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Big DO DOs - or A Kiwi Flyer's Month of Madness

Big DO DOs - or A Kiwi Flyer's Month of Madness

Old Oct 17, 05, 4:15 pm
  #16  
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A NOUVELLE EXPERIENCE WITH AIR NEW ZEALAND continued

Boarding the aircraft is very quick – load looks to be about two thirds today, and we depart on time. Having seen the movies on offer I read the newspaper and settle in for the quick flight. The FA was very good – realising the flight time is short and not long enough to watch some of the movies she took the DVD orders before take-off to make them ready and also warned against seeing the longer playing movies.

Breakfast was nice (love the Air New Zealand fruit smoothies) – menu below.

BREAKFAST Auckland to Noumea

Beverages
Start your day with a fruit smoothie, your choice of juice, freshly brewed or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate

Continental Selection
Fruit selection with assorted cereals and yoghurts

Croissants, muffins, white and wholemeal toast with fruit conserve

Hot Options
Mushroom, parsley and oregano omelette with chicken sausage and tomato

Smoked fish rosti with poached eggs and creamed dijon mustard sauce

Blueberry ricotta pancakes with streaky bacon and manuka honey and apple syrup


On the same menu there’s 2 lunch menus. These weren’t served on my flight, but for those interested in these things I’ll include for completeness.

LUNCH Auckland to Noumea

Starter
Manuka coached king prawns with fennel, baby curly endive, mango and dill dressing

Main Course
Spicy lamb wrap with capsicum, rocket, hummus and caponata in a soft flour tortilla

Confit of chicken thigh, pureed kumara, warm leek and watercress salad with chicken consomme

Hotpot of New Zealand seafood, broccolini, piko piko, baby onions and walnut sauce

Dessert
Ice cream dessert of Kapiti blackcurrant and blackberry and Kapiti gingernut ice cream

Cheese
A selection of fine New Zealand cheese and preserved fruit

Beverages
Freshly brewed or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate

LUNCH Noumea to Auckland

Starter
Herb roasted chicken salad with fig, olives and mustard vinaigrette dressing

Main Course
Prime beef tournedos with creamed vegetable pot au feu sauce, potatoes, green bean and bacon brochette and red onion compote

Salmon fillet and mushroom duxelle wrapped in puff pastry with sweet potato and snow peas

Pan seared New Zealand lamb with mint, potato cakes, slow roasted tomato and broccolini

Dessert
Mont Blanc pastry filled with chestnut crème

Cheese
A selection of fine New Zealand cheese and preserved fruit

Beverages
Freshly brewed or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate
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Old Oct 17, 05, 6:18 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer
Dessert
Ice cream dessert of Kapiti blackcurrant and blackberry and Kapiti gingernut ice cream
Hmmmm, yum yum... have tried all last March in Wellington. Make me wanting to fly to NZ asap. Just for the ice cream. So far only having the one in the tubs, no cone yet.
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Old Oct 17, 05, 6:28 pm
  #18  
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Air NZ always serves the ice cream in a bowl.
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Old Oct 17, 05, 6:40 pm
  #19  
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NOUVELLE CALEDONIE

We had a couple of turns over the coastal hills coming into land on a very uneven runway (big dip) at Tontouta airport. Short walk in the morning warmth across the tarmac to the terminal. Immigration is quick and then its off to change some money. New Caledonia is as expensive as Tahiti and I’d heard horror stories of the taxi fares on the long drive into Noumea – so bus for us.

The drive is pleasant (bus is airconditioned) with nice scenery. Not as lush as I’d expected – more scrubby areas mixed with cultivated parts. Surprisingly the road climbs a small hill on the way in. I’m not sure why (perhaps due to other south pacific islands I’ve been to?) but I’d expected a trip along the coast. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the town, which is built on a peninsula with many picturesque bays and rolling hills.

Dropped off at hotel and check in. Then a quick stop at supermarket before a stroll over some hills and around the bays to find somewhere nice for a picnic. Along the way stop into the city market – lots of fresh fruit and veges but not much else. It got hot in the middle of the day, but a fresh breeze stopped it being excessive and helped to keep the humidity at bay. Much later, as the heat starts to subside and dusk rolls in, walk back into town. The main square, Place de Cocotiers, is humming. There’s a festival on at the moment and so live performers are keeping the small crowd well entertained with a mixture of traditional and pop, dance, song and of course Polynesian drums. Very nice way to spend the evening and it’s plenty warm enough even at night.

Didn’t get out of the town during the short stay, but plenty of walks in the sun, etc. Also visited the museum of New Caledonia. Transfer bus back to the airport – collected from hotel so no need to lug bags around.
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Old Oct 18, 05, 1:32 pm
  #20  
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A NEW AIRLINE TO NEW ZEALAND BY AIR CALIN

Check-in is quick and it’s off to immigration where they have trouble finding my entry stamp to put the exit stamp next to. That completed, I have a quick look around the small terminal – duty free is open but not good value, exchange bureau is closed. Upstairs to the Air France lounge. It’s fairly small but perfectly adequate for small aircraft elite & business pax. May be crowded when the larger aircraft are used. Has the standard amenities – coffee, drinks, nibbles, one computer terminal, a couple of newspapers and magazines (mostly in French of course). Soon enough it’s time to board, and I notice the exchange bureau is now open so get rid of the remaining French Polynesian Francs.

The set-up of Air Calin’s A320 is almost identical to Air NZ. The most obvious difference being the seat covers. Even the business class IFE set-up is the same – a choice of watching the screen or personal DVD. There’s only 6 DVDs to choose from and IMO not a particularly inspired selection.

However, there the similarities end. Perhaps I was just unlucky but the FA was obviously bored with his job. I should have seen the warning signs – pre-departure drink is orange juice or nothing, during the safety video he just stood around and didn’t even bother to indicate the exits. Service didn’t get any better during the meals. Only coffee offered, no tea, water or juice. Slop the bread roll onto the tray so it nearly falls onto the floor. Never proactive – asking if need anything, instead just hangs around the galley unless someone has called him.

The breakfast was fairly bland. Some fruit, yoghurt, bread roll and croissant, corn flakes. The bi-monthly magazine has every article duplicated - once in French and once in English.

So it was interesting flying an airline I’d never flown with before, but rather disappointing standards. Although I couldn’t see anything printed that said so I had the distinct impression Air Calin is owned by Air France.

On arrival back at Auckland we again have a bus gate. Then a stampede to get to immigration. Most pax were either not Australian/New Zealand passport holders, or infrequent travellers oblivious to the fast-track immigration line and walked straight by to the main queues. So had no wait despite my fears with several wide-bodies having recently landed before us. My arrival form causes a moment of confusion as I had entered the Air New Zealand codeshare flight number (booked under this to get a reasonable fare and also for the miles of course). Soon cleared up and on my way with just a short delay at the agriculture x-ray screening.
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Old Oct 18, 05, 1:44 pm
  #21  
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DAY 10 UPDATE

For those keeping track, here is a map of my itinerary so far. 9178 flown miles, 8 flights, 4 airlines, 2 countries and 1 dependency, 100 miles by bus & unknown amount by taxi.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Oct 23, 05 at 6:54 pm
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Old Oct 21, 05, 4:19 am
  #22  
 
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Nice stuff so far, Kiwi Flyer. Interesting to read about Air Calin, and that there's an Air France lounge in NOU. I never knew AF flew there. I can't find a route map on the AF site to find where they fly there from...
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Old Oct 21, 05, 10:38 am
  #23  
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IIRC Air France flies there from Japan (Osaka?). The flights to the remote South Pacific outposts of France (New Caledonia and Tahiti) go in opposite directions around the globe.
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Old Oct 22, 05, 1:07 am
  #24  
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TO AUSTRALIA BY QANTAS

Another day dawns, another trip to the airport. Wait a moment and scrub that. For this is yet another early flight which means getting up at OMG o'clock - just a couple of hours or so after staggering into bed - and stumbling out the door in a zombie state.

In one of my other trip reports I mentioned how surprisingly often I get crazy taxi drivers. I'm still debating whether the driver on the way out to the airport is crazy or merely sleepy/drunk/all of the above. I found myself shocked awake from my initial dozing when the cab swerved towards the median barrier and somehow just manage to miss it. After that I paid close attention to the erratic driving. He struggled to stay in the lane, didnt seem to believe in indicators and at one point stopped at a green traffic light despite absolute no vehicles around at that early hour. I was sorely tempted to ask the driver to stop and call another, but was put off by the likelihood of missing my flight and also by the storm raging outside. I also remembered I had suffered through worse driving elsewhere and survived without incident. Was I right in just gritting my teeth or was I not thinking clearly in a sleep deprived state?

We make it to the airport, where I find an unexpected sight. The Qantas premium check-in area is closed I guess someone(s) was sick or slept in. Fortunately the queues in regular check in arent long, but it does mean I need to visit the bank to pay departure tax (can pay for this at premium check-in area but not the regular counters), and also no immigration pre-clearance. The agent struggles with her computer to print out my boarding passes. The first one is eventually done but keeps printing someone elses for the second. Another agent manages to get it printed and so off to the bank, where there's a long queue. A short queue at immigration and then off to the lounge for a glass of water and a read of the paper.

Boarding is quick and efficient, even with the extra carry-on screening that Qantas seems to require "because of Australian government regulations" that Air NZ (and I now know Emirates also) doesnt need for trans-tasman flights. I like the international config 767 as it seems to have lots of space compared to some of the other aircraft Qantas uses.

The flight passes fairly quickly. Breakfast is okay. Debate whether to have coffee or try to sleep - end up going for the caffeine boost. It seems I won the lottery that is QF service level - the crew today are absolutely fantastic every one of them. Its just a shame they arent all as good. We land at Sydney early but then I experience the other side of the coin of late departures. Not long ago in Melbourne we had to push back and park to free up a gate. Today we waited 15 minutes for departing aircraft to clear the gate.

Out the airbridge and holy cow - the immigration queue is backed up way past the arrivals duty free shop. I know from previous experience arriving this time of day that a queue this long cant be good. Sure enough it takes over an hour to reach the immigration desks. I'm quickly processed and then its join another queue for the agriculture xrays. By now I'm wondering if will make the comfortable connection of over 2 hours. Takes another 20 minutes to reach the checker of the arrival cards, and then get a lucky break. Given how backed up the arrivals are they let the low risk pax through without x-ray. Coming from New Zealand with only carry-on it seems today I'm low risk enough. Woohoo - saved a good 15 minutes further waiting I reckon.

Off to the domestic transfer bus departure point where I see bus leave just as I arrive at the door. Fortunately its only 20 minute wait until the next one.
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Old Oct 22, 05, 7:52 am
  #25  
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A MAD-CAP "DAY" OF FLYING

I manage to get a possie near the bus doors and bolt as soon as the bus arrives at domestic terminal after the short drive. Up the escalators and race to the nearest bank of monitors. Hmmm boarding has started. All up its taken over 2 hours since we landed. For those planning tight connections international->domestic at Sydney around this time of day, be aware I have had even longer transfers on ocassion. On good days an hour should suffice all up.

SYD-CNS on QANTAS A332

I'm glad that most connections aren't as rushed as this and settle in. When the IFE starts there's the usual 5 minute Qantas promo, followed by an ad trumpeting Qantas' IFE as the Best in the World. I'm not sure what criteria where used by on my own experiences it would definitely not be best in the world. Anyway, what grabs my attention is the line "You have been watching the World's Best IFE". Excuse me? At this point all we've seen are the safety video and an ad for Qantas.

The flight passes quickly. Food is good and decent quantities (please take note Air NZ!). FA service is again great, and I dont just mean for me. Somehow we arrive quite late into Cairns. This has me a little worried as check-in for the next flight will be closing shortly. The arrival gate is at the left hand end of the domestic terminal and so this means a long walk through the outside corridors to the right hand end and passed the baggage claim with doubling back to the check in. I walk fast.

CNS-SYD on A332

As I rock up to the check-in counter, card in hand, the agent holds a printed BP and says "Kiwi Flyer I presume". Ha - must be the last passenger to check in. Even better she has printed the boarding pass for the following leg as well ^

There's a big queue at security screening but make it airside just as boarding starts. Make a quick stop in the Qantas Club to freshen up and then back on board.

We have the same crew and the return flight isnt quite as full so enough time for a bit of a chat. The same meal is offered despite being called "lunch" on the way up and "dinner" on the way down.

Other than being late (due to the late arrival at Cairns), the flight is uneventful. At least on arriving back at Sydney I have a more relaxed connection and enough time for 1 drink in the Qantas Club before back out to the gate for the next flight.
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Old Oct 22, 05, 9:20 am
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer
Off to the domestic transfer bus departure point where I see bus leave just as I arrive at the door. Fortunately its only 20 minute wait until the next one.
If you just missed the bus, wouldn't be faster to take the train to the domestic terminal? Just curious for my future reference.
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Old Oct 22, 05, 9:24 am
  #27  
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Possibly - but it would be down to luck. Need to exit the transfer bus lounge (which likely to cause a fuss if already gone through screening - but cant see if bus there or not until after through screening), then back to train station, get ticket A$4. Trains are only every 10 minutes or so.
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Old Oct 23, 05, 12:07 pm
  #28  
 
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Thank you for this report. We are all looking forward to hearing about the rest of your adventure. You have got a lot more coming up. Lots of flights, places to visit and people to meet.
Have fun, enjoy your travels. Look forward to hearing about the fabled Frankfurt Lufthansa F class Lounge. Remember to take pictures everywhere you go.
Hope you caught some beautiful sunsets in Noumea. It has some of the best in the world.
A bientöt.
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Old Oct 23, 05, 6:42 pm
  #29  
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A MAD-CAP "DAY" OF FLYING CONTINUED

SYD-PER on QANTAS 738

Having flown both north and south I've now seen all the movie shows currently screening for Qantas domestic flights. The longer flight to Perth also has several tv shows (eg Everybody Loves Raymond) - but I'd seen these coming across from New Zealand. So for this flight I tune out of the IFE on offer and instead plough through some work-related papers. I also take the opportunity for a couple of mini-naps, having been up for so many hours already today is starting to take a toll.

The flight goes quickly (maybe I am getting too used to longhauls?). For the fourth flight in a row the service is good (perhaps not quite as excellent as the earlier flights). I cant remember having this long a run of good service on Qantas flights. Perhaps whatever problems they have had are being resolved? Another dinner meal - this time with different offerings to the earlier domestic flights.

On arrival at Perth head to the Qantas Club to check in for my next flights, only to see a sign "No check in at Qantas Club tonight". Head landside where I find out that apparently Qantas computers are down and so check in will be done manually.

PER-SYD on QANTAS 767 (international config)

Check-in takes a while as seem not to be used to doing things manually. I guess it doesnt happen very often. Through security where I get "randomly selected" for the explosives check (swipe parts of clothing and carry-on surfaces). I'm not sure if its they way I dress or the things I carry or the way I rush through the screening (all organised - know what I'm doing - efficient), but I seem to be picked for this check in Australia far more than the odds. It looks to me that perhaps one in ten passengers is checked this way (and never airport or airline staff), but yet I get it well over 50% of the time. At least it is only a small delay (30 seconds), unlike in say the US if you get specially selected at screening.

Spend a little bit of time in the Qantas Club and then its time to board. Remarkably boarding is pretty much on time, so it seems the manual check-in has worked smoothly. However, once on board the illusion is shattered. For the second time in a couple of weeks I spend an hour sitting on the aircraft at the gate, this time while they try to reconcile the head count and complete the paperwork. As it is now after 1am local time, and 6am by my body clock, I'm not appreciating the delay one bit. I complained earlier in this trip report about Emirates not helping their passengers during the lengthy delay. Sadly, the Qantas crew also do nothing often than a periodic announcement from the captain "thanks for your patience - will just be 10 more minutes". With the cabin lights all on, we all struggle to sleep.

Finally we are cleared to push back. A while after take off the FAs roll through with the supper service. I doubt there'd be many (if any) takes given its about 2am Perth time and 4am Sydney time. I doze fitfully through the flight. The gremlins are at it again and my overhead light refuses to switch off Ironically less than a month ago I had another Qantas flight in the evening where it refused to swtich on. On this flight there's no breakfast service - trying to let everyone sleep as long as possible.

With such a late departure we arrive very late into Sydney, not helped by air traffic putting us into holding pattern over Royal National Park. There's a couple of other flights waiting for connecting passengers, but fortunately my connection was longer - especially since the computer being down meant I couldnt get the onward boarding pass in Perth.

SYD-CNS on QANTAS 734

I head up to the Qantas Club and get the next boarding pass issued. The computers are still down but check in is very quick as they seem to be prepared for all connecting passengers. Have just enough time to check some messages and its back downstairs to board the next flight.

Meal is breakfast this time. Flight goes quickly as I try to sleep. Again pull into the left hand gate - same one as almost 24 hours earlier. No checked bags so straight out of the terminal and into a cab for the short ride into town.
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Old Oct 23, 05, 6:46 pm
  #30  
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DAY 17 UPDATE

For those keeping track, here is a map of my itinerary so far. 18269 flown miles, 14 flights, 4 airlines, 2 countries and 1 dependency, 100 miles by bus & unknown amount by taxi.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Oct 23, 05 at 6:53 pm
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