Sunday 14 October and Monday 15 October 2012
Highlights: Surviving 48 hours on the road, QANTAS business pyjamas
A very long 2 days with 4 flights, 4 airlines, 5 countries and over 8,800 miles to get to Reykjavik, Iceland from Bangkok going via Singapore, Frankfurt and finally London. I managed to survive the trip relatively okay, helped by 3 of the flights being in business class and having access to 3 airline lounges during this ‘challenge’. Most importantly my bag made it as well 🙂
1. Bangkok, Thailand
The transfer company hadn’t confirm my pick up time so I got up early and called then the second their office opened at 6.00 am. Pick up turned out to be 7.20 am giving me time to enjoy buffet breakfast. The transfer went fine and I was at the airport about 3.5 hours before Cathay Pacific flight.
the Cathay Pacific Bangkok Lounge was fine if a little basic. I choose a window seat for this flight since it was only 2 and a bit hours long. Cathay staff were amazing once the service began. Drinks and lots of food, they never stopped coming in the business class section.
Back where it all began 2.5 weeks ago. My bag had been checked through to Frankfurt so I stayed airside. I tried out three lounges here, Skyview (Cathay’s shared lounge with other airlines), the joint QANTAS / British Airways First Lounge, and then their Business Lounge. Skyview was the best one and I even scored a power converter that plugs into UK power sockets that someone had left behind. I managed to shower during my 8 hour transit as well.
The QANTAS overnight 12.5 hour flight was fine enough. They handed out business class pyjamas which I happily changed into and are now part of my travelling kit :). Dinner was served about 1 hour into the flight around 12.30 am local time. I didn’t go for any alcohol given the time of the flight. I ordered breakfast before going to sleep and it was good waking up to what I wanted. The seat converts into a nearly flat bed which allowed me close to 5 hours on and off sleep over the next 8 hours. I had an exit wing seat so I could get up easily without waking my neighbour.
3. Frankfurt, Germany
We landed on time around 6 am local time. I had to enter the EU here some my bag had to be collected and then rechecked to London. I officially entered the EU around 6.35 am and officially left around 7.15 am, I have passport stamps to prove this short stay.
British Airways let me check in at 7 am for my 2.40 pm flight, after I moved some clothes betwen my bag and daypack to have some ‘fresh’ ones. Border Control were surprised I was at the airport so early especially since very few other people were at that time in the morning at Terminal 2. I spent most of my time in the Japan Airlines lounge. I was their only customer for quite a while. A very welcome shower and change of clothes during this time. Hard to believe that in 1999 I did overnight bus rides in USA and now I struggle with business class flights which are much easier.
Despite being there so early I nearly missed my plane. The airport does additional security screens just before the gate. I arrived on time but they did the checks in a very inefficient way, one person at a time would put their bag on scanner, than they would walkthrough and than maybe get extra checks before the next person could start the some procress. The 12 people in front of me took over 35 minutes. After finally getting through security I had started running when I saw a young mother with 2 children aged under 4 crying because she didn’t think she would make the flight. Making it worse was no one was helping especially not the airport staff who caused this chaos so I went back and helped her by carrying her bags to the plane so that she could look after children and talking to her (she was English). We were the last one on the plane has a result but I blame the airport staff and poor setup. I will be back here again twice in the next 2 weeks, hopefully with better experiences.
4. London, England
Again I had to go landslide, i.e. enter the country to collect my bag and then recheck into my flight. I put on my UK entry I’d be here for 6 hours with no address. Border control wanted to know what I could possibly see in Iceland – I responded hopefully the Northern lights. I then changed terminals from 5 to 1 and had to wait over an hour for the Icelandair check in to open. Sitting on the cold hard floor (all of the few seats were taken).
Since I had no privileges with this airline and no lounge access I killed the few hours before the flight just walking around the terminal and watching TV shows on the iPad. The flight board at 9.10 pm local time and took around 3 hours but I had my eyes closed for almost all of it.
5. Reykjavik, Iceland
We landed 3 hours later at 23.10 local time. The airport was very empty on arrival. After getting some local money out, 20,000 Kronur or about $160 Australian dollarsI found the transfer bus company and went outside to a what I think was minus temperature. In Bangkok it was hard not to sweat, that won’t be a problem here. The bus had wifi so checked some emails. No problems checking in at hotel and close to 48 hours after checking out of last hotel I hit my bed for some much needed sleep.
In summary my passport got 6 stamps during this weird travelling period, an experience in itself.