Trip report – Airliners.net
This is my first trip report for airliners.net, so please be cool if it’s not up your expectations! Also, since English is not my mother tongue, please don’t flame me if the level of language is not perfect.
Please also note that I don’t fly long hauls that much (only three long hauls flights done in the last 6 years, including this one) and it is also the first time that I take a flight with transfers since my trip to Chicago back in 1996! So if what I describe below may be obvious for some people, it was not always the case for me.
About 8 months ago, I have decided to pay a visit to my cousin and his wife who live in Sydney. This is not a small trip, so I tried to carefully choose my company. Three solutions appeared to me:
- flying with Air France since I am a Flying Blue member (and therefore get some interesting extra miles on my account);
- flying with Singapore Airlines for €200 less (but no miles whatsoever to earn, I don’t have the KrisFlyer membership), or
- flying with Emirates considering that I don’t have to stop in Paris (I would do Dublin – Dubai – Sydney with them, while I would do Dublin – Paris – Singapore – Sydney with AF
), and for a similar price as Air France’s.
All three options had their advantages, but the fact that I would get 15,000 miles on my Flying Blue card eventually favoured Air France. I would therefore fly with them from Dublin to Paris and from Paris to Singapore, while the flight between Singapore and Sydney would be operated by Qantas.
, 9th February 2008. Flight AF5007 (Air France operated by City Jet).
EDT: 17:30 / ADT
: 17:50 (Dublin time)
EAT: 20:00 / AAT: 20:10 (Paris time)
Plane: BAe Avro RJ
Flight was scheduled at 17:30 on Saturday. I know this trip by heart since I take Air France to Paris about ten times a year.
I arrived at Dublin airport at 16:00 and checked in at desk 10. The lady was really nice and asked me if I would like to register my luggage for the whole trip (i.e. getting my luggage back only in Sydney) and I accepted. She then confirmed my flight to Sydney and printed out the three boarding passes I would need for this travel (one to Paris, one to Singapore and one to Sydney). Boarding was scheduled at 17:05 and take-off at 17:30.
Last cigarette (I know, it’s bad) before going through security check and gate C42. To my surprise, I was almost the only one at the security check, so I did not have to queue (I have seen queues like you cannot imagine in Dublin airport). I arrived at the gate at 16:50 and I had the unpleasant surprise (well, I should not say “surprise” since this kind of things happens often with Air France on the DUB
route) to see that the plane was not yet there. I then realised that boarding at 17:05 would just be a sweet dream! However, just when I thought this, the plane came and we eventually boarded at 17:15, so only 10 minutes after the expected time.
Gate C42 at Dublin Airport
My plane: a BAe Avro RJ 85
Nice sunset over Dublin Airport. Who said it was always raining in Ireland?
My seat was 5C. The plane was only 1/3 full.
Pushback happened at 17:40 and takeoff at 17:50 on runway 28. Flight time was expected to be 1 hour and 25 minutes.
A little snack has been given 10 minutes after takeoff: a selection of pastries and cold beverages, plus the traditional tea or coffee. I chose a muffin and a coke.
When the captain spoke to us, we could barely hear anything. I was a bit annoyed since I always like to know at what flight level we’re flying. But this time, the only sentence understandable over the microphone was “thank you for flying with us”…
Anyway, the flight went well. Touch down was at 20:10 (Paris time). We parked at 20:20, but not at our usual location (we usually park close to Terminal 2F/2E). This time, we were somewhere near terminal 2B! Why did we park there, I don’t know. What I know is that it took us 15 minutes by bus to go to Terminal 2F!!
I know it’s not the most convenient airport in the world, but I always know how to easily find my way in this maze.
I had to go to Terminal 2E to catch my flight to Singapore. From Terminal 2F (where I arrived from Dublin), it’s right in front. I know that some A.netters had problems going from 2F to 2E (they were probably misled by some incompetent CDG
staff member), so please remember this: it takes only 5 minutes to walk from 2F to 2E. When you leave the Arrivals at 2F, just go straight. It’s really simple, but not always clearly indicated.
When I arrived in Terminal 2E, there was almost no one. Only 8 flights were planned for the evening:
After a short dinner and a cigarette (yes, I know…), I went directly to the passport and security checks. That was quick, since there was absolutely NO ONE queuing.
Then, I headed to gate E69 in the Satellite S3. That was new to me. It is the brand new Satellite in CDG
(mostly designed to welcome A380s) and it was the first time I was getting a plane from there. I took this nice shuttle:
And then these huge stairs:
To finally arrive here:
, 9th February 2008. AF
EDT: 23:15 / ADT
: 23:35 (Paris local time)
EAT: 18:35 / AAT: 18:40 (Singapore local time)
Plane: Boeing 777-300
My plane: A Boeing 777-300
Expected boarding time was at 22:20 and we actually boarded ten minutes later. My seat was 42A. A flight attendant politely guided me to my seat.
When everyone was on board, the captain welcomed us and told us our flight route: Basel, South of Budapest, North of Ankara, North of Tehran, South of Delhi, South of Calcutta, South of Phuket, West of Kuala Lumpur and finally Singapore.
When passenger count was over, we pushed back at 23:20 and took-off at 23:35 on runway 08L.
A short while after take-off, we received amenity kits. In Economy class with Air France, you get an eye mask, ear plugs (really convenient) and earphones. But those are crap. The ergonomic is not satisfying and the sound they provide is not good at all. It’s about time I bought an adapter and used my own ones. Fortunately, the video on demand was very good. Here are some of the movies available during the flight:
Gone Baby Gone, The Kingdom, Michael Clayton, Dodgeball, The Devil wears Prada, the Full Monty, Harry Potter, Garfield, Ice Age 2, Ratatouille, Night at the Museum, Live Free or Die hard, Mr and Ms Smith, etc. And for the French ones: les Tontons Flingueurs, les Visiteurs, les Bronzés, Pur Week-end, 36 Quai des Orfèvres, etc. I did not remember all the movies available as there were too many. There was also a good choice of TV
series like Friends, Heroes, Desperate Housewives, etc. Plus video games (ok, it’s not PlayStation 3, but still) and news, music, etc.
Since I live in Ireland, I’ve decided to catch up with some French movies, and I chose “Pur week-end”. Clearly not the best I’ve seen, but still enjoyable.
Then they gave us the menu:
Arles-style tart of bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
Roasted chicken fricassee with spicy tomato sauce and semolina with chives (which I chose)
Chinese-style pork with bell peppers accompanied with rice.
Coffee and tea
I must say that the starter was good, so were the roasted chicken and the semolina. The crumble was very good. The camembert, on the other hand, was not (off-topic, I just would like to say something about the camembert: I originally come from Normandy and more precisely from the Pays d’Auge where Camembert was created by Marie Harel.
First, camembert that is not made in Normandy cannot be “real” camembert. Despite what it is written on the package. The term “camembert” is not protected, so any one in the world can call his cheese “camembert”. You can find Australian camembert, American camembert, South African camembert, etc. But make no mistake: these ones are not the real stuff.
Second, camembert that is made with pasteurised milk is certainly not
camembert. Real and genuine camembert must
be made with non pasteurised
Anyway, at mid-flight, a selection of Asian noodles, sandwiches, ice-creams and beverages was available.
After my movie was finished, I decided to start reading “Eric Clapton: the autobiography” that my brother gave me for Christmas.
And then some sleep!
About less than two hours before landing, the crew served breakfast. Cheddar cheese and some kind of smoked ham (I never thought Air France could give cheese for breakfast, what a horrible culinary choice), yogurt, bread, jam, butter, orange juice, a cake (very good cake, by the way) and a fruit salad. Plus the traditional tea or coffee.
Close to Singapore
On short final…
We touched down right on time at Changi Airport on runway 02L. While taxiing on our way to the gate, we saw SIA
’s A380. It was the second time I could see an A380 after the one I saw in Paris in June 2007. A very impressive aircraft!
I did not have much time between the two flights, but since the departure gate to Sydney was not far from where we arrived, I decided to go for a smoke. I had my cigarette in a very nice smoking area. It was an open air one, so I could at least taste a bit the Singaporean air! And it’s like I imagined: warm with a lot of humidity.
Nice smoking garden.
And that was it for Singapore! Once the cigarette was finished, I rushed to the security check at gate C25 as they were calling for passengers to Sydney.
The 747-400 of Qantas was waiting (sorry for the bad quality)
, 10th February. AF
EDT: 19:55 / ADT
: 20:10 (Singapore local time)
EAT: 06:25 / AAT: 06:10 (Sydney local time)
It was my first time in a 747 since my trip to Japan in 2002, so I was pretty excited. My seat was 47K, so I had the view on the impressive wing. That was perfect to me!
The plane was equipped with PTVs, but the IFE was not as good as AF
’s one. The screen was about the same one as AF
’s but the image quality was slightly better. Video on demand was not as rich as AF
’s. Anyway, it was just 7 hours of flight and my main activity would be again reading and sleeping, so I was not really paying attention to it.
We pushed back at 19:55 and took off at 20:10. Soon after take-off, we got the amenity kit: a pair of socks, a key ring and a sleep mask.
We then got the menu. I thought I had kept it but it seems that I did not, so I will just tell you approximately what we had:
Asian noodle salad
Egg pasta with peas
I chose the pasta (since I am not a huge fan of fish) but I would soon regret it. It was disgusting, absolutely disgusting. The taste was awful and there was way too much butter. I was really disappointed, especially because the salad was not really good either. So I took revenge on the beer and the chocolate bar.
Anyway, with all this, I did not realise we had crossed the equator line! The first time in my life I was in the southern hemisphere! Happy days!
The flight went well. I read and eventually got some sleep. When I woke up, we were flying over New South Wales, but it was dark outside, so I could not take advantage of seeing Australia from above.
The crew served a breakfast before landing. A pain au raisin, slices of fruits, a coffee and orange juice were offered.
We smoothly landed at 6:10 in the morning, local time. I was happy to get out of the plane and finally be there! My God, I knew that Sydney was far from Europe, but that far… (it was even worse on my way back).
So I took my backpack and went out of the plane and on to the immigration control. I experienced the American one (where they take your finger and eye prints, as if you were a vulgar criminal), and dared to experience the Australian one. But nothing happened. I gave my passport, no question asked, no finger prints to give, no rough talking (although I did not have neither “hello” nor “goodbye” from the lad).
I then got my luggage back. I had this small apprehension that it could get lost. After all, the last time I saw it was in Dublin, when I checked in. Did it follow me to the other side of the world? Yes it did!
Before I could get some fresh air outside, I had to go through another luggage checking (which surprised me somewhat since I am not used to get my luggage checked after arrival). I’ve seen some footage in Discovery channel where the Australian staff was really rude with newcomers. But then again, nothing like that happened. Staff members were very polite. I scanned my luggage and got the authorization to enter the Australian soil!!!
Both flights were nice, although I cannot be a reference since I don’t travel on long hauls that much.
For the Air France flight:
- The crew was nice, very polite, always smiling;
- The food was excellent;
- The PTVs are too small and the sound is really crap. But the choice of movies was excellent;
- Ear plugs provided are really convenient.
- The plane landed on time.
For the Qantas flight:
- The crew was ok (no smiles and there were giving the food as if they were on a production line, but the overall service was good);
- The dinner was disgusting. The breakfast was much better;
- The PTVs and the sound were slightly better than AF
’s. However, the choice of movies was not as good as AF
- The plane landed on time as well.