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Old August 5th, 2016, 08:09 PM   #1
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hkskyline's 2016 Flying & Plane Spotting Showcase

Every time I see an A380, I eagerly anticipate a price war for the cattle class seats. With oil being so cheap, it is such a bargain to fly to Europe now.

Hong Kong is a great place for plane spotting.

Cathay doesn't have many A340 birds left, and it was a surprise to fly on one today. I prefer this type and also the A330 as the window is not so deep in. I only need to climb over one more person to get out.

KL is quite cheap by international standards and felt much cleaner than Bangkok. Despite the modernity, I could still find some traditional places.

These B747 are parked here and incurring charges as the airport tries to find the owners to pay up.

There were a couple of surprise 787 visitors today.

Meanwhile, I wonder when can MAS get rid of their A380s. No buyers yet.

Today, I would fly this widebody home.

Food is never a highlight in Economy Class. This includes premium carriers such as Cathay. Where are the vegetables in my dinner?

Oops. I did it again. Chinese New Year is getting increasingly painful as millions of others compete with you for the same seats to regional destinations. Europe continues to be cheap so instead of paying a fortune to go to Japan, I opted for a bargain trip to Europe instead. This time, unlike my Christmas trip to Germany, I went for a more expensive fare in order to save flight time. Finnair claims it flies the shortest route to Europe, and they were right for this trip to Poland.

The check-in agent noticed I booked this trip at the last minute and questioned this and that before capitulating and sending my luggage away. The entire Finnair cabin crew serving us consisted of Hong Kongers who spoke accented English and the announcements did not come in Finnish. Eye shades were not available but ear plugs were given upon request, so I was able to nap on and off for the flight.

Helsinki's airport is small and cozy. Transferring here wasn't too cumbersome and very manageable. I was a bit tired from the red-eye and it didn't help when the next flight to Warsaw was delayed.

I walked around the shops to pass the time. But I had no interest in trying exotic game.

Finnair didn't seem so great though. I didn't pay extra to get extra service, but a faster route into Europe. They flew the A330, which I liked for the 2-4-2 seating configuration.

My first flight on the Embraer. The leg room was surprisingly good and the seats were spacious, although the windows were spaced out very widely. This flight is operated by an affiliate of Finnair, although the jet was painted in the official colours. Complimentary drinks were served for this <2 hour flight and food was available for purchase.

The plane actually felt a bit spacious. Perhaps it was because the seating is configured 2-2.

The flight passed by uneventfully again and we landed a bit late in Warsaw. I wanted to spot lots of LOT planes and my wish was granted.

It was delightful to hop onto a new airport train and ride for only 20 minutes into the city centre at the cost of about 1 euro. Take that, Heathrow Express!

Warsaw was a pleasant place in the winter. It wasn't so cold, the hotels were cheap, and I got lots of blue skies.

I return to Chopin airport by the same rail line. Sunday frequencies are 3 trains an hour on SKM trains, although there is also another operator that runs once hourly service as well.

There were 2 check-in counters open for Finnair and I was processed efficiently. The agent added a short connection tag to my bag without me asking.

Since I was flying to Finland today, I only needed to go through security check. I browsed around the duty-free shop for some last minute souvenirs but though the food probably won't survive the long journey back to Asia. I didn't need booze either.

By now it is 7pm and the boarding pass noted we would start at 7:15. During my tour of the airport, I had already noticed the incoming aircraft would arrive at 7:25. A bit worried whether the plane can turn around within 35 minutes, I wondered whether my 55 minute connection in Helsinki would be enough? The free wifi worked well and just shy of 7:25pm, the Embraer jet pulled into the gate.

Arrivals and departures are shared areas in this airport, so I could observe the arriving passengers enter and head towards the baggage exit downstairs. It was only a 20 minute wait before we started to board. Boarding was quick and it was nowhere near a full load tonight. I checked in online earlier to get as close to the door as possible in case I needed to dash upon arrival. The crew announced boarding is complete on the intercom and we pushed back just a few minutes past 8pm. Impressive.

Helsinki's airport is quite nice to use, but there are not enough seats at each gate to accomodate a long-haul load. I settled a gate away, where there are USB chargers on the seats and waited. Boarding was delayed twice - first to 11:15pm, then next to 11:30pm, and the boarding lines snaked around the small gate area on a seemingly full loading.

My impression of Finnair is a more luxurious low-cost carrier. It is not worth a significant premium over the Middle Eastern carriers, but if you are heading to Eastern Europe, the travel time is indeed far quicker going through Helsinki than Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Istanbul, and the airport is quite decent and quick to transit.

Barely past my jet lag, I was on the plane again for a long weekend in Bangkok. I was hit with a 2.5 hour delay, and got it minimized by standing by for another flight instead, although the agent didn't even apologize that my original flight had the major schedule change. This gave me time for dinner at the credit card lounge.

A Cambodian government jet was boarding as I waited for my revised flight.

A fish ball noodle is not enough for dinner, so I got a second dinner on the flight as well. Although Bangkok is only about 2 hours away, we still got a complimentary hot meal. Yes, we're spoiled in Asia.

A bit of chaos in Bangkok ...

Bangkok's airport looks nice but the experience is nowhere near award-winning standards. There are very few moving walkways so it is a long walk to the more remote gates.

Bangkok gets a lot more interesting airlines than Hong Kong, although spotting here is far worse with windows covered up and not easily reachable since the gates are a floor below the main walkways. I had to make the best of what I've got.

Cathay is stingy with releasing award seats, so I had to capitulate and fly Premium Economy today. My only other PEY experience was with Qantas many years ago thanks to an unexpected online check-in upgrade. The difference wasn't so much using Avios compared to Asia Miles - only 2250 more.

Without much luck at the terminal, my spotting got more interesting during taxi.

Service-wise, we got J class headsets but a Y meal. On a long-haul. PEY would be a weird hybrid.

Ching Ming and Easter are major holidays in Hong Kong since it is easy to connect the two long weekends. I couldn't do this, so could only fly a short trip on the Ching Ming long weekend.

While Cathay Pacific and Dragonair are being branded as a seemless single airline group, in reality they operate separately. I ventured to the Marco Polo counters in row B, only to be told they only process Cathay flights and I needed to go across the terminal to the other end for the Dragonair counters.

Dragonair will be gradually rebranded to "integrate" with Cathay. The famous dragon will become much smaller and almost invisible on the livery. So from now on, I need to take more photos of their planes.

The new A320 has the regional Cathay seats and in-flight wifi as there are no PTVs.

As we headed for take-off, I noticed this Orient Thai 747 under repair. Was this the plane that went out of service for almost a month and wrecked havoc on thousands of passengers?

Lunch is served. The beef rice was a little spicy since too much pepper was used. But I was surprised at the premium ice-cream. For a 2-hour flight, I was satisfied with the hot meal.

On approach into Kunming.

Kunming's new international airport opened a few years ago, and the vastness was obvious as we taxied in. However, it seemed this is a land of narrowbodies, and there weren't too many parked here at this time of the day. Seated up front, I went through immigration very quickly and exited within 20 minutes of landing.

The airport buses were just outside international arrivals, but I waited 20 minutes before my departure to the railway station took off. As the driver pulled away, I noticed the premium buses at the domestic end which went to my hotel. But I would later find out they didn't operate more frequently anyway. Hope the metro link can extend into the city centre soon.

After having tried the cheaper commuter 919 service from the airport into town, I opted for the more expensive "luxury" bus that departed directly from my hotel near the train station. 25 yuan was still very affordable and I saved 10 minutes.

I arrived at the airport with 50 minutes to go before check-in ends. The terminal is huge and looked imposing on the highway in. The bus dropped me off at the departures level. All entrants were held just inside the terminal doors, where security personnel sample swabbed luggage before releasing the group into the check-in area. The terrorist threat is just as real in China as in the West.

Graceful arches line the terminal's structure points. The terminal was quite busy but seemed it was mostly due to domestic departures.

The restaurants were busy as well and prices were significantly inflated from in the city. But then, they are cheap by Western standards. After enjoying a chicken rice noodle for 28 yuan, I headed into immigration, where there was a longer wait, but managed to clear security within 20 minutes.

The international section of the terminal became fairly quiet with lots of empty gates. As I had expected, this is still mostly a domestic airport.

To combat the liquids ban, Chinese travelers typically use plastic bottles and fill up here before flight.

The boarding queues have changed so lowly Green Marco Polo members don't get priority boarding.

I settled into my front-row seat in Economy once again and waited ... and waited ... saw the rain come and pass, until the flight deck came on the PA to announce we would be slightly late due to refueling.

Today's plane is a widebody A330 with PTVs and the flight home would be short at under 2 hours. A hot meal was served shortly after the seat belt signs came off. Since I had lunch already at the airport, I opted for a simple dish of fish and potatoes. Strange there wasn't rice or pasta. Like the incoming flight, premium ice-cream was also served.

With rebranding imminent, I turned my eyes onto the Dragonair memorabilia in the seat pocket in front of me.

Who wants to buy an airplane trolley from the duty-free catalogue?

I haven't flown on SQ for years. Hong Kong-Singapore is a very competitive route with a 5th freedom alternative as well. Prices have dropped to rock bottom as LCCs edge in so SQ won my patronage on pricing. On today's flight, the PTV screens were reasonably-sized although the interface looked a bit ancient. The entertainment selection was great though but there were no earphones in the seat. Strangely, there was a pillow and blanket though. Disposable ones were provided upon request.

Breakfast was served slowly. The presentation and quality were better than Cathay, with a fruit appetizer, dim sum main for the Chinese option (rice flour roll, siu mai, and vegetables), custard for dessert, and bread roll accompanied by metal cutlery. But a moist serviette was missing.

We made a long approach to land and looped back at Indonesia to come in from the south. I captured a few shots of the airport but the skyline was a bit far to see clearly.

Terminal 3 is refreshingly different from the other 2 terminals. It is big, airy, bright, and has an interesting ceiling design.

What is this piece of ancient history doing here?

Plane spotting is difficult here since the waiting lounges are enclosed past the security X-rays. It took some time to find a few windows in the public area.

Once inside the waiting lounge, you can't get out. At least there were enough seats. I have always disliked this type of design. If there are delays, you need to re-clear security even if you just go back out for the bathroom, if that is even possible.

Today's aircraft is much nicer with a long-haul configuration as the flight would continue to San Francisco after Hong Kong. The seats were more comfortable and the IFE much more usable. Disposable headphones were already placed at each seat this time.

More photos : http://www.globalphotos.org/showcase2016-air-1.htm
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Old September 20th, 2016, 04:25 PM   #2
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Indonesia is a well-known tourist destination to Hong Kongers, but that is usually just Bali. This trip will take me on Cathay Pacific bound for Jakarta and then a long transit to Yogyakarta on Garuda.

Garuda and its Indonesian carrier friends were notorious until recently when they were on the EU black list due to safety concerns. With no foreign carrier going to Yogyakarta directly from Hong Kong, my other viable option was Air Asia via KL or Singapore Airlines/Silkair. However, a free redemption on Cathay to Jakarta sealed the deal. Let's take the risk and fly an Indonesian airline!

First impressions upon arrival in Jakarta were not good. The arrivals area seems a bit old, and not well sign-posted. We were turned around at the main immigration queueing area as there was supposedly an area for foreigners only, which took a while to find on the side with only 3 counters masked next to the VOA sign.

The baggage area screamed blast of the past.

Upon exiting customs, I looked for signs to the departures area, which there were none. Eventually, I found an elevator hidden away that would go back up to the departures level. However, the departures area is quite big and there were many gates to enter for the check-in counters, but no big sign that says which flight would be at which gate. Sign-posting is really an issue here and it is not easy to find things.

I got here a bit too early. Several weeks later, Garuda moved to the sparkling new terminal nearby.

At one end of the departures area is the prayer section. There isn't too much to shop or eat but there are plenty of ATMs to get rupiah.

The check-in area is functional. Nothing spectacular, but not awful like Dhaka.

Garuda's premium passengers have a separate check-in and sitting area. The staff here were cheerful and pleasant. My friend was flying Business Class on the domestic leg but I was lucky as an Economy seat opened fairly last minute so I snatched that.

Being able to check in with 6 hours to spare, we made the gutsy decision against advice to head into town to see Old Batavia. Jakarta's traffic is notorious, and you can easily get stuck for many hours even along the dedicated airport highway.

After a quick tour of Jakarta's old Dutch town, and realizing the museums were closed early for Ramadan, we headed back to the airport by taxi in lightning speed time. I guess Jakarta is on vacation during Ramadan and everyone emptied out. There were minimal traffic jams only at the airport area. The rest was clear.

Several banks have private lounges just behind the check-in counters within the mall. There were a few food options, including the deadly Krispy Kreme and a small Haagen Daz storefront. As it was sunset, green food boxes were being handed out to Muslims so they could break their fast.

American poison. Bank your heart attack for later.

Indonesians love fried foods.

I browsed around the bookstore and souvenir shop to see what local foods were on sale. The packaging is not so enticing although the contents look interesting.

There are no security gates between the check-in counters and these "gate" seats. I would later learn why.

Individual gates stretch from the above seats into separate pods that are connected by bridges. I tried to enter my gate's pod a bit early as I had some time to kill and no more shopping to be done. The security guard turned me away and said in broken English to come back at 7pm. That was good advice as the holding pen is very small and there are not enough seats for our 737 load tonight. Here is the big open pit just beyond the mall.

The official security checks happen here on the bridges to the pods. I wonder whether friends and family can enter through the check-in area's initial security check?

There are not enough seats for a full narrowbody plane load of passengers. My flight would depart from a remote stand today. Business Class passengers had their own van while the rest of us out back got on a fairly new bus.

Had I not been able to secure a seat on Garuda, I would have needed to book Batik Air, which has a more dubious safety record. Tonight, I am flying a fairly new 737 Garuda jet with PTVs! Great first impression.

We departed late but the flight time was under an hour only. Garuda's service made up for the delay though. For such a short flight, we got food boxes consisting of a bread, cookies, and water. They tasted decent and looked like the Ramadan boxes being handed out in the terminal. This is much better than domestic USA flying!

We encountered a few bumps on the descent and landed in the outdoors at Yogyakarta's airport. There are no connecting gates so everyone disembarked onto stairs and made a short walk to the baggage claim.

Indonesian has a lot of different smaller carriers. After this experience, I would stick to Garuda!

It didn't take long for the bags to come out, which was great since the hall was small and old.

I had initially chosen Garuda as the better of evils. I didn't like Lion / Batik's safety record, but still remember the days when Garuda was on the no-fly list into Europe. I had taken a gamble, and came out surprised at how good the airline has become. Service was great for such a short flight, although the airport experience still screams Third World.

More flight photos on my website : http://www.globalphotos.org/hkgcgkjog.htm

Yogyakarta was also an impressive place with World Heritage history and bargain basement prices. Hope this place won't get overrun like Angkor Wat.

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Old November 30th, 2016, 06:10 PM   #3
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Yogyakarta's airport is also a blast of the past. Don't come here too early before your flight. You'll quickly run out of things to do.

The domestic lounge is an uninspiring area. All passengers board from the tarmac. There are no jet bridges here.

However, there are some windows where there can be a bit of plane spotting to appreciate Indonesia's many, many airlines.

Like a library, borrow a newspaper and remember to return it to the rack.

When our flight was called, out we went to the stairs. Lucky it is dry season now.

Today, I try Garuda again for a short domestic flight to Bali. With beautiful blue skies, Merapi was fully visible and we flew very near it!

Living in Asia, we have the expectation of a meal even on short hops. We got another box meal today.

The seat was comfortable enough and not having a personal TV was OK when the scenery was so good.

We landed on the over-touristed resort of Bali, which was far more busy and beautified than the more "authentic" Indonesia.

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Old December 16th, 2016, 09:20 AM   #4
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When I planned my South Island driving route, I considered starting and finishing out of Christchurch, where fares are usually cheaper than out of Queenstown. However, further research revealed Queenstown's flight paths are very scenic, so I gave up driving back to Christchurch through Lake Tekapo and booked a domestic flight from Queenstown to Auckland.

Queenstown's airport is located near the town centre and the approach is quite scenic. From Bob's Peak, I could see planes approach for landing this morning.

For a small resort town, it was surprisingly easy to get to the airport by public transport. Bus #11 leaves every 15 minutes from the town's main bus terminal and the ride took only 20 minutes.

There were 2 Jetstar flights to Auckland for the rest of the afternoon. Jetstar has only a 3 counters open, which I had expected anyway for a low-cost carrier. The passengers in front of me had lots of luggage so I waited patiently as the line slowly moved. Since I was way too early for my 5pm flight, I asked whether it was possible to standby for the 3:45pm flight. The agent didn't seem to understand what that was and thought I was on staff travel. He initially said the airline doesn't do standby, but then turned to check what was the fare difference. 3 NZD later and getting confirmation from his colleague it was OK to do so, I got a boarding pass and a window seat out back for the 3:45pm flight.

While Jetstar uses a manual way to check passengers in, the more conventional mainline carriers provide a less human interactive approach.

Domestic and international passengers go through the same entrance but in 2 separate lines. A display at the entrance shows which flights are departing as the waiting area inside is too small to handle everyone. This turns out to be a smart move since the domestic air-side area has no shops or restaurants but only vending machines and bathrooms.

Our Jetstar flight arrived late and our boarding was also delayed as a result. There are no air-bridges here. The gates are just doors opening to the tarmac and we would board by staircase. This reminds me of Yogyakarta earlier in the summer. With arrivals just gone, I suspected the crew did not have enough time to clean the plane, and I was right. There were bits of garbage on the floor and the paper materials in the seat pockets were quite badly beaten up.

Leather seats are a common feature among low-cost carriers. I'm not a big fan of these. They are cold and don't seem as comfortable as the fabric seats. Just a minor rant as I would still endure them if the price is right.

We eventually pushed back almost half hour behind schedule. It was still spectacularly clear and I didn't have anything planned for Auckland anyway so I didn't mind. After a short taxi, we took off towards the west.

The flight path is quite interesting since Queenstown is surrounded by mountains. We looped around to climb, first heading south, then turning 180 degrees to head back north with lovely snow-capped mountains and lush valleys all along the way. Had I stayed with the later flight, the sunlight would have been too minimal to capture these aerial shots. 3 bucks well spent!

The flight path would trace through my drive that stretched from Christchurch down the West Coast. I believe Cromwell is in the distance with Lake Dunstan edged between the mountains. I drove through there just yesterday.

On the ground - @ Cromwell

Back in the air .. continuing northbound :

I felt like this flight was re-tracing my driving tour of the South Island. Here is Wanaka. I lived just a short walk from the waterfront.

On the ground - @ Wanaka

A whole line of snow-capped mountains came next, although I couldn't tell which one was Mount Cook or the Fox Glacier, where I rode a helicopter up for a look a few days earlier.

Along the Drive - Helicopter Ride @ Fox Glacier

Back on the flight, I could also spot Lake Tekapo in the distance! The closer one is the turquoise Pukaki I reached yesterday. It took many hours on the road from Queenstown while it was just minutes by plane!

On the ground - 4 hours to Pukaki

As we progressed up the West Coast, the snow got less and less and there were more lush green valleys, which was expected given the huge amount of precipitation in this part of the country, where glaciers and tropical rainforests co-exist.

During this time, the crew passed by offering paid drinks and food. A menu was in my seat pocket, although I was surprised Vietnamese noodles got on there and didn't cost so much money compared to sandwiches. I didn't smell anyone in my vicinity eat one though.

By now, the scenery has gone beyond my 4 days of driving. I didn't have enough time to explore the northern reaches of South Island.

More on my website : http://www.globalphotos.org/jq298.htm

Jetstar is a typical low-cost carrier suitable for short flights. I compared against Air New Zealand, and despite buying checked bags and a guaranteed window seat, Jetstar was still cheaper. They got me to Auckland safely, which was all I asked for. I don't set much expectations for low-cost carriers anyway, but the crew had a smile and took care of us well.

Scenery in New Zealand : Queenstown - Cromwell - Lindis Pass - Pukaki | Fox Glacier | Wanaka | Queenstown
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Old January 7th, 2017, 05:46 AM   #5
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The irony is it is cheaper to redeem today's flight on a foreign carrier's mileage club than the operating airline's own program. 9000 BA avios later, I scored a long weekend to Fuzhou, whereas Dragonair would have gotten me 15,000 Asia Miles poorer.

I redeemed this ticket just before the new 3rd runway surcharge in Hong Kong came into effect. Fuzhou was not exactly a pre-determined destination, but it had availability, the flight is short, and hotels are cheap. A bummer this expensive expansion needs to be borne by the users who can't even enjoy its benefits yet when the Airport Authority has enough firepower to borrow the funds from bond markets.

Let's start with plane spotting at HKG, a great place to see some interesting airlines.

Fuzhou is only about 400 miles from Hong Kong - a very short flight. Yet, the passenger volumes are big enough to deploy a widebody A330. Notice the new Dragonair colours with the big dragon gone from the tail are creeping up in the background.

I waited a while before joining the long boarding line that stretched a long way from the gate. Seems a full load today.

I settled into my window seat at the back end of the wing and watched the planes go by.

As we turned towards take-off, I spotted Cathay's new A350 right behind us.

The aerials were very good today. Blue skies and fluffy clouds. It can't get any better than this. Shenzhen is behind the bay there.

Many years ago, I sat on the other side of the plane and got some marvelous aerials of the skyline. This time, I enjoyed an aerial view of Kowloon and the New Territories with favourable lighting conditions.

Excitement over, I turned my attention to the seats, which have been refurbished to Cathay's standard. There is a little tray in front for small items such as your mobile. The screen was good and the IFE offered a decent selection for an hour flight.

On these short flights, the crew sprang into action quickly to serve a hot sandwich. The drink came with the tray and there was a delicious cookie at the end.

Welcome to Fuzhou. Typical of many other secondary Chinese cities, the airport is full of narrowbodies. We were a giant here today.

Soon, this livery will be history.

I walked quickly to immigration to beat the slower crowds who needed a toilet break upon disembarkation. With no checked baggage on hand, I was out through the customs scanner quickly. There wasn't much activity in the international section today, which is also typical at secondary Chinese city airports.

More on my website : http://www.globalphotos.org/ka-fuzhou.htm

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Old January 23rd, 2017, 02:57 PM   #6
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Sept. 11, 2016

When I booked this flight, the anniversary of 9/11 did not come into my mind. Perhaps those are a distant emory although life has not yet gone back to normal these days, with persistent threats of terrorist attacks, liquid bans on hand luggage, and enhanced security everywhere.

Prices out of Queenstown were incredible, and it was only marginally more expensive to fly up to Auckland and cross the Tasman. Curious what Auckland is like, I decided to do this route, and picked Emirates' very reasonably-priced 5th freedom Tasman flight on the A380. It was a fairly last minute booking, but I was able to score a seat, with luggage included, for only about NZD 235.

Skybus offers a frequent airport service from downtown Auckland, I missed a bus and only needed to wait 10 minutes for the next service, which was fairly quick in light Sunday afternoon traffic. The bus first dropped off most passengers at the domestic terminal, and terminated at the international terminal.

Emirates has an incredible 3 flights leaving Auckland at around the same time. These are all 5th freedoms heading to Australia - Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, before continuing to Dubai. Despite all these flights, I was surprised the lines to check in were all very manageable. Emirates still uses traditional check-in counters rather than the disastrous kiosk then bag drop machines Qantas uses. Passengers line up once and get a human to do all the work in 1 shot. There were many counters open and I immediately got processed.

Auckland is not a large airport and I didn't see many big jets when I arrived yesterday, so the prospect of 3 flights to Dubai within an hour of each other was a bit odd for this fairly small city. I didn't expect the flight to be full, which I confirmed with the check-in agent.

Emirates occupies a fairly large section of the international terminal. Qantas has a tiny section next door while Air New Zealand has a number of kiosks scattered around their area with thin human presence.

Departures are upstairs from the check-in counters. There were a few restaurants, including the fast food poison chains like McD, Pita Pit, etc. Selection wasn't spectacular but again, this is a small airport.

There were minimal lines for immigration and security and soon I emerged air-side where there were many shops and restaurants. I peeked out the windows and didn't find much inspiring spotting opportunities.

The terminal wasn't particularly busy but many were eating at one of the many dining options air-side. On the other side of the terminal are 2 Emirates A380s, which is an amazing sight with so many turboprops and narrowbodies taking off and landing here. I made the long walk to my gate, which seemed newer than the rest, presumably built to handle the A380s.

This parked plane would serve my flight today. Eventually, another parked A380 on the tarmac was towed next to this.

Fairly quiet down here today despite all the Dubai departures.

Boarding was separated into stages and things happened efficiently, presumably due to a lighter load. More on that in the next part.

The full report is at : http://www.globalphotos.org/ek407.htm
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Old January 30th, 2017, 03:45 AM   #7
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welcome back hkskyline!! missed your reports I love them!! youre reports inspired me to make all my reports!!

Airports visited:

My 10 top planes:
A340-600 / B777-300 / A330-300 / B787 / B747 / A350 / A380 / B727 / B737 / EMB190

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Old March 26th, 2017, 06:21 AM   #8
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Continuing ...

Boarding was separated into stages and things happened efficiently, presumably due to a lighter load. It started at about 10 minutes to 5 and by 5:15, we were all seated and ready to go. The flight deck announced they had to unload some bags due to no-shows, but we eventually pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule.

Auckland's airport is not so big, and it was a short taxi and wait for a few landings, before we quietly roared into the sunset. It has been a few years since my last A380 flight and I forgot just how stable and quiet the plane gets.

Wet naps were distributed, followed by menus with arrival cards for Australia. For those flying into Dubai, they would eat 3 meals - dinner on the way to Melbourne, and 2 more meals on the next sector to Dubai. Imagine heading to Europe - they would also get 2 more meals on the Dubai - Europe leg for a total of 5 meals.

The flight was very smooth and I helped myself to a seemingly refreshed IFE interface. The earphones have been upgraded to a simple noise-cancelling type, although still not as good as Etihad's which I tried late last year. Considering Emirates priced this 5th freedom competitively against Jetstar, I think I made a good choice especially with a free checked bag and full meal.

The meal wasn't too big and I was still slightly hungry after, but the main's presentation was quite decent.

The skies turned bright red as we were half way to Melbourne.

Emirates' A380 has some classy touches, such as wood paneling in the bathrooms, which I would never get on the competition for this route.

The sun had set by now and I roamed around the Economy Class cabin in the dark. Loading wasn't that light after all but there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out.

I will miss the wonderful weather in the past few days.

3 hours later, which didn't feel so long at all, the announcement came that we were descending. The plane smoothly headed over the city and turned towards landing. Etihad parked their A380 nearby today as well.

I particularly liked the digital clock on the IFE so I can keep track of the jet lag.

While some passengers lined up to process their biometric passports, I opted to go through the manual line, where there was nobody at all. Automation doesn't always result in efficiency.

Soon, I emerged land-side and ready for the bus ride into the city.

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Old May 6th, 2017, 11:53 AM   #9
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I had enough miles in my Star Alliance account to redeem a one-way transpacific to Canada, but there was little availabilty out of Hong Kong unless I change somewhere in China. That was not appetizing. I didn't want to get caught up in a military-induced flow control delay. I wasn't interested in a long 16-hour direct flight to Toronto either, so I scanned around looking for a nice place to break up the long journey. Seoul and Tokyo came up. Seoul was interesting because Air Canada now flies the 787 while Haneda would get the high-density 777. Having been to Seoul earlier in 2016, I opted for Haneda, which was close to the city and there were seats out back where there are only 2 seats by the window instead of 3.

There was nothing available to redeem between Hong Kong and Tokyo even when I searched Ethiopian's 5th freedom flight, so I bought a cheap flight on Hong Kong Express for HKD $1223 to position myself for the redemption. Not bad considering 20kg of luggage was included and I could have 2 full days exploring around.

I took the evening Haneda flight that would arrive at around 11pm. By the time I reached Terminal 2, the sun was starting to set.

Check-in lines weren't too bad today. I had checked in online earlier, but I needed to drop by larger suitcase into the hold. At this point the luggage was not full, but I expected to fill it up in Tokyo and Toronto.

Once air-side, I saw the BA A380 parked in a new position closer to immigration, which I didn't see before.

The gate signs were decorated for the season.

We were departing from the new concourse, but I didn't realize they had a bus gate. Apparently, this spot where the plane is parked is at the terminal but there is no airbridge.

So we got on the bus, looped around the terminal building, and parked just off the terminal to board by stairs.

Several other airlines, mostly low-cost, also use this new satellite terminal. Off the top of my head, Jet and Turkish are among the traditional carriers that have also made the move.

Successfully getting a window seat, I enjoyed take-off into the evening sky for the long and hungry journey into Tokyo.

Hong Kong Express takes the extra step to ban all outside food and drinks from being consumed on board, and they offer an expensive hot meal, albeit slightly cheaper if pre-ordered online.

Don't let the photos fool you. The portions are not big enough to get you full.

Unlike Ryanair, they have proper safety cards and not a sticker stuck to the seat (which is ingenious to save weight).

I like these slimmer seats with the magazine rack by the headrest so I get a little extra room for my legs.

But it is not really a pure no-frills carrier. They do have a duty-free catalogue at the seat.

It was a comfortable ride with my own entertainment to keep busy and we landed uneventfully in Haneda, parking next to an AirAsia X jet.

We are quite spoiled flying out of Hong Kong with the likes of Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines offering hot meals even on short regional flights. Hong Kong Express is a game-changer, and has become immensely popular with a much better Japan network than the traditional carriers. This flight wasn't particularly special, but when you fly no frills, that's the best part.

More photos from UO 622 on my website : http://www.globalphotos.org/uo622.htm
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
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