Firstly an apology; as this was a few night flights or without a window seat, there's very little of my own photography to break up the text. Anyway...
After a Saturday afternoon playing hockey in Didsbury and a cheeky pint or two afterwards, I made my way down to a friends in Shartson to wait for our taxi to T1. I had watched A6-EYR make the EY
21 flight on my mobile in the afternoon, so knew what we were on. After a crazy taxi drive along the back roads through Heald Green, we arrived at T1 in one piece. Having checked in online, we made our way over to the bag drop area and quickly left our checked luggage with the extremely polite and chatty lady there. Security was utter crap, far too few machines for the people going through so it was quite a lengthy queue but my friend and I made it through, meandered through the shopping mall and went over to Giraffe for a bite to eat, as it had views of the apron. The meal was pretty good btw.
Having finished eating, we made our way down the stairs to the pub as my mates footy team were on the tele. The pub was packed, mostly with Thomas Cook passengers who's A330 flight to Las Vegas had gone tech that morning and they were still waiting. A huge cheer went up when their flight was finally called, and they all trundled off leaving a few blokes watching the footy (turns out the TCX
flight was eventually cancelled a couple of hours later. Would not like to have been the one to tell them that). Our EY
22 flight was called and a few souls left the bar, but most stayed for the final 2 mins plus injury time. Once the whistle went, all the blokes stood up and we all made our way down to the end of C pier where our flight was finishing boarding. I was in 24K
, next to my friend, EY
's economy layout is 2-4-2 so we had no-one with us. 24K
was slap bang on the wing so I was disappointed that this would block my view.
I leafed through the magazines whilst we waited 30 mins or so to depart, we pushed back and taxied to 23R. A smooth depature before a huge right turn bringing us back over Manchester heading east, slightly spoiled by the cloud which did not allow time for me to get my bearings and see places I might know. Eventually we climbed above the cloud and I watched The Dark Knight Rises on the PTV. Good choice of movies on this and a really good IFE system including moving maps and onbaord camera (one points down, the other forward). Food was served and was tasty, and I had a look at the cabins and both economy and business looked full. Leg room was ok, but could have done with an extra inch I think (that's what she said). After TDKR, I has a sleep and awoke at dawn over the Persian Gulf, about 30 mins from AUH
I was hopeful of some decent views on my way in but all seemed like a desert, which it is. I presume the city was either obscured by smog or on the other side of the plane. After a number of left hand turns, we approached AUH
. There was no option to watch the camera footage of our landing which I found disappointing, so just looked out of the window. A number of new, exotic airlines had planes parked at AUH
, before we hit the row of EY
and Air Berlin planes. One thing though, AUH
does have a cool control tower.
After a short wait to get off, we headed to transfers where we managed to get a meal ticket each as our transfer time was 15 hours. Terminal 1, where we were, is a two floored gold coloured doughnut, with shopping downstairs and eating upstairs.
005. Abu Dhabi Airport
, on Flickr
004. Abu Dhabi Airport
, on Flickr
Curious to test our boundries, we walked towards T3
but turned back once we saw a security desk, fearful that once past we would be stuck without food or facilities for the next 14.5 hours. We went to SkyBar, which sold beer at roughly Â£6 a pop but was the only place that offered a view out of the runway. My friend remarked how much AUH
looked like Mos Eisley Spaceport from Star Wars and it's new name was born.
, on Flickr
Mos Eisley Spaceport
, on Flickr
From SkyBar we watched the movements, which were infrequent but included a Boeing 727, lots of EY
and a Biman B77W. The long transfer was broken up with a nap on the comfy lounger seats that upon arrival were like gold dust, but once everyone had cleared the terminal were ten-a-penny. The time not sleeping was broken up with itermittent meals/snacks, toilet breaks and beers whilst playin the logo game on an iPad and trying not to drain my phone battery searching for A6-EHJ on flightradar24. Once settled in SkyBar for the evening (for "settled" read "sat next to the plug socket"), I took a few pics of the aircraft on stand which were Lufty A330 D-AIKE and Air Astana A321 P4-NAS.
006. D-AIKE Airbus A330-343X Abu Dhabi International Airport 11.11.12 1
, on Flickr
007. D-AIKE Airbus A330-343X Abu Dhabi International Airport 11.11.12 2
, on Flickr
008. P4-NAS Airbus A321-131 Abu Dhabi International Airport 11.11.12
, on Flickr
As we entered the evening, the MEL
flight finally appeared on the departure boards, but with a 2 hour delay. I looked at the impending arrivals, and noticed this was roughly the amount of time needed for A6-EHJ to make it back from its flight from Sydney. Fingers were crossed. 2 hours delay would be forgiven if I got to go on that beautiful aircraft. Otherwise, I was hoping for an A3
45 as not many airlines fly those, but as this was my first A340 flight I wasn't too concerned about ticking a subtype off the list. As the US
and European arrivals landed, none were put on gate 35, which was the gate for our MEL
departure. Then disappointment struck as the flight from Paris, delayed by 2 hours, showed up as gate 35. A6-EHE it was then, as this was over the Persian Gulf itself now. We watched this land but stayed to watch EHJ as it was only 20 mins behind as my mate was interested to see what I'd been banging on about for the past 16 hours.
As we walked to T3
, we turned right just before the security desks we had seen earlier in the day and stumbled upon a new area with more restaurants and shopping. It was a long walk to gate 35, which was right at the end of T3
. A 10-15 minute wait in a packed departure lounge was followed by an extremely slow boarding process. My friend and I has 23A and 24A, so we asked for a swap with 24C(?) and sat next to each other, my friend on the window, myself on the aisle. Once in, I noticed that the leg room seemed a little more than the A330 so was pleased by this. Further delay whilst we waited for our ATC slot to travel over Male. Once we have pushbacked, the cabin crew did that new style of safety demo where a TV screen does everything except point at the emergency exits. During this, my friend opined that the uniforms of EY
looked familiar. Like the one's from the Death Star on Star Wars (yes, we're geeks). But he is right!
On the Death Star
, on Flickr
Etihad Air Crew
, on Flickr
The taxi to 31L was long, as was our take off roll, seemed like ages before we rotated but we were off into the darkness. The cabin crew quickly sprung into action. I was asked for a drink, to which I enquired, "Err.. may I have the white wine please?" to be met with a puzzled, "Oh. You're English?" "Yes." "Well you look Eastern European." No idea why. Anyway, I popped my free blanket over me, put in some headphones to drown out the noise and slept. When I awoke, we were will over the sea but approaching the coast of Australia.
, on Flickr
The breakfast/lunch wasn't very good but I watched a number of films until we finally started out descent into MEL
. the cabin lights dimmed to a uber chic blue, then green, then red etc etc and the Captain put the forward facing camera on all our screens so we got watch our approach straight into MEL
's runway 16. The landing was perfect, felt like a devine just gently put us down. The sun had just set in Melbourne so was quite dark but I looked out of the window whilst we taxied to stand, noting an SQ
A380 and MH
Once off we made our way to immigration, which was long as I think a number of flights had arrived from Asia just before us. SQ
probably. Definitely a Thai too, going off the hand-luggage tags. Smiled at a baby whilst we waited. He cried instantly. Must remember not to do that. Eventually found our way to Denis Nedry from Jurassic Park (aka Brian the immigration man) for a lovely chat and then collected our suitcases and began our holiday.
3 weeks later, which included flights MEL
-MKY and PPP-BNE
for me, my friend and I were in Brisbane for our flight home. Leaving our hotel early, it was a quick walk to Roma St station but felt like ages because of the heat. It was a straightfoward, hassle free journey to the airport with plenty of space. Once there, we made our way to the bag drop and we tried to get seats next to each other but were told no chance, so I stuck with an ailse seat on the back row not even next to my mate (45H). Security followed, once I had completed the exit form, and the queue was long and I was bored. Set off the bleeper with my belt so had to go through again, then a quick visit to immigration who annoying did not bother to stamp my passport as exited.
I did a little shopping for last minute Tim Tams and souveneirs, then had a breakfast bite and all seemed perfectly normal and boring as I watched the movements and wondered where VH-OJU (Qantas's boxing kangaroo logo B747) was going next. Then I was urgently paged my EY
and asked to proceed to our gate. Walked down puzzled, before the guy grabbed my passport, swiped it and then handed it back. Hardly seemed urgent. Had a quick check, A6-EYS was our plane to Mos Eisley. Don't think it has done the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs but nice looking thing anyway. Back to watch the movements and use the free wifi before boarding began. Back row called so decided to queue, and once aboard I sat in my seat hoping the window seat would be a no-show and I could have it all to myself. 2 guys asked a woman if she would like a swap, about 5 rows in front, and she turned round to look at the spare seat next to me before refusing. "Must shave more often." I thought. Instead of asking me to move though, they just gave up and an American lad sat in the window seat blocking my view with his normal sized head and body.
We departed BNE
from runway 01, making a huge right turn to come right back over the airfield in great weather conditions for photography. Decided to watch Prometheus. About 30 mins into the film, I was tapped on the shoulder by the air steward who then offered me a window seat. I immediately said yes, not really thinking why one had become available. The steward disappeared, before coming back to explain why. "The problem is..." he said. "PROBLEM!!!?!!" I thought. "...that the guy 45C was pretty drunk and was making the girl next to him cry." I looked over to see a girl in tears. Having already said yes, I felt I had to move so stood up and waited in the galley. Who said chivalry is dead? 45A walked past, mascara down her cheeks, thanked me and I sat next to my new friend Duncan Disorderly:
Artists Impression of Duncan Disorderly
, on Flickr
Glad to have a window, Duncan tried to start some conversation. His breath billowed the smell of alcohol towards me. I quickly got my stuff together and found where I was up to in my film, answering Duncan with a series of yes/no answers and explaining that the girls was having a panic attack and they wanted her on an aisle seat closer the crew's side, before finishing Prometheus. Duncan fell asleep. On me. Fortunately not for too long. My mate popped down for a chat, telling me all about the lovely Liverpudlian lady called Rachael he's been sat next to. Typical. He'd got a blind date. I'd got a drunk. "More wine please Stewardess!" More films including North by Northwest and Indiana Jones 4, whilst having 5 wines and a delicious meal. No alcohol for Duncan, by order of the stewardess. He seemed confused as to how I had wine, but he could not get one. About 40 mins before our arrival in SIN
, the IFE was turned off and Duncan got ready for a chat.
He had by now sobered up a little, and it transpired he was from Hull and was on the EY
15 to MAN
The chat was boring until he asked me the 3 ways to brake on a plane. Wheel brakes, air brakes and reverse thrust were my answers. No more questions about planes. The landing at SIN
was soft, but the taxi was long, or maybe it just seemed long? As I left the plane, the crew thanked me for moving next to Duncan. I caught up with my mate and Rachael in the terminal and proceeded to tell them about my flight as we waited to reboard. The girl who moved came up to say thanks and told me that Duncan kept falling asleep on her and touching her. Apparently 2 other guys had refused to move next to him. Felt good about myself.
After an hour stood in a small area outside a toilet, we began to reboard, Duncan seemed to be hovering behind me. Once my mate and I cleared security, I decided to hide behind a pillar in the hope of boarding last and swapping seats to anywhere else (J class in my dreams). Duncan came and found me so I had to explain how I didn't want to be cramped up longer than necessary. He agreed and waited too. Merde. Then I was rescued by a girl asking if I would watch her bag while she went to look for her iPhone. After a minute or two she returned, visably upset, explained her mobile had been stolen. Boarded with her and offered her the use of my internet in Mos Eisley should she want to contact family through Facebook etc before boarding her flight to FRA
. Duncan was just a few people behind. Started to get suspicious that he was following me.
Once aboard, the girl who had moved was on the front row of economy, so I had my ailse seat back. Duncan looked over at me disappointedly as he sat down, a feeling not shared by me. Once airborne, the girl in 45G
had a complaint with her IFE that hadn't been fixed during the layover, so in for a penny I leaped to the rescue of yet another damsel in distress, offering a loan of my headphone splitters so she could share her travel companions screen. Surely some good karma would come my way for all this? Back to the atrocious Indiana Jones 4 and a few other films before we landed suddenly. Must have been asleep. We taxied to gate 32, which on my screen was the departing gate for the EY
15 to MAN
. A6-EYS again.
In Mos Eisley my mate, his new friend Rachael and I went to the Old English Pub. The original seat girl bought me a drink to say thank you as she had also popped in, but I never did see FRA
girl and her gate (9) was the other end of the airport. After a quick drink, our trio went to gate 32 to wait for the departure, stopping at Upper Crust to spend my last Abu Dhabi Doos (Dirhams?) on a beer and salad. A few more document checks at the gate but nothing to see due ot the darkness. Went to the toilet, followed by Duncan Disorderly, so had to hise in the cubicle for 5 mins to lose him. Back at the gate, he was sat behind us, so I waited to board until the queue had died down. Once Rachael, Adam and I stood up he followed about 3 people after. My mate by this point found this hilarious. Chat ensued about our flight. Again Adam and I weren't sat next to each other, although we were on opposite ends of the same row, both hogging the window seats of row 16. "For all the good I've done on that one flight, I deserve to be sat next to a female French underwear model" i quipped. We laughed and boarded.
Sat in seat 16K. Duncan turned the corner from the galley, looked at his ticket, then sat in 16H
. NEXT TO ME
! What were the odds? Seriously. Karma is a [redacted]. Looked over at my mate, who was laughing his head off. Broke down into fit of hysterical laughter. The kind where you know you can't laugh, which just makes it funnier. Luckily the couple in row 15 moved as they had a baby and needed more space. Before the stewardess could say "Don't tread on a mine", I blurted out "Can I have that seat?" and started to move. Phew! Row 15 (front row of economy), whilst Duncan took my vacated window seat on 16. No armrest meant I couldn't stretch out over 2 seats but 15H was quickly filled by a pleasant lady from somewhere local. After sleeping I watched TV until we were above Saddleworth and the IFE was turned off. The usual 23R aproach over Stockport followed and we taxied down to gate 32 on C pier. I was the 1st off in economy so passport control was quick. One last toilet stop in the luggage hall. Opened the door to come out, Duncan's coming through. He's like the T1000, just can't get rid of him. As I awaited my suitcase, I pondered on what was quite an eventful journey. Finally my case appeared and as I went through Customs, I had one last sight of Duncan, talking to a couple of police officers, or being talked to by a couple of police officers. Ran away.
So in conclusion, ladies and jellyspoons, EY
were very good. Cheap at half the price and only one bad meal, good IFE and comfy seat. Mos Eisley isn't the best airport in the world but I'm sure the money men will sort that out and it wasn't that bad, even with the 17 hour wait on the 1st leg. One eventful flight, which on reflection certainly provided some comedy value... for my mate. But would certainly consider EY
again if going east from MAN
Again apologies for the lack of pics. Hope the spelling mistakes aren't too frequent aswell.