Apr. 14th, 2010

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CathayY
CX 138 SYD-HKG A333
Thursday 8 April 2010
Seats: 56H/K
Scheduled: 2155
Boarding: 2125 (Gate 31)
Pushback: 2143
Takeoff: 2158 to South
Descent: 0415 (Hong Kong time)
Landing: 0445 from South
Gate: 0454

2-4-2 configuration in the main cabin, suiting me just fine. I have the window, Kerri the aisle, and there’s no middle seat to worry about.

What worries me are the chairs. Cathay Pacific has gone the “sink and slide” route instead of the old “recline and annoy” way. Yeah, you don’t push your seatback into the personal space of the passenger behind, but you create an uncomfortable gap somewhere around the small of your back as you try to sleep. I wedge a pillow in there and I’ve nothing for my head.

A red-eye flight and I’m hoping for sleep. Faint hope. Everytime I find a position that’s remotely comfortable, after a few seconds a knee or a foot or an arm begins complaining. Maybe I nap for a second or two here and there. Maybe.

I give up and watch a movie. At least that’s one thing I like about the new seats. The Audio-Visual on Demand system is touch screen, backed up by a remote, and there’s about a bazillion movies, TV shows, documentaries, CDs and games to occupy the jaded passenger. One could fly around the world a couple of times and still not see everything, let alone solve every Sudoku puzzle or climb every Asteroids level.

I choose Blackhawk Down from the list of movie classics. Never got around to seeing this one, so I enjoy it as best I can, contorting my body if not my brain.

Von Clausewitz, I think it was, said that everything in war is easy, but the easiest things are very difficult. The plan was beautiful, but once things went wrong, they really went wrong, and all the technology and all the firepower in the world couldn’t help those guys out there, isolated and uncomprehending, trying to force democracy on a society that couldn’t use it.

International travel is like that, I guess. Lost baggage, a delayed flight, a soggy passport, a stolen credit card, and all of a sudden the difficulties begin, and the poor passenger is stranded in a limbo of uncomfortable seats and lonely waiting rooms. I’m still mad at my bank for suspending my cards on my first trip to Istanbul – how was I to find a fax machine and someone willing to make an international call without any money?

Full of good food from the Flounge, we skipped the dinner offered. Breakfast was better: a skinny croissant and thin warm coffee, but that was all – we had another treat ahead in my second best airline lounge.

Bloglag: Istanbul (5 days)
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Chef
The worst seats in my whole airline experience belong to Qantas. I hate them. Sit down in the lounge for the international transfer bus and my entire backside area becomes aware of the bones of the seat.

A ten minute wait here can seem like an eternity, especially if every moment spent here is one fewer in the Qantas First Lounge on the other side of the main runway. Just sayin’, Qantas, you want to make a lot of people happy, put in some old economy class seats here. Or maybe a few cushions from K-Mart.

The trip to the international terminal is always a highlight. “Wow,” said one of the touring party of schoolkids, “that’s an Airbus 380 right there!”

And it was. Enormous in a maintenance hangar as big as a block of flats. Bigger.

There’s always something to see from tarmac level. Old jets and new ones, exotic birds at the cargo ramp, jumbos with engineers tinkering under the hood, the underneath of the terminal building as we pull in.

Out into the checkin area. Odd. Usually we head straight into passport control, but we’re back in the real world for a moment.

Probably a good thing that they no longer stamp passports in and out of Australia and New Zealand. My book would be full.

Security check and as ever, Kerri is way ahead of me as I stuff things back into pockets. At least I keep my shoes and belt on. America lies ahead and I’ll have to use one hand to hoist my baggy britches up as I shuffle through the realm of the security jerk.

More delay as the path leads through the streets of the duty free kingdom. One day they’ll just debit my card as I walk through and present me at the exit with a bright yellow sack of stuff I don’t need. It’d be quicker.

Escalator up to the land of the gods. Qantas First. My second favourite place in the world. Favourite place is beside a beautiful woman, and I’m doubly blest at the moment.

The design is superb, product of a thoughtful and practical mind. One that knows what frequent flyers like. Tall windows giving an uninterrupted view out over the tarmac. Huge jetliners landing, taking off and cavorting just beyond the glass.

A proper sit down meal service. Smiling waiters. Champagne. I stumble over the pronunciation of Veuve devaux. High school French never covered this. Je l’aime bien les vins bubblie.

Fish

Duck parfait with cherry jam and toasted brioche for starters, and the fish for main. Both supremely presented. Taste to match. God, but I love this place!

Dessert is irresistible. I quote: “Chocolate brownie with strawberry icecream, strawberry salad and hot fudge sauce.”

If they didn’t call my flight I’d still be there, a human superjumbo in a crystal hangar.

Dessert

Departures

(More photographs here)
Bloglag: Istanbul.

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