Qantas Economy Class CNS-TSV

Chuuk to Townsville: flight 3…

Nearly home…After waiting around outside the terminal for about 4 hours for the building to reopen, we finally got inside around 3.30am. However, Qantas check-in desks didn’t open until 4am. Seriously, I know Cairns isn’t a huge port, but it’s atrocious that the airport terminal building isn’t open 24/7, even if check-in isn’t. At that point, I’d already checked in online on my phone and just needed to bag drop.

Eventually did that and headed upstairs to the Qantas lounge. It’s usually quite quiet in the mornings in Cairns, but for some reason, the place was full of loudmouthed bogans. Imagine my joy?

Eventually headed off to get the flight, which was running on time. Given that it’s the first flight of the day, you’d hope it was on time! At the gate, the scanner wasn’t working – because of course it wasn’t. They had to manually check everyone in at the gate.

We did depart on time, and once in the air were served our typical bunny hop snack box. Last time I took this flight, we got some fruit, so I was hopeful, but not holding my breath.

Good thing I didn’t hold my breath…

QF_cnstsvApple and cinnamon bread, a museli bar, and orange juice.

Nothing edible, but I did get a coffee.

We landed on time, I got my bags, and headed for the taxi rank. The second I walked in the door at home, I stuffed my face with a box of raw food bars. Seriously. I was starving.

Thus ends my aborted holiday to Chuuk. Back to work again.

Also, I hate United.

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United Airlines Economy Class GUM-CNS

Chuuk to Townsville: flight 2…

Running, running, running – I’m forever running through airports! After the clusterfornication that was the Chuuk to Guam flight, I was literally sprinting through immigration, customs and TSA screening in Guam to make the connection to Cairns – because United told us they wouldn’t hold the flight.

I made it, but I was starving at that point, and hadn’t had the chance to get to one of the shops inside Guam airport to grab something to eat before the flight. And since my previous experience with the United snack boxes is that they weren’t vegan or gluten friendly, it was going to be well past midnight before I got into Cairns and could potentially find some food.

The flight departed on time, probably only 1/3 full. I took a row to myself and got some photo editing done from what little diving I did manage to get done on the trip.

Meals were served fairly promptly, although it was again predictably not vegan or gluten friendly.

IMG_5894Cold potato salad (with mayo), a pork roll, and cookies.

Honestly, I was so hungry by that point I almost ate it. Except the lovely woman in the row behind me had realised I wasn’t eating it. We got to talking, and she took my food, and offered me a couple of small bags of dried fruit she’d bought at the airport shop in exchange! Some people are awesome – just not United.

We landed early into Cairns – by over half an hour. So really, United could have just not been douchebags and held the flight for us in Guam. Anyway, quarantine was quick and painless, just a couple of wooden trinkets to declare, but no problems.

Then a long wait until the domestic terminal opened so that I could dump my dive bag for the flight home.

If I never have to fly United again it will still be too soon.

United Airlines Economy Class TKK-GUM

Chuuk to Townsville: flight 1… Well after a rather disasterous trip to Chuuk, I was finally on my way home. Blame United. They suck – and not in a positive life affirming way.

Trip effectively ruined, and lo and behold, the flight from Chuuk to Guam is late. I was utterly unsurprised by anything United did at this point. After we boarded half an hour late, we then had to go through some ceremonious United thing because it was the pilot’s last ever flight before retiring. That’s great and all, but some of us had connections to make in Guam, and the celebrations could have waited until we had landed in Guam.

Screw United. Seriously.

The flight itself was full of young kids. I hate kids. This did not make my already horrific experience with United on this trip any better. People were refusing to sit in their assigned seats, arguments ensued. Plane departed even later.

Finally in the air and on the way to Guam, trying desperately to find out if they’d be holding the flight to Cairns for us (there were about 6-8 people on board trying to make that connection). United said they weren’t holding it and that if we wanted to make it, we’d just “have to make sure we hurried through immigration, customs, and TSA screening“…You know, in the 25 minutes we had because the flight was late.

The food served on this sector was partly edible. Some mini-salad thing, a cheese and ham roll, and some chocolate cookies. I ate the salad (it came with a sachet of mayo which I didn’t use).

IMG_5885Not a VGML, but still partially edible.

In the end, we made the connection in Guam. After arguing with the staff at immigration to fast track us through.

United – never again.

United Airlines Economy Class GUM-TKK (kind of…)

Townsville to Chuuk (in theory): flight 3…

Almost a 4 hour layover in Guam before the flight to Chuuk. I figured I’d do some shopping, but there really wasn’t a whole lot of interest to be brutally honest. I got a couple of books from the bookshop – one on diving in Chuuk, and one on diving in Guam. A bit of light reading for later…

Food wise in the terminal, pretty much everywhere sells dried fruit – papaya, pineapple, coconut, and my weakness dried mango. I bought some coconut chips and dried mango to eat for breakfast. Also, for the vegans among us, there are tons of nuts, and one of the Japanese places does tofu dishes. For the non-vegans, there’s a Burger King, Domino’s Pizza etc. To my utter shock and dismay, there was no Starbucks!!! WTF?!?! There was a coffee shop, but it was pretty meh.

This flight turned out to be an absolute nightmare – and not because of the catering. We got diverted to another island, and it just went from bad to worse. Everything was going ok until we started the landing approach. Then the pilot pulled out of it and took us to Pohnpei, where we were unceremoniously left behind to fend for ourselves. It’s a whole long tale, and if you want the gory details about my hatred for United, please go to this thread on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum to read all about it…

For the record, the food served on this leg was another snack box. Although unlike the one on the previous flight, this one contained some fresh fruit. Something I could eat!

IMG_5799Partially edible…

I eventually made it to Chuuk, as one very, very, pissed off diver.

United Airlines Economy Class CNS-GUM

Townsville to Chuuk: flight 2…

So after landing at about 5pm in Cairns from my domestic flight, I had a roughly 7.5 hour layover in Cairns before the flight to Guam. Qantas wouldn’t check my bags through on to United, so I had to run circles around Cairns airport trying to find the luggage storage guy. Took a while, but eventually got him to put my dive bag into the security room so that I could head into the city to grab some dinner.

Predictably, I went back to my favourite Turkish restaurant (Ala Turka) on The Esplanade and ordered my favourite dish – the baba ghanoush salad. All the noms!

IMG_5796My favourite food in Cairns! It comes with Turkish bread by default, but I didn’t eat it.

After eating dinner in town, I went for a short wander (it was raining, so didn’t really want to walk around for long) before heading back to the airport for the international flight from Cairns to Guam. All straight forward with check-in, immigration, and security. They’ve installed the bloody body scanners at security screening now though. I hate those things. Blame the TSA.

Post-security, almost nothing was open. The Guam flight is the last of the night, and since it leaves just after midnight, and there’s no other flights in the same general time slot, nobody bothers to stay open. The little cafe that does pizzas etc. was open, as was the newsagent and the duty free place. I got a raw food bar and a bottle of Coke Zero from the newsagent. I was tired, and the Coke probably wasn’t the best idea, because I wanted to curl up and sleep on the flight. I would inevitably want to kick my own ass for that in a few hours.

The flight information from United says that the CNS-GUM flight only serves a snack. This, historically, usually means they don’t do special catering. So a bit of advance planning, and I made sure I had something to eat on the flight, given that inevitably, whatever United was likely to serve me would be inedible. To be honest, even regular passengers who don’t have special meal requests complain endlessly about the catering on United, so I really didn’t have any expectations. Which was a good thing.

The flight departed on time, and it was half empty. Most people had a row to themselves. We could stretch out and sleep! The snack got served about 20 minutes into the flight, and as predicted – no special catering. I literally couldn’t eat anything on the tray. There were cookies, a muffin, and a chocolate bar. I ate one of the snack bars I bought at the airport in Cairns and got some black tea, then pretty much passed out until we were about to land.

IMG_5797

What United gave me…

IMG_5798What I actually ate…BYO VGML.

We landed on time in Guam and then had a nice long queue at immigration. Joy. Transit was easy enough, and that was probably the most efficient and easy TSA screening I’ve ever done in my entire life! So clearly the TSA aren’t all bad, just the ones on the mainland US…*cough*MIA*cough*

Qantas Economy Class TSV-CNS

From Townsville to Chuuk: flight 1…

The flight from Townsville to Cairns is a short bunny hop up the coast. I flew instead of driving is because I could leave straight after work and still make the connecting flight out of Cairns to Guam that night. Driving would have meant missing work for the day – plus the cost of parking my car at the airport for a week. Rather not.

Qantas Club access in Townsville is still mediocre. It’s a small regional lounge, but it has wi-fi. There was actually a bit of food out, but predictably almost nothing I could eat. I got some olive mix and some grapes. A bit lean, but better than nothing I suppose.

IMG_5794My munchies in the Townsville Qantas Club…

No priority boarding as it’s a small Dash-8 flight, and everyone just walks out to the plane on the tarmac rather than using the aerobridges.

I put in the VGML request when I booked the flights, but as expected, it was just a snack box that got served. No special meal catering. I figured as much, as it’s not the first time I’ve caught this flight. That’s why I ate in the lounge.

IMG_5795The snack box that was served. Vegetarian? Yes. Vegan or gluten free? Nada.

I don’t think many people ate it anyway, the flight was vomit inducing. The turbulence was pretty nasty, and while I’m not one who is prone to getting airsick, I really didn’t feel well.

That aside, the flight was uneventful. We landed on time, and then the fun began…