QF, BA, FR - the biannual family tour

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by acampbel, May 11, 2006.

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  1. acampbel

    acampbel Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    351
    2
    A bit slow getting this down so some of the details may have blurred ...

    Thursday 30th March, QF1 SYD to LHR via BKK

    Kept the heaviest bag down to 27kg this time, so no feverish re-packing at the check-in counter. In fact the CIC commented that we were traveling quite light for a family of four. There was a large queue at customs and to make it worse the officer kept my passport (EU) and asked me to sit down and wait. I was there about 10 minutes and then a spook emerged from behind the secret door, handed me my passport and said "Fine - you can go." Maybe it was something to do with my new RRV, but I found it a bit unsettling - especially as no reason for the delay was given.

    I read the kids the riot act before approaching the QC reception, but the woman there did not give them a second glance. Long may they bend the 1-guest rule!

    Oh yeah - the flight! Plane was full in cattle class so the 4 seats across the middle in the forward cabin were as good as we were going to get. I tried to watch Backdoor Mountain but the kids were a bit too excited to be left to their own devices. They snoozed the last few hours into Bangkok but weren't too grumpy at having to get off for refueling. QC staff made the pointed comment "So there is only 1 QC member." but let us all in anyway.

    The second leg to Heathrow was fine (cabin crew above average for QF) and after watching Chicken Little for the 3rd time the kids got nearly 5 hours sleep. We were a bit late landing, and then as we pulled up at the gate and people starting going for the lockers there was an announcement for everyone to sit down and could Mr X make himself known to the cabin crew. A couple of armed police then boarded the plane and escorted Mr X off!


    Friday 31st March, BA1474 LHR to GLA

    By now we were running late for our connecting flight to Glasgow, so we hustled through to Terminal 1 as quick as we could (good thing I have that UK passport!) and got to the gate as it started boarding. This meant I had no time to get us seated together, so the wife and I tossed a coin and I sat with my son down the back (he has no status I guess). As they were pushing back from the gate one of the FA came down with the manifest and gave me a strange look. I explained that my childrens' bookings (paid for) had not been linked to ours (points) on the BA system, so I had swapped seats with my daughter. "That's good", she replied, "We thought we had a 4 and 6-year-old flying unaccompanied!"

    At Glasgow there were a couple of small hitches - our suitcases had made the connecting flight, but the kids' booster seats had not. We decided to pick them up later so I went to get the hire car. Just as I got to the counter the computer system went down and the Hertz staff stared at their screens for 20 minutes hoping it would come good. Eventually they decided to use the manual system and we finally got out of the airport an hour after we landed.

    We then had 17 days visiting friends and relatives in Scotland and England, but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say that Spring is a loose term in Scotland, and it snowed on us every day we were there!

    Monday 17th April, FR936 STN to PGF

    Next flight was Ryanair from Stansted to Perpignan. After booking this flight I had tried to contact them about car seats, which took me on an internet trail of woe! No-one had anything nice to say about Ryanair and there were plenty of stories about cancelled flights and absolutely zero customer service. In particular the baggage policy was Nazi-like : 15kg limit each with no "pooling". Fortunately we were forewarned and so on arrival at Stansted we had divided the load into 2 extra rather flimsy bags we bought from the $2 shop in Sydney. The CIC gave them a funny look but tagged them anyway, and after been given priority boarding (they let families go first due to no seat allocations) we settled into the cramped seats. It was a very basic cabin with no seat pockets, and the seats didn't recline. Not a bad idea in cattle class I reckon!

    The 4-odd days in the south of France were fantastic! Spring weather at last and lots of great sight-seeing in the Catalan region. And all the French I encountered were helpful and polite. That makes two trips in a row so it can't be a fluke.

    Friday 21st April, FR937 PGF to STN

    The return flight was uneventful, though waiting in the departure lounge with absolutely no facilities was a helpful reminder of why I pay for QC. The worst part of the whole experience was immigration at Stansted. We joined the EU queue as I normally take the family through on the strength of my passport. This has never been a problem at Heathrow (in fact it was them who suggested I do this), but the cretin at Stansted told them to requeue at the "others" section. Bureaucratic toenail!

    By the way - don't take this as a ringing endorsement for Ryanair. I got away with it but would not use them again until they provide some sort of customer service after they have your money.

    Monday 24th April, QF030 LHR to HGK

    As usual getting to Heathrow is the hardest task - we used the normal tube but they had the ubiquitous signals failure, and for a while we thought we might have to bail and find a taxi. Fortunately they were able to sort it, though we still needed to catch the bus to Terminal 4 due to track work. Just for laughs I tried to get the family into the BA club but there was no joy there - just a half-empty club and lots of people milling about outside. By this stage there was only 20 minutes until boarding so it wasn't a great loss. The flight was fine but for whatever reason (end of trip, flying West to East, ??) the kids don't seem to sleep much so we were shagged by the time we reached Hong Kong.

    Hong Kong was an adventure, but too much stuff to include here.

    Friday 28th April, QF128 HGK to SYD

    The worst flight of all! The CIC was fine and even bagged our car seats for us, and the QC let us in without hassles. But the flight departs at 9:10pm (11:10pm Sydney time) and then they faff around for a couple of hours feeding everyone before finally turning the lights down. At best you can get 3-4 hours sleep (our kids got half that) before they wake you before 6am so that they can feed you breakfast! Then you have to run the T1 gauntlet (which I have mentioned elsewhere) before finally getting home at around 10am completely shagged.

    Final scores :-

    Total cost : somewhere around $10K - in part due to 2 points tickets. I'd give that 9/10.
    Airline ratings : QF 8/10, BA 7/10, FR 6/10
    Total Holiday experience : 8/10

    Now I just have to transfer the kids points to me, me, me!


    Cheers,

    AC
     

  2. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

    Dec 6, 2004
    1,872
    7
    1F
    Great report, acampbel . :D

    JohnK - how about that! A nice feature, IMO. :mrgreen:
     
  3. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    40,857
    8,930
    BNE, SYD and CNX
    Well done acampbel, a great report.

    Yes Yada Yada a very nice feature indeed. :D IMO it would be nice if cattle class seats did not recline. Well, at least the ones in front of me anyway. :mrgreen:
     
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