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BNE to BNE - The Long Way

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NM

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Well its that tome of year again ...

The booking process for my DONE4 was all too smooth to be true. And yep, I was right - it was not true. When my wad of 5 books of tickets arrived (yes, the old carbon paper coupons), I found I was supposed to find my own way from LHR to FRA as it was showing as a ground sector. So I had to Express Post the tickets back to the TA in Sydney for them to be re-issued - with an additional cost of $106.10 for the extra taxes. Maybe I should have taken the train instead.

So with my tickets correct and in hand, I was concerned that such a large book of tickets would put me way over the carry-on luggage allowance. But I seem to have managed to get away with it so far ;) .

As soon as the tickets were issued, I used my QF Platinum status to request seat 16K on my QF29 MEL-LHR flight and to secure 2F on my QF51 SIN-BNE flight (the only QF flights I can pre-allocate). Then I called asked my TA to remove the QF FF number and add my AAdvantage number for all airlines/sectors. Once I confirmed it was showing correctly on CheckMyTrip.com (the old view) it was time to request an upgrade to F on the MEL-LHR flights.

The QF Premium Desk agent wanted to add my QF Plat FF number back into the booking and could not understand why I was adament I did not want her to do that. I just want to use my QF FF account to waitlist an upgrade for an eligible family member - me! She finally relented and did as I asked. My upgrade was showing as requested and CheckMyTrip showed she has not tampered with my FF details.

The flight planning was done - now for the hotels and car rentals etc. The TA was great and got to know me pretty well over the weeks of planning this trip.

As the departure date approached, I was watching the F seating for the MEL-LHR flight multiple times a day. It was looking good on Friday afternoon with F5 available and the seat map reflecting this also. Then on Saturday night, it dropped to F2 (ouch) and the seat map also reflected this change. Now who booked 3 F seats on a weekend? Oh well, at least I have 16K allocated. But this will be my first sojourn on the upper deck in many years. I guess time will tell.

Sunday night and at T-24 hours I have a look again on EF. No change. I wake at 2am restless in the knowledge that someone at QF is working hard processing upgrade waitlists and sneak out to the PC to have a look. Hmm, no change and my QF FF points balance is unchanged ... hmm not looking good.

TBC
 

NM

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When I rise at 6:30am, I again head for the PC to check on the waitlist condition. First place to check is EF and it shows all seating maps as unavailable. Hmm, seems the flight is full - very full. Its showing F1 now.

So I check my QF FF balance and am shocked to see that someone has stolen 60K points from my account sometime between 2am and 6:30am. Then I realise my heart has stopped pounding and I am safe in the knowledge that my QF Plat status has worked and I will be enjoying the front cabin for a long flight later tonight.
 

NM

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So with family goodbyes in order and taxi arranged, its time to ensure all the packing is complete. Plastic bag for liquids, gels and pastes - check. Power adapters for all countries - check. Wad or tickets and passport - check. DVD's and iPod - check. Peace-offering shoping list - check.

The trip to the airport at 8am on a Monday is always slow. But I had plenty of time so its just a matter of grinning and baring, and noting how pleased I am that I normally work from home and don't have to put up with this commuting stuff each day.

Check-in at BNE is quick. Just one family ahead of me in the Plat/Business Class check-in line. The check-in agent made a comment about my wad of tickets and how much better e-tickets are. He was not aware of the 16-sector limit on e-tickets and as he thumbed through my wad he just shook his head.

Bag was tagged through to LHR even though I have a 10 hour connection in MEL, during which time I will visit our Melbourne office. However, he was unable to issue my MEL-LHR boarding pass. He said it was due to the way the Melbourne people had set-up the flight. I would need to collect my 2F boarding pass in MEL. I think I will do this when I first arrive into MEL rather than wait until 9pm tonight when I return to the airport after dinner with the lads.
 

NM

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No delays at the security screening in BNE (as usual) and I avoided the metal detector that triggered once on my shoes. All the others are fine with this shoes. I walk straight through without issue and note the explosives tester is occupied so its a quick and direct departure from there.

So its into the BNE QP for a brief breakfast, knowing I will be fed on board the BNE-MEL flight.

I note the only flight delay is the QF953 BNE-CBR flight. There is an announcement that it is delayed due to mechanical requirements. Soon there is another announcement that there will be a change of aircraft and a new departure time is posted.

About 5 mins later there is an announcement that my QF615 BNE-MEL is to be delayed .... due to mechanical requirements. Hmm, I wonder which aircraft they swapped for the CBR flight :evil: . So we are now scheduled to board at 10:20am, 30 mins late. So looks like I will be too late for lunch with my colleagues in MEL, but will still get to the office around 2pm, so long as I am not delayed further or run into problems with getting my MEL-LHR boarding pass in MEL.

More to come as it unfolds ...
 

IainF

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I hope your trip goes well and you enjoy 2F !!!

Just a quick query ..I notice you fly MEL-HKG-LHR as your prefered route.

Why this way?
Is it better F avail or you just prefer to route via HKG (and the awesome F lounge) ?

Cheers
IainF
 

serfty

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NM said:
... Hmm, I wonder which aircraft they swapped for the CBR flight :evil: . So we are now scheduled to board at 10:20am, 30 mins late. ...
Indeed, BNE seems to have had a lot of problem today. VXE was scheduled to operate QF615 at 5:30 this morning, but was rescheduled to several other flights including the CBR one before finally going back to QF615 at 10:20am. It appears to have departed 66 minutes late. The Canberra flight was eventually operated by VXG and departed 84 minutes late.
 

NM

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IainF said:
I hope your trip goes well and you enjoy 2F !!!
Ahh, 2F. There is a story to that (to follow) ;)
IainF said:
Just a quick query ..I notice you fly MEL-HKG-LHR as your prefered route.
Two-fold. I have staff and colleagues in Melbourne that I like to catch up with, and QF29 is a good flight for an F upgrade through to London. I much prefer the 1:30pm arrival into LHR rather than the QF9 crack-of-dawn arrival that would be the direct connection from QF51 from BNE via SIN. And of course The Wing is an exceptional FLounge.
 

NM

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serfty said:
Indeed, BNE seems to have had a lot of problem today. VXE was scheduled to operate QF615 at 5:30 this morning, but was rescheduled to several other flights including the CBR one before finally going back to QF615 at 10:20am. It appears to have departed 66 minutes late. The Canberra flight was eventually operated by VXG and departed 84 minutes late.
The explanation provided by the captain was that the aircraft had suffered a lightning strike yesterday and needed to undergo extended systems tests before being released by Engineering for flight operations. We did not get away until a touch after 11am.
 

Keith009

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NM said:
I much prefer the 1:30pm arrival into LHR rather than the QF9 crack-of-dawn arrival ...
I have to agree with you. :shock: :mrgreen:

I fly QF9 to SIN a fair bit though.

But pity QF29 didn't exist in its current form when I signed up to AFF/FT...:D

Looking fwd to ur TR as it unfolds! :)
 

garyjohn951

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Agree with NM, via HK is better chance of F upgrade, especially HKG to LHR and return.
 

NM

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After the delayed boarding, the CSM (Susan) was busy apologising to every passenger as they boarded. The captain explained the reason for the delay was that the aircraft had been hit by lightning the previous day and had to undergo extensive systems tests before it could be returned to service. The tests were apparently completed successfully. The captain also mentioned they had taken on some extra fuel and would be fling faster than usual to try to make up some of the lost time.

The snack on this flight was a choice of fruit salad or a ricotta bake with ham and gourmet sausage (whatever that means??). This was offered with the usual bakery items and beverages.

There were 9 passengers in J (out of 12 seats). Next to me was a Qantas flight attendant on her way to Melbourne to start her day’s work. Her first duty flight for the day was to be MEL-BNE. The economy cabin was probably around 65% full.

We landed around 1pm, a little under an hour late.
 

NM

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After arriving into MEL I wandered over to the International terminal to try to get my boarding pass for the MEL-LHR flight later in the evening. I wandered past all the QF check-in desks looking for the First Class check-in desk, but could not find it. Then I spotted the new F check-in facility near the main entrance to the terminal. There were two counters, with one agent processing check-ins and a porter on hand.

I asked about the possibility of a window seat, knowing the 2F is probably my least preferred F seat (not there are no bad F seats ). I was offered 1A or 4K for the HKG-LHR leg, but 2F was the only options available to me for MEL-LHR as the F cabin was completely full. I took the option of two different seats for the two sectors. I like 4K as it has a very wide storage area between the seat and the window where the bassinet is located. This comes in very handy for storing things like pillow, sleeper suit, laptop, reading material etc. It is also easy to catch the FA’s attention when I need a top-up.

Then it was back down to the domestic arrivals level for a taxi into Melbourne for an afternoon in the office. At Beer O’clock it was off to the pub next to the office for a few quiet ales with my Mexican colleagues, and a little after 7pm I headed back to the airport to sample the new FLounge.

On arrival back at MEL, I again stopped by the F check-in room and asked if anything had changed in the way of window seat availability. Again it was clear the cabin was full (as was the whole flight), but they did manage to swap me with 3K, for which I expressed my gratitude.

Immigration was a breeze at that time of night, with no waiting at all. X-Ray screening was also fast, but of course since I was the only person passing through, guess which person was “randomly” selected for explosives trace testing and pat-down. Oh well, at least it only took a few minutes. Then it was through the Duty-Free maze and up to the new FLounge.
 

NM

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The new MEL FLounge is very swish and a big improvement over the old lounge. The first thing you notice is the open feeling that comes with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the tarmac (the only FLounge had no windows at all). There is a living wall (wall of plants) opposite the entrance desk. This wall did not seem as large as the pictures I have seen of the new SYD FLounge.

At 7:30pm, the FLounge was very quiet. After having my BP swiped at the entrance desk, I was escorted into the lounge by one of the staff and asked where I would like to sit and what I would like to drink. Much improved service over other QF lounges where they just swipe the BP and point you at the appropriate door. I was given a menu that included food and wine selections.

The scotch offering was disappointing – JW Black or Black Douglas. So I decided to start with some bubbles while waiting for my Veal Schnitzel to be prepared. When it was ready, I was invited to sit in the “restaurant” section or to have it in my lounge chair. I chose to sit at a table to eat. The Schnitzel was served as a “sandwich” with coleslaw and was very good indeed. I followed that with Boysenberry Ice Cream.

There were seven tables for two people and two tables for four people in the dining area, so not a huge amount. But while I was there, only one other table was being used. I expect it got a little busier later in the evening.

I retired back to my lounge chair overlooking the tarmac and settled on the Noble One wine. I love sweet desert wines and this is one of my favourites.

I had a bit of a wander around the lounge and noted about 6 PCs to the left after entering the lounge. There is also a self-serve fridge for water, soft drinks, beer and wines. Beers included James Squire, Coopers Sparkling and Pale Ales, Cascade Premium and Premium Light, and Crown. Sorry, apart from the Noble One I did not take much notice of the wines on offer. The Champaign was Moet.

There are showers at the end of lounge past the computers. These were nice, but not lavish. I had a quick shower just before boarding.

The toilets are in behind the entrance desk, through a smoked glass door. Note the door is automatic and swings outwards into the lounge. It is quite slow, so don’t be a rush to go through to the loos.

In all the time I was in the FLounge, I was never asked for my boarding pass or flight details as others have reported from the SYD and MEL FLounges. Perhaps the staff all noted my arrival early when the lounge was empty so al knew my details already?
 

NM

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Boarding was called at about 10:20, 30 mins before scheduled departure. We used Gate 9 which is close by the bottom of the escalator, so a very short walk. F and J passengers were invited to use the left queue while everyone else was processed through the right queue. Boarding was quick and painless.

As usual, we were offered champaign (Charles Heidsiech Blanc des Millenaires 1995). I know many people rave over this one, but I found it just ok – to dry for my pallet.

I changed into my sleeper suit before take-off. I usually wait until after take-off to change, but there was plenty of time and I was not interested in sitting there consuming the champers until departure. The new PJs are a strange dull green colour. I think I like the old ones better. Why do they always hand out sizes that are too big? Note to self, ask for Medium next time instead of the Large they will hand me.

Push back and takeoff were pretty much on-time and we set course for Hong Kong through the night sky.

Although I had eaten in the FLounge, by the time we were airborne, I was ready for the famous Steak Sandwitch. It was as good as usual. That was accompanied with a glass of The Glenlivet 18yo and followed by Maggie Beer Ice cream (Vanilla Bean and Elderflower).

Then it was time to break out the duvet and settle down for some sleep. I slept reasonably well for a plane, and declined breakfast before arrival, just asking for a refill of my water bottle. Arrival into HKG was on-time.

The new F amenity kit is quite different to the older ones. It is a zippered oblong case covered in brown suede type material. It contains ear plugs, mints and a small draw-string bag with 3 Payot creams. There is a toothbrush and paste, eye mask, socks and comb in the sleeper suit package. So the only thing “missing” is the shaving kit which is available on request.

Menu: Melbourne to Hong Kong

Supper

Canapes

Entres
****ake Wontons in Oxtail Broth
Prawn and Celeriac Remoulade

Light Meals
Pork and Shrimp Stir Fry with Rise and Gai Lan
Our Signature Steak Sandwich with Tomato and Chilli Relish

Main Course
Ricotta, Sun Dried Tomato and Smoked Garlic Calzone
Seared Salmon with Radish, Celery and Lemon Salsa and Kipfler Potatoes
Steamed Chicken with Szechuan Pepper, Chilli Eggplant and Noodles
A salad of Baby Cos, Radicchio and Frisee is available to accompany your meal, or can be enjoyed as an entrée, dressed with your choice of Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette, Palm Sugar Vinaigrette, Blue Cheese Dressing or Lemon Vinaigrette

Cheese
Blue, soft and hard cheese, hand selected by Will Studd, Maitre Fromage Calendar Cheese Company, served with accomplishments

Dessert
Nice Cream Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Poached Pears and Toasted Almonds
Quince Frangipane Tart with Spiced Syrup and Double Cream
Whole or Sliced Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Maggie Beer Ice Cream Tubs

Petit Fours
A Selection of Manna from Heaven chocolates and petit fours

Wines
Charles Heidseich Blanc des Millenaires 1995
Howard Park Riesling 2005
Lost Valley Cortese 2005
Willow Creek Tulum Chardonnay 2003
Tarrawarra Estate Pinot Noir 2003
Torbeck ‘The Strule’ Shiraz 2004
Setanta ‘Black Sanglain’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2004
Morris of Rutherglen Old Premium Liqueur Muscat & Tokay

Beverages

Aperitifs
Bloody Mary
Campari
Noilly Prat French Dry Vermouth
Seppelt DP116 Dry Amontillado

Spirits
Bacardi White Rum
Bombay Sapphire Dry London Gin
Chivas Regal 18yo Scotch Whisky
Glenlivet 18yo Mald Whisky
Iner Circle (Green Dot) Dark Run 57.2&
Wild Turkey Rare Breed 108 proof Bourbon
Wyborowa Single Estate Vodka

Beers
Crown Larger
Hahn Premium

Liqueurs
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Cointreau

Cognac
Martel Cordon Bleu
 

NM

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Upon arrival into HKG, I received the usual transit card and Qantas sticker on my shirt. We used gate 15, which is the first gate on the wing below the Qantas Club lounge. So it was a short walk to the E1 transfer area where boarding pass is checked and security screening. I was then directed to take the lift up to level 7 for the Qantas lounge. Well I know better than to follow that suggestion and instead of turning left out of the lift I went right and walked over to The Wing Cathay Pacific FLounge, where my QF boarding pass was swiped and I was welcomed to the FLounge.

First stop was the dining area for some Chinese Dim Sum for breakfast. Much nicer breakfast that I was going to get on board QF, even in First. Then to the Cabanas for a shower, shave etc. With all that done, it was time to head back to gate 15 for boarding my next leg to London.
 

NM

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A new crew is ready to greet me and welcome me back on board for the next leg to London. Jane shows me to my seat and we son establish she comes from the same area in the north-east of England as my parents. A new sleeper suit is offered, so this time I ask for Medium size. However, it goes into my bag and I use the same one I wore for the previous flight. A new amenity kit is also delivered to me with my glass of champagne (still the same Charles Heidseick.

The F cabin is supposed to be 13 out of 14 for this flight, but when the doors are closed I am the only person in row 4. All other seats are taken, so we have 11 in the F cabin. Its fairly lightly loaded down the back this time (215 in Y, not sure of the numbers in J but I can see quite a number of empty seats on the lower deck).

Breakfast is offered and I just ask for a Pear Juice, Late, Fruit Salad, Smoked Salmon and some cheese. The cheese was a problem as it is loaded in the lunch cart down the back somewhere, but Jane manages to locate it and delivers.

This is a day-time flight. But as is often the case with Qantas, once the meal service is finished they close the window shades and encourage people to sleep. Well I chose this flight because it’s a daytime flight and I want to be awake for the duration. If I wanted to sleep I would have chosen an overnight flight. So my shades stay up and out comes the laptop. Hmm, no power. A quick word with Jane and she reminds the CSM to turn it on and off I go typing up this trip report.

Time now to watch some DVDs on my laptop while the rest of the cabin sleeps.
 

NM

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After about 8 hours of watching DVDs it was time for lunch. Some components of the lunch menu were the same as the supper menu from the previous flight.

Entres
Deep Fried Bean Curd and Black Fungi Soup
Hong Kong Yellow Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

Main Courses
Tagine of Pumpkin Dumplings with Almond Couscous and Coriander Yoghurt
Seared Blue Eye with White Wine Sauce
Slow Cooked Duck with Water Chestnuts
Spice Rubbed Beef Fillet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A Lighter Main Course Choice
Seared Blue Eye with Fresh Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Side Dishes
Rosemary Tomatoes
Bok Choy
Braised Porcini
Grilled Fennel
Fragrant Rice
Roast Potatoes

Dessert
Banana and Caramel Crumble with Creme Anglaise
Assiette - a tasting late of desserts
Cliced Fresh Seasonal Fruits
 

NM

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We had experienced favourable winds and landed about 30 mins ahead of schedule. However, as apparently happens 9 times out of 10 (according to Jane, the FA) we were parked at a remote stand and herded onto buses for the trip to Terminal 4.

Immigration FastTrack is not open after about 11am, so I was a little concerned about delays given that all the gates at T4 were occupied. But I should not have worried. After walking past the long line of people connecting to other flights at T4, I found the passport control area was almost deserted. No delay at all. So passport was duly stamped and I was waiting and waiting for my bag on the belt. The F tag didn't seem to work too well for me this time. Once the bag arrived I was out through customs and off to the Avis bus.

Another good thing about arriving on QF29 in he middle of the day is that the M25 is generally not a car park at that time of the day. And I was able to go straight to my hotel and check-in, which can be a problem for the early morning arrivals like QF9.
 

simongr

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NM said:
The new F amenity kit is quite different to the older ones. It is a zippered oblong case covered in brown suede type material. It contains ear plugs, mints and a small draw-string bag with 3 Payot creams. There is a toothbrush and paste, eye mask, socks and comb in the sleeper suit package. So the only thing “missing” is the shaving kit which is available on request.
Interesting - in F last week (HKG-SYD) all of the extras were separate and not in the sleeper suit package...

Just a couple of questions - I am assuming that you changed out of your sleeper suit during transit? They provide shaving foam in the Wing dont they? How long was the transit in HKG - given its the same aircraft I was surprised you had time to shower etc at HKG...

Nice report btw - interesting to see how someone who is so used to this just breezes through it :)
 
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