The flights back to Sydney via the Gold Coast were the only ones remaining from our original itinerary. Despite our many Jetstar flights between Sydney and Australia we had never actually flown the Kansai International Airport to Gold Coast route before. We had done Narita to the Gold Coast, when OOL was a construction site and unfit for use as an international airport. How would we go this time?
Our Japan Rail passes had run out and I had promised B some shopping time, so we spent the day walking down along the Shinsaibashisuji covered arcade and stopping off to buy various things.
Northern entrance to Shinsaibashisuji
We made it all the way to Dotombori Street.
Fugu along Dotombori St
Alex taught himself to use chopsticks!
By the time we returned to Shin-Osaka station we were at risk of missing our train to Kansai International Airport, so I ducked into the ticket office and changed our tickets to the next one for free. In the end it wouldn’t have mattered if I had booked tickets for two hours hence...
The Haruka Express isn’t as cheap nor as cool as the private Nankai Rapi:t, but its runs direct from Shin-Osaka to the airport. That convenience was much appreciated as we sat and watched the Japanese urban landscape whizz past while eating Kobe cream desserts that would never pass airport security.
Haruka at Shin-Osaka
Sunset out across the bay towards the airport
It’s necessary to catch the elevator up a couple of levels to international check ins. This makes life difficult because Alex decides that all he wants to do; catch lifts, press buttons.
While B attempts to entertain Alex I stand in the long queue to check in. There’s a sign out the front warning of a four hour delay due to aircraft rotation issues. This is probably related to the routing changes Jetstar has made in response to the tsunami. So long as Jetstar organise that we can make our onwards flight from OOL to SYD in time to pick up the dog from boarding then I’m not hugely fussed, although the sooner Alex can go to bed the easier for us.
I’ve suffered frequent delays of varying length with Jetstar. Then again, I suffered delays with most carriers I’ve flown so I don’t get fussed about it. Unlike trains when the delays usually happen while you are on board them, which always feels more irritating.
We were given three meal and drink vouchers for a value of 1000 Yen each, which was unexpected, but welcome.
Meal vouchers and restaurant list
More welcome in a way would have been an even longer delay with the offer of hotel accommodation. I was bone tired and still suffering the sniffles.
Waiting area past the check-in desks
Japanese airport restaurants always fail to excite and I can never work out what I feel like eating. Still, the vouchers covered us all for meals and drink at one of the Japanese restaurants.
Where we ate
We wandered all around the airport, including down to the domestic area. There were some decent shops around and I regretted some earlier purchases for gifts to take back with us. The toy store is especially good with some cute Japanese Star Wars paraphenalia.
Muji to Go had some nice wooden souvenirs
Alex with one of his favourite pastimes
The shops began to close for the night, so we passed through immigration and security, with Alex all excited about x-ray machines. Once past there the shops tend to boring duty-free luxury goods. They were closing too.
Reaching our departure area required a ride on the automated shuttle train. Depsite the closing shops there was still a moderate amount of aircraft activity outside.
Appropriate in the context of our trip to see a Thai Airways aircraft in front of a Jetstar A330
There were some free internet terminals near the gate, so B used one of these while I looked after Alex. I had to indulge some more of his obsessions of visiting the toilet and playing with vending machines. Every time we passed a vending machine in Japan (ie every few meters) he would ask to use one. Later, when B was looking after him, one Australian passenger slapped his hand when he interfered with his vending machine purchase.
Alex and I met a Japanese family with their own young kid. He and Alex raced around the empty spaces together and played on the chairs. It was lovely to see them burning off energy together. The friendly mum spoke good English and sat in front of us for the flight to the Gold Coast, which was better for both families as at least your know that someone around you understands what travelling with kids can be like.
B then took over and let me upload photos and post to my blog using the wireless network. Unfortunately, some Mac user had selfishly monopolised the free power sockets at the computer desk. I managed to finish posting everything before the boarding finally started.
This was my 12th flight in a Jetstar A332, and as it was a flight home I approached it more with resignation than enthusiasm. As with the last flight the seating configuration was 2-4-2 and I had agreed again to sit in the middle rows, thus forgoing any opportunity to look out of the windows.
You might wonder what there is to see outside on a night flight that is almost all over the ocean, but as a ex-student of astronomy there is always the brilliant night sky. It is also comforting to know that the bumps are caused by high cloud as the aircraft’s powerful beams are switched on into the mist, or to watch the lightning flashes of distant storms.
With the delay of this flight there was also the potential for a glorious sunrise to look forward to.
Cabin shot while the aircraft was still boarding
But there was to be none of that on this flight, and instead I would have to make do with whatever entertainments I had brought and could safely reach without disturbing a sleeping son, and the cabin screens. When I noticed that, according to the guide in the seat pocket, that the only movie scheduled was “Dinner With Schmucks” I had to laugh. It’s been a rare Jetstar flight where a movie starring Steve Carrell hasn’t been shown (there was that one about the guy who invented the windscreen wiper...).
Alex fell asleep almost as soon as we boarded the aircraft. He lay flat across the seat on a little pillow that we had purchased in Oita and an Jetstar blanket that we’d brought along from an earlier flight. Alex doesn’t like the neck pillows that are the only other little pillows for purchase.
The flight was almost, but not quite, full, with eight families with young kids on board. The Japanese girl next to B offered to move back into the almost empty row behind us, which worked out well for all. Alex, at full stretch, takes up two seat widths.
I have no real complaints about the seats. They are comfortable enough without being great. The legroom was fine for me.
It’s a somewhat unpleasant shock seeing Australians again after being surround by the polite and quiet Japanese. I took an instant dislike to the older Australian couple seated to my left in the window rows. When the young, blonde and Lara Bingle-looking (and I’m not being kind here) flight attendant asked them to raise the blinds for take-off the woman, in a schoolteacher voice, says “Please.”
“You didn’t say please.” (You didn’t listen to the announcement did you?)
They then complained, complained, complained all the way in loud voices.
“We weren’t told of the delay!”
(No, you didn’t bother reading the sign, did you?)
“The sandwiches were stale.”
(They are always stale on Jetstar. It’s a low cost carrier. Live with it)
“How do I use this?”
And so on.
At one point of the flight, when a baby cried I half wanted them to complain so that I could reply that all their constant bitching was keeping me awake, which it was.
We had our own bit of trouble getting ready for take-off as you need to keep the armrests down (in case they slam down with heavy braking) and we had put them up to allow Alex to lie across the seat. But he was so dead to the world it didn’t really matter.
Safety demonstrations, then taxiing then up into the night sky, for a fairly bumpy flight home. The captain warned us that it might get a bit bumpy over the equator due to the everpresent storms, but the seatbelt lights were not switched on until our descent. In my experience they are usually used around Guam.
The cabin crew came through with AirVOD video on demand units for rental. The couple next to me had difficulty using them. Despite wanting to watch “TRON Legacy” and the Japanese movie “Space Battleship Yamato”, I decided that it wasn’t worth the $15 or $25 (can’t remember which) rental fee and I’m not a fan on these heavy bricks. I had no need to buy an earphone to listen to the cabin entertainment either as I had my own noise reduction pair and plenty of other spare Jetstar earbuds from when they were free on long-haul flights. Needless to say I didn’t tune into any of the supplied entertainment.
Delivering the AirVODs
What I really wanted to do was sleep, but this is something I do poorly. Instead I closed my eyes and listened to music on my mp3 player, which was quite a relaxing thing to do. The cabin television screens were a bit annoying, the light flickering through my eyelids (note to self, bring eyeshades next time - plenty of unused ones at home from other flights’ amenity packs).
Even more annoying was the fact they repeated the same episode of “Two and a Half Men” three times when once is already too much. I’m not too certain that an episode of “The Simpsons” was entirely appropriate considering the nuclear situation at Fukushima! It so turned out that there was no Steve Carrell shown, as the main feature was “Morning Glory” instead. I’ve probably said so before, but watching the cabin movies on Jetstar is like watching them on long distance buses and trains: They only show movies you don’t want to watch.
One benefit of sleeping fitfully was that the cabin crew gave those of us awake leftover slices of the strawberry mousse that had formed part of the StarClass service. Nice! All other food required a purchase. We had stocked up with bakery products before departure.
I also learned from an attendant that, in order to save on fuel costs, Jetstar no longer put a free bottle of water in your seat pocket. Instead you can get a cut of water from the drinks fountain, though the attendant offered to get a drink for me.
Alex stirred once during the flight, suddenly calling out “Catch lift! Press button!”. I know what he was dreaming about.
Eventually morning arrived and the breakfast service began, while some passengers opened their blinds. Alex awoke and we fed him bits of roll.
Seatbelt lights are off!
Due to the delay we would have missed out on sunrise on descent into OOL. I still wished to be looking out the window. It’s somewhat disconcerting to land without being able to see what is going on.
Seatbelt lights are on!
The cabin is awake
Fortunately the showers had cleared over the airport as it is necessary to use stairs at OOL. Looking back at the A332 I discovered that it was the distinctive white EBC, an aircraft I have caught twice before.
Parked at OOL
We were in a big hurry to catch our flight down to Sydney, as we needed to have enough time to collect our dog from the kennel. Unfortunately, the queue at quarantine was quite slow as one of the ladies in front of us had to unpack her bag. There were signs warning that “Border Security” were currently filming, but we saw the film crew depart shortly afterwards without investigating the “incident” ahead of us. We had stuff to declare, but the inspectors were satisfied with a verbal description - it was all stuff that has passed before.
Meanwhile, Alex protested that he wanted to play with luggage belts, x-ray machines, vending machines and toilets while we tried to keep him in his stroller as we hurried over to the check in desk. I’m a bit confused now whether we ended up on our original flight or the next one and the boarding passes have been put away now. I suspect it was on JQ411, the next one after our scheduled flight.
I had prepurchased entry passes into the Jetstar lounge so that we could relax until our flight to Sydney and eat breakfast. However, with the aircraft scheduled to depart in half an hour there was no time to use it.
At least Gold Coast’s airport has improved over the closed in box with only a couple of shops that greeted us last time.
Waiting at the gates were aircraft from Virgin Blue, Airnorth and our Jetstar flight.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 1, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 5886 times:
CARRIER: Jetstar Airways
FLIGHT: JQ409 or JQ411 (?)
ETD: 11:30 or 12:55 (local)
ETA: 13:00 or 14:25 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Airbus Industries A320
Boarding was via front and rear stairs.
Up close and personal
The flight was absolutely chockers. We had been allocated seats in row 3, which would normally attract an extra charge, but was great for us.
The pitch on the A320s feels smaller than the A332, but the seats seem to have more padding. Anyway, it was only an hour’s journey.
View out of the window
Taking up the middle seat
From the outside I don’t expect that the Gold Coast’s redeveloped airport will be winning any architectural contests. It’s long and flat.
Only the Airnorth aircraft remained
As Alex fell asleep it was time to sit back and enjoy a bit of Australian scenery out of the window. We ran into the same issue of the armrest prior to take-off.
Up, up and away!
Taking off towards the south
Entering the clouds
Tendrils of cloud behind the mountain
The crew came through selling food, but we had no cause to buy anything. Trying to get out our local cash would have been too difficult anyway with Alex lying on our legs.
Inside the cabin
The landscape has browned out
Getting cloudy again
Before long it was time to descend into Sydney.
Under the clouds, just north of Sydney
We had to wake Alex up in order to put the arm rests down. As we flew over his childcare at North Ryde I told him to wave to his friends.
Two sleepy passengers
Sydenham - a reminder of the daily commute
Containers and airport
Freight terminal and BA parking lot
It’s not always Airbus vs Boeing. Widebodies having a friendly chat.
Domestic terminals T2 and T3
REx Saab 340 turboprops
Looking south across the Long-Term carpark, control tower and Botany Bay
Tiger waiting to pounce
I love these domestic flights. Full service airline or not they are a relaxing hour or few up in the skies and away from any worries. It helps when Alex sleeps through the whole trip too.
On each of the past three overseas trips we have flown one direction on a full service airline (Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Thai) and another on Jetstar. I can’t deny that flying on a full service airline is more pleasant, but I know what to expect with Jetstar and those expectations are consistently met, so I don’t complain. In fact, I was very pleasant with the compensation we received for the delayed flight and the fact that our connections was rebooked with the minimum of fuss.
Alex’s has now flown 29 legs, 16 airports in 6 countries and on 8 airlines (10 if you count QantasLink separate from Qantas and Jetstar Asia from Jetstar Australia) and 14 aircraft (counting members of the A32x and 737-x separately). He’s flown at ages 4 months, 9 months, 1 year old, 1 ⅓ year old, almost 2 years old, and now 2 ⅓ years old, as well as in the womb. It’s a bit of an experiment to see how he travels as he grows and it’s amazing how well he has coped.
It’s obvious that we love to travel, but how about him? Ever since he returned every aircraft is flying to Bangkok, if you ask him. His trip report goes something like.
“Catch aeroplane. Seatbelt lights on. Take-off, see clouds. Go to toilet.”
What do you do at Bangkok?
“Go through x-ray machines. Alex go on trolley (luggage) belt. Go to hotel room. See fountains (Siam City Hotel). Catch lift.”
What do you do at the hotel room?
“Play doors. Press button! Go to toilet!”
See why toilet training him is so easy? He also knows Singapore and Hong Kong. Tonight I asked him if he had been to the latter.
What did you see in Hong Kong, I asked.
Did he like Japan?
“Yes! Catch Anpanman train!”
A few months later and he’s capable of expressing more sophisticated sentences. But from his chatter and his reaction to seeing photos of the trips and aircraft in the sky, of spotting signals and vending machines at the stations on our daily commute I know that he got a lot out of the holiday.
Barring anything unexpected (always a possibility - we’ve had sickness, injury, riots, earthquakes and tsunamis affect every other trip since Alex’s birth), our next flights should not be until October (Rockhampton) and November (Europe with Malaysia Airlines).
If you want more information about the trip and photos please see:
Some more stats now. Interestingly, I’ve written about the same number of words for this series of trip reports as I did in the travel blog - approximately 17,000 each. That’s 34,000 words in total for the trip... That’s why these reports take so long to write!
If you still feel like reading more, I have plrenty of previous trip reports (may not be the entire list).
I also have a couple of mini trip reports up on my blog for recent flights without my family:
FlyKev From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2006, 1364 posts, RR: 1 Reply 2, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5794 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW FORUM MODERATOR
A great final part of a very enjoyable series of trip reports - Thanks for sharing them with us. Your photos of Japan fascinate me and certainly encourage me to make a trip there sometime in the future.
I look forward to reading your next adventures.
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 3, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 5506 times:
Thanks for your comments!
Quoting FlyKev (Reply 2): Your photos of Japan fascinate me and certainly encourage me to make a trip there sometime in the future.
After nine trips to Japan there is still so much I want to see and I encourage you to go. It is a country so rich with sights and experiences, and one so easy to safely travel around (barring natural disasters, of course!).
sultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1399 posts, RR: 31 Reply 4, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5264 times:
After reading your 4th part I can only applaud you onto this nice series you have produced Wonderful pics throughout and with a nice portion of humour, mostly on your son's behalf. I have a son of about the same age and recognize the same total fascination for the world and all interesting 'stuff' it has to offer. It is a lovely sight to see and to read in your report. I find it very brave of you to have taken him on this trip, it'll be a nice memory for him & for you as parents.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 5, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 5039 times:
Quoting sultanils (Reply 4): I find it very brave of you to have taken him on this trip, it'll be a nice memory for him & for you as parents.
Thanks for your kind words. It's all part of a not very secret plan to train him as a great traveller so that we can continue going on holidays with him. It's just so much fun to share these new experiences with someone who has an absolutely different outlook on the world to us adults.
A little coda to my trip report, one that I related on my blog about how we knew we were back in Australia...
You know that you are not in Japan anymore when there’s a woman in the train on your way home scraping the dirt out of her toenails over the seat. B asked “Can we eat in this train?” I remind her that this is CityRail, not Bangkok's Skytrain or a Japanese commuter service.
signol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2962 posts, RR: 8 Reply 6, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4691 times:
Nice to follow your trip to a successful conclusion! Alex certainly seems to enjoy buttons and levers, etc. Our Matthew was enthralled the first time we took him on an escalator recently!
Quoting allrite (Thread starter): There’s a sign out the front warning of a four hour delay due to aircraft rotation issues.
A shame about the delay, especially with a child, but it appears Alex handled it well, and both of his parents know how to keep him happy! (or rather, the airport designers )
Quoting allrite (Thread starter): I had agreed again to sit in the middle rows, thus forgoing any opportunity to look out of the windows.
Again a shame, I feel for you! My wife always has the window (she gets air sick, and claims it helps to reduce it) so I'm usually middle or aisle. We have done one trip with window seats in front of each other, on Easyjet, though without a child.
Has he worked out the buttons in the armrest yet? We've had one incident of a child pressing the "F/A call" buttun, having to apologise, then position elbow to prevent access, whilst not pressing it myself!
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 8, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4328 times:
Quoting signol (Reply 6): Has he worked out the buttons in the armrest yet?
Yes, we introduced them to him a while ago, but told him not to press the call button. He's actually pretty good about it, with the overhead light button being far more interesting. Anyway, he gets bored with the armrest pretty quickly anyway.
Quoting signol (Reply 6): That will for sure be an interesting trip - let us know when and where you'll be, we are obviously in UK but will be transiting AMS on the 2nd.
LHR on 5/11, AMS 16/11. In between, who knows yet? We booked in a hurry due to Malaysia Airline's cheap fares. The flight criteria was Euro destinations served by their 747s as they are in 3-4-3 config rather than 2-5-2 for their 777s.
Probably won't spend long in the UK. It's our 10th wedding anniversary so we'll need to go back to Paris, where we spent our honeymoon, want to show B Ghent and she wants to see Prague. Any ideas for cheap, but child friendly, flights to Prague? Don't mind leaving from/returning to the UK, France or Belgium. Probably go by rail for the rest.
Quoting allrite (Reply 8): Any ideas for cheap, but child friendly, flights to Prague?
We've only taken Matthew on a few short European flights: Monarch and Thomsonfly (holiday charters) and KLM F70s. All are fairly cramped, but it is only a short flight. I've been to Prague several times, as one of my friends used to live there before moving to Antigua, but usually use either Easyjet from Stansted, or Ryanair Stansted to Berlin and then the train down through Dresden - can be cheaper than flying direct. http://signol.blogspot.com/2011/05/a...-autumn-travels-part-1-stn-to.html
If Alex hasn't experienced a sleeper train, could that be an option for PRG, at least one way? http://www.seat61.com/Czech.htm
Smartwings fly PRG - Paris, my aforementioned friend above has used them and they are recommended: http://www.smartwings.com/home.php?lang=en
That's a pity! Would love to have watched the little ones compare flights together.
We'll be celebrating Alex's 3rd birthday on the continent, so I'm sure we'll be able to find a good patisserie for his cake!
Thanks for those airline hints. I'd love to do the whole thing by train, which is pretty much what we did on previous European trips, but I think we need at least one intra-Europe air leg to save time while covering a long distance. Had thought of going via Dresden one way, though Vienna is also tempting...
Alex hasn't done a sleeper train (though he's slept in plenty). I generally dislike them as you can't see the scenery along the way. We did the Trenhotel from Madrid to Paris once and B got so motion sick she threw up in the compartment - fortunately at the end of the journey! (The Hong Kong - Beijing train deluxe sleep is recommended, though!).
Anyway, will revisit the whole PRG thing a little closer to the date and once I've had a chance to think about an itinerary. Plenty of time yet - got to keep my mind occupied for the next 5 months somehow!
Fabo From Slovakia, joined Aug 2005, 1156 posts, RR: 1 Reply 11, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3864 times:
Quoting allrite (Thread starter): I’ve probably said so before, but watching the cabin movies on Jetstar is like watching them on long distance buses and trains: They only show movies you don’t want to watch.
Oh, the wonders of long distance busses... Having spent on average about 1,5 overnight bus journeys each month for the last three years, I can relate to that. Even if you happen to catch a good one every so often, you are sure to have it repeated ad nauseum. I cant count how many times have I seen The Thirteenth Warrior. Alas, what can a student do, when his only faster choice are ridiculously expensive CSA fares?
Though I wont be joining you in Prague this fall.
The light at the end of tunnel turn out to be a lighted sing saying NO EXIT
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 12, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 3678 times:
Quoting Fabo (Reply 11): Even if you happen to catch a good one every so often, you are sure to have it repeated ad nauseum.
Good to see that it's an international phenomena! Around 15 years ago I was catching a 4 hour bus ride between Canberra and Albury every couple of weeks or more as a student visiting my girlfriend (now wife). I lost count of the number of times I saw "The SIlver Brumby" and "Grumpy Old Men". But it's not just buses. I've caught trains in Australia and Malaysia where the movies were just as lame.
Quoting Fabo (Reply 11): I cant count how many times have I seen The Thirteenth Warrior.
That was one of the movies I watched on my second ever overseas trip. I'm hoping that Malaysia Airlines' choices will be better this next time around.
travelR From Australia, joined Sep 2010, 91 posts, RR: 0 Reply 13, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 3387 times:
Great trip reports Allrite. I enjoyed following your trip reports from start to finish. Looks like Alex is growing up fast. He will be a seasoned traveller before he gets to kindergarten!
Quoting allrite (Thread starter): You know that you are not in Japan anymore when there’s a woman in the train on your way home scraping the dirt out of her toenails over the seat. B asked “Can we eat in this train?” I remind her that this is CityRail, not Bangkok's Skytrain or a Japanese commuter service.
I think reality kicks back in when you are in Sydney and compare our trains to most other advanced nations which puts us to shame. Why is it Japan has no delays and Cityrail announces a delay every other day when something is wrong with the Harbour Bridge!
Quoting allrite (Reply 8): LHR on 5/11, AMS 16/11. In between, who knows yet? We booked in a hurry due to Malaysia Airline's cheap fares.
MH have so many cheap specials at the moment I think they are running out of passengers! Really cheap deals to North Asia, India, and China. About AUD200.00 plus taxes.
Great pics and makes me miss my visits to Japan and Thailand.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 14, posted (2 years 6 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3143 times:
Quoting travelR (Reply 13): I think reality kicks back in when you are in Sydney and compare our trains to most other advanced nations which puts us to shame. Why is it Japan has no delays and Cityrail announces a delay every other day when something is wrong with the Harbour Bridge!
And you notice the trains crawling between each stop unlike in Japan. And the brand new vending machines at your platform don't steal your money giving nothing in return and... And I know why it is different here but the reasons are mostly depressing.