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Old May 22, 04, 10:38 pm   #1
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Smile Australia to Europe and back - 8 segments, 6 carriers

Three weeks ago I returned to Australia from a six week holiday in Europe with my fiancee, who I will refer to as MrsStevePER2B. We visited Britain, Ireland, Spain, France, and Italy, and then flew home via Hong Kong. Cost was a major concern, so it's all in Y except the HKG-PER segment which was upgraded to J using points and upgrade credits.

I'm afraid this report will be of variable quality and detail, since my notes and recollections are somewhat fuzzy in parts. It definitely won't be up to the standards of the more frequent posters to this forum, but I'll do my best.

Finally, this report is only going to include the flights. A diary of the rest of our holiday will eventually start making its way onto my website, at http://www.harshbutfair.org/europe04.

Detailed below:
PER-SIN QF 17 Qantas
SIN-LHR BA 16 British Airways
EDI-DUB FR 815 Ryanair
DUB-LHR BD 122 bmi
LHR-MAD BA 460 British Airways
ORY-LIN U2 4797 Easyjet
FCO-HKG CX 292 Cathay Pacific
HKG-PER QF 68 Qantas
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Old May 22, 04, 10:39 pm   #2
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Qantas QF 17 PER-SIN

March 24, 2004
Qantas QF 17 PER-SIN
Scheduled: 16:50 - 21:30
Actual: 17:10 - 21:45
747-400 VH-OJA seats 25B/C


I arrived at Perth International Airport at (2hrs 10 before), and MrsStevePER2B arrived 10 minutes later. There were a few people in front of us in the business class check-in line (which I could use as a QF Silver), while the queue for the economy counters seemed quite lengthy. Check-in was efficient and we were pleased to see the orange "Priority" tags tied to our luggage, even though we weren't entitled to them. Our bags weighed in at a combined 30.4kg, which we were reasonably happy with in anticipation of our encounter with the Ryanair 15kg limit.

We went upstairs, had a quick look at the duty free shops, then sat with our mums in the cafe. When the time came, we proceeded quickly through security and customs (and got our first stamp in our passports). On the other side of customs are a few more duty free shops in which we browsed without enthusiasm. Perth International Airport isn't a very busy place, with few shops and only five gates, three of which were occupied at the time (us, a Qantas 767, and a Malaysia Airlines 747-400). We had no lounge access at the time, so sitting and waiting was the most attractive option.

We boarded slightly late and then didn't push back until 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time. MrsStevePER2B and I were seated in 25B/C, the front row of economy. Directly in front of us was a screen separating us from business. The curtains were closed shortly after take-off, despite the entire section being empty (presumably to remove the temptation for those of us considering the possibility of a seat-swap). I agreed to sit in 25B in exchange for the isle on the longer flights, and it was the best middle seat I've ever had. There was plenty of legroom, and a personal video screen that folded up from underneath the arm rest, as well as a detachable table.

The inflight entertainment consisted of approximately eight movies, various other channels of news and TV programs, and several unexciting games such as hangman and patience. I watched The Last Samurai, which was quite long and boring in parts, but good for filling in time. Restricted somewhat by the broken right arrow on the controls (there always seems to be one direction that doesn't work), the only "game" that I could play was the quiz, which had six categories each with 20 questions.

We were served dinner on this flight, which was similar to the usual Qantas domestic offerings in both content and quality. Being unaccustomed to writing trip reports, I forgot to take the menu so I can't remember what I had. I think meat and rice were involved. The available drinks included red and white wine served in 187.5 mL bottles, a disappointing assortment of beers including Fosters and Victoria Bitter but not the Hahn Premium Light that is sometimes available on domestic flights, plus spirits and soft drinks that I took no interest in.

We arrived in Singapore 15 minutes late. We were informed that the aircraft was to continue on the SIN-FRA leg of QF 5, while another aircraft would operate QF 17 to CDG. Everyone disembarked, and with little time to play with we went straight through security into the gate lounge at the adjacent gate for our flight to LHR.

Last edited by StevePER; May 22, 04 at 10:51 pm Reason: fixing typo
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Old May 22, 04, 10:41 pm   #3
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British Airways BA 16 SIN-LHR

March 24, 2004
British Airways BA 16 SIN-LHR (ticketed as QF 319)
Scheduled: 22:40 - 04:55
Actual: 22:50 - 04:45
747-400 G-CIVM seats 50D/E


I spent about 15 minutes in the gate lounge wandering backwards and forwards before boarding started on time. Since we were right down the back, we were in the first group to board. We found our seats and were immediately disappointed by the lack of legroom. Perhaps it was only because we had come from the relative luxury of the front row of economy, but I still remember these seats as having the least legroom of all our flights.

Prior to our departure, the captain announced that we would be leaving slightly late due to "favourable flying conditions". I've never heard that excuse before! True to his word, we pushed back around 10 minutes late then sat on the tarmac for another 15 before taxiing to takeoff.

Dinner was served shortly after takeoff. Although it was our second dinner for the evening, I had no trouble finishing it. Again I can't remember what it was. I know I was drinking a Lindemans 2003 Bin 65 Chardonnay because MrsStevePER2B peeled off the label to add to our collection. We noted that it was acceptable, but only when given freely on planes.

From the description of the in-flight entertainment (facilitated by a TV on the seat back) the system appeared to be identical to the earlier flight. But in reality the unexciting games had been omitted and we had to make do with the movie and TV channels. I tried watching the comedy channel for a while, but I find the TVs in the seat backs never tilt upwards enough so I was slouching uncomfortably in my seat. Eventually I gave up and read my book for a while, and then tried to get some sleep. I managed a respectable amount of sleep (7 hours?) but never more than 1.5 hours at a time.

Breakfast was served at about 3am London time, and consisted of an all day deli-box. I prepared myself for the worst but opening the box revealed a surprisingly tasty cheese and sausage roll.

By around 03:45 the captain announced that our "favourable flying conditions" mentioned earlier had been a little too favourable, and that we would have to circle around London until Heathrow opened at 04:30. As we arrived over central London we turned around and headed back to the east coast of Britain, where we once again turned for our approach to Heathrow. We took a slight detour over central London this time, where MrsStevePER2B and I contented ourselves with picking out famous landmarks such as Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.

We eventually landed in Heathrow at 04:34 and then taxied to our gate in terminal 4; I was pleased to catch a glimpse of a Concorde as we did so. We found the baggage carousel and waited a while for our bags, which dutifully arrived about 10 minutes later with scant regard for the "Priority" tags. We quickly breezed through the "Others" line at passport control where we given a quick quiz on our travel plans, and wandered through the green customs channel which was deserted at the time.

It didn't take us too long to find our way to the coach station at terminal 1 via the free Heathrow Express and by 06:00 we were on our way to Oxford, the first stop of our grand little holiday.

I must mention that I consider 04:50 a stupid time to arrive anywhere. It's painfully early, and makes the eight hour time adjustment far more difficult than it might otherwise be. Amazingly, our hotel gave us an early checkin at 06:45, but I'm sure that doesn't happen often.

(We visited Oxford, York and Edinburgh prior to our next flight.)
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Old May 22, 04, 10:42 pm   #4
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Ryanair FR 815 EDI-DUB

March 31, 2004
Ryanair FR 815 EDI-DUB
Scheduled: 11:05 - 12:05
Actual: 11:00 - 12:00
737-200 EI-CJC seats 17E/F


We arrived in plenty of time at the airport, having allowed for possible contingencies with transport. We took one of the frequent double decker buses from Waverley station for the 25 minute journey to the airport, costing GBP 3. Plenty of room is available on the bus for luggage.

Once we arrived at the airport we queued for about 10 minutes to check-in. There was no problem with the 15kg luggage allowance, since our bags had miraculously decreased in weight by about 3.5kg since we left home. We were issued with boarding passes that looked normal except for the lack of seat numbers. We had a quick wander around the airport, found a (transparent) letterbox for our postcards, and looked in the reasonable collection of shops.

We sat in the gate lounge for a while and watched the comings and goings. Mostly just BA and Easyjet as I recall. Our aircraft arrived on time. At least we assumed it was our aircraft, as it was completely covered in a Hertz Rent-a-car advertisement.

At 10:45 they announced that we could board. There was no airbridge (I assume Ryanair get a discount for not using one) so we walked out to the aircraft. Both the front and rear doors were open; we boarded via the rear door. Since we were a fair way back in the queue we thought we might struggle to find a window seat, but we need not have worried. We sat in 17E/F and then settled down to watch the last people fussing about where to sit. Some weren't familiar with the Ryanair seating philosophy, and tried to find specific seats based upon their sequence numbers. A few rows behind us a group discovered a laptop in their seat pocket. They handed it to the crew and later asked about it to ensure that it had been removed from the aircraft. Later still they joked that Ryanair is excellent value if they have taken to providing free laptops instead of free food.

The seats were reasonably comfortable and the legroom was adequate, certainly at least as much as our BA flight. No adjustable headrest though. The outside of the plane looked like it could do with a good wash!

We pushed back from the "gate" about five minutes early since everyone had boarded, and shortly afterwards took off towards the north. It was the steepest ascent I've ever seen, it felt like 45 degrees at the time. Shortly afterwards two of the FAs started pushing the snacks trolley up the steep incline offering food and drinks for sale.

With a flight time of only around 40 minutes, it wasn't long before we started our somewhat bumpy descent through the heavy cloud into Dublin. Since I do the majority of my flying between the east and west coasts of Australia, these short-haul flights always seem incredibly quick to me. We went through immigration quickly at Dublin airport, with a quick question on how long we were staying and then another stamp added to the passport. From just outside the terminal we caught a DublinBus service to the central bus station for EUR 5 each, and from there headed to Kilkenny for the start of our stay in Ireland.

Overall I was reasonably happy with our Ryanair flight. It was certainly excellent value for money at GBP 2.50 each plus taxes, but given the opportunity I would rather fly with someone else. I would definitely be less likely to fly Ryanair again if other airlines offered reasonably priced one-way tickets.

(We visited Kilkenny and Dublin before flying back to Britain.)
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Old May 22, 04, 10:43 pm   #5
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bmi BD 122 DUB-LHR

April 4, 2004
bmi BD 122 DUB-LHR
Scheduled: 09:00 - 10:25
Actual: 09:20 - 10:37
A321 G-MIDC seats 30E/F


Our short stay in Dublin had been at a B&B south of the city centre, so we took the Aircoach service to the airport. From memory it was EUR 6 or 7 each. These services are comfortable, efficient, and very frequent (they claim every 15 minutes, but they seem to be more often than that). We arrived at the airport around 07:50.

There were initially only two agents handling the check-in for our flight, but that increased to four in the 15 minutes it took us to reach the front of the queue. When we checked in, the agent confirmed that we had no onward flights from LHR, and offered us the choice of an isle or window seat. We chose the window. Then we made our way through security (and the associated ten minute queue).

We had a brief look around the airport but were more direct than usual in heading towards our gate. We boarded on time, but were 20 minutes late to push back due to "apron works". Once we did so, there were two aircraft in front of us to further delay our take-off (one Spanair and one Cityjet/Air France).

Once we were airborne we had a comfortable flight across the Irish Sea and on to Heathrow. We were served with a breakfast roll (cheese and tomato from memory) which was quite tasty and just what was required after skipping breakfast at the B&B. It was served with juice or water, and tea or coffee.

Behind us there were two women who talked loudly for the whole flight. They were excited to discover that the man sitting next to them was Irish. He had lived in America for seven years, currently works as a bartender, and was previously in the construction industry. The women had been to Dublin for the weekend on a (successful) quest to pick up Irish men. They lived three hours north of Heathrow, and would have left from LBA if it wasn't for Sally who hadn't gone with them anyway. Interesting. But I digress.

We circled over London for about 20 minutes, then picked out the famous landmarks on our approach. We ended up arriving 12 minutes late. There was no passport control, luggage collection was prompt, and we worked our way through the maze of LHR to the central coach station from which we travelled to Bath.

After a day in Bath, we caught the train back to London and saw all we could before our next flight to Madrid.
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Old May 22, 04, 10:44 pm   #6
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British Airways BA 460 LHR-MAD

April 9, 2004
British Airways BA 460 LHR-MAD
Scheduled: 14:10 - 17:35
Actual: 14:10 - 17:22
A320 G-BUSJ seats 11A/B


During the morning we went to an internet cafe for an hour in an attempt to fill in time. MrsStevePER2B sent an email to all our friends, and I decided to try BA's online check-in facility. I was somewhat surprised to encounter none of the problems frequently discussed in the BA forum, and was also somewhat surprised to see that we had been allocated an exit row. There was obviously no need to try changing our seats.

We took the Heathrow Express train to the airport, which was fast and efficient as always. Inside terminal 1, we had a bit of difficultly locating the BA premium check-in desks. I asked at the customer service desk, and was directed to the "Zone R" check-in. It's easy when you know what you're looking for.

There were no checks that we were entitled to check-in at Zone R, though perhaps they assume that if you're resourceful enough to find it you're probably in the right place. There was only one person in front of us in the queue, and everything went smoothly. I asked if we would be able to get into the lounge without the new Qantas Gold (oneworld Sapphire) card that had arrived in the mail at home during the week. We were told that the "lounge lizards" would be able to check it so we shouldn't have any problems.

They did indeed check on their computers and we wandered in. This was MrsStevePER2B's first time in a lounge, and I had only been in the domestic Qantas Clubs in SYD and PER. The lounge was spacious and very pleasant, with few people (probably because it was Good Friday). We enjoyed the comfortable couch, sandwiches, biscuits, fruit cake, orange juice, and beer (Grolsch). MrsStevePER2B may have had a glass of white wine as well.

Once boarding was announced, we walked slowly to the gate via a shop where we invested the last of our British coinage in chocolate. Most people had already boarded by the time we got to the gate; we found our spacious exit row seats and settled in. I had never been in an exit row before, and certainly appreciated the extra legroom.

Lunch was served early in the flight and was another all-day deli box. This time we had a cheese and ham roll, muffin, Kit Kat chocolate bar, and fruit salad. I was satisfied!

The flight was unremarkable and we arrived slightly early in Madrid. At passport control we were told to fill in an arrivals form required of all non-EU passport holders. One would think that people could be advised of this requirement before they reach the front of the queue, but apparently not. We filled in the forms, queued again, and had our passports stamped.

By the time we got the luggage carousel our cases had already arrived, so we picked them up and checked my notes on how to get to the hotel. We took the metro which costs EUR 1.10, changing trains twice before we reached our destination. While the station at the airport is well setup with escalators and lifts, most of the other metro stations are not, but we made it to our hotel regardless.

After three days in Madrid we had a horrible train journey to Barcelona, and then to Nimes and Paris. We dutifully filled in the Departure forms that had come with our paperwork in Spain, but these were never collected. It really isn't a very good system.

Last edited by StevePER; Oct 13, 04 at 6:59 am Reason: Edited to add rego
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Old May 22, 04, 10:45 pm   #7
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Easyjet U2 4797 ORY-LIN

April 20, 2004
Easyjet U2 4797 ORY-LIN
Scheduled: 11:10 - 12:35
Actual: 11:10 - 12:25
737-700 G-EZJG seats 7E/F


Our final short flight would take us from Paris Orly to Milan Linate on Easyjet. We took three trains to get to Orly - first the Metro to Gare du Nord, then RER line B to Antony, and finally the Orly Light Rail to ORY for EUR 8.60 each. Despite this, the whole system seemed quite efficient and well thought out, even for those carrying suitcases. It was quite a contrast to our experiences in Milan later in the day.

We arrived at ORY around an hour and a half before our flight, and easily found the short queue to check-in. MrsStevePER2B has some detachable wheels that she sometimes puts on her backpack. I don't really approve of the idea, but I guess there's not much wrong with it. In any case, she had the wheels on her backpack when we were checking in. The agent spotted the wheels, and asked us if we were taking them on the plane. We explained that the wheels were detachable, and they would be folded up and put inside the bag for the flight. But apparently that wasn't what the agent meant, because she thought that they would not be allowed on the plane. I pointed out that wheels were not on the standard list of prohibited items that was displayed on the counter, but she remained convinced. In the end she agreed that we could try our luck at getting through security. Incidentally, our checked luggage was slightly over the allowance of 20kg each, but this wasn't a problem.

Naturally we passed through security without incident. MrsStevePER2B noted that the wheels were clearly visible on the x-ray machine. Actually, the security agent decided to do a reasonably thorough search of my backpack, to the point of opening my camera case and examining the spare compact flash cards I had wrapped in an envelope. Interesting.

There isn't much to do at ORY after passing through security, so we hung around the monitors until our gate was announced. We sat down for a little, but then stood up again to play the Easyjet seating game as a queue was starting to form at the gate, even before our aircraft had arrived. When it did arrive, it didn't take long before we started boarding; we sat in 7E/F. I had a good look out the window at the other aircraft that were around - Air France and Corsair 747s, and relatively small aircraft from Easyjet, Air Europa, and Air Luxor.

The flight itself was unremarkable, and there isn't much that I remember about it. I noted that the legroom was fine. During the flight we passed over the alps and had excellent views of snow-covered mountains extending as far as the eye could see.

We landed slightly early at LIN, and our bags didn't take long to come out. On the way out of the arrivals area there were two channels for EU and non-EU passport holders, but both were just very short passageways to the same exit.

One of the reasons for choosing Easyjet was that they flew to LIN, which is far closer to the city centre than MXP or indeed BGY. I've now learnt that physical proximity to the city centre does not necessarily translate to convenience.

The bus stop for the bus into the city is just outside the terminal. It has a small shelter which is inadequate for the number of people who catch the bus, and would be particularly uncomfortable if it was hot, cold, or raining. There were crowds of people around the overflowing shelter, and a bearded man who made occasional appearances to sell tickets for the bus at a cost of EUR 2.50.

The bus arrived about 10 minutes after we did, and there was a disorganised rush to get cases into the luggage areas. We got ours in eventually, only to have to pull them off again when we discovered that the bus had filled and we couldn't get on (the bus apparently holds 46). It was all very uncivilised with lots of pushing. The buses are half an hour apart, but we weren't about to surrender our EUR 5 to the bearded man and get a taxi. It's all about principle, and now we understood the "system" (or lack thereof). Some people tried asking bearded man for a refund, but there was none forthcoming.

We positioned ourselves at the very front of the shelter; others had different tactics of standing on the road, or standing on the opposite side to be first to get their luggage on the far side of the bus. When the bus did arrive, it stopped about 10 metres away from where we were, so we moved as fast as we could and got our luggage on quickly. Then we joined another couple of Aussies in trying to force our way on to the bus while waving our tickets at the bearded man so that he could put a hole in them. We made in on board this time.

So, here are the things I have learnt about getting from LIN to the Milan city centre. Firstly, don't get the bus. If you have to get the bus, don't let good manners or consideration for others stop you from getting on to the bus. Rest assured that other people will do the same. Finally, dressing up as a nun apparently guarantees that you will get on the bus without any uncivilised behaviour. Sure it's a drastic measure, but possibly warranted if you can get away with it.
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Old May 22, 04, 10:47 pm   #8
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Cathay Pacific CX 292 FCO-HKG

April 28, 2004
Cathay Pacific CX 292 FCO-HKG (ticketed as QF 3860)
Scheduled: 12:45 - 06:35
Actual: 12:45 - 06:20
747-400 B-HUA seats 36A/B


After five and a half wonderful weeks it was time to start the long journey home. We took the train from Termini station to the airport for EUR 9 each. The platform for the airport train is a long way from the main station concourse, in fact the walk took us around ten minutes. Luckily we had left plenty of time so it wasn't a problem, but I'm sure many people miss it every day due to the unexpected distance. The train itself was unique among the Italian trains that we travelled on, in that it was spacious, had a large luggage rack, and plenty of overhead luggage space as well.

When we arrived at FCO we found the Cathay Pacific check-in desk quickly, and proceeded to the business class queue. There was a sign behind the desk advising people to put film in their hand luggage. I had mentioned this to MrsStevePER2B weeks earlier, but she didn't believe me. I resisted the opportunity to say "I told you so" while she rummaged through her suitcase for films to transfer to hand luggage. Once that was done, a man checked that we were in the right place, and pointed us towards the business class queue (rather than the empty First Class queue). We only had one person in front of us, so once again check-in was rapid. Our bags were checked all the way through to PER despite the 17 hour transit in HKG. The agent commented on our business class upgrade on the HKG-PER sector, and accordingly put business class tags on our luggage. She also gave us a map of the airport to help us find our way from the terminal C check-in desks back through security in terminal B, then back to terminal C again.

Going through security was unremarkable, but as we went through passport control we saw an Israeli man who was in a slight panic. Apparently he had remained outside the departures area until his flight was boarding, then passed through security and now had a 10 minute queue for passport control. The time was 10:56. His flight was at 11:00. He went straight to the front of the queue, but we don't know whether he made his flight or not.

We found the global tax refund place at the end of the terminal to claim back our tax from a couple of purchases in Ireland. First we had to get our forms stamped by customs, then presented them at the adjacent desk to claim the cash (a princely sum of EUR 1). To get rid of our change, I bought a Wilbur Smith book for the exorbitant price of EUR 17, while MrsStevePER2B spent her EUR 1 refund on chocolate.

We found the BA lounge, but were told that we weren't entitled to use it if we travelling on CX. I strongly suspect that this is untrue, but it was a reasonable suggestion in any case as our gate was a substantial distance away. FCO terminal C seems quite unusual to me, since it is split into two parts with a shuttle train between them. We took the shuttle train, then wandered around a while before we found the "Le Anfore" lounge.

The desk agent was reluctant to let us in with my Qantas Silver (oneworld Ruby) card, despite the overwhelming evidence of having "oneworld Sapphire" printed on my boarding pass. She consulted with two other desk staff before eventually relenting and letting us in.

The lounge is disappointing compared with others I've been to. There's plenty of comfortable seating with a few Italian newspapers to read. The serviced bar has Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light, Fanta, one beer (Nastro Azzurro), wine, and spirits. The lounge also has showers which I didn't investigate. There was a small collection of mystery sandwiches at the bar.

When the monitors in the lounge showed our flight was boarding, we left the lounge and walked to the gate. The queue was fairly long at this point but was shortening rapidly. We found our seats (36A/B) and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. My impression was that there was slightly more legroom than in the BA 744 we had flown on SIN-LHR. From my window seat I could see some exotic sights (to me anyway), aircraft from Air Moldova and Albanian Airlines.

We took off on time and I explored the inflight entertainment options. I settled on half an hour of news, a world sports show, and a Discovery Channel documentary about Jordan. Dinner was served during this time, I had a very tasty chicken stir-fry dish with "oriental vegetables" consisting of carrot and brocolli.

The lights went off shortly after the dinner service was completed (around 4pm Rome time). It was at this point that I realised how horrible the timing of this flight was. I honestly can't imagine it being any worse.

We were given a fairly minimal amenties kit, the contents of which are pictured here. It consisted of socks (these ones fitted me, unlike the tiny BA socks), toothbrush, toothpaste, and a lanyard.

A couple of hours later a slight snack serviced was served. These snacks were served in a basket to those passengers who weren't asleep (the majority I imagine). I selected a sandwich (which turned out to be ham and cheese) and some biscuits. The sandwich was good.

The lights came back on at 03:30 Hong Kong time (21:30 Rome), and breakfast was served at 04:00. I selected the breakfast cold cuts, while MrsStevePER2B chose "Scrambled Egg with Pork Sausage, Hash Brown Potato and Baked Beans". There were no baked beans in it. Both breakfasts were served with orange juice, fruit, yoghurt (banana flavoured) and a bread roll.

We arrived in Hong Kong 15 minutes early at 06:20. MrsStevePER2B and I headed straight through immigration since our bags were checked all the way through to Perth. The queue was very short. We got changed in the toilets, and then left some of our luggage at the left luggage counter on the ground floor, which cost HK$50 for the day. Then we found the train and took it into the centre of Hong Kong for HK$200 return. The train takes about 25 minutes, and is fast and efficient.

Our original thoughts were that 17 hours in Hong Kong would give us the chance to see another destination without the expense of a proper stopover (which our cheap fare didn't allow anyway). In hindsight the timing of our FCO-HKG flight made this a bad idea. We desperately wanted sleep, and six hours or so in a hotel would have done wonders.
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Old May 22, 04, 10:49 pm   #9
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Qantas QF 68 HKG-PER

April 29, 2004
Qantas QF 68 HKG-PER
Scheduled: 23:35 - 07:15
Actual: 01:05 - 08:35
767-300 VH-OGG seats 3J/K


Our day in Hong Kong finished with an afternoon tour around the island. There were, however, no drop-offs on the island so we jumped off at a hotel in Kowloon and took the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island for HK$2.20 each. From there it's a short walk to the train station, and we jumped on the train back to the airport.

By the time we arrived at the airport it was about 20:30 and we were very hungry and thirsty after a very light lunch and no dinner. We breezed through customs, and started looking for the lounge. We found it eventually upstairs from our gate and showed our business class boarding passes to get in. We grabbed a little couch for ourselves, and settled in.

The lounge was a combined Qantas/British Airways lounge, and was well equipped for our three hour stay. Our first priority was food and drink. There were little sandwiches, biscuits, and Pringles crisps, and we started with drinking lots of water despite the well-stocked bar. Once we were reasonably fed, it was shower time. MrsStevePER2B went first. While she was in there the lounge started to fill up and the showers did also. Newcomers were writing their names down to be in the queue for the shower, so I did as well. Despite being about fifth in the "queue", I was next in the shower because I was sitting in view of the shower attendant. This didn't seem very fair, but I was happy. Additionally, it seemed that people on the Perth flight were given precedence over those on the Sydney flight, even though I'm sure the Sydney flight left earlier. Despite making it a quick one due to the queue, the shower was very refreshing, as was a fresh change of clothes.

We sat around in the lounge for a bit longer, staying off the alcohol to try to stay awake. I spent some time on the internet (there are three or four PCs provided, with two or three spaces for laptops). Then at 23:10 came the words that we didn't want to hear. "Ladies and gentlemen, Qantas regret to report that QF68 to Perth will be delayed due to mechanical problems. The new estimated time of departure for this flight is midnight."

I made myself busy by compiling a list of available drinks to post to this thread. At around 23:50 a lounge attendant came around talking to everyone telling us they were looking for a spare part, and once found a new ETD would be given. Shortly afterwards the captain came around and told us more about the problem and apologising for the delay. It wasn't long before the spare part was found, and a new ETD of 01:00 was announced.

We boarded at the expected time and settled into our very comfortable and spacious business class seats (3J/K). I could have fallen asleep quite easily at this point, but I forced myself to stay awake a little longer to enjoy my first ever business class flight. MrsStevePER2B did the same, though she had been on business class before in an op-up on a domestic OOL-PER flight.

Business class in this 763 was five rows of a 1-2-2 configuration which seems to work quite well since there are only five seats that don't have an isle. It still had the Qantas "Dreamtime" seats (the new Skybeds are only being fitted to the 747s and A330s) which were very comfortable and offered lots of different adjustments from the controls on the armrest. So many that I actually found it a little difficult to control. There was also a TV screen in the armrest that I didn't use.

Shortly after take-off, a "light" supper was served. I remembered to grab the menu for this one.

Light Supper
Chinese Style Prawn and Vegetable Soup
Salad of Char Grilled Beef with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Mustard Dressing. Australian Beef
Green Leaf Salad with Olives, Capsicum and Feta
'Valrhona' Chocolates

Champagne
Charles Heidsieck Mis En Cave 1998

Wine
Australian Vintages
Australian wines are renowned across the globe for their full spectrum of aromas and flavours. We have selected premium Australian wines in a range of styles for your enjoyment.
White wines include the choice of a dry, lighter bodied, crisp wine or a fuller bodied rich style. Our red wine is medium bodied, fruit driven and robust.


Aperitifs
Campari
Dry Sherry

Spirits
Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky
Stolichnaya Vodka
Jim Beam Black Label Bourbon
Bacardi White Rum
Gordon's Gin

Beers
Victoria Bitter
Foster's Lager
Tooheys New
Hahn Premium Light (Low Alcohol)

Non Alcoholic
Orange Juice
Tomato Juice
Apple Juice
Mineral Water
Soda Water
Tonic Water
Ginger Ale
Lemonade
Cola
Diet Cola

Coffee - Piazza d'Oro
Bodum
Decaffeinated

Tea - Dilmah
English Breakfast
Jasmine Green
Chamomile
Peppermint

Hot Chocolate

Liqueurs
Cointreau
Drambuie
Tia Maria
Bailey's Irish Cream

Port

Cognac
Martell VSOP


MrsStevePER2B and I both skipped the soup and went straight to the beef, which was brilliant. The green leaf salad had the same ingredients as that served in economy, but was crisper and tastier. I had the Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany my meal, which I enjoyed immensely. I also had a port to finish. I'd always intended to sample the wine on this flight, but I would have been disappointed if I was drinking beer. Surely they can do a little better than Foster's and VB. Either the chocolates were never offered, or I fell asleep before they came around.

The business class amentities kit was very nice after the minimal offering in CX economy. The men's kit is pictured here, and contains shaving cream, a razor, real toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, refreshment towel, moisturiser, socks, eye shade, ear plugs, and mints.

I had the best night's sleep I've ever had on a plane. The lights were turned on at 06:15 for breakfast. Apparently a room-service style breakfast is normally offered on this flight (according to the menu To assist in maximising your rest, a pre-ordered Breakfast is available. Simply complete the Breakfast order card for collection by your Flight Attendant.) However, it wasn't offered on this flight due to the late departure. I'm not quite sure I understand why. In any case, we started with a freshly squeezed fruit juice (not sure of the fruits involved). Then breakfast started with a croissant or toast with fruit salad and yoghurt. I chose the croissant. Following was scrambled eggs on toast or sausages, mushrooms, potato cake, and baked beans. It was nothing incredible, but definitely better quality than the usual economy breakfast.

We landed at Perth International Airport at 08:35, an hour and twenty minutes after our scheduled arrival. MrsStevePER2B visited the duty free shop and took what seemed to be forever to chose a bottle of Irish whiskey. We went through immigration and collected our cases which were already on the carousel when we got there. We went through the red channel to declare the wooden chess set that I had bought in Hong Kong, there were no problems with it. Then we went through the door out of the controlled area where we were met by our mums. We were happy to be home.

So that's the end of my first trip report. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Steve

Last edited by StevePER; Oct 13, 04 at 7:00 am Reason: Fixing name of wine - Bin 407, not 409, added rego
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Old May 23, 04, 1:26 am   #10
kpc
  
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Interesting read

May I be the first to say that I really enjoyed reading your trip report
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Old May 23, 04, 4:58 am   #11
  
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Nice report StevePER

I too planned a day in HKG after flying in on the FCO flight. You may not have known, but you can go through transit and go to the lounge, then back downstairs and through immigration and out to the city. It helps a bit to freshen up, though I was flagging badly by the end of the day.
If you were QF Gold, you may have been able to get into the Wing (benefits have been much discussed here).
I was also interested to hear that you had to fill out cards in MAD. I was never asked there. Once I forgot at CDG and they just waved me through. In Marseilles the immigration official just threw my card into the bin. It is very lax altogether.
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Old May 23, 04, 1:41 pm   #12
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Thanks for a great report StevePER
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Old May 23, 04, 7:37 pm   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goback
I too planned a day in HKG after flying in on the FCO flight. You may not have known, but you can go through transit and go to the lounge, then back downstairs and through immigration and out to the city. It helps a bit to freshen up, though I was flagging badly by the end of the day.
I wondered about that. I'm sure it would have been great to have a shower and freshen up before going into the city. There isn't much to do in Hong Kong at 8am!

Steve
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Old Jun 1, 04, 9:39 am   #14
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Steve

Thanks for the report - I had a big grin on my face reading about your 'first time' experiences (stamp in passport, lounge access etc etc). Really glad the two of you enjoyed your trip!

Cheers

WG
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