Flight Review: Newcastle-Canberra on FlyPelican

The “big four” domestic airlines – Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar & Tigerair – tend to receive the most attention. But there are other airlines in Australia serving the regional routes not offered by the major airlines. One of these is FlyPelican.

Regional Express (Rex) is one of the largest regional carriers in Australia, operating an extensive network with more than fifty Saab 340 aircraft. JetGo is another airline operating routes on the east coast of Australia using a fleet of five Embraer regional jets. JetGo routes include Brisbane-Albury and Essendon-Port Macquarie.

Recently our member kamchatsky needed to travel from Newcastle to Canberra. With no major airlines flying between these two cities this member took the opportunity to try out FlyPelican, another Aussie regional airline. Destinations served from FlyPelican’s Newcastle base include Dubbo, Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Canberra.

FlyPelican may not offer lounges, in-flight meals or a frequent flyer program, but they are the only airline providing direct service between Newcastle and Canberra.

At the end, I have decided to give this little airline a go because of the following:
– The flight time suits me quite well (depart NTL at 4:30pm, arriving at CBR at 5:40pm)
– It is a direct flight, great when I spent 4 hour driving from Sydney to around the Hunter region before getting to NTL on the day of departure.
– They offer Jetstream 32 which I have never tried before.
– Fly Pelican offers a flight which QF/VA are not offering, I should be supporting the “little guys”.

I was willing to forgo 20SCs on VA (which I am aiming Gold) to give this little airline a go.

FlyPelican operates a small fleet of BAe Jetstream 32 aircraft. These small aircraft hold just 19 passengers in a 1-2 seating configuration. With no room for a flight attendant on the plane, the First Officer is left to welcome passengers on board and hand out the complimentary drinks!

Now as I walk closer, you can see a First Officer welcoming the passenger as they get on board. He does the checking of the ticket, gives you a bottle of chilled water from the Esky (yep, an Esky!), and ask you to leave your bag there! I got on, and then I realised how small it was: It only has 6 full rows of 3 seats, plus a single seat on the back. Total of 19 seats. I was on 5C, second last full row.

Our member’s seating recommendation is to choose an A or C seat:

Now the seat is small, but I am glad that I am on an aisle seat, and not window seat, as I can see the seat next to me has very less room. The A row (single seat) is better as it is both window and aisle, but I think C column is best for room.

Being such a small aircraft, take-off and landing was a little bumpy. But our member says the flight was smooth once at cruising altitude.

They say a change is as good as a holiday. Despite being a regular flyer with Qantas and Virgin it seems our member enjoyed their experience with FlyPelican.

Will I fly with Pelican again? I would say yes on the NTL-CBR route. It is a direct flight, the timing suits me quite well.

Read the full FlyPelican review HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]