Here is a summary of the trip:
SAS, EWR to CPH, A-330, 16-Jul-05
SAS, CPH to GVA, MD-87, 17-Jul-05
Austrian, GVA to VIE, CRJ, 20-Jul-05
Austrian, VIE to BKK, 763, 20-Jul-05
Thai Airways, BKK to SYD, 744, 21-Jul-05
The first flight was probably the most fun. My fiancé and I were in the last row (46), and we had to seats in the middle of the three. The back of the right hand side of the plane was used for crew rest. The best part for me was the ability to watch the camera views from the seat. The meal was fine, and then I passed out. It is worth mentioning that the service in steerage was outstanding--especially, the older lady who was extremely grandmotherly in her manner.
I remember waking up to lots of turbulence during the flight to Copenhagen, but generally being able to sleep. Once on the ground, clearing immigration was a snap and what a beautiful airport CPH is. However, we only had an hour to get to our flight to Geneva.
Not nearly as nice, the interior even smelled old, and only a pay service on the flight. Fortunately, it was short enough that it was not an issue.
Once on the ground in GVA, and after a two mile walk to the main terminal, we cleared immigration and customs without issue and were quickly on our way to the Hotel Edelweiss. Which is very nice, by the way, designed like a Swiss chalet.
After my training at the Geneva office for my company, we spent the day Wednesday morning and early afternoon playing around town before heading back to the airport. There was officially no one in front of us at the Swissport check-in for Austrian/Lufthansa so that was great.
However, we were traveling coach to Vienna, then business class from VIE to SYD (Austrian to BKK, then Thai to SYD). Since we were moving to Australia, we had 2 full suitcases with us, there was a slight pause and the check in gal made a phone call before she checked us in without a baggage surcharge. She was able to check our bags all the way to SYD even though each segment (GVA to VIE, VIE to BKK, BKK to SYD) was booked individually. God bless alliances I say!
While at the pod for Austrian (operated by Tyrolean), I snapped some photos of the flyBaboo DH-8 before the cleaning man said that the police would smash my camera. Since it is a nice one, I decided to stop, and instead blow my final CHF on a Coca-Cola Light. Where I saw a policeman with his head buried in a newspaper enjoying a coffee.
Once on the flight to VIE, it was another pay-as-you-go flight for service, but I was hungry so I ordered the ham & cheese sandwich. Not bad actually, and this flight seemed longer than I thought it should be, but before you knew it we were getting ready to land in a pasture, and viola, a runway appeared. We taxied to the parking stands and were whisked away by bus to the terminal.
It took a while, but we cleared immigration in VIE, and found our way to real food. Sadly, we learned that all the good stores close in the evening at the Vienna airport, which really limited what we could do. It is not nearly as beautiful as the CPH airport, which has us sad that while we were at a great airport we had no time. Now we had five hours, and the airport is nearly closed.
We were supposed to check-in again at VIE, which we did, and since we were business class, we had access to the Austrian business lounge. Too late for any real service, but we did have lots of finger foods, water, alcohol, and Coca-Cola Light. Free Austrian chocolate though and quite frankly, that’s a treat.
When it was boarding time, we made our way down to the gate, where they had two lines to enter the boarding area, one for steerage and one for people in business, gold star alliance, etc… We sauntered up to the business line, but a stern Austrian hostess in the trademark red stockings shooed us back to the end of the steerage line.
Had to mingle with the classes for a little while, before boarding began and we were soon in our seats in row 2. Service was as expected, outstanding. The food was outrageously good, especially the chocolate cake which was warmed, but the chocolate syrup was chilled. The IFE was okay, but clearly the plane is an older 763. I was able to sleep for about six of the ten hours and peered out the window as we landed in Bangkok. Once there we made our way to the Lufthansa/Austrian lounge, which was just sorry. As nice as the staff was, there was just no way to make up for the condition of the lounge.
Since we were Thai Air business class to Sydney, we moved ourselves over to the Thai Business lounge closest to gate 15. Wow! Immaculate and beautiful with service to match, they even assisted me with my Australian visa which was not yet resolved. Once that was cleared up, they gave us our boarding passes and we had about an hour before boarding. So we left and went to the massage store and each took a 15 minute massage before boarding.
The flight was really nice, and by that time sheer exhaustion had set in and we were running on fumes—I could feel the strain on my body as we made our way up to the second deck. The service was great, and the food was great, and the flight was smooth right up until landing in Sydney. These Thai 744 seats were better than the Austrian 763 seats for business class anyways. I was only able to sleep for a few hours on this flight and was really feeling it when we had landed in Sydney.
The customs in Sydney is quite the process even if you have nothing to declare. Once cleared we were looking for an ATM and a bag fell off the cart, my fiancé snapped at me for bad stacking to which a older lady sitting down said, you too have clearly been traveling together too long. She was right, it was near hour 30 at that point since entering the Geneva airport.
All-in-all, the flights were good. The trip was looooong. There may have been more direct ways, but I was looking to save my employer money since they were willing to pay for both of us to fly business class.
A couple of notes:
• I was disappointed that the Swiss did not stamp my passport. I pride myself on stamps in my passport and worse on the way out of Geneva, he looked down at my fiancé reaching out with our passports and just waved us through before she could set them on the counter.
• On the Austrian flight from VIE to BKK an older gentleman took a picture of the business class cabin during the flight (during sleepy time) while the lights were dim. It may end up on Airliners.Net was my first thought!