One Week, Two Continents... Qantas, Eva and Malaysia.

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dzinh

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I've got heaps more pictures on my blog!

At the start of the year, my brother mentioned that he would be holding a 10 year anniversary show and wanted me to be there for support to which I put aside in my mind until he asked if I was going to be there a week before the show. Shiitake mushrooms I though and immediately searched the web for the best flights, reward bookings, and practically everything to which none suited me until I saw the one way Qantas pricing from Melbourne via Sydney.

I didn't know what to expect when I finally had a confirmed itinerary for my flight to the United States on Qantas. I would usually stick with Virgin Australia but as my trip was very last minute and there was a budget I had to stick with, Qantas was the cheapest airline offering one way pricing as this trip would be the first trip I would be taking with Australia's flag carrier in over five years.

The day finally came and the only thing that bothered me was the 0800 flight to Sydney which meant I had to be at the airport at 0630. I'm not a OMG O'clock person but beggars can't be choosers so I was up at 0530 to shower, do a final check of things as well as catch a cab to the airport, I managed to sleep at 0235 so just as I was hitting the sweet sleeping spot my alarm and partner who got woke up by the alarm both were trying to get me up.

I arrived at the airport and made my way inside to see self drop bags and a walk towards T2 saw some human check in and bag drop counters to which I waltzed up and proceeded to check in for my flights. A friend was monitoring seats for the long haul and he alerted that some seats in emerald city opened up so I decided to ask to be moved from 33J to 33B as both of them were currently unoccupied to which the agent happily did. Boarding passes handed over as well as information on how to transit in Sydney and I was off towards the lounge.

Going through security was a breeze as there wasn't a long wait and I was still half asleep so I decided to grab my bag and head up to the lounge as I wanted to bypass the explosive tests to which I quickly settled down.



I sat and had a nice sip and relaxed as I opened up my bag and decided to grab my macbook out to browse the net until I couldn't find it. I panicked and luckily remembered I left it at security so I rushed down the escalators and towards a security guard and asked if anyone had handed in a blue macbook and Ipad Air to which he went through some documents and asked me to describe the items to which he opened up a draw and asked me to sign a piece of paper.

I thanked him countlessly and made my way back into the lounge for another coffee until I realised the check in agent forgot to prioritise my bags. In all my travels as a One World Sapphire, all my checked in bags have been prioritised to which I had a FML though as this was LAX I was dealing with, my eternal flame was extinguished as I had two more coffees to wake me up.


Looking down towards security in T3.

In the space of 45 minutes I consumed 6 coffees, an apple and a cookie as I made my way towards the boarding gate 3. I arrived at the almost empty gate and decided to snap up some pictures of the 767 as I wanted to fly on it before it was phased out of the Qantas fleet.




City of Byron Bay which made me think of Byron Bay Cookies....mmmm cookies.

Boarding commenced not long after I snapped up a few pictures and I was on my way down towards my first Qantas flight in five years. The crew who greeted me onboard seemed awake as I made my way towards 23K. I'm usually an aisle type of guy but made an exception for the window as I wanted to hear the powerful engines on takeoff. Passengers boarded and all things secured before we pushed back but it was delayed as cargo was still getting loaded below which delayed our departure time by 15 minutes which wasn't that much of a big deal.


23 J&K on the 767.


Q Streaming Ipads.


Legroom shot.

The taxi was a short one and we were second in line for take off as I sat and gazed out the windows until the GE engines began to powerfully roar as we began to roll down the runway and shoot straight up into the cloudy sky. The engine sound was magnificent as my head gently hit the back of the seat as we left the tarmac.


Up, up and away.

As we hit cruising altitude the curtain to separate the cabins was drawn as flight attendants sprung into life and handed out breakfast boxes which contained granola and yoghurt, a banana muffin and a bottle of water.


Pretty convenient way of doing breakfast.



Ten minutes later the captain made an announcement that we would be landing five minutes early so the crew began their landing preparations as I settled in my seat to catch up on the final minutes of sleep that I could until I was awoken by the roar of the engines as we made our way towards the domestic terminal. One flight down, a three hour layover and then a 14 hour flight to go.
 

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Hvr

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hehe thank you RooFlyer.... Shiitake Mushrooms gotten me out of some tricky situations at work sometimes :p

I like mushrooms because I'm a fun guy. ;)


Looking forward to reading the rest of this TR.
 

dzinh

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heaps more pics on my blog guys!

The plane arrived into the domestic terminal and after de planing I followed the signs towards gate 15 to transfer to the international terminal. I handed my second boarding pass to the agent who was manning the gate and made my way downstairs towards an already waiting bus which left one minute after I hopped on board.





The trip towards the international terminal was a very scenic one as we passed a variety of planes such as Qantas, Lan, and Air India's 787. As we pulled into the terminal entrance I gazed at Air India and questioned why the Star Alliance logo was plastered on the side and though I was hallucinating until I remembered that they recently joined the alliance.
The terminal was busy and I was getting hungry so I made my way inside departures and faced a very long line for the regular immigration queues to which I puled out an express card path and breezed by way towards an immigration officer. There was a sea of men in black sports uniform which were causing quite a commotion with people taking pictures and asking for signatures which turned out to be the Juventus soccer team who were on their way to Singapore.

I needed a sim card and remember there was a booth offering international sims in the terminal to which I handed over $60 for a unlimited 3gig sim on T-Mobile. You would probably call me crazy but I needed a sim and was happy to pay for convenience at the time. I headed towards the gate area just to suss out what I would be dealing with later on and after seeing the gate was like any other gate I turned around and made my way back towards the lounge and passed a set of massage chairs where I saw a very well groomed American who held a Qantas boarding pass to which I asked if he wanted to be guested into the lounge.

Heres how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, I see you're flying Qantas.. did you want to get guested into the lounge?
Him: Why???
Me: I have a guest spot and thought I would do a nice deed...
Him: I don't need no lounge and like the company of these massage chairs.
Me: uh.... okay.... have a nice day. (cue scene of Homer Simpson slowly backing into the green bushes)

Okayyyyy didn't expect that but whatever, no more nice deeds for the day as I went upstairs past the first lounge and walked down towards the QP "Qantas Pub". I found a quiet spot in the back area by the computers, and made my way towards the buffet where there was a selection of breakfast food as well as a selection of salad and alcohol.
It was quite busy in the lounge with one of the Cathay flights delayed so a lot of people were lingering around and signs of frustration were written across their forehead. I began to dose off and before long I awoke twenty minutes before boarding time which gave me just the amount of time to freshen up and make my way towards the gate.
I found myself back at gate 8 with a massive crowd of people floating around waiting for the manual passport check to open to which I made my way to the front as a line began to form behind me. A few minutes later I handed my passport over for a inspection as I observed the immigration officer cross check my name to a list which didn't have my name on it as I made my way to the priority boarding line.



Wheelchair passengers disappeared down the jet bridge before the announcement for First, business, and status passengers commenced as I made my way towards the the agent and then down the bridge towards door C where there was a overhead screen stating sections and rows of where to board which was which was the dedicated upper deck entry.

A member of staff stopped me with an explanation of "they're not ready for boarding" as I watched passengers board through door A and B. A few moments later the staff member was given clearance to allow upper deck passengers to board as she wished me a enjoyable flight and with that I made my way up towards the whale. As I got closer to the door I saw two smiling staff members in the Qantas uniform greet me and direct me all the way down towards emerald city.

When I heard of emerald city I imagined myself following the yellow brick road all happy and lovely dovey towards my seat until my friend explained that the mini economy cabin upstairs which consists of five rows is rewarded the name as it's usually reserved for Platinum (One World Emerald) passengers to select at time of booking and is usually blocked off and opened up towards last minute for other passengers which I was very fortunate to be able to select.

I found my seat and placed my bag in the overhead compartment and did notice what the others have said about lack of overhead space was true, later passengers who boarded had trouble finding space as crew directed them towards the premium economy overhead. My heart was beating as I sat in my seat without the seatbelt done up chanting in my mind "please have a shadow" numerously as passengers were boarding and to my luck I had a bright smile form across my face when the doors were closed. Fantastic, a lovely shadow next to me which meant I could spread out and not have anyone climb over me to use the lavatory as well as having extra space for 14 hours.


My seats for the next 14 hours

Our flight was delayed thirty minutes as there was an issue and miscommunication with both governments as a Mr Curry was asked to alert staff member to his whereabouts. The captain informed us that the runway was directly behind us so there wouldn't be a wait time to take off. The flight time would be 14 hours and 10 minutes but the captain spoke of a short cut he had that he would try and reduce the flying time which got me questioning how on earth is a short cut possible but I wasn't complaining.

I didn't realise we began pushing back until the safety video appeared on my screen as I relocated myself into the window seat. The engines began to power up as we began to slowly gain speed and accelerate down the runway which was paced like a slow motion movie. The whale got faster and faster and we finally began to climb into the sunny sky. I was surprised it was such a quiet plane and very smooth as she began turning and climbing en route to Los Angeles.


One world, three planes, two boeings, one airbus.



Wahh.. Wahh... cry... did I tell you guys that there was a family and child in the middle row next to me? The precious thing began screaming as all eyes in the cabin directed their attention to the family. I prayed to God and asked that the child wouldn't cry a lot though out the flight asI knew asking for the child not to cry would be delusional but the parents were all over their child and crying was kept to a minimum.

My attention went back to nature outside and watched as land began getting smaller and all there was around us was sky and sea.

We finally gained cruising altitude as the seatbelt sign was extinguished to which the cabin crew sprung to life by handing out a menus and bottles of water and headphones to each passenger. I could smell the aroma of lunch wafting around the cabin as I checked out the menu and noticed the wellbeing option which caught my attention as I sat and decided what I wanted for lunch. An announcement came over stating that federal laws prohibit passengers to congregate in large groups around the lavatories which was a bit humorous but at the same time in place just in case.


I began exploring the seat and found that legroom was decent for a legacy carrier, my knees nearly touched the seat in front and had around 2 inches away from the seat pocket. The window seat had a nifty side bin located just under the window which was capable of handling a medium sized messenger bag or in my case I shoved the pillows and blankets into it until use which also functioned as a place I kept my drinks and lunch tray on. I noticed just under the seat was an extra storage pouch which can accommodate a pillow although it would limit legroom hence I didn't find it practical but its always there if needed.

Under each seat was a shared universal power plug which is the life and soul to powering devices in this day and age. There's also a usb power plug located at the tip of each arm rest which is must more convenient when charging most devices.

The trolley was pushed towards the front of the cabin, I was still indecisive and made up my mind just as Paula and Luke positioned themselves next to my seat. I went for the chicken salad and Paula said if I was sure as it wouldn't be very filling to which I went with anyway.

Im glad I went with what I did as the chicken salad was really fresh, tasty and delicious. It was different from the standard hot meals and was accompanied by a side of blood orange and grapefruit which was topped by a rich chocolate mousse.


Chicken salad wellbeing option.

The lunch service was performed in a flash as the flight attendants did a second round for drinks. I decided to go for a sparkling wine which was served ice cold and full of bubbles. Meal done and sparkling gone, I left the tray on the side storage bin and headed for the lavatory to change into a pair of sweat pants.

A lovely benefit of being isolated in the mini cabin was the benefit of having a lavatory to ourselves which was kept spotless and the fact that there wasn't much traffic going through the cabin.

I decided to pop into the galley to ask for a refill of water to which instead of refilling it from the tap, Angela used one of the large 1.5 litre bottles which was very nice of her. In the galley I also met Paula and Luke who were so very down to earth and the most caring, lovely and attentive crew, we had the longest chat which continued long into the flight, I won't forget Maiwa who was in the business cabin and would pop into the cabin and galley to say hello. If there was one word that could be used to describe them it would be Qantas.

I understand everyone crosses paths with a hit or miss crew but damn, when its a hit crew they hit you straight to the point of being spoilt. I asked if they could open the security barrier and Paula went to the extent of showing how to open it just in case no crew were around once I decided to head back upstairs, to her credit she did say I could yell out to the crew who would be happy to open it up but knowing me, I opened it up myself.




Spiral in style down to economy.

Located downstairs were lavatory's and a self serve bar which consisted of soft drinks, fruit, biscuits and crackers. I popped my head into the cabin and saw rows and miles of economy which the crew were just concluding meal service and it made me glad I was seated upstairs. I noticed the downstairs cabin of the A380 was very large and the side walls seemed to have a square kind of feeling.
I went for a stretch down towards first class, crossed through the galley where more crew said hi and stayed for a chin wag and caught up on gallery gossip. It was only five hours into the flight and I was feeling restless so back upstairs it was while some folks at the back decided to get curious and pop their head upstairs but were met with barrier so they made their way back down.

Settling back in my seat and praying the little one in the row beside wouldn't cry I began watching family guy and not long after Luke walked passed and handed me a pair of business class pj's, an amenity kit and noise cancelling headphones which melted my heart. It was the generosity and care demonstrated from the crew that set them apart and shown they've certainly gone above and beyond to make my return on Qantas a memorable flight and took it up a notch to the extent that everyone of them would often stop and ask if I needed anything when walking by. A few sparkling glasses later, a sip of red wine and some munchies it was time for sleep, my eyes couldn't stay open as we crossed the international date line.

I woke up for a three hour nap and was feeling restless so I popped back downstairs for a wander and saw crew were distributing pizza slices as a snack which left a heavenly smell drifting around the cabin which made my stomach churn as I made my way back up the stairs past the snack bar which didn't have anything that appealed to me so back into the galley where I asked if there was anything to munch on to which Angela told me to return to the seat and she would bring something out soon.

It seemed that pizza was already delivered to customers in emerald city while I slept so Angela came out a few moments after with a small plate which had a hot beef and harissa sausage roll. I asked her no pizza and with a cheeky giggle she said this would taste much better than pizza. She was right, one of the best gourmet sausage rolls I've eaten... the first sausage roll I've had inflight and it was delicious and hit the spot which somehow caused food coma to take over and put me into another nap.

I was awoken by slight turbulence and lifted the window shades to reveal a beautiful sunrise as we cruised to destination. I learnt while in the galley that breakfast would be at 0630 local time and by luck it was nearly that time for food. A quick pop into the galley for a top up of water and a coffee was the kick start of the day as the guys were ready for their trolley run.



Spinach and pumpkin fritatta with pork sausage and baked beans.
Breakfast was pumped out to starving guests who demolished their food in the timeframe of ten minutes which seemed like a eating competition. The food was hot, tasty and substantial as the sky outside began getting brighter which meant the flight was coming to an end. Trays cleared and rubbish collected, we were near our destination when Ian, the inflight supervisor came by to introduce himself and say hello. I counted 3 looks of confusion from fellow guests as we moved our chat to the galley just to keep things low key..... yeah right... in the duration of 14 hours one person getting looked after constantly by four crew was special indeed, seriously Don't You Know Who I Am or in my case they knew who I was! :p

The familiar thank you for flying with Qantas and cabin crew prepare for descent announcement came over which somewhat made me sad. It was such an enjoyable and amazing flight that I didn't want to be over but I was glad it was coming to an end as I don't know how much longer my sane level would uphold if the flight was any longer. I thanked the crew for their love throughout the flight and returned to my seat as crew began to prepare the cabin, Paula emerged from premium economy where she stopped by and asked me if I watched Desperate Housewife to which she said Charlie Carver was sitting in the last row, no idea who he was until I googled him, he's not even that hot Paula!!!

The whale with the kangaroo began descent as Angela popped by my seat and handed me a in flight duty free bag which contained a bottle of Gemtree Shiraz, more love and presents to wrap up a spectacular journey and indent the beautiful crew onboard.

We landed with a thump as the quiet engines let out a roar as we slowly came into a very long taxi towards the terminal. I was finally back in the land of the free as a five year absence was put to an end. I switched on my mobile and sat patiently waiting for the T Mobile card to activate. I waited on the plane, I waited before immigration which was processed really fast under ten minutes! I waited for my bag which happened to be the last one to come out on the carousel, and at that moment I was cursing the the check in agent for not putting a priority tag on as well as T Mobile for not activating my sim.

I quickly exited the baggage hall where the last stop was customs who glanced at my bag and then back up at me to ask "how much cash do you have?" before allowing me to continue outside to meet my brother.

Welcome to the United States.


 

dzinh

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So here I was standing in the busy departure hall of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles airport as the clock was ticking to just over 2200. I made my way towards the dedicated EVA airlines check in counter and asked an attendant who was standing there with a Eva Air sign to direct me towards the priority lane. I waited around a few minutes before a free agent was free and smiled as she gestured me over.


I wanted the best economy seats for my thirteen hour flight and they happened to be the bulkhead seats of row 45C which was an aisle seat. I tried many times over the past few days to select the bulkhead online and even call up the airline directly but the bulkhead was notoriously protected and assigned at check in to which the agent asked for 45C from her supervisor who released it as she assigned the seat for me.
I had a though run through my mind and a shiver went down my spine thinking about flying for another thirteen hours in economy which promoted me to ask the agent how much would a upgrade be to premium economy which is also known as elite class under Eva terms. After a few seconds Melissa said the upgrade from LAX - TPE from economy to elite would be $480USD which I thought for a split second as my hand reached to grab my credit card to hand over. Melissa directed me to head into another queue so I could process the fee as she attached an elite and priority bag tag and even found a Hello Kitty bag tag as a souvenir, I watched as my old boarding pass was torn up as I got handed a new one with an aisle seat of 26D.

I was observing the terminal and could see a few Asian carriers would be departing so I quickly made my way towards the security checkpoint witch began to pile up with heaps of passengers. I waited in line for around twenty minutes before I reached the X- ray machine and quickly cleared security. I walked through a corridor and was welcomed by a bright new duty free shop as I entered the new TBIT. I wouldn't have though that TBIT, Amaze balls, Wow, Well played, OMG, What is this place would ever align into the same sentence.

I was literally blown away with the terminal and was like a kid in a candy store as I walked around from the north and south concourse snapping pictures, the terminal of five years ago was completely different from what I saw today, who would of though Los Angeles International Airport could be so new and efficient.




There was a variety of duty free stores, souvenir shops as well as various restaurants that offered a range of variety for the traveller who was passing through or connecting onto another destination via LAX. Throughout the airport were chairs and resting areas which featured a lot of power points and usb charging outlets for the modern day traveller as well as free fast wifi. I forgot to mention theres a Starbucks too which was very busy from what I saw walking past it a few times.


Amazing led panels which displays flight information.



Waiting for her passengers.

As I was walking down the north concourse I saw a Pinkberry yoghurt stand which got me jumping for joy. It was one of the best yoghurt I've tasted and even though I didn't have time while in LA to eat it I was perfectly happy for there to be a stand in the airport. Did I mention I love the new TBIT?
It was time to check out the flagship Star Alliance lounge so I made my way up towards the fourth floor via elevator located inside the clock tower. I handed my boarding pass to the agent who scanned it and welcomed me in.


Entrance to the Star Alliance lounge operated by Air New Zealand.

As I ventured deeper into the lounge I found that there was plenty of seating in the lounge which was cosy and rather quiet in the busy lounge. There was a pile of newspapers and magazines available in cantonese as the majority of lounge guest's were on Eva air's two flights to Taipei.

I've heard of my friends mention of the outside terrace so I walked further into the lounge and made my way outside. It was a lovely summer's night and the terrace was empty so I enjoyed the beautiful terrace by myself. There was a glass panel which offered views of a few gates which was a nice setting amongst the lounge.




Heading back inside I decided to check out and have a shower in the suites, for access I needed to press a button which alerted an attendant as he opened up a shower suite for me. The suites were very well maintained, clean and was spacious enough to change and shower.



It was a bit of a game trying to get the water temperature just right in the first few minutes but once I conquered it the water pressure was moderate, not too weak but not powerful either which resulted in a more longer shower.

I was hungry after my shower so I headed straight towards the buffet where there was a variety of fruits, wraps, soup, d.i.y salad and hot Vietnamese soup. It was a pretty good selection of food for the time that I was there and the food was enjoyable and fresh which was a big bonus as staff kept replenishing food items.






It was nearly time for my flight so I headed outside to the balcony which also had sitting areas with powerpoints to snap a few pictures of the terminal below before heading downstairs towards the southern terminal to my departing gate.


New patterns on the led beams.

 
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