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'Mr Red Eyes’: Re-Qualifying for *G on TK, SAA, ET in Y (live)

'Mr Red Eyes’: Re-Qualifying for *G on TK, SAA, ET in Y (live)

Old Nov 20, 2016, 2:26 pm
  #1  
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'Mr Red Eyes’: Re-Qualifying for *G on TK, SAA, ET in Y (live)

[with a nod to ELO]

I’m a UK-based bmi exile, who ran into the warm Mediterranean embrace of Aegean as an alternate (easier) Star Alliance member, and have been Gold with them for 3 or 4 years. Last year I requalified easily, within 6 months, even after the new programme introduced more realistic requirements, but this year, because of TK and LX promo fares earning nothing, I’ve flown 42k on *A but still need 11k miles to requalify. By November 23.

I had a ZA trip planned for mid-November, so figured that a decent fare on SA or ET would do the trick. But then one prospect who I really wanted to see moved back a week, and a man in Accra gave me the same week (actually a single hour slot in that week) to meet before Christmas, and I got the opportunity to meet another prospect in Istanbul, which is sort of on the way to Africa.

And so I have a hard week of travel, with 4 overnight flights out of 6, and not the easy ones that I’m used to with direct LHR-JNB travel. The easiest is IST-JNB, a relaxing 10 hours, but ACC-LHR and JNB-ADD are both 5.5 hours, and I’m starting with the hardest of all (and I think one of the toughest red-eyes out there) – LHR-IST, dep 22:35, arr 05:15, scheduled time 3 hours 40 .

And it’s all in Y.

So here I am, in the LH lounge at T2, self-medicating on Bowmore and aiming to be asleep before pushback, and try to stay asleep until the person next to me wakes me up because the rest of the plane has got off.

‘But soon comes Mr Night’
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Old Nov 20, 2016, 2:59 pm
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A B gates departure, so now in the SQ lounge and anaesthetising on JW Black...
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Old Nov 21, 2016, 7:57 am
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Hey you with the pretty face, Welcome to the human race

TK1984, A321
Scheduled 22:35-05:15
Actual a bit earlier than that (check on FR24 if you really care)-04:50
Seat 23C

I have my kit sorted now for overnights in Y: inflatable neck pillow, eyemask, n/c earbuds and my secret weapons – a self-hypnosis ‘get to sleep’ track on the phone, and pajamas. Not actual pajamas, but some loose thin cotton pull-on trousers, which really make a difference.

So after the whiskies I changed into my pajamas in the toilet near the gate, and slouched onto the flight, in thin t-shirt a sharp contrast to all the parka-wearers. A full flight tonight, two neighbours in A and B, and hoping that they stay put. [I was amazed when I came to mid-flight to see them both tucking into ‘dinner’ at about 3am IST time , but thankfully neither moved].

I had eyemask on and earphones in before boarding was even complete, ignored the safety briefing and just surfaced at wheels up to register that it was only 22:40, and so we must have pushed back early. I managed a light doze for 3.5 hours before we landed into a dark and cold IST, parked at a remote stand and then stood on the bus for 10 minutes waiting for the driver to finish his chat. [Sometimes I think about starting an airport bus company to rival the monopoly of Cobus]. Off the bus and follow the signs to international transfers, a long walk the length of the terminal into the TK lounge, grab a couple of bottles of water and find a spot to doze.

I’ve done this before, off the overnight flight, snooze and shower in the lounge and then out to meetings in IST, and last time pre-coup the wait for a shower at 6:30 was an hour. So I dozed until then, only to be told by the shower lady that the wait was 2 hours. At least. And I need to be out of the airport by 8:30 for my meeting. So a shave in the sink, and a change of clothes in the toilet, and I’m feeling sub-human as I walk the length of the terminal again to find the transfer desk, go back into the arrivals stream, and immigrate.

I’ve done one red-eye out of 4 this week, and I’m hanging.

Crazy taxi drives, a durum doner with ayran, and an excellent meeting later, I’m back at the airport for my JNB flight tonight. A two hour snooze in the cinema room, a long shower (no queue early evening) and I’ve rejoined the human race.

Now it’s a couple of hours of work, a couple of films on the laptop, more self-medication (raki this time), and TK42 tonight…
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Old Nov 21, 2016, 4:08 pm
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TK42 - is anyone listening?

Hours in the IST lounge, raki and chicken kebaby bits and a chat to my kids, filling up 10 hours

And I'm going to give up on this tale of 'y' travel, without any acknowledgement....
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Old Nov 21, 2016, 4:51 pm
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Don't give up, Stewie Mac. Some of us still recognise that Y-class exists!

I have a double-red-eye IAH-DOH-(9-hr layover)-JNB all in Y. I'm dreading it.

Good luck with the rest of the flights.
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 5:03 am
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Oh yes, hang in there ! Star Gold status is worth some trouble

Take a picture or two while you are at it. I always love to gawk at TK's lounge food.
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 7:38 am
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please tell us why you had to hide away for so long, so long

TK42, A330
Scheduled: 02:25-11:25
Actual: I have no idea-11.00
Seat: 9G, which sounds like it might actually be in business on an A330, but wasn’t

So long. So so long. After my snooze, and my shower, and some work and some film and some calls, I go to check the screens. Two screens actually, showing only TK flights, about 60 of them. And my flight *still* isn’t showing. Nine hours in the lounge, about six too long, even for the TK lounge, which was much quieter and more pleasant in the evening. I had too many rakis, walked the entire length of the terminal (again) and boarded the flight, into 9G which was very definitely economy.

And then passed out, without neck pillow or eyeshades or earplugs, just zonked out before we even pushed back. Only to wake up an hour or so into the flight, when I was so confused that I actually said yes to the inflight meal. I had eaten half of it (a durum doner, I think) before waking up enough to realise what I was doing, whereupon I got rid of the tray and tried to get back into my routine. Except I’d lost my phone, so I then proceeded to dig through my carryon, in the dark, half-pissed and half-asleep, before feeling around on the floor and finding it under the seat in front.

Eyemask on, plugs in, sleep. Until around 10am, an hour before landing. A cool plane tonight, not the norm on TK ime, but good for sleeping and I really needed the sleep.

Thankfully we disembarked about three minutes ahead of the AF A380 from Paris, so only fifteen minutes in the immigration queue before going to the arrivals lounge, R250 for a shower and a return to humanity. And off to the Hertz kiosk for a hire car, a Mercedes because the choice when I booked last night was that or a bakkie, and it took me ages to work out how to get the thing into drive and find the USD plug for my music, and I realise that I normally book a Polo not just because it’s cheap but because it’s simple.

Good meetings, and now a coffee and a few minutes for this in the lobby at the Hyatt, my second home but sadly not staying here tonight.

Meeting another new prospect this evening for a beer, then back to the airport for the late flight down to CT, and at last a real bed, even if not until gone midnight. I was planning to take the early flight tomorrow morning, but it’s an SA flight ‘operated by Mango’, which means no miles

Thanks for the encouragement – five flights and two more redeyes to go.

PS I did think about adding some pics to this report, so obviously tried to take a few last night, but I have one very out of focus pic of the queue at the gate, and a picture of the floor. Maybe a couple of rakis too many...

Last edited by Stewie Mac; Nov 22, 2016 at 7:43 am Reason: to add PS
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 8:26 am
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Overall that sounds like not a bad flight, for a 10-hour overnighter in Y. Such flights for me tend to consist of much staring at the flight path on the screen, thinking "let me out of this %&$#;&Ł (pronounce that however you choose!) metal tube and give me back my life".

Good that you managed to get some sleep. I don't know how you do it.
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer
Overall that sounds like not a bad flight, for a 10-hour overnighter in Y. Such flights for me tend to consist of much staring at the flight path on the screen, thinking "let me out of this %&$#;&Ł (pronounce that however you choose!) metal tube and give me back my life".

Good that you managed to get some sleep. I don't know how you do it.
I used to be like you, not sleeping on overnighters, but a change of job three years ago means that I now do 20-25 overnighters a year, so I force myself to. Earplugs and eyemask are essential, and then when you do wake (as you do) you aren't tempted to look at anything, so just doze off again.

Clearly getting only a couple of hours dozing the night before helped me sleep, along with the bottle of raki!

I'm now in the lounge at JNB, here in time to switch from the 21.10 to the 20.15, but only business seats left on that and not worth $150 for an hour earlier.
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 11:20 am
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It would be nice to see some pictures.

Thanks.
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 11:39 am
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Life kicks you in the bollocks

[not an ELO lyric, but how I feel right now]

Lady in the lounge has just announced a 90 minute delay to the flight, so now dep 22:40, arr 00:40, at the hotel around 1:30 rather than midnight, and my bed gets further away...



Brettee, what do you want pics of?
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Old Nov 22, 2016, 5:19 pm
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Where did we go wrong?

SA375, A320
Scheduled: 21:10-23:15
Actual: 22:50-0:55
Seat: 11D

As noted above, I got to the airport early enough for the 20:15, but decided against paying to get on it. Actually, I went through security and asked in the lounge if I could get the earlier flight; the ladies there said that I’d have to go back landside to speak to the ticketing desk, and I couldn’t face that on top of the money. Ah well.

Anyway, with an hour or so to kill in the lounge, I decided to have another shower, feeling that it would be good to get a shower ‘in the bank’ so to speak, to make up for not being able to get one on Thursday morning after red-eye three, as the lounge in Addis is … rudimentary. Seeing Aigner toiletries in the lounge reminded me of a conversation a long time ago in the Hyatt forum, and gave me a smile.

The SAA lounge food is better than it used to be, and I got a decent plate of mixed salady bits to go with my Hansa, and caught up with some emails. Then they announced the delay, and I spent a couple of minutes feeling sorry for myself before seriously considering having another shower to pass some time. Instead, I watched a bit of the Dortmund-Warsaw CL game (and saw about 8 goals!) while following the Leicester and Spurs games on the BBC.

Then it was a walk down through a deserted terminal (our flight was scheduled to be the last domestic anyway) to the gate, where I was one of the last to board. I had checked in for the flight on the phone, while driving, and hadn’t paid much attention to the seat plan, so walked straight past row 11, which is the first row of economy and physically about row 5. SAA always confuse me with their seat numbering – on the widebodies you can be in row 45 and still be front row of economy.

Anyway, we’re quickly away and on our way, and this time I take the ‘light dinner’ and a coffee – the chicken curry was quite tasty but the pasta/potato thing in the middle was a bit… odd.



They gave us a remote parking slot, even though we were the only flight arriving in a seven hour window (23h-6h), so it was onto the bus and wait for the whole flight to disembark.



Cape Town airport was spookily quiet, the walkway to the hire car area deserted and I did have a moment of concern that Hertz might have packed up and gone home, even though it’s supposed to be 24/7, but all is well and I’m soon into a Polo, with music plugged into the obvious USB socket, and at my hotel by 2am.



Bed is very welcome.


Last edited by Stewie Mac; Nov 23, 2016 at 11:55 am Reason: adding pics
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Old Nov 23, 2016, 9:49 am
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Dortmund - Warsaw ended up 8-4. Quite bonkers.

I salute your dedication. Myself is 3 segment away of GA Gold this year (which only net to Skyteam Elite, grrr) and not sure of it's worth it. FWIW I only fly domestic with them and the perks are not very appealing but sufficient...
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Old Nov 23, 2016, 12:02 pm
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Originally Posted by blueferrari
Dortmund - Warsaw ended up 8-4. Quite bonkers.

I salute your dedication. Myself is 3 segment away of GA Gold this year (which only net to Skyteam Elite, grrr) and not sure of it's worth it. FWIW I only fly domestic with them and the perks are not very appealing but sufficient...
I'm not just doing this for the miles, it's a regular business trip - I did get slightly more expensive SAA tickets to get 150% miles rather than 50%, and if I didn't need the miles I'd do this evening's flights on KQ, slightly cheaper and with a very significantly nicer lounge mid-way. The status (and particularly lounge access) is a godsend for my travel pattern.
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Old Nov 23, 2016, 12:10 pm
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There ain't a cloud in sight (not)

SA364, B738
Scheduled: 18:30-20:25
Actual: didn’t notice but close-close again
Seat: 18C

Asleep in the end sometime around 2:30, and awake before the alarm at 7:15, and I’m actually feeling worse after a night in a bed than I did yesterday. A shower and a decent breakfast and I’m back on it ‘like a car bonnet’. There was quite a lot of rain overnight, so when I got back to the hire car (which I’d abandoned on the street outside at 2am) it looked super-pretty!



Today is busier but less productive than Monday or Tuesday, and the weather doesn’t help – it’s muggy and cloudy with some rain in the morning, and just cold in the afternoon. Southern hemisphere summer is a let down, and I couldn’t climb this even if I did have time (and once again I promise myself that one day I’ll make the time to go up).



Back to the airport, drop the hire car and the terminal is crammed, security busier than I’ve seen it for ages, and the SAA lounge hoaching. Having just looked at Ditto’s TR of his trip to CPT I have SLOW-lounge envy… my BA silver card just expired, so I’ve visited them plenty, and they are a cut above the SAA offering. The food here is basic and depleted, and there’s a bowl of something unidentified in a cold cabinet… it’s a long way from the little frozen profiteroles that they used to have in the SLOW lounge.



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If you look carefully in that pic, you can see metal spoons (and I think forks/knives, too) – clearly terrorists don’t have status. I thought that the below sign was an usual piece of security theatre for a country which doesn’t even bother with the farcical LAG ban on domestic flights…



SAA have also got rid of the bottled water, in exchange for dispensers, which is a pain for those of us who normally grab a few for the flights. I have a Hansa and do some emailing, and thankfully this time we’re bang on time for boarding. I was expecting an A320 but it’s a ‘Star Alliance’ painted 737-800 waiting for us, with real old school seating, the cushions almost worn through and hard, but with decent legroom for this 1:45 leg.





I had another Hansa, but passed on the ‘dinner’ offering; the photo below is from my seatmate in 18B, who was slightly surprised at my request for a photo but acquiesced. Brettee, don’t say that I’m not trying!



SAA always seem to use bus gates for their domestic arrivals at JNB, and this evening is no exception – I position well in the bus and am first off and in the pub a few minutes later.
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