The Wilson's head for the City of Sails: QF BNE/AKL/SYD/BNE

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by QF WP, Feb 2, 2005.

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  1. QF WP

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    Background:

    All is really told in my QF thread, but a precis is that I had a Conference to attend in Auckland between 16-18 January, so I convinced Mrs LW to attend with me. We have very close friends in AKL, so we would be able to spend additional time either side of the Conference with them.

    With the impending loss of upgrade credits (I had 8, with two expiring 30 Nov and 31 Jan 05 respectively) I thought we'd go in style (upgrade to J on our two hops over the Tasman), as my overseas trips will be curtailed now as we plan to start a family on our return. For those not familar with the QF system, it costs 2 UC's for the relatively short flights. I had booked two Q class fares @ AUD$516.78 p.p with the SYD/BNE a V class @ $126.70 p.p.

    Saturday, 15 January

    After our first two weeks back at work, I had been pushing hard to finish as much work as I could, so there were some late nights. We were able to have a sleep in this morning, given we had a midday departure and we live only 8.5kms (5 miles) from the airport.

    BNE International Check-in

    After being dropped at the Terminal by a taxi at 10.45am, we checked in at Row 4 at the First/Business counter (usually it's Row 6). Our CSA was Donna. We had originally been allocated 4AB, however knowing there would be a couple of other Conference delegates in Y (that would stop to talk to us on their trek down to the back of the plane), I wanted some peace and quiet on the upper deck with Mrs QF WP (it was a 2-class 744). So I asked Donna whether 16AB was available. I always love it when CSA's look strangely at me (the "how does he know that??" look), but she said nothing and changed the BP's. Alas, this wasn't a Skybed fitted plane, but rather the old Dreamtime seats...but J was better than Y (upgrades had only come through the day before). We were sequence 365 and 366 (indicating a very full flight).

    Luggage wasn't a problem as we both had 17kgs and only one bag each. (Quite surprising that Mrs LW only had 17 kgs considering how many different outfits she'd packed :eek: ). We said goodbye to Donna and we made our way downstairs into the Customs line and sure enough, came across another 4 delegates with spouses in the line behind us. Thankfully, most of the delegates leaving today had chosen the Air NZ flight that was delayed but still left (at 11.30am) before us .

    (Permit me the indulgence to be a little smug here... :rolleyes: ) I knew I wouldn't see any of them after Security, given that as I was a QF Platinum we had access to the First Lounge and I they were just excited to be flying overseas to a Conference (only one of them would have had any status - probably Gold). Call me a snob, but this morning I just wanted quiet time with my wife to enjoy the fruits of my labour (status) and didn't want to invite any of them into the lounge [although we could have got 2 people into the Qantas Pub (as we affectionately call it) as Mrs LW is an AA Plat member courtesy of an AA Plat Challene last year]. I'm sure that some people can understand my selfish thinking this morning...

    BNE International QF First Class Lounge

    After trying to find a decent novel for my wife to read on the way over, we continued upstairs to the Lounge, handing over our BP's and were invited to enter the First Lounge door (on the LHS of the normal Qantas Club). There were only 2 pax in it (one being a company senior exec that I was "forced" to chat to for a couple of minutes and help him change seats to 16K) before we settled down to raid the "pre lunch" food offerings. As usual, the fare consisted of marinated mushrooms, feta and black olives ( my favourites :D ), a Greek salad, fruit, cheese triangles and finger sandwiches. A fine bottle of Moet greeted me as I opened the fridge, so I soon emptied part of it's contents into two flutes and carried them back to our table (I got brownie points for that :-: ).

    Before too long, the boarding announcement was made so we exited the Lounge and walked across the open area towards Gate 82. It was already showing "Flight Closed" which always agitates Mrs LW; but I promised here that we wouldn't miss the flight and continuted our short walk to the Gate. When we arrived, it was a zoo - a line 100 metres long of Y pax (including about 15 delegates) queuing for the 2 BP readers; so I just calmly suggested to Mrs LW that we bypass the line and walk to the side (we had the privilege, why not use them - I hate :mad: standing in lines). so with a protesting Mrs LW in tow (she didn't think we could); I approached the left hand CS desk and handed over our BP's. The CSA was about to protest at my queue jumping antics, then saw the different colour BP and my printed Plat status....so she turned to the other CSA and fed through our BP's. She returned them with a "please board Mr & Mrs Wilson" and held the line as we entered the walkway. Don't you just love status :cool:

    Flight

    Airline, Flight Number, Ports: QF25 BNE/AKL
    Rego: VH-??? (B747-400)
    Seats: 16AB (J cabin, upstairs)
    SDT: 12.05pm
    Pushback: 12.20pm, Take-off: 12.30pm
    Mileage: 1,430 miles


    That allowed us to board and make our way to our upstairs J seats without pumping into anyone, relax and get a Charles Heidseick champagne before take-off. Serving us today would be Kylie and Rob (with Liz making a cameo appearance with the Champagne).

    Our former Regional Manager and his wife walked past us, so I said hi to them as he has always been very close to my father and they were a lovely couple (they were in 13AB). Announcement was made that on this leg the Capt was Mark Sullivan, CSS was Steven Wilson and CSM (making the announcement) was David O'Toole. He humoured me by saying "turn off all mobile phones, Blackberries, Blueberries and any other kind of berries".

    Take-off was uneventful and soon the Capt announced that the crusing Altitude would be 370FL with the flight path taking us over Lord Howe Island then direct to Auckland for an estimated 2 hr 30 min actual flying time. Fine weather was expected en-route, scattered cloud with light breeze and 21 degrees in AKL. Touch down was estimated to be between 6pm and 6.15pm with disembarkation shortly thereafter (perhaps a little later than the cheduled 6pm arrival).

    At 1.20pm, lunch was served:

    Entree
    Nicoise Salad

    Main Course
    Stir Fried Beef with Pepper Sauce, Steamed Rice an Asian Greens
    Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Tomato and Pancetta Sauce
    Salad of Smoked Chicken with Mint and Yougurt Dressing *

    Dessert
    Cheese Selection, Dried Fruit and Water Crackers
    Ice Cream with Almond Biscuits (biscotti)

    or

    Express Dining
    (To allow more time for relaxation or work, choose a quicker meal service)
    [which translated means you get it all together on the tray]
    Salad of Smoked Chicken with Mint and Yougurt Dressing *
    Seasonal Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
    Cheese Selection, Dried Fruit and Water Crackers

    * Healthier option

    Red Wine - St Hugo 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
    White Wine - Leeuwin Estate Prelude 2003 Chardonnay

    As we had some time, I quickly copied down what was showing on the IFE Channels on this leg, for those who might be interested:

    1 - Garden State
    2 - Wimbledon
    3 - Criminal
    4 - The Manchurian Candidate
    5 - Without a Paddle
    6 - Cellular
    7 - Shark Tale (this kept Mrs QF WP amused whilst I wrote the TR)
    8 - iQ
    9 - QTV
    10 - Nicolodean on Q
    11 - Q Commedy
    12 - Stadium
    13 - The Edge
    14 - Q Business
    15 - A Man's Gota Do
    16 - In My Father's Den
    17 - Wicker Park
    18 - Bad Santa

    Review of Meal: I chose the Cannelloni for the Main Course, as I had enjoyed it before while Mrs LW chose the Stir Fried Beef. Whilst the presentation was good, the quality of both was poor - mine was overcooked with the pastry dry, cracked and separated from the filling (now dried rather than lushisly moist as I had anticipated). A similar fate befell the Stir Fried Beef (plus the steamed rice had somehow become potato mash). The Ice Cream was Maggi Berry Burnt Fig Jam Honeycombe and Caramel - Mrs LW turned her nose up at the description so I scored two. We both enjoyed the St Hugo a number of times as Kylie was excellent in attending to our empty glasses...

    Our trays were collected by 2.10pm and we enjoyed a final Baileys on Ice before the captain at 2.45pm commenced descent over Manakau Harbour, landing into the south-west.

    Review of Seat: I enjoy 16K because of the legroom, however for viewing it isn't the best (as you get a hampered view out the window - looking slightly backwards) and less access to the side storage bins. I'd prefer 16K to talk to the FA's on take-off and descent but still my favourite seat is 15J when flying by myself.

    After easily making it first to the empty Aust/NZ queues, we cleared without any problem and went in search of our bags. They were already on the carousel (having been tagged at BNE, but not using the Yellow First tags as Plats are used to having). Followed the green lanes to Secutity and Bag x-ray; which was no trouble. We exited into the Terminal, walked out the doors and turned left to find a taxi to take us to our "private" night together that I had organised (more brownie points here too!!)

    Hotel - Hilton Auckland
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    After an uneventful trip into the City, the taxi found the waterside Hilton Auckland on Princes Wharf (147 Quay Street). This is where the humour started - I wanted to pay by CC (it was a $54NZD fare) but he didn't have any CC chits. So in the hotel we went to check-in with cabbie in tow, hovering over us waiting to get his fare. Samantha (Front Desk) checked us in and had me sign a Paid Out Receipt for the fare. Excellent, I even get HH points for it....

    I had booked a Deluxe Waterview Room on the Hilton Diamond Club "Welcome to Hilton $155 NZD/night" voucher. After originally giving us another Room (642), I noticed Samantha changed our Room to 702. At this stage I had no idea....

    We were escorted to the Room (a corner Room with king sized bed) and upon opening it, my wife ignored everything else and in a trance-like state, simply walked across the room and opened the sliding glass door out to the open balcony. Now in the Hilton link above, our room is on the far right hand end of the left hand side tower, the highest floor in whitewash (underneath the glassed-in floor above us) where the side wall starts. We had a balcony as big as our room, overlooking the edge of the wharf below and Mrs LW (being a Cancer) was immediately drawn to the water. Likewise, I was suitably impressed with the huge, triangular shaped balcony with breathtaking views and tipped the bell boy. He was greatful and disappeared while I hugged Mrs LW out on the railing, drinking in the tremendous view of the harbour watching a small tug bring in the "Southern Cross" (registered in Bremen) carefully towards it's berth beyond our wharf...this again was a very grateful way to reward my Hilton stays in 2004. We decided that not spending time out here later on tonight would be sacriligeous and not getting full value from our cheap stay.

    We explored the rest of the hotel. The Reception level is delightfully airy, with funky furniture and very bright (with floor to ceiling glass). A bar is tucked in the corner opposite the reception. We however wanted to explore this part of the city as we hadn't stayed here before, so we wandered back to the blocks surrounding the Wharf. We were disappointed in not finding anything, as we didn't feel like eating-in at any of the wharf-side bars and eateries (we wanted to have a quick meal to go back and enjoy the view of a setting sun), so we ended up across the road at a 24 hour coffee shop (which was surprisingly good, with international papers and magazines and the biggest cups I'd ever seen). The meal was disappointing however, but we headed back back to the balcony to enjoy a quiet drink on the deck chairs whilst watching the horizon darken and finally close on this beautiful water scene. We both agreed this had been a relaxing end to a wonderful day - what happened next I'll leave to your imagination, but if you can't guess then you need to get out more :wink: ...
     
  2. QF WP

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    Sunday, 16 August

    We checked out of the Hotel at 10.30am, as our friends were coming to pick us up. We had a wake-up cuppa in the morning with some fruit+museli bars that we had bought the night before (as there is no Executive Floor at this hotel, we didn't want to pay an exhorbitant amount for breakfast when we had a picnic lunch planned).

    Very uneventful check-put with Chris (Front Desk). Our friend Sarah was waiting out the front in her car; while her husband Antony + their two boys Brandon (5) and Hamish (9mths) were already driving to the beach (not sure of it's name, something like Watson's Bay maybe).

    Had a lovely time with them on the beach and trying to get Brandon to swim in "the big pool". Sat relaxing in perfect Auckland weather under a tree, catching up with them (it had been August since we had last seen them). We finished up having drinks around the corner at a coffee shop.

    All too soon, it was time to head back to our Conference Hotel for the next 4 nights - Skycity (Cnr Victoria & Federal Streets); in order to get ready for our first event, a dinner tonight at the Heritage Hotel.
     
  3. QF WP

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    The Conference started for me in earnest on Monday (being one of the top 50 practices in Australia, I got an extra day meeting with the senior execs about how they were looking to run the business in 2005), whilst Mrs LW went shopping (disappointly coming home without any purchases - amazing :confused: :eek: ).

    Tuesday PM (the end of first day for the main Conference), we had been invited to dine with some of the senior execs at Mudbrick Restaurant on Waiheke Island.

    After a relaxing bus trip down from SkyCity to Princes Wharf (back at the Hilton again almost), we boarded the Fullers Ferry, for the ride over (inbibing a couple of Speights Gold on the journey - a beer I'd found & loved when in Queenstown in September 2004). The view from the Restaurant back to Auckland was lovely and the menu served was:

    To Begin
    Today's freshly basked bread from the Vineyard kitchen with our house marinate olives

    Entree
    Tasting Platters: Parmesan mille-feuille with mushroom puree, Chilled Waiheke Oysters with sauce mignonette and lemon, Zuccini enveloped with prosciutto stuffed with ricotta and dates.

    Main
    Brandy & Plum glazed Ham Roasts with Pineapple crisps
    Lemon & Rosemary marinated Chicken Breast with roasted portabello mushrooms

    Accompanied by:
    Roasted Potatoes with aioli
    Roasted Vegetable Medley witha roasted tomato pesto
    Mixed Leaves, tomato, cucumber, bean sprouts with cider vinaigrette.

    Dessert
    Tasting Platter consisting of:
    Brulee of the Day accompanied by our house made Lavender Shortbread
    Caramel and Chocolate Chiffon Cup topped with Seasonal Berries

    We ran out of time (eating dessert very quickly) as we had to head back on the buses to make the 11pm sailing we had booked. Best comment of the night was a delegate (who was sitting at our table) getting on our bus, asking "Does anybody recognise me as their husband - I seem to be missing a wife". Given his level of intoxication, I totally understood why his wife was disowning him and probably hiding on the other bus.
     
  4. QF WP

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    Wednesday - Finish Conference + meet a NZ FlyerTalk'er

    We had organised to meet up with Flyertalk's Kiwi Flyer after the Conference ended (we were saved from having to attend the Gala Ball) and he recommended Galbraiths Microbrewery. So we hopped a taxi for the 10 minute ride up to Mt Eden Road. I had already met Kiwi Flyer at ozfest 2004, so he was easy to spot in the main room.

    We had an excellent meal and I had another Speights to wash down mine. We chatted about what else - flying (particularly his inaugural SQ SIN/EWR flight). Found out that we were even in the same industry - although he's in IT and I'm in Sales (and with different companies, on the opposite side of the Tasman). Seems that he has now become a Moderator recently as well...

    When we decided it was time to head back, rather than catch a taxi we thought it would be nice to walk back. 15 minutes walking downhill certainly cleared the head and aided in the digestion of my meal. We made it back to SkyCity and said goodbye to Kiwi Flyer.

    We had to pack first, as check-out was tomorrow and we were being picked up again by Sarah around 11am, as we were spending the night with them. Time for a sleep now though :eek:
     
  5. QF WP

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    Thursday

    Dawned very late for us (8am) as we had no alarms to wake up to - a leisurely cuppa and biscuits before hopping into a shower, dressing and closing our suitcases on yet another Conference. I was thinking about the poor people who had attended the Ball the previous night and wouldn't have slept - some had to catch the early QF26 back home (I think it was leaving at 8.30am) as they were crazy enough to be going back to work today or tomorrow.

    No such problem for us, having the next two days off. We went and checked out - the total bill coming to a mere NZD$36 (thanks to the accom having already been prepaid). Timing her run well, Sarah turned up just as we sat on our bags and pulled out our books. Time for some shopping - well, the girls were determined to buy me some footware, so off to Botany Town Centre for a couple of hours. Needless to say, they sniffed out a bargain and spent some of our hard-earned. I went along for the ride and helped look after Hamish and Brandon. Back to their home we went, for a relax and chat until Antony arrived home.

    Sampling some fine NZ red wine over dinner was a must (an Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Reserve 1996), so this sent us into slumber-land long before we wanted to go...I think we were only an hour behind the kids. It must have been all the excitement of the shopping :eek: ...
     
  6. QF WP

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    Friday, 21 January

    It's amazing that our last day in AKL is already upon us. I got up early to say goodbye to Antony as he was off to work. We had a bit of a chat whilst he ate breakfast and I looked after Hamish, who had been up for a while. Brandon slept on, tired from his exciting day out with "Uncle & Aunty" LW. Antony didn't have the heart to wake him just to say goodbye...

    Mrs LW decided to go shopping again (it was easy walking distance to Botany Town Centre) and I became "Dad for a Morning" and took Brandon to his swimming lesson. Whilst he swam, I held Hamish and Sarah and I caught up on news. Brandon had fun jumping off floating mats, swimming to the instructor and generally playing with the other kids in his group. He got a lollypop for his excellent work at the end (well, they all did!).

    Time to go home then and make lunch before finalising our packing (another bag-less trip to the shops from Mrs LW :( ). With a 3.50pm departure, we decided to leave at 1.45pm; knowing that a Friday PM flight would be busy. Never a truer word has been typed.

    Auckland International Airport - Check In

    Arriving at the airport at 2.20pm, we hugged Sarah, Brandon & Hamish and set out sights on the separate QF QC/J/F check-in lounge. As we approached, the queue was out the door. I decided that standing in line just wasn't my station in life, so I left Mrs LW in the line with our bags and ventured forth to survey the scene. Wow, these people were either all a bunch of sheep or all QC members, because the entire line snaked towards the QC check-in line on the RHS. There is almost nothing I hate more than people who are either too lazy, stupid or incompetent - unable to line up directly behind the person in front, so as to create a straight line. They were holding up the rest of us... :mad:

    So back to the back of the line to convince a very unwilling Mrs QF WP that we could simply walk past everybody because we could check in at the empty J or F line. I turned around to see another QF Plat member behind me and explained the situation to him. He agreed with my assessment, so with Mrs LW (still protesting) in tow, I opened up spaces by excusing myself and hopping over bags strewn haphazardly over the floor. The three of us strode up to the empty F line. I must have created a stir (or perhaps an independent thought amongst some of the people in front of us originally in the line), because most looked at us and wondered where we were going with confused looks on their faces.

    One, in desparate need of a haircut and a real job, had the temerity to announce in a contemptuous tone "Don't you know that's only for First Class passengers!" after which he looked around at his mates for an ego stroke or high five. I simply turned around, held up my Platinum Card, smiled sweetly and replied "Yes I do actually..." and walked up to the CSA who greeted me warmly, trying to stifle a laugh and appear serious.

    We received our BP's for both legs (AKL/SYD and SYD/BNE) and I made sure that the joker didn't miss the fact that we were in Business Class as I turned on my heel and walked past him to the Immigration Pre-Clearance Desk. I noticed a flicker of chagrin, very deserved too...

    We had paid our Departure Tax at the Check-in Desk, so processing was prompt and we were soon back out into the main Terminal. Turning left, we walked past the Y queues and then up the escalators (on the RHS) which took us to the Departures Level.

    Upon entering the Immigration area, I walked to the "Express Lane" on the left and bypassed around 100 people in the normal queue while we went straight to the front of our line. Handing over out BP's, Departure Tax Stamps and Passports, the officer briefly looked at our mug shots before tapping away at his computer and handing them all back.

    Straight into the Security x-ray we come. Everything was already in my F bag, so I just hoisted that onto the x-ray scanner and walked through the detector. As usual (almost disappointingly), no beeps and we were through. It always brings a chuckle when the multitude of first-timers beep and wonder why...

    QF First Class Lounge - Auckland

    Whilst Mrs LW had some last minute perfume orders to fill for some of our staff, I agreed to meet her at the Gate. I made my way up the escalators to the QF First Class Lounge (spying the Emirates Lounge at the bottom of the Escalators for the first time when I turned around). The F lounge was full (I noted QF134 AKL/MEL was also departing) and there was barely enough time to grab some cheese, a Mac's Gold and sit down to leisurely partake of them, before the boarding call was made in the Lounge. Emptying the bottle, I joined some of my fellow pax on the walk to Gate 9 (almost at the end on the RHS).

    Entering the Gate area via another Security check, I noticed Mrs LW standing up neer the CS desk, so I joined her. Soon, general boarding opened with the heavenly announcement "boarding Business Class, Platinum and Emerald OW pax". We were there in a flash, primed and ready to insert our BP's in the reader.

    Flight Details

    Airline, Flight Number, Ports: QF120 AKL/SYD
    Rego: VH-OGE "City of Orange" (B767-338)
    Seats: 3EF (J cabin, middle row)
    SDT: 3.50pm
    Pushback: 3.58pm, Take-off: 4.12pm on 05R
    Mileage: 1,346 miles


    Captain - Rolie David, F/O - Ross Taylor
    CSM - Rick Bateman, CSS - Gary ??
    FA in J - Loi

    Spotting was difficult from the middle seats, however I noticed we were sitting next to Air NZ's ZK-NCK (a 763) and ZK-OJE (A320), plus Eva Air N602EV (763) was on the tarmac. The Captain announced that flying conditions would be bumpy (with a curtailed service initially) however clearing in sufficient time to hopefully allow a full service.

    After a long taxi and smooth take-off, the crew served us Dinner at 4.30pm. Disappointingly, neither the FA serving us (Loi) or the CSM addressed us by name (unlike the outbound service from BNE).

    Entree
    Antipasto

    Main Course
    Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice
    Lamb Loin with Roast Vegetables and Thyme Jus
    Salad of Smoked Salmon with Green Mango and Citrus Dressing *
    Seasonal Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

    Dessert
    Cheese Selection, Dried Fruit and Water Crackers
    Ice Cream with Almond Biscuits (biscotti)

    or

    Express Dining
    (To allow more time for relaxation or work, choose a quicker meal service)
    [which translated still means you get it all together on the tray]
    Salad of Smoked Salmon with Green Mango and Citrus Dressing *
    Seasonal Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
    Cheese Selection, Dried Fruit and Water Crackers

    * Healthier option

    Champagne - Charles Heidsieck Mis En Cave 2000
    Red Wine - Leeuwin Estate 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot
    White Wine - Matua Shingle Peak SAuvignon Blanc 2004, Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling 2004

    Review of Meal: The meals on this sector were much better prepared ad were succulent. I had two Antipasto's to start and the Butter Chicken while Mrs QF WP chose the Smoked Salmon. Ice Cream x 2 (again, selflessly transferred to my tray by Mrs LW) was Nice Cream Nougat. As Tea was served with Paton's White Chocolate Macadamia Royale, one good turn deserves an equal and opposite response...that suited Mrs LW just fine. Tray cleared 45 minuted after being served, not bad for a full J cabin.

    After another 15 minutes, the turbulence hit and remained with us for 20 minutes - nothing too worrisome but making us feel we were on a slow cycle in a washing machine. This didn't dampen our enthusiasm for reading - I dived back into Billy Connelly's book whilst Vicky started the epic Shantaram (having just had Gregory David Roberts as a Plenary Speaker at our Conference).

    10 minutes before scheduled arrival, Capt advised that SYD ATC had us coming in on a southerly approach, so past the Northern Beaches we glided, arcing left until with the Sydney CBD on our left untl we straightened on final approach to 16R34L. Arriving on-time (5.10pm) we taxied past Thai's "APEC" emblazoned HS-TGH, a Lauda jet (failed to get any more than OE-???) and QF's ZK JNG.

    Thankfully, we were one of the first to leave the plane and as we had no Duty Free to purchase, straight down to the Customs queue. Unfortunately, I hadn't organised the new facial recognition passport system and now look like I won't have a chance before it halts trial on 28 February (available for QF Platinum and First Class pax with Australian passports).

    I have got used to memorising my next flight details, as the last two International trips where I transferred in SYD, Customs asked me my ongoing flight number to BNE (trying to find out whether I was actully leaving??). Sure enough, out comes the question and my grilling was mercifully cut short.

    After collecting our bags that were already circling Carousel 3, we exited via the Green Channel and another bag x-ray. Then out into the Arrivals Hall and the walk around to the right for transfer by bus to the Domestic Terminal. Prior to leving on this trip, I had been forwarned to pick up some Krispy Kreme donuts - as I had a SYD Entertainment Card with a 2 for 1 (dozen) voucher that I had secreted in my wallet. There it was, on my left about 50 metres ahead :D. $14.30 later, I was loaded up with a mixed dozen and a plain dozen to cart back with me on our domestic flight...
     
  7. Russell Corr

    Russell Corr Junior Member

    Apr 21, 2004
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    Gold Coast
    Nice description Lindsay. Its good to see you put the time and effort in to your travels so we can share the experience.

    I am off to Auckland in July for the rugby and have business return flights booked (FF points). I am only a Silver Member but wondered what benefits I can enjoy on this trip.

    ie which lounges can I use? Can I "queue jump" if necessary at check in and immigration?
     
  8. QF WP

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    Russell, some people enjoy it because they learn from my experiences (and where things are, what's availble, etc); whilst others like the descriptions and feel they are right next to me on the opposite aisle seat. I enjoy gathering the information (keeps me out of mischief ;)).

    Benefits of Silver membership - but I can't believe that you hadn't already searched them out.
     
  9. QF WP

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    Making our way to the transfer desk, I was surprised to see (although it's ben a while since I transferred in SYD), that the new desk set-up has been "finished", but after chatting with the CSA found out that there is much yet to be done. He checked our BP's and we said goodbye to our bags again. I did ask whether we could be put on an earlier flight, but he gave us the "you're on a discounted ticket" spiel, so I didn't bother pushing the point.

    The new bus waiting zone is certainly better and will hold more people than the previous. There was a bus-full by the time we left and I enjoy the ride around the tarmac getting to see the different planes - even a USAF plane around by the International side. I often wonder what international pax think about our "bus" transfer system as you get to hear them talking - most would expect to walk or catch trains between the two. Of course, train travel is available at $4 between Intl and Dom terminals; but having to lug one's bags any further than is necessary is the stumbling block for me.

    We made our way out of the bus after the tour around the maintenance hangers on the Domestic side. Up the escalator and into the Terminal opposite Gates 1 & 1A. There was only one place for us to rest and wait for our 8.05pm departure - the Qantas Pub.

    Being a Friday PM, I knew the Pub would be crowded - indeed it was, we found the first empty seats up in the mobile-free zone, thankfully against the window so I could do some plane spotting. As expected, a pretty full compliment today:

    Gate 1 - VH TJM "Kestrel", replaced later by VH EBD
    Gate 3 - VH OGC "Bendigo"
    Gate 4 - VH ZXC
    Gate 5 - VH TJZ "Port Pirie"
    Gate 6 - VH ZXF
    Gate 7 - VH VKM
    GAte 8 - VH VXE
    Gate 9 - VH TJH
    Gate 11 - VH EBA

    We did the usual drink runs (well, an OJ for Mrs LW and a Hahn Premium for me) as well as food (although we knew that we'd get something on board the next flight). Pretty normal food for the SYD QP...

    The time passed quickly and quietly, as we both had our noses in our respective books. This was probably a mistake for me, as I should have checked our seating, but I presumed (bad mistake).

    Flight Details

    Airline, Flight Number, Ports: QF552 SYD/BNE
    Rego: VH-VXC (B737-800) [Thanks to Alan in CBR]
    Seats: 7EF (Y cabin)
    SDT: 8.05pm
    Pushback: 8.12pm, Take-off: 8.21pm
    Mileage: 459 miles


    After expecting a 738 on this sector (it was what was loaded on Check My Trip that morning when I checked in Auckland), I'm pretty sure we ended up in the worst row on this flight - no window in our row. At first, I was incredulous that I could be so stupid not to check our seating as would usually do, but then I just sat back and pushed my nose back in my book. I was so over travelling as the camel's back broke :( .

    The snack tray came - we shared our cheese twists (bypassed the salt dusted almonds) and a V8 juice. I gave up even writing the TR, I was that depressed. We were even missing out on the sky show outside, as we passed over Coolangatta (OOL). Just prior to beginning our approach, there was a period of minor turbulence whilst we skirted the storm front.

    At least we landed close to "on time" at 8.35pm. We pulled into Gate 24 and disembarked, then quickly made our way down to pick up our luggage (that thankfully the baggage handlers did put out in the correct order).

    Our final act was to grab a taxi and make our way home...glad to be home and sad that our tripping has probably come to a halt for a while.
     
  10. Alan in CBR

    Alan in CBR Member

    Apr 2, 2004
    308
    0
    Canberra ACT
    Great trip report, Lindsay.

    One thing though:

    VXC is definitely a 738, not a 733. The -800s started at VXA and worked their way up from there. VXB is the colourful one.

    Cheers,
    Alan.
     
  11. ioki

    ioki Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    156
    0
    SIN
    your hilton stay experience was most interesting as i've known a few ppl who have stayed there and the one big disadvantage i've heard about their stay is when a cruise ship docks...

    the ship turns up at 5am and the heavy machinery starts the off-loading/loading process.. plus when one opens their curtain you might have quite an audience seeing you in your "just woke up" glory.. most ship does leave in the evening.

    i am staying at hilton's service apartment in 2.5 week's time and am very much looking forward to it.

    have checked out my reservation already and the apartment face the bridg.

    did you happen to see "The Arctic" parked on one side of the dock?
    apparently that's Kerry Packer's newest toy.
     
  12. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    ioki, over on FlyerTalk's Hilton Forum, other people who had stayed there have regaled me with their misfortune about having a beautiful view before they went to bed, only to be awoken to the noise and view you described. I suppose one needs to check when cruise ship departures are, to make sure that one doesn't give the lower deck passengers an eyeful of a birthday suit as one throws open the curtains :shock:

    Are the apartments on the right hand side of the Hilton picture I imbedded above (as we were overlooking them from our Room and they looked spacious)?? If so, then depending on which room you get, you may be lucky. Prince's Wharf, I understand, carries both charter ferries (Waiheke Island, etc) berths plus ones for ships.

    We walked up and back using both sides of the Wharf, but no "The Arctic" was moored (Not that I would have known as that stage it was his boat, unless I'd seen somebody familiar on board). I doubt we'd have been able to get anywher near it, even if it was there.

    You won't be disappointed with the location, if you are looking for a different view than concrete and cars. Spending an hour at duck in the bar or outside on the wharf, can be just the tonic for relaxing...
     
  13. observer

    observer Newbie

    May 10, 2005
    5
    0
    lindsay wilsons trip to auckland

    Just flipping thru the recent discussion topics and came across lindsay wilsons trip to auckland.
    This is the saddest thing I have read in my life.
    To think that someone has so little in their lives that a crappy seat allocation would ruin their day.I suggest the lookon the face of the person who checked you in was one of pity.
    I hope your life gets a little more exciting with the arrival of your family, when you might realise that flying is a minor and pretty insignificant part of most peoples lives.
    Please note this is not a personal criticism, I just am dumbfounded that someone can get such apparent satisfaction from something as irrelevant as a push back time or the brand of ice cream an airline uses.I thought this web site was to give tips about utilising FF points, etc.
     
  14. Ric

    Ric Active Member

    Nov 29, 2004
    721
    140
    SYD, MNL, HKG, BKI,
    Observer, to each his own I suppose. :D

    I thoroughly enjoyed LW's narrative of his sojourn to AKL and had learned a lot from it. Where to sit at the QP, which are the best seats (according to LW) on the upper deck, what is the quality and features of the AKL Hilton ( I stay at the Sheraton/Hyatt there) etc. I am now contemplating to try the Hilton on my next hop over there.

    As the name of this website suggest, these are good tips for us frequent flyers. :lol:

    Ric
     
  15. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    I agree with Ric. I gain a lot from this forum not just on ff points, but on travelling. The info I got from people like Lindsay, NM, Straitman, and m,any others helped me immensely in my North American trip. Any info regarding travel is most welcome. I enjoy Lindsay's passionate writings even though I am not as passionate as him regarding travel.

    Lindsay, keepém coming.

    Observer, please do not think that I am rude, but you can always skip the posts that you are not interested in. Please feel free to share in your experiences, so that we can learn from them
     
  16. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
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    Welcome to AFF Observer.

    Totally Agree!
     
  17. Alan in CBR

    Alan in CBR Member

    Apr 2, 2004
    308
    0
    Canberra ACT
    Re: lindsay wilsons trip to auckland

    Having met Mr Wilson, I can state categorically that he has plenty in his life. Way more than I do in fact, and I think I lead a full life.

    As you said, most people's lives. For some, flying is a hobby and so not an "insignificant part". Why is it worse than someone who plays golf all day every Saturday? Or worse, goes to the pub for hours every night? Or gambles his money away at the TAB?

    Jeez, I hope I'm not around when you do start getting personal!
    Everyone needs a hobby, and Lindsay is lucky that he can combine his with his job.

    It does that, and a whole lot more. Care to contribute something constructive, Mr Two-posts?
     
  18. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    Well, observer's post was a most instructive one.

    Quite how you came up with this comment is a mystery to me, as my comment in the TR was:

    I didn't mention anything about the CSA who checked me in and I have no idea when the original plane went unserviceable. The initial seat allocation for the original config was OK, but that's the problem with changing aircraft types - the same seat on two configs can be quite different. My fault for not re-checking...

    True, for most peope flying is probably a minor and insignificant part of their life. Alas, not for me, as I've been flying since 1987 and it is a very regular part of my life due to my work commitments. For some who don't get the pleasure of flying as regularly as me, I am offering them the chance to view it through my "eyes" by bringing them along on my trips through my reports. I expend a lot of time collating the information and I thoroughly enjoy doing it, because it also allows me to relive the experience long into the future. Some people who may be about to do similar flights/trips have gleaned information that has helped them...that's the true meaning of a community.

    That is but only one of the many reasons people log into this web site...perhaps you have a very narrow focus about what FF programs are all about??

    As for the rest of your comments, they don't deign a reply as I won't be stooping down to your level and getting personal . Well, as others have said "each to their own". My TR's are meant to be both informative and a story...I don't try to please everybody, I don't think I'll ever be trying with you....

    I guess the next one I write (about my skiing holiday to ZQN) might not be your cup of tea, so feel free not to read it. Totally up to you observer.

    Thanks to those who read it and learnt something (some have commented above)...that's my ultimate goal. Giving information freely so all can observe and take from it what they can. As Alan in CBR said (in different words), I look forward with anticipation to the information you share with this community...but if your post above is indicative, I may be waiting a while :roll:
     
  19. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    Re: lindsay wilsons trip to auckland

    Oops, nothing else left.

    Dave
     
  20. observer

    observer Newbie

    May 10, 2005
    5
    0
    I think the web site is excellent, certainly the contributions of NM and the like, who actually have something practical and succinct to say.
     
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