Old May 4, 09, 2:21 am
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: MEL, Australia
Programs: QF PS, EK SkyWards Blue, SQ Krisflyer
Posts: 256
Part VII - Hong Kong to Melbourne

The time had come to return to Melbourne and, uncharacteristically for me, i felt no depression at having to return to reality - i guess on a 4 day trip there's really no time to get settled out of your comfort zone.

An early morning start was necessary and after saying our goodbyes my sister and i made our way to Hong Kong Central station, to make use of the in-town checkin offered by the Airport Express service after which we would simply board the train to the airport.

STD 0850 ATD 1030
STA 1955 ATA 2040
Seat 70A
Aircraft Boeing 747-400

Our tickets to the airport were HKD100 each and after scanning our tickets just meters from where they were purchased, we spent about 5 minutes trying to locate the counter servicing Qantas. Finally i spotted a desk to the right hand side of the check-in area which was shared between all OneWorld carriers. The agent was very quick and efficient, informing us that we already had seats 70A and 70B reserved. In no time we had BPs in hand and headed two levels down to the station.

In-town checkin service.

The trip to the airport was fast and smooth as always and we were treated to the sight of an SIA aircraft coming in to land.

Terminal interior.

Nothing landside really captured our interest so we immediately cleared immigration, enjoying the complementary mints on offer at the counter.

It was at this point that our hunger caught up with us and the search for food was on. I had spied an incarnation of Fairwood, the chinese fast food restaurant and i desperately wanted to get one last hit before i left. However despite 20 minutes of frantic searching we were unable to actually reach it - it was as close as i have ever come to a mirage in a desert. The further we went, the further it seemed to move away from us. I realised then, that Fairwood was landside and therefore out of the question for us, so i resigned myself to eating at Burger King.

BK French Toast fingers. mmmmmm.

Some last minute shopping briefly captured our interest and soon we were at Gate 19, gazing at our ride to MEL.

Registration unknown

The departure board stated that boarding had been revised to 0930 so i went for a walk while my sister had a brief nap, during which time a QF A330 (probably to SYD) pushed and began to taxi.

At 0945 an announcement was made that invited all premium pax and those requiring assistance to board. As usual we waited until general boarding had been called and the line started to dwindle. A cursory check of bags was made in the airbridge itself and the CSM welcomed us aboard and cheerfully directed us 'alllllll the way to the back.'

A chinese tour group occupied the 5 or 6 rows in front of our seats so it took around 5 minutes to get from row 64 to row 70, as they swapped seats and small parcels or clothing and food across the aisle. This amused me mildly.

Seats 70A/B are towards the rear of the aircraft, as it begins to taper to a point and therefore there are only two seats - the best situation if you are travelling as a party of two. The IFE screen size was average, but still better than the system on my SYD-HKG-SYD sectors of the The Korean Odyssey.

Leg room shot

Pushback was at about 1010 and we were airborne by 1030. Captain John Poletta apologised for the delay citing mechanical issues that had now been rectified (of course).

My sister had requested the vegetarian meal and hers arrived soon after the seat belt sign was switched off. It was an unedible mix of boiled beans and rice and was frankly disgusting. I am not a fussy eater and generally eat anything thats placed before me (including, on numerous occasions, my travelling partner's meal when they couldn't stomach it) but even i found it hard to enjoy it. We hoped the regular options would be more palatable.

Sadly, we were left wanting. I chose the beef over the fish and received a tough, chewy and weirdly-flavored beef dish with simple boiled vegetables, accompanied by a warm bread roll that appeared to be made entirely of cardboard. My sister's request for a spare regular meal was met with a promise to see if any were left that never eventuated into the crew returning to her. It was probably for the best, as i left most of my meal. Thankfully she was still content from Burger King back in Hong Kong.

Possibly the worst airline meal i've ever eaten.

Icecream was then offered as well as hot chocolate or peppermint tea.

Haagen Dazs

The hot chocolate was fantastic and certainly earned some much needed kudos after the horrendous meal. I killed some time watching the limited IFE options. There were few movies and fewer TV programs but i was never bored so i guess the system fulfilled its role. After experiencing the wonder of CX Studio on the outbound flight, i was quite annoyed at having to wait up to 30 seconds for screens to load.

Soon the second meal was served. I chose the pork noodles and thankfully, it was quite nice. My sister's vegetarian meal was horrible again, but her request for a pork meal was fulfilled and she found it tasty too.

Second meal.

I watched a few episodes of a TV show whose name escapes me before the crew prepared the cabin for landing.

A quick sidenote regarding the QF Crew uniforms - the CSM who had greeted us at the door, made cabin announcements and had even served the economy cabin coffee after both meal services was dressed immaculately in a fine, well cut suit and a classy silk tie. His name badge was large and shiny and took pride of place on the breast of his jacket. I was very impressed and felt a renewed urge to quit my course at university and realise my childhood dream of becoming a flight attendant (that dream is currently on hold until i complete my university education in two years). However another male flight attendant who assisted with rubbish clearing wore a simple, ill-fitting black tunic, shoes that i havent seen since i last wore school uniform and simple, cheap looking black trousers. He didnt even have a name badge. I was disappointed to see the disparity between uniforms. A completely irrelevant point in the context of a trip report, to be sure, but something i noticed given my aspirations to emulate both (well, only one really) gentlemen in the future.

The CSM announced that he would play a 'short' (read: long and boring) video regarding arrivals procedures at MEL and general information about Melbourne. After a summer spent being ear-bashed by EK over the IFE system and being unable to watch what i wanted during that time, this distressed me greatly. Thankfully the video didnt appear on my screen or my sister's, but i was still peeved that QF would consider disrupting IFE enjoyment by all pax for information that would only be required by a few. Surely, directing those who are interested to the appropriate area of the IFE system is more appropriate?

Landing was smooth and only slightly behind schedule. Quarantine took FOREVER. I was directed to the right hand red channel queue and watched fuming as the left hand red channel queue sped past me. After being OKed, and not making it onto 'Border Security' we walked out of the terminal at just the moment that my mum pulled up. We were home in 20 minutes.

Last edited by afterDawn; May 4, 09 at 2:23 am Reason: spelling. doh.
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