This is my first TR
, as well as these occurring from 3 weeks to 7 weeks ago so please be gentle.
But first a little background to the trip. Ever since March 08, since my mother died, I had been thinking about visiting my uncle and my cousins in Houston, as me and my mother had always talked about visiting, as well as being the first time for me to travel to the US. It was not until late April/early May when I finally decided to visit.
In early May I finally booked the tickets with a routing being SYD
. I would plan to leave Sydney on November 28 and leave Houston on December 21. In late August I decided to extend my stay and alter flights so that I would be on a different aircraft type for each leg. I had hoped for the following aircraft doing SYD
-IAH. It would have been 744-752-738-S80-763-380. I had also planned to fly QF149, assuming a lower load, which would allow a spare seat next to me. As things eventuated, QF
149 was cancelled, and I would be rebooked onto QF11, which was an A380. This had the effect of having to change my connecting flights through to Houston. After everything was settled, I could finally organise my affairs as, these changes happened a few weeks before departure.
Finally November 28 had arrived. I’d been waiting for this day for a long time. I thought I had everything packed, or so I thought. Just before I was about to leave, I realised I had forgotten my iPod charger inside. With that little Hiccup out of the way, my brother and father took me to the airport and got there at about 11.30am, while on the way joking about the piss off party he would be having when he got home. After paying $4 to Macquarie Airport for the privilege of using a trolley, I went inside and sat down for about 15 minutes, waiting for the queues to shorten, I went into the line to check-in. While there QF
ground staff were handing out the green I94-W forms, as well as the forms requesting the address of stay in the US, which I was told to hand in at check-in. I’ve forgotten what it’s called I had just filling mine in when I was called to the counter. There was no problem at all, and all my bags were tagged through to IAH
. Because I had given the details online, they did not need it on paper again, although when I handed it in, the ground person checking me said “Aren’t you cute”.
With check-in done and about 3 hours before departure, I thought I’d kill some time at the observation deck. I must say though, is that Macquarie Airport are not hiding the fact that they are renovating SYD
. Plasterboard walls, bad lighting, no roofing in certain sections, was clearly evident. On the observation deck I took these photos.
A340-300, Rego LV
747-400ER, Rego VH
It had just left gate 8 as QF11 for LAX
Sydney skyline in the distance
Some shots of VH
-OQA, my ride to LAX
, being towed to gate 9 to be prepared for departure. During this time, runway ops changed from 16L/16R to 34L/34R.
After 1 and a half hours of spotting, I went to McDonalds to get something to eat before going through customs. It took me 15 minutes to get through customs which isn’t too bad, considering the amount of booths open. After clearing customs, it was time for the PITA (Pain in the Ass) task of going through security. Considering what occurs there, the whole area looked like an enormous health hazard. Uneven surfaces, poor lighting and exposed wiring were everywhere. It was pretty much like the departure hall, except there were more people and it was in a smaller environment. You would think that, they would be able to find a way to minimise the impact on passengers, but that appears to have been ignored. After going through security, I made my way to gate 9 for boarding. After a while, boredom had set it in so I made my way to a newsagency and bought a magazine
Actual Departure: 3.20pm
Scheduled Arrival: 9.50am
Boarding was to commence at 2.20pm, but in actual fact, it was just to allow us to leave the holding area and go to t gate for boarding. They finally started boarding at about 2.30pm, for an estimated on-time departure of 3.05pm.
Here is a picture of my boarding pass, showing seat 77A
For those who don’t know, this is the last row of seats in the green section of the A380.And I must say, those photos which caused a lot of controversy about this section, really did not do it justice. It is better in person, and quite easy on the eyes. Another thing that was easy on the eyes, was a female flight attendant asking people in the aerobridge if they were in business or economy. I’m not going to forget that face anytime soon.
Here is a shot from 77A, looking outside the window. I was lucky as well because there was no one next to me, so I could lift the armrest and lie down a bit, as well as having somewhere else to put my stuff. As you can see, the weather isn’t looking that great
We pushed back at 3.20pm, 15 minutes late, but the captain named Peter Appleton, assured us that we would get to LAX
on time. He also mentioned our arrival into LAX
, which would be Santa Catalina-Seal Beach and then vectors for the airport. During this time we were making our way to 34L via A and A6. He also gave us some other info, like our TOW of 540, 140 tonnes of fuel, with about 18 tonnes on landing, as well a take-off speed of about 170MPH. One thing I noticed was that, flap movements was relatively louder than I had expected, compared to other planes/flights I have been on. Anybody noticed that as well?
We had a rolling take-off at 3.42pm. Here are a few departure shots.
In this shot I can see the area where I live
Some beaches below
Our departure was relatively normal, with a runway heading take off until reaching the Parramatta river, where we made a right turn and towards Sydney heads, then as shown by the picture below. Apparently we were being vectored around some storms.
Eventually we reached our initial cruising altitude of 35000ft. During this time the cabin crew handed out menus, as well as doing a drinks run. From the time I sat in my seta to reaching our cruise level, I had already become intimately acquainted with on board IFE. In a few words, it was AWESOME. A person really is spoilt for choice on board the A380, with all the games, music and radio programs onboard. But my personal favourite is the tail-cam. It’s quite a weird feeling (in a good way) watching your own plane take off. The only thing which could have made the IFE better would have been the ability to listen to ATC, just like UA
. During the flight I watched, a few episodes of House, Family Guy, Top Gear and the new Harold and Kumar movie. On this particular flight, the IFE had to be reset a few times.
A few cruise shots
It seemed like, every half hour, the cabin crew would do a drinks run through the cabin. Eventually, this was replaced with dinner being served.
After dinner, came the snack on Q bags, along with either hot chocolate or Peppermint tea. I have two words about what to go for, Hot Chocolate! It is awesome especially with the marshmallows
Sunrise shot over the Pacific
Nothing really eventful happened on the flight. About 5 ½ hours from LAX
, we encountered some turbulence, which caused the seatbelt sign to come on. Considering how big theA380 is, it was some turbulence. The captain came over the P.A. and said we would have to climb to 39000ft from 37000ft to avoid the majority of the bumps. The breakfast that I had onboard was the hot breakfast, and that made me feel pretty bad after a few hours., which really did not help.
Speed brakes extended during descent
A shot of LA
Landing and rollout pics
We landed at LAX
on runway 25L at 9.30am and was at gate 101 about 5 minutes later, but it did take a while for the aerobridge to be connected. The way we landed in LAX
, it’s almost if they forgot the ground was hard, because it was quite a thud on landing. Mind you it did seem like we get hot by a strong guts a few seconds from landing.
Here is a flightaware shot of QF
I have heard different things about what to expect at LAX
and TBIT, which made things interesting. The walk from the plane to customs wasn’t bad, but TBIT seemed to have the same problem as Sydney, with that being not really trying to hide the fact that renovations were occurring. Going through Customs and quarantine was not a problem. The lines for both, was nowhere near as bad as I had heard, or maybe I was just lucky. I actually spent more time waiting in the connections line waiting to drop off my bags, than in customs/immigration. As soon as I walked out of TBIT to go to T4
, there was this woman saying “Do you remember me baby?”, to which I replied” Off course not, it’s my first time here”.
When I got to T4
, I decided that I would go straight to the gate. But that meant going through the TSA
. And to be honest, it was not to bad an experience, just more a little annoying and inconvenient. The person in charge of the screening area was colourful character, who seemed to be singing instructions to the passengers.
BTW, I was starting to feel tired, so there are no photos for the next 2 flights, just my recollections and notes that I took. This would also be my first taste of US airlines.
Scheduled Departure: 1.40pm
Scheduled Arrival: 6.45pm
Actual Arrival: 6.55pm
Most of the time there at gate 47B, I was trying to sleep, but was paranoid that I would miss my flight because of it. Boarding happened on time, and I made my way to 36J. I was hoping for a spare seat next to me, but it was not to be. This flight was fully packed. We left on time with take off at 1.50pm from 25R. The captain came on and mentioned that there would be a bit of turbulence, which would clear around Phoenix and Tucson. This would also result in a lower cruise altitude of 29000ft. The onboard service was a lot better that I had expected. Or maybe it was the jetlag starting to get to me. I just had some OJ when the drinks run happened, but did not buy anything from the BOB menu.. I was served by the person who was at the door when boarding. She seemed a bit more interested in serving the drinks compared to boarding. I was struggling to stay awake. It’s not because I have a fear of sleeping on a plane, but rather I simply don’t wanna miss a thing. After a while ( the flight seemed to fly by) we landed at DFW
at about 6.35pm. However an aircraft was still at our stand so we had to wait for it to leave. We eventually arrived at gate D30 at 6.55pm.
Flightaware pic of AA2448
Scheduled Arrival: 8.50pm
Actual Arrival: 8.45pm
I was tired but also edgy that I could miss my connecting flight to IAH
, because I had to change terminals, but I remembered that DFW
had the Skytrain. It took me 10 minutes from deplaning from the 763 to boarding the MD
-80 at gate A30. When I got there, they were paging my name, which had me worried. It turned out to be nothing. They had just changed my seat onboard, so a family could sit together, which I was fine with. We left the gate early with take off at 7.48pm from 36R. The DFW
is quite an impressive sight at night I must admit. During this time, the crew managed to squeeze in a drinks run of juice and or water. Nothing of note to mention, except that it was a little turbulent on descent into Houston. We landed in Houston and arrived at gate A27 5 minutes early. Having finally arrived in Houston I could finally relax and enjoy happy family reunion for 4 weeks.
Flightaware pic of AA1300
[Edited 2009-01-23 03:33:13]