This trip report concerns a long flight which I took in July 1998 from Brisbane to London.
The flight was split into two segments:
Brisbane - Darwin - Brunei (layover in BWN for 3 hours) and then Brunei - Singapore - Dubai - London Heathrow.
I was fortunate to be flying in J class with BI all the way which was amazing - my ticket was paid for by the agency which had awarded me a scholarship to study in the UK.
Our departure from BNE was mid morning - one of those glorious dry and bright winter days that BNE is well known for. The entire aircraft was full for our first sector to Darwin and Brunei. The aircraft (cannot recall the registration but I do keep a log) was configured for only Business and Economy so I was sitting in the first row (next to the NZ wife of a BI pilot who was returning back to Brunei).
Flying time to Darwin at the top of Australia was about 4 hours. Before take off, an Islamic prayer was projected onto the overhead screen and throughout the flight, a needle pointing to the direction of Mecca.
We were served with nonalcoholic drinks and a mid morning snack before landing in Darwin about lunchtime. Darwin airport is tiny - we shared the apron with 737-300s of Ansett and Qantas and that was it.
Ground time was about 50 mins - we had to disembark and wait in the small terminal which had a damp smell to it - Darwin is in the tropics so I guess this was not too surprising!
We then set off again for Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's capital. The flight took us north over West Papua and over the many islands of Western Indonesia. We then flew over Borneo and about 4 hours later, touched down at Bandar's airport. The airport was not much bigger than Darwin's and all the aircraft on the ground were BI except for the lone Malaysia F50.
The layover in Brunei was very interesting but that is another story.....
Later that evening, I boarded BI95 to LHR via SIN and DXB. Again, I was in J class, but this aircraft had first class as well so I got to see how much luxury there was up the front! We took off on time, into the night sky for the 3 hour hop over to Singapore. By now, it was very late and I was starting to feel very tired. By the time we landed in Singapore, it was about 3am local time and the last thing I wanted to do was get off the aircraft. All I needed was sleep! The stop was brief -there were a multitude of aircraft on the ground at SIN - even at that hour which were all glistening with tropical dew under the airport lights.
We reboarded after 1 hour and more business class passengers joined the flight. I think economy was just about full. The next sector to Dubai would be approximately 7 hours in length and I tried to get some sleep. The airshow video showed us tracking out over the Indian Ocean, across southern India and then north westerly toward Dubai.
We landed in Dubai at dawn - just as the sun was coming up and already it was 31 degress celsius! We were bussed to the terminal during this stopover for about 45 mins where I took a quick walk to see all the renovations that were happening to DXB at that time. When we were bussed back to the aircraft, we had been joined by a Kenya Airways A310 (the one that later crashed in Abidjan) on our right and an Iran Air Tours Tu154 on our left. There were obviously heaps of Emirates and Gulf Air a/c on the ground as well.
By the time we taxied out for departure, the light was getting much better and I was able to get a good view of the proceedings. We waited for an Aeroflot A310 to land and then proceeded to depart. By this time, all of J class was full and some of first class was occupied as well. More fruit cocktails from the cabin crew and meals to keep us all happy.
Flying time to London was another 7 hours and we tracked over Qatar and then northward toward Europe. By this time, we were flying in full sunlight and I managed to get some great views of Europe as we headed steadily for LHR.
1130am local time and we approached RW27R for an on time arrival. We then had to wait 35 mins for a gate and I was watching all the departures from 27L out of my window.
It was an amazing trip - I was very tired by the time I got to London but it was worth it.
Royal Brunei on board service was very good - the flight attendants all very attentive and the meals quite tasty. The inflight entertainment was average though -no PTVs and the J class seats were certainly not as luxurious as some of its Asian competitors. I would certainly fly with them again.