After a very short sleep, I walked down to Sydney airport. I was there earlier than I would normally be and found long queues, particularly for the Jetstar luggage check in that I had to use. It was snaking around the airport. They only had two people on the counters at the start, but as the morning progressed there were more on the counter. In front of me were a bunch of Chinese Nationals. I felt that I was missing something. They all had their passports and I did not have my passport. More time to ponder the strangeness of this situation.
I had arrived quite early so had a bit of a wait for the flight to leave. It took us a long time to get off the ground. The aircraft was quite full, maybe over 95% and it contained what was clearly a holiday traveller crowd. They took away the air bridge and then we just waited there for 5 to 10 minutes. I was wondering if someone had been left behind. Then we pushed back and waited for another 5 minutes at the end of the apron waiting to get onto the taxiway. I though that there must be some problem with the airport. There was another aircraft waiting. Then we went to the end of the runway (16R), but not onto the runway and waited for another 10 to 15 minutes. There was only limited traffic on the runway itself. I wondered if there was an aircraft in front of us with a problem. Then we did a u-turn. I wondered if we were going to the other runway or back to the terminal. The pilot now came over the PA and announced that there had been a problem with the air conditioning, but that it was now fixed. We took off from 16L
As we were only flying to Ballina, we flew quite low. But as there was lots of cloud there was not much to be seen except for cloud until we descended.
We landed right on the end of a very short runway and braked hard with the breaks, air brakes and reverse thrusters. The crew were a little excited as they had no time to work to get the aircraft turned around. As soon as we were all off they got the new passengers for the return flight.
On the ground we used the steps to get down to the tarmac. I was told off for taking my photo. They really are getting tragically over excited about tarmac security and my camera was no threat.
At Ballina I was going to catch the local bus into Ballina walk around and then catch the bus up to Byron. But as my flight was late, I had missed the bus. The next bus was not for another 1 hour and a half. So I caught the more expensive airport bus. It must be a good little money spinner. The advantage of this was that they took me directly to where I was staying, which is a few km out of town. The bus was full of backpackers from the bus and they were all staying in the middle of town.