ETD: 19:45 (local)
ETA: 5:50 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Airbus Industrie A380
It's the Hudson Fysh
We board the aircraft without any further dramas. As I'm with a child I have priority. I'm in row 71, the green section as usual.
There is no aircraft I would rather have been seated in economy at that moment. The Qantas A380 seats are about as comfortable as you get in economy (so far as I know). It was my fourth (and Alex's third) flight on the aircraft.
Carbon fibre seat backs
The male flight attendant handed us an infant seatbelt and a amusement pack, which was a bit old for Alex (3+), but I kept it for later.
Elmo! Has a eraser board, colouring in book, pencils and sharpener inside
There were no sick bags in my seat pocket. When I requested two the alarm bells went off in the flight attendant's head. When told about Alex's condition he asked if he was fit to fly. Then the cabin supervisor came down to ask, explaining about their duty of care. I admit that, eager to get home, I downplayed his condition.
At that point, as his parent, I felt pretty certain that his health was not going to crash during the flight, that he would probably just sleep through. But I can absolutely understand it from Qantas' position. Diverting an aircraft due to a medical emergency is a very expensive and undesirable outcome. And, though it selfishly didn't cross my mind at the time, they also have to consider the health of the other passengers who might get infected by Alex (B did get it, but strangely not I). If faced with the same situation again I think I would act differently, but that's the thing about having a first child, everything is a new experience and you have nothing to guide you.
While waiting for the rest of the passengers to board Alex played with the tray table, the window shade and the touchscreen.
The doors finally closed. I was in the window seat of three. The cabin attendant came over an showed the middle passenger to another seat, explaining that it wasn't us, but that she had requested a window seat and a couple of no-shows had provided one for her. The aircraft looked packed to me, but that spare middle seat was a godsend, as were the supplied pillow and blanket. Alex could lie down flat in a comfortable position and soon fell asleep.
The captain welcomed us to the flight, giving a flight time of six hours, thirty-seven minutes. Nice and short - good news for us.
I quickly programmed some music into my playlist (darn you Qantas, get some real orchestral soundtracks in your music collection!), switched to the tail camera view and listened to Ravel's Bolero as we pushed back and rode out to the runway.
The bridge retracts
Hi wife! The three tails of our flights
Ready for take-off!
Still to the strains of the Bolero we trundled down along the runway and lifted slowly into the sky.
The ships again
The first part of our flight was a little rough. Thanks to the absolute and relative size of its wings the aircraft seemed to float through the bumps and jumps with a motion that I found a little uncomfortable.
The flight to Melbourne is shorter than to Sydney
A wiggle around Batam
Thanks to the reflections and the large gap between the inner and outer windows of the A380 it is difficult to see much outside at night. In some ways that was a good thing as I wanted to take advantage of the IFE and sleeping child to watch something
. Thanks to Alex and work I rarely get the time to sit down and watch a video or television, to escape into a different reality.
The other thing about watching movies on aircraft is that even bad movies can sometimes be rendered somewhat enjoyable due to the reduced oxygen to the brain (or that's my excuse). I chose the mentally untaxing "Predators" to occupy my screen. Thankfully the Qantas system allows you to pause, exit and return to a movie so even with interruptions I actually got to watch the entire movie.
I felt a damp patch on my shorts leg. Obviously Alex's watery poo had overflowed from the nappy again. But he was asleep and the stench wasn't strong, so I decided to just live with it for the moment.
A quiet cabin
Printed menus were handed out by the cabin crew. I also looked forward to a meal on this flight.
Menu options (there is a serving timeline down the bottom out of the shot)
I ordered the Singapore chicken curry. However, Alex's toddler meal was delivered first before the main trolley run. I had pre-ordered over the phone and was told that it consisted of blander food than the main course. Initially I wondered if I should have stuck with the standard adult meal as he quite likes rich food, but on the night it sounded much more suitable.
Throughout the flight the cabin staff did their best to assist. I asked if the meal could be kept for later as Alex was asleep, but they can keep it a maximum of an hour once it is heated up, so I just put it on the tray table. I then requested that they keep a chicken curry aside for me.
Alex's meal stayed unopened. When he finally woke up I asked if they could take the meal away, then carried him off to the toilet to change his nappy and wet pants. He was a bit upset about the disturbance, but I got him to drink quite a lot of water when we returned. I had to stop watching Predator while he played with the IFE screen. Qantas has an ABC for Kids channel and some BBC children's programs as well. He wanted "Bananas" ("Bananas in Pyjamas"). Well not really, but he could say it and it kept him occupied for a short while.
Then out the water came. Luckily, being the last lot of water he'd drunk, it didn't smell of vomit, and luckily it missed almost everything and mainly hit a bare patch of floor. But now I'd been pooed and vomited upon. Such is a parent's life.
I lay him down again and he looked sick. I just sat there feeling like the world's worst parent and apologised to Alex. He soon fell asleep again, but for a while looking less healthy than before.
The only thing I ate that evening was the Crunch ice cream. It was a little melted by the time it got to me, but very welcome. The hot chocolate service was also appreciated.
I finished watching "Predators", then attempted to view "American Beauty", which I felt was a reasonable flight movie (ie fairly monotonous), but couldn't get into it. Qantas' extensive Oscar winning movie list means that there is *something* to watch (or rewatch) in the selection. With less than 2.5 hours to go I decided to go the television route with a bit of "Blackadder", then some "Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means" which I enjoyed. Even the poo and vomit on me was less gross than some of the stuff Charlie Boorman ate in Taiwan.
With a couple of hours to go the mood lighting went through a very quick dawn sequence.
Sun's up - inside
Wake up you lazy sods!
Small patch of blue in the white light sky
Prior to the flight I was looking forward to a hot breakfast of the kind I was served up last year on Qantas. Sadly all we got was a "continental" breakfast on this leg. The fruit salad was welcome, but the raisin danish did not meet my approval.
With the first hints of dawn appearing out of the window we began our descent into Melbourne. Alex slept through it, all the way to the gate. I had none the entire flight, not that I even tried.
Only 14 minutes left!
Tailcam provided the best view
From inside you hardly know that you are turning
Descending into the cloud layer
Through the clouds
The lights of Melbourne
Out the window
The runway is visible
In a flap
It's a bit of a turn off
Oval windows are wierd
A line of Virgins were waiting for us in Melbourne
It's not so cloudy after all
At the gate
We'd made it! No engine explosions, not even the myriad little faults that plagued our last A380 flight. Alex seemed a lot better after his long sleep in the aircraft. Had Alex not been sick then the flight from Singapore would have been excellent. I collected all our belongings, put Alex in the backpack carrier and exited the aircraft.
Without any checked luggage passing through immigration and customs was quite quick. On our previous Melbourne day trip our flight down had been so delayed that we didn't have time to exit the airport before boarding our flight back to Sydney. This time I wanted to say that Alex had at least been out of the airport terminal, so we ducked out of the glass doors, took a photo, then retreated back inside due to the morning chill.
Duty free, not me!
Outside the terminal
The nice thing about Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport is that international and domestic terminals share the same building, so transiting is a breeze. On our way to the domestic gates we passed a medical clinic, but it was closed.
It's quiet at the check in desks
Looking towards the Qantas domestic check in area
In deference to Alex's condition I decided not to explore the airport further or to get a morning snack. Okay, I stopped for a couple of photos, but then I walked straight to the grey and red Qantas CityFlyer gate to await our departure to Sydney.
Airside, hungry, thirsty, can't eat...
Our 767 awaits
City of Parramatta: home to a Westfield shopping complex so big you need to leave an hour to exit the carpark!
The old folk next to me were whinging that the internet access wasn't free