Forget Customs and Immigration, turbulence and sitting in front of a crying baby, the thing that scares this frequent flyer the most is checking in.
Perhaps it’s because when I was child, we would visit family in the Philippines with boxes, not suitcases, filled with the necessary detritus of Western life (this translates, inexplicably, to Spam, the offensive jellylike processed meat that gave its name to the unwanted messages that arrive in our inboxes). For those who like Spam, I've included a receipe below. Enjoy.
The check in counter was where we were often told we were over weight and would need to dump five kilos or more in order to avoid paying hundreds in excess baggage fees. What followed was a traumatic unpacking of the embarrassing contents that would lead to much happiness on the other side for the waiting poor.
I’ve since realised I tend to travel with 12-16 kilograms, depending on weather and the purpose of travel, so the inherited terror isn’t as strong. And this time, travelling with a near empty suitcase (recommended for those who intend to shop big or who, like me, have to pick up baggage from my last sojourn in the States), meant check in should have been a breeze – and something I hoped, for the most part, to do online.
No such luck.
For the purposes of this review, I logged onto American Airlines’ site to see if I could check in with them. Once logged on, I entered the requested additional information but was advised to check in with the operating carrier, in this case, Qantas.
Once I logged on to Qantas I was amazed to discover that the data I had entered on AA’s site just minutes previously had already transferred to my Qantas booking.
However, I was unable to continue the online check in process (perhaps as I was eventually travelling onto Chicago) and was thus also unable to choose my seats.
Luckily when checking in at the counter, after waiting in a swiftly moving, but long queue at Melbourne Airport, found that service was great and the woman checking me in made every effort to get me out of the middle seat in which I’d been placed into a window seat.
The Qantas Club Lounge is located Airside, Level 1 via the Departures concourse. I couldn’t find it immediately, but once inside, I parked myself in front of a reasonably concealed desk and caught up on work.
I was uninterrupted for the duration of my wait and made use of the complimentary, and fast, WiFi and even the phone.
We endured a final security check prior to boarding, which considering all the news of stolen passports in the MH370 tragedy, my fellow passengers questioned whether this did much.
Now while I’m not an aviation geek, I do appreciate the speed with which you can embark and disembark an A380. Before long, I was in my 17.5 inch wide seat (which has a 31 inch pitch).
Still relatively new, the aircraft looked fresh (I always love comparing the before and after looks of a 13+ hour flight). And for once, the cabin temperature was perfect.
Amenity kits, I’m told, were available on request. This is something of which I’m a big fan. Although, if this is a waste (and therefore cost-) reducing measure, I’d like the extras you get on the meal service (such as butter and milk) to be on request also. I’m always worried they go straight into the trash even if untouched.
The meals themselves were tasty, but I must say I liked the snacks more! As a vegetarian, when the Panini snack comes round for the carnivores, I generally decline my version, which is often a cold piece of bread filled with limp vegetables. Not this time.
For those who have read my other flight reviews, you’ll know that I have a thing for Rowie’s Cakes (to the point that I tracked down her storefront in Sydney). While I was denied her little cakes on this flight, not only was I given some of her scrummy Anzac biscuits, I also had a chance to try Rowie’s Rancheros Toastie. And it is was hot!
As I don’t get to the movies much I do tend to look at a carrier’s latest movie offerings as a chance to catch up. But it seemed that the offerings of Qantas’ Premiere selection would require a bit more attention than a tired traveller could give. So I settled for Lincoln (in preparation for my upcoming trip through Illinois) and could not even tell you the name of the other films I watched.
TRAVELTALK TOP TIP
Please for the love of your surrounding passengers flying with you on a long day flight: SHUT YOUR BLIND before going to sleep. It makes it hard to get some shut-eye or even watch a film when the (closer) sun is in your eyes.
// FAST FACTS
Date: 26 March 2014
The Qantas website states, that “under US Department of Transport regulations, if your travel to, from or within the USA involves one or more airlines with flights that do not have a "QF" flight number, the airline whose flight number appears first on your ticket will determine whether its baggage rules or another airline's baggage rules will apply to all the flights in your itinerary. For travel between Australia and the USA, usually (but not always) Qantas' baggage rules will apply”.
Qantas allows Economy passengers travelling to and from North America two pieces of checked baggage weighing no more than 23 kilograms.
// FOR THE SPAM LOVERS