Qantas Economy Class TSV-CNS

Belated trip report!

I was off to PNG for another dive trip…Surprise!

Anyway, flight from Townsville to Cairns was at stupid o’clock in the morning, and all I really wanted to do was caffeine load.

Check-in was easy, and I made my way rapidly to the Qantas Club lounge at Townsville airport for coffee and breakfast. All the caffeine! And some fruit salad…Because to be honest, that’s about the only vegan thing in the lounge at breakfast.

Flight went on time, and we got our snack box shortly after take off. Unsurprisingly, none of it was vegan: yogurt, cake, museli bar type thing. I got another coffee and listened to my ipod for the remainder of the 40 minute flight.IMG_20160226_070211

When you don’t get a VGML because it’s such a short flight and they don’t do special catering…

Landed on time and I made my way to the international terminal in Cairns to wait for my next flight to Port Moresby.

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Qantas Economy Class BNE-TSV

Flight 12/12: Brisbane to Townsville

One last flight!

I had a couple of hours to blow in Brisbane, so I holed up in the Qantas lounge and tried to start getting on top of some emails. The chaos that appears to have occurred at work in my absence is mindblowing. Tomorrow isn’t going to be fun.

Anyway, the flight boarded on time, and there was a bit of an incident at the gate. There was an American couple asking the ground crew a question about a connecting flight they had to make in Townsville, and some guy in the economy line dressed in head to toe NQ Cowboys supporters gear started making disparaging comments about Americans, and saying “go back to where you came from,” etc. North Queensland – keeping it classy. I had to make a real effort not to have a go at him for it, I was kind of itching for a fight. I was tired and in a bad mood, and wasn’t prepared to put up with crap from anyone.

The meal was served not long after take-off, and OMG, why don’t Qantas do this all the time? I got a package that contained carrot and celery sticks with some hommus. I like this stuff! Give it to me all the time! I wouldn’t complain! I hope this is a new thing that stays, but I will not be holding my breath.

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Dear Qantas catering: Gimme more of this!

Spent most of the flight playing games on my phone. Yes, I was bored. And tired. I lost a lot of lives. We landed on time in Townsville, my bag made it, and I was rapidly in a taxi home. Only to realise how much laundry I had to do and how much I didn’t want to go grocery shopping. Sleep now, domesticity tomorrow!

So, 12 flights in 2 weeks later, I return. Never again. As fun as the diving may have been, Raja Ampat was just too much hassle for a somewhat mediocre dive experience. To be brutally honest (as always), I prefer the diving in PNG. After having now dived both the north and south of Raja Ampat on different trips, all I have to say is “I’d rather go to Milne Bay“. Sorry, not sorry.

Qantas Economy Class SYD-BNE

Flight 11/12: Sydney to Brisbane

Ah, home sweet lounge access! Priorities – I have them.

After the ugly mess over at the international terminal, I was glad to make my way over to Sydney domestic, and hide out in the Qantas lounge for 3.5 hours to wait for the flight to Brisbane. I finished up some photo editing from the dive trip.

We boarded a little late, and to be honest, although I know they were desperate for an on time departure, the cabin crew were pretty rude about the whole thing. Usually expect better from Qantas. It’s their fault the flight was late to board, not ours.

After departing a little late, we got our snack shortly after take-off. Lo and behold, I actually got a snack that was both vegan and gluten free! A toastie filled with spinach, pumpkin, and cannellini beans. Tasted good 🙂

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My VGML snack…

The flight went quite quickly, because not long after they cleared up the meal, we started to descend into Brisbane. We landed a little late, and the rudeness continued. We hadn’t even started exiting the plane before the cleaning crew were pushing through the cabin trying to clean up. People were everywhere, half the plane weren’t even out of their seats, people were getting shoved out of the way by ground crew while trying to pull their bags out of the overhead lockers. It was bullshit. Qantas – I expect better. I know it was a rush to get the plane turned around for its next flight, but the attitude and behaviour from the cabin crew and ground staff was unacceptable.

I got off the plane as quickly as possible and made my way to the Qantas lounge in Brisbane.

Garuda Indonesia Economy Class DPS-SYD

Flight 10/12: Denpasar to Sydney

Almost home. Almost. Bali airport is just as…classy…as I remember it being. Despite the cosmetic facelift, nothing changes the hoards of loudmouthed drunken Australian Bintang bogans.

I had almost 7 hours to kill in Bali before my flight back to Sydney. As we were coming in to land, I saw the airport surf break and was almost tempted to head in to town, hire a board, and go surf for a few hours before going back to the airport. I didn’t. I did the boring thing and went straight to the international terminal and went through security. I was bored.

Because I already had my boarding pass, I went straight through security and immigration. Security cracked it over my underwater camera gear and made me pull everything out – lenses, housing, strobes, lights, trays, handles, the lot…Because of course nobody in Bali has ever seen underwater camera gear on the x-ray before? lol

Anyway, I spent most of the layover sitting around a coffee shop drinking more…Coffee! Although this time it wasn’t Starbucks – but only because there is no Starbucks post-security at Bali airport, they’re apparently too classy for that. I also tried to find a book I wanted to buy, and a couple of gifts to take home for someone, but I was stunned at the lack of tacky gifts in the airport. I miss the old international terminal! The one that had a mix of the high end stores and the trashy souvenirs. I needed the trashy souvenirs for a change, and there’s nowhere to buy them! What is this? Bali, stop pretending.

I also bought some apple chips to snack on, because there was surprisingly little vegetarian food available, let alone vegan or gluten free.

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My snack food…

My boredom returned. The wifi is crap. How is it that just about every other airport in Indonesia has better wifi than Bali?

We ended up boarding about 45 minutes late. I was not even remotely surprised. There were so many drunk and obnoxious passengers, it made me cringe. Just as I sat down in my usual window seat, the woman in the seat next to me (a middle seat) started complaining about being uncomfortable, and was basically demanding that I swap seats with her. In no universe ever would I willingly swap a window seat for a middle seat. I pretty much told her as much, and that if her comfort was such a big deal, then perhaps in the future she should be more organised with checking in early. She had a go at me, I retaliated. I wasn’t very nice, and I hate to say “well, she started it…” but well, she did. I won’t put up with that kind of DYKWIA attitude from people at the best of times – I’d been travelling the entire day and was tired, so it was not the best of times.

Shortly after take-off we got a midnight snack. Mine was a small fruit tub, washed down with some Coke Zero. I don’t like dragonfruit much, so I left that alone.

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The midnight VGML…

I attempted (unsuccessfully) to sleep after that. Screaming babies – enough said. Got some rest though. About 90 minutes before landing they brought around breakfast. I was given the menu card, but they did confirm I had the VGML. I attach a photo of the menu just for interests sake.

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The breakfast VGML: fried vegetables, some sliced fruit, a pastry, and a bread roll with butter and jam. I ate the vegetables and fruit.

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The regular breakfast menu…

We made up a bit of time during the flight and only landed a little late. Then the chaos in Sydney ensued. Baggage shenanigans. Quarantine shenanigans. Inter-terminal transfer shenanigans. I eventually made it over to domestic.

Garuda Indonesia Economy Class CGK-DPS

Flight 9/12: Jakarta to Denpasar

Because apparently the Garuda flight from Jakarta to Sydney only goes 3 days a week, and I was not flying home on one of those days…I had to fly from Jakarta to Bali to get the flight home from Bali instead. After this many flights, I’m sure you can understand my lack of enthusiasm for yet another flight. More security, more sitting around. Transiting in Bali…*headdesk*

I spent most of the layover in Jakarta drinking coffee. The flight boarded early, and we took off early. I was tired, despite the copious amounts of caffeine already consumed since leaving Ambon. I think my tolerance levels are obscene some days.

The meal was served shortly after take-off. I again got my VGML, but I wasn’t especially hungry. The meal consisted off steamed vegetables, rice, and vegetables in a steamed cabbage leaf with a tomato sauce. Dessert was the green jello thing that I refuse to eat, so I still don’t know what it is after several flights where it’s been served to me.

IMG_20160103_143807The VGML lunch…

We landed slightly early, and I made my way over to the international terminal for a mindnumbingly boring 7 hour layover. Time will tell if my bag makes it to Sydney…

Garuda Indonesia Economy Class UPG-CGK

Flight 8/12: Makassar to Jakarta

Why couldn’t I fly Makassar straight to Bali for the flight back to Australia? I don’t even know. I’ve done it before (on Garuda even), but for some reason I literally could not book the connection on this trip. Anyway…

After my mad dash for coffee in Makassar I got back on the same plane for the flight to Jakarta. We departed on time.

Shortly after take-off we were served brunch. Again, success! I got my VGML. It was partially edible. There was some marinated tofu and vegetables, rice, steamed vegetables, and a tub of fresh sliced fruit. I ate everything except for the tofu bit, because I could smell soy sauce, and I couldn’t be entirely certain it was gluten free. What I ate was fine though, if not especially appetizing. I knew there was yet another Starbucks in Jakarta airport…

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The brunch VGML…

We landed on time in Jakarta, and I plonked myself down at Starbucks for 2 hours for more caffeine and free wi-fi!

Garuda Indonesia Economy Class AMQ-UPG

Flight 7/12: Ambon to Makassar

On my way home! Thankfully. The diving on this trip has been fun, but the food situation has been less than ideal. I will likely write up a short trip report to comment on that separately at some point.

The flight leaving Ambon was on time, but the airport was insanely busy, so it was still a mad rush, even getting there 2 hours early. My bag was checked through to Sydney, but I intended to make sure it didn’t come out at Denpasar just in case. I’ve had issues with bags not making the international-domestic transfer there in the past. And I had 6 hours layover there, so I wouldn’t be in any great hurry.

The airport in Ambon has a number of shops, but little did we know that they were all pre-security screening. We’d gone through security by the time we realised this. However I will note that there are a number of cafe’s, convenience stores, and a couple of gift shops. Post-security, there’s a small snack bar – and I do mean small – that sold bottles of water, chocolate, and coffee. Not the end of the world, I’d had a quick breakfast at the resort before leaving for the airport, and knew Garuda was going to feed me on the plane.

Boarding was on time, and straight forward. Flight left early for a change! Not long after take-off we got served our breakfast. I did in fact get my VGML. I did not actually eat my VGML. I took one mouthful and discovered that it was so salty as to be pretty much inedible. I left the pudding, because I couldn’t be 100% certain it was gluten free, although it potentially was.

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The breakfast VGML

We landed on time in Makassar, and as my next flight was on the exact same plane, I had the option as to whether we wanted to stay on board, or quickly get off the plane and go to the terminal. I got off the plane, did an insane mad dash to Starbucks for coffee, and then got back on the plane. Never let it be said I don’t like my caffeine!