Kaitakfan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1587 posts, RR: 7 Posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 2590 times:
It had been 3 months at the time since I had been back to Sydney, and the itching was starting to fire up again. It seems during the past year or so every couple of months an incredible urge to return to my favourite city (Sydney) would hit me. And when the urge hits it seems to be the most helpless feeling. the calling of Australia was to be answered yet again. So for spring break I called my UAL non reving travel partner up and we orgainzed what would be my 4th trip back to Sydney in the past 9 months. As well as a hop down to Melbourne. Without further delay... I give my sweeeet experience in Australia for spring break 2002.
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March 7th, 2002. Phoenix, AZ
This day started out very familiar to me. An early class to attend to take a meteorology exam, followed by a quick rush down to Sky Harbour Airport to connect out to California. Travel to CA has become interesting as of late. Mainly due to the fact of the now small CRJ's operating the PHX-LAX service, which usually go out full. This scenario would be no different today. Being a non reving passenger with United I knew I had better play it smart and fly up to San Francisco. Another problem for this day was UA 863 SFO-SYD was much more heavily sold then UA 815 out of LAX, Or so I thought! My friend and I decided to stick with our plan and take UA815 to SYD tonight. At 1:30PM we boarded UA 371, a Boeing 757-200 to San Francisco.
I was seated in seat 5A, my friend in 5C. My moms friend who was working the flight asked the guy sitting next to me if he wouldnt mind switching aisle seats so my friend and I could sit next to each other. I was amazed that this man not only said "NO" but said it in a extremely disgusted voice as if she wanted him to move to coach. So now I knew this guy was a tool, and felt no shame coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose in his direction. This would be the first time having a cold on a plane would come in handy!
After a long hold at runway 25R our 757 lined up at 2:15PM and started its take off roll which lasted a short 23 seconds. The flight to SFO went by quickly, drinks and snack mix were served as per usual now adays in first class. The real joy of the flight came during approach into SFO. Winds were blowing hard this day up to 35MPH. It was a neat site seeing the bay waters being rippled by the strong blowing winds out of the west. Touch down on runway 28 left was rather rough. after a late touch down, the reversers fired up and slowed the beautiful 757 down. we taxied to gate 76 and deplaned quickly.
We were then faced with yet another problem in SFO. Flights to LAX were delayed by an hour as well as most being relatively full. We checked in for 2 LAX flights to see which would be our better option. after being checked in by an individual whos sex was undeterminable, we were informed this flight was our best option. the 3:30 boarding time came and went. by 5:00PM an A319 pulled into gate 74. during the planes arrival I was called to the counter where I was issued seat 6D and my friend 6E. We were very happy to have seats and know we would be getting into LAX at an good time.
At 5:45PM our flight 961 pushed from gate 74 and we were on our way out to runway 28 right. Following a 5 minute traffic hold our baby bus shot its way down the now lit up runway 28R. The flight down to LAX lasted only 54 minutes. following a nice sunset view and approach into the LAX area with an Eva Air heavy trailing our little A319, we hit a soaking wet runway 24R just after 7PM.
We arrived at terminal 6 after sitting 10 minutes on the ground at LAX. After we deplanned, we headed directly to termianl 7 where UA 815 non stop to Sydney would be departing out of gate 76. To kill time before boarding for 815 at 9:25PM, I wrote my girlfriend an e-mail, and stared out at the beautiful 747-400 which was bathed in a very bright light coming from the terminal.
After I got my visa and passport varified for travel to Australia at gate 75A's counter, we sat and waited for boarding. 9PM rolled around and a pure rush of anxiety washed over me. Having checked the loads for the flight tonight it looked as if it were going to be tight getting a seat in business class as I have done on the high majority of my international trips. only 17 seats open with 43 stand by passengers listed is a bit much for my liking. I relaxed a bit knowing I had alot of senority behind me. And with my nerves put to ease, the standby listed began to be cleared. Several names were being called rather rapidly. A voice in my head was yelling "holy jesus who are all these god damn people" just as I started to get a bit worried my name was called. I must have sprung to my feet quicker than I have ever done before. I quickly marched over to the counter were I was comforted to hear my friend and I would be put in business. Just for the hell of it I asked if any upper deck seats were open. To my surprize there were 2 left. 18H and 16B. I easily accepted those seats right away. And that was that... We were on our way to Sydney sitting in stlye in the best seats on the whole plane (upper deck that is).
I was the first one to have my ticket taken for boarding of UA 815. However I would not be the first on. I was quickly taken to the side were I was searched extensively. What a pisser I thought! But oh well I got all packed up again and marched right up the jetway to the L1 door where I was greeted by a waterfall of rain pouring from the top of the entrance to the 747. I then quickly proceded up the stair case, where I arrived my seat 18H. My friend who had seat 16B had already taken 18G right next to me. The guy who orginally was seated in 18G had no problem moving. Fortunately this guy was nice and not like the complete jerk on the PHX-SFO flight who would no switch and aisle for an aisle. We spent a good couple of minutes in the flight deck talking to a crew which seemed incredibly young to be flying the LAX-SYD route. I learned that this evening's flight to Sydney was going out at a astounding 875,000 pounds, Max gross take off weight! Also the captain flying the leg tonight which was his first as captain of the 747-400, was excited to inform me that max thrust was to be used for take off tonight, which was then refered to as "A big blast" from the second officer.
After the enjoyable flight deck visit we took our seats and settled in for the long 14 hour and 19 minute flight down to Sydney. Following a 13 minute delay due to loading last minute cargo, the mighty 747-400 was then pushed from gate 76. I must say, sitting on the upper deck is just the best place to experience the 747-400. During push back, you really can feel the incredible size of the aircraft much more then any other seat in my oppinion. Engine start was then commenced and we were stablized within a short amount of time. following this the four pratts then fired up in a deep humming sound as we started our slow taxi to runway 25 right. Just as we turned out to the taxiway which would take us to 25 right we seemed to closely cut off a 737 which also was on its way to 25 right. You can imagine the boys flying the 737 had no problem holding back and letting the king of the skies take the lead.
After a short taxi we were at the holding point for 25R. staring down the brighly lit up runway will always stick out in my mind especially right as the linkin park song "in the end" just started up during our taxi into position. The song seemed to set an interesting mood for the take off. Anyone who likes that song could probably understand what im talking about. We held for a brief second. Take off lights then flashed on and the breaks were released. we started to slowly roll as a high pitched scream was heard from the engines. Max thrust was then fully applied and let me tell you... those suckers were roaring like I have never heard before!!! I could clearly see large amounts of rain being sucked in and expelled from the extreme, raw power of max thrust. It took our 747-400, 1 minute and 1 second to finally get the wings flexing upwards and rotate off the wet runway and on our way over the dark Pacific Ocean. What an amazing take off it was. and the music of linkin park only seemed to enhance to setting.
Our mighty 747-400 continued its slow, yet gracefull climb out and on our way to Sydney, Australia. It was hard trying to stay awake for the meal service, yet somehow I managed. for dinner I was given an excelent slice of salmon and a garden salad for a started. For the main course I choose a bacon chowder. I dont know why I went for such an odd sounding meal, but It was worth it. It seems everytime I see a strange meal on an international flight in business class it always is great! This dinner was just what I had hoped for. very tasty and filling! So with a full stomach and a dose of cold medicine taken I was quickly asleep, I was only awaken a few times during the flight. once over the tropic of cancer where thunderstorms were raging, as well as the equator. After about 9 hours of sleep I decided to go and take a walk and stretch out a bit. I went down stairs and headed to the aft section of the aircraft. It was amazing to see what was going on in coach at the time. It seemed like I had just walked back into a section of a plane carrying cattle! mass amount of humanity was all over the place! every single seat was occupied. People were in so many odd and uncomfortable positions it was amazing. Blankets placed over numerous peoples heads, as if they were corpses, heads placed on tray tables, and some just roughing it out and sitting straight and still in the tightly confined center seats. Incredbible I thought, madness! how do these people not go nuts I asked myself.
After my journey which could have been used as a documentary on the discovery channel, I retreated back to my seat. I slept another 2 hours before it was time for breakfast to be served. I quickly pounded down the omlette which had onions, peppers, and ham inside! A very great meal indeed! By this time the sun had risen and it was just about time for contact with Brisbane center.
Finally we came out of cruise and started to head back down to the surface.
We raced through a few thick cloud layers before finally breaking through just over Manly beach area. We were on the downwind for an approach to runway 16R. I had never landed on 16R out of all of my 5 pervious trips to SYD. Needless to say it was a nice change of scenery for the approach. We turned base and then turned finals way up over the lush green northern part of Sydney. I was missing out on one hell of a view. People sitting on the port side of the 747 were treated to a great view of down town Sydney, the harbour and all that makes it up. No worries I told myself. its not like its something I have never seen! We then glided down smoothly on to 16R and made a quick exit on to taxiway alpha. We then taxied to the international terminal where the Thai row boat 747-400 was sitting in all its glory. We parked at gate 53. Once again another quick exit. To my surprize the flight attendant down stairs was so kind enough to hold back passengers down stairs in business class to allow us to come down from the upper deck. After the enjoyable 14 hour flight down we did our usual and caught a ride in the UAL crew bus. Since the crew lodges at the hilton we always take advantage of our huge discount with hilton and the free ride into town! What a great way to travel!
After we arrived the hotel I had made good conversation with a very attractive flight attendant as well as the first officer of the flight. We made arrangements to have a few drinks in the pub later that evening. It sure was a blast sucking down a few coldies with a 747-400 f/o and a great looking flight attendant! All this before we were to meet up with Mr. Craig Murray, where a party was being held and Joe Corrigan's house. It was great to meet new aviation fans down in Sydney as well as the one's I have known from previous visits. After the fun party at Joe's we were envited to do some aerobatic flying the next day with Craigs friend Brad. The flight out of Camden airpot was just amazing. I really enjoyed myself doing wing overs and rolls! After the fun day of flying it was off to check out Mr. Murrays new living arrangements where we would have dinner. I had a great time up at Craigs PHAT new apartment! To spend time with Criag,Anna, and Brad made the trip to Sydney so much more enjoyable! They all make me feel at home in Sydney and thats why I will never grow sick of Sydney!
After a late Sunday night out in Sydney we were to pack up our stuff and get ready for UA863 SYD-MEL the next morning. Since I have blown myself out so far with the above trip report I will save the rest for a part 2 if you all dont mind. I really hope I have given all of you a great view into what my trips are like flying standby down to an amazing city like Sydney Australia. Just a preview of part 2.
1)A wide open flight to MEL which leads to an excelent flight
2)Same crew from previous SFO-SYD flights which leads into an interesting return flight.
3)SYD-SFO, Mile high club situation on UA862?!? Now this gets good!!
As I said before I hope you enjoyed and all this detailed writing didnt drive anyone nuts! comments would be appreciated to improve part 2!
thanks for reading!
Kaitakfan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1587 posts, RR: 7 Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2153 times:
Hey everyone thanks for the reply's.
LHSTR, I see your point of view clearly on the issue of the man on my PHX-SFO flight. However I still just dont understand why someone can be so uptight over a aisle seat which he had been seated in no more than 5 minutes, when an aisle seat just next to him is open. To me and alot of other people who hear the story they all agree he could have been a bit more friendly regarding the situation. dont you agree? anyways part 2 should be written up maybe tonight after work!
Kaitakfan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1587 posts, RR: 7 Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2036 times:
Great to hear from you! I was disapointed to learn from Craig you wouldnt be around again for one of my visits! I will save the rest for an e-mail to you! Anyways, I guess its time to fire out part 2 of my trip report...
Kaitakfan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1587 posts, RR: 7 Reply 14, posted (11 years 8 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 1966 times:
Hey guys thanks for the comments! I appreciate it!
Lou, to answer your question of how I get non reving passes... My mom has been working with United since the mid 80's. So I have ok senority behind me when I travel. Makes for smooth travel most of the time!
Goallegheny From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 340 posts, RR: 0 Reply 16, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 1926 times:
Great report. Incredible to think of 438 tons of metal, plastic and humanity rumbling down the runway. Your description of coach class reminds me why I will NEVER fly anything longer than 3 or 4 hours in coach, even if that means I don't get to fly.