Saturday, 28 January, 2012
Up and out early in the morning, I had to get to the airport early. Sister offered me a lift so at least I didn't have to burn a hole in my pocket.
Normally, getting to the airport wouldn't be a sweat since domestic operations don't have stringent cut-off times. Not this time - today I was flying QF8, which is the domestic tag leg of the DFW-BNE-SYD flight. Two faithful AFF accomplices, ozbeachbabe and Bundy Bear were following the same suit.
Whilst this choice ultimately meant less F Lounge time in SYD (hey, everyone had learned how to get into the lounge early now!), it meant the experience of flying a 747-400 on a domestic sector. Something which I hadn't had the experience of since they stopped QF175 tags (yes, I know some QF trans-continentals now are on 747s, but I haven't flown them either). Besides, for those that wanted the most F Lounge time, the "penalty" of having to get to the airport to catch QF501 was probably a fair trade-off.
Anyway, dropped off at the airport and strode in. QF have a solid home in Check-In Row 8, so went there and proceeded to start procedures whilst waiting for my other two fellow passengers. QF OLCI had fortunately let me check-in for both QF8 and JQ35, giving me OLCI printable boarding passes for both flights. All that was missing was a documentation check and D sticker. When I got to the J desk, this is where a lack of experience can really befuddle the CSAs.
The CSA who served me was well aware of QF8 and affixed the D sticker accordingly. (Seems there are a lot of people this morning doing the same thing - search me why they would). I then asked her what about my onward flight, JQ35?
"JQ35 is a domestic flight, isn't it?"
"So it leaves from T2."
"No, this leaves from T1."
"Yes. It's the domestic sector of an international flight, a bit like QF8."
"Yeah, it goes SYD-MEL-DPS."
"Hmmm... let me get my supervisor."
So she gets her supervisor (hard to do the whole jumping in and out of check-in counter thing) and her supervisor, although well aware of what to do, had also never seen something like this before. I get my second sticker and happily sent on my way. It was at this time that Bundy Bear and ozbeachbabe turned up. With BPs already printed, including mine. Well done, anat0l, that was a few minutes of your life you're not getting back. Oh well, at least I have a clean copy for a souvenir.
The only disadvantage of leaving from the international terminals are the more stringent security procedures. Oddly enough, BNE I decided not to be so stringent this morning. We managed to slip by the man weighing cabin baggage, but didn't manage to slip by the logjam at security screening. It didn't take long to clear, but a few clueless travellers probably needed a firm thrashing on the head, a strong coffee or both. Security cleared, we proceeded up to the Qantas Lounges and into the F area. I like to call it the F area rather than F Lounge, because it really is just that - a separate section of the same style of lounge dedicated for F passengers, Qantas Platinums and oneworld Emeralds.
And... it was crowded? What the hell? What's with all the people in this part of the lounge? There was barely seats available; we managed to find 2 for ozbeachbabe and Bundy Bear, but for me I was alone on the other end of a long couch.
An array of the treats available this morning in the F area of the Qantas International Lounge; the final picture features coffee made by the robot barista (a.k.a. a fancy coffee machine).
We didn't have to wait too long before our flight was due to board. Our flight was fortunately parked at gate 79, a mere one gate down from the central concourse. Priority boarding was in force and being enforced, but the line of non-elites made it difficult to cut through the plebian verbiage to utilise the premium lane.
Our Qantas 747-400ER parked at the gate