|Topic: Saving Frequent Flyer Miles Got Me Round The World|
Posted 2010-04-14 03:17:56 and read 12400 times.
This trip was organized back in April 2008 using 140,000 Qantas miles all travel in economy. My plan was to spend the weekend in London and then go to Amsterdam for a trade show, then after the trade show head over to Dallas and have a week with my cousin and enjoy Thanks Giving before flying back home.
Boarding began at 11:40am and the flight left just after 12:30pm; load was about 50% and there was spare seat beside me.
Take off from Cairns airport.
Lunch was served after the blankets and digi players were handed out. Each seat had a 250ml water bottle which was a good idea.
The lunch choices were a pork curry & rice or vegetarian curry rice which was accompanied with a bread roll and a biscuit shortbread.
The flight showed 2 movies plus a short segment on Jetstar. First movie was Indian Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull; followed by Sex and the city which I skipped, wasn’t even sure it was on. Jetstar have been running a 30 minute travel program on the cities they serve. It’s almost like an Easyjet program but with more of a focus on the location of where they travel to.
Cabin shot of Jetstar.
There was no inflight hot drink service compared to my Qantas flight to Japan 2 years earlier but thankfully a snack was served about 90 minutes before arriving in Osaka.
The light meal was a ham & cheese roll or salad roll with a drink.
The flight arrived 6:40pm and docked at 6:50pm, the flight was continuing onto Nagoya.
All passengers were asked to leave the plane including those travelling onto Nagoya. We caught a tram to the main terminal.
14 NOV 08
KIX-HEL AY0078 MD11 OH-LGB SEAT 54D DEP 11:50 GATE 5
My main reason for going via Osaka was to try out the Finnair MD11.
This a.net trip report from 2 years ago was one of the reasons why I routed via Osaka. Top And Flop: KIX-HEL-MUC, Finnair A320 & MD-11 (by PlaneHunter Feb 10 2008 in Trip Reports) and with this in mind my expectations weren’t high. It would be unique, food would be served and as it was a day flight I could read a book if the IFE and music channels weren’t any good.
I woke up around 8:00am Japan time, 9:00am Brisbane time. I went downstairs to get some breakfast. What surprised me the most about the outside was the amount of haze; glad I live in Brisbane. The breakfast at the ANA Hotel was nice with a selection of both Western and Japanese style.
I checked out just before 10 and caught the shuttle bus back to the airport. Approaching the airport I noticed that the MD11 had arrived and it hadn’t been upgraded with an A340.
Photo © David James Clelford [Airplane-Pictures]
I got to the airport a bit late around 10:30 and was one of the few remaining passengers to check in. Why rush when you don’t have lounge access. Check in was a bit slow but after getting my boarding passes for both flights I went down stairs and through passport control and security. I caught the train out to the gate area. I used the last of my Japanese Yen to buy a drink and some snacks. My previous long day flight I got hungry and thought that it would be a good idea to take a few snacks onboard with me.
Flight got called around 11:30am: took some pictures with Freddie Jr and the plane in the background.
Got onboard; and headed down the back of the plane; in economy Finnair have 2 sections; the 9 abreast seating and the 10 abreast seating in the back of the plane. I was in the back half of economy.
On the seat were a blanket and head phones. Head phones are really weird. The MD11 uses the single prong but the headsets that are used have the dual prong and so you have to fold one of the prongs to make it fit into the seat arm. Very weird, the Japanese person next to me had the same problem until I showed them you could fold back one of the prongs, I wonder how many other passengers have that same problem.
Flight left on time and the third engine started up, probably not much difference sound wise compared to a 767.
The flight tracks north across Japan and across Korea before turning left and heading across the top of Russia. The flight goes a fair way north; and what is surprising is that the sun actually sets half way through the flight, it appears again as you head southwest through Finland before landing.
Twlight with the moon over the rear starboard window
Lunch is served about an hour out from Japan.
The meal was chicken and rice; the meal was quite good; better than I had expected; the strangest part of the meal was the cold green noodles, I just added lots of pepper.
The FAs brought around drinks every hour so at least we didn’t go thirsty. There was also a tray of biscuits and small chocolate bars in the galley.
The IFE is the basic kind with 8 channels of radio with an overhead TV; the flight starts off with news from BBC World and then 2 movies are shown. The first movie is Mamma Mia. The movies are in English with Japanese subtitles.
The cabin was probably about 90% full so there weren’t too many seats.
Our flight landed at 3:10pm but it seems to take ages to be allowed off the plane. You are herded along a series of corridors which then splits into 2, one for those staying in Helsinki and those that are connecting to other flights. Seems like a few flights from Asia fly into Helsinki about the same time For the connecting passengers we are sent through a security check and then those that are connecting to non European long haul destinations like UK are then into the international concourse. Those passengers that are flying on flights through out Finland and Europe are directed to a passport check.
What was good is that you could use Euros to buy a drink and feed the internet kiosk so in a way it was nice that the European currency had included Finland.
14 NOV 08
HEL-LHR BA0799 757-236 G-CPER SEAT 18A DEP 5:15PM GATE 32
There were only 3 or 4 gates in the non Schengen area. I could have selected the earlier Finnair flight to London but I thought it would be nice to be on a British Airways aircraft. Even though I was on a British Airways flight the lounge is operated by a third party so no access for Qantas lounge members.
It was nice to be on a familiar airline after spending 10 hours between 2 countries that you don’t know the language.
Somehow I missed the first boarding call for the flight and at about 5:00pm I thought I would go and check to find that boarding was well underway and there was only a few people left in the queue.
The flight was only about half full, it was interesting to notice how many business class seats there were. I was in 18A with 18B free and someone in 18C
We departed at 5:18 and went through the clouds and into a darkening sky. The sun had set almost an hour ago but being further away from the equator the twilight lasts longer. Finland time is GMT + 2, and the flight was scheduled for 3 hours and 5 minutes.
The service on todays flight was a choice of 2 sandwiches, Ham and Tuna or Egg and Mushroom, neither choice was inspiring so I took a guess and had the Egg and Mushroom one, Tea/coffee; soft drinks; and beer were available. Two older guys looked after the business class cabin and two younger women looked after the economy cabin. After the meal service I went for a walk to the back of the plane. There is a FA galley between business and economy and a galley at the back of the plane with a mid station lavatory. What is interesting is that there is no IFE TV or radio, Australia we live in the lucky country. The story I got from the flight attendant is that most passengers now use there MP3 players and so there is no need for IFE on these 2hr flights.
Our flight landed just before 6:00pm for those passengers with European or British passports no immigration form was required to be filled out but for others then you had to fill one out. Fairly short form asking the usual questions of where you are staying and what is the purpose of the visit. You would have thought that with T5 open then we would have docked at an air bridge at T3. Firstly the business class passengers were first off the plane then it was another 5 minute wait for the economy class passengers to be allowed off the plane. The reason for the delay is that there was a separate bus for business and economy passengers. So after we were all on the bus it was through a concrete mass of T3 then off the bus and through another walk way. Yes really well organized this. I reach passport control and as there was only a few non English passport holders I was at a passport desk pretty quick, then he asks me all these questions. What was I doing in the UK; how long was my stay; where have I flown in from, was someone picking me up from the airport, where was I headed tonight. Get over with the questions as I was in a rush to catch a bus and I didn’t want to wait around for another hour. It was now 6:40pm(4:40am) Australian time and I really didn’t want to miss the bus at 7:00pm.
Finally with the questions answered and the passport stamped it was off to find the bus station; I had previously used the tube x 2 then train to Croydon but there was a bus that ran every hour for 2GBP. It was fairly easy to find; there is arrows for the underground and another arrow for the bus station. I reached it just before 7:00pm and then waited, and waited; it was now 10 past and I hoped I hadn’t missed it. I sent a few text messages and one reply was
“What do you expect for a 2GBP bus”,
From 7:15pm I was less worried as there were a few passengers like me waiting for the bus so the more anxious they were the more relaxed I was. Bus showed up just after 7:20pm, I made it to Croydon about 1hr 40 minutes later and made sure I didn’t fall asleep.
Got up at a reasonable time; had some breakfast, went to the post office; they are as bad as they are in Australia and then got a lift to the train station to catch a train down to Brighton for the day. I caught up with a friend from Australia and a.netter Utaflyinghigh and his wife. I had I met in previous trip to the UK. After spending 10 minutes driving around Brighton looking for a car park we went for a walk on the Brighton Pier. Lunch ended up being some Fish & Chips; I had been reminded of Fish & Chips from a recent Nov 2008 thread; English Fish And Chips (by Andz Nov 7 2008 in Non Aviation)
Welcome the UK; it was dark by 4:00pm, thankfully the sun came out for about 5 minutes, and I was told to enjoy it as it won’t last long. It didn’t.
I went into London for the day, first I went to catch up with my Australian friend and his wife, and secondly I went and caught up with a.netter BAViscount and did a tour through the Tower Bridge. What can really stuff up your thinking is when the Underground shuts down a tube line for the day for maintenance, so much for planning without checking that there was going to be a service disruption.
Thought I should get a picture of Tower Bridge before doing a walk through it.
About 2:30pm I got a call from second a.netter; well ex a.netter they live in Exile; who was going to be at Gatwick airport from 6:00pm until about 11:00pm
So after a nice early dinner at an Indian restaurant the daily London pass was upgraded to include a trip out to Gatwick and back. I arrived at Gatwick Airport and proceeded to the check in area for Ghana International Airlines.
B747-437B was standing around looking important and so after 10 years and a few emails back wards and forwards I was finally able to meet him. After a drink and a long chat it was time for me to head back to Croydon. I have been pretty lucky with trains to and from Gatwick Airport so within 10 minutes a train turned up.
The train trip from Gatwick to East Croydon is about 30 minutes so I rang and had a quick chat to a.netter MYT332, he asked how the house was after a wild storm crossed Brisbane the previous night. How should I know I wasn’t there, seems like that piece of news made it to the UK.
17 NOV 08
LHR-AMS BA434 A319 G-EUOG DEP11:50AM SEAT 22A GATE 21
My flight wasn’t due out until 11:55am but it’s almost a 2 hour journey across town to get to Heathrow. I caught the train and the tube back to the airport, peak hour on the bus was going to take about 2 hours and as the bus station is closer to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and I would have had to make a train transfer it was easier to catch the train.
So train to Victoria then a transfer onto the tube line then another transfer further up to catch a train that was going to Heathrow Terminal 5.
Heathrow is big and all shiny and new. I checked in with an agent; they were most annoyed that I didn’t use the machine like everyone else. She begrudging gave me a boarding pass and suggested that I use the machine next time.
Through security and then a walk around the terminal, I headed over to the BA Terrace Lounge North,
Flights are never called in the lounge so you have to be aware of the boarding times of your flight. The lounge had a good spread of food and a fridge full of different English beers, it was only 10:00am but according to my laptop it was telling me it was 8:00pm beer time.
20 minutes before boarding time I thought I had better go and find the gate for the flight, which ended up on the southern side of the airport.
The flight was very full and for some reason my lack of Qantas status gets me a seat in the last row of the plane.
Service on todays flight was a chicken wrap with drinks available, now they are an endangered species. Landing was at the far runway, so long taxi back to gate.
Passport control at Amsterdam Schiphol is pretty straight forward; does it look like you in the photo yes; no questions asked and the passport is stamped and you are through.
I brought a ticket from the train ticket office after first trying to buy one at the long distance counter; they don’t sell you one, and then went and caught a train to the exhibition centre.
Monday was set up for the show and a good chance to catch up with some suppliers.
Tuesday – Thursday was the show so not much to report there.
Friday we caught a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Dordrecht to see the manufacturing plant of one of our suppliers. The train we were first on was heading to Brussels, so its interesting how small Europe is and how easy it is to get between countries.
22 NOV 08
AMS-LHR BA423 G-EUPP SEAT 16A DEP 7:25AM GATE D16
Saturday I got up early and caught a taxi to the airport. Price was 35 Euros and I was at the airport soon after 6:00am. After my last flight on BA I thought I should try the check in with one of the machines. For flights to the US require you to type in the address of where you are staying; not so good if you have hidden the address in the centre of your bag. I typed in some fake address; well the suburb was right but the street number and street name were fake.
I then waited inline to drop off the bag; the person in front of me got turned away and they needed to check in with the machine before dropping off the bag at the counter. I was issued 2 boarding passes. I went through passport control and then went in search of the gate. In big bold letters across the boarding pass said flight closes at 7:05am and as it was already 6:45am I wasn’t going to try and look for the lounge and instead headed for the gate. While waiting at the security screening at the gate I was asked to do a survey on Amsterdam airport; they asked a few questions about why I was here; why had I chosen this airline did I use any facilities; and did I use any of the lounges.
After the survey I was through the security and picked up an English newspaper and boarded the flight. As it had been snowing during the night then our plane would need to be de-iced. This was a first for me as you never see it in Australia, they say de-icing only takes 10 minutes but you know the delay is more than that. Not such a big problem as I had more than 2 hours at Heathrow.
Interestingly in the passenger beside me was someone who worked for KLM and he had been trained to use the de-icing machine; he explained the procedure and time they like to get the procedure done in.
Once we were de-iced we took off and headed across the English Channel. A breakfast roll was served on this flight, a similar size to the one on the way to Amsterdam.
22 NOV 08
LHR-DFW BA193 777-236 G-VIIL DEP 1025 SEAT 33F GATE A10
After deplaning at the gate I made my way through an area that British Airways called flight connections, they check to make sure you have an onward ticket, they may have checked that you had a passport but the onward ticket was the important bit, after that it was upstairs through security and into the concourse.
LHR-DFW is one of the few routes that were switched from LGW after T5 was built due to the Bermuda II agreement being axed. Bermuda II Synopsis (by B747-437B Jun 12 2002 in Civil Aviation)
BA LGW After LHR T5 Opens (by BA Dec 16 2003 in Civil Aviation)
This time I would try the Southern Galleries Lounge; the Southern one has an area for First class passengers so it’s up another floor to the business class lounge.
There was quite a good spread of morning cereals and toast. The fridge was also available which had a good selection of beers and soft drinks. Got to love eating cereal and having a beer with your breakfast.
I again kept a watch on the departure time so about 20 minutes from boarding I went in search of the gate. The gate area didn’t look like the regular boarding areas and you had to walk down stairs to another waiting area. This was a bus gate and so we got on the bus and headed away from T5 and it seemed like it was over near T4, well it probably wasn’t that far but you get the idea. It is pretty strange to board a 777 via air stairs. I wonder what would happen if BA had the A380 longer air stairs for them.
Boarding took awhile as the bus had to get another load of passengers. This BA777 is fitted with a larger number of business and premium economy seat with only 120 or so seats for economy. One thing I was shocked with was the small screen for the PTV, these things looked like first generation. These were the loop system so only a choice of about 12 TV channels and about 16 audio channels, this does not compared to the ICE system from Emirates.
What was interesting was that during the push back and safety demonstration you could not listen to anything that was on the IFE as then cabin crew would not be able to tell whether you were listening to the safety briefing or your MP3 player because you may have been connecting from your short haul European service as those flights don’t have any Audio Visual.
A hot meal was offered about 1 hour into the flight, it was your standard 2 choices, I chose the beef lasagna; which included a bread roll, some salad, water bottle and your choice of alcohol.
With the loop IFE you really had to time yourself to watch the movie start times and if you got yourself a bad choice then you were kind of stuck with it. I watched Kid Rock which was ok and tried to watch the Incredible Hulk but it kind of sucked so did some channel surfing not really settling on anything.
One thing I was conscious of checking was the route was going to take us over Sydney Nova Scotia; thought I should take a photo of the other Sydney.
A snack service was offered about 2 hours from Dallas. The snack included some sandwiches and pineapple pieces; soft drinks and tea and coffee were available. I remembered more of this meal because it looked small but it seemed to fill the spot and the pieces of pineapple were something different.
We arrived in Dallas on time to find an airport full of American Airline planes, with a few odds including a Frontier plane; you don’t find them too often.
Sunday through to Wednesday was spent doing nothing or going to the shops. On Tuesday I went downtown via DART, yes Dallas does a small public transit rail system but I didn’t meet any locals the Dallas Zoo yes they had an Australia kangaroo. I spent the afternoon going through the Six floor museum where JFK was shot.
28 NOV 08
DFW-LAX AA2473 N969AN DEP 7:05PM SEAT10A GATE 73
Time to head back to Australia; first stop was The American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum, which is near the airport. Nice way to spend the afternoon before my flight on American Airlines. I was then dropped off at the airport soon after 4:00pm I checked in at terminal C as my flight to LA was departing from that terminal; I proceeded through security and then upstairs to go and do a circuit on the Skylink.
I had heard about the trAAin which had been replaced in 2005. After a spin around on the skylink I had a walk through terminal C before going in search of the Admirals Club. The Admirals Club in terminal C is quiet big, I had already checked in and received a ticket in row 20 something, at the lounge I was issued a new boarding pass for seat 10A.
The beers were good but the food selection was terrible; lucky we live in Australia, at 30 minutes before boarding I thought it best to go to the gate. Welcome to flying in America so many people crowding around the podium trying to get that elusive upgrade. Just before boarding commenced there was an announcement that all stand by who didn’t have tickets had to go to the next flight to LA as this one was going out full.
Another thing you got to love about travel in America is the amount of carry on baggage. I didn’t have very much and was surprised how much some people had. Flight left a few minutes late then we proceeded to line up for take off; not much to report; it was dark outside so there was not much to see on the ground. Dinner was available for purchase and drinks were available with a snack mix. I didn’t purchase anything to eat as I thought then I would probably full asleep at the wrong time. Showing on the over head monitor was the movie Mamma Mia I had already seen it twice already so why not a third time as none of the music channels were interesting. One thing that was nice about row 10 was the extra legroom; probably not 32 inches but its better than the layout on the Qantas 737-800s. We arrived into Terminal 4 at 8:05pm and I would need to transfer across to the TBIT for my flight to Sydney. Terminal 4 looks a whole lot better than terminal 3 the only other terminal besides TBIT I had been too before.
28 NOV 08
LAX-SYD QF12 A380-841 VH-OQA DEP10:30PM SEAT 55C GATE 101 TBIT
I arrived into T4 from an AA flight and I thought it would be better to try out the Admirals Club T4 instead of going over to the TBIT, when you showed a boarding pass on AA stock the check in staff reprinted your boarding pass on Qantas stock. I received another 2 drink chits. Food was again like back in DFW, not much accept for a few crackers and pretzels.
At 8:50am they announced that there was a bus going to TBIT and if you were on QF12 then you should be on it. I ignored this as there was a bus every 30 minutes and if there wasn’t then there was a bus at 10:00pm. Interesting they didn’t announce the 9:30 bus even when I left the lounge soon after 9:25pm.
I caught the bus to TBIT and then proceeded to the gate. The waiting area for flight was a mob scene; the gate really wasn’t the right size for an A380. After a few minute delay boarding started, I had already been on a previous A380 so the new A380 wasn’t that much of an experience but there were a lot of passengers marveling at the new plane. The plane didn’t look that big but the seats and the IFE screens were very nice. One thing lacking on all Qantas aircraft was the seat pitch, which is one thing I was not looking forward to. The plane departed soon after the scheduled departure time of 10:30pm.
One thing that is very noticeable with the A380 take off is how quiet it is, the lack of noise is very noticeable. Once we got to a cruising altitude the captain came on to advise us of the flight time of just over 15 hours and that we were already cruising at 36,000 feet which would be later increased to over 40,000 feet and that as we were flying this high that the ride should be smooth but reminded the passengers to keep the seat belt sign on while you were seated.
The meal service was soon started by now it was already after 1:00am Dallas time and hadn’t properly eaten since lunch. After flying around the world this would be my only overnight flight. Meal cards were available so you knew would was available; breakfast service would start 3 hours before arrival into Sydney.
Tomato and carrot salad with Balsamic vinaigrette
Moroccan style roast chicken with sugar snap peas
Seared tuna with Lime and Pepper sauce served with Rice and Asian Greens
Chocolate Lava Cake
Cadbury hot chocolate
Organic peppermint Tea
Australian sparkling wine
200ml chardonnay Pinot noir by Jacob’s Creek
Hahn Premium Light
James quire Golden ale
A plastic draw string bag was handed out which included some snack items; some chocolates and some dried fruit, there may have been a small bag of chips in there was well. With the water which they also provide the head phones the small amenty pack of eye shades, socks and toothbrush and paste this doesn’t leave much room in your seat pocket which then already cramps your legroom space.
I watched a movie then attempted to get some sleep, this is where some nice drugs to knock you out would come in handy. I tried dosing and I guess 6-7 hours went past pretty quickly obviously not quickly enough as I remember sitting awake wishing this flight would be over.
As the captain advised it was a smooth ride and the A380 certainly is quiet; did I already mention how terrible the leg room was.
As promised the breakfast was served 3 hours from landing, I chose the hot meal choice.
Seasonal fresh fruit
Apple muffin Cereal
Vegetable frittata with sausage and sautéed spinach
30 NOV 08
SYD-BNE QF524 767-336 VH- ZXD SEAT 33D GATE 12
Through duty free and customs didn’t take too long; slower than the last time I had a few hours before my connecting flight back to Brisbane.
I proceeded over to the domestic connection check in area which is in the same building as the international terminal. Once checked in you go through security and then caught the bus around to the domestic terminal. It was nice to be back in familiar surrounds of the Sydney Qantas domestic lounge. I could have caught the earlier flight but the 12:00pm flight gave me a bit of extra time and 12:00pm flights lunch is served. Domestic Qantas lounges don’t serve alcohol until after 12:00pm and I wasn’t going to wait that long.
Boarding began at 11:45 at gate 12, todays lunch included, Ham & cheese on multigrain sandwich; with soft drink; and tea/coffee, it was nice to be back on a regular flight and aircraft that you get so used to with the regular music channels and the IFE playing a familiar short TV programs. Actually the TV show was Two & Half Men and I had seen the exact program on the previous A380 flight, so maybe a bit too familiar; they could have shown something I hadn’t had already watched.
I arrived back in Brisbane at 12:30pm; 17 days 6 hours 10 minutes after I boarded the first flight to Cairns after flying 24,826 miles.
Trip report finished 16 months; 10 days; 8 hours, 15 minutes after I got home.
|Topic: RE: Saving Frequent Flyer Miles Got Me Round The World|
Posted 2010-04-14 03:55:22 and read 12236 times.
|Topic: RE: Saving Frequent Flyer Miles Got Me Round The World|
Posted 2010-04-14 07:04:19 and read 11465 times.
|Topic: RE: Saving Frequent Flyer Miles Got Me Round The World|
Posted 2010-04-19 16:46:53 and read 8113 times.
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