allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1409 posts, RR: 3 Posted (2 years 6 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 8325 times:
In Part 1 I described the Jetstar flights from Sydney to Singapore via Darwin. My almost-two year old son Alex and I were originally scheduled to return via the same route with Jetstar, but B couldn't get a cost-effective flight back with BA/Qantas (or anyone else for that matter) when we were booking the return trip, so we delayed the return by a day.
Jetstar flights back were even more expensive than one-way with Qantas (Singaporean school holidays perhaps?). By the time we booked Qantas were the cheapest, though all the flights were via cities other than Sydney. The choices were really Brisbane (A330) or Melbourne (A380), so it's obvious which one to choose!
According to current media reports my selection must have been brave because I was Risking My Life And That Of My Child's by flying with a Qantas A380 equipped with Rolls Royce engines.
And because of that this report is currently of little benefit to potential travellers because you can't fly a Qantas A380 right now!
Unfortunately, the more I look back at the return trip the more I think my decisions were uniformly poor.
The night before our departure Alex fell ill with a bout of gastro. It didn't seem too bad at the time and he slept through the night without issues. Thanks to childcare Alex has had various bouts of illness throughout the year. He's a strong kid who eats healthily and well so we've learned to read his state and not to panic when he gets sick.
But we really should have taken him to see a doctor before we departed that evening. It's not always easy to find a doctor in a foreign country, though Singapore has a reputation for excellent medical care.
We caught the MRT from Paya Lebar (Geylang) to Changi Airport. Before catching the train B ate some durian that she had purchased earlier. Durian, vomit and diarrhea, could the day get anymore disgusting?
Paya Lebar MRT station
The Changi Airport MRT station is located beneath Terminal 2. It's like entering some Imperial structure from a Star Wars movie.
Changi Airport MRT station
Up the escalators into T2
The roof over the station entrance
The Star Wars feeling is continued by the appearance of the automatic shuttle trains to Terminals 1 and 3. Our destination was T1.
The control tower
Towards Terminal 1
Compared with last trip more of the ongoing renovations to Terminal 1 had been completed, but I was still unimpressed with the state of the building and facilities.
B and I were able to check in at the same desk, despite her flying British Airways and me Qantas. We quickly passed through immigration and were airside.
Shops on the right, construction on the left
The observation area was the nicest part of the terminal with big glass windows and vegetation.
Seating! There ain't much
Jetstar, Qantas and BA - B's flight is the most distant
I think my wife flew this 777 back to Sydney
What's this aircraft?
Looking out from the terminal
A bit of nature inside
Yay, the rest area is back! Didn't visit though
The rest of the terminal isn't so nice
Any Singaporean readers of this report - I need answers. What has happened to Bengawan Solo? They were gone from Geylang and from Terminal 1. Apparently they still have a branch in Terminal 2, but I wasn't able to get my kuih lapis (Spekkoek) fix on this trip. I had some from other vendors but it just wasn't as good. Major disappointment.
Another disappointment was the lack of toilet facilities in T1. They were spread very far apart and of poor standard.
There is a airside medical clinic in T1, but by this time Alex was starting to look a lot better. We took him up to the children's play facilities near the Burger King. The change facilities there are open air, though they have private feeding rooms. Didn't think much of the play facilities - a small castle and slide and a padded area.
Alex was happily playing until an older kid barreled into him, knocking him over.
Padded play area
This Jetstar/Valuair aircraft looks in a sorry state
After that we made our way down to the gate.
You can walk to Terminal 3
As we were waiting in the queue for the security screening Alex suddenly threw up into a pot plant. Oh no! What were we to do? Should we fly? All I wanted to do right then was just get him home where we have a familiar medical system and his own bed.
We said goodbye to B and stepped through the screening and into the gate lounge.
We board the aircraft without any further dramas. As I'm with a child I have priority. I'm in row 71, the green section as usual.
There is no aircraft I would rather have been seated in economy at that moment. The Qantas A380 seats are about as comfortable as you get in economy (so far as I know). It was my fourth (and Alex's third) flight on the aircraft.
Carbon fibre seat backs
The male flight attendant handed us an infant seatbelt and a amusement pack, which was a bit old for Alex (3+), but I kept it for later.
Elmo! Has a eraser board, colouring in book, pencils and sharpener inside
There were no sick bags in my seat pocket. When I requested two the alarm bells went off in the flight attendant's head. When told about Alex's condition he asked if he was fit to fly. Then the cabin supervisor came down to ask, explaining about their duty of care. I admit that, eager to get home, I downplayed his condition.
At that point, as his parent, I felt pretty certain that his health was not going to crash during the flight, that he would probably just sleep through. But I can absolutely understand it from Qantas' position. Diverting an aircraft due to a medical emergency is a very expensive and undesirable outcome. And, though it selfishly didn't cross my mind at the time, they also have to consider the health of the other passengers who might get infected by Alex (B did get it, but strangely not I). If faced with the same situation again I think I would act differently, but that's the thing about having a first child, everything is a new experience and you have nothing to guide you.
While waiting for the rest of the passengers to board Alex played with the tray table, the window shade and the touchscreen.
The doors finally closed. I was in the window seat of three. The cabin attendant came over an showed the middle passenger to another seat, explaining that it wasn't us, but that she had requested a window seat and a couple of no-shows had provided one for her. The aircraft looked packed to me, but that spare middle seat was a godsend, as were the supplied pillow and blanket. Alex could lie down flat in a comfortable position and soon fell asleep.
The captain welcomed us to the flight, giving a flight time of six hours, thirty-seven minutes. Nice and short - good news for us.
I quickly programmed some music into my playlist (darn you Qantas, get some real orchestral soundtracks in your music collection!), switched to the tail camera view and listened to Ravel's Bolero as we pushed back and rode out to the runway.
The bridge retracts
Hi wife! The three tails of our flights
Ready for take-off!
Still to the strains of the Bolero we trundled down along the runway and lifted slowly into the sky.
The ships again
The first part of our flight was a little rough. Thanks to the absolute and relative size of its wings the aircraft seemed to float through the bumps and jumps with a motion that I found a little uncomfortable.
The flight to Melbourne is shorter than to Sydney
A wiggle around Batam
Thanks to the reflections and the large gap between the inner and outer windows of the A380 it is difficult to see much outside at night. In some ways that was a good thing as I wanted to take advantage of the IFE and sleeping child to watch something. Thanks to Alex and work I rarely get the time to sit down and watch a video or television, to escape into a different reality.
The other thing about watching movies on aircraft is that even bad movies can sometimes be rendered somewhat enjoyable due to the reduced oxygen to the brain (or that's my excuse). I chose the mentally untaxing "Predators" to occupy my screen. Thankfully the Qantas system allows you to pause, exit and return to a movie so even with interruptions I actually got to watch the entire movie.
I felt a damp patch on my shorts leg. Obviously Alex's watery poo had overflowed from the nappy again. But he was asleep and the stench wasn't strong, so I decided to just live with it for the moment.
A quiet cabin
Printed menus were handed out by the cabin crew. I also looked forward to a meal on this flight.
Menu options (there is a serving timeline down the bottom out of the shot)
I ordered the Singapore chicken curry. However, Alex's toddler meal was delivered first before the main trolley run. I had pre-ordered over the phone and was told that it consisted of blander food than the main course. Initially I wondered if I should have stuck with the standard adult meal as he quite likes rich food, but on the night it sounded much more suitable.
Throughout the flight the cabin staff did their best to assist. I asked if the meal could be kept for later as Alex was asleep, but they can keep it a maximum of an hour once it is heated up, so I just put it on the tray table. I then requested that they keep a chicken curry aside for me.
Alex's meal stayed unopened. When he finally woke up I asked if they could take the meal away, then carried him off to the toilet to change his nappy and wet pants. He was a bit upset about the disturbance, but I got him to drink quite a lot of water when we returned. I had to stop watching Predator while he played with the IFE screen. Qantas has an ABC for Kids channel and some BBC children's programs as well. He wanted "Bananas" ("Bananas in Pyjamas"). Well not really, but he could say it and it kept him occupied for a short while.
Then out the water came. Luckily, being the last lot of water he'd drunk, it didn't smell of vomit, and luckily it missed almost everything and mainly hit a bare patch of floor. But now I'd been pooed and vomited upon. Such is a parent's life.
I lay him down again and he looked sick. I just sat there feeling like the world's worst parent and apologised to Alex. He soon fell asleep again, but for a while looking less healthy than before.
The only thing I ate that evening was the Crunch ice cream. It was a little melted by the time it got to me, but very welcome. The hot chocolate service was also appreciated.
I finished watching "Predators", then attempted to view "American Beauty", which I felt was a reasonable flight movie (ie fairly monotonous), but couldn't get into it. Qantas' extensive Oscar winning movie list means that there is *something* to watch (or rewatch) in the selection. With less than 2.5 hours to go I decided to go the television route with a bit of "Blackadder", then some "Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means" which I enjoyed. Even the poo and vomit on me was less gross than some of the stuff Charlie Boorman ate in Taiwan.
With a couple of hours to go the mood lighting went through a very quick dawn sequence.
Sun's up - inside
Wake up you lazy sods!
Small patch of blue in the white light sky
Prior to the flight I was looking forward to a hot breakfast of the kind I was served up last year on Qantas. Sadly all we got was a "continental" breakfast on this leg. The fruit salad was welcome, but the raisin danish did not meet my approval.
With the first hints of dawn appearing out of the window we began our descent into Melbourne. Alex slept through it, all the way to the gate. I had none the entire flight, not that I even tried.
Only 14 minutes left!
Tailcam provided the best view
From inside you hardly know that you are turning
Descending into the cloud layer
Through the clouds
The lights of Melbourne
Out the window
The runway is visible
In a flap
It's a bit of a turn off
Oval windows are wierd
A line of Virgins were waiting for us in Melbourne
It's not so cloudy after all
At the gate
We'd made it! No engine explosions, not even the myriad little faults that plagued our last A380 flight. Alex seemed a lot better after his long sleep in the aircraft. Had Alex not been sick then the flight from Singapore would have been excellent. I collected all our belongings, put Alex in the backpack carrier and exited the aircraft.
Without any checked luggage passing through immigration and customs was quite quick. On our previous Melbourne day trip our flight down had been so delayed that we didn't have time to exit the airport before boarding our flight back to Sydney. This time I wanted to say that Alex had at least been out of the airport terminal, so we ducked out of the glass doors, took a photo, then retreated back inside due to the morning chill.
Duty free, not me!
Outside the terminal
The nice thing about Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport is that international and domestic terminals share the same building, so transiting is a breeze. On our way to the domestic gates we passed a medical clinic, but it was closed.
It's quiet at the check in desks
Looking towards the Qantas domestic check in area
In deference to Alex's condition I decided not to explore the airport further or to get a morning snack. Okay, I stopped for a couple of photos, but then I walked straight to the grey and red Qantas CityFlyer gate to await our departure to Sydney.
Airside, hungry, thirsty, can't eat...
Our 767 awaits
City of Parramatta: home to a Westfield shopping complex so big you need to leave an hour to exit the carpark!
The old folk next to me were whinging that the internet access wasn't free
When the time came to board Alex and I got in early. A young man back from Europe and now off to Shanghai sat down next to us. The ever helpful Qantas attendant asked if we needed anything and offered a pillow. I was going to say "no" but then Alex piped up with "bed! bed!".
Ah, that's what he meant!
With the small pillow nestled against the window, Alex lay down on my legs and relaxed quietly.
Looking back to where I was looking out before
The 767s are the oldest widebodies in Qantas' fleet and OGH was certainly showing her age, despite the newish honeycomb upholstery. That's not a criticism, because I love these old Boeing interiors. There's something adventurous and romantic about them in my mind. The projection screen in the centre aisle reminded me of our honeymoon flights on a Qantas 747 almost nine years ago.
Why not do a multicolour puppet show?
We taxied out under cloudy skies.
A mob of roos
Thanks for the ride down OQB
Compared with the sedate take-off of the A380 the 767 felt like a rocket.
Vapour trails on Qantas flights must be terrifying for journalists
Bye Melbourne, can't wait to see you again!
Below the cloud
The hour long 767 flight to Sydney was probably my favourite leg of this trip. It was one of those classic Australian domestic legs, a smooth flight with the great service of Qantas. Alex slept almost the entire trip and just sat back and enjoyed the view out of the window.
Above the clouds
A toddler breakfast was handed to me before the main meal service. I think I preferred it to the normal breakfast. It had good quality apple juice, a fruit bar, banana and cornflakes, unlike the Honey (yuck!) Crunch of the adult meal. There was no way sleeping Alex was going to eat it, so I attempted, without success, to open the cornflakes one handed. As I couldn't put the tray table down flat I had to hold the tray.
When the main service came around I handed across Alex's tray and took a couple of "adult" items: juice and a very nice apricot bun. I think I preferred the domestic breakfast to the continental breakfast served up on the A380 flight.
Exciting cloud - err, maybe not
The clouds came to an end as we reached the southern extent of the Blue Mountains southwest of Sydney.
Look, there's ground below us!
Damn it Warragamba!
AX__7Tg3ypg/s600/P1080537.JPG" width="600" height="338" border="0"/>Leaving the Nattai National Park
Prospect Reservoir (I think)
I'll often sit out on our back veranda and watch 767s and other aircraft flying up the Georges River valley on descent into Sydney Airport. I wondered if we were on the same route this morning, but being seated over the wing on the right hand side I couldn't tell.
The screen says "Enjoy the journey" and I did
Through clear skies we flew over the coast of the Royal National Park, the world's second oldest, turning north over Kurnell and into Botany Bay. It was a relaxed approach with plenty of scenic views.
The shimmering Tasman sea
Royal National Park
Looking towards the Royal National Park
Port Hacking and Bundeena
Looking towards Brighton Le Sands
The NZ 767 has winglets
B's BA 777 was in that lineup
Qantas and JAL
Qantas A380 and V Australia 777
We taxied around to the back of Terminal 3, parking next to the first gate.
Parked around the rear today
Qantas maintenance hanger
This being a domestic flight, and having no checked luggage, we could exit straight out of the terminal with no fuss whatsoever.
Airside in Terminal 3
B had flown in 3 hours earlier on a BA 777. She was supposed to meet us at Terminal 3, but thought that we were flying Jetstar and were at our departure terminal - 2.
It seemed that Alex was much improved after his sleep. While we waited in the T3 arrivals hall for her to walk around to us Alex was busy drinking water and saying "hungry" to me. The choice there is pretty poor. I had vowed never to spend money in the Hillsong Church affiliated Gloria Jeans, but who can resist a sick kid requesting "Cake! Bun!"?
B arrived and we caught the bus back to the long term carpark. She told me that the seating on her flight was uncomfortable, the food poor and she much preferred Qantas. That matched our last long haul BA experiences back in 2005 when we flew SIN-LHR and LHR-NRT with them.
My two Qantas flights had been superb. I couldn't fault the service on my flights - I really enjoy flying with Qantas these days.
While Alex seemed much improved we thought it only prudent that he be checked out. This being a Sunday when most decent medical clinics are closed we took him to the Sutherland Hospital emergency department, which was on our way back home anyway.
As we walked towards the hospital's door Alex threw up again, then once more inside the waiting room. The staff at the hospital were great. Alex was diagnosed with mild dehydration due to the gastro. They wanted him to drink water, but all he wanted to do was sleep. The same with B and I as neither of us had slept a wink on the flights.
After a couple of hours they gave up, fed him an anti-vomiting tablet that stopped him from throwing up any further, and sent us home with instructions to bring him back if he still wasn't taking in enough fluids.
Thankfully he drank and drank at home, even ate some food later. The runny nappies continued on for a few days, but that leads on to the next trip report: a quick trip up to Rockhampton on Virgin Blue and Qantas.
In the end it seems like our decision to bring Alex straight home was justified. Something that we've learned as parents is to trust our instincts, but I think that I would probably delay next time.
I enjoyed flying on the A380 again, but the real surprise was how great the 767 was. More on that in the upcoming trip report. I hope that you enjoyed reading this one.
ckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (2 years 6 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 7736 times:
Hi, thanks for the excellent trip report! From what I know, Bengawan Solo has outlets at both T2 and T3 but not T1! I love their cookies too, those sungees are to die for! They simply melt in your mouth...
Qantasclub From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 753 posts, RR: 3 Reply 5, posted (2 years 6 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6467 times:
I really enjoy reading your trip reports. We have travelled extensively with our 2 and 4 year old and I can completely empathise with the struggles of travelling with Alex; but there is also, of course, the joy of sharing our love of aviation and flying with them. My 4 year old son can already recognise airlines; QF,SQ,TG,CX,Virgin,JQ and aircraft: A380, 747, 737 all because of his time in planes and airports.
You seem to fly with Qf and JQ alot..have you tried SQ? They are brilliant with children (my wife would not fly with anyone else when we take the kids) and more importantly, consistently good. T3 at changi is also a completely different experience to T1.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1409 posts, RR: 3 Reply 6, posted (2 years 6 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6436 times:
Quoting ckblah (Reply 3): Bengawan Solo has outlets at both T2 and T3 but not T1!
They seem to have closed outlets elsewhere as well as I recall them being all over the place. The one in Geylang has gone, replaced by a jewelry store (with the same name, Sinma, as an excellent laksa restaurant in Kingsford, Sydney!). But I bought so much kuih lapis from the small outlets airside in T1 on previous trips.
Quoting Qantasclub (Reply 5): My 4 year old son can already recognise airlines; QF,SQ,TG,CX,Virgin,JQ and aircraft: A380, 747, 737 all because of his time in planes and airports.
Alex loves aircraft and I reckon it won't be long until he is identifying them. His childcare is under a major flightpath and many of the kids point upwards and say "airplane" when one or two fly over at once. He already associates the Qantas logo with "airplane".
Quoting Qantasclub (Reply 5): You seem to fly with Qf and JQ alot..have you tried SQ? They are brilliant with children (my wife would not fly with anyone else when we take the kids) and more importantly, consistently good.
I really tried to fly with SQ on this last trip, just for some variation and to compare them, but as always they were simply not competitive pricewise (they were almost for a short while, but others came in much cheaper at booking time). I fly with JQ a lot because a) they offer the best almost-direct connectivity with my favourite destination - Japan and b) they are cheap enough for me to afford (and justify to B) an overseas holiday in the first place! In the last five years I can't recall a single real complaint from me about Qantas' service (except for desserts and the soundtrack category in the IFE) and both they and Jetstar have been wonderful with Alex so I haven't felt any desperate need to change airlines. I can't say the same thing about the supposedly 5 star Cathay Pacific.
Quoting Kent350787 (Reply 4): Always happy to read your experiences to help me plan my family's travel too.
Kent350787 From Australia, joined May 2008, 888 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (2 years 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 6048 times:
Quoting allrite (Reply 6): Alex loves aircraft and I reckon it won't be long until he is identifying them. His childcare is under a major flightpath and many of the kids point upwards and say "airplane" when one or two fly over at once. He already associates the Qantas logo with "airplane".
My 2 (almost 3) year old has been able to tell the difference between a SAAB and a Dash for quite a while - a combination of my interest and living 20m ins bike ride from the airport....