After 3 very enjoyable months of the first term of University in the UK – it was time for me to return to Bangkok for my Christmas vacation.
I woke up on the Wednesday morning with a massive hangover from the “goodbye party” the previous night. Slowly dragged myself out of my warm bed and packed all the junks in my room into boxes – it was then time to head for the airport. Said my goodbyes and hopped on the taxi for the Nottingham train station with a 25kg sports bag on my shoulder. The train station was packed with students from the university going home for the holiday (as seen by the prevalent Nottingham University Hoodie, mine included) all jumping on the same train for London St.Pancras. After boarding the train – I slept like a baby (nope.. the hangover and the motion sickness didn’t really help anything) all the way to London only to be woken up by an annoyed lady wishing to get off the damn train - whom I was blocking. I slowly made my way to King’s cross tube station from St.Pancras with my luggage on my shoulders (25 kg sports bag, laptop computer and a backpack – not too bad for a sober day!) and that’s when I vowed to go to Heathrow by national express next time! Hopped on the City & Hammersmiths line to Paddington. And made my way to the Star Alliance check in counter.
There were 2 counters open for all Star Alliance flights at Paddington. I dropped all my luggage right near the counters and transferred more stuff from my carry-ons to the bag I was checking in ( a few text books and loads of paper and a few bottles of drinks) – after which I had to literally drag it to the check in counter. Slammed it on the scale – 34 kg, only 4 over the limit of my student ticket. The lady informed me that I already have my pre-assigned seat of 23F (from the AUA website, this seat is an aisle exit row seat, however, from my previous experience – the exit row is row 20), I asked her if any seat in row 20 is available, she said no so I asked for a seat in row 18 (last seat of the first section, if I couldn’t get an exit row seat, I might as well get one where there would be no tall angry German nudging my seatback up whenever I recline). Got my Star Alliance boarding passes (woo.. posh!) and before the lady let me go – she asked me a few security questions, including “Do you have any party poppers or Christmas crackers in your check in luggage?” :P
After leaving the counter with much lighter weight, I headed for platform 6 ( I think it was) and boarded the Heathrow Express train with my ticket. The ride to the airport took 15 min (well.. it is famous for 15 minutes ) arrived at Terminal II and made my way up – Terminal II (especially after security control) looked a bit odd to me – especially with the lower ceiling. Decided to go for a quick cigarette and a coffee for hangover cure at a coffee shop near the arrivals area. Because of my fear of trains delay (or paranoia), I left the University at 13:00 for my flight at 19:30, hence having about 3 hours to spare at the airport. I would be in a wandering mood if I didn’t have hangover, but because I did, I decided to go through security control (long queue – but no problem there) and afterwards plopped down on an airport bench waiting for my flight.
2 long hours later, the status for flight OS456 to Vienna was changed to the long awaited “Go to gate 19 (or was it 9 – wasn’t printed on my boarding pass)”. Made my way to the gate and waited for a while, 15 minutes later boarding was called by some mumbling announcement – so everyone just rushed through the gate.
Austrian Airlines Flight OS456
Departure Time: 19:30
Seat Number: 30F
Aircraft: Airbus 321, registration unknown (sorry! It was dark and I was half dead)
Made my way through the ramp and into the plane through the forward exit where I was greeted by a pretty grumpy looking purser who asked for my boarding pass and pointed to the back of the plane (duh!!!) along the way to my seat, I was greeted by 4 other flight attendants dressed in red uniform – and they actually looked happy to see us. On my way to my seat, I passed through the Business Class section which looked like a regular economy class seat, same pitch and width, only with winged headrest. Took my seat and fastened my seatbelt – and by then the safety video was screened through the overhead screen which folds down (very posh and hi-tech looking, if I may add!) a bit like Lufthansa’s comical safety video style.
After taking a grand tour around Heathrow, we took off about 30 min later (which was probably behind schedule) leaving me a bit worried about my tight 45 minutes connection time. After we have reached the cruise altitude, the flight attendants sprung into action. What struck me about the crew on this flight was that they actually looked like they were enjoying what they were doing (grumpy purser excluded) – big smiles on all their faces (and not battery operated ones!). We were given our dinner – a ham/cheese sandwich on a baguette, not a half frozen ones you usually get on planes, but it was nice and hot, and the cheese was melted – absolutely delicious! The flight attendants also came around the cabin a few times in the 90 minutes flight to offer more drinks.
After the F/As collected the trays the plane was already descending to Vienna airport, just 45 minutes until the departure of my fight to Bangkok and I was already starting to worry. The overhead screens were still showing the air show, alternating with the connecting flight information – OS3025 to Bangkok at gate A1. Yikes!
We finally landed (around 25 minutes before the departure time of OS3025) and made the way to the gate, right next to the Lauda 767-300ER, my next plane. I quickly gathered my stuff and hurried out of the plane. Another great flight with Austrian Airlines! Like a smile in the sky.
Running through the ramp into the arrivals hall, I looked through the glass into the waiting room of the next gate for my flight to Bangkok and they were already boarding the flight. I turned right and joined the queue for flight OS3025, the line was stalled by this family of 5 trying to take about 12 carry-ons onboard and refusing to check any of them in at the request of the gate agents (and they wouldn’t back down either!), and finally – I made it to the aircraft, just in time!
Lauda Air flight OS3025
Departure time: 22:15
Seat Number: 18C
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER, OE-LAZ “Frank Sinatra”
Made my way through the forward exit (again) where I was greeted, again, by a grumpy purser and another flight attendant – both working in business class, made my to my seat 18C (the journey from the door of the plane to my seat took about 15 minutes with everyone storing their carry-ons in the overhead bins), dumped my jacket and computer in the overhead bin and took my seat feeling totally ill. There was an argument towards the front – where a stand-by passenger without an assigned seat was blocked by an Austrian couple (hoping to get the 3 seats in the middle for their own comfort) later.a little argument between a Lauda Girl and the couple broke out in German. I overheard the thai Lauda Girls talking about the couple insisting that they are upgraded (?!?). Madness.
We finally made our way from the gate for take off, before turning into the runway, the plane was de-iced which took about 15 minutes and we were finally on our way. Right after take off, about 6 overhead bins popped open (fortunately with nothing falling out) with nobody doing anything about it.
After reaching the cruise altitude, I unbuckled my seatbelt, reclined my seat and attempted to go to sleep to take my mind off the headache and the nauseousness. After an unsuccessful attempt, I pulled out the headsets (not the usual kind, but those ones you clip onto your ears) and switched on the PTV as browsed through the programme, I opted for Angelina Jolie’s “Life or Something like it” which was quite entertaining. During the movie the Lauda Girls came around with dinner (without any menu) – on offer for this flight were chicken or pork – opted for pork which was barely edible, same goes with the mysterious mousse offered for desert. The Lauda girls came around numerous times offering extra bedrolls and extra drinks (with a smile) which was a nice touch.
I attempted again at dozing off after the movie, and after successfully sleeping for 5 minutes, I was woken up to the sound of a Lauda girl yelling at some passengers for waiting by the lavatories when the seatbelt sign was on, great! I decided to give up again and switched on the PTV for the next movie – opted for Bourne Identity which was about 30 minutes into the movie already – ahh well.
After watching Matt Damon showing his stuff in his stupid movie – I switched over to the air show – 6 hours something remaining of the flight - splendid. My neighbour was already snoring away so I kept my headphones on with some music and pulled out my accounting book hoping to get some reading done (how sad) – and yep, it’s a given – I didn’t manage to read and understand a page – all movies were done by then leaving the PTV channels black – switched over to the video games and rather than providing me with somewhat an entertainment, they provided me with an eyesore and even more headache. That’s when I decided to go for my third attempt at sleeping – going good so far.
5 minutes through my trip in slumber land, I felt a hand on my shoulder with a cranky voice asking “Can I get out?” – I slowly crawled out of my seat (which was pretty difficult with the 31” seat pitch and the person infront fully reclined) after visiting the loo, Mr. Snorer decided to walk around the plane which meant I couldn’t go back to sleep – cheers man, you’re a star.
About 30 minutes later – my neighbour came back and by then – I have given up on my attempt to sleep. I switched to the next movie – Stuart Little 2 – better than nothing. And afterwards, right on to the next one – Signs (a bit old isn’t it?)
Finally it was 90 minutes before landing – and I was ready to open one of the emergency exits and get sucked out. The Lauda girls came around with breakfast – fresh fruit platter, another mysterious pudding, a bread roll and a box of orange juice. Again, unlimited supply of bread rolls were on offer, same goes with coffee and tea and other drinks.
To my delight – most people have already pulled up their window shades and the cabin was in full day light again. After the tray collection – the F/As came around with the immigration forms and the customers satisfaction survey as we finally made our long awaited and much appreciated descend into Bangkok.
30 minutes prior to landing, headsets were collected and the cabin was prepared for landing. The 2 Thai Lauda Girls took their seats behind me on their respective jump seats and started gossiping pretty loudly, boy I felt like I was home already! . The plane landed an hour ahead of schedule and taxied to the terminal (passing the famous Qantas golf course).
The plane parked at the newly constructed section of Bangkok Don Muang International airport and I quickly made my way to Immigration and Customs – to my delight, the terminal was pretty empty and I didn’t have to queue up at all for passport control. When I headed down to the baggage belt – my luggage was also one of the first on the conveyer belt (despite my worries that my luggage wouldn’t make it – check in at Paddington, late arrival of the LHR-VIE flight etc. etc.). Made my way through customs and into the arrivals hall where I was met with my overjoyed family. It’s good to be home!
After the trip – I was more exhausted than I was after a 12km trek through the bloody jungle. - The END ( I know you were waiting for it!)
Thanks for reading through my trip report - hope I didn't bore you (fat chance!) with all the useless details. Hope you've enjoyed it like I've enjoyed writing it!