Once everyone is onboard, we go nowhere. I'm asked if I want a refill so sure, why not? On the TV I put on American Animals, the movie I attempted to watch in first class en route to Sydney and failed dismally due to a combination of equipment failure and being way too hammered. Pretty good. I enjoyed it.
We continue to stay at our gate, being told that a passenger had been taken ill and was not going to be flying with us, so it was taking a bit of time to offload their bags.
Scrambled egg with chicken skewers and potatoes is nice. I wash it down with ... wait for it ... wait for it ...
PRESSED CARROT JUICE. You heard.
Later in the flight I will recall that a couple of weeks ago I placed a pre-order online for a particular meal, and there was no hint of it today. I don't remember what it was, and I do know that the pre-order meal stuff disappeared off their website recently so maybe it just got abandoned as an offering.
Around 2pm, an hour late, we land at Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) airport terminal five. As soon as I turn my phone on the Qatar Airways app impresses me with the notifications you get.
By now I'm pretty tired, and walking through the terminal I'm overtaken by a fair number of people. Nonetheless at the 4 passport desks there's not that many in front of me, and I take my place in a short queue at an "All passports" desk.
Within a couple of minutes the queues at all desks are substantial, and moving fast, except for the one I'm in. Fuck knows what's going on, maybe everyone in front of me is claiming asylum or something. After 20 minutes I finally snap, leave my place and get waved through by one of the now bored police manning an EU desk with no queue any more.
The wait annoyed me, but needn't have, since by the time I get to belt 6 the bags still aren't coming out. Once they do and I grab mine and set off on what I discover is a long, long, long, long, long walk to Terminal 2 (confusingly named "Terminal 2 3"). When I'm finally there, a full half hour or so later - though I am not speedy - there are signs to intra-airport transport to Terminal 5. Why couldn't I see any signs at the other end? Grr.
At some empty benches I stop to repack my suitcase, as my hand luggage is bursting at the seams with two new amenity kits and a pair of pyjamas. Qatar Airways broke one of the things on my case, making it almost impossible to lock properly and a pain to even close. Bah. But I manage it and then go into the terminal proper. The BA desks looks about ready to close, because there's a flight in 40-odd minutes, but he's OK to take my bag for the 6.05pm flight I'm booked on.
Fast Track security is an embarrassing experience; it's just a separate bar-code scanning gate which deposits you in a bit where you just filter into, aka jump, the main queue - which at the time was very very busy. I hated it. It felt like a Scandinavian anti-pomposity measure and if so, it totally worked.
I was a little surprised to learn that the lounge BA use here is a shared lounge, because they have like 4 or 5 flights a day which I thought might justify their own thing. But no, it's a Menzies lounge called Aurora. To reach it you have to walk right through the middle of a faux Boston Irish pub. Not Irish, but specifically Boston Irish. Odd.
Inside I get on the wifi, have a plate of disappointing food, and pour myself a half pint of nothing but froth from the self-serve beer tap. Fucks sake. Why does this ALWAYS happen? It's not like I don't know how to pour beer! Grr. Anyway I get online to publish the previous entry, then change seats to something inadvisably comfortable.
For the next half hour or so my blinks turn into mini-sleeps, and I really don't want to sleep and miss my flight. So I pack up and leave way earlier than necessary and go through passport control to the gate. Thankfully the border to leave is way quicker than the border to entry and I'm 20 minutes or so before boarding, listening to a wrestling podcast. The movement has perked me up enough to stay open-eyed until boarding starts and I plonk into seat 2K.
That there is a seat letter K on this plane betrays its size. Once a day (until BA retires them all next month) a Stockholm service is operated by a wide twin-aisle Boeing 767. These are clapped out old planes but viewed by some with misty eyes. I'm on it by accident rather than deliberately having picked it, but there are some advantages over the smaller short-haul planes.
Sitting in row 2 is not one of them. On the sides of the plane, row 2 is the first row, meaning put everything up top that you can't store in the magazine rack - so basically the iPad. Thus I can't keep access to my camera, which I regret massively as we taxi around the tarmac and I'm treated to spectacular clear views of a huge moon. Oh well, never mind. I'll just read the menu instead.
A top-up arrives unbidden. Uh-oh. This is all starting to feel like a terrible idea. I just want to sleep, I don't really want to drink or eat but I can't seem to help it. The prawn thing is nice, the salad pointless, the bread and cheese and dessert all particularly good.
After the meal I'm given another top-up, and then "y'know what I'll get you a fresh glass" - she disappears to the galley and comes back with two, because "they're so small it seems daft to have eto keep topping you up".
Oh my god. So now I've got loads of champagne and I can barely keep my eyes open and the turbulence hits, so I pretty much down the existing one just so I can keep my hands on the other two and avoid spillage.