Airline review: JetGo Melbourne to Port Macquarie

THE PLANE

Embraer ERJ135KL; JetGo has four of this small jet aircraft in its fleet; configured to take 36 passengers.

THE ROUTE

JG51 Melbourne to Port Macquarie

FREQUENCY

Four times a week

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

None

CLASS

Only one class; I'm in seat 1A.

DURATION

1 hour 45 minutes

THE SEAT

There are 37 seats in a 1-2 configuration, 1A is on its own with an emergency exit and flight attendant work space adjacent. The seats are on the small side but the recline is decent (there's a 31-inch pitch) with plenty of legroom for all.

BAGGAGE

Up to 20 kilos in one piece of checked luggage and a strict seven kilos in the cabin. It is likely to be weighed, handbags included.

COMFORT

The aircraft sits in a family of mechanically reliable twin-engined jets by Brazilian manufacturer, Embraer, a leading supplier of regional jet aircraft.

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Brisbane-based JetGo's fleet is entirely Embraer Regional Jets (ERJs). JetGo says: "Unlike most other aircraft servicing the air charter market in Australia, the ERJs are still being manufactured and are fully supported by the manufacturer. The ERJs are extremely reliable, technologically advanced aircraft, designed to withstand the rigours of high utilisation airline operations. The ERJs have a phenomenal safety record with the worldwide fleet having accumulated over 25 million flight hours without a single major accident."

They're also a surprisingly sweet ride. Pushed along by Rolls Royce 3007A1/3 turbofan engines, they're comfortable, stable (in the relatively good conditions we travelled in) and quiet for a smaller plane. My seat, near the two front doors, was the loudest on the aircraft. I was in the more pleasant 3C on the return flight, with a spare next to me (which is not to say it wasn't unpleasant; I had a good snooze).

ENTERTAINMENT

None.

SERVICE

This flight takes off from Essendon Airport, Melbourne's old, original passenger airport. Currently, check in and boarding is through a demountable structure outside the main terminal as the heritage-listed core structure is crowded with various offices and set to be upgraded (check out the old fitout while you still can. Aah, the memories … )

JetGo officially began operations to Essendon Airport in July, having moved from Avalon where it ran its Melbourne-Dubbo service. The Port Macquarie run was added in November.

Essendon offers parking for $8 a day, and a free shuttle to and from Melbourne Airport. I called an Uber on my return and it came in under five minutes. On board, the young flight attendant was friendly, professional and efficient. There were two pilots in the cockpit, just apropos feeling safe and well-tended to in the air.

FOOD

Coffee, tea, a water, soft drinks, juice and a choice of Oreos, a small packet of chips or a muesli bar. There's a Mintie or chocolate just before landing.

ONE MORE THING

Essendon has minimal traffic, so it was hard to work out why our flight was delayed 20 minutes. But once on board, everything ran smoothly.

THE VERDICT

Airport and aircraft combined, it's a novel, fun, and comfortable flying experience. And Port Macquarie is a fabulous destination for Melbourne's sun-starved, especially in the cooler months.

Tested by Julietta Jameson who flew as a guest of JetGo and Port Macquarie – Hastings Council.

See also: Flight Test: Air Niugini economy packs a few surprises.

See also: Twenty reasons to visit Port Macquarie.

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