I arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport on August 14th, 1997 at 13:45 local time. Departure was at 16:45 but I made a point to get to the airport early so that I could have a good seat on the flight taking into account this was going to be a looooong flight. I was given 52K- window on the right side just behind the wing. Although the following pic was not from my flight, it was more or less the view I had of the wing while looking out the window:
I had a cup of coffee in the small food court just prior to passport control with my friends who brought me to the airport- does anyone know wether that food court still exists? Has it been refurbrished?
Anyway, the time had come to say goodbye as I proceeded to passport control and steadily made my way to gate 34, where waiting for me was Qantas 747-400 VH-OJF (the EXACT same plane in the photo above).
Boarding was right on time.
To my pleasant surprise, the crew had shut the doors and there was no one sitting next to me- I had three whole seats all to myself!!!
The seats in Qantas' Y class, to the best of my memory, probably the most comfortable Y class seats I have ever sat in to date. The F/A's handed out water and orange juice prior to take-off, smiling and really friendly F/A's.
Take-off was right on time- we took off from Sydney at 16:45, it was dusk as we leaped into the golden yellow sky. It was a bright day, and taking off from Sydney you could see all it's famous landmarks- the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Darling Harbour, the Centrepoint Tower. Coupled with the colour of the sky it was spectacular view! I really love Sydney, it has to be my favourite city in the world..
After take-off I stared out the window as the sky turned from yellow to orange, to crimson with a dark blue line until it was dark. It was so beautiful- watching sunsets and sunrises at 30,000 feet- there's nothing quite like it.
Not too long after take-off dinner was served- sliced beef with vegetables- as far as airline food goes it was quite palatable.
Kudos to the F/A's who for the duration of the flight and also on the BKK-LHR sector consistently kept everyone hydrated, offering drinks every two hours or so. The service on both sectors was very friendly and warm, especially on the SYD-BKK leg where the plane wasn't in full capacity.
After dinner I watched the inflight movie- "Liar Liar" with Jim Carrey- really stupid film, but it helped pass the time. Then, having three seats to myself I spread out and lied down. I vaguely remember being half woken by an F/A who tucked me in my blanket as it slipped a bit- really, this was the best inflight service I had ever had. Nothing but praise for the Qantas crew!
I slept for about three hours and then I woke up. Between reading my book, the inflight magazine and listening to the music channels, we had begun our descent into BKK. 8 hours and 25 minutes had just whizzed by in no time at all!
Descending into BKK, there wasn't much to see as it was at night. Just the lights of the outer suburbs. Touchdown was really smooth and we taxied to the gate. Arrival was at 23:10 local time.
Before disembarking the captain told us we were free to roam the airport but to be back at the gate in 1 hour. I got out of the plane, left the gate and decided to have a little look around. I went into a few duty free shops at BKK, bought some chocolate for a few friends, and generally just used the time to stretch my limbs a little.
An hour had passed and I made my way back to the gate:
Second leg: BKK-LHR
As I returned to the gate, the amount of people that were there seemed to have doubled. It was evident the BKK-LHR sector would be filled to capacity.
When I reboarded, I found I no longer had the whole three seats to myself. However, next to me sat a very nice elderly couple from New Zealand who were doing a round the world trip, and had spent some time in Thailand. Really, my hat goes off to them having the energy to do that at their age (they seemed to be in their 80's).
Take-off was on time at 00:30. Again, not much to see since it was night. Shortly after take-off, even though I couldn't spread out on the three seats, I put the recliner back and went to sleep- the seat pitch on Qantas Y was really good- I slept like a baby for six hours straight! Something I had never done before on a flight.
When I woke up there was already light outside- I was slightly disappointed to have missed watching the sun rise, but on the plus side half the BKK-LHR leg was over in a flash.
Breakfast was soon served thereafter- omlette with mushrooms and a couple of sausages- not too bad considering....
I spent the remainder of the flight reading a bit, tuning in and out of some of the shows on the IFE and chatting to the elderly couple next to me, who were really nice people.
As I mentioned before, the F/A's kept bringing water and juice to keep us hydrated- I've flown on a few airlines longhaul, and Qantas was the only one that I've flown on that did that on a regular basis. My hat goes off to them.
For the last hour of the flight I sat watching the flight track monitor, as we made our way over Germany, Holland and across the English Channel. The flight itself was supposed to last 11 hours and 45 minutes, but because of heavy congestion above Heathrow we were forced to circle around for about 20 minutes before landing- bringing the flight to 12 hours and 5 minutes.
We touched down at LHR on August 15th 1997 at 06:35. Landing was smooth, and we taxied to our gate without too much ado.
Heathrow was comparatively quiet at this time of day- passport control was no problem at all (this is pre- 9/11 and I have a British Passport), bagagge claim was also quick. Then I went to the BA counter so I could get my bus ticket for Gatwick airport where I was due to connect.
This was the only glich in the trip- when I paid for my ticket (I bought it with BA) the bus ride from Heathrow to Gatwick was included in the payment but the desk clerk said I needed to pay for the bus- I was slightly ticked off, even though the flight with QF was great, it was still tiring and one can't help but feel slightly irrate in such a situation. Later on, I wrote BA a letter and got refunded, so all's well that ends well.
The bus ride to Gatwick was a real pain- having to filter through London traffic in the morning bang in the middle of rush hour, I was afraid I would miss the connection to TLV.
However, I arrived on time- about one and a half hours before departure. I already had my boarding pass for the flight which I got at Sydney, but because I transferred to another airport, they couldn't check my bags through to TLV, so I had to check them in again when I got to LGW.
Third leg: LGW-TLV
Airline: British Airways
Flight: BA 2654
From: London Gatwick
I can't remember the airline registration for this plane. I was given seat 11F, second row in economy window seat on the right. However, when I got to the gate I had a pleasant surprise in store- apparently economy was overbooked on the flight and I was lucky enough to be close to the gate agent when he said he needed three people- I was one of them - to whom upgrades were issued. So my seat was switched to 9A- last row of business class by the window on the left.
Takeoff was on time, we departed at 10:00, and soon after we took off I nodded off. I was totally zonked from the previous flight I slept for most of the 4 hour 40 minute flight. Soon we were approaching the Israeli coastline, and landed in TLV at 16:45 local time.
A total of over 31 hours had elapsed since I departed Sydney and until I arrived in TLV. Dead tired but happy, I took a taxi home....
P.S. To my good friend TBCITDG, just in case you panicked and didn't think it was really me posting this report, I could have SWORN I saw an Aerolineas Argentinas 747 from the plane as we were taxiing in Sydney
On another note, the airport has gone a pretty big facelift since 97 especially due to the Olympics. It is very effeicient even though it looks like a big shopping mall.Food court still there, with the same over priced food.