Saturday, September 29, 2018

It's the plane! It's the plane! A new plane, a new outlook on air travel.

I'm one of those people who like to travel on as many different types of transport I can.

For instance, underground railways in London, Paris, Sydney, Hong Kong, and, briefly, in Melbourne.

As for trams, try Rome, Cologne, Melbourne, Bratislava, or Hong Kong.

And buses, London double-deckers, Tour coaches which are not all the same, and a uniquely named type of bus in Brisbane, the banana bus.

But the main form of travel is by air.  Flying in Boeings, 717, which to date I have not, 727, 737, and it's many varieties, 747, 757, 767, 777, and as yet not the 787 or the Dreamliner.

As for Airbus, an A320, and A330, and A340, an A380, which to me is the best plane I have ever traveled in, and the star of this piece, the A350.

A recent trip to Hong Kong

There are the usual nerves and borderline panic that sets in a few hours before leaving for the airport.  The sort that preys on your mind, have I packed everything I need, have I got the tickets in my bag, have I remembered to bring the passports?

Then when you think you've mastered all those items, you then have to decide what is the best time to leave for the airport.  Of course, the road you need to take is the one that is problematic at the best of times, the sort where one accident could turn it into a complete mess, and a 20-minute journey can turn into one that can take hours, and you could miss the flight.

It is, for us, a constant source of worry with the roads being the way they are.

We have to be at the airport three hours before the flight departs; airline rules so we can get through check-in and immigration.  Sometimes where there is more than one plane leaving, there can be long queues.  Then there's the obligatory duty-free shopping if there's time left, or, if circumstances are exceptional, a long wait till the plane departs.  With restless children that can be hell.

This time we're not traveling with children so it’s a lesser form of hell.  Everything ran on time and with minimal delays.

By the time the plane is ready to board people are coming from everywhere and start jockeying for positions in queues.  This always fascinates me because no matter how many times they call specific rows, by the time you get in, you discover that nearly every other row has already boarded.  I have never quite worked that one out.  There must be a lot of eligible frequent flyers who can board at any time.

Today we're on an Airbus A350-900, and I have not traveled on one of these planes before.  Straight up, it’s not a spacious as the A380, even though there may appear to be more space on the A350.  It certainly doesn't feel like it, and in the middle seat, even less so.  It's still impossible to eat, and some things will never change.

As for food, the supper is a cut above the ordinary and better than the last time we traveled Cathay Pacific.  Dinner served, trays cleared, darkness descends.

It's time to rest.

What can be said about sleeping on planes that has not already been said?  For some it is easy, for some with an empty seat beside them it is less difficult.  For me, cramped in the middle seat, impossible. I guess I dozed off now and then, but the sore gritty eyes several hours into the journey tell the story.

Breakfast so soon after a late supper is almost unpalatable, despite how tasty the food looked.  Coffee was probably a better idea but in the infrequent turbulence, not a good idea.  I had two mushrooms and a roll.  The fruit; watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew melon looked and tasted less than appetizing.

Nine hours in a plane is so much better than 13.  I watch the plane's track and view the camera in the tail facing forward.  Not so good at night, but it was an eye-opener landing in the torrential rain.
There does not seem to be a long wait to get off the plane as there is at some airports, and so early in the morning, perhaps it is relief just to get up and start walking.

But, we're in Hong Kong, and this time something special awaits!

[Read more - There are arrivals, and then there are arrivals]

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