Air Niugini Economy Class POM-CNS

Belated trip report (part 5)!

Bored. Bored. Bored.

7 hours stuck in any airport is boring. 7 hours stuck at Port Moresby airport is excruciating.

The international terminal had finally finished its upgrades since my last visit, which was awesome. But the thing is, my flight didn’t open for check in until 4-5 hours before departure. Which meant several hours sitting around the check-in area doing nothing. Boredom.

Eventually check-in opened and everything was quick. Immigration and security was also quick. Thankfully. With the new renovations, airside now had a number of duty free and souvenir shops, as well as half a dozen cafes. Huzzah! I even managed to find something to eat. I’d hoped to get something more substantial, but all I could find was a salad. And more caffeine. Always more caffeine.

The flight was thankfully on time and shortly after take-off we got an early dinner. Some rice salad thing (which had feta in it, so no go), salad, crackers, and juice.

20160307_172819Supposedly a VGML, but the rice salad thing had cheese in it. I ate the side salad.

We landed on time back in Cairns, and I made my way through immigration quickly. Had some stuff to declare at customs, but that too went relatively fast. Due to flight schedules, I had to spend the night in Cairns before flying home in the morning. I had planned to get a proper dinner in town, but it turns out that my favourite restaurant (the Turkish place on the Esplanade) had closed down. I wanted to cry. So I went to the Woolworths down the road and bought some random stuff, went back to my hotel, and ate dinner in front of the tv. Yes, I’m so adventurous sometimes.

Air Niugini Economy Class CNS-POM

Belated trip report (part 2)!

Because my flight from Townsville landed quite early, I had a bit of a layover in Cairns (4 hours) before the flight to Port Moresby left. Air Niugini check-in doesn’t open until 2.5 hours before departure, so I was stuck hanging around Cairns international for 90 minutes before check-in opened…*yawn* Landside in Cairns international is dead. I was bored very, very quickly. Eventually check-in opened and everything was straight forward.

Fun times ensued…The fire alarm in the terminal building went off when I was in line for security screening. Everything in the terminal came to a screeching halt for about 30-40 minutes while they found the culprit. We didn’t have to evacuate, but we were basically standing around doing nothing while they found the source of the alarm. It took ages for them to eventually start screening again. So boring, and you get no phone signal in that part of the airport, so I couldn’t even Facebook. Doom!

Once through security, there’s not much going on airside. A few duty free shops and a cafe and a pizza shop. The cafe had coffee, but not much in the way of vegan or gluten free food. The newsagents sells paleo bars, so I bought a couple of those which were edible, and sat around waiting for the plane. Which was 45 minutes late. Shocker, I know…

After departing a bit late, we were on our way to Port Moresby. Made up a bit of time along the way. Shortly after take-off we got brunch.20160226_123538No VGML: pasta salad with mayo, ham, a bread roll, and an ice cream…lol

I would survive. This was predictable. My plan was to just wait it out until I got to the resort in Milne Bay for dinner.

Landed a bit late, but I had enough time up my sleeve to make the connection to Alotau, so not a problem. Immigration was really slow, even for PNG. And customs officers seemed more interested in standing around having a chat than in clearing the 3 plane loads of passengers that had just arrived. Not a surprise. PNG runs on island time…

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*

Air Niugini Economy Class CNS-POM

As a result of flight schedules, I had to fly to Cairns on Christmas Eve, and spend Christmas Day there before flying to PNG on Boxing Day. Ended up getting myself on a day trip out to the GBR on Christmas Day to go for a dive. It got me out of my hotel at least. And while the day trips go to some pretty well worn parts of the reef, a dive is a dive…

Anyway, up early to get from my hotel to the international terminal in Cairns to check in for my Air Niugini flight to Port Moresby. No priority check-in, no lounge access, no business class. I hadn’t actually realised how short the flight was until I noticed that we were flying on a Dash-8 rather than a jet. Check-in was relatively efficient. Got queried over the weight of my bag until I mentioned that it had sports equipment in (which equates to being allowed 30 kg). No excess baggage fees!

Instead of an entirely separate post on this, a brief description of the food options at Cairns international terminal (T1). Be aware that there are not a whole lot of food options at the international terminal to start with. Inside there’s a small cafe and an Eagle Boys Express (pizza). The cafe sells the regular pastries and sandwiches as well as coffee and an assortment of cold drinks. There was fruit salad containers – in theory. They’d sold out when I went through. Of all places, the newsagency store sold raw food bars. Which it turns out I am forever grateful for…

I’d put in a VGML request when booking this trip, and at the time I’d expected to get it. But when I realised just how short the flight was (around 90 minutes), I figured that we’d be lucky to just get a snack and they wouldn’t do special meal catering. But upon check-in, they actually confirmed the catering, and that I had a VGML! But I met a couple of other people in the departure lounge who were also divers and on my flight, and they suggested buying some snacks to eat when we landed in Port Moresby, because the domestic terminal there had no real options. So I bought a few of the aforementioned raw food bars for the transit.

Get on board the flight from Cairns, and get given the standard meal. Which was chicken with pasta salad. I asked for my vegetarian, thinking maybe they didn’t realise it was intended for me. But, no. The caterers didn’t load my VGML. She then offered me an icecream. And, no.

I got myself a Coke Zero and ate one of the raw food bars I bought in Cairns airport. See, this is what I mean about always having a contingency plan when flying. I was told at check-in that my VGML was on board. It wasn’t. Catering in Cairns stuffed up.

IMG_5367BYO VGML!

Anyway, we landed on time and then I had to rush through immigration and customs to make the connecting flight to Tufi.