Thursday, July 28, 2011

Buxton Blog - 28/7 - flying Emirates

So the day has finally come - we're flying out to the other side of the world, where it's possible to assemble more than five people who can sing "Eagle High" without scores.

The trip to the airport was a classic farewell to the public transport system I live and breathe. Bus no 868 (one of the few low floor buses with well padded seats, and the only one with a pleasantly musical "next stop" bell), a new gen Xtrapolis, and a three axle rigid Skybus.

Then there was just the usual procedure of baggage check-in, security, the long walk to the gate, and the interminable waiting time before boarding. Luckily we found a power point so we could all charge our laptops (and play a few games to de-stress).

It all got exciting again as we boarded the plane - I've been on a few 777 flights and the sight of that twin aisle layout brought it all back to me. We pushed back 23min late after boarding started only 15min before departure time. David, since it's his first flight, gets the window seat. During the taxi and takeoff he took quite a few photos on my new Pentax DSLR (which I still haven't learned how to use properly) - hopefully some of them come out, but it's dark so they'll probably be blurred somewhat.

Considering I spend most of my free hours poring over satellite photos of Victoria I found it difficult to pinpoint our location as we took off. Patterns of lights don't follow the same major landmarks that are visible in the daytime.

I'm primarily taking this trip to see people I've met before and not seen for ages, people I've missed sorely. I think it's started right here on the plane. :D

Emirates have just served us a "midnight snack" (3:30am is close enough to midnight), a chicken roll and berry muffin. Plus water and juice, which I needed. Somehow when I emptied my 1.25l water bottle before going through check-in it made my system accustomed to being damped down properly... which is probably a good thing, I might still be able to sing when we arrive.

We're flying via KL, which has a fairly amazing airport from all I've heard. I want to be able to take it all in so I think I'll grab a snooze.

9:35am Melbourne time: I was woken by the hostesses serving breakfast, which surprised me as I thought I couldn't sleep on a plane. We do have the luxury of an uncrowded plane so we have two whole rows of seats to sleep on. Even so it's not possible to stretch out properly. I started thinking about options for landbridging on international flights, with Darwin or Broome as the hub and most flights being run with A380s (or something even bigger). Unfortunately Melbourne-Broome in four hours just isn't possible by any affordable form of land transport, so airline seats are with us to stay.

The windows were all shuttered for the night of course. Opening them is initially blinding, but as our eyes get used to the light we see bright blue sky, bright blue sea... and a few wisps of alto-cirrus cloud several thousand feet below us! This is what you can do on long flights.

We're just over an hour out of KL, so I should tidy up my stuff. Last night when it got warm enough to take my coat off I very carefully stowed EVERYTHING from its pockets into my backpack to avoid unpleasantnesses like lost phones and passports.

Battery life on my new phone is 69%, after being charged at 4pm yesterday at home! Nice one.

We're flying at 575mph ground speed in a 33mph head wind. We're at 36,000 feet and it's minus 26 degrees outside. So when they they'll ask you to step outside if they find you smoking, you'll probably need the heat of the cigarette to keep you alive...

11:10am and we're in the terminal at KLIA, on wifi (free, provided by the airport - Tulla, take note) but not on power. We have only 20 minutes so I won't be able to check out the high tech airport, which is a shame. But hopefully we can get online long enough to keep our fans up to date.

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