After only 2 days in Hamburg it was now time to go to Toulouse. Unfortunately when I woke up, I saw a message on my phone from my girlfriend saying her grandfather had passed away. Obviously I was going to have to cut my trip short and go home, just when depended on when the funeral was. As the flight to LHR
was mid morning, we made our way to the airport as soon as we had breakfast. During the ride to the airport I received a message telling me that the funeral was going to be on Wednesday, so I could then start planning how to get to Melbourne. The easiest way was going to be QF
30 from LHR
on Monday morning, so I thought. Being Chinese New Year flights were very full and it was not looking good, but I listed for the flight anyway and thought about other options in the meantime.
As we made our way to the airport we found a good viewing area, but the weather was not good for taking photos let alone getting out of the car into the bitterly cold wind.
Once we had a few photos, we dropped the car off and made our way to check in, where we received our boarding passes for both flights, but told we would have to take the luggage between airports, no big deal as we already knew that.
Once through a very speedy and efficient security, well for me anyway, we made out way to what seems to be a communal premium passengers lounge. It was very clean and tidy, and food was good, although I only had a coffee and biscuits while I made some calls home to arrange accommodation in Melbourne for my arrival. My girlfriend had booked flights and planned to meet me at AVV
on the Wednesday morning.
Although there wasn’t too much in the way of photo opportunities, we seemed to find enough to be late for boarding and for the first time ever heard my name being called for being late – oops. With only 5 people in business there was not much fighting for seats or bin space.
As we made ourselves comfortable, I noticed the flightmap come on, and it looked like the new version.
Turkish Airlines A320
Pushback was on time and we made our way to 15 for a quick getaway. It was a shame that the good weather of the past few days had disappeared and was replaced by a heavy cloud layer, giving no views of the city at all, and it appeared it would be that way all the way to LHR
After what I suppose was lunch, I got out a book and my music and read for the hour or so until we started to descend into London. Again the cloud was low so I didn’t get many pictures until a few minutes before touchdown.
A346 looking good.
G-BNLD we meet again
We made it to the blocks right on schedule, and at T5
as well, so it was a quick trip out and through to immigration. Again with a UK passport my passage through was very quick and again my friend took a good 15-20 minutes to get through with his Australian passport, not that it mattered too much as the bags hadn’t arrived even after that wait. It wasn’t too much longer though when our bags arrived and we headed straight out to the bus area to get the coach to LGW
The journey to LGW
only took 1 hour, so we arrived with plenty of time to spare, which was good as security took forever, well only the line we chose, for some reason.
When we made our way to the Galleries First lounge I made a few more calls, to change my TLS
flight from Monday evening to Monday morning, and to confirm listing on QF
30. I was thinking of other ways to get to Melbourne in case I couldn’t make QF
30, even routing back through the US, but timing of those flights would have meant I wouldn’t get to MEL
until Wednesday morning which was too late.
The plane boarded from gate 108 which meant a trip across the bridge, which meant more photo opportunities, and a comment from a buggy driver advising us not to get caught by security!
What we didn’t realise was that there was a few games of rugby on in TLS
, and this flight was full of players and supporters some of whom we ran into a few more times during our stay in TLS
G-DUCY our ride
The flight was pretty uneventful and on schedule, and so was the food, not much to get excited about…
View of French Coast.
Arrival into TLS
One of the main reasons for this trip was to visit the Airbus factory……We woke up on Saturday to a howling gale and heavy rain. Not thinking too much about it we made our way to the Airbus tour headquarters and were told that no tour would be happening today as the strong winds made it too dangerous.
Concorde at TLS
Bit of a let down really so we looked around the shop and chatted to the very friendly girls there. Afterwards we decided to explore around TLS
airport, which was decidedly interesting with lots of trees, powerlines and other garbage flying around.
3 x Belugas
045, SQs 10th A380
Typically the next day dawned fine and calm. A mate who lives in Bordeaux drove down to visit, so we decided to head towards Andorra for some sightseeing. Being a fan of the Tour de France we even drove over a climb that will be used in this years Tour.
View towards Andorra
Road to Andorra
Col de Port
My flight on Monday was at 7am, so that meant a very early wake up, and drive to the airport. Although I was going home early my friend kept on with the plan to fly out of TLS
that evening. As usual, check in was quick and easy, and so was security. Once at the gate, I made a call to my sister in Melbourne letting her know I was on my way and it looked good for me to make the QF
30 and arrive into MEL
at 21:40 on Tuesday night.
Boarding started a bit late, and also onto a bus which I thought strange for a smaller airport. We were also delayed once doors were shut due to APU failure and delay in getting the ground cart to the plane. This meant we left about 20 minutes later than scheduled but with a promise from the captain that we would make up most of this in the air – which we did.
Air Mediterranee A320
SQs First A330
Isle of Wight
Being a mostly dark flight there wasn’t much to see until well into the descent into LGW
, but probably got to see more than if I was still on the evening flight from TLS
. As promised we did make up some time and only arrived 10 minutes late into LGW
, but at gate 108, which meant a long walk to the arrivals hall.
Not that it really mattered, I couldn’t leave without my luggage which took another 15 minutes to arrive, followed by a 20 minute wait for the coach to LHR
. With QF
30 scheduled to depart at 12:30 I still had plenty of time so I wasn’t too stressed.
Apparently we made good time on the bus to LHR
, the driver saying that usually it takes a good 30 minutes longer at this time of the morning. In any case I made my way from T3
quite quickly and arrived just on 2 hours before scheduled departure.
Plane: B 747-438
-OJM heading to SIN
As we were departing from gate 8, it meant I was able to find a good spot overlooking 09R which was the active departure runway at this time. It then was a surprised to see the EK
A380 arrive on this runway.
Boarding started quite early and with not much else to do I joined the masses for early boarding. Once aboard I was straight into my PJs, and settled into my book. Right on schedule we pushed back and taxied to 09R. 25 minutes it was our turn to head down the runway, and make our way towards Hong Kong.
View of 1K
United Arab Emirates 744
I managed a few shots of London before the cloud cover arrived, and I didn’t see much more of the ground until arrival into HKG
After the seatbelts signs were extinguished, the menus were handed out, and I made my choices, before settling down again with my book and music. Unusually, after the meal decisions had been made, the menus were taken back. I figured I would get them again for the next sector, but thought it strange.
Chicken, Celery and Tarragon Salad with Watercress Dressing
Argentinean Roast Beef with tomato, chilli and caper sauce with Asparagus.
After dinner I read for a bit more, and then took some sleeping tablets so that I would ensure I would get a good sleep, and try to arrive into MEL
not so tired.
I ended up with about 6 hours of sleep, not too bad, and better sleep than I got on the A380. I attribute some of that because I was able to get some cold air from the vents. When I woke it was only 90 minutes until arrival into HKG
. I found that unusual as every other time I have flown First on QF
, everyone was woken at least 2 hours before arrival for breakfast, but I was happy to get that extra few minutes of sleep.
On turning on the flightmap, I saw a pretty incredible ground speed, and this time managed to record it.
Even with the tailwind and on time departure from LHR
we still managed to be 5 minutes late to the gate. Upon leaving the plane I saw my name on a notice board as I exited the ramp, and asked about it. Apparently it was so that they could guide me to security, but having transited HKG
many times before, I wasn’t in need of guiding.
Jet Airways A330
Cebu Pacific A320
Plane: B 747-438
Transit time in HKG
was quite short, and I knew this leg was 255/255 in Y and hence gate area would be crowded, so I made my way there fairly early, while doing some spotting.
For some reason there were secondary security checks on the boarding pier, so I had to open my carryon for them to check. They were doing this for all passengers, which slowed the boarding considerably. In spite of this doors closed and we pushed back on schedule at 09:40. During push back the captain announced that due to lack of normal tailwinds flight time would be 30 minutes longer than scheduled – annoying as I wanted to get to MEL
as soon as possible so that I could get to my sisters at a reasonable time. I tried to send my sister a message during taxi but as I find out on a regular basis using an Optus mobile overseas for sending messages it just does not work. Not much I could do other than enjoy another sector in QF
As I had done on the previous sector, I got my book and music out, reclined the seat to a comfortable position and relaxed.
Soon the menus were handed out, and I guarded my carefully in case it was taken back. As I wasn’t feeling too hungry I had some light meal choices
King Prawns, Cucumber and leaf salad
Soy Chicken and Shiitake Mushroom Soup
After “lunch”, I settled down to my book and music with the flightmap keeping me company. With almost full cloud cover, there wasn’t much to see below, but keep the blinds open anyway so that I could try and stay awake for this leg.
Eventually a F/A came up and asked if I could shut one of the blinds which was ok, but then another F/A came and asked me to shut the other one, because “other people wanted to sleep”. I find it very frustrating that people sleeping are more important than those who want to stay awake. It is very difficult to stay awake in a dark cabin, having at least some natural daylight helps, but I guess the facemasks handed out in the amenity packs are only for decoration.
I take, as much as possible, the lunchtime flights from LHR
so that I can stay awake on the second sector and arrive into SYD
in the evening extremely tired and thus sleep straight through to the next morning without the jetlag waking me at 3&4am. For me this works very well.
We eventually landed in MEL
about 45 minutes late, and me getting concerned about what time I would arrive at my sisters place. Then, as we got up to leave the plane, the CSM announced we would not be leaving the plane until Quarantine had checked out a sick family, so I called y sister to say I would be quite late getting to there place.
Eventually we were allowed on the plane, and made our way to immigration. Unfortunately the fast-track passes we were given on the flight were of little use, as there was no lane open for people with these passes.
Then we waited for our bags, and waited, and waited. Over an hour later the bags finally arrived, yet mine with a First Class tag arrived half way through. Typical of MEL
[International] airport, the baggage system is useless, this is not the first time this has happened to me, and others. I try and avoid flying with checked luggage into MEL
but this time I didn’t have much choice.
I noticed that security were only asking every 10th person or so to have their bags x-rayed so I had hoped that I would manage to avoid this, but it seemed that everything was against me today so another few minutes wasted having my bags x-rayed. Getting out of there I had hoped that I would be able t get away quickly – but no.
When I arrived at the car rental counter, I was asked if I had renewed my drivers licence – it expired while I was overseas, so I hadn’t…..when I explained the reason for the trip, they relented and gave me the car with the proviso that if anything happened I wouldn’t be covered.
Got to my sisters and 12:30am…
Thanks for reading