I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Round and round

Ooh, I'm going on holiday again. Hurrah! Even considering my travel habits of the last 4 years, this is a fairly crazy trip, and the first time I'll have circumnavigated the globe twice in a calendar year. In January/February I flew London to Sydney via LA and Auckland, and came home via Incheon (Seoul). 2 airlines, 3 hotels, one new passport stamp, nigh-on 24,000 miles (great circle distance). This time beats that.

On Wednesday I'm flying to Helsinki. A new country for me, on a paid ticket with BA. Which means no lounge access, 'cos the days of me having a silver or gold card with them are long gone. However, this is what's known in certain frequent flying circles as a positioning flight: I'm heading to Finland not (just) to tick a box, but because that's where my part cash/part miles ticket to Australia starts on Thursday. It was about the same price to do this as to start in the UK, thanks to Air Passenger Duty and a few other taxes, so I thought, why not? I am indulging my flight geekery quite a bit here. It's quite a journey.

First, I fly from Helsinki to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. Contrary to my brother's eyebrow-raising and smirk, they're actually a top notch airline with real, safe planes and everything. Mind you I've never flown with them before, so can't say much more about their service yet. I'm looking forward to giving 'em a go, not particularly on this leg but on the second leg, which (after 5 hours or so in the lounge) takes me to Bangkok. This is onboard one of the posh new planes they've borrowed from some other airline, which have awesome seats and a bar at the front of the business class cabin. A bar. Apparently their solids are none too shabby 'n all.

Last time I flew through Bangkok I had about 18 hours between flights, so I went off and did a day trip around some temple or other in the city. This time I was meant to have 11 hours, but in fact I only have 6, because the flight I was originally booked on got pulled from the timetable. Bah. Still it's a fairly nice airport to hang around in, especially when there's a free massage available. The problem for me, though, is that I'm now going to arrive in Sydney at 7.15am on Saturday instead of 1pm. Which means I need to try harder than usual to sleep on the plane, and then stay awake all day in the city. Can't even go to the hotel and check-in for 6 or 7 hours! And to top it off, the clocks change in Sydney on Saturday night, giving me an hour's less kip. Not that it makes much odds to me.

That last flight is with Thai Airways, who I've flown with before, but never on this type of plane. Last time I did Bangkok to Sydney it was on a rotten old plane with shit seats and crap entertainment. This time it's on some modern Airbus thing with good versions of both (I hope).

After a week in Sydney, I'm flying to Melbourne with Qantas. Never been there before. And I'm not going solo - all the southern hemisphere Foremans are heading there too, 'cos me bro's running a marathon there on the Sunday. Ace.

Oh, I have dicked around a lot with my return flight. Originally I booked Melbourne to Hong Kong to London, then a few weeks ago I changed it to Melbourne to Hong Kong to Amsterdam to London. Then I cancelled it and instead booked Melbourne to Auckland to LA to London. Hence the circumnavigation. It's a lot more miles this way round, but massively preferable in lots of ways. It's all with Air New Zealand, who are fantastic, and I get back to Heathrow at about 11am, so no rush hour to deal with. This'll be the 3rd time I've flown between Auckland and London and I am proper looking forward to it. Best business class flights in the sky, some would say ... and a huge bargain considering I got it for less than £300 (plus a bunch of BMI miles). That there is full-on win.

All in all, in the space of 15 days I'm taking 8 flights on 5 airlines coming to almost 26,000 miles. I'm staying at 4 hotels, and have 3 or 4 overnight flights. Is NZ2 from Auckland to LA overnight? It takes 12 hours, but lands 8 hours before it takes off. You heard.

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