This is my first trip report, and it's mostly photos - but please let me know what you think! :D
My wife and I went on honeymoon from the UK to Australia earlier this year. I love travelling, and Mrsso3003 shares most of my enthusiasm, though perhaps with this itinerary I was pushing things a little.... :D
We obviously did lots of sightseeing etc while we were away, but the purpose of this trip report is to share our experiences of the travelling and flying parts of the trip. So I won't bore you with candlelit dinners etc. Though I may add in the odd references to some of the great hotel we stayed in!
So here it is: our trip down under.
EDI - FRA LH C
FRA - SIN LH C A380
SIN - SYD SQ C A380
SYD - MEL QF Y
MEL - ADL QF Y
ADL - KGC ZL Y (Regional Express)
KGC - ADL ZL Y
ADL - SYD QF Y
SYD - SIN SQ C A380
SIN - FRA LH C A380
FRA - EDI LH C
Part 1: EDI - FRA
We kick off our long journey at Edinburgh Airport, at the BMI check-in. As *G and C passengers we used the premium check-in, which was reasonably efficient.
I'm a BD*G, or at least I was at the time of our trip. Unfortunately BA have since purchased BMI meaning we're being "upgraded" to BAEC, and are no longer Star Alliance Gold cardholders. Anyway this was to be my first visit to the BMI lounge in EDI (I was previously a regular in the GLA lounge, but haven't travelled as much since BMI abandoned the GLA-LHR route last year)......
Once I was suitably full of sugar and caffeine (saving space for some alcohol later in the day), it was time for an urgent phone call. As Singapore C passengers it's possible to "book the cook" and pre-select your in-flight meals. We'd done this a few months before travelling, but what I'd only recently found out was that it's also possible to make other special requests on your booking. So I called their UK call centre, told them it was our honeymoon, and within a few minutes we had a special SQ treat booked - more about this later ;)
I like the new BA Embraer aircraft; I've not flown on the BA version yet but I have flown on an AC Embraer and thought it was a very comfortable ride for an hour or so. Maybe as a BAEC member I'll try it out!
Our LH A319-100 had the (relatively) new LH EuroBusiness product, which is quite good for a short haul flight. The seats are comfortable despite their slimline appearance, and while the layout is 3-3, the centre seat is not booked meaning it's effectively 2-2 albeit without extra physical seat space.
During our short 90 minute flight there were only two other passengers in C, meaning the lunch service was quick and enjoyable.
After our shower it was time to visit the bar. They make cocktails or (non-alcoholic) "mock-tails", and since it was a special occasion the barmaid managed to conjure up a delicious champagne cocktail for us to enjoy.
All too soon it was time to leave the Senator Lounge, and head towards our gate. With any A380 flight there are lots of passengers to contend with, and LH have a very neat way of handling this: they turn the C gate into a C lounge! (F passengers have access to the LH First Class Terminal (which is truly superb; we visited it on a previous redemption booking which I'll hopefully report another time) and are driven directly to the aircraft; Y passengers presumably have somewhere else to assemble before the flight)
Boarding the A380 was a really unique experience - they have automatic boarding gates whereby you scan your boarding pass and the gates open. Highly efficient, though it was really amazing how many people couldn't seem to figure out what to do!
On board the A380 the business product is actually very good. The seat is angled-flat, in a 2-2-2 layout. The cabin feels very spacious and there is a lot of storage space, particularly due to the 2 storage bins running under the windows on either side of the cabin. A lot has been written about the merits of lie-flat vs angled-flat seats, and I think it really comes down to personal preference. But certainly we both found the LH C seats comfortable and easy to sleep in, and I'm 6'2" with shoes off!
The A380 has a few cameras mounted around it, meaning you can watch the aircraft taxiing into the stand
A quick snap of our aircraft, and some SQ aircraft, and it was time to go to our first hotel of the trip!
... to be continued...
Jul 19, 12, 3:46 pm
Brilliant stuff :) Photos are great. Looking forward to more :)
Jul 19, 12, 5:46 pm
Great report! Waiting for the next parts!
Jul 20, 12, 6:14 am
SIN Changi Airport
After a great few days in Singapore, it was time for the next stage of our journey: SIN to SYD aboard the SQ A380, in business class. This was really very exciting - I avidly followed the launch of the A380 with the new SQ product, and I was very much looking forward to experiencing the "widest business seat in the sky"... not to mention our extra SQ treat (see above) ;)
Singapore Changi International Airport is widely regarded as one of the world's best airports, and it's not difficult to see why. Everything has been built on a huge scale, and there are large displays dotted around the airport. Even the arrivals areas are well laid out and thoroughly decorated with plants and water features.
We checked in at the SQ desk, which was quiet. I did expect lots more passengers to be around actually, given the number of premium passengers they presumably fly every day in their A380s and (at that time) 747s.
A quick photo opportunity of a "crazy birds" display
Then we spotted what we were looking for (no, not the smoking area!)
The first lounge you encounter is the Krisflyer Gold Lounge, which I understand is for Star Gold customers flying in SQ Economy.
I had mixed feelings about the SQ premium lounge in Singapore. Certainly it was more comfortable than sitting in the main part of the airport, but it felt crowded and less luxurious than others I've visited around the world. In saying that this lounge is designed to cater for a massive number of premium travellers, and as a large area I guess it's alright. I certainly coped with my time in it!
Now it was time to head for the gate area, to board our A380. They don't have "boarding lounges" like in FRA, but that wasn't a huge problem.
The seats really are enormous! The layout is 1-2-1, that's four seats across the whole width of an A380. Mrsso3003 and I (who are both "normal" sized people) could very comfortably sit on the same seat and have a good few inches space on either side of us. These seat photos were actually taken on landing in SYD, but I'll include them here for continuity:
We were really impressed with the space available to us in this cabin. On our previous flight with LH, there was 6 seats across the width of the aircraft, and that had felt quite spacious, in as much as there was a lot of space around us in the cabin. This time there was a huge amount of private space once seated, though the cabin itself is a little cluttered (though in the loosest sense of the word) with the large seats.
Soon we were pushing back and heading for the runway.
Just like in FRA it was very dark, so takeoff views were limited. And just like the LH A380, we were struck by the lack of noise as the engines powered up for takeoff. Obviously there's some engine noise, but it's as though the insulation has been tripled compared with other equivalent Airbus or Boeing jets.
In flight, SIN-SYD
Many long haul flights depart SIN in the middle of the night, presumably because of the time zones in the various destinations they serve. Our flight was no different, leaving at some point between midnight at 1am.
There's no amenity kit with SQ C, but we were given flight socks to wear.
Some mineral water to quench any thirst before the meal service.
I had a wander around the aircraft, which is really impressive in its dimensions. I especially like the idea of a staircase in the nose as well as in the tail!
The toilet in the nose of the aircraft is truly enormous - you could call this a small utility room in a house! The bathroom included a supply of some other useful items like a razor, toothbrush etc. I still prefer a souvenir amenity kit bag like with most other airlines!
As a night flight, the meal service began relatively promptly so we could get a good stretch of sleep as we headed for Sydney, Australia.
Some champagne to begin. As you can see, even the movie paused for me to sample it :D
Table set and waiting
Surprisingly there was no starter. Even though it's the middle of the night, I did expect a little more than some nuts to begin my culinary experience on SQ!
Steak, as pre-ordered with book-the-cook.
Mrsso3003 had lobster thermidor
And even more surprising than there being no starter - there was no dessert! They did provide some coffee however.
But here came our "dessert" - a special treat from SQ was a honeymoon cake! :D (there was no dessert option on the menu, nor did we see one being served to other passengers - so it was just as well we had a honeymoon cake!)
Jul 20, 12, 9:11 am
After dinner it was time to convert our seat into a bed. This was fairly easily done by pulling the back part of the seat forwards. I have to say it was slightly irritating that the seat could either be a seat (that reclined to "armchair mode") or a bed, but not the subtleties inbetween that you can enjoy on, say, LX or UA on their lie flat seats.
I was far too excited about my forthcoming arrival in Australia, so I had very little sleep! I was treated to a spectacular lightning storm visible in the far distance as we passed over North Western Australia, though I didn't manage to capture any of it as a still image. I do however have a great video of it.
Soon the sun was coming up
Then it was time for breakfast. Just like dinner, this was perfectly adequate, but not what one might describe as a great culinary experience. I think this probably ranked as the most disappointing in-flight breakfast we've had actually, and we've sampled many airlines in C and F (LX, LH, UA, AC, BD, US, JJ....)
As we descended into SYD the weather was a little miserable, but that didn't dampen the excitement!
Grey-looking Circular Quay, with the Harbour Bridge and (with the eye of faith) the Opera House just visible through the clouds...
And just like that we were on the ground in Sydney, Australia.
...to be continued...
Jul 20, 12, 11:39 am
SYD - MEL
Up next was our first economy leg of the trip - flying Sydney to Melbourne in Qantas economy.
The first shock of the day came very quickly - we had to check ourselves in, attach our luggage labels and put them on the conveyer belts ourselves! (first world problems, eh?)
Once through security (which was very efficient), there were opportunities for lots of plane spotting! :D :D :D
And now back to business - it's time for our flight to MEL in Qantas economy. I was quite surprised to see a huge aircraft scheduled for this short haul flight - an A330 - especially considering how frequent services are between the two cities. In saying that, the flight was fairly full.
And if it's Y, at least there's a good wing view :D
Not quite the same as SQ C....
As we taxi out to the runway we join the queue of aircraft waiting to depart:
And then we were off to MEL!
Jul 20, 12, 6:17 pm
It's only around 1 hour from SYD to MEL, but despite this QF offer a great touchscreen seatback in-flight entertainment system, and a small snack and drink. We were very impressed with the in-flight service on this short run - there's obviously quite a bit of competition to keep up with!
Again there were great overwing views to be had for the short hop to ADL
And a great surprise was the sighting of Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong Trader cargo aircraft, heading for HKG just before we took off:
Work commitments mean that our travel time is always very limited. We had quite limited time in Australia, but we are quite accustomed to moving about quite a bit, and making a compromise between relaxation and seeing places. The ADL flight was really a positioning trip to enable us to visit Kangaroo Island. Our flight got into ADL in the early evening; then we headed for KI the next morning; spent one night there and returned to ADL; and would be heading back to SYD the next day. The plan was to leave some luggage at ADL, as we didn't need a full holiday worth of baggage to go to KI!
We checked in early, and got a laugh from the desk agent when I asked for a window seat - he pointed out with a 1-2 layout and two of us travelling, it was fairly likely that at least one of us would be able to see out of a window!
Some other aircraft parked at ADL
We wandered around the airport and had some breakfast. The main departure area at ADL is quite pleasant to spend time in, compared to various other airports I've visited. It's open and clean, and there isn't the wild rush that can be experienced in larger airports.
REX aircraft taking on fuel
We headed for the REX gate.
We didn't have access to the REX lounge, which is a paid membership - so I settled for a photo of the door :D Pro Hart incidentally is a well known Australian artist who has a huge gallery in Broken Hill, a destination served by REX (which is presumably why they affiliate him with their lounges). I visited the gallery on a previous trip and loved the Rolls Royce painted with replicas of many of his works of art!
Then it was time to board. They took us to a small ante-room first, then we walked along a passageway going from the terminal building out onto the apron, giving access to the small area where REX parks its aircraft.
Despite this being a 15 minute flight - literally 15 minutes - they still managed to give each passenger a drink of water and boiled sweet, then collected any rubbish, then checked seatbelts etc before landing. The cabin crew do a really good job on these short flights.
It's an absolutely stunning island, with very little commercial development, and an abundance of wildlife. I couldn't possibly do justice to KI with anything I write here, other than to say that I'd highly recommend visiting it before anything changes!
When we disembarked, they had some interesting apparatus waiting on the ground. There was a passenger on the aircraft who was using a wheelchair, and obviously the wheelchair is not especially compatible with the aircraft's inbuilt steps for boarding and disembarking. REX have a great solution to this in the form of a mobile lift, the likes of which I'd never seen before.
We had a fabulous time on KI - it really is worth seeing - but before we knew it we were back at the airport. (Our trip did actually involve more than just airport and flying stuff - but as I mentioned at the start, this TR is strictly about the flying! :D )
Kingscote Airport is a very small setup, though it is relatively busy for its size. They have three daily flights by REX to Adelaide, plus operations by Air South Regional (though I didn't see any of its aircraft there), plus private charters.
Ironically enough I was so engrossed in taking photos around the airport, that I missed the photo opportunity of our own aircraft arriving from ADL!
The airline seem to have a handful of employees based there who deal with everything from check-in, to marshalling the arriving aircraft, to loading and unloading luggage, and whatever else needs done whenever a plane comes in to land!
I'd highly recommend flying ADL to KCG rather than taking the car ferry, which is the alternative way of getting to Kangaroo Island. The ferry takes a lot longer than 15 minutes, and also involves a fair drive out of Adelaide to get to the ferry terminal. You do however need a car to do anything on the island (including leaving the airport), so if you do fly you should have a hired car reserved in advance to collect there.
Some scenery en route back to ADL
This was a very turbulent approach, and the pilot did an excellent job of putting us on the runway in one piece. I expect they are well practiced! I enjoyed the bumpy descent, though Mrsso3003 wasn't as impressed!
Rather than walking back into the terminal, there was a transfer bus waiting.
It took us to the baggage reclaim area, and from there we were literally 1 minute from the taxi queue. Incidentally I think Adelaide Airport has the largest number of taxis I've ever seen in the one place!
... to be continued...
Jul 22, 12, 9:49 am
Jul 23, 12, 5:22 pm
Jul 23, 12, 8:10 pm
VERY nice!! Wow. singapore air just does not disappoint.
Jul 24, 12, 8:10 am
Where are the pics of the 'roos?!
Jul 24, 12, 9:47 am
Excellent trip report. Can't wait for the next one!^^
Jul 26, 12, 3:55 am
Back to ADL in the morning, and we're now heading back to SYD for our final stop in Australia.
And another in up-to-date colours
Jul 26, 12, 3:55 am
Inside the Qantas domestic terminal there is a great museum - the Qantas Heritage Museum, which is free to enter. They have a great selection of memorabilia and information about the history of Qantas (Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service). It's well worth going if you have a couple of minutes to spare. Note that you can only access it airside, and it's in the domestic rather than international terminal.
I think this fire engine was just on exercises, as there didn't appear to be any other problems visible
When we left the airport we moved into the Stamford Sydney Airport, with another great view of the airfield. While Mrsso3003 had a rest, I took the opportunity to capture some more photos :D
REX SAAB on finals
Qantas parking area - and spot the monster tailfin in the hangar!
Superb TR. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your marriage!
Jul 29, 12, 6:35 am
Hi there! Anonym incarnation from Australia here.
That last photo of the Royal Australian Air Force 737 is special: it's the Prime Minister's personal ride. It's not exclusively for her use (it has other official uses), but chances are that was the PM coming to (or leaving) Sydney.
Jul 29, 12, 7:04 am
Well done. Enjoyed catching up this morning. Keep it coming.
Jul 29, 12, 1:59 pm
Thanks for sharing. I'm going to be doing that same LH flight to/from EDI in Dec/Jan, as well as SQ C, so you've really whetted my appetite.
Aug 13, 12, 7:23 am
Sorry for the delay in posting the rest of my report.... moving house, moving work location and trying to sell a house aren't conducive to much internet time!
Thank you for the comments, and in particular Anonym for your information about the RAAF aircraft.
Anyway, in the next hour or so I'll hopefully have some more of my report ready to show the world at large......
Aug 13, 12, 7:35 am
Soon we were back at SYD for our next trip on the SQ A380, again in C, travelling to SIN. This was to be a dayflight, meaning that for once I'd actually get a decent view as we took off!
Check-in at the SQ desk was initially deserted. They have a good sized area for premium passengers to use, given that at any one time they presumably only have one flight checking in.
Express passport control passes were given out at check-in
And then we headed to the lounges!
As Star Golds and SQ C passengers we could use either the SQ or NZ lounges. We decided to visit them both :D
In the background you can make out the Stamford Sydney Airport, where we'd stayed the previous evening
Aug 13, 12, 9:05 am
And we're off, heading for the runway to join the queue of departing aircraft
Fruit, cheese and biscuits to finish
Then coffee and a chocolate to properly finish
Time to explore the amenities in the forward bathroom again!
Aug 13, 12, 9:06 am
Some more chocolates to help the digestive process....
As before I was very impressed with SIN Changi Airport. A huge amount of money has clearly been spent on the public areas, and I'm sure it'd be a very comfortable place to spend several hours in the main terminal!
What a shock it was to have taken off in 36 degree heat (in the middle of the night), to be landing in the early morning at minus eleven degrees! I hadn't anticipated that they'd be defrosting aircraft in FRA on our arrival!
Loading some more food :D
And that was it! Our trip to Australia was complete. We had a fabulous trip, and despite the above report we also had some amazing experiences outwith the airport perimeters too! We found the LH soft product to be excellent, and in many respects better than that of SQ, although I appreciate that many people on this and other forums have described the opposite experience. The SQ hard product really has to be seen to be believed! It's amazing for personal travel, and we certainly coped with it as a couple too ;) The NZ lounge in SYD is excellent, but it's still second to the superb LH lounge offering in FRA. We've now visited their FCT, Senator, Business and Welcome lounges, and found each of them to be superb.
Our next big trip isn't for a while now, but watch this space for a report in early 2013. In the meantime, I'll try to post some other retrospective photo reports from previous Star Alliance adventures.