Ok. First of all this trip was done about a year ago and I'm not entirely sure of certain details but I will do my best to be as accurate as I can. Second of all it was this trip that made me realise how much I really love flying, even thou I've always enjoyed it, but for no particular reason I now enjoy it so much more then I did before.
Ok. Here goes.
Wednesday July 23, 2003.
After months of planing I arrived at Canberra airport to embark on my first solo flight and my first solo overseas journey. I checked in at the Qantas counter and being about 5 years since I last flew anywhere with multiple legs. I was unsure of so many procedures. The check-in agent asked if Sydney was my final destination and to which I replied no but Informed her that I was changing airlines in Sydney. After asking which airline I was changing to she told me that I could check my bags all the way through to my final destination. So I informed her that I was off to Tokyo. After having to ask another agent what the code for Narita Airport was (something I could have told her, but at the time I was unsure that NRT was right) my bags were checked all the way through to Tokyo!
After waiting around for about 45 minutes it was time to say goodbye to my mother and grandmother who came to the airport to see me off.
Today’s flight was on a Qantas Link Dash 8. Service was done shortly after takeoff done by a lone flight attendant. The snack served was sandwiches and coffee. Most of the flight I just looked out the window and read the Qantas in flight magazine called 'The Australian Way'. Just prior to landing minties were offered by the flight attendant which was something I had never seen on any other Qantas flight. Having flown with Qantas mainline to MEL the previous year.
After feeling all the bumps due to a bit of wind the landing in Sydney was smooth. After we arrived at a remote gate we were loaded onto a bus and taken to the terminal where I made my way to the domestic transfer desk which took me to the international terminal on the other side of the runway.
I was asked for my boarding pass to which I informed them I had to pick it up at the international terminal as I was changing airlines. This almost turned into a bit of a situation but luckily the attendant let me onto the bus. (not sure what went on there perhaps they don't get many pax like me?)
After arriving at the international terminal I made my way to the Singapore Airlines check-in desk where there was a massive line of people checking in for SQ 222. An attendant directing people asked me where my bags were. I told the attendant that I had come from a domestic flight and that my bags were checked the whole way through to Tokyo. The attendant informed me that I could wait in the long line if I wanted to or I could use the domestic transfer desk. The transfer desk was the on I took as there was only one person in front of me compared to about 200! (check in at SYD can be slow from previous experience).
Ok Check-in was done with no problems. I was given my boarding passes for SQ 222 from SYD-SIN and SQ 998 from SIN-NRT. The agent informed me that I would need to check for the gate of SQ 998 when I arrived in Singapore.
I wandered around the terminal and went upto the viewing platform where there is a bit of a cafe. Its not the greatest area to go spotting but there is a good view of the runway. After this It was time to go through security and immigration. This was a relatively painless experience as usual I set off the metal detectors so after taking all known metal off me I went through with out trouble.
Time to do some more browsing of duty free shops. I didn't buy anything as I thought I would be buying lots of stuff and I'd rather get any duty free on the way back home. I began to look at some rather nice watches, I think the sales person was desperate to make a sale as a watch which was about AU$7000 (more then my entire trip) became $5000 fast. Still $5000 was more then the entire trip and more money then I had.
After this encounter it was time to head to gate 58. At the gate was 747-400 Mega Top.
Boarding began on time and from memory didn't happen in any particular order. I was politely greeted and had to walk through first and raffles class on my way to seat 60D. After sitting in the plane for about 30 minutes push back begin by this point we were already running late for reasons unknown.
Take off occurred with a mighty 747 roar and as usual I allowed myself to get thrown back into the seat. What a rush!. Soon after take off drink service began. As usual I had a coke and some rice snack type things were given out. Overall quite nice. Not long after the drink service dinner was served. I had the traditional beef stew which was served with some seasonal vegetables.
The other option was a Thai red curry.
Overall the quality was good but I'm not a fan of stew or curry. Trays were cleared and soon Magnum ice creams were served Yummy!.
For the rest of the flight I played with the Kris World entertainment system. This was the first time I had been on any flight with PTVs so naturally I was excited. I watched a few movies and tried to sleep off the headache that was gradually getting worse!. Water and orange juice were offered regularly throughout the flight. Another snack was offered shortly before landing in Singapore. I had the Ham Pineapple and cheese on walnut bread, but due to the headache that I had I could only eat half of it as I just couldn’t' stomach the rest. The other option was a smoked turkey sandwich. Shortly after the trays were cleared we began our decent into Singapore. Ahh good old Changi After 2 years and a few months I was back but this time I was headed for terminal 2. We arrived about 20 minutes late. Which when we pulled up to the gate I though was no problem my layover was just 20 minutes shorter.. or so I thought.
After getting into the terminal I looked to see what gate I had to go to. I had to head to a gate in the F60 I think and I was in the D20 I can’t remember exact gates. After looking to see where I had to go a "Final Call" appeared to get to it. A word beginning with F was the first thing that came to my head. So off I ran not feeling the best I ran and then began to walk as fast as I could as I was feeling so bad I didn't really care if I missed my flight. No wandering around Changi for me. I made it in time to notice everyone was still waiting around.
This flight was a night flight with an expected arrival in NRT of around 7am.
After making it to the gate on time I noticed everyone was still waiting around and boarding was just beginning as I was going through security checks. I made my way to seat 43H. Tonight’s flight was on a 777, this was my first flight on a 777 so even thou I was still feeling sick I was still excited. I was seated next to two other people even tho everyone else seemed to have an empty seat between them and the next person with some even having three seats to themself!
Take off was powerful! and one thing that I noticed about the 777 when the gears were being retracted that it seemed allot noisier then other aircraft I had been on. As soon as we had taken off and had levelled out a bit I tried to get some sleep. But this flight would be full of turbulence so much so that the meal service had to be stopped. No great drama when the meal service got to me I refused as I wasn't hungry and wanted to get some sleep. (it was only a snack of croissant with egg may and chicken or ciabatta with beef pastrami, hot dog relish spread and lettuce) Even after the Captain had told the F/A's to stop the service they continued anyway. Personally I think they were right to continue as the turbulence didn't seem that bad. But soon a senior FA came along and told them to stop the service.
After managing to get a few hours sleep I began to feel a bit better and needed to go to the toilet. This is where a bit of excitement began. I was sitting down doing my business when guess what... we hit some turbulence. Rough turbulence. The seatbelt sign came on and guess where I was.. In the lav. *knock, knock, knock* "Sir the captain has turned the seatbelt sign on, could you please return to your seat" an FA politely asked. Ah. No. I'm busy.
Once I was done I returned to my seat and played with the Kris World IFE. After playing this for a while breakfast was served. Great! I was hungry by this point.
Breakfast options were a Japanese’s breakfast consisting of, salted salmon, Japanese omelette and fish cake, gluten, vegetables, and steamed rice Or the western style option of an Omelette served with a chicken sausage roasted tomato and a hash brown served with an assortment of baker items. Not feeling to adventurous I stuck with the western style option. It was quite nice the hash browns were delish! I wish I could have some right now!.
After the trays were cleared I asked for a pen and some playing cards. I filled out the immigration card and not long after our decent into a rainy Tokyo began!. After landing on the main runway we taxied to our gate in termainal 1. Soon we began to disembark and a crew of ramp agents began to service the aircraft. After going up some stairs and down some stairs a number of times we reached the immigration counter. I thought that I had filled the card out properly but the immigration officer was telling me in Japanese that something was wrong. Now I don't speak any Japanese. But soon enough it was solved by him pointing (pointing was something that I would learn to help me get around) to the spot on the card which I hadn't written in anything. Problem solved. From here I headed on down to baggage claim and I began to think about how little time I had in SIN and began to wonder if my bag had made it. After a while of waiting and waiting no bag came. In fact no bags at all for anyone. But after a bit of waiting bags started to appear and I was still wondering if mine had made it. Ahh after about 10 minutes of waiting a big black with a red tag with "Holden Racing Team" written all over it appeared!. Time to head for customs. I met with a nice customs officer who asked if I had brought in anything. I informed him that I had come straight from Australia and that I had no duty free or any fruits, vegetables or anything that was declarable. He picked up my bag and looked at it a bit and let me go without looking through it or anything!. Done. I left customs and went out into the main waiting area finally after years of wanting to come to Japan I was here! I promptly went to the Friendly Airport Limousine Bus counter and bought my ticket to Ikebukuro.
After spending four days in Tokyo it was time to head back to Singapore. As wonderful as Tokyo was, I was all alone in a foreign country for the first time and I was a bit lost as I hadn't spoken to anyone much so I wasn't to upset about leaving. However Tokyo is one place I will go back to one day with more money and hopefully with a friend.
At about 8am on July 28 I boarded the Friendly Airport Limousine Bus back to Narita airport. After arriving at the gates to Narita security officers boarded the bus and checked passports/ID's. After this we dropped some pax off at terminal 2 and then continued our journey to terminal 1. After I got off the bus I headed straight for the Singapore Airlines check in desk. This was a simple procedure as I was only headed to Singapore today.
I browsed around for a little while and went unto the viewing platform where a VS A346 was being serviced for its flight back to LHR or LGW I assume. I also watched a JAL DC-10 I think it was take off. It was in its old livery. Time to head off to passport control and security checks. This was, as my whole trip has been, a simple procedure.
I browsed around the duty free shops but again I didn't buy anything. Thought I'd save it for Singapore. While I was waiting I watched an Air Tahiti-Nui A340-300 being serviced for its flight back to Papeete, and Air France flight to CDG 747-400 being pushed back and a BA 747-400 also being pushed back. I noticed a small puff of smoke coming from one of the engines on the BA 747.
Soon it was time to begin boarding of my flight, again on 777. I'm not sure if it was a 200 or a 300, but I managed to get a picture so maybe someone could tell me what it is.
The flight pushed back on time and we taxied to the main NRT runway and on the way we passed a Qantas 767 packed at a remote bay near the freight terminals. We lined up on the runway and as usual I lent a bit forward and full throttle was applied and Whoosh! I was pushed back into my seat!. Off into the Japanese sky we headed back towards Singapore. Just like the flight over there was a little turbulence, but nothing like the flight over.
Soon after take off a drink service was carried out and this was followed by a meal service. Today being a day flight in the middle of the day, lunch was offered oddly enough. On the menu for lunch today was sautéed chicken with mushroom in cream sauce served with buttered vegetables and pilaf rice. The Japanese option was grilled salmon rolled with burdock, selected vegetables and steamed rice. Not long after some Mango Haagen-Dazs ice cream was served. Overall it was a very nice meal.
Being a day flight I wasn't able to sleep so I played with the Kris World IFE. I watched a couple of movies one was "From Justin to Kelly" it featured Kelly Clarkson the American Idol winner and Justin the runner up. Horrible Movie. Another movie I watched was a army movie with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta. It was set somewhere in South America I think.
Water and Orange juice were offered regularly through out this flight. From memory no second meal was served and threes no mention of it in the menu which I kept.
After about 6 hours of flying we began our decent into SIN and arrived at about 6pm local time. Passport control was quick and efficient and bags were already waiting by the time I made it from the long walk from the gate to passport control and then to baggage claim. This was the second time I've been to SIN and the second time there has been no customs agents. Finally I was back in Singapore!
After 2 nights in Singapore it was time to return to Changi airport. I arranged for the bus to pick me up from the hotel early so I would have plenty of time to wander around Changi airport which is one of my favourite airports in the world. But the bus was late and this cut my time.
I had a helpful check in agent who checked my bags all the way through to CBR even tho we were both unsure if I would have to claim them in SYD.
My flight was due to leave at 00:10 on July 31st. After browsing around the duty free shops I bought a big bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label and with about 10 minutes before boarding was due to begin I spotted a DVD player at a good price (when I checked its retail price in Australia it turned into an even better price plus it was unzoned). I thought that it wouldn't be able to go into the cabin and would have to be checked in, but no! it was allowed in the cabin. Boarding was a hassle free event. However once aboard a pax wasn't feeling to well and with SARS being fresh in the minds of allot of people in Asia and Singapore the decision was taken by the pax and SQ staff to not continue onto Sydney. This delayed the flight while bags and stuff were unloaded. No great drama I was in no rush to get home. After all that was sorted out we pushed back and begin to taxi to the runway which runs parallel to terminal 2 and with a might 777 burst of thrust we hurtled down the runway, rotated and launched off into the night Singapore sky before banking right and heading down under.
A light refreshment was served shortly after take off. Nothing to fancy but nothing to filling either. Unfortunately I didn't keep the menu and I don't remember what the snack was but from memory just a sandwich I think. Soon I like many of the other pax decided that sleep was in order. For a large portion of this flight I slept. Soon we were over north western Australia and the sun was beginning to rise as we headed for Sydney. About 2 hours prior to landing breakfast was served. This was a warm breakfast and had eggs and a few other things but it also had the wonderful SQ has browns!
We came in over Sydney from the west giving great views of Sydney who had just started their working day. We landed and taxied back to the international terminal and This is where my SQ experience ended. So here I was back in Cold Sydney I headed for immigration and was asked how much alcohol and cigarettes I had I was close to the limit but I was never checked. Damn could have brought more in!. After waiting a while at baggage claim bags finally arrived. There was my big black bag with my red Holden Racing Team strap on it. Looks like I wasn’t' able to check it all the way through after all.
I then headed for customs where I was asked if I had anything to declare. I was a bit unsure so I said I had some food and I went to the red line. I told them that it was only some potato chips and chocolate syrup. No great drama.
I then headed out into the public area bag in tow down to the Qantas domestic transfer counter. My bags were checked in here, something I didn't know could be done. Damn! I was looking forward to using the Quick Check check-in system. Oh well perhaps another time. I got on the bus and headed back to the domestic terminal and got myself some Hungry Jacks (Burger King) and waited around for my flight back to my home town of CBR.
Well here I was at gate 15 on the final leg of my first overseas trip alone and my first time flying anywhere without my parents. Boarding was called and we got onboard the bus which would take us around to the Qantas Link Dash 8 for the short flight back to CBR. This flight was fairly similar to the flight to SYD. I read the 'Australian Way' magazine and the refreshments served were just some sandwiches and coffee again with minties being served prior to landing. The only difference with this flight was that I had to nurse my DVD player as it wouldn't fit in the overhead storage bin in the Dash 8. This flight was also fairly bumpy as there was a lot of wind that day. Finally I arrived home in Canberra landing on the short runway coming in over Queanbeyan.
I was the last off the plane and when I made it into the terminal baggage hadn't arrived yet. But to my distress when I got my bag my red Holden Racing Team tag was missing!!!.
Overall I had a very nice trip. This was my first time flying with Singapore Airlines and I enjoyed the experience very much. I won't hesitate in considering them again when flying internationally. I came back from the trip a much wiser person learning allot along the way not only about different cultures but also about myself and how to handle certain situations.
I hope you have enjoyed this report and much as I have enjoyed writing it.