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Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:59 pm

Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Tue May 04, 2004 3:34 pm

MEL-SYD-LAX-LAS-JFK-AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA-LHR, LHR-EDI-LHR, STN-BUD-STN-KEF-STN, LHR-AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA-SIN-MEL. February 7, 2004 – February 27, 2004

This is my first attempt at a trip report, so please bear with me. I’m a fairly rational person, and I mean no disrespect to anyone if some of my comments jotted down in the heat of the moment or half dead with jet lag offend any of the broad community who use this great site. I enjoyed all of the flights, all of the countries and did my best to gather as much info about the machinery I was traveling in and airports I visited – but the info is not consistent.

It was also my first attempt at around the world in 3 weeks!

The negatives of the pics have been scanned, and one day I might have the courage to put them in this story.

Date: February 7, 2004
Airline: United Airlines
Flight No: UA840
Aircraft: B7474-400
Seat: 48K

A 3-hour drive to MEL preceded this trip, and 3 hours back home would finish it, but it was all worth it.

Boarded at MEL after my first real experience with upped airport security. Since 9-11, I’ve flown from Australia to Europe twice, and visited 9 countries, but aside from removing my boots several times, and having my carry-on emptied at random once (Paris after the shoe bomber), hadn’t really noticed the upgrade to security anywhere. After clearing security and passport control, I made the long walk to the gate (which was the most remote at MEL), to find it cordoned off. 30 minutes prior to boarding, we lined up again and our boarding passes checked against passports, then were either asked to have a seat in the ‘secure’ area, or to empty our carry on. Since I was flying with only a backpack and camera case, how I wasn’t a candidate I don’t know. Maybe the tall geeky, four-eyed blonde Aussie country hick wasn’t perceived as a threat…. No complaints however, as we were treated with respect and boarded on time.

My first experience with UA, and no criticism but the FA’s certainly were the most experienced! I felt like a 30 year old school student when offered drinks and food! Smooth take off on what will be my last trip for some time… Nice partly cloudy skies over Victoria and NSW on the flight to SYD. My seat near the galley, behind the wing was great for shots out the window, except for the heat haze from the outboard engine and scratches by vandals on the inside. No-one seated next to me, so bonzer.

The whole concept of a 747 from MEL to SYD seemed bizarre in an Australian context where it is regarded as a ‘short’ trip…

Landed slightly early at SYD and endured the loooong transit clearances, and then waited to board at a gate shared by a flight SFO which must have announced final boarding call a dozen times and STILL late duty free shoppers were arriving after our LAX flight should have been boarding. The gate staff handled everything efficiently and were very humorous about the situation, bagging the SFO latecomers with a different one-liner each time – one of those moments I wish had my pen at the ready (could have used ‘em at work…)

Date: February 7, 2004
Airline: United Airlines
Flight No: UA840
Aircraft: B7474-400
Seat: 48K

Back in my same seat, this time with a Los Angeleno fellow in the aisle seat. Returning from his first flight to Aust, me visiting the US of A for the first time.

The plane showed signs of wear and tear, and the window scratches were annoying me – had to bob my head around like looking through chicken wire to focus on anything, and the camera was set on manual focus the whole way.

Food wasn’t memorable, but did the job, and a can of Bud put me to sleep.

Awoke after about 6 hours of sleep to more food and dead legs, so went for a stroll. Despite the massing of people around the toilets and in any areas of space, we weren’t asked to move along by the FA’s who were very relaxed.

Overall an uneventful trip, with no mishaps, very smooth and professional FA’s and no evidence of annoying pax.

Holy sh*t! There’s the coast of California! I’d seen the LAX website with the lanidn tracker, so was prepared for the view of the Hollywood Hills and downtown LA out my window on finals, so took a dozen pics for the missus – she’d love this. I missed an opportunity to capture the wingtip, Hollywood sign and a SW 737 landing parallel when changing lenses (don’t think the missus would have appreciated that pic…)

Nice smooth landing on a glorious day of 20 degrees C, 30 minutes early.

Hey, I’m in the USA! Didn’t stuff up my various forms, and was cleared into the country quickly before finding a phone and calling my wife and kids – a lasting memory will be looking out of the terminal window as a 747 lands behind the Encounter Restaurant, speaking to my 3 year old daughter while a young yuppie bloke argues with a stone-faced motorcycle cop in the foreground; to a young bloke from country Australia, this was culture shock.

Date: February 7, 2004
Airline: America West
Flight No: HP559
Aircraft: A319
Seat: 2D

After a day of sightseeing around LAX, and many pics near car park B (what a great spot beside the road near the historic aircraft restaurant – saw an obvious regular there, checked the site on my return for similar pics, and found some), caught my HP flight to JFK via LAS.

When I’d booked my flights, the first leg to JFK was to be in a 757, which would have been my only flight in one. A month prior, however, they changed the schedule and are using the A319 for both legs. Bummer.

Did a little research, and decided to try one of their upgrade to first class options ($200), as I knew that seats 2D and 1D were still empty. Probably the only time I’ll ever go first, and even though it wasn’t a ‘real’ first class, did it anyway. Short hop to LAS was nice and relaxed, although the piped music on boarding/disembarking was a bit corny…

Landed after 10pm, and the bright lights of the casino strip along the runway blew my mind – what a spot for an airport!

Date: February 7, 2004
Airline: America West
Flight No: HP58
Aircraft: A319
Seat: 1D

Holy crap, LAS is a bloody casino. Okay, I’d read it, been told it, but had to experience it to believe it. A late aunt of mine loved her gambling, so I’m glad she never went to Vegas, or I doubt she’d have left the airport!

Boarding the red-eye to JFK was a bit more chaotic than LAX, with families of very tired kids all lined up; although the first class perk of boarding first was worth the extra cash. Nice smooth take-off in the 319, and this time the plane was chockers (full).

Being ahead of the engines, the noise was barely noticeable, although the strange whining noise during the power phase of take-off was a bit disconcerting and had a few of us looking at each other with raised eyebrows.

Had some peanuts, 2 beers, and crashed again for a few hours. Mmmm maybe first class is a misnomer.

Date: February 10, 2004
Airline: Lufthansa
Flight No: LH405
SKD DEP: JFK 2135 SKD ARR: AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA 1045 (NEXT DAY)
ACT DEP: JFK 2145 ACT ARR: AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA 1035 (NEXT DAY)
Aircraft: B7474-400 D-ABVE
Seat: 28A

Ah German efficiency. I reckon I had the best seat in the house: window behind the bulkhead separating my cattle class from business. Fair dinkum, you could have placed another row of seats in front of me! I could not reach the magazine/safety card pocket without unbuckling and walking forwards! No-one seated next to me either. After a faultless take-off through the gathering mist, my last look at NYC brought pangs of sadness after 3 great days in Manhattan, but a good feed sorted me out nicely. A wipe with the hot towels, a meal of chicken, salmon Caesar salad, 2 OJ’s, water, chocolate cake and a cognac Popped half a sleeping pill (provided by my folks), and crashed for 3 hours.

Awoke to the aroma of good coffee, a ham and cheese roll, OJ and pieces of fruit. Grabbed a few of the freebie postcards promoting the 346, and wrote a few out prior to descent to AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA.

Great landing – I never ever tire of the feeling when a 747 touches down. Last time I was here was when my QF flight to LHR was diverted when the terror threat brought the tanks out to Terminal 4 this time last year. Much better circumstances this time.

Date: February 11, 2004
Airline: Lufthansa
Flight No: LH4730
SKD DEP: AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA 1220 SKD ARR: LHR1300
ACT DEP: AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA 1220 ACT ARR: LHR 1300
Aircraft: A321 D-AIRC
Seat: 19F

My boarding gate was adjacent to the onward flight to LHR, so easy to relax, especially with carry-on luggage only.

Passes checked, downstairs to the buses, and out through the drizzle to the 321 waiting for us. Another highlight of AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA is being in a vehicle (any vehicle), and giving way to a 346 or 747 out on the ramp – awesome as they roll past.
Uneventful takeoff, which showed me for the first time just how close to the city the airport is!

We were loaded down with more breakfast, then a nice smooth trip over the Channel, and a touchdown right on time. LH looked after me, and no complaints here.

Once I was cleared, I thought I’d take a walk to the oft-mentioned Myrtle Avenue spot (I’d researched how to walk there, but didn’t envisage the stroll with my backpack and camera bag!) It was a gloomy day, so only took a few pics before continuing on to Hounslow tube station and complete and utter exhaustion.

Date: February 12, 2004
Airline: British Midland BMI
Flight No: BD052
Aircraft: A320
Seat: 25A

I had one spare day on my trip, while my soon-to-be traveling companions were still at work, so I’d bought a cheap BD day trip to EDI to check out the castle.

Having flown British Midland before, I am a fan of their nice clean Airbuses and good service, and this trip would allow me to travel in an A320 and return in an A321. Ripper deal too, 30 quid return from LHR.

Breakfast at cruising altitude and a frantic attempt to clean up and stow the trolleys prior to landing were the main memories. That and the fantastic view of the blue skies above the fluffy white clouds. Yet more pics (with sharp contrails where possible) for the missus… (There you go love, that’s the sky above England).

Nice approach around Edinburgh before a bumpy landing due to a bit of crosswind.

Date: February 12, 2004
Airline: British Midland BMI
Flight No: BD059
Aircraft: A321
Seat: 14F

The return flight from EDI was as uneventful as the flight north, although the skies above the clouds were even more beautiful with the sun lower in the sky.

Once again the mad dash to give us nourishment ending with trolleys going everywhere during descent! And not a bad word, sad face or hair out of place amongst the FA’s.

Almost dark by this stage, so no opportunity to

Date: February 13, 2004
Airline: Sky Europe
Flight No: 5P151
Aircraft: B737
Seat: 18F

Bought the tix for this trip online back in late 2003 when 5P launched their STNBUD leg; a discount at 30 quid return. The poor old plane had seen better days, and the windows were very low, so a 6-footer plus like me had to lean forward and bend my neck to look outside. The FA’s were pretty but obviously bored and almost looking disappointed to be going home (or near home – I think they were Slovakian).

Now with traveling companions (best friend from Oz and his French wife, living in London) I had fewer liberties with regard to being my geeky self and checking out aircraft. I managed a window seat however, and enjoyed the trip with the munchies we’d bought at STN.

Touched down at a bleak BUD Terminal 1 (now I know they’ve got 2 – my friends’ taxi on their return took them to T2 instead, costly error) amid gathering snow clouds and a blustery wind. Good flight, however, and we got what we paid for which was an efficient on-time trip from the UK to Hungary for bugger all cost.

Date: February 19, 2004
Airline: Sky Europe
Flight No: 5P150
Aircraft: B737
Seat: 4F

After almost a week in Hungary and Slovakia, and being on my own for the last few days, I ordered a 4.30am taxi to BUD T1, and checked in for the return to STN.
Once again, completely uneventful trip, different FA’s who smiled more (because they were off to the UK??)

Today would be one of my more bizarre days: awoke at 4am in Budapest, would be sleeping that night in Reykjavik, Iceland after lunching in London.

Landed at STN at 8.30am, and this time had checked my bag in, but no delays, and was soon on my way to London on the A6 bus service.

Date: February 19, 2004
Airline: Iceland Express
Flight No: AEU150
Aircraft: B737
Seat: 17D

After doing the laundry at my friends’ flat, repacking for the near-Arctic Circle, I met them at Liverpool Street station and we were off to STN (again) on the Stansted Slowcoach (I mean Express). One hour and ten minutes. That is all…

Checked in at STN, ironically at the very same desk as our Sky Europe flight the week before, and were soon boarding the Iceland Express 737 again loaded with junk food and water.

This time I wasn’t thinking too clearly and in a moment of chivalry offered my seat to my friend’s wife. After reaching altitude, the FA’s got to work offering food and drink for sale, so we had some Egills Gull beer – hit the spot.

Then a mind-blower, a clearly Australian accent came over the PA welcoming us on board, and introducing himself as the captain! Here we were, 2 ex-Pat Aussies in a flight from UK to Iceland, with an Aussie pilot. No way. Way.

About 30 minutes out from KEF, he announced that those on the RHS of the aircraft (us) should check out the northern lights. You can visualize the people hunched over windows with jackets over their heads to shield from the lights oo-ing and ah-ing. Not me however, cos I was on the aisle being a gentleman…D’oh. (Didn’t matter – while my friends had a romantic dinner one night later in the trip, I caught a bus out of Reykjavik and spent several hours with the aurora).

Soon we landed at KEF from what had been clear skies pretty much all the way.

Passport control was a laugh: “Are you staying in Iceland?” Pardon? “Are you staying in Iceland” (No, I’m about to turn around and go home again) Ah yes, yes I am staying in Iceland. “Thank you, next”

It started snowing. Welcome to Iceland!

Date: February 23, 2004
Airline: Iceland Express
Flight No: AEU151
Aircraft: B737
Seat: 3F

Loved the place, and would go back at the drop of a hat (wife would love it, memo to self). Except for the high prices, this place rocks.

Checked in for the return back to STN after a loooong weekend away, and were waiting at the furthest gate for boarding when we noticed a US Blackhawk patrolling just off the runway near the US base. Soon, the reason became apparent when 2 F16’s (?) took off alongside the airport perimeter. We waited then Boom Boom two sonic booms that scared the sh*t out of a few people.

Boarded, same friendly service and great flight, especially across the Westmannaey Islands off the south coast. Nice clear skies until we hit the UK, and darkness descended anyway.

Being ahead of the engines in a 737 was quieter as expected, too. Smooth landing, nice smiles from the FA’s as we disembarked.

All downhill from here, as I start the long trip back to MEL tomorrow.

Date: February 24, 2004
Airline: Lufthansa
Flight No: LH4731
SKD DEP: LHR 1400 SKD ARR: AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA 1635
Aircraft: A321 D-AIRD
Seat: 19A

What can I say? Reverse the trip from 2 weeks ago, and once again impressed by Lufthansa. This time I had a cunning plan to fight off jet lag on the return home – spend a night in Frankfurt, then a night in Singapore, and arrive fresh at MEL at the civilized hour of 8pm. That was the plan.

My last memory when departing from LHR, which is likely to be my last trip there for several years, was a beautiful view of a QF 747 parked at T4.

Arrived on time at AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA and got myself to town ASAP.

Date: February 25, 2004
Airline: Lufthansa
Flight No: LH778
SKD DEP: AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA 2210 SKD ARR: SIN 1650 (NEXT DAY)
Aircraft: B747-400 D-BVN
Seat: 50A

Arrived super-early at the airport for the last longest leg of the trip. Checked my gear through to MEL via SIN, then sought out the visitors terrace and the great little shop at the entrance. Paid my 3 euros and braved the cold (I had packed my snow jacket through as well – d’oh), and spent an hour outside in the snow watching the activity around me whilst freezing my tits off. There were some more likely folks there, some with notepads and small telescopes, some with lenses that put my 300mm Sigma to shame!

Was rapt to see a 346, the usual range of LH 747’s , and the landings taking place against the backdrop of a dozen parked US Air Force Globemasters (?) made some good pics.

Eventually, by last of experience of sub-zero temperatures ended when I had difficulty changing lenses without excruciating pain, so I made the long walk back into the terminal building. Bought some model planes for the kids of aircraft I’d traveled on this time around (yeah, right – they’re sitting displayed on the pc in front of me).

After a great feed of bratwurst and sauerkraut, and more than couple pilsners, it was time to board another big 747 beastie for the trip to SIN.

This time, I took the other half pill, and surprised myself by sleeping for somewhere between 8 and 9 hours, missing two meals! Being seat 50A, I was near the rear, but once again no-one was beside me, so the person in 50C piled the food on the seat between us! After only a few hours to kill, trying to get circulation back into my long legs, the trip was one of the shortest I remember!

Arrived slightly late to SIN, checked into the transit hotel, and after much food and souvenir purchases, crashed.

So far the plan works well.

Date: February 27, 2004
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Flight No: SQ217
Aircraft: B777 9V-SYB
Seat: 37K (sat in 37H instead)

After a good night’s sleep, I tried to get my body clock set: 6am here is 9am at home, so when I take off it will be 1pm there, etc etc.

Boarded and found my seat 37K was occupied by a couple who hadn’t read their boarding pass. No probs, I said, I’ll sit in the aisle. The flight across Australia from Port Hedland inland was masked by high cloud, so I must have known – I didn’t miss anything!

I love SQ, always have, always will. The IFE standards, food selections and hot moist towels on a regular basis make any flight a pleasure. I am so impressed by the Y class that a trip in first would cause me overload (sounds like an exaggeration but it’s been a busy 3 weeks).

I was keenly watching the Flightpath system most of the way (after watching some movies), and was laughing at the thought of my wife and her brother leaving home at about the same time we were crossing the coastline of WA! That reminded me I still had not been to WA, so a flight over there one day would be worthwhile…

The big 777 came in gracefully over a Melbourne basked in the orange glow of dusk, and the sight of endless lows of taillights reminded me of the journey still ahead when I cleared Customs and collected my gear.

A nice touchdown, and I was more than a bit sad when the aircraft stopped and the engines started to spool down. The surprise of my two little kids running up to me outside security later put things into perspective.

A big three weeks away from my young family, but worth it in the long run when I can show the kids the places Daddy went on his round the world in 3 weeks trip.

AND all the big planes, Daddy, show us the big planes!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my report, and feel free to add any corrections to errors.

And guess what? The plan worked – no jetlag!

Posts: 228
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 1:36 pm

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Tue May 04, 2004 8:46 pm

Nice report Bruce!!! It certainly looks like a great trip. As luck would have it, i managed to catch a shot of your aircraft leaving SYD on 7th Feb.

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Brendan Vanderwerf

Posts: 2309
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 8:30 am

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Wed May 05, 2004 4:18 am

Nice report, good to see you managed to make it to Edinburgh!  Smile What did you think of my home?  Smile
A trip I would very much like to take one day.  Smile
How busy were the Iceland Express flights?
I have only used the Stansted Express a couple of times, but I found that it lived up to it's name!  Smile
Posts: 4843
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:40 pm

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Wed May 05, 2004 4:30 am

I'm hoping to go all around the world in a few years - but I think I'll make it longer than 20 days  Big grin Nice report  Big thumbs up

Posts: 3893
Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:24 pm

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Wed May 05, 2004 5:20 am

Nice report, you must have been shattered nothing to do with jetlag,


Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
Topic Author
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:59 pm

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Wed May 05, 2004 7:45 am

Thanks for the feedback!

Absolutely stoked that you read it, and my kids loved the pic of UA840 from MELflyer.

ScottishLaddie: Your town is great; I spent time there researching libraries once, and like a tool didn't leave enough time to have a look. This time, though, I crammed as much walking in as possible. Great place.

The Iceland Express flights were full, but like anything, you book early enough there's no probs. I keep getting even better deals in their mailouts, so living in the UK has some pretty major advantages - I see now why young Aussies get the travel bug and stay over there for a couple of years at a time!

And, yes, cramming everything in isn't recommended, but it was all because it was cheaper for me to get a round world ticket than fly direct to UK.


Posts: 457
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2001 11:36 pm

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,S

Thu May 06, 2004 2:25 am

Hi Bruce.

How much would you reccomend as a budget for a round the world trip?

Was thinking of doing one of the four stop tickets for around $1800, since London is $1700 alone! Does anyone know the conditions of these types of tickets and are they worth it?

Topic Author
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:59 pm

RE: Around The World In 20 Days:UA,LH,BMI,5P,AEU,SQ

Thu May 06, 2004 7:40 pm

G'day Longreach

Depends what you intend to do! My tickets were the $1800, plus had to get my own way to JFK from LAX, and got a deal on the red-eye HP for US$100.

Using the discount airlines around Europe and booking in advance (ie Sept-Nov for February), they won't cost you much.

5 days in Iceland was as expensive as rest of the trip's expenses, so about $5K if you're not going there, and doing it cheap (and taking your time). Cost me about $7K all up, but bought a lot of souvenirs, drank too much, ate too much good food, and the HP upgrade etc.

Visiting countries pre-euro helped too - cheap as chips (been to 6 of the new EU ones since Feb 2003, currency is a good souvenir too)

Go for it before your life changes and you miss the chance - it's only money.


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