Qantas: A review

I need to start with two apologies. One is that I haven’t written in a long time and that is not excusable, maybe it’s because I haven’t been out and about for a while and part of that reason is GTA. The other is that this article is part rant so if you know me then this is nothing new…

I enjoyed reading about British Airways by Steph so I thought I would also contribute my 2 cents with a review of a Qantas flight I just had. But let’s rewind a little to ‘getting to’ the actual airport in the first place:

For the first time ever, I was late for my flight. This was both humiliating and career limiting as my boss had to check in for me and by the time I received my final call from my boss while on the airport shuttle, I had only 2 mins before they would close the gate and I would be stranded in Sydney and not in Perth where I needed to be. Things were not looking good, and it was raining, and the traffic was terrible, like wanting to pee but being nowhere near a restroom.

I actually am reserving the right at this moment to tell you that it wasn’t my fault as the Airport shuttle service decided that 4:30am would be the pickup time and that they would get my address wrong so 10 mins was wasted dicking around and then I had to sign a bunch of stuff about my return flight etc. before the driver would actually move off from my driveway. Usually 4:30am is sufficient to get to the airport in time for a 6:30am flight however this day combined with whatever the sky threw at me equaled to me running from one end of the terminal to my gate… on the other side of the terminal. I worked cardio properly that day and vowed that I needed to get my fitness sorted. Luckily I had an excellent pair of ECCO business shoes on so the run was actually pretty good and I wasn’t in pain from uncomfortable shoes at the slightest. In hindsight I think I looked 100% heroic with belt and laptop slip in arm and cabin bag in tow at full sprint wearing business gear, you should have been there you would have gasped at the manliness of it all. When I got there one of the female attendants on the flight was standing alone at the gate waiting for me and she even asked me if I was OK when I feigned gasping for breath like a dying man. She graciously helped me with my bag and we walked to the plane together and she stowed the bag when I got to my seat which happened to be in the emergency exit when I am sure I didn’t book it. So far so good, I was late and looking like a lunatic but was afforded every comfort like I was the first to get in. All the more sad when the news that morning was about Qantas sacking 1000 staff and in the red financially.

Now that I was on board and getting comfortable I got myself a Coke and relaxed, the food that morning was potato cake, scrambled eggs and a pear muffin with yoghurt and some water and tea, oh and apple juice with 4 tic tacs, it was a smorgasbord of food (ok that might be an exaggeration). The attendants serving were courteous and efficient and I got my food pretty much before everyone else and I had choice so being late wasn’t all bad, except for the death stares from everyone in business and first class (walk of shame anyone?).

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Potato cake was OK actually. Eggs were a bit bland and I only found the salt after I finished – my sleuthing skills are crap. Also spot the 4 tic-tacs.

Touchdown in Perth was seen to approximately 3.5 hours later through which I learned that the infotainment system was not very touch sensitive and the table you see before you in the image above ¬†all folded out of the armrest . As it was partitioned into 2 halves the structure of the little table (only in the emergency rows) is a little weak and I was worried the whole time I had my 15″ Macbook Pro retina sitting on it (the Macbook not me) that it would collapse and my laptop would be damaged and I would not love it anymore.

All in all a comfortable flight with not too many disruptions via the announcements. I watched “The Crash Reel” a rather touching story of Kevin Pearce’s fall from snowboarding superstardom to traumatic brain injury (TBI) sufferer. As before touch control on the screens were not fantastic but that might be because I have dry hands. True/funny story, on the way back from Perth I was tapping slightly harder on the screen (this time behind another passenger) and I think I annoyed the heck out of her because the touches weren’t registering, I was very careful to press extra hard after that (and not tap hard – I’m not a toolbag… I think).

Getting back into Sydney was on Qantas again and the service was great. I managed to break the tab to open my can of Appletiser and got a replacement in a snap. Going home from the airport the shuttle service was once again shoddy by not turning up at the right time, not calling and then being late by which time I was already on the way home at 10pm from a 8:30pm landed flight, suggest you steer clear of this unless you plan to be late in which case maybe tell them you are on the earlier flight than you actually are and maybe you might be on time*.

*OK I might have had a bad run (2 trips) and I get that, I am sure you have had no problem with the airport mini-bus before right?

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Down Town Sydney Town

I realise that although I reviewed British Airways, I didn’t actually report back on our trip to Sydney.

It was a short, jam-packed 10-day trip plus a couple of days flying and even though many said it was almost not worth it, it totally was because it had been about 2.5 years since I’d been back.

We planned our trip based on what food we would eat and on the people we would meet up with.

Day 1: We arrived in the morning and after visiting Shaun at work we headed home and had lunch: Korean noodle soup with pork. Dinner was of course dumplings and man is it good to have home-made dumplings! I am drooling just thinking about them. We didn’t even really have jetlag which was amazing and then eventually it was off to bed after a stress-free day.

Day 2: After some successful shopping at DFO with my parents, we visited my friend who was to be married and had a nice afternoon at her place with her then fianc√© and their British Shorthair (cat). In the evening, it was Mamak. Asian food just isn’t the same in Germany, and there is a distinct lack of Singaporean/Malaysian food in Stuttgart.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

Day 3: The day of the wedding. Shaun and Justin prepared a gigantic breakfast of chorizo, bacon, eggs, caramelised onions, hash browns and bread. Let’s just say that by the time the wedding dinner rolled around, we still could not eat. Still, it was a good time and I got to meet up with the bride, her husband and a mutual friend of ours who no longer lives in Sydney. She’s Austrian and I spoke to her in German for the first time which totally spun her out!

The bride and groom

The bride and groom

Day 4: We had a party with a few friends, family and our neighbours at home. A feast including chicken curry, noodles, and some other staples in our family. It was a great night organised by our parents and it was nice to meet and hang out over mum’s amazing cooking.

Day 5: Some of this may now be mixed because we had pork belly once at a restaurant and once at home, but I think this is the day that Justin made some home-made pork belly that was delicious but extremely filling.

I think that’s enough to fill your bellies by overloading your eyes for today, so until next time, if you’re going to try these foods…at least give yourself a chance, do this ‘diet’ over a few weeks!

Here’s Sydney welcoming us home:

Oh hai, Sydney!

Oh hai, Sydney!

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British Airways: A Review

So we’re back from Sydney after many gruelling flights, the last of which saw us in the air for about 28 hours. We flew there and back STR-LHR-SIN-SYD-SIN-LHR-STR.

Needless to say, it was important that we were as comfortable as possible.

I’d flown long-haul with BA once before but that was alone, and it’s nice to travel in a pair. You don’t chat to other people as much but you also don’t have to go all ninja to protect your stuff whenever you need to go to the bathroom. You just say, ‘Hey, partner, can you watch my stuff?’ if at all.

Snack LHR-STR

Snack LHR-STR

STR-LHR and back, we were in a small aircraft, all leather seats, quite old, but comfortable. The flight is only about 1.5 hours or so, making it nothing compared to the other two flights. We got a snack both times, and on the way back it was a pastrami croissant with American style mustard mayonnaise and cheese.

For the flight LHR-SIN-SYD we had a brand new aircraft, the 777-300ER. It was a bit of a freaky situation when the pilot announced that they were having some technical difficulties due to the fact that it was the very first time flying this particular aircraft. But, they solved all of that. Cool.

The journey was comfortable and it felt pretty darn good to sit in a brand new aircraft, all squeaky clean and shiny. The entertainment system was new and although this is not a new idea, it was good to be able to charge my phone via USB. I hadn’t uploaded any movies/shows onto my phone but the shows available were great. On the way to Sydney we watched 2 Guns and The Heat and thankfully got some sleep in too.

Entertainment SYD-SIN-LHR

Entertainment SYD-SIN-LHR

The aircraft

The aircraft

On the way back we didn’t have the ‘new’ aircraft anymore, but it was still quite a comfortable journey. Both times we had two seats in the middle section where there were only ever three seats, meaning there was no jumping over other passengers or constantly having to stand up for them. The joys of travelling in pairs!

The Food / The Service

English breakfast

English breakfast

I managed to finally get some pics on the return journey. The food was not bad with BA and the service was also good. Still not my favourite airline due to the lack of hot towels, but not a bad one either. They were generous with their drinks and food and were always happy to help.

Penne with minced meat

Penne with minced meat

Flying back, we had penne with grilled vegetables and cheese (or chicken with noodles), penne with minced meat (they love their penne!), an english breakfast (or omelette with cheese) and a bread roll sandwich.

The ‘Bonuses’

There weren’t too many of these, and one steward even said that they don’t serve ‘snacks’ in our carriage. The little baggie on each seat contained headphones, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Socks and sleeping masks were available on request. Nothing special here.

Summary

British Airways was always good for short-haul trips, but after my experience with them long-haul, I’d say that they do a darn good job with that too. The staff on each of the 6 flights were lovely and helpful, the food was decent even if it wasn’t anything spectacular and the entertainment system was great despite the audio on two of my flights being faulty. I would love to try flying Business class with BA some day!

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Get in my belly

Ok so I am only getting around to posting now because we’ve just been enjoying spending time in Australia with the family and meeting up with friends. The weather was amazing for the first 3 days but now it’s raining and hopefully it’ll get better again soon.

Brekky at home

Brekky at home

It’s been a bit of a food adventure because mum’s cooking is the best thing ever. Our first night here we had homemade dumplings, we’ve also had meals with friends, a wedding, a big brunch with chorizo, hash browns, eggs, onions and of course, bacon.

But tonight, we are feasting on homemade pork belly. The meat was bought this afternoon, then scored with a sharp knife and seasoned with pepper, salt, olive oil and vinegar. Then it was up in the oven at 210 degrees for 40 minutes with the skin side down, and then another 40 minutes the other way around.

Pork ready to get in my belly

Pork ready to get in my belly

Slicing the pork belly

Slicing the pork belly

We’ve only got a few more days here (til Saturday) but we have a lot more planned and I will make sure I post about our BA long-haul experience when I return to Germany. Til then, hope you’re keeping dry!

Heading home and what it’s like to be Voldemort…

It’s been over 2 years and because I’m going to uni in Germany, I haven’t had a chance to go back to Sydney since I arrived. It’s kind of weird to think about what’s changed since I’ve been away. I don’t think I’d know any of the hotspots anymore, and it’ll be weird to come back to a Sydney without its monorail.

Still, I am looking forward to being back, seeing my family and friends and discovering Sydney anew. They say home is where the heart is, and if that’s true, then I have two homes and both of them have bits of my heart, making me feel a bit like Voldy. Sydney is my first home, where I grew up, where my family is, where I can drive and where I feel at home and accepted because I’ve never had any racist remarks while I lived there. Then there is Stuttgart, a new home, where I am doing another degree, where I have learnt a new language and where my life is at the moment.

I guess this is what it’s like to be a global citizen nowadays. It means to be like Voldy. We travel around the world and sometimes leave parts of us behind.

We’re only there for 10 days, which means that it’s a packed schedule for us, but we’re hoping to squeeze in as many home-cooked meals as possible, as well as perhaps a quick trip to the Hunter Valley. This will also be the first time for me flying with British Airways on a long-haul flight, so I will definitely do another flight review.

I’m excited to head home and visit the other part of me that I left in Sydney. Til then, I’m hunkering down and working on my personal website/portfolio for my final project. I’ll be back when it’s all over!