Essex Express-UK December 2021

andye

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Well we are finally off on our trip to my god-daughter/cousin-once-removed's wedding near Colchester in Essex.
It's been a roller-coaster travel-arranging experience which I have documented on various AFF threads over the last couple if months
Since Premier Perrotet opened the borders, we have had various outbound iterations
SYD-MEL-HKG-MXP-LHR (VA Y/CX Y+/CX J/BA revenue Y)-award cancelled by CX
SYD-HKG-LHR (CX revenue Y+) cancelled by me when award came up
SYD-HKG-HEL-LHR (CX J/AY J/AY revenue Y)-award cancelled by CX
SYD-HKG-CDG-LHR (CX J/CX J/BA J)- award cancelled by CX
And finally
SYD-MEL-DOH-HEL-LHR (VA J/QR J/QR J/AY revenue Y) a day later than planned so only 4 days on the ground
 
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clifford

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Well we are finally off on our trip to my god-daughter/cousin-once-removed's wedding near Colchester in Essex.
It's been a roller-coaster travel-arranging experience which I have documented on various AFF threads over the last couple if months
Since Premier Perrotet opened the borders various, we have had various outbound iterations
SYD-MEL-HKG-MXP-LHR (VA Y/CX Y+/CX J/BA revenue Y)-award cancelled by CX
SYD-HKG-LHR (CX revenue Y+) cancelled by me when award came up
SYD-HKG-HEL-LHR (CX J/AY J/AY revenue Y)-award cancelled by CX
SYD-HKG-CDG-LHR (CX J/CX J/BA J)- award cancelled by CX
And finally
SYD-MEL-DOH-HEL-LHR (VA J/QR J/QR J/AY revenue Y) a day later than planned so only 4 days on the ground
Hope Essex is nice at this time of year.
 

andye

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Would have had a frantic run from mrsandye's ED shift to SYD yesterday but a much more relaxed Wednesday morning.
Picked up my tails from Peppers in Cremorne
Picked up a Christmas Tree from Dural Christmas Tree Farm- I usually balk at putting one up so early but we have left it in a stand for mstrandye3&4 to decorate while we are away
 

andye

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Also filled in our Passenger Locator Form for UK-couldn't do earlier as needs to be under 48h of arrival. Had already booked our Day 2 tests (to be taken on Day 0). Wasn't quite sure how to deal with 2 PNRs but said we were arriving on AY1337 and leaving from Australia
 

andye

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Although I could make a good case for the PCR tests we both took on Monday being valid for our final flight HEL-LHR on Thursday, discretion was the better part of valour.
We checked in at VA domestic. Took an inordinately long time as they seemed to be neither to be able to check our luggage in to MEL or HEL. Eventually sorted
Took cab from SYD Dom to Int (grumpy taxi driver with short trip) to take antigen tests at Histopath just between Parking 7 and T1 departures.
20211208_160709.jpg
Very efficient and we had the results back in 40 minutes
T1 was deserted with only Macca's open 20211208_161204.jpg .
We vacillated about how to get back from Int to Dom. The taxi rank has been demolished. We waited for 10 minutes at the Tbus stop (which has no timetable) before giving up and taking the train. Timed perfectly and back to T2 very quickly
 
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andye

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Security quick at T2. Very few shops open: decjuba, Victoria secret, the big bar (not Movida), perfume shop and newsagent among the open ones.
Repaired to the VA lounge which was kind of same as before but different. Reasonable occupancy. The main thing being no self-serve. Had quite drinkable Cab Shiraz, Merlot, SB and fizz available.
20211208_180426.jpg Food options included salads, (quite stingy) cheese plates, pumpkin soup and chips.
IMG-20211209-WA0031.jpg
 
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andye

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To be fair I expected as much-though it was surprisingly hard to get definite information
Even the very helpful and knowledgeable QR check-in agent was cagey. He'd expertly checked our baggage through to LHR despite the final leg being on a separate PNR, negotiated all the UK entry requirements without drawing breath and changed my QR FF number on the boarding pass to BA (despite it being an award booking originally CX seemed to have rebooked us into VA/QR revenue J), but when I asked about lounges he said he didn't know about Qantas but the Marhaba lounge was open
 

andye

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The Marhaba lounge is next door to the QF F lounge. It was more than a smidgen disappointing
The front desk is standard, dragon was nice, the model planes seem a random assortment of carriers, not confined to any alliances
Seemed to be able to access with Priority Pass

There are some zones of armchairs, some with tarmac views, a zone of tables, a family area and a dining area
20211208_220606.jpg
There were some Asian bowls (reasonably tasty but not well presented) pastries and a pie cabinet
20211208_210837.jpg 20211208_210858.jpg 20211208_210822.jpg
Drinks options were limited especially of wine.
20211208_210807.jpg 20211208_211018.jpg
But the main fail was plastic glasses
20211208_211357.jpg
So, not the worst lounge in the world but wouldn't be hard to fine-tune so it suffered less in comparison to its (closed) sister.
 

andye

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Time came round for boarding onto our MEL-DOH flight an A350 with Q-suites
The centre seats for a couple are as their reputation suggests. You are parallel and next to each other without the separation you find on the otherwise fine Cirrus seat. Footwell spacious. The windows seats seem very private. All seats have a waist-height sliding door View attachment 266853 20211208_223155.jpg 20211209_090659.jpg 20211208_223239.jpg 20211208_225708.jpg 20211208_223155.jpg
 
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