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Jetgo introduces flights from Melbourne to Wollongong

Jetgo recently launched direct flights from Wollongong to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport. Andrew Mevissen jumped aboard to review the experience for Holidays with Kids.

Big city airports are a stressful place for families. Congestion, crowds, queues and the chaos of food courts are known to test the patience of parents with young kids in tow. But thanks to domestic airline Jetgo Australia, there’sa new way to jet around the nation with far less hassle – Jetgo pride themselves on focusing on the needs of regional travellers and offer routes that avoid major city hubs.

Jetgo

When was the last time you hopped off an aeroplane, collected your luggage from the carousel before climbing into your car and driving home - all within five minutes?

Recently, aboard a brand new Jetgo route from Melbourne’s Essendon Fields Airport to the Illawarra Regional Airport at Wollongong, this kind of seamless travel became a reality. It was easy, hassle-free and proved to be ideal for families who dislike the overwhelming nature of major city airports. The route is also perfect for anyone living south of Sydney, including the Southern Highlands, Illawarra and NSW South Coast.

Jetgo

The day prior we drove from our home in Mittagong to Wollongong’s airport in Albion Park towards our JetGo flight to Melbourne for a quick, overnight visit to see family. There was no traffic at Albion Park and the car park was a two-minute walk from the terminal, with the short term rate just $12 a day ($10 a day or $50 for seven days in the long-term carpark). ‘Terminal’ might be an exaggerated word for the Wollongong airport, which is a small, demountable building that houses a waiting area, bathroom and vending machine. But what’s lacking in usual airport facilities is gained in the relaxation and ease of the travel experience.

JetGo’s aircraft range from 37 to 50 seats, and resemble something akin to a private jet. The seats are crafted from a comfortable leather and boast soft headrests and ample leg space. One side of the jet offers single seating that’s ideal for solo travellers. Twin seating is arranged on the opposite side of the plane. Inflight catering was a pleasant surprise; the service included complimentary snacks and tea, coffee, juice and soft drinks. There was no on-flight entertainment, but the Jetgo magazine made for an enjoyable read.

JetGo’s Embraer jets are whisper-quiet and after 80 minutes in the air (no runway queues here!) we land at Melbourne’s Essendon Fields Airport, which was the city’s main airport until Tullamarine Airport, just 7km away, took over duties in 1970. The original terminal at Essendon Fields - which is now home to four regional airlines such as JetGo - is more expansive than the terminal at Wollongong. But there are no shops or eateries inside the airport. Instead, they are a short five-minute walk outside. Essendon Airport’s deluxe new hotel, Hyatt Place Melbourne-Essendon Fields, is also an easy 10-minute walk away, and can be reached by a free shuttle bus.

Jetgo

What might surprise you to know is that Essendon Fields Airport is closer to the Melbourne CBD than Tullamarine Airport. Unlike the latter, Essendon offers affordable public transport access to the city via a $4, one-hour tram trip (route 59) that runs alongside the airport precinct.

Flying back to Wollongong the next day is, again, refreshingly informal. Friendly staff, quick boarding and a seamless take-off had us breezing through the terminal in less than an hour. Why can’t flying always be this easy and enjoyable?

Launched in 2012 to serve as a charter airline for the mining industry, JetGo has been offering public scheduled services in the eastern states since 2014, carrying more than 100,000 passengers a year. Flights are available daily between Wollongong and Melbourne (there are 11 return services every week), with fares from around $155 one-way. JetGo also flies direct from Wollongong to Brisbane. JetGo’s mission is to serve regional destinations not frequented by other airlines, such as Albury, Wagga Wagga, the Gold Coast, Dubbo, and Tamworth.

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