Leaving on a jet plane Not entirely sure when I'll be back again.
No visit from the girls on Tuesday morning. Have I, or my iPad, fallen out of favour I wonder? It's my last day in Sydney and there's basically nothing to do. The original plan was to do the walk we did on Monday, and weather was meant to be shitty anyway. So I just stayed in bed until gone 11am, listening to podcasts or watching wrestling or iPlayer stuff.
Sunny as anything when I finally emerged. Where was all this heavy rain and thunderstorms? Nowhere, that's where. OK so the ground was pretty wet because apparently it had been ropey at 5am, but by midday it was lovely. So when Kevin got home from work, we instantly popped out to go get lunch at a fantastic Thai place round the corner. The menu confused me because it used the same photo for 2 very different dishes.
After lunch and a walk through a local park by a creek, with a very picturesque storm drain, to go get the kids from vacation daycare.
I had a few hours to kill, with a flight at 9pm. Originally we were going to aim for the airport at 7pm, but in the end it was good to not do that since Qantas close check-in really early. 6pm was the new target, but after a couple of hours of excessive Fruit Ninja tournament play plus "throw pieces of a ring off a tablemat and try to catch it" games we all kinda got a bit meh, so let's just go to the airport. This way the girls aren't too tired or grumpy at the send-off, plus they still get fed at the right time.
Both of them offered to carry my bags for me, and made a good first of holding them... for a few seconds each. Harry in particular rewound her claim of them not being too heavy fairly sharpish.
Despite traffic jams caused by Australians being unable to comprehend filter lanes in their own big cities, we're at the airport for 5.15pm or so. That's very early. Hugs are exchanged and off to the business class check-in desk I go. There's barely anyone around, which surprises me a bit because it's not like Qantas only have one flight a day from here now is it.
At check-in, I'm handed boarding passes for the whole way home which is reassuring, as neither airline with whom I'm flying had managed to issue me one to my phone. I chose to check my holdall and confirmed that, since I was in an exit row seat, I was "somewhat willing" to help out in an emergency, and didn't have any broken legs.
I asked the lady at the desk whether I could use the Emirates lounge and she thinks probably not. I query this, since there's such a close tie-in between Qantas and Emirates and she offers to phone ahead for me. I decline this, saying I'll just chance my arm at the desk. I've got plenty of time to kill after all.
The Emirates lounge is a very long walk from the entrance, placed by the furthest gate away from where my plane will depart. I hand my boarding pass over at the desk and ask if it lets me in, what with the relationship and everything? She replies very apologetically - and calling me Mr Foreman, which is a noticeably nice touch, since all she'd done is scan a boarding pass - that since Emirates don't codeshare on the Tokyo route I'm not allowed in, but should feel free to visit the Qantas lounge. Ah well, fair enough.
Back at the Qantas lounge bit I make the tiniest of grimaces as I go past the first class entrance to the business class bit. It's a bit annoying - I've paid first class mileage and taxes to get home but this leg is "only" in business class since there is no first class on the plane. I'm familiar with the first class lounge too so know what I'm missing.
To my surprise, I'm unfamiliar with the business class lounge. How have I not been here before? I've had a card which allows me access to it for like 10 years now, but ... wait ... in 2006 I flew domestic from Sydney. In 2008 I had a card for the first class lounge. In other years I flew Star Alliance airlines, in 2014 I flew first class, in 2015 I flew domestic... holy shit, I've never been here before!
It's bloody great. And empty. Not only-punter-here empty, but pretty damn close. I turn left, grab a seat in the genuinely empty section at the end, and go for a bit of an explore. There are long marble tables with places set for eating, a currently-closed self-service food area with a currently-open one at the other end, giant piles of cheese, decadent cakes, and disappointing goulash.
I see someone drinking fizzy wine. What? Where? I google the wine next to the mimosa and, oh! Chardonnay pinot noir is fizzy? I had no idea. I know next to fuck all about wine except for the fact that I only like it if it's fizzy, and I thought fizzy wine was called champagne, prosecco, or cava. Apparently not. So I go pour myself a glass, and it's fucking disgusting. Bleurgh. Best get another bottle of lager to get rid of that taste.
My boarding pass says boarding starts at 8.15pm. The Qantas app says 8.20pm, and the departure boards 8.30pm. I opt for the former, being unfamiliar with surroundings as I am. Gate 8 is full of people but people do seem to be boarding, and there's a queue in the business class line so I figure it might already be open.
Immediately I join the line, an announcement is made that, listen, right, we're only boarding families with small kids and people who require special assistance so can everyone else just chill the fuck out. Oops. Announcements are also made for the flights at adjacent gates to Samoa and Hawaii, and I'm more impressed than expected that each of them are bilingual.
Then, we board. Hurrah! I wander down the airbridge and through gate B, welcomed with a big smile and I can already see my seat from the door. Exit row 5J, renowned as the best seat on the plane for the solo traveller. Hello, legroom!
It might look like I'm just in a seat, but I'm not, it's a business class turns-into-a-bed thing, don't worry. The fixtures and fittings are of course not up to my first class flight last week's standards, but hey, they're pretty damn good and especially the storage compartment being next to me is fantastic.
There's a menu - though I've picked my food in advance - as well as a breakfast menu in the style of something you'd hang off a hotel room door to order breakfast room service. Some pyjamas arrive - pyjamas! In business! Is this only something airlines beginning with Q do or summat? Also an amenity kit, TV screen in the armrest, and seat controls which have a 'save' button. That's new to me.
Champagne arrives. Now we're talking. The cabin has a hell of a lot of staff, seemingly way too many. It makes service good and fast, but slightly less personal because someone new comes along regularly. I'm greeted by a manager who knows I'm only in transit in Tokyo, and so don't need a landing card.
We take off, and service starts in a rush. This is an overnight flight to somewhere with a 1hr difference in timezone, so basically a genuine sleeper service with no jetlag. Before we even took off most people have changed into their PJs. I do so once in the air but before dinner, a meal lots of people forego because they just want to kip. I do too, but not before my okonomiyaki and cheese and Zoolander 2.
Out of the corner of my eye, I think the sun might be starting to come up.