After our last walk along the Seine I had a sore throat. My baby grandson had been sick with something nasty passed to him by his French nanny, so sadly after checking out of the Lions Den I spent most of the last day asleep with a fever in our son's apartment. Our cab to airport arrived at 6:30 pm, but by then we had learnt that our flight would be delayed by two hours. Remember that industrial action?
The new sections of Charles de Gaulle are very comfortable, so we found a cushy spot with window views, a table and armchairs and settled down to wait. We had an estimated boarding time of 11:45pm! It was comforting to see the big A380 Airbus arrive, creeping slowly to a halt as airport vehicles and passenger ramps moved towards it. The whole process was a marvel of efficiency …. unloading, cleaning, refueling, loading food and baggage, transporting staff … we were spellbound.
It is something almost miraculous to equip an aeroplane with all that is needed for a long-haul flight. As the size of planes has increased some changes have been made, since crew cannot serve everyone to the same standard they once did. For example when we were woken for breakfast on the second leg of the trip from Dubai to Sydney, a 14 hour flight, we were not given hot wet towels with which to wash and refresh ourselves. I asked the attendant and she explained it was only possible now for premium economy passengers, business and so on, not for us ordinary people. Nevertheless she quietly brought me two towels a little later!
Our space gradually filled as others came to wait too … an Airbus takes about 300 passengers … the Emirates crew, as beautiful in their elegant uniforms as you can imagine eventually arrived, and I wished I had the camera as I walked past on my way to the amenities. We were glad to wait in CDG (below) rather than Dubai, since the kindest thing I can say about that airport is that it is worth while making sure you have a very short time between flights so you can leave as soon as possible. Pity help you if you need the toilets!
Our flight to Dubai was perfect, the Airbus is very quiet, and seems to float rather than fly, effortless and comfortable. Our changeover was very fast, then we were on the long leg with QANTAS, through to Australia. I sat beside a young German man who was going to New Zealand for his studies, he simply could not comprehend that a flight could be so long! Behind us a young Australian family returning from visiting grandparents in England found nothing odd about it at all.
We arrived in Sydney at 5am Friday morning, expecting to fly home with our small regional airline at 9am. We were tired! I was not well. About 8:30am T2 experienced a power failure that shut down all passenger and baggage handling and security screening. A loud announcement was repeated every ten minutes, warning people of the problems and explaining what to do. In our boarding lounge staff came around talking to us all, helping several planes get away, but then we were stuck. Some of our passengers had not had their baggage loaded before the power outage. Staff ran around with clipboards, counting people and other things, until finally it was agreed we could go. We flew out just before 12, with three people having to agree to come back to their local airport to collect their baggage later. Phew!
Later we read about the chaos this power failure caused, with airline traffic all over Australia affected, many flights cancelled, people sent home and so on … so we got off lightly … and here we are at home. All the photos above were taken at CDG in Paris as we waited to board our first flight.