At Christmas time, I wanted to do something amazing for my mother and grandmother. So I used some money I had saved, and bought us all tickets to CDG. We were to leave in the middle of March and have my birthday in Paris. I gave these E-Itineraries as Christmas presents. Here is a photo of my grandmother opening hers:
Unfortunately, as it came time to travel, my grandmother was diagnosed with H1N1 and my mother fell on the ice and had broken her leg. So I had to get the appropriate medical letters to United stating that they could not fly and that the tickets would be refundable. Well, they will not refund the tickets, they only gave us credit, so we are all "stuck" with around $1000 credit.
The previous UA OKC-IAD-CDG ticket:
Low and behold, Australia gets really cheap in the Northern summer, so I found a ticket for around $1300 roundtrip OKC-LAX-SYD and return. It was standard economy, but on the return, I upgraded to economy plus for about $150 dollars.
I tried to use United's online reservation agent, but I think that is only if you need to do something simple. I had to exchange tickets and credits for this flight. Plus, I was online chatting with someone in India. It wasn't easy and took forever, and they ended up not even being able to book my ticket, better do it on the phone.
So I got my bags packed the next day and headed to the airport:
Note the LH tag from my recent OKC-DEN-FRA-IST trip:
Some standard pictures of our airport here in OKC:
The Airport Bar/Lounge
I decided to catch a drink at the bar before boarding. I had two...
OKLAHOMA CITY to LOS ANGELES departing Tuesday, June 8
UNITED 6893 *
OKLAHOMA CITY 6:42 PM
LOS ANGELES 7:51 PM
Seat(s): 11D NONSTOP
MP miles: 1187 UNITED ECONOMY (Changed to 5A)
* OPERATED BY UNITED EXPRESS/SKYWEST AIRLINES
PLEASE CHECK-IN AT UNITED AIRLINES
I don't have any pictures of this flight because I slept the entire way to LAX. I had been up all the night before excited for the trip, so I didn't get much photography done. The flight was rather uneventful. I'm actually quite surprised that the loads on the OKC-LAX flight were almost full! This looks very good as we have 2 daily flights going out and coming back. I would have thought we would have had SFO service first, but the LAX flights all look very good!
It was a bit stormy somewhere over Northern New Mexico and the seatbelt sign came on, and flight attendants were asked to be seated. But the decent into LAX at sunset was just AMAZING! The marine layer had just come through and the mountains were poking up through the clouds in a very green looking haze. It reminded me of something out of Harry Potter.
Landed at LAX and taxied quickly to the regional jet gate and walked over to gate 80, I believe, for the SYD departure which was in 3 hours. I bought thee $7.99 WiFi, which was worth it, and settled into a seat with a sandwich from WG Puck and a pretty horrible view of LAX.
Here is a view of my 747-400 being pulled from the Hangar for the SYD flight. Most of the other widebodies were hanging out over at TBIT, so again, I was pretty sad with the view, but here she is. Not sure what the rego was on this flight....anyone know?
LOS ANGELES to SYDNEY departing Tuesday, June 8
LOS ANGELES 10:22 PM
SYDNEY 6:10 AM
Seat(s): 34K NONSTOP
MP miles: 7487 UNITED ECONOMY
In-Flight services: MOVIE
Meal: DINNER, BREAKFAST
I had bought my Australian E-Visa through United a few weeks before when I had put the same exact itinerary on hold. When I went to book the trip, I was informed that I did not have authorization from the Australian government to enter Australia and that I should contact that Embassy. Turns out, they only put in the wrong passport number in for my E-Visa. However, when I get to LAX and they start the boarding process for UA839, I get paged over the loudspeaker that I need to see the agent for a document check. (Heart starts thumping). Turns out, again, that the agent at OKC failed to put in the proper passport number. I don't think I have a tricky passport.
Boarding for the long flight went very smooth. And the door was shut fairly quickly. I saw F/A's walking around getting everything prepared for this flight. Interesting to note, that most of this crew was very young, and very professional, if not somewhat overly attractive to look at. Had a gorgeous Moroccan F/A who managed my section. I liked him quite a lot! LOL. (I believed him to be Moroccan, he seemed to have a French Accent).
So we were sitting there with the doors closed - and sitting, and sitting. Then ding...."Cabin Crew, disarm doors and cross check." - So we may be in LA tonight? 2 hours of nothing, and finally we hear that our flight is being delayed because our "ding" to the cockpit would not work. That is to say, when the F/A's needed to contact the cockpit, the "dinger" upstairs would not ding. So we needed a new dinger, or we could be stuck. It took about 20 min after that to replace and we were on our way, now BEHIND all of the Australian traffic.
Please forgive the lack of pictures as it was dark, and not much to see.
Our flight was long, over a vast expanse of nothingness. It's a dull flight really. Over the equator, it got terribly rough. Several times, the F/A's were asked to put their seatbelts on and be seated. We flew near a few islands, but for the most part it is quite black, if you haven't done this flight, don't expect anything exciting except for mildly sickening turbulence........Ahhh yes, but when light prevails, let the fun begin:
It became light about 2 hours out of SYD due to our late departure from LAX. Here are some images of sunrise, we were cruising at 37,000 ft.
I love Winglets!
First Sight of Land in about 7300 miles! And the first time I laid eyes on Australia!
Decent and Landing into Sydney with Full Sunrise, just Beautiful!
Here is the landing video. Was rather rough due to the winds and the pilot seems to be fighting them all the way down. Landing was rough as well. It's interesting because we were coming in from an unusual direction. It really is quite a beautiful video, so I hope you enjoy. Turn up the volume because my camera tries to drown out background noise, which it thinks are engines.
When we landed in SYD, I saw my very first A380 EVER! From a 747-400 it looks BIG, but I can't imagine what it looks like from an MD-80 or an RJ! Yay for Emirates and SQ!
Customs was a breeze! Though, I did find it weird that they asked me my occupation at both SYD and LAX on arrival, as well as what I would be doing. I didn't really have anything planned to tell you the truth other than to go sightseeing. But, I got through okay. I had an Audi A8 waiting for me to take me to my hotel, the Four Seasons Sydney.
Here is the AWESOME view I had from my suite they upgraded me to on the 31st floor of the Four Seasons!
I got a great deal on the hotel considering what hotel it was, and I also got a $200 credit, which mainly went to the $30/day internet fee.....pshh. Overall, I loved SYD while I was there. The weather was perfect. Here are some images from around the Circular Quay and Opera House:
Some artistic shots:
So after a long trip over, and some great laughs with new and random people, and enjoying the laid back city that is SYD, it was time to return home. I had gotten the chance to chat with a few a.netters online and they recommended the viewing terrace at the International Terminal at SYD. I left my hotel at 8:30AM for my 1:50 flight because I was taking the train back to SYD. I had no idea how long it would take, but lets just say it was around 15 min, so I had MORE than enough time to kill before check-in was even available for UA840. Here are some pics from the Terrace!
Of course, I was the first one to check in for the flight back to LAX, seeing as I was at the airport 4 hours before the flight. They actually start check-in for both the LAX and SFO flights at the same time even though the SFO flight departs about 30 min afterward. The SFO aircraft is actually the one which does the SYD-MEL leg which is a tag on from the LAX flight. SO essentially, you will have to change aircraft in SYD.
Check in was easy, so I went to do some spotting at the gates and I stopped at an internet pay portal so I could talk to the guys on a.net chat, since it was high traffic time back in the US. I sat and talked to them in front of a VS A340-600 that was headed to HKG and then to LHR. It was this one right here, before it was towed to the gate:
Philippine Airlines being moved around:
The two BA flights. The 777 on the left would operate to SIN and then on LHR, but it would never make it there. It suffered a massive engine failure in flight and diverted to AMS.
Delta having been towed to their gate, was preparing for it's departure back to ATL via LAX:
My Aircraft: N105UA which is a 747-451 taken up by United.
The flight to SFO, which I believe was N107UA
SYDNEY 1:50 PM
LOS ANGELES 10:17 AM
Seat(s): 19A NONSTOP
MP miles: 7487 UNITED ECONOMY PLUS
In-Flight services: MOVIE
Meal: LUNCH, BREAKFAST
BYE BYE SYDNEY!
Departure of UA 840 SYD-LAX....Almost a 60 second takeoff roll!
The take off was slow, but very smooth, and we headed out over the Pacific for the long, long journey back to home base, the US of A. It was such a smooth flight, and it would have almost been perfect if two redheaded Australian step-children weren't sitting next to me, kicking my seat, and screaming. But hey, what can you do?
Here are some pics of sunset and sunrise. We flew almost to the Hawaiian Islands and then straight on in to LA with the usual westward approach.
Saying bye to "The Land Down Under"
Much needed to suffer 13 hours with those kids:
We made a long sweeping approach into the LA area from the south toward the mountains then back west into LAX. IT was foggy/smoggy, so not much to see, but a wonderful soft landing.
I now remember why the 747-400 is my most favorite aicraft to fly on. While she may not be the most comfortable, there is something about her, the arch of the wings, the way she is so smooth in tubulence....love that bird!
Here are some shots taken from the aircraft on landing:
Same plane, 14 hours later, other side of the world....
My aircraft, N105UA, 14 hours later, other side of the world...simply amazing!
The MD-11 is still one of the best looking aircraft out there! IMHO.
UNITED 6442 *
LOS ANGELES 12:50 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 5:42 PM
Seat(s): 5A NONSTOP
MP miles: 1187 UNITED ECONOMY PLUS
* OPERATED BY UNITED EXPRESS/SKYWEST AIRLINES
PLEASE CHECK-IN AT UNITED AIRLINES
I was really tired by now. It had been almost 24 hours since I'd slept, so the pics get a little, oh, just candid. But the flight was pretty uneventful aside from landing in OKC after the worst floods in this cities history. The approach to OKC was pretty rough, but I made it all the way home in one piece!
The deserts of Arizona and New Mexico
And this last pic is of me arriving into a rainy OKC. Taken courtesy of fellow A.netter, Jetmatt777. Thanks for standing out in the rain to get the shot!
Overall impression is that United is changing. I keep saying that I'm going to go back to AA being my hometown, number 1 airline, but I have yet to have a reason to do so. United consistently beats AA in prices in the OKC market, and their business class and eco plus product beats AA's equivalent (k, AA doesn't have Eplus). I just wish United had a stellar terminal like DFW terminal D.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed! Feel free to comment, always love comments!
[Edited 2010-07-04 17:05:12]
"Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy. Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy.....Okay, fine, we'll just turn 190 and Visual Our Way