Australia, July 2015 Fourth time's the charm

Transferring at Hong Kong is a breeze, though I don't remember doing it much before. I know I did in 2006 but not entirely sure I had since. Anyway, transfer security were interested in the coins and keys in my bag but nothing else and before I knew it I was standing near the bit of terminal one with the three piers leading out from it, and a lounge called The Bridge.

Cathay have loads of lounges here - Bridge, Cabin, Pier, Wing, a landside one called The Arrival, and I think maybe another one. Plus there are lounges run by other oneworld alliance airlines that I think I'd be allowed in. But The Bridge was new to me, and closest, and I had blogging to do. Perched in the TV lounge, got a Tsing Tao beer, and blog I did, adding photos to all the stuff I'd already written about the first two flights and then writing the third on the hoof.

I really took very little advantage of the lounge tbh. There was loads of hot and cold food including a bakery, but I wasn't hungry. The booze came from a manned bar and I could have easily had more than just two tins of lager. The views over the apron were pretty great and I gawped at the Cathay 747 - my first ever business class flight was on one of those, so it's kinda to blame for everything.

How and why I blog.

I spoke to lots of people via Facebook - Kevin, Helen, Nige, Chris - and then upped sticks to go for a wander and see if there wasn't a lounge closer to my next flight's assigned gate, 68 - the furthest one away. As it happens The Pier is very close, but it closed for refurbishment just 3 days prior. Gah!

Qantas lands and an A380 waits

In the end I just did some more plane spotting and loitered, stealing wifi from the first class lounge (same password as the Bridge) but couldn't stream the WWE Network's Beast From The East show. Grrrr. NO SPOILERS PLEASE. Tried instead to download some podcasts, and that too failed. Ah fuck it all.

It was an 1850 flight but boarding started about 1810 so I snuck up fast track alley only to be waylaid by the post-gate baggage check, where they were confiscating water (oops) and opening every bag everyone had. The woman in front of me had about 6 bags, seemingly taken cabin allowance to the max for 2 people which I'm not sure what the airline really has in mind for someone travelling with a kid.

Back where I got off 4 hours ago, hello seat 15A. I got thanked for flying again with Cathay and then offered champagne. Well, of course. Before I was even half way through that another one arrived, curiously. I do believe they were trying to get me drunk. The entertainment system doesn't work until you leave the gate, so the screen just shows a series of information screens and ads, one of which was so inappropriate for general viewing it was virtually soft porn.


People were still boarding past 1850, which I didn't really understand. By this time I had received an introduction from my cabin attendant named Pie, and an amenity kit and menu. Despite the exact same model plane, to my surprise these were both different to the previous flight. I got totally unreasonably excited by the inclusion of a glasses cloth in the kit, and that it was different champagne. Yay business class!

During pushback, taxi and take off my eyes were struggling to stay open. If I'd managed this correctly, on this flight I should get a few hours decent kip and be virtually jetlag free for my 0600 arrival into Sydney. Actually, the captain had told us we'd arrive about 0540 but that there's a curfew, and also a tropical storm we might have to navigate around. Meh whatever.

I didn't want to sleep immediately though, so I tried out a supposed "comedy" called House of Lies. I like Don Cheadle, but was not impressed with the episode and a half I gave this (also pretty sure it's not comedy). So here comes a documentary about Evel Knievel during the food service. The main course curry was fantastic and I had moved off the bubbles and onto whisky.

Dinner is served

Turbulence was outside and in and after the cheese plate and port I could really do with the loo, but the seatbelt sign had been on for ages. Several people had gotten up regardless during this time and the staff had had to announce that this wasn't bloody allowed. As soon as it went off I leapt up and dived into the facilities, where some of the worst turbulence made its presence forcefully felt. Also the seatbelt sign came back on and I had to stagger back.

So now it's time to sleep properly. I've already dozed while polishing off the second whisky so I make the seat into a bed and put the blanket over me. I think I manage around 4 hours of sleep in 2 stages.

I wake up feeling fairly well rested, just as the breakfast service is starting. It's about 0420 Sydney time. Breakfast is less sugary than on the previous plane and includes some half decent bacon but bland egg. The berry smoothies are delicious.

I fill out my landing card and the "Africa = Ebola" form...

... and watch the sun attempt to rise.

One of the numerous announcements tells us we'll land at 0625 and the temperature is 7 celsius. YES. I have escaped heat, finally!

This is the last Cathay flight of my trip, unless I can wangle a change to my route home. I'd quite like to do that tbh.

Sydney airport arrivals looks really familiar, as it should. Despite being 3rd off the plane I put myself at a disadvantage by visiting the loo again. There are hordes of people because loads of long haul flights arrive at silly o'clock here. Down the corridor things are different to before: there are kiosks for ePassport holders, like at Heathrow. Well fuck you, fast track!

I ignore the first bunch of kiosks with the big queues figuring people never wait til the end ones. I'm rewarded with a smaller queue but a strange interpretation of "self service", as all 5 people ahead of me require assistance from a border officer to show them how to put their passport in the passport shaped slot and then say no, I don't have tuberculosis, criminal convictions, or narcotics.

The kiosk issues a ticket which gets you through the gate that takes a photo. It's pretty fast, more so than Heathrow's gates. Baggage reclaim is a zoo as always but I have no bag to wait for and wander through a virtually empty nothing to declare channel, and am not stopped by quarantines or the cameramen of Nothing To Declare. Kevin hasn't replied to me on facebook but I assume he's around and then a short, thin, old mirror walks up to me and shakes my hand. G'day, bro.

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