Singapore Airlines Economy Class LHR-SIN

And…*sigh*

I am in fact on the way home, and not rebelling and staying London. I was half tempted to ring up a few people back in Australia to tell them to pack up my apartment and ship my stuff over to England for me. This isn’t a new idea – I have it every time I’m in London. There’s legally nothing stopping me from staying permanently, but at the end of the day, it’s unrealistic without a good job lined up. Doing the whole barista thing isn’t going to let me live the life I want. Sadly one can not ignore economics.

Anyway, I got myself to Heathrow Terminal 2 with plenty of time to spare. The checkin was problematic. Singapore Airlines clearly doesn’t use their own staff and outsources it. Nightmare. They screwed up a couple of things with my booking, and I was suddenly unclear as to weather I would get my VGML on board.

I decided to grab some dinner in the terminal before boarding. Also bought some snacks for the flight. Dinner was just a bowl of fries with mushy peas and ketchup. Quick and simple.

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My last minute snack stash purchase for the flight. Dried fruit from WHS.

I got to the gate to try and sort out my seating and confirm my meal. All good. Lo and behold, the problem was with the idiot at the checkin desk. The woman at the gate didn’t seem surprised to hear it. This is what happens when you employ contract staff who don’t understand how the airline operates. Either that, or that checkin woman was simply a whole new level of incompetent. It certainly could have been the latter.

We boarded about half an hour late due to the late arrival of the aircraft (how many times have I heard that one?), only to then get stuck at the gate for another hour due to air traffic control limiting flight departures (and arrivals – hey, guess why the plane was late to arrive?!?!?) in and out of Heathrow due to a big storm to the east. The captain said they were only allowing one departure every 10 minutes. Understandable, but oh so boring.

I started watching that Scientology doco “Going Clear” on the inflight entertainment system. Weird. But I already knew it would be.

Once we finally got in the air, dinner was served almost immediately. It included: a salad tub (cold zucchini, baby tomato, baby spinach, walnuts, and tofu – admittedly I thought the tofu looked like feta for a second), a risotto like thing with tomato sauce and zucchini and asparagus, fruit salad, dried fruit (which for some unfathomable reason contained wheat), a bread roll, dairy free spread, and water. I ate the salad, hot meal, and the fruit salad. The risotto like stuff was really good! Got offered ice cream as they went around with the general meal service, but declined for obvious reasons.

IMG_6035 The VGML dinner

Miraculously, I actually managed to get some good rest. Not really sleep, but I stopped dozing about 2.5 hours before landing. I say miraculously because there was a newborn baby next to me. She thankfully slept most of the flight, and the crying was minimal, and only during the meals when we were all awake anyway.

Breakfast came about 2 hours before landing. Fruit tub with orange and grapefruit, a hot meal of hash browns, mushrooms in a tomato sauce, spinach, and grilled tomato, bread roll, dairy free spread, orange juice, and another bag of the dried fruit that had wheat in. I ate the fruit tub and the hot meal (except the spinach).

IMG_6037The VGML breakfast…

We made up time during the flight and ended up landing only 45 minutes late, despite the 90 minute delay at Heathrow. Then I had 6 hours before my next flight *yawn*

British Airways Economy Class CDG-LHR

I’m home!

*hugs the world* Puppies for everyone!

Everything else on the planet could be one giant clusterfornication, but being in London would still bring a smile to my face. I may live in Australia, but England will always and forever be home. Admittedly I am in London for work this time, but still, it’s good to be back.

So I made my way from Nancy back to Charles de Gaulle on the TGV. Simple enough, even if it did mean getting up at 4.30 am. Thankfully the TGV gets into CDG at Terminal 2 – conveniently the same terminal my flight was departing from. I’d actually already checked in online the day before, so all I had to do was bag drop and pick up my boarding pass.

Security and immigration was all easy enough, as I always travel in Europe on my UK passport rather than my Australian one. More convenient.

And then…WINNER! I’d actually forgotten that because this one single flight on my itinerary was on a OneWorld airline that I would actually have lounge access! Huzzah! Thanks BA! I made my way to the OneWorld lounge which is operated by Cathay Pacific at T2A. Happy dance! Cathay are my favourite. There’s also an American Airlines lounge which I could have used as well…But why would you? AA lounges kind of suck in general, and Cathay wins all.

IMG_5983The standard hot food fare in the Cathay lounges – fried rice, chicken, noodles, etc. Next to the salad bar.

IMG_5982

The snack bar in the Cathay lounge – cheeses, cupcakes, etc. Not so edible for the vegans and gluten intolerant among us. But a good stash of Coke Zero!

Due to the late arrival of the aircraft, we ended up departing about 80 minutes late. Frustrating, because I just wanted to get to London. Everything was uneventful though.

Believe it or not, by pure happenstance, the snack served on the flight was both gluten free and vegan! Admittedly crisps aren’t exactly the healthiest thing out there, but better than nothing!

BAlunch Not so healthy – but edible!

Got to Heathrow…And almost kissed the ground. Almost. Because: gross!

On the road in…Nancy!

I should have known this wasn’t going to end well.

There were no allergy incidents to speak of, but that has more to do with the fact that I didn’t eat out at a restaurant once in the week I was there.

Breakfasts were fairly straight forward. I ate at the hotel’s buffet. Believe it or not, in a place that is so renowned for its pastries, getting gluten free cereal and bread was actually quite easy. I ended up grabbing a bowl of gluten free museli topped with fresh fruit salad for breakfast every morning. I found the museli to be tooth achingly sugary, but it was edible. And given the lack of alternative options, I ate it. There was no fridge in my room to keep anything that I could have bought from the grocery store cool overnight. My hotel room was tiny, and effectively consisted of nothing more than a bed and bathroom.

IMG_5936[1]Breakfast from my hotel in Nancy

Speaking of grocery stores, they ended up saving me. Although morning  tea, lunch, and afternoon tea were provided at the conference that I was attending, it didn’t take more than 10 seconds on the first day for me to realise that I literally couldn’t eat any of it.

Morning tea? Pastries.

Lunch? Bread rolls loaded with butter, cheese, and meat.

Afternoon tea? Pastries.

By lunchtime on the first day of the conference, I’d realised I would have to provide my own food. I did inform the conference organisers of my dietary requirements on the appropriate place on the registration form – apparently not worth the paper it’s written on. I’m not surprised – this is by no means the first time it’s happened to me. Thankfully there was a supermarket across the road from the conference centre in town. I bought lunch there every day, and just had to bypass the morning and afternoon tea pastries. The only thing I got from conference catering was coffee.

photo 1A tub of cold Moroccan style cous cous with vegetables from the supermarket. I ate similar things for both lunch and dinner.

With lunch sorted, it was then time for dinner. After multiple attempts to find anywhere that could do vegan food, I was just about ready to give up and simply ask for something that was dairy free, and eat the meat – I figured my body could tolerate it for a week even if my doctor would want to shoot me when I got home. And? No. We literally couldn’t find anywhere that could do me a dairy free meal. Butter was used in everything they cooked. That first night, I went without dinner, because all the shops had closed by that point, and I had no way to buy my own food until the following day.

So after the conference finished each evening, I stopped by the local supermarket again, and bought myself some dinner. Given that my hotel room had no microwave or anything to warm anything up, I ended up eating nothing but cold food for a week. Thankfully the fresh food section at the grocery store had a few pre-packaged options in terms of salads etc. There was also fresh fruit available. And I bought a bag of dried fruit as well – some dessert so to speak…

photo 2Dessert? Kind of depressing seeing as I was in France.

In the land of quiche Lorraine, I had naturally assumed dairy and egg would play a big part in the diet in Nancy. However, despite my fairly extensive Google research before leaving home to see where I could go out to eat, I had little success. The places that people talk about online as being veg*n friendly do vegetarian food. That was available everywhere. But vegan? Not so much.

As a business traveller, this disappoints me. I was unable to go out in the evenings and network with my colleagues from the conference over dinner because I couldn’t eat the food. Unimpressed, but at the end of the day, there’s little that I can do about it. When you have to travel for work, you don’t get a whole lot of say in where you go. You simply have to deal with the hand you’re dealt in some capacity. I found a way around the lack of vegan options in restaurants and cafes by buying my own food at the grocery store, but make no mistake, I was certainly glad to be out of there once the conference was done.

In a foodie destination, and I had to resort to pre-packaged supermarket food. Classy.

Singapore Airlines Economy Class SIN-CDG

WTF is this??? Where’d the Starbucks go? I wanted to cry like a 2 year old. I’m not even joking. My guilty pleasure is getting Starbucks everytime I go through Changi. It seems to have disappeared. Sad Panda.

I knew I’d get fed on the flight to Paris, but I kind of wanted a proper dinner. Sadly I couldn’t really find anything vegan in any of the restaurants or cafés. I resorted to just grabbing a couple of small bags of nuts and a bottle of Coke Zero from the convenience store in Terminal 3. I was pretty tired at that point and just wanted to find somewhere to sit down and read emails before the flight.

Boarding was…Painful. Literally. Some woman stood on my broken foot while I was waiting for early boarding. As expected, the only word out of my mouth was “fuck!”. Instead of apologising, she started to yell at me for swearing in front of her kid. Lady, quite frankly you were lucky that was the only swear word out of my mouth and that I didn’t call you all the far more colourful names that were running through my head. I then had a 13 hour flight to look forward to with an even more painful foot.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful. I tried to sleep, but to no avail. My foot hurt, and painkillers can only do so much. Plus, economy class. Doom.

Dinner was served not long after departure. It consisted of chickpeas, corn and beans with rice and steamed zucchini. The tray also had salad with balsamic dressing (I think, but I didn’t eat it since I couldn’t be sure it was gluten free), cut fruit, a bread roll (also didn’t eat), and non dairy spread.

IMG_5934[1]VGML supper – I ate the hot meal and the fruit.

Tried to sleep after the supper was cleared away, but didn’t really happen. Got some rest for a few hours though, and then decided to finish off my powerpoint presentation for the conference I was attending. Until the battery ran out on my laptop…

Watched some tv shows to wind down the time, including The Flash. Grant Gustin…lol.

Anyway, breakfast was served a couple of hours before landing in Paris. The tray contained steamed vegetables, fruit, a tub of apple juice, and soy milk. Boring, but it was all edible.

IMG_5935[1]VGML breakfast – bland but edible.

Landed on time at Charles de Gaulle, and thus began the regular anticipated chaos that it is renowned for. Seriously, 3 Airbus A380’s had just landed, and they had 1 single immigration line open for all the EU passport holders? Right. And then the luggage conveyor belt was broken. And then having to get from T1 to T2 so I could get the TGV…OMG. Die.

I eventually made it to Nancy for my conference.

Singapore Airlines Economy Class BNE-SIN

Bloody hell. This is why I hate long haul in economy. I’m injured by the way (I broke my foot – don’t ask), and that was the most uncomfortable flight ever. And I still had the super long haul from Singapore to Paris to come. Joy.

The flight itself was uneventful I guess. Boarded on time, no issues.

Lunch came around not long after boarding, along with the drinks cart. Along with my obligatory Coke Zero, I got my VGML. Some kind of eggplant parmigiana with green beans. I scraped off the coating from the parma and just ate the innards. Was fine. Also came with a little salad tub, and a breadroll with nut butter. Dessert was coconut rice with mandarin and pistachios, which I liked.

IMG_5932[1]The VGML lunch – vegan, but not entirely gluten free. Mostly edible.

Tried to sleep, but ended up watching Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ex Machina. I don’t know why, but I always seem to find myself watching Marvel movies on flights. Lack of much else of interest I suppose. Music selection was good though.

A couple of hours before landing, we got offered a small snack. The VGML version was a panini-type thing with grilled vegetables and tofu. There was no chance the bread was gluten free, so I ate the filling and left the bread. Pretty tasty actually!

IMG_5933[1]VGML snack – the filling was edible, the bread wasn’t.

Landed on time and then had a 4 hour layover to look forward to in Singapore.

 

 

Virgin Australia Economy Class TSV-BNE

On my way to France for a work conference. It’s a hard life, I know.

Flights that require me to be up at stupid o’clock are always going to suck.

Too tired to really give much of a crap about anything, as long as I could get my coffee.

Check in was simple enough, and got boarding passes all the way through to Paris. Transits in Brisbane and Singapore were to come. No lounge access on this trip because (a) it was in economy, and (b) my high status is on One World and not Star Alliance. Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines are Star Alliance. I’m working on gaining higher status with them, but not high enough up the ladder yet for complimentary lounge access.

Flight boarded on time and everything was good. Snacks got brought around and it was tea/coffee/water/long life orange juice. Black coffee it was. They also handed out these mini banana cake things. I suspect they were just banana muffins shaped like a cake. I gave mine to my neighbor.

IMG_5931[1]No VGML on this flight…Shocker.

Landed on time in Brisbane, uneventfully, and made my way to the international terminal.