It's my birthday and I'll fly if I want to life, the universE, and everything

Before any chance to even find out how England were performing, I of course had to get off the plane and make my way through security. The "Australian Business Traveller" website recently published a guide on precisely how to transit at Dubai as a Qantas first class customer, which I saved to Apple Notes... and didn't sync with my phone. Golf clap for me.

Pointless anyway. For a start, I've done it before; and anyway, huge modern airports are a piece of piss to navigate. Sitting up front meant I was the 3rd or 4th person off, and apparently no other planes had arrived at nearby gates recently: there was no-one else around, and when we reached security they had to quit their break and actually fire up the conveyor belts.

So, I'm landside in Dubai. Where's the lounge? Oh, here's a lift. First floor for first class and the spa. Aha! The spa! One thing I had remembered from the ABT guide was that it's not actually inside the lounge, but near the door, and that first class passengers can get a treatment for free. Sure enough, I walk in, ask for a "de-stress back massage", sign a form saying I've no medical issues they need care about, and within 3 minutes I'm face forward on a massage chair having the shit beaten out of my back.

It feels awesome.

Seriously, so much better than the massage before our flight to LA in May. Perfect pressure, real targeting of knots, massage all over my back and neck and shoulders and even my arm and down to my fingertips. I felt great when I emerged. In fact, I felt like a drink.

Again, not a new experience. I know that this lounge is enormous, covering the entire floor of the terminal and with direct boarding via lifts at the gates. The receptionist asks if I've been here before and tells me nothing has changed in 2 years; I'll be flying from gate A24, and everything I could possibly want is to my right.

It's a mad place. Inside the lounge, fer chrissakes, are luxury shops. The space is enormous and airy. And England were losing 2-1 at half time to Iceland. Fuck me, now I really need a drink.

That would be a Woodford reserve plus a muffin, thanks. Not self-service, there's a bar. Last time I went to the sit down restaurant but this time I was nothing like as hungry, nor did I have a huge amount of time. So, when 20 minutes later a member of staff came up to me with a menu offering me some a la carte food, I declined. But I did go back up to the bar and get a glass of champagne because, well, it was my birthday now.

Yep, it was just gone midnight in Dubai. My last day of being 41 was pretty decent, let's see how my first day of being 42 is? Sports wise it started terribly, with England losing, but fuck that. I busied myself with a flurry of communication - chatting individually with Helen, Chris, and Mauro, plus getting my brother to pretend to be me and call the cab firm in Melbourne. Oh, and finishing off the blog post.

A queue formed up by the lifts. Really? Inside the first class lounge, people still go and queue up by the desks and lifts before boarding starts? This annoyed me, then infected me - I stood up and over the balcony saw people downstairs streaming onto the plane so though, oh OK, maybe we are about to head in.

I joined the queue and the gate opened pretty much immediately. Past the boarding pass desk but before the lifts, there's another security check. All bags opened, and one thing I'm carrying draws suspicion - in fact, he tries to tell me I'm not allowed to take it with me. But I convince him otherwise, and I'm through, to the first class lift. You heard.

Back on board and there's a new queue. This is excellent, as it means no-one knows just quite how much I had to drink already. Unless there's been some kind of handover - look out for that dipsomaniac in 3A, he's trouble, etc. But in fact the crew have no idea I've even been on the first leg, and Dario escorts me back.

I'm of course straight back on the champagne. I tell Dario it's my birthday and he promises to spoil me. He also looks at me and suggests XL pyjamas, in stark contrast to Robin on the first leg. This time I get changed into them, and while I'm waiting for the loo I see Dario pouring me a new glass of bubbly. I like this guy.

The cabin services manager comes round to introduce himself to me and reveals that it's also his birthday. I think I overheard the captain say his name was Theo Justice, which is a cracking name. I definitely heard the captain say we were expecting an 8Âșc arrival in Melbourne and I let out a "fuck yes".

Oh, I'm audible. I only get audible when I'm actually drunk. Perhaps I should pull back a little.

I realise I am yet to photograph the actual seat. This is wide, even for me.

The hot towel disintegrates all over me again. And, check out the jimjams.

There's a handset to control the entertainment. This shouldn't surprise me, especially as it's explicitly mentioned on the welcome screen, but I had totally failed to notice it on the first leg. Also, I forgot that there's the camera attached to the tail. Why didn't I watch some of the outdoors-ness on the way to Dubai? Damn it.

Just to remind you all, we don't allow anyone to sleep on the floor.

The captain's announcements stop and service starts. There's a small meal at the start with a bigger meal on the way into Melbourne, numerous hours later. This is a 12-14hr trip depending on wind and stuff.

I opt for the dark beer - solely to learn the name of it, which is White Rabbit Dark Ale - and the chicken and cashew salad. Cheese afterwards? Oh go on then. Apparently they don't have any port and contrary to the last leg - and the menu - they don't even carry any, instead preferring Australian dessert wines. He pours me one, it tastes like port. That'll do.

Throughout all of this I've been watching Rabbit Proof Fence. God, what a fucked up place Australia used to be. After dinner I start on Police Story, but it turns out trying to follow subtitles and an action movie is kinda beyond me. Dario says to let him know when I want my bed made, but actually I just hit the present myself, pull a blanket over, and go to sleep for 5 hours.

When I wake up, there's 5 hours left of the flight. Excellent. I don't find sleeping to be well spent time in an environment like this, though I do begrudgingly accept both its inevitability and usefulness. I feel a bit dehydrated, but there's a bottle of water next to me and I glug it down. Then, to the bathroom where I clean my teeth and apply deodorant. Good as new.

The leaflet is a discount for SK II stuff, expiry October 2015.

Now that I'm awake, I give Police Story another go, and this time make it all the way to the end. I love Jackie Chan. Then, an episode of "72 Dangerous Places To Live" which is kinda interesting, if only for learning how to pronounce Kiribati... except the narrator also said "reprive" for "repreive", so dunno how much I trust them.

Oh, it's dinner time! Here comes champagne number 12, 13, and 14, accompanied by sourdough bread, a glorious pumpkin soup, and lovely vegetarian curry - cauliflower, potatoes, and stuff. And a diet coke, on second ask. Bah! Oh, and strawberry ice cream, why not.

After dinner I get changed back into civvies, which feel a bit tighter than they did when I first put them on. Dunno why. When I get back to my suite, the 10 month old kid in the seats behind me has started to pipe up, and proceeds to cry fairly non-stop for the next half an. hour. Thankfully my headphones block most of it out. I'm glad it hasn't kicked off for the whole flight, and I feel a bit sorry for the parents. But not that sorry.

The iPad comes out, and I start writing this post. Literally as I am typing the title, Dario pops by and asks, since it's my birthday, would I like to visit the cockpit once we're on the ground? Yes! Yes I would love to! So he goes to check he can actually deliver this, and comes back with the news: two thumbs up from the flight deck. Huzzah!

Happy birthday from the crew of QF10!

Asked a few questions, got answers, had a laugh, shook a lot of hands, and left with a shit eating grin. Now, how does Melbourne airport work?

Created By
Darren Foreman

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