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allrite
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Posts: 2617
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:28 pm

Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:48 am

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I was in a bad place. There are times when I love to fly and times when flight involves the flapping of butterfly wings in my stomach. This was one of those times. I think it was too much flying through typhoons and cyclones in the past few trips, my head visualising flying though the dark and suddenly dropping without warning.

It's a silly fear and one I know will pass because I've beaten it before, but nonetheless that was how I felt about my long flights on this trip.

It was my birthday and not just any birthday, but my four decade one. So naturally I tried to avoid it. Though our flights were not until 9.30 pm my wife B, five year old son Alex and I actually drove past the airport at lunchtime en route to Brighton Le Sands for a birthday lunch of pizza, pancakes and ice cream. Then, very full, we returned home to rest, collect our luggage and catch the bus and train to the airport.

This was my second flight to Japan this year. In April I had taken my Mum on her first trip to Japan, flying with Jetstar and back through the remnants of Cyclone Ita. This was actually my third trip to Japan with Qantas in as many years (Japan Alone, Qantas Old and New), but the other two trips had been me alone. This time I wanted to share it with my family. We were flying in the first week of the midyear school holiday, our return flight was actually booked using a Qantas Classic Award.

With this previous history in mind I'm not going into great details on this trip. As I said before, I was not in the mood for appreciating flying - it was more of a case of wanting to get from A to B and back with the agony of unsleeping nights in between.

I checked in online before we left the house, having preselected seats when I booked the ticket. When we arrived at the airport we approached the quiet Qantas check in desks and went over to use the bag drop. There was some issue using the automated kiosk, but two very cheerful Qantas staff immediately assisted us with the process and we plonked our single 13kg rollerbag holding clothes and toiletries for the three of us on the machine. Our only other bag was my normal work day pack. 

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Automated check in and baggage drop


Unfortunately I had, at the last minute, left my good camera at home. Fortunately, I had just given B a newer model (though without the same lense) of my camera for her birthday. I also had my new Xperia Z2 phone which I also used to take many of the photos on this trip. In some ways the freedom and lack of weight was a bonus.

Though it was the early evening the airport was reasonably quiet. We passed quickly through immigration and security, but then got delayed at the Sony shop.   I had vague ideas of a birthday present from there, but couldn't think of anything I actually needed. As usual. Then, taking advantage of Qantas Club membership, we went up the stairs to the Qantas Business Lounge.

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Must resist...
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Shopping mall
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Already #GoingHome - yep I fit right in.
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The Qantas Business Lounge
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Looking towards the city

 
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Dining area


Alex and B hadn't been here since 2010. The lounge was quite busy but there were numerous seats and tables available. Naturally Alex wanted to go straight back to the kids area, though it was somewhat lacking in activities. B preferred the area closer to the buffet. My dreams of having a nice birthday dinner in the lounge didn't eventuate. In fact, I couldn't even stomach more than a few mouthfuls without throwing up, though later on I had a bit of salad from the extensive range of choices.

Mains that night were fettucine with bolognese sauce, a meal a forever associate with university dinners, though Alex and B seemed to enjoy it. The soup was carrot and ginger. The salads were the same range as a year before. Apparently the berry cheesecake was very nice, but my stomach wouldn't let me handle more than a couple of mouthfuls of B's slice. I didn't dare try the yummy looking brownies. So my only cake for the day was lunchtime's pancake. I did eat some gelato from the gelato bar.

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Apple gelato was yummy
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Playing chess I guess

We all used the shower facilities and Alex played maths games on the Mac computers and took turns with some Japanese children on the PS3. Then it was time to head down to the gate. When Sydney is not on daylight saving time there are other flights later than QF21 so the airport still had life about it.

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Our bus for the night

The excitement of boarding an aircraft, that special smell, the welcome, being pointed down the right aisle. Not just any aircraft either, but my favourite, the 747-400, with my favourite airline, Qantas. It was also Alex's first time on a Qantas 747-400 - welcome to the source of so many wonderful memories!

I was delighted to discover that VH-OEE was possessed of a refurbished interior with the A380 style seats. I did miss the old style bins for those classic memories, but gladly took the comfort and superior entertainment options of the newer fit out. One thing that did strike me this time and not before was the touch overlay on the seatback screens forming a series of many fine vertical lines across the screen. It's never really worried me before, so I can only conclude that the full high definition screens of my current laptop and phone have "spoiled" my eyes.

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The carbon fibre sets
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Storage bins


One of the nicest things about flying as a family on Qantas as opposed to the Jetstar A330 flights is the 3-4-3 seating configuration in economy, meaning that the three of us can sit together at the window. Well, me at the window, Alex in the middle and B at the aisle.

It was a packed flight tonight, not surprising given that this was near the start of the school holidays.

We were handed a bottle of water, a printed menu and Alex was given a Crayola activity pack containing some drawing materials, crayons and a bag tag. The entertainment system can be used prior to take-off (in between announcements), so I quickly preprogrammed a music playlist. Unfortunately, the soundtrack list hadn't been updated since last flight, so "The Piano" and "The Mission" were the only real choices.

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Menu front
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Menu back - drinks list
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Activity pack


Alex was delighted to have games available after the disappointment of Malaysia Airlines' entertainment system, but personally I think these are a bad idea on a seat mounted touch screen with no separate controller, tap-tap-tap against the seat. So we got him watching the Lego Movie before he drifted off to sleep on our laps.

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Modest leg shot - the footrest net is visible at the bottom.


The captain welcomed us on board, the crew did a safety demonstration, then we taxied south down the main runway for a northerly take-off. I had seated us in row 50 on the right hand side of the aircraft, so we were treated to some beautiful views of the city as we took off, colourful neon skyscrapers giving way to glittering amber and white suburbs.

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No more MH 747s for Sydney
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Out towards Botany Bay
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Looks like a rocket powered take-off!
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I missed my camera's low light capability - this is the CBD
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City lights

Soon after the seatbelt lights were switched off the meals were served. Alex was asleep, B wanted to sleep, so I was the only one who ordered a meal. After the Japanese style beef dishes of my last Jetstar flight I decided to go for the Sicilian Style Hake (fish) with Tomato, Olives, Capers, Bread Crumbs and Risoni. The first time I had risoni was also with fish on my sole (not fish) Qantas business class flight.



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Meal tray
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The main

It was pretty nice, but I still wasn't very hungry and only picked on it. What really did the trick was the Chocolate Mousse with Cherry and Coconut dessert. Sure it was served in a commercial tub, but it tasted good. Had to laugh though because the reason I was so full was the "Cherry Hype" (chocolate, cherry and coconut) dessert crepe for lunch!

It was a dark, moonless night and there was little to see outside. The odd city lights near the Queenland Coast (Mackay?) as we crossed it near Hamilton Island. With my mind in turmoil I found it difficult to focus on movies. Started Lincoln and Inglourious Basterds without being able to see them through. Unfortunately there wasn't much recent that I wanted to watch, but thankfully there was the Oscar Classics section. I watched the Jetstar friendly (Steve Carrell) Anchorman 2, obviously having had enough of a break from Wil Ferrell movies.

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Flight map

The seat power didn't work, which was a bit disappointing as I hoped to charge up my phone.

I couldn't sleep at all. The crew patrolled the cabin frequently, offered fruits in the middle of the night, which I declined. It was pretty smooth, the usual high cloud now and then around the equator, but nothing like my fears. I saw a meteor burn up in the sky. B asked me if I had made a wish.

"Safe and smooth, as always."

I watched as the first hints of light appeared over the eastern horizon with Venus bright over the huge wing. Gradually the sky took on an orange hue and revealed a pretty cloudscape over the sea, before it became hidden by the white haze of a overcast sky in the morning.

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First light
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The Sun hiding behind the clouds, reticent to awake
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Before the sun had risen the lights were switched on to enable the breakfast service. We all had the western option, spinach frittata, sausages and beans, though it was the fruit salad component that was the most popular.

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Tasted better than it looked.

We were too early for Narita's curfew, so were placed in a holding pattern over hazy skies off the Japanese coast. Then down across the coast and into an airport only just waking up. It was a long taxi past numerous airlines, most importantly Jetstar.

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High cloud
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Breaking the hold
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The Japanese coastline
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Landed!
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A rather Vanilla selection
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The JAL 788s have been delayed on the Sydney run yet again
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See you soon!


Once docked at an airbridge we were in a hurry to disembark the aircraft (no thanks to one selfish young lady who split B, Alex and I up and then blocked the aisle until her adjacent Mum could join here). Fortunately the immigration queue was nowhere near as long as at Kansai and we soon collected our luggage.

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Bye!
 
User avatar
allrite
Topic Author
Posts: 2617
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:28 pm

RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:49 am

Last year I had caught a Jetstar Japan flight to Matsuyama after arriving on Qantas, but had enough time to wander around Narita. Now I wanted to share Matsuyama with B and Alex, but this time we had about two hours before our Jetstar Japan flight departed. Fortunately, and not unusually for Japan, it all worked out smoothly and we were soon checked in via kiosk for our flight. Checked in luggage is then carried over to a single x-ray for processing.

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Waiting at the gate

Boarding for Jetstar is via bus to a remote stand. The route took us past our Qantas aircraft and then we boarded via the forward stairs. Would be photographers were told to lower their cameras, as I had already done.

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Nice views of our inbound aircraft from the bus
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Past this JAL 777
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Our flight

This time B got the window, Alex the middle and me at the aisle. I figured that I had already done this flight alone last year so wasn't going to go snap crazy.

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On board
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Take-off
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Introducing... Alex's legs. No complaints here about budget carriers!
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I'm not cramped either

It was a pleasant hour and a half flight in the A320 (no sharklets this time), pretty much standard Jetstar. When the flight attendant was comfortably bilingual in Japanese and English, which I think is a selling point for foreign tourists on Jetstar Japan. All flight deck announcements were in English.

We were starting to feel a little peckish. Our Starter Plus fare included Qantas Frequent Flyer points and 500 Yen credit each, enough for a teriyaki burger and drink each. That's better value than on Australian domestic flights - prices on Jetstar Japan are quite reasonable.

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Menu cover
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Meal options
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For a prepackaged burger it was quite nice


In between clouds there were some nice views of the landscape, snow still on the Japanese Alps, cities in Shikoku squeezed into river valleys and the serene (today) Seto Inland Sea as we descended into Matsuyama.

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Much of the journey was over cloud

Matsuyama gets some international traffic but the only other aircraft was an ANA 787 parked at a gate. B was eager to get on a bus to the hotel so we didn't have much time to explore the airport, which looked reasonably interesting and had some souvenir shops and cafes.

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ANA 787-8 at Matsuyama
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Landside at Matsuyama


Following the instructions of the tourist office we prepurchased tickets for the "limousine bus" from the machine near the stop and jumped on board the number 1. Unfortunately, this particular one stopped at the City station rather than our stop, further along. So we had a longish, but interesting walk through the covered arcades to the Tokyu Hotel. It wasn't even 10 am and shops were only just starting to open. Check in to our room wasn't possible for another few hours, so we experienced the downside of overnight flights - exhaustion! Still, it was time to get on with seven days of exploring Japan.

We started in Matsuyama, possibly my favourite city in Japan. It has a quiet country feel about it, slower paced than one of the major Honshu metropolises, but retains a quaint old tram system and private railway for getting around, has a wonderful onsen and castle and the shopping is quite fun too.

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Matsuyama Castle
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Samurai armour
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View from the turret
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Tram at Dogo Onsen stop
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Dogo Onsen
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Foot bath near the Botchan Clock

After a day and a night in Matsuyama we crossed the Seto Bridge to Hiroshima, where the afternoon was spent at the Peace Memorial Museum and Park. I challenge anyone to pass through the museum and emerge thinking that war is a glorious thing. I'm not sure Alex understood too much, should understand too much at age five, but I brought back a number of books for him to read when he's older. Because the human effects of the atom bomb should never ever be forgotten.

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Shiokaze tilt train in action
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Across the Seto Bridge
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The symbol of the atomic devastation wrought on Hiroshima
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Peace memorial
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Model of the devastation
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He died riding his trike
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Melted objects, a carbonised meal
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Making okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style

Our real purpose in visiting Hiroshima was the tour of the Mazda Museum and factory. We're no car buffs, but Alex adores industrial processes, we have owned three Mazdas and Australia soon won't have any automotive assembly lines in operation. Note that tours must be booked in advance.

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It won an emotional award, *sob*
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Overview of the Mazda plants
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Their first product. Note the Mitsubishi logo - they were the distributors
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Presenting their first car
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Standing with the Bongo - wouldn't you like to drive a Bongo van?
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Get your muddy prints off the dashboard... oh wait it's made of clay


Then it was a Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka and a Thunderbird to Toyama, a stopover point for the next day.

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Our Shinkansen ride
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sT7xyZI8SCQ/U7VoVVA2oaI/AAAAAAADtXw/93rOy3DDSZo/s1600/DSC_0718.JPG
When it comes to comfort train beats plane in Japan

I especially wanted to catch a train down the Oito Line from Itoigawa to Minami-Otari as this stretch of track will probably close early in 2015 when the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension to Kanazawa opens. I know Shinkansens are sexy, but rattling down this quiet, but very scenic, track in a tiny KiHa 120 diesel railcar was the most fun I had all trip. It's why I keep returning to Japan.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-et_ebpk5E5A/U7WB3EgL7EI/AAAAAAADtbU/NfxOX6T7UXs/s1600/DSC00647.JPG
The line followed a river
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5hT3QDVlT1k/U7WNpdJ6psI/AAAAAAADtlw/fMr_ih_Gm2o/s1600/DSC00714.JPG
Beautiful rural and mountain scenery
Video of the Oito Line.

The rest of the Oito/Chuo Line to Shinjuku is also very pretty, but unfortunately Alex got motion sick and threw up after drawing in his book instead of looking outside.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HgSPbYuxbH8/U7Xpl_QWDuI/AAAAAAADt5M/Wz3szJ0fUyw/s1600/DSC00835.JPG
Waterskiing


The remainder of the holiday was spent in Tokyo, mostly shopping, eating and a day at Tokyo DisneySea, which I think I preferred to the adjacent DisneyLand.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5Ohbd0Cvwm0/U7a2JV0mkgI/AAAAAAADvh8/Buj3N7fzCMw/s1600/DSC00988.JPG
The volcano occasionally spumed fire
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Venice, Tokyo
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bPUkbzxDVRc/U7a6_HCIY0I/AAAAAAADv3g/ZCcGBH5vhhU/s1600/DSC_1071.JPG
Elevated railway and Tower of Terror
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-If9mhr6QNQk/U7a5QjUtmfI/AAAAAAADvwQ/hAXn62QfeD0/s1600/DSC_1082.JPG
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skulls
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NLReKN6Q_8s/U7a7ikab6HI/AAAAAAADv6M/fXUI4AE05Ek/s1600/DSC_1243.JPG
SS Columbia
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ycqzLhlRTdo/U7bQLosx5LI/AAAAAAADwrM/ObhAdNQA_nA/s1600/DSC01220.JPG
Night show
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Toyota Showroom at MegaWeb
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HDHvNWO9xY4/U7gG8oWdTXI/AAAAAAADxYY/jRrhSW0OkB4/s1600/DSC_1314.JPG
Shinkansen bed for dogs
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gsZMUl6kynM/U7gFhruya5I/AAAAAAADxUA/dDUWWCMinuU/s1600/DSC_1317.JPG
Dachshund costumes
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gYVue7zA_Ds/U7gGT_SxwHI/AAAAAAADxWY/ixLq3VBFXYc/s1600/DSC_1339.JPG
On the Yurikamome automated line
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DqBEPUDf4w8/U7gDqKOJLzI/AAAAAAADxPQ/kiLaDday7Hw/s1600/DSC_1357.JPG
Remnants of Shabu-Shabu
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UEcoH02LICA/U7gG5_EONrI/AAAAAAADxYQ/tU6OGoZ8rY4/s1600/DSC_1369.JPG
Yodobashi Camera, Shinjuku
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Sf3rmbjDlNc/U7gEH143zfI/AAAAAAADxQo/JDz6j0s0tbU/s1600/DSC_1388.JPG
Shinjuku
 
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allrite
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Posts: 2617
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:50 am

As usual, I was depressed to leave Japan and not looking forward to another long overnight flight. We caught the Narita Express from Shinjuku Station out to Narita Terminal 2. Say what you like about its distance from the city, but I love the relaxing and comfortable hour ten minute journey out to Narita Airport.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r_zhfzowyrQ/U7prnxfMuBI/AAAAAAADyAU/KGwG_L2JzrM/s1600/DSC_1420.JPG
Aboard the Narita Express

We were bringing a lot more luggage home with us than there, taking advantage of Qantas' 30 kg (42 kg for Qantas Club members) included allowance which doesn't go by number of pieces. Our main bag was 10 kg heavier. For the first time we used a shrink wrap service to bundle a couple of zaisu (floor seats) and a duvet together.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--hc7GAjO7iw/U7pyyZoGQZI/AAAAAAADyCU/lMRwIuSf-4A/s1600/DSC_1426.JPG
Narita Terminal 2


Check in was quiet, though the aircraft would be packed. Once checked in we went straight through security and immigration (fast), had a brief look at the duty free shops, then headed off to the satellite gates. The automated trains are gone now, replaced by moving walkways. This makes a lot of sense to me as they are continuous (no waiting for trains) and hence not significantly slower. Even better was getting a great view of our aircraft as we approached.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-11ObMsq2yo4/U7owlCA3I4I/AAAAAAADxvg/2kk1YSQFv6g/s1600/DSC01325.JPG
The moving walkway
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z8mjfAy-F1o/U7owX2gkysI/AAAAAAADxvY/7V6dRAX6W6I/s1600/DSC01324.JPG
Our flight home
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5ZXM__M3Bag/U7pyJ7nig-I/AAAAAAADyCI/k5uu1otj3Vk/s1600/DSC_1427.JPG
VH-OEJ


VH-OEJ is better known as Wunala. But its distinctive Aboriginal livery is gone now, replaced by the standard Qantas white, red and black. Except that added to this was a special Soccer   World Cup livery. It's more cute (footy boots on the 'roo) than colourful, but as both Japan and Australia bowed out in the first round without playing each other the livery wasn't going to cause uneven anguish to its two endpoints.

We went straight to the Qantas lounge. It's smaller than Sydney, though it has the same style round lampshades and colour scheme. It was also quite crowded, though seats could still be found. No specific kids area there, but Alex amused himself with a paint program.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dZCgBFa1X8E/U7p3ggXmnhI/AAAAAAADyDM/P83MihbTcNM/s1600/DSC_1431.JPG
Yep, it's a Qantas lounge

The self-service buffet seemed lacking in food, with many options disappearing quickly. There was corn soup, sushi, pizza slices, an inauthentic looking green curry with salted rice and some delicious little muffins. Again I wasn't feeling hungry, my stomach churning with anxiety and exhaustion.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fvnJLs8p62s/U7oxTegnRII/AAAAAAADxwA/3zfy92OnBww/s1600/DSC01329.JPG
A view from the lounge
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GEfwIX_AWGg/U7oxbiYM5kI/AAAAAAADxwI/ygbHsDtIxTk/s1600/DSC01330.JPG
Distinctive nose

Unlike in Sydney, where the showers could be freely used, in Narita it was necessary to hand over my boarding pass to receive a keycard for a specific shower. The good thing was that they handed me extra towels for the rest of the family and we only handed the access card back once we'd each had a turn. After a humid day of shopping and travelling the shower was wonderful. It's my favourite aspect of lounge access.

Finally, it was time to board our aircraft. We joined the long queue at the gate, well Alex and I did while B snagged some last minute snack gifts at the adjacent shop. I believe that they were boarding by row zone, but by the time we reached the gate there was no mention of it.

Inside was the same refurbished interior. This time we were on the left of the aircraft and I was back at the window.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-V-antUn5iEE/U7psRIUplaI/AAAAAAADyAk/Hhey5p-qcZU/s1600/DSC_1434.JPG
Passengers boarding


Printed menus were again handed out, but no kids activity pack. I recognised some of the flight crew from earlier flights: Mr Bleary-Eyes was friendlier on this flight than last time. I did notice that most of the crews on this run tended towards the older end of the spectrum. No matter as they completed their tasks most professionally. Oh, and I still like the new uniform.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8BcPAV11ldw/U7ox2dmAm_I/AAAAAAADxwg/NJ68FmZdDdw/s1600/DSC01333.JPG
Menu

The taxi and take-off were a bit of a blur, as was much of the flight. Both Alex and B accepted the meals that were served about an hour into the flight. I was still not hungry and they only picked at the food. I have to say that B's mustard pork looked appetising. The desserts were yoghurt, so I didn't try this time.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qod_CtUrucU/U7oy7KXRm-I/AAAAAAADxxg/GNKVNUce8n4/s1600/DSC01341.JPG
Leaving Japan
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ga0wTVUO7Zc/U7ozfTHkU4I/AAAAAAADxyA/QbxWnQrQmeg/s1600/DSC01345.JPG
Dinner
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6SjdP_Q114A/U7o0OywfXFI/AAAAAAADxy0/RrmHqzGMnPs/s1600/DSC01348.JPG
Western option - Pork with mustard sauce
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iNMCHTfTT_8/U7o0Ykfe2UI/AAAAAAADxzA/-TPmUH9Tgpk/s1600/DSC01349.JPG
Asian option - chicken and rice
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-N2Yl2zG83gA/U7o0q-oljsI/AAAAAAADxzQ/lVhiFwf9kZk/s1600/DSC01351.JPG
Cabin

What I did accept later on was some hot chocolate with a marshmallow, served before lights out.

Alex struggled to fall asleep, cried that he missed Japan. But eventually both he and B slept. I only caught a couple of winks.

Outside there was a young Moon for a little while, then darkness fell. It was a pretty smooth flight considering that it crossed the Intertropical Convergence Zone and as always there were a few slight bumps around Guam. I had been a bit worried about Typhoon Neoguri to the west of us, but any effects were slight. Had I managed to extend our trip by a few days (it proved too expensive with our fares) then we would have experienced Neoguri striking Japan.

I'm not sure how appropriate showing a kamikaze movie on a commercial flight is, but I watched the Japanese language movie "The Eternal Zero" first up. Though others disagree I found it anti-war. Then I managed to complete Lincoln, which I also quite enjoyed.

The rest of the time it was the flight map and music for me.

I watched us fly by some familiar Queensland cities, glowing in the dark, before falling asleep for maybe half an hour with the first glimmerings of morning light.



A hot breakfast was served. I had the ham, omelette, hash browns and spinach, which, apart from the phlegmy latter was pretty good. B had the Japanese congee option. The mini muffins were absolutely yum.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Mx52mUGFlOc/U7o1S3b5P4I/AAAAAAADxz4/8usY-NT4dvo/s1600/DSC01356.JPG
Western breakfast
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GmflXrGMSmk/U7o1beWSwwI/AAAAAAADx0A/1cd6xsvf-EU/s1600/DSC01357.JPG
Asian option
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZvVpnyQO_1c/U7qeppRaWbI/AAAAAAADyGk/SeabuRB3nRg/s1600/DSC_1440.JPG
Morning light
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AT2KBXUfnDM/U7o3OUjKeVI/AAAAAAADx1w/4UJyaLa0G68/s1600/DSC01371.JPG
The cabin was gradually waking


The sun rose over the clouds on the horizon just as we crossed into the northernmost suburbs of Sydney. We flew past the sleeping CBD and the airport, looping back over Botany Bay from the south, for what may have been the most beautiful approach into Sydney that I've yet experienced, the land and the wings coloured salmon pink in the dawn light.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-U-3j6euFnP8/U7o42_4wXxI/AAAAAAADx3Y/lUjeodzCLzE/s1600/DSC01384.JPG
Morning mists
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-umU4tvCwb9o/U7o5v3yU8iI/AAAAAAADx4Y/05PaYtZ-xyo/s1600/DSC01392.JPG
Brooklyn bridge over the Hawkesbury River
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XBUAYO7-u5o/U7o6C3BTR9I/AAAAAAADx4w/eM0tMbeXV90/s1600/DSC01395.JPG
Sunrise
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g-_a4Bnd4YQ/U7o6i7kmWCI/AAAAAAADx5Q/xXEvg3HfCzU/s1600/DSC01399.JPG
The CBD
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WHVM4GRyABo/U7o7D13yq5I/AAAAAAADx5w/FrOxBXtl420/s1600/DSC01403.JPG
Sydney Airport
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1TC2Qk0HmLY/U7o7TyyFhoI/AAAAAAADx6A/2tp-poVEe3Y/s1600/DSC01405.JPG
Out over Botany Bay
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-9PEGgAdS5bM/U7o75aBeCzI/AAAAAAADx6o/po_QWtHcmyI/s1600/DSC01410.JPG
Cronulla as we turn out towards the coast
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Wing reflections
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Turning back past the Royal National Park
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-we75hQlippQ/U7o9wjWTouI/AAAAAAADx8g/cdKAAtMSZ8I/s1600/DSC01425.JPG
Now heading north
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Descending over Kurnell
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-izmleNnLzKY/U7o_DDUMVkI/AAAAAAADx94/pgMPLNbqZrI/s1600/DSC01436.JPG
Landed, with the Brighton Beach Novotel in the distance
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Animation of the final descent

Then, with a few last shakes as we neared closer and closer we finally touched down into Sydney, taxiing past another just arrived visitor from Japan and into the gate.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5AeF7uoAmVk/U7o_6XdrToI/AAAAAAADx-4/DcGB3RnzStE/s1600/DSC01444.JPG
Beaten by the JAL flight
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H0W5iheRFXY/U7pAJLDjjhI/AAAAAAADx_I/6RM-aNFbosA/s1600/DSC01446.JPG
Sayonara!

Overall, it had been two excellent flights on Qantas. It's just a pity that I wasn't in the best mood to enjoy them as much as they deserved, but after such smooth flights I think the anxiety will retreat once more. The problem with flying Qantas to Japan versus Jetstar or Japan Airlines (which I've never tried) is that it's overnight and you arrive early in the morning without a chance to rest and freshen up. For actual comfort and service Qantas is still the better option and I'm glad Alex has had a chance to experience their 747.

Jetstar Japan did the job comfortably and without fuss. Their level of English may make them a good choice for foreigners travelling domestically, though personally I would rather catch trains where possible!

For more photos and details of travel please see my blog.

Next school holidays it's back to Malaysia and Singapore with AirAsia and Firefly.

Thanks for reading!
 
AirNiugini
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:41 am

Great report mate. What a great way to spend your birthday... On a B747 400ER with the family!!! Happy Birthday.
 
ben123planes
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:34 pm

Hi Allrite,

Great report.

The 744 is my favourite aircraft also, it just looks so darn good.

I was surprised at how much the interior looked like A380, the seatbacks don't look good in paper but worked quite well in the flesh.

How ever many reports I see on here with good stories to accompany - East Asia does not appeal to me one bit, this is about as close to Japan as I'm going to get!

Ben
 
LazialeMKD
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:53 pm

Great report, thanks for sharing.
For some very very weird reason I'm experiencing the same anxiety in the last 5-6 months and it keeps me firmly to the ground although I want to go back to the skies. I know that once up in the air all the anxiety will disappear, I just need to get enough bravery, although I have a feeling that with every postponing, the anxiety is increasing.
I'm not sure if talking with psychologist will help because I know that I'm the one who needs to battle through this anxiety.
 
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allrite
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:14 am

Quoting AirNiugini (Reply 3):
Happy Birthday.

Thank you! I'm old now. :0

Quoting ben123planes (Reply 4):
I was surprised at how much the interior looked like A380, the seatbacks don't look good in paper but worked quite well in the flesh.

I think they are the same as the A380, though when I've flown on that aircraft they had handsets as well as touchscreens. I love the feel of the carbon fibre - strokable!  
Quoting ben123planes (Reply 4):
East Asia does not appeal to me one bit, this is about as close to Japan as I'm going to get!

Why is that? It's closer to the UK than Australia, which I note from trip reports you recently visited.

Quoting LazialeMKD (Reply 5):
For some very very weird reason I'm experiencing the same anxiety in the last 5-6 months and it keeps me firmly to the ground although I want to go back to the skies.

There was more to my feelings than just a fear of turbulence on this trip, especially with relation to the state of my stomach!   However I do always wonder if, after so many flights, this is "the big one" where the turbulence is so bad that people get injured. I'm not so concerned for myself as I tend to sit near the window and secure potentially dangerous objects including myself. But if travelling with my son then it's my duty to protect him so I worry more.

I'll share what I've done to overcome my anxiety in the past as it was really getting to the point of interfering with my flying.

It comes down to visualising flying and visualising your feelings. I remember my early experiences of flying, about twenty years ago. I was very excited about it and often used to sit in the rear of the aircraft for the view, not knowing or caring that this is the worst spot for turbulence. I have no memory of being particularly concerned about turbulence. I even flew all the way to the UK and back without being worried.

Okay, so I have established that there was a time I didn't worry. Hold that thought.

Then I think back to those times when I did experience bad turbulence. I know when it started - flying back from NZ and the seatbelt lights were illuminated mid-flight with a warning from the pilot. I remember flying so many times between Sydney and Canberra, a short trip of maybe 25 minutes airborne, yet so often bumpy. It got to the point where I once caught a bus back rather than catch my flight. But one day I did arrive at the airport in Canberra to see a storm approaching. And we duly took off right into the storm front. It was terribly bumpy, but I survived it and subsequent episodes of bad turbulence.

So there's the knowledge that you can experience bad turbulence, yet have a pleasant remainder of the flight. Visualise that too. Think about all the wonderful flights you have had.

There was a time when the seatbelt light seemed to go on every flight. Then it seemed that there were a couple of years when the flights were smooth. Then in the last 12 months we were skirting typhoons, cyclones and weatherfronts and even the aviation authority noticed that turbulence was bad around Sydney. Then these Qantas flights were pretty smooth again. In other words, just because you have had bad experiences doesn't mean that every flight will be the same. Fly with hope.

Finally, follow what steps you can to make your flight as comfortable as possible. Try to book seats just forward of or over the wing - near the centre of gravity. These are the most stable. Try to avoid, until your confidence rebuilds, flights at times of day or year when turbulence is likely to be worst - eg storm season. You can try looking at maps on places like Turbulence Forecast and this wind map, but they often generate false fears. Fly during the day so you can look out the window. Sure clear air turbulence is difficult to predict, but in my experience most bumps come from flying through cloud (especially high cloud on long-haul) so understanding why the aircraft is shaking can help, especially if you can see the clear sky coming up!

And if your anxiety is too strong do see a psychologist because anxiety attacks are a real condition which some people close to me have suffered and one that can be treated with a variety of techniques.

I'll post this on my blog for future reference.

Good luck!

[Edited 2014-07-16 17:18:45]
 
LazialeMKD
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:47 am

RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:04 am

Hello Airlite!
Thanks for your detailed response, I really appreciate the time you took to write such a detailed answer. The thing is I've been to many transatlantic flights (20+) and even more intra and intra Europe flights and I haven't at all experienced any bad flight seriously, only few bumps here and there but I didn't care so much, nothing like to worry about that the plane might go down. Also, similar to you, when I was reserving my seat online, I didn't care too much about the row, but I had this rule (if possible) for long flights to get an aisle seat just so I can stretch out and go to the lavatories without disturbing anyone, and for short flights I was always getting window seat.
But, since the last time I comeback from the US (3 years ago), we had some bad family time, my mother passed away 2 years ago after like 2 years very bad illness and all in the family had some consequences from that. The last flight I had was from Thessaloniki to Rome and back in April 2013 and even then nothing bad happened, the both flights were very enjoyable with no turbulence at all, and I'll say this again, I'm not afraid of turbulence I know that the plane is built to sustain very heavy turbulence.
This last March, I had the opportunity to go over the pond for a month and I've got the green light from everyone at work that I'm good to go (although as a freelancer, I can work from pretty much everywhere around the world). Multiple times I was selecting the flight, entering personal and billing info so I can book my flight but when the moment will come to click the 'Book' button, different kind of thoughts are coming to my mind, such as how is possible a plane to fly, what if the plane starts breaking apart midair, how we will fly that huge Atlantic Ocean, constantly tracking flights on FlightAware (the one I was planning to book) to see if something happens, and then I was closing the browser and I was not booking the flight. This condition sometimes is taking over me, like even while I'm working or when I'll wake up from sleeping those thoughts are coming in to my mind and I wasn't like that in the past, I was enjoying every bit of the flight experience, especially the long haul flights.
I missed great summer vacation to Crete this summer just because we had to fly with plane from Thessaloniki, very short 45 minutes flight.
Even now, when someone else (who will be flying for first time) asks me, should they be afraid of flying I'm telling to them that flying is one of the most enjoyable things which one person can experience and it really is. Meanwhile I also encouraging my younger brother to visit USA and he flew to JFK couple months ago, he didn't have any problems and he was saying to me how he did enjoy the flight even the slight bumps here and there just as I was enjoying the flying some time ago.
Hopefully, hopefully I'll get enough bravery to get on a plane again because I can't imagine my life without flying because flying will get me to the places I really want to visit.
Thanks again for your detailed comment and have a nice day.
 
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allrite
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:24 am

Quoting LazialeMKD (Reply 7):
This condition sometimes is taking over me, like even while I'm working or when I'll wake up from sleeping those thoughts are coming in to my mind and I wasn't like that in the past, I was enjoying every bit of the flight experience, especially the long haul flights.
Quoting LazialeMKD (Reply 7):
Hopefully, hopefully I'll get enough bravery to get on a plane again because I can't imagine my life without flying because flying will get me to the places I really want to visit.

I'm not a psychologist (though my Dad was), but your description would suggest that it might well be worth your while talking to one. I'm not suggesting mental illness, but psychologists are trained to help you overcome negative thought patterns, often just by visualisation and congitive exercises but also other techniques, depending on the severity of the problem. There shouldn't be any stigma attached to it - you've obviously had a stressful event - your brain probably just needs to sort through it in the right way and a trained counsellor is probably the fastest way to achieve it.

I'm sure that, with all those positive experiences to build on, you'll be up in the air again.
 
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RyanairGuru
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:01 am

Fantastic report as always, Allrite.

I have loved every single iteration of your Japan reports, other than the last one in May which for some reason I was never able to load?! It was good to see that this one was readable, and - of course - wonderfully enjoyable!

I think I've mentioned before that your reports have encouraged me to go back to Japan (a place that wasn't very high up on my priorities to return to after my first and only visit), and after the better half recently declared that she wanted to go I guess it is on for some point in the next few years. I will be fastidiously studying your trip reports and blog when that time comes! Out of interest, have you ever been in winter?

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
It was my birthday

Happy birthday!

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
our single 13kg rollerbag holding clothes and toiletries for the three of us on the machine. Our only other bag was my normal work day pack. 

 Wow!
Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Automated check in and baggage drop

Interesting, I didn't realise that they had these for international flights

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Looking towards the city

Hmm, so I had gone. I would have been waving from the Jetstar tale between that QF 767 and the UPS MD-11 had I still been around  
Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Dining area

I really love the white ball-shaped lamp shades. They certainly aren't something that I would want in my lounge room, but I think they look really good in the lounge.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
It was also Alex's first time on a Qantas 747-400

Ooohhh. Exciting! I hope that he appreciated the enormity of the occasion.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Menu front

It looks like they've changed the menu design? That's a shame as while the design was pretty 1980s, I really liked the familiarity of the old menus. They were very distinctly Qantas.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Venice, Tokyo

It looks more authentic than Venice, Macau. God that place was awful   

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
This makes a lot of sense to me as they are continuous (no waiting for trains) and hence not significantly slower.

HNL was really bizarre as you had the option of walking to the gates (and the distances are pretty short as it isn't a particularly large airport) or waiting for a bus to drive you there, a real bus with a driver. And this wasn't over the apron, but along a road sort of inside the airport. Strange, strange set up.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
VH-OEJ is better known as Wunala

I have a special place for this aircraft, somewhere between love-hate and love-love, as it was the vessel that transported me back to Australia after my time living in the States. Oh, and the scenic detour to AKL was memorable.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Oh, and I still like the new uniform.

I will publicly declare that I also like it now. It has really grown on me, and even the clash has endeared itself to me.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
what may have been the most beautiful approach into Sydney that I've yet experienced

Undoubtedly, I can't imagine a better approach to any city anywhere in the world than the route you described. You hit every point!

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Japan Airlines (which I've never tried)

'

I guess it's less likely now that we only get half status credits, but I would recommend that you try JAL one day. Especially with their day light north bound service they offer the convenience of Jetstar's times with a full service offering. While I prefer Cathay, another airline that I am sadly less likely to fly now, I was pretty impressed with JAL.

Thanks again, Allrite, and as always I look forward to reading about Malaysia.

Regards,
Alex
 
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allrite
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:39 am

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 9):
Out of interest, have you ever been in winter?

Sadly no, though I desperately want to. I have more ammunition for such a trip now. We wanted to buy Japanese down doonas (duvets) on this last trip but they mostly had thinner summer stock, especially in queen size. Fortunately we were able to purchase a single for Alex and it is soooooo warm and puffy that we definitely need to get one for our bed.  
Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 9):
Interesting, I didn't realise that they had these for international flights

I gather that they are recent and the staff still seemed to be learning their quirks.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 9):
I guess it's less likely now that we only get half status credits, but I would recommend that you try JAL one day.

I was tempted as their price is quite competitive with Qantas. From what I've heard they have a window shades down policy during cruise which I know you like, but I hate, and also keep the cabin warm, which I dislike as well. Maybe I'll suck it up just to give me an excuse to write another trip report because I get the feeling that people are a bit bored with my trips to Japan on the same old airlines!  
 
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RyanairGuru
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:51 am

Quoting allrite (Reply 10):
From what I've heard they have a window shades down policy during cruise

Not that I remember, at least not on the daylight flight north. This was in 2009, though, so maybe things have changed.
 
signol
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:06 pm

Hi allrite,

Excellent as usual, thanks! My, your boy is growing up!
And you certainly like Japan. I'm sure I've said before, it's definitely on my bucket list. Certainly some of those rural train journeys look stunning.
Qantas did the job. The new interior looks nice. I have to say, it's been 2002 since I last flew them.

Thanks

signol
 
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allrite
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:15 pm

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 11):
Not that I remember, at least not on the daylight flight north. This was in 2009, though, so maybe things have changed.

Once the 787 finally flies the route at least there should be *some* glimpse outside regardless of policy.

Quoting signol (Reply 12):
And you certainly like Japan. I'm sure I've said before, it's definitely on my bucket list.

Great place for children, though not for family sized rooms.
 
CdnCactus
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 pm

I suppose I'm now a bit past mid-life crisis but I did go through a period of time where flying made me nervous. It made little sense then because prior to that, I've been fine flying all my life. In hindsight, that was a period when my job was unduly stressful. I wonder if it's the lack of perceived control for my career that I was projecting to the flying experience. After all, one's trapped in a flying metal tube with no escape options when excrement hits the fan...

Once things started looking better in my life, the nervousness magically melted away, but yes, I do know how you feel and I sympathize.

I really love your Japan trip reports by the way.
 
ba319-131
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:14 pm

Nice read and pictures, thanks for posting, especially liked the pictures from Japan, been there many times but never as a tourist, always a plane spotter.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
It was my birthday and not just any birthday, but my four decade one. So naturally I tried to avoid it.

- I did the same, went to Vietnam, what a lovely country.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Unfortunately I had, at the last minute, left my good camera at home. Fortunately, I had just given B a newer model (though without the same lense) of my camera for her birthday. I also had my new Xperia Z2 phone which I also used to take many of the photos on this trip. In some ways the freedom and lack of weight was a bonus.

- I've pretty much stopped taking the DSLR with me, too heavy and takes up space.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
We all had the western option, spinach frittata, sausages and beans, though it was the fruit salad component that was the most popul

- Hmm, not great looking!

Cheers

Mark
 
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RE: Mid-air Mid-life Crisis On QF, GK SYD-NRT-MYJ Rtn

Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:56 pm

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 14):
Once things started looking better in my life, the nervousness magically melted away, but yes, I do know how you feel and I sympathize.

Yep, I do think there's an element of that. But I think a few recent weather events definitely played a role as well!  
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 15):
I've pretty much stopped taking the DSLR with me, too heavy and takes up space.

I didn't even consider a DSLR for that reason - I use a bottom of the range mirrorless camera (Sony NEX-F3) and don't pretend to be a professional. With a fixed pancake lens it's not much bigger than a larger compact. My wife's Sony ILCE-5000 is even smaller and lighter. I leave it for others to judge the quality. But it always feels so nice in comparison carrying a compact camera or mobile. In the latter case being able to upload images on the go is very handy, but I think I'll go back to the better quality cameras for the next trip. You can really tell the difference.

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