Posts: 133
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:29 pm


Thu Jan 01, 2009 1:04 am

A slightly longer version of this has been posted to another web site, I am just including the actual flight reports (which have been expanded a little). I will add the BNE-MEL-SYD-SIN-FRA-BHX legs when I actually do them.

I don't take pictures on flights generally and I'm not a reg collector, so you'll just have to live with a basic report  Big grin My main concerns are the check-in, the lounge, the service and the arrivals experience - i.e. I'm a boring business traveller and equally as boring as a leisure traveller.

Essentially, I'd been waiting to go back to Australia for some time, I'd enjoyed the last trip immensely but it was a question of coming up with the time (big problem), the money (smaller problem) and the energy (can be a problem). Anyway, the stars came into alignment this Christmas/New Year and after various abortive attempts to book mileage seats, I ended up with a reasonably cheap C fare from Opodo plus some burning of otherwise useless BA miles. There were cheaper alternatives for the same dates but they either had unwanted stopover points or awkward timings.

As with any fare booked well in advance, flights were shuffled and changed somewhat over the 9 months, I ended up going out via MUC instead of FRA  Smile, some flight times changed to get a bit longer in BNE  Smile and I ended up with a 7 hour layover in FRA on the way back : Sad (although I have a cunning plan about that one).

BHX-MUC, LH4921, RJ85, 17th December 2008, 3D

Awakening at 4:00am isn’t my forte, the two usual reasons are the early FRA and the early MUC. Today, it was the MUC, I managed to do most morning things before the taxi arrived but eating anything was, as usual, beyond me. After wondering what I had forgotten this time, I was at the airport by about 5:50 and wandered off to commit the minor heresy of checking a bag.

There was one person ahead of me in the Business class queue for checkin, so I thought it would be quite quick, enough time for both a cigarette outside and a coffee in the lounge. Sadly, that one person didn’t allow for the 9 members of LH crew who arrived and had priority over me to check their bags. I can understand that this is important, but I would have thought that perhaps I could have been called to another desk. It was almost as if I didn’t exist neither for the check-in agent nor for the crew who just breezed past. Not a happiness making start to the trip.  grumpy 

Anyway, I went outside for my cigarette, went up to security and lo and behold , the priority channel was open – well sort of, because it still dropped me in a queue of 15 for a machine, several of which were giving me the old “what’s he pushing in for” look. Today wasn’t a shoe carnival day for a pleasant change, but there was only just enough time for a very dashed expresso in the lounge before we were called for boarding.

The ground agents were up to their usual tricks again. Rather than running a proper boarding, past a podium, they have a new hobby of lining you up in the corridor and wandering along the queue to check passes and passports, usually leaving you standing like a plonker in a corridor for about 10 minutes. I wonder if this contributed to the recent problem with the PK flight..

Plus, joy of joys, we boarded through the newly broken jetbridge, where the finger collapsed a few weeks ago, so we went down the stairs and across 3m of tarmac. I’m amazed there wasn’t a bus for this, there would be at FRA.  Wink

Anyway, that was the bad bit of the day over and done with. The flight itself to Munich was a model of LH operational efficiency. We left on time, we arrived on time, breakfast was served and whilst not exciting, it was fresh and perfectly adequate and not just seconds but thirds were offered on the bread basket (although I stopped at one croissant). My only comment would be that I don't like the seats on the Quadrapuff. At MUC we arrived at G38, which was amusing because I would be departing from H38 three hours later. Whilst the window seat next to me was vacant, there wasn't much to see out of the windows.

MUC-SIN, LH 790, Airbus 340-300, 17th December 2008, 11G

We boarded about 10 minutes late, judging from the number of gate lice, the flight was overbooked in steerage and some lucky, lucky people were called to the podium. I didn’t expect to be one of them, if they were rolling into F, it would be some lucky HON or SEN, not an FTL on a Z fare. However, despite boarding being 10 late, we left only 5 late which is pretty good going for a full flight.

When I came to use online check in, I had found myself in 10H, a bulkhead seat. I’m not mad on bulkheads myself, they don’t have storage space and they run an increased risk of squalling infant. I moved to 11G, still a bit too close but the best that was available. 11G has proved to be reasonably adequate, unless the LH C seat which I must admit I’m not terribly impressed with, as a sit up it is like a old-peoples home chair, as a “relax” position, I haven’t been so uncomfortable since a salesman took me to a German knocking-shop a decade and a half ago and as a bed, it’s rather narrow(and I’m rather porky) and it has that ski jump profile. However, it’s better than being back there smelling the poverty as Pam Ann puts it.

Anyway, I digress as usual. Take off is long and slow, very long and very slow but this is a A340-300 which is notorious for such things. It’s over 20 minutes before the crew get up and get going and the mad rush for the loos starts. It’s another 35 minutes before the drinks trolley makes an appearance, although bless them, it does two runs in swift succession. In fact once they get going, they really are a rather excellent crew, but with over 100 mins before the appearance of the starters, I do wish I’d had those Weißwurst.

Anyway, the food, an undistinguished starter of Prawns with “Curry” Mayonnaise, a decentish salad of lambs lettuce with croutons where I ignored the suspicious leucous dressing in a bottle, the rather good roast goose with excellent potato dumplings and decent red cabbage, a plate of cheese where the only fault was it being too small and coffee and chocolates. I drank two bottles of Warsteiner before and with dinner, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. The alcohol was flowing freely, with the crew during the main courses going up and down the cabin doing top-ups.

After this I spent about 90 minutes trying to get some rest in the wretched seat, but it’s far too early for my bodyclock and my seat opponent to the rear is making the sort of noises I’ve only heard before when my own appalling snoring has been taped. Oh well, it’s going to be a stay up all flight job.

Anyway, I fiddle with the laptop, read a detective novel and generally putz around until it’s time for breakfast. I can’t be doing with these AVOD thingies, if I wanted to watch something, I’d haul Life on Mars out of the bag. For those awake and there were plenty who only napped for an hour or two, water and juice was brought around about every half an hour.

Breakfast had a hot or cold selection, as I usually try to avoid the glue that is scrambled eggs, I went for the cold selection, which was served about an hour and a half before landing. It was nice, tasty ham, decent bread, tolerable airline coffee and refills of coffee and breads.

All in all, a very good flight with a very good crew.

We landed about five minutes ahead of schedule and the whole Changi experience was over in 20 minutes, through immigration, get bag, get into taxi. I was at my hotel by 9:00 revelling in the warmth and the sunshine. Why can't all arrival experiences be like this.

SQ 219, SIN-SYD, B747-400, 21st December 2008, 19C (then 19A)

Schedule : Dep: 09:40 Arr 20:15
Actual: Dep 10:10 Arr 20:10

So it was back off to Changi in a taxi in the early hours of Sunday with no breakfast, so I was looking forward to breakfast in the Silver Kris lounge. It was a nice swift journey and I was swiftly in the business class check-in queue, but my selected queue wasn't moving very quickly as the passengers in front of me seemed to have special needs which involved a great deal of fingerwaving and pointing.

However, I was called over by a First Class agent and swiftly dealt with, being offered an upper-deck or lower-deck seat. I took the upper-deck, I always enjoy being up there on the 747. After a very swift bit of shopping for cigarettes and a new tie, it was off to the lounge.

Now, this is supposedly one of the world's great lounges and have no doubts about it, it's a very, very good one. All the requirements for my breakfast were there, fruit, coffee and croissants and in good supply. The place was clean and tidy, the chairs were comfy and there was a fine selection of newspapers. I happily sat myself for an hour or so and dealt with the previous days emails. I'm not quite sure if it's on a par with the Wing in HKG, perhaps I'll have to check sometime. Certainly, I'd give it to the Silver Kris on ambience, a tie on morning food selections, but the WIng the win on the quality of the food (fruit wasn't ripe enough).

However, I then felt a need to head to one of Singapore's smoking terraces and after dealing with the evil habit in the balmy weather, I headed off for my gate revelling in the clean lines of the new T3 and the excellent signage. Gate security was very swift and very unobtrusive, but oddly no lane for premium pax. There again, it was over so quickly perhaps they don't need one. Some people, of course, would probably be offended by the lack of provision.

We boarded on time and I quickly found myself upstairs on the 747-400 and was offered drinks and pre-dinner drink orders were taken. I had water, for a fat bloke, I have a limited tolerance for alcofrol and it is even less in the air. There was a bit of a delay on take off but we were kept informed.

Whilst Aisle is my preference, I'm not a total aisle, especially on day flights in business class, so when I was informed that 19A was empty on a very busy flight, I hauled my carcass over there. The only other free seat upstairs was in row 19 on the opposite site and he was a PPS Solitaire, perhaps at check-in they recognised that I had a nasty shirt and didn't want to subject anyone else to it.

Service was very good, I've heard people describe SQ as robotic, I felt it was fine, my one out of the box request was dealt with very quickly and to my satisfaction. In general, the two Singapore Girls and the one Singapore Man who were doing upstairs did a classy job of combining service, politeness and keeping an eye on us all.

Food and Beverages were excellent as well, I enjoyed a very generous Gravadlax salad with corn and cucumber, a large bowl of Prawn Noodle Soup and some Chocolate cake. My wine was kept topped up until I said no and there were plenty of offers of water, tea, coffee, juice etc. Just before landing, I had some delicious Dim Sum with glutinous rice. I noted that SQ were up and serving very quickly after takeoff and that the final meal was served quite late into SYD, which I think is good.

I didn't bother much with KrisWorld. I had a good book and a nice view out the window and there was nothing that really appealed. Ditto, I didn't really play with the SpaceBed, the intention was to stay up and so I just reclined to a comfy position. I don't expect to do this on the WhaleJet on the way back. I found looking out at Indonesia and then Australia to be fascinating and I barely finished my book. What we were doing as soon as we got over Australia was picking up a considerable tail wind. I remember looking at the map from Port Hedland onwards and rarely seeing the speed drop below 1000 kph, this enabled us to make up the lost time faffing around at Changi.

Arrival at SYD was a bit of a zoo, there was something going on with a UA flight which had offloaded and lots of people queueing here there and everywhere. However, by using the express lanes, I was out of there in 30 minutes and in a taxi to my hotel, where to my surprise I ran into my crew as they were staying there as well.

The flight was close to perfection, I had a good view, a good seat and good service, there were no incidents or mishaps. This is how flying should be, I can't wait for the WhaleJet on the way back.

QF 524, SYD-BNE, 29th December 2008, Boeing 767-300, 2F

I enjoyed all my short haul J class trips on QF last time and was looking forward to them this time.

After departing the hotel after a small contretemps with a bellboy, I was swiftly checked in the nornal friendly QF manner and headed for the business lounge where I drank a couple of long blacks whilst enjoying the free wireless access(LH and LX please take note). There was a range of food on offer and some tempting cookies but I was still full of bacon and mushrooms from breakfast, so I didn't bother.

Boarding was called on time and proceeded very swiftly, there was no pre-takeoff service although the CSM greeted a couple of pax personally. The seating is fine for short-haul domestic, but more in line with the US model than the European model.

Pushback was bang on time and as soon as the bongs went, the crew were up and at work, after all flying time on this route is around an hour and there are meals and drinks to serve. There was a choice of a hot chicken dish or a prosciutto salad with orzo. I chose the salad which was very nice but it was a bit of a game to cut the proscuitto with a plastic knife, I went for being uncouth. I took a glass of Chardonnay and some water with my meal, the Chardonnay was very good and refills were offered swiftly. Tea and coffee were also on offer. Considering the flight time, this was a very good offering. Especially as the family in the seats in front where making some quite strenous demands for alcohol.

Arrival was a few minutes before schedule, the bags arrived swiftly, with priority tagging working and I was quickly off to my hotel. Another good QF flight.

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