it’s routes as Hazelton and Kendall, to the present day, and the whole fanfare around the capital city services with the 737s (that I will be trying out this July!).
Cruising at 15,000ft there wasn’t much turbulence, however, descending through the clouds into Tullamarine was as bumpy as it gets. Landing was on runway 16, so it was a very short taxi to the remote gate at terminal 4. The bus to the terminal was quite slow, and as I assume they have to, took a ridiculous route, though it allowed excellent views of a landing Olympus Airways 757-200F.
My first time flying with Rex was a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to travel interstate again! I hope this has been an enjoyable read, and if you’ve got any feedback at all, or queries about the trip, feel free to post a comment below!