Dubai via London and back through LAX

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by serfty, Mar 13, 2006.

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  1. serfty

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    Nov 16, 2004
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    Prologue: Thursday 9th March 2006

    I started writing this over Ambon, sort of halfway between Denpasar and Port Moresby and a little North. I am 4272 km from Sydney and have 3 1/2 hours to HKG, at least that's what "Flightpath" is telling me.

    This is the first leg of a rather long trip which will take me from my home port of MEL around the world; depositing me back there in a weeks time.

    I am scheduled to fly over 31000 miles and spend 3875 minutes in aircraft. That's 64 hours and 35 minutes or 2 2/3 days. This journey is mainly constructed the 3rd part of an around the world trip I started in Columbo, Sri Lanka last October. The travel will take me from Melbourne to Sydney, Hong Kong, London, Dubai, back to London, then Los Angeles, Sydney and then home to Melbourne.

    It is, in effect, a mileage run. I am travelling on an oneWORLD explorer fare. The first part I did back in October last year, which when coupled with travel I had already completed were enough to get me Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum Status, the top level in their frequent Flyer program. This is also oneWORLD Emerald.

    Here I will be logging stuff about my experiences with this trip and anything else that I feel may be of interest. Feel free to post any comments or questions in this thread.

    I have had an interesting day so far, not the least being due to my flight departing over 4 hours late; anyway the (b)log begins.
     

  2. serfty

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    Thursday 9th March 2006.

    Getting to the Airport:

    What a PITA the week has been. I have had to move house after 8 years; and this needed to be competed this morning. I managed only 41/2 hours sleep the previous evening; and by the time I had packed for this journey last night it was 1am.

    5 1/2 hours later the clock radio fired up and I was up and running from my home in Patterson Lakes; after breakfast Jenny, my wife (AKA Mrs serfty) dropped me off at the local railway station. Peak time, a train came though in a few minutes and I was off. An hour later I was at my desk, attending to last minute work issues etc. Then it was off to the Airport. For self funded journeys I rarely take a cab; there's a reliable "Skybus" from Melbourne city to its main airport at Tullamarine which costs 1/3 price of a taxi albeit about 10 mins longer to the airport. It's normally AU$15 but as I use it so much I buy a 10xTrip for AU$110.
     
  3. serfty

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    Flight: QF26, MEL-SYD Thursday, 9th March 2006.
    Seat 26H, Sequence 33.
    Reg VH-OJJ, Scheduled 10:50-12:15
    Gate 10
    Board: 10:50
    Pushback 11:03
    Take Off Roll: 11:17
    Touchdown: 12:13
    At gate: 12:20.
    Miles Travelled: 439
    Qantas FF Points Earned: 1000
    Status Credits Earned: 10, Accum for trip: 10.

    Check in was a breeze, being Platinum, I can use the First Class counters and the very helpful agent checked my through to Sydney. I was on the last leg of QF26, an international flight LAX-AKL-MEL-SYD. She offered to check me the whole way to London and Dubai, but I declined, as I wanted to go landside in SYD and scoot over to the domestic terminal for an hour or two. So instead only my MEL-SYD BP was printed and attached to it was an Orange D sticker. This is a system to enable Australian passengers to take domestic sectors of international flights while still clearing customs. It works quite well. My only issue with this system is that I like to retain my BP's but you have to hand it over at your destination to immigration/customs officials.

    There was a slight issue at immigration as there are special express lines Aircrew, APEC members and those with the Orange D stickers. However, there were two of these lanes and the signage was ambiguous. Of course I unknowingly chose the Aircrew only lane and the guy was going to send me to the other until I pointed out the D sign above his head. He seemed surprised but sent me through. That sorted, I was off to the Qantas First Class lounge. I had never been there before and it was quite nice.

    I had 1/2 an hour before boarding was due to commence so I sat at one of the workstations with complimentary Internet. 10 minutes after boarding was due to commence there was still no call and the screen was showing "go to gate". I enquired at the front desk and was told cleaning was taking a little long due to a full flight from LAX and AKL. As I re-entered the lounge, an announcement about this was made.

    Boarding commenced 1/2 an hour later the advertised, but being such a light load to SYD, push back from the gate was on 13 minutes late.

    When I got to my seat in the front row of economy I was quite impressed. I had not sat in Economy class in any of Qantas' Skybed refurbished 2 class 744s before and there was quite a large indentation at the bottom of the partition. It allowed my 6' frame to stretch right out; I could hardly touch the wall with my toes. In June, I'm flying to LAX in the same type of aircraft and already have a front row seat pre-allocated, so I. The flight was uneventful. They served a breakfast of Sultana Bran, a warmed fruit bun, juice, banana and coffee or tea. I've plied the airways between MEL & SYD literally 100's of times, so I tend to phase out.

    Getting through customs in SYD I had to hand over my BP, but at least was able to keep the stub. This is not always possible as when boarding some BP readers cut this off and retain it.

    I had intended to get to the domestic terminal by using the long-term car parking bus; something I did last year. To do this you rode the free bus to the long-term car park, hop off and get on another 'long term' bus for the domestic terminals. However, I found you can't do this any more as there no longer is a bus from the international to the long term car park. There is now something called the "T Bus" which for $4.50 will take you to the domestic terminal. Feeling disgruntled, I scrapped my plans to go to the domestic terminal altogether and went upstairs to check in.
     
  4. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    Great report so far serfty
     
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    can't wait for the rest :)
     
  6. serfty

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    Qantas First Class Lounge SYD T1

    The Qantas First Class check in queue was empty and I was called straight up. Check in for QF29 had not yet "opened", but as I had only carry on baggage the agent was kind enough to fix this temporarily so she could check me in. She also gave me my BP for LHR-DXB on Friday, Sequence No 1.

    I walked around the terminal for 3/4 hour checking out the landside shops etc. Really nothing much of interest for me there, I so I went to the observation deck which is accessed by way of the "Esky Bar" where Saturday lunch was served at last year's OzFest before the tarmac tour. I watched a few aircraft take off to the north and filled out my emigration documents.

    I then went down and through immigration; and was straight through. The only other PAX around X-Ray was getting the 'dustbuster' treatment in the search for explosives.

    Now only this week, Qantas relocated their First class lounge to a temporary one at the site of the Business lounge a of couple of years ago. This is while a new one is being constructed. When checking in, I was given a card with details and a map of how to get there. I still wanted to have a look at the old one to see what was happening so I went up a special staircase just past x-ray that takes you right up there coming out beside the Qantas J lounge entrance, avoiding the duty free zoo. The now closed F lounge entrance is about 50 metres further up so I wandered along and took a simple pix or two of the closed door and then proceeded to the temporary First Lounge near gate 24 taking a few more pix on the way.

    It was very quiet there and I took some images for a lounge review, which I eventually created and posted that evening while waiting for my flight. This can be found here: Has the new temporary SYD T1 F QP opened yet?.

    After posting a question on the FT Qantas Board about what to do during a 15 hour transit in LHR, I went for a wander around the Terminal. I checked the duty free out, but really in OZ I feel this is a rort, as you can get the same stuff at less cost in many other places in Asia and New Zealand.

    Around 3:15pm, some 23/4 hours before my scheduled flight time I received an SMS on my mobile telephone from Qantas warning my flight was to be delayed by 205 minutes, departing at 21:15. About 15 minutes later a Qantas Agent also called on my mobile as well to advise of the same. A short time later a lounge announcement was made of the delay and that this was due to a "Late Release from Maintenance". I noted the monitors were showing boarding for my flight at 20:45. There have been some issues brewing between Qantas and its maintenance staff with 'work to rule' industrial action. I guess this was part of the cause. Ironically, it was only that morning that had Qantas announced it was closing its Sydney 747 maintenance facilities and reassigning the work to Brisbane and Melbourne facilities.

    There was not much to do but wait; I made a few posts on FT & AFF regarding the delay. The time I made use of by finally setting my 'phone up for Internet, so I could e-mail the images I had taken to incorporate them into the lounge review. I posted the review on the AFF site and another post on FT link to it the AFF thread (I can't put images in an FT post at the moment).

    After doing this it noticed the monitors were now showing a 21:30 boarding with a 22:00 departure. I hoped this was the last change as there is a 22:30 curfew at SYD and any further delay would certainly play extreme havoc with my schedule.

    There was a bit of a show that evening to divert my attention from the delay. Gate 31 is right outside the window if this temporary lounge; we're at engine level. A Qantas B763, VH-OGA, was waiting there ready to take passengers to AKL as flight QF49. They had boarded shortly after 6pm, but an hour later they were still there. I've been through this myself and hoped they were being served or something. Around 8pm one/or both engines were fired up while the aircraft was still at the gate. Again, I have been in this situation and knew there was probably some testing going on for a Technical issue. It was quite noisy in the lounge with the aircraft being so close. This went on for 5 minutes or so, then stopped.

    I decided to have a shower and at 8:30pm I ducked into one and prepared myself for the journey. Just as I came out at around 8:50pm, QF49's passengers were disembarked and the lounge again became host to many of them, over 2 hours after baording. The aircraft was going nowhere that evening and Qantas were arranging for a substitute. Boarding for them was eventually called at 9:45pm via Gate 20.

    The food at the First Lounge had been quite good, but I guess catering had not planned for so many delayed passengers because the hot food ran out. Still, there was plenty of liquid refreshment available in the lounge and this was flowing. I did not wish to over imbibe, so I went upstairs to the concourse a couple of times. It was a zoo, many QF29 PAX as well as those waiting for a fully booked QF31 next door at gate 25 filled the halls.

    After the QF49 boarding call had been made I went to the desk and asked about my flight and was told it was imminent and I could go to the gate if I desired. I picked up my bags and went up; gate 24 was almost directly across from the lounge entrance. Picking my way through the mass of humanity towards the gate boarding was called. I arrived at the First/Business boarding gate, there was no Queue and a quick check of my Passport and Boarding card and I was through.
     
  7. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    That will have made for a wee hours arrival at AKL. Bet immigration, customs and agriculture were pleased to get the overtime :roll:
     
  8. QF WP

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    Great TR so far, serfty. Now that is what I call a monster...and in Economy to boot. You are a brave man...
     
  9. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

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    The RTW is in business, just (some?) connecting flights in economy.
     
  10. serfty

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    MEL-(O)-SYD-(D)-LHR-(D)-DXB-(D)-LHR-(D)-LAX-(T)-SYD-(T)-MEL.
     
  11. NM

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    And that LAX-(T)-SYD is gonna hurt unless you use some of the earned points to get into the J cabin :shock: .
     
  12. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

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    Perhaps already has hurt (depending on how quickly serfty does this run)?
     
  13. serfty

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    Did not hurt as much as it could have as 35J/K were empty. I had 35H! :wink:

    Must have had 9 hours sleep on a 14 hour flight! 8)
     
  14. serfty

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    Flight: QF29, SYD-HKG Thursday 9th March 2006.
    Seat 23D, Sequence 83
    Gate 24
    Reg VH-OJN, Scheduled 18:00 – 23:50
    Board: 21:50
    Pushback 22:18
    Take Off Roll: 22:37
    Touchdown: 03:36
    At gate: 03:45
    Miles Travelled: 4,581, Accum: 5,020
    Qantas FF Points Earned: 23,819 (SYD-[HKG-]LHR), Accum 24,819
    Status Credits Earned: 240 (SYD-LHR), Accum for trip: 250.

    Entering the aircraft and turning left down the first aisle, my allocated seat was the very first one on the left. I quickly stowed my bags in the above lockers and sat down. I accepted the proffered champagne and sipped away.

    Only the one door was being used and I observed the passing parade of people as they wended there way down the aircraft to their seats.

    Boarding took nearly 30 minutes and I accepted another glass of bubbles. Finally the doors were closed and the captain come on the PA and apologised for the delay. He alluded to industrial actions as being these cause without actually saying so; “Slight other problems in the news”.

    Push back followed shortly after, but we then had to taxi down to the end of the main North-South runway. At least it was not to the third runway. Take off was straight forward, albeit after the curfew time. I have seen some debate on whether this curfew is for push back or take off; I myself was simply glad to be under way.

    The first officer announced we would be tracking over Wagga Wagga, to the east of Darwin and above Manilla with an estimated touch down at 03:30 at HKIA.

    I will post the menus elsewhere, but I chose the Snapper Dish for my Main Course. In regard to the starter/entrée, after getting the soup and having a taste I found I really did not like it at all and had decided giving it a miss would be appropriate. As it happened, the elder gentleman in 23B was served after me and he passed on the soup full stop. To my surprise he was offered a prawn salad as an alternative which he assented to. This was not on the menu, so I enquired about one for myself and with a “certainly Sir”, my soup morphed with a flourish into a salad of two reasonably large peeled prawns in a bed of rocket leaves dressed with a tarte mayonnaise. Quite nice, as was the remainder of the food service with the snapper dish, the cheese and the chocolates all washed down with champagne and later the very nice Muscat. Skipped coffee as I planned to sleep.

    While this was happening I watched a movie “History of Violence”. About 1am MEL time, the movie finished and I went down to the washroom to change into a First Class “Oversuit” I had retained from previous travel. Went to the self-serve bar and grabbed a cleansing VB as a nightcap, then back to my seat and sleep, managing a good three hours before waking up.

    I got my laptop out and started on this report. I was quite tired and was finding it difficult to concentrate so packed it up and went to sleep for another two hours.

    The FA’s woke the cabin about 35 minutes before landing at HKG, offering juice, coffee and tea. I planned on sleeping some more so I had some Orange Juice. Quite nice it was as well.

    Touching down at Hong Kong the limited views I had outside were of many buildings clouded by a typically ‘thick’ HKG atmosphere and/or condensation on the windows. It took nearly 10 minutes to taxi to our assigned gate.
     
  15. NM

    NM
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    Great report, serfty. I feel like I am right there with you.

    someone has been reading my seating preference ;)
    Love the Morris Muscat. Got to be one of the best additions to QF J service in the last year.
     
  16. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

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    Great report so far serfty.

    Now notice how I have resisted the urge so far to sabotage you trip report.



    :oops:
     
  17. serfty

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    Hong Kong Lounge 10th March 2006.

    The plane stopped at gate N26, this is actually quite a distance from the QP and to make matters worse, the only transit gate in use was on the opposite side of the terminal, nearer the CX lounge “The Wing” than the QP.

    As we exited the aerobridge, we were given transit passes and selv-adhesive red triangular Qantas Tail logo stickers. The transit card was sealed in a clear flexible envelope. Instructions were given to place the stickers on our upper right chest. Thus branded, the passengers proceeded into the terminal.

    Those looking for the QP were directed to walk what turned out to be a considerable distance: to transfer gate E2, through an x-ray post, up the lifts to L7 and then another lengthy walk to the QP.

    Inside the F section, I really only had the urge to sample some of the Haagen-Dazs ice cream. I made a quick call home as it was 7:00am on Friday morning there.

    It was 4:35am before boarding was called for the lounge. Off I headed on the long march back to N26. When I arrived, boarding had not actually commenced. Obviously they were giving the QP guests some time to get back to the gate.

    However, it was a short wait and it was not long afterwards that I had boarded. I surrendered my transit card as I did so and soon enough was ensconced in my 23D Skybed; wondering what to do with my red triangular transit sticker.
     
  18. NM

    NM
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    Sell it on EBay :D :D
     
  19. serfty

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    Flight: QF29, HKG-LHR Friday 10th March 2006.
    Seat 23D, Sequence 83
    Gate N26
    Reg VH-OJN, Scheduled 01:20 – 06:20
    Board: 04:30
    Pushback 05:03
    Take Off Roll: 05:30
    Touchdown: 10:30
    At gate: 10:47 (T4 - 07)
    Qantas FF Points Earned: 23,819 (SYD-[HKG-]LHR), Accum 24,819
    Status Credits Earned: 240 (SYD-LHR), Accum for trip: 250.

    The load was slightly lighter in the cabin out of Hong Kong. There were a few more empty seats. Luckily for me (and the guy on the other side) the seat between us continued to remain unoccupied. That extra bit of space etc. to place small items, reading material and paperwork is quite useful. The bulkhead skybeds on the 744’s do not have the document storage area in the armrests as it’s used to store the IFE screen.

    The aircraft was pushed back off the gate and then it simply stood stationary with no engine firing up for at least 15 minutes. No reason was given for this at all. Eventually the engines were started and we commenced another lengthy taxi. Take-off was quite normal and we were on our way to London.

    There was a slight difference in the CSM’s announcement after take-off; something I had not heard for a while: “Consumption of personal Alcohol, duty free or otherwise is prohibited. This is to comply with Australian Law …”. Maybe he had a bad experince with boozy tourists recently.

    The Menus were handed out along with a question about whether supper was desired or not. I was in the mood for supper and chose the Marinated Beef fillet as a contrast to the earlier Snapper. Very nice and tender it was, if slightly overcooked.

    Watching SkyShow showed a convoluted routing out of Hong Kong. Started out tracking almost due North, then North-West, back North, then a little North West, then West for quite some time, then North West, before finally a more direct heading. I guess there are some pretty large mountains in the region; certainly SkyShow’s forward view graphic with its exaggerated land profiles indicated some high ranges as immense ‘walls’, which the aircraft seemingly would need to navigate “around”.

    I watched the movie “Rumor has It” to pass the time. When that finished I changed into the aforementioned oversuit. I went to the J bar for some water. I surprised to note there was no beer put out; not that I wanted any. I guess I could simply have asked if I’d been after some. Water bottle in hand, I went back to my seat and proceeded to sleep for about 5 hours.

    Waking up, I was unable to get back to sleep. I guess 10 hours of broken sleep is still sleep so I needed no more. And there were still 5 hours to go.

    Some more typing of this report helped pass the time as well as watching the movie “Chicken Little”; certainly no brain strain there.

    Breakfast was distributed around 80 minutes before the estimated landing time, then immigration cards were handed out along with “Fastrack:” cards.

    At 9:53am the cockpit announcement was that the aircraft would be landing at 10:10. Around 10am it was announced we would need to go into a holding pattern due to congestion with a landing at 10:20. At 10:18 we were advised that we were out of the hold and landing would be at 10:30. At which time we duly touched down. As we approached terminal 4 we taxied past quite a few hard stands. I have seen these before but never so many in use.

    Then another delay of about 10 minutes as there were no ground staff available to guide the ‘plane in. Finally at 10:47am we nosed into the gate, which was externally labelled as 407.

    Looking outside showed a wet tarmac and other signs rain. Earlier, the captain had advised it was 6º with passing showers. Brrr.. Welcome to London.
     
  20. NM

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    Yes, China has some big mountains, but none that need to be negotiated by a 744 at FL350.
     
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