LAS-LAX (by car)
LAX-SYD (by plane)
Class: First (A)
Seat 1A and 4A (I switched)
Dep: 23:50 (actual 00:20)
I did not want to be on this flight. I wanted to be on the QF12 (A380 or rather the R380) but contrary to prior guarantees by QF representatives that A stock would free up of course it did not. You can read my rant about it and the whole story here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ve-club/905474-qantas-ba-gold.html
For this report I will limit myself to the flight I actually took. Because of the 'misunderstanding' I also got to spent a whopping 7 hours in the new OW lounge at LAX TBIT. These will be the focus of this report.
This report will also have two different picture qualities. I bought a new camera in Santa Monica and thought it was so good it could possibly even replace the more sophisticated SLRs. I took the gamble and was a little disappointed with the camera's performance under low light conditions, but what can you expect for USD 289?
I had celebrated New Years in Vegas. It was one big party. Unfortunately what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas so I cannot tell you too much about that. We stayed at the MGM Signature, a hotel I can recommend. It is an all suite 3 tower complex linked to the MGM Grand, but with different operators and that shows.
They told us Vegas would be suffering this year (crisis and all) but actually occupancy was around 90% in all big hotels and a lot even made 100%. It was very busy. We partied at Tao and Lavo (both in the Venetian) and that was a good choice.
After recovering for a day it was time to head home. The friend I spent NYE with had to fly out early since he had to make the IAD-DXB flight. I decided to drive back. It was a pretty relaxing drive even though traffic was heavy. I wanted to go the long way round, via Death Valley but I wanted the A380 more so I pushed on. I did manage some nice shots along the way.
Slight detour – ghost town road
The middle of where?
After about 5,5 hrs I arrived at LAX to deliver my rental car to Alamo and take the shuttle to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. From this terminal most of the OW flights now depart, but not all of them. The check in story is on Flyer Talk (earlier link). After that I went straight to the lounge. I don't even know if there is much to do at the terminal. I wanted to relax, take a shower, read a book, have dinner and maybe even have a quick sleep. My expectations were too high. Still the lounge was not bad at all for US standards.
Going through the security check took a while since there were a lot of inexperienced travelers in line for me who did not move or did anything without shouted instructions. In the end I started barking order at them as well. “You, move to that line” “You, get a bin, remove your shoes, belt, watch and any other items”. I am not even kidding and besides: it helped. The security staff laughed and me and gave me an encouraging nod. Appreciated, but still... It is not my job.
After security you immediately find the elevator to the new One World Lounge. It has both a business and a first class section. There is however no difference between the two. Same food, same furniture, same staff, same occupancy, same everything. The only difference I discovered was the PC section was nicer in first and there was a separate room for VIPs (I guess) that was locked and reserved. People were in there but I never found out who.
I am even now having a hard time determining which pictures are from what area. Here we go:
This I am sure is the TV seating in First
Also pretty sure this is First
Remember? I had 7 hrs in First
A long 7 hrs. On the left is the door to the private room
First PC section
More First seating
Business PC section
Business PC section reverse angle
Business Bar (no bar in First)
I once was told you could never have enough pictures in a TR. Maybe I am overdoing it a bit though.
After a while I decided on a shower. The showers are actually in the Business section and you get there through a door at the end of the First lounge. There was a very, very grumpy lady there who is supposed to get you a shower. She gave me a 'tag' for the number 6 shower and I was on my way.
The shower area looks nice although I would have preferred separate First cabana's like on T5. It all feels pretty new and shiny.
Hallway to the showers (seen from the shower end)
End of the shower hallway. Nice art. Nice garbage bag. I checked, it was there for over 3 hours.
I looked in some of the other cabins. This is the biggest with handicapped access.
Finally I settled in into shower cabin nr 6.
In undressed, unpacked, readied my change of clothes and turned on the water. I like showers.
And then I waited. Waited for hot water that is. I waited for 5 minutes. Nothing. Any idea how annoying it is if you are completely naked in a small shower cabin in a public airport lounge and need to decide how to proceed? Remember: the attendant is in the business class lounge so you don't simply wrap a towel around you and ask her for help.
I decided to move my stuff and myself as inconspicuously as possible to cabin nr 7. That worked but was highly annoying. Packing up again etc. This time the shower turned hot in 10 seconds. Piss poor water pressure but still.
When I walked back to the attendant I remarked that nr 6 must be broken. Her response 'ah, no sir you just need to let the water run for 10 minutes or so...' Er... What? “Why did you assign me a shower cabin that you know is defective when there are so many others available? Why did you not tell me?” She looked at me with incredible disinterest. I repeated “Why?”. She shrugged me and walked away. Yes. You read it right. She shrugged me and walked away. This behavior let to the first complaint I ever made against an employee of any airline, hotel or whatever. I immediately went to the lounge manager and filled out a complaint form. WTF?
After this second 'problem' at LAX with OW I decided I needed food and lots of it. And of course alcohol.
Ze booze in Firzt...
More First Food
In case there wasn't enough
Business Food (looked better at first than First)
Food section in the business part
The food was a hit and miss. The Cocq-au-vin was nice and some of the finger food was delicious. The brownies were to die for. I however found the inability to eat a proper meal a miss in this First lounge of an important OW destination.
Also there is nowhere to sleep. No couches, no day beds, nothing. The lounge is also pretty busy since it serves 4 or 5 747s (QF, BA, CX) an R380 (QF) and a JAL flight all within 3 hrs of each other.
There was one family with 3 children that were absolutely the 3 worst behaved children I have ever encountered. They screamed, shouted, ran, pestered other passengers the whole time without a break. The parents did nothing but run after them and looking helpless, thus proving that you should actually get some sort of permit before you are allowed to reproduce. Even the lounge staff made several announcements asking 'all parents' to keep their children from running, screaming etc. Literally. Next they even made a round through the lounge apologizing and explaining there was nothing they could do.
You could see the fear in a certain passengers eyes. 'Are they on my flight?'. I even went so far as to ask the lounge staff to check. They assured me there were no kids on my flight in the First cabin. When the boarding call for the QF12 came they left. Some kind of retribution? I checked and yes, they were on that flight but not in First. Still, I feel sorry for those passengers. I kid you not, there was an actual celebration between the passengers left in the lounge after they left. We discussed their behavior at length.
The QF150 is the latest flight out. At 23:10 they announced the boarding would be delayed by 10 minutes. I had had enough of the lounge and decided to walk to the gate to see if I could get some nice shots of the aircraft. To my surprise it was a bus gate.
To my annoyance the 10 minutes became 25. I was allowed to join the passengers for pre-boarding but that bus turned out to be the last one to leave... (?). They stuffed the bus fuller than a can of sardines and that with elderly passengers, handicapped and children on that particular bus. It was a disgrace!
The bus before they started pushing people in
When we finally could not breath anymore and several children and Florida residents had already perished we left for what was the longest bus ride on any airport ever. About 10 minutes. Another 4 deaths later we arrived at a series of small buildings that you had to enter to get to the air bridge. A remote air bridge... Now I have seen it all.
Our plane at the remote bridge
The long walk up the bridge
View of the plane from the building
The small walk down the actual bridge. Remember I was on the pre-boarding bus.
By now I was no longer sure that my issue wasn't with LAX as much as it was with OW. It had been a mediocre experience with some very unpleasant intermezzos. But at least I was there. I was on the Qantas plane and the first thing that greeted me was a warm genuine Aussie smile from Troy. The best FA I have ever experienced. He made me feel at home, appreciated and welcome. Thank you Troy, it is a shame that you only work once a month and that QF won't let you work the A380 without a pay cut.
First impressions of the cabin were not good. I was in 1A where there is no overhead bin so you always have to use the one behind you. Not a problem only in this particular 747 layout (old style bins) you cannot reach the overhead bin for seat 2 or 3 without the passenger in the middle seat having to move. Oddly enough the two front middle rows were occupied. One by an elderly couple from the US and one by a female travel agent and her female friend. The last passenger was a woman in 5K who was a friend of the captain. At least I think since he came to chat with her several times during the flight. Very little revenue on this flight in First. And only inferior revenue at that (at least according to QF)
Very quickly after boarding I was handed the QF pj's. Very nice I must say. Much better fit and style than BA's. They are actually sort of becoming. I kept them. I changed immediately to the surprise of my fellow passengers who thought the pj's were a gift... The bathrooms on the QF 747 are very nice and a little roomier than BA's.
I did not bring the wide-angle so a shot of the washing bowl
and the flowers will have to do.
When I came back I found that some canapes where already served together with the glass of water I asked for. They were absolutely horrific.
In rapid succession I was handed the very impressive amenity kit. It (for once!) had things in there I could actually use: razor, shaving cream, deodorant...The first time ever an airline thought of such useful things (in my experience)
Troy asked me if I really wanted to stay in 1A. “Most people don't know this, but the first row seats are actually 4 inches shorter than the rest...” I thanked him again and told him I would move to 4A after take off.
Seat 1K (also shorter)
I was talking to the elderly couple on their way to a cruise and did not want to be impolite. Unfortunately I soon found out that they were uber-christian republicans who honestly though that Bush was a very good president, the attack of Iraq had kept the world safe, abortion was an affront to civilization and all gays would go straight to hell. They new all about foreign politics and how other countries worked but of course this was their first trip abroad...
I politely explained to them I had actually been in some of these countries, that I work (on occasion) for UNICEF and that bombing the shit out of your country killing your friends, family and children would make anybody a terrorist. As an anti-theist I also made the point that if God has such good points he should come down and explain them to the world. Troy rescued me by declaring he was an atheist too and that we should now all settle down for dinner. We ended on a very friendly note. It was always a friendly discussion. But why do I meet so many Americans like that?
Anyways, back to the flight. We were separated by Troy to have dinner. Beforehand I had sampled the Chardonnay (decided against it since it was too sour) and settled for the Savignon Blanc that was very nice. Since I already snacked a lot at LAX I decided on the Chilean Sea Bass only. It was served in 4A and it looked rather worse than it tasted.
Looks C but taste B+!
Troy talked me into some ice cream. Since I did not specify a flavor he brought them both.
I watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy on my laptop and decided to take up Troy on his offer to make my bed.
The mattress that QF uses when they make up the bed is actually very comfortable. I slept like a baby. The flight was bumpy at times but not enough to make it uncomfortable. I slept 10hrs in total of which 7 uninterrupted.
Cabin at night
When I finally woke up for real I immediately was offered breakfast. I decided to have some fruit, cereal and yogurt, full eggs breakfast and tea. I believe I ordered salmon as well but that never materialized.
Here are the required food pictures.
The surprisingly delicious energizer smoothie
And finally a very loaded plate of eggs.
All very tasty and delicious. I must stress again that the service was excellent and I went to seek the CSM to tell him how happy I was with his crew. I could tell he agreed with me. He was proud, I could tell. Nice to see someone care so much.
After brekkie (as I am now supposed to say) everyone tidied up a bit, changed and the cabin was cleaned. This enabled me to take some more pictures of the cabin.
My seat during sleep: 4A
Seat 1K. I sat here during landing.
And here are some I prepared earlier
Troy doing his stuff
Cabin from behind
Our approach into SYD was beautiful. It is always nice to arrive in a new destination. The seatbelt sign came on really late. We were only 3 minutes out.
I maybe post a landing video later, but the internet connection at the Marriott in Sydney is rather slow. I have some pictures that I took whilst taxiing.
Our slightly curbed route to the stand
Our Chinese neighbor on the other side
I was the first one to disembark. I said my goodbyes to the crew and memorized this was actually the first time I felt sorry I probably would not see them again. Good crew! Well done Qantas!
Our plane from the terminal
The walk to immigration was short and there were no lines to speak of. The custom officials were all extremely friendly and efficient. Will it be true that Australians are the nicest people in the world ?
The only line I encountered was the one for the taxis. That took the better part of 15 minutes.
The ride into town was quick. I stay at the Marriott at Circular Quay (next to the Opera House) and the ride was about AU$42. The room I initially got was one of those lousy corner rooms with no view. Being a Gold member I expected an upgrade. I got an room with a view of the Opera house, albeit on a smoking floor. I don't mind too much. I was offered another (non-smoking) room later but since I already unpacked I decided to leave it like it is.
The Marriott is the hotel slightly left of center and left of the black building. My room overlooks the harbor and is on the 24th floor.
As always: feedback is very much appreciated. I do enjoy writing these reports. Even when I am on holiday. It must be an addiction...
In conclusion: QF has been a disappointment on the ground and a delight in the air. I am happy to be in Sydney. It is a city I believe I will grow to like when I am here longer next time. I will leave you with some photos of my destination.
Another way to get here
The famous bridge
There is a gale blowing so these are very brave people!
Some artsy stuff
Hope you enjoyed. Any good tips for two days in Sydney (off the beaten path) are welcome.
[Edited 2009-01-04 01:13:44]