Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Flying Business Class

Ahh Business Class, where all cattle class passengers dream of one day being able to afford a plane ticket on. Gaffa and I were lucky enough to be able to experience it on our final flight home after our 14 months away. It was the 'icing on the cake' to end our big adventure, and we took full advantage of it all, seriously who wouldn't?!

Gaffa taking advantage of the welcome drink
We had booked with STA in Portsmouth, our flights from London to San Francisco in May, then a 3 month stop over, and then a flight from San Francisco to Sydney via Los Angeles in August. This was far cheaper than booking the two flights seperately. We were flying domestically from San Francisco to Los Angeles with American Airlines at night and my Uncle Ping dropped us off at the airport with lots of time to spare. According to our arranged tickets, we had about 90 minutes to get from our domestic flight to our international flight. We weren't sure how we were going to do this, but if STA were able to book us on these flights, then surely it would be possible right? WRONG! When we checked in for our SFO-LAX flight, the lady serving us told us that were were not going to make it so she moved us onto a later LAX-SYD flight. We thought she was doing us a favour, but she wasn't. She was just covering her own arse. We found out later, that even this extended stop over time wouldn't of been enough for us to get to our connecting flight.  

The fog in San Francisco did not help, and we left SF a bit later than expected. The pilot made up on the lost time during the flight, however before we arrived in Los Angeles, we were told over the loud speaker that the plane was being redirected to another airport, to refuel.. Huh? Why couldn't we just land at LA? Gaffa and I had a plane to catch!!

Longing for home.....
When we landed in said airport for refueling, we were running closer and closer to our connecting flight departing without us. What made it worse, was that people were starting to get annoyed, and were asking to get off the plane at this airport instead of flying back to LA. For some stupid reason the airport allowed this, and they had to find these people's luggage and get that off the plane too. After waiting for clearance to take off again, we were on the edge of our seats, hoping that we did not miss our connecting flight. We had managed to ask a fellow passenger to look for our flight's status on their phone, and we noticed that it was delayed. Yes! We thought, this would buy us some more time....

missing that flight meant we got to experience THIS! 
We finally arrived at Los Angeles airport and got off the plane. We were told that a Qantas representative would be waiting to assist us with our connecting flights. When we spoke to him, he had no clue and just directed us to the customer service desk further in the terminal. We overheard that there was going to be no more flights going out tonight. ARGHH!! I waited in the line to find out what we could do while Gaffa walked around to try and find if someone else could help us. There were others on the plane in the same situation as us, people flying to Brisbane, Melbourne, New York. They'd all missed their connecting flights home and it was the middle of the night, we were stuck in LAX.

Finally someone came over to the waiting line with new boarding passes. We had been booked on the same orginal flight from LAX to SYD, but a day later. Ok, so we had 24 hours to kill. What now.. We were told to find a hotel for the night and come back the next day. When we went to get help in finding a hotel, we were told that all the hotels close to the airport were all booked out. The two gentlemen infront of us said they found a room at the Beverley Wiltshire at $500 a night. No way, Jose. We weren't paying that! Our only other option was to call my cousin S who lives in LA or sleep in LAX overnight. We'd slept in airports before, and it was past midnight, so we didn't want to disturb my cousin. So we opted for sleeping in the airport. To make matters worse, we only had our carry on luggage, since we were booked onto a connecting flight, the airport had arranged for our bags to be transferred, and we weren't able to access them.

if only LAX airport had these beds!

So into the terminal we went, to find a cosy spot to sleep in for a few hours, before Maccas opened up and we could get something to eat. We found free internet terminals to send messages back home to let everyone know we were going to be a day late. Of all the flights this could've happened to, it had to be our last flight, didn't it! USA was telling us not to leave yet!

Gaffa and I slept on some seats and on the floor, but the air conditioning system blasting on high didn't help. We both had some sleep, but it was not much at all. By this stage we were both so annoyed and just wanted to get home. At about 5am we decided to have breakfast at Maccas. I had also sent a Facebook message to my cousin S, to see if she could rescue us from the airport for a few hours, since we had to wait until the evening to fly out again. Morning tea time came around and we were bored, so we decided to have Maccas yet again.

By this stage, the Qantas check in desk was open, and we went down to get some answers. They weren't very helpful to me, telling me to come back at 2pm when check in for our flight would start. Gaffa went down to try and see if he could get anything more out of them. They were much nicer to Gaffa and told him to come back at 1.30pm and the takeover staff could help him. By this time my cousin had offered to come and pick us up, take us to a friend's house to shower etc, but we were able to check in early so we decided not to take up her offer. But it was so nice of her and her friend to offer, thank you. 

Before 1.30pm, we left our spot at Maccas and went down to the check in desk to wait for the take over staff to help us. Gaffa was talking to one of the hostesses and she was very sympathetic about our situation. She introduced the Customer Service manager to us, and we told him our story too. How we had been booked onto flights that were impossible to make, even though they were booked with One World airlines, how a Qantas staff member was not helpful at all when we landed, and how we had to sleep in the airport overnight with only our carry on bags. He was very apologetic and said he could help us. He took our boarding passes and said that he would give us "better seats".... He gave us our boarding passes back and we looked at them with wide eyes. OMG BUSINESS CLASS BABY! We tried to keep our cool as we thanked him and left, but we were so so excited. Free upgrade!!! We were also allowed in the Business class lounge from 2pm until our flight left at 10pm, so we could have a shower, have some decent food and relax.

Inside the Qantas Business Class Lounge

After thinking that our final leg home couldn't get any worse, it turned a total 180 and got even better than we could have imagined. It was the perfect end to our big adventure and it would be an experience we'll never forget. Plus it was the Qantas A-380 plane :)

We went into the lounge dressed in our casual clothes, surrounded by people in suits and designer labels. Free food and free drinks, nice lounges, and showers. It was luxury compared to the hard seats and carpet we endured the previous night. The Olympic games were also on at this time so we had something exciting to watch on TV.

Finally some decent food!

More food!

Gaffa's dessert
After many plates of food, many free drinks, and a nice long warm shower, we heard the announcement for boarding for our flight. Business class means priority boarding! Yay. And when we got onto the plane, we were immediately offered a welcome drink. We were too excited with all the gadgets and extras that business class had, we felt so out of place. The staff were so nice to us too! We could order whatever we wanted off the menu for breakfast. We restrained ourselves from ordering everything! And there was free ice cream, tea, coffee and nibbles all throughout the flight. The food even came out on real plates and we got real cutlery, no plastic stuff like economy. The seat reclined into a flat bed, inside the little pod for extra privacy. There was enormous amounts of leg room, so much that our legs couldn't even reach the seats in front. Gaffa played around with the seat massager and had it going on the whole flight!

Side compartments for storage 
remote control and headphones
buttons for the seat
MASSIVE leg room
the HUGE menu
personal light 
privacy screen
TV :)
I didn't know whether to watch movies or sleep... I watched one movie with Gaffa but then decided to take advantage of the full bed, and also the free Qantas pyjamas that were given to us. Even the Business class toilets were larger than normal. You actually had room to move in there. Near the toilets there was also a separate section with a lounge and a big screen tv, you could relax there, read magazines and watch tv, it was awesome. It even had seatbelts. 

hanging out in the lounge, at least one of us is safe and wears a seatbelt
the other side of the lounge and entrance to Business Class
14 hours later we finally arrived in Sydney. I was actually sad to get off the plane! Being in Business Class also means being able to go through customs through the express lane. We had some food to declare but we were ushered through pretty quickly without having to show the customs people our food. Luckily we only used one express lane ticket, so we have a spare one for our next international flight. 

Gaffa enjoying his pod
Freebies! PJs, water, and toiletries kit
We passed through customs into the Sydney Arrivals hall, and there was my Dad. My mum came back shortly with a balloon for me, how sweet. My brother was outside with the car waiting for us. It was great to be finally back home with my family. I was sad to end our trip but it was the right time to come home and for Gaffa and I to start the next phase of our lives together. 

For our first Christmas together, Gaffa put a map of the world on a canvas so I could mark the places I've been, the places I want to visit and the places that are special to me. Before I left I had lots of green pins (to mark the places I want to go) but now this is what it looks like. (blue are places I've been and pink are places that are special to me) Now I can move those green pins to new and exciting places to visit!


And this wouldn't be a true ETD post without some more food photos:

Real cutlery!
Winner winner chicken dinner!
Fish dinner 
Dessert: cheesecake, chocolate, baileys on the rocks & tea :)
breakfast before landing home 

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