I checked the flights while I was at work, and could see that the A380 only flies Thursday to Sunday on QF127 & QF128. There were flights available for a range of dates and I could get on the Thursday A380 flight, but since I was at work, I waited until I got home to book. Unfortunately for me, once I got home the Thursday flights were gone for when I wanted to visit, so I settled for a Wednesday-Tuesday itinerary. This would only get me on A330's each way, but at a total of $756 return I was sold! At least one flight was an A333 and the other was an A332.
The day of the flight I took the day off work so I could spend a couple of hours packing, but was planning to shop in HK so needed to leave some room in the suitcase. I had an overnight flight departing late Wednesday, so had to travel to SYD airport on the train with plenty of commuters. I didn't manage to snag a seat near the door but it was only a 15 minute trip so I was happy to stand.
I had been monitoring the seat map throughout the day, as I was hoping for a whole row to myself to sleep. The forward Y cabin was relatively busy, so I was focused on the rear cabin. None of the 4 seat rows were empty, but the 3 seat rows at the very back were free. Not having a printer at home I decided against Online Check-in and did it the old fashioned way at the desk.
The QF check-in desks were mostly empty as there was only my flight and the NRT flight leaving this evening, so I did not have to queue at all. Greeted by a lovely lady in her Aboriginal print QF dress, she was more than pleasant, especially considering all the troubles QF have had of late. I had been pre-assigned the last row window seat on the left, and the check-in agent tried to convince me this would be a good seat as nobody would be seated next to me. Knowing there was a light load for the flight I opted for the last row centre seat to block out all 3 for myself.
Having checked in I thought I would peruse the Observation Deck, despite hearing that it has mediocre views and being dark I wouldn't be likely to see much. It overlooked the QF international gates, but since it was dark I couldn't see much, and my unsteady hands meant that many photos ended up blurry. Below are some of the better ones:
As it was dark I only stayed about 10 min before going back inside the terminal to clear immigration & security. Apparently Australia is one of the few countries in the world where you need to pass through immigration to leave. Considering there weren't many flights at this time of night the queue was rather long. I had about 50 people in front of me and ended up waiting about 15 minutes. To make matters worse, they ban mobile phones in the immigration hall so I had to patiently wait it out.
For anyone who hasn't visited SYD, the owners of the international airport force you to walk through the duty free store to reach the rest of the terminal and gates. Also hidden inside the duty free store is the GST refund desk, which took me forever to find. With plenty of time to kill before my flight I wandered around to see what aircraft I could see though the windows. I managed to snap a few without too much reflection from the glass.
EK A388, NZ A320, MH B772
The plane that would take me to HKG, QF A333
Walking around the terminal made me a bit tired so I stopped for a glass of wine at the airport price of $18 for the house wine. Needless to say I did not ask for a refill. I headed to the gate and grabbed a bottle of water for the flight, which according to the vending machine you can take onto the plane. The machine whirred and buzzed for about 5 minutes before deciding it was out of order so I moved to the next one. Boarding was then called for all of Y, and as usual everyone rushed to queue at the gate. This was then followed by a queue on the jetway, but I managed to see an FJ B738 out the window.
Airbus A330-300 VH-QPJ (Delivered Dec 2005)
Photo © Mark H
Photo © K.H.Yim
Departure (Sch/Act) 22:15/22:28
Arrival (Sch/Act) 4:52/4:13
Block Time (Sch/Act) 9h40m/8h45m
The FA at the door was not terribly happy I guess as she did not greet me after I said hello, nor did she tell me which aisle to take so I just used the left aisle. The 2 FA's at the rear were friendlier after I joked that I couldn't have sat further back.
The overhead locker above my row was full of equipment so I just put my bag under the seat. I still had enough leg room anyway (I'm 6'1" but I have short legs for my height).
I saw the same FJ B738 again through the window now with the tail visible.
The toilet was very plain and small, but what can you expect from a toilet it Y.
The folks who selected the forward Y cabin did not have as much space to spread out.
After take off I had a browse through QF's iQ seat back entertainment. The screen is rather small by today's standards but is bigger than an iPhone. I kept the screen on the seat next to me set to the flight map. It is at this time I discover my camera battery decided to run out of charge. I had to settle for the terrible camera in my Blackberry so the rest of these photos are poor quality. I had wanted to see The Iron Lady after Meryl Streep won the Oscar and the film did not disappoint. I paused the movie for meal time as I can't really do two things at once.
This flight's menu included Supper and Breakfast:
Carrot and Cherry Tomato Salad with a Balsamic Dressing
Choice of: Beef in Black Pepper Sauce with Hokkien Noodles and Asian Greens OR Steamed Fish with a White Bean Sauce and Sweet Potato Mash
Fig and Honey Rice Pudding
Grinders Coffee; Dilmah Tea; Jasmine Tea
Fresh fruit will be offered throughout your flight and Nissin cup noodles are available on request
Seasonal Melon Salad
Cereal and Milk
Passionfruit and Raspberry muffin
Grinders Coffee; Dilmah Tea; Jasmine Tea
A range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were also available throughout the flight upon request.
For supper I chose the Beef and was really surprised that it was both tasty and filling. I selected the Australian wine which was disappointing as there is so much good Australian wine but this was not one of them. The Fig and Honey Rice Pudding turned into Tiramisu but I was happy to eat it. A small box of mints was also included which is a nice touch. The fresh fruit did not eventuate, probably because everyone was asleep. I did see a couple of people request the noodles.
After eating I finished watching The Iron Lady and flicked through some of the TV shows, including one I found that was a bit of a shock to see on an airline.
QF still hand out comfort kits in Y with an eyemask, toothpaste and a toothbrush. As I had a row of 3 to myself I spread out to attempt some sleep.
I managed to get about 2 hours I think but with the galley right behind me I was disturbed a few times by the FA's chatting or closing cabinets. Also the frequent flushing of the toilet was a little annoying. I gave up on sleep and watched the moving map for a while, when breakfast was soon served. I was rather hungry and a continental breakfast does not fill me up. I scoffed it down pretty quickly.
It wasn't much longer until we landed rather earlier than scheduled. At this hour the airport was deserted and it was a long walk to immigration. Of course there was no queue, and Customs was even easier with nobody checking luggage (the opposite to Australia who don't want anything to come in). A short wait for my bag at the carousel I then found the nearest Citibank ATM to get some HKD fee-free at the wholesale exchange rate. The Airport Express train to Central Doesnt start running until 6am so I had plenty of time to kill. I was unable to find a vacant power outlet to charge my camera battery, they were all in use by people with computers. I settled for using the free Wi-fi on my phone.
Once the Airport Express was running it was a short trip into Central. The carriage was almost empty.
That's all for now, I will post the return trip shortly. This is my first TR so any feedback is encouraged!
[Edited 2012-03-21 05:44:56]
Edited to correct photos
[Edited 2012-03-21 05:47:54]