Our final two legs of the trip. In part 1 Elephants, Quakes And A Toddler Pt 1: TG SYD-BKK
, my wife, 2 and a bit year old son and myself flew on Thai Airways from Sydney to Bangkok. The next leg Elephants, Quakes And A Toddler Pt 2: PG BKK-CNX
saw us on a Bangkok Airways A319 up to Chiang Mai. We then flew on a Thai Airways A333 from Bangkok to Fukuoka in Elephants, Quakes And A Toddler Pt 3: TG BKK-FUK
The flights back to Sydney via the Gold Coast were the only ones remaining from our original itinerary. Despite our many Jetstar flights between Sydney and Australia we had never actually flown the Kansai International Airport to Gold Coast route before. We had done Narita to the Gold Coast
, when OOL
was a construction site and unfit for use as an international airport. How would we go this time?
Our Japan Rail passes had run out and I had promised B some shopping time, so we spent the day walking down along the Shinsaibashisuji covered arcade and stopping off to buy various things.
Northern entrance to Shinsaibashisuji
We made it all the way to Dotombori Street.
Fugu along Dotombori St
Alex taught himself to use chopsticks!
By the time we returned to Shin-Osaka station we were at risk of missing our train to Kansai International Airport, so I ducked into the ticket office and changed our tickets to the next one for free. In the end it wouldn’t have mattered if I had booked tickets for two hours hence...
The Haruka Express isn’t as cheap nor as cool as the private Nankai Rapi:t, but its runs direct from Shin-Osaka to the airport. That convenience was much appreciated as we sat and watched the Japanese urban landscape whizz past while eating Kobe cream desserts that would never pass airport security.
Haruka at Shin-Osaka
Sunset out across the bay towards the airport
It’s necessary to catch the elevator up a couple of levels to international check ins. This makes life difficult because Alex decides that all he wants to do; catch lifts, press buttons.
While B attempts to entertain Alex I stand in the long queue to check in. There’s a sign out the front warning of a four hour delay due to aircraft rotation issues. This is probably related to the routing changes Jetstar has made in response to the tsunami. So long as Jetstar organise that we can make our onwards flight from OOL
in time to pick up the dog from boarding then I’m not hugely fussed, although the sooner Alex can go to bed the easier for us.
I’ve suffered frequent delays of varying length with Jetstar. Then again, I suffered delays with most carriers I’ve flown so I don’t get fussed about it. Unlike trains when the delays usually happen while you are on board them, which always feels more irritating.
We were given three meal and drink vouchers for a value of 1000 Yen each, which was unexpected, but welcome.
Meal vouchers and restaurant list
More welcome in a way would have been an even longer delay with the offer of hotel accommodation. I was bone tired and still suffering the sniffles.
Waiting area past the check-in desks
Japanese airport restaurants always fail to excite and I can never work out what I feel like eating. Still, the vouchers covered us all for meals and drink at one of the Japanese restaurants.
Where we ate
We wandered all around the airport, including down to the domestic area. There were some decent shops around and I regretted some earlier purchases for gifts to take back with us. The toy store is especially good with some cute Japanese Star Wars paraphenalia.
Muji to Go had some nice wooden souvenirs
Alex with one of his favourite pastimes
The shops began to close for the night, so we passed through immigration and security, with Alex all excited about x-ray machines. Once past there the shops tend to boring duty-free luxury goods. They were closing too.
Reaching our departure area required a ride on the automated shuttle train. Depsite the closing shops there was still a moderate amount of aircraft activity outside.
Appropriate in the context of our trip to see a Thai Airways aircraft in front of a Jetstar A330
There were some free internet terminals near the gate, so B used one of these while I looked after Alex. I had to indulge some more of his obsessions of visiting the toilet and playing with vending machines. Every time we passed a vending machine in Japan (ie every few meters) he would ask to use one. Later, when B was looking after him, one Australian passenger slapped his hand when he interfered with his vending machine purchase.
Alex and I met a Japanese family with their own young kid. He and Alex raced around the empty spaces together and played on the chairs. It was lovely to see them burning off energy together. The friendly mum spoke good English and sat in front of us for the flight to the Gold Coast, which was better for both families as at least your know that someone around you understands what travelling with kids can be like.
B then took over and let me upload photos and post to my blog using the wireless network. Unfortunately, some Mac user had selfishly monopolised the free power sockets at the computer desk. I managed to finish posting everything before the boarding finally started.
CARRIER: Jetstar Airways
ETD: 20:50 (local)
ETA: 06:55+1 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Airbus Industries A330-200
This was my 12th flight in a Jetstar A332, and as it was a flight home I approached it more with resignation than enthusiasm. As with the last flight the seating configuration was 2-4-2 and I had agreed again to sit in the middle rows, thus forgoing any opportunity to look out of the windows.
You might wonder what there is to see outside on a night flight that is almost all over the ocean, but as a ex-student of astronomy there is always the brilliant night sky. It is also comforting to know that the bumps are caused by high cloud as the aircraft’s powerful beams are switched on into the mist, or to watch the lightning flashes of distant storms.
With the delay of this flight there was also the potential for a glorious sunrise
to look forward to.
Cabin shot while the aircraft was still boarding
But there was to be none of that on this flight, and instead I would have to make do with whatever entertainments I had brought and could safely reach without disturbing a sleeping son, and the cabin screens. When I noticed that, according to the guide in the seat pocket, that the only movie scheduled was “Dinner With Schmucks” I had to laugh. It’s been a rare Jetstar flight where a movie starring Steve Carrell hasn’t been shown (there was that one about the guy who invented the windscreen wiper...).
Alex fell asleep almost as soon as we boarded the aircraft. He lay flat across the seat on a little pillow that we had purchased in Oita and an Jetstar blanket that we’d brought along from an earlier flight. Alex doesn’t like the neck pillows that are the only other little pillows for purchase.
The flight was almost, but not quite, full, with eight families with young kids on board. The Japanese girl next to B offered to move back into the almost empty row behind us, which worked out well for all. Alex, at full stretch, takes up two seat widths.
I have no real complaints about the seats. They are comfortable enough without being great. The legroom was fine for me.
It’s a somewhat unpleasant shock seeing Australians again after being surround by the polite and quiet Japanese. I took an instant dislike to the older Australian couple seated to my left in the window rows. When the young, blonde and Lara Bingle-looking (and I’m not being kind here) flight attendant asked them to raise the blinds for take-off the woman, in a schoolteacher voice, says “Please.”
“You didn’t say please.” (You didn’t listen to the announcement did you?)
They then complained, complained, complained all the way in loud voices.
“We weren’t told of the delay!”
(No, you didn’t bother reading the sign, did you?)
“The sandwiches were stale.”
(They are always stale on Jetstar. It’s a low cost carrier. Live with it)
“How do I use this?”
And so on.
At one point of the flight, when a baby cried I half wanted them to complain so that I could reply that all their constant bitching was keeping me awake, which it was.
We had our own bit of trouble getting ready for take-off as you need to keep the armrests down (in case they slam down with heavy braking) and we had put them up to allow Alex to lie across the seat. But he was so dead to the world it didn’t really matter.
Safety demonstrations, then taxiing then up into the night sky, for a fairly bumpy flight home. The captain warned us that it might get a bit bumpy over the equator due to the everpresent storms, but the seatbelt lights were not switched on until our descent. In my experience they are usually used around Guam.
The cabin crew came through with AirVOD video on demand units for rental. The couple next to me had difficulty using them. Despite wanting to watch “TRON Legacy” and the Japanese movie “Space Battleship Yamato”, I decided that it wasn’t worth the $15 or $25 (can’t remember which) rental fee and I’m not a fan on these heavy bricks. I had no need to buy an earphone to listen to the cabin entertainment either as I had my own noise reduction pair and plenty of other spare Jetstar earbuds from when they were free on long-haul flights. Needless to say I didn’t tune into any of the supplied entertainment.
Delivering the AirVODs
What I really wanted to do was sleep, but this is something I do poorly. Instead I closed my eyes and listened to music on my mp3 player, which was quite a relaxing thing to do. The cabin television screens were a bit annoying, the light flickering through my eyelids (note to self, bring eyeshades next time - plenty of unused ones at home from other flights’ amenity packs).
Even more annoying was the fact they repeated the same episode of “Two and a Half Men” three times when once is already too much. I’m not too certain that an episode of “The Simpsons” was entirely appropriate considering the nuclear situation at Fukushima! It so turned out that there was no Steve Carrell shown, as the main feature was “Morning Glory” instead. I’ve probably said so before, but watching the cabin movies on Jetstar is like watching them on long distance buses and trains: They only show movies you don’t want to watch.
One benefit of sleeping fitfully was that the cabin crew gave those of us awake leftover slices of the strawberry mousse that had formed part of the StarClass service. Nice! All other food required a purchase. We had stocked up with bakery products before departure.
I also learned from an attendant that, in order to save on fuel costs, Jetstar no longer put a free bottle of water in your seat pocket. Instead you can get a cut of water from the drinks fountain, though the attendant offered to get a drink for me.
Alex stirred once during the flight, suddenly calling out “Catch lift! Press button!”. I know what he was dreaming about.
Eventually morning arrived and the breakfast service began, while some passengers opened their blinds. Alex awoke and we fed him bits of roll.
Seatbelt lights are off!
Due to the delay we would have missed out on sunrise on descent into OOL
. I still wished to be looking out the window. It’s somewhat disconcerting to land without being able to see what is going on.
Seatbelt lights are on!
The cabin is awake
Fortunately the showers had cleared over the airport as it is necessary to use stairs at OOL
. Looking back at the A332 I discovered that it was the distinctive white EBC, an aircraft I have caught twice before.
Parked at OOL
We were in a big hurry to catch our flight down to Sydney, as we needed to have enough time to collect our dog from the kennel. Unfortunately, the queue at quarantine was quite slow as one of the ladies in front of us had to unpack her bag. There were signs warning that “Border Security” were currently filming, but we saw the film crew depart shortly afterwards without investigating the “incident” ahead of us. We had stuff to declare, but the inspectors were satisfied with a verbal description - it was all stuff that has passed before.
Meanwhile, Alex protested that he wanted to play with luggage belts, x-ray machines, vending machines and toilets while we tried to keep him in his stroller as we hurried over to the check in desk. I’m a bit confused now whether we ended up on our original flight or the next one and the boarding passes have been put away now. I suspect it was on JQ411, the next one after our scheduled flight.
I had prepurchased entry passes into the Jetstar lounge so that we could relax until our flight to Sydney and eat breakfast. However, with the aircraft scheduled to depart in half an hour there was no time to use it.
At least Gold Coast’s airport has improved over the closed in box with only a couple of shops that greeted us last time.
Waiting at the gates were aircraft from Virgin Blue, Airnorth and our Jetstar flight.
Airnorth to Mt Isa Wednesdays and Thursdays only
Time to board!