FlyerTalk Forums

FlyerTalk Forums (
-   Trip Reports (
-   -   The view from 44B (or the effect of snow in PVG on a Y trip with KA) (

Swanhunter Mar 30, 11 3:22 pm

The view from 44B (or the effect of snow in PVG on a Y trip with KA)
Opening the curtains, I expect to be greeted with the customary Shanghai skyline of high rise buildings and cranes. They are there for sure, but cloaked in white. Snow!.

Years of observing my home city and airport grind to a halt brought an immediate and panicked response. I have to get out tonight, .need to be back in London for Friday afternoon. But then, the fear subsidises as I realise this is infrastructure rich China and not the faintly creaking UK.

Sadly our local office took a different view. A colleague trying to get out that morning had been at Pudong airport for hours without luck and the airport had temporarily closed. Joy. I hurried through 4 hours of meetings in 2 and abandoned a couple of external visits for another time or a conference call. Off to the airport with the hope of getting out on an earlier flight. KA reservations were able to move me to a 6pm flight but the forecast wasn't great and I then recalled from previous painful experience with summer storms that Chinese ATC doesn't always have much resilience when the weather strikes.

Shanghai taxi drivers have always filled me with fear - who knew you could wring 180kph out of a 10 year old VW Passat - so I opted for Line 2 of the Shanghai Metro all the way from the office to the airport. It was certainly safe but over an hour sat on a shiny plastic seat was frankly exceedingly dull and having to change trains halfway there was irritating. There is also something about that line that irritates, the slowness in opening doors, sluggish acceleration. Still, very cheap at Y7 v 200 for a cab.

You can normally judge the operations mood from walking into the terminal. T2 didn't seem to stressful so maybe things are under control after all? One glance at the Dragonair departure board - all flights coloured red with DELAY - disabused me of that notion. Sigh.

By now every flight to HKG was full. So, off to Desk 18. Desk 18 is the Standby desk. I've not had cause to use this before, so at least today would have one new experience. It is all organised very simply. You walk up, show your credentials, get added to a list and given a slip with a reference number and a report time.

Now, the fun FT nerd part. .The standby 'list' is broken down into certain sections. A seems to be reserved for CX/KA Diamond, B for OW Emerald and so on on down to Y scum. A was clear and I was given B6 and a report time 10 minutes hence when I would be confirmed. I also indicated I was happy to buy up to J if needed.

10 minutes later and B6 (me!) is the first pax called forward for a seat on the 809 departing at 1320. A result as it is 12:35 now! After a couple of close out formalities I am issued with my BP. Not wishing to sound ungrateful but I had hoped for something a little better than 44B, a middle seat somewhere right at the back of an A321. Still, at least I was on, and this was clearly time for my annual irregular ops/ last minute change of plans trip in a middle seat. Nice to get it out of the way so early on during the year.

Boarding was both late and from a remote stand. After working out where the remote stands were I fuelled up on dumplings and grapefruit in the lounge, cleared down a few emails and looked forward to a couple of beers in HK that evening with a colleague.

Stepping out of the terminal onto the bus exposed me to a blast of freezing air and snow. Yuck. As we were already past departure time and we would most certainly be deicing the plane I could the delay creeping up to the 30mins mark eating into working and drinking time. Oh well.

Oh well turned to oh sh!t once on board and settled down in 44B. The captain came on with a 2 hour ground hold due to the weather, ATC delays and deicing. Fabulous. A middle seat, near the back of the plane, no iPad (left on a flight earlier in the trip) insufficient space to open my laptop and only one book which was 3/4 finished.

Because the delay was certain, the crew served lunch on the ground. I had already partaken of food in the lounge so was able to pass on the treat. KA still give out menus in Y - and judging from the snarfing engaged in by my seat opponents the food must have been OK. Certainly some of the stuff I've eaten ex-HK in Y is perfectly adequate. Inevitably I have now lost the card so I can't share the full details of the culinary glory with you..

What to do with all this time. started with the normal stuff

* Clear BB inbox down
* text a few people
* Write my meeting notes up legibly
* Read book (Albert Speer's autobiography, a fascinating read)

...and now I am bored as the book is read, it is still early in the UK so no-one is replying to me and the meeting notes are done. I'd already leafed through the inflight magazine, so it was into the shopping brochure. Sadly less entertaining than the truly comic SkyMall to be found on certain US airlines.

Finally we pushed back for de-icing. At the same time jet lag hit and I dozed until after take off.

Time to take in the surroundings. KA have a rather colourful approach to seats but it does brighten the cabin. See the photo at the end for more details.

Another 2.5 hours, and what to do? I made a long list of all the things I want to do this year and broke them down by month. Daydreamed about people and places. Amused myself by watching Wall Street without the sound so I could make my only dialogue up (this would make a great psychotherapy exercise as the results can be very telling about your state of mind), then tried to recall some of my favourite Dylan Thomas poems. Yes, I was that bored!

In this catatonic state you suddenly become aware of what is going on around you. The man across the aisle snoring, the kids in front playing a computer game that seemed to require a rhythmic thumping of the armrest and occasional cluttering of window shades. Another man who struggled with the concept that shouting isn't needed when you are wearing headphones.

Looking back it is interesting that at no point did I consider talking to either of my seat opponents. Sociologists can insert their musings about the atomisation of Western society here!

Another hour in and I was beginning to understand about meditation. Remarkable how soothing concentrating on your breaths can be. In...and out. Finally, sleep overcame me....

....and I awoke again as the 20min call went out and the crew hustled around tidying the cabin. HKG rarely has a hold so were pretty much straight in and on to stand a mere 3 hours late. I had survived almost 6 hours in a middle seat and didn't feel too bad at all.

So, what did we learn? Middle seats can be tolerable, at least on airlines that offer half decent seat pitch as Dragonair do. Flying is pretty dull. Delays are even duller. .Always eat decent food when you can to avoid being stuck with on board crap. .Never, ever underestimate the amount of reading material you'll need on a trip. Oh, and try to pack a very active imagination!

And the view?

Moomba Apr 1, 11 6:31 am

Reminds me of an experience I once had on UA down the back.

Checked my bag in at ORD only to be told 10 minutes later, sorry you ain't going nowhere due to snow storms. Come back tomorrow. Can I get my bag back? No.

Next day "can I fly today?" Yes. Check in again then on to aircraft pushed back into holding pen for 2.5 hours. What joy.

Finally arrived in BOS to a sea of checked bags that I had to pick over until I found mine. :rolleyes:

HIDDY Apr 2, 11 7:42 pm

A economy middle seat trip report from Swanhunter.

The world has gone mad. :confused:

belfordrocks Apr 3, 11 6:42 am

"seat opponents", hah! :D

Thanks for sharing.

LHR/MEL/Europe FF Apr 3, 11 7:47 am

thanks Swanhunter. Great read ^

Delays on the PVG-HKG route of 1-3 hours are so common! And the process is exactly as you describe. Food on ground, inflight magazine, duty free magazine, crappy tv on fold-down monitor sans sound, then... time for take-off... and another 2.5 hours with nothing to do.

It can be one of the most boring flights in the world!

Only once in the dozens of times I have taken the flight did we board in HKG, actually push back 15 mins early, and arrive in PVG 30 mins before schedule. It was weird. No-one knew what to do :D

Rickers Apr 4, 11 5:46 pm

Very entertaining Swanhunter -- thanks. ^

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 7:03 pm.

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.