Australia, July 2015 To perth, and beyond?

The Qantas lounge in Sydney domestic T3 is really nice, I have to say. I'm sure I must've been there before what with having flown from Sydney to Launceston, Perth and Melbourne in the past but it didn't really ring any bells. I took quite a while to find it because it's different to the "Qantas Club" which is some membership thing.

The lounge was empty - I guess that's quite normal for a Saturday - and had a fair bit of self-service food including the aforementioned pies. The booze is free, obviously, though not self-serve - there's a manned bar. I kinda like it that and kinda don't - free is good, but going to a bar to get a pint and not paying for it feels odd, plus it means there's at least one person who knows how much I'm having to drink (before I write it on here and tell my friends).

I grab a window seat and write the previous blog post, then sit back and watch the planes take off to a backdrop of hangars and a lovely sunset. Not overly excited by these flights - I mean, I'm excited by flying in general, but the first 2 of my homeward journey are basically guaranteed to be worse than any of the long haul outbound legs.

It's also time to get back in "what fucking timezone am I in?" mode.

I jump up as soon as they announce my flight is boarding and take the 3 minute walk to the gate. There are loads of people hanging around; my flight is not boarding. But it starts soon enough and fast track works. I'm in 3A and no-one sits next to me until the very last minute. Gah.

Domestic business class on Qantas, on a lot of planes, is not the height of luxury. They have some really nice seats, and are refurbishing a lot of their fleet, and indeed fly Sydney to Perth on weekdays on nicer planes than this 737-800. But this 737-800 has seats I am not relishing spending 5 hours in. Definitely the worst leg of the 6 on this ticket.

There is a nice menu though, and an entertainment screen better than BA's long haul fleet used to have, and I'm expecting a decent booze service. Before we leave they offer us water or a non-alcholic fizzy red wine - I opt for the latter and it is fucking disgusting.

My seatmate is Johnny Elbows who seems unable to decide what he wants from his bags so is up and down a lot at the start - I seem to be the only person who puts hand baggage under the seat in front of them. The pilot comes on to give a fair dinkum Aussie greeting to everyone and implores us to say g'day to the person we're sat next to. Neither of us move our heads.

I browse the movies and there are literally none I'm interested in watching, so opt instead for a TV show called The Spoils of Babylon. It's a bit meh. I see what they're trying to do and the cast should make it funnier than it is, but they don't.

The cabin is really hot so I put my air vent on full blast. The temperature combined with sticky leather seats makes me uncomfortable. A 150 Lashes beer arrives, along wth some spectacular nuts (edible, not concrete) and I perk up a bit, though still feeling hemmed in. The potato and leek soup is nice, the salmon too but a bit dry. There's only one other unsolicited drinks service in the 5 hours.

I don't remember the food being so grainy.

As we descend, the pilot wishes a happy 18th birthday to passenger Sean and tells him "don't die wondering, mate".

At the start of the journey, the stats said we would likely arrive nice and early - 1945 on a 2025 schedule. In the end we land pretty much bang on time and I fret about the transfer procedure plus whether I made the right call to change my Perth-Doha seat to 5F back in Sydney. I can never stop obsessing about these things anyway, but my experience with Johnny Elbows has made me want someone sitting next to me even less.

Perth airport really is 2 separate airports, rather than separate terminals. Bit like Heathrow except way way smaller. The way you transfer from T3 Domestic to T1 international is to go down the escalator and catch a bus from next to the cab rank. I can see a bus there, but not how to get to it, and panic a bit that I'll miss it. Boarding starts at 2135 and it's already 2045.

I find my way to the queue just as it starts to board and am virtually the last person to get on. It's a fair drive to get to T1 but I am happy enough with the time, especially as I have already filled out my departure card and am clutching a fast track express lane voucher given to me at Sydney for use here.

There is no fast track express lane at Perth international terminal. But there is a queue of about 80-100 people ahead of me and only 3 people checking passports. Thankfully no-one seems to be checking them too assiduously and most people just get waved through, especially them seen by the guy whose desk I went up to. Looked proper zoned out.

I nearly lost all my boarding passes at the x-ray machines, and have written "x-ray odd" in my notebook but can't remember what was so odd about it. I do recall people refusing to wait at the end of the roller but instead just bunching up where the trays first appear. Sigh.

The walk from there to the departure gates is one of those corridors of a building site type affairs, "please excuse our appearance while we make Perth a world class international airport". I'm not overly sure why they need to bother - this is the most isolated city on earth and there's not a lot of arrivals, departure, or transit passengers (there are only 5 gates!) to make the upgrade worth it IMO. It's already a perfectly decent airport and compact is good. But whatever.

I'm at the lounge by 2115. The woman at the desk is super-smiley and when I hand her my boarding pass she says "Oh! Mr Foreman! No, wait, it's not you I need, it's a South African". Um, OK. I grab a beer and try to twist the bottle top off which really fucking hurts my hand. The bottle opener is more successful and I perch on a seat next to the big TV showing England's bowling attack running riot over the Australian batsmen in Cardiff. When Brad Haddin is caught by Cook I shout "gone! yes!" much to the obvious disdain of the many disappointed locals around me.

There are no announcements for Qatar Airways until final call, but I go once the screen says boarding is open and indeed it is. There's a well marshall fast track lane so I hand my 5A boarding pass to the man and he scans it with his machine, which beeps and turns red and shows the phrase "unable to board". Well OK then.

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