Picked up my stored bag and got checked in and went through security to go to the international terminal. Here it was much different than San Francisco. In San Francisco, if you want you can exit and go back to the domestic terminals… and then go back into the international terminal (yeah a hassle, but possible). Well, in Sydney, it’s one way! Once you are in, there isn’t an option to go back out. And oh by the way, the international terminal is a giant duty free shopping mall. One Sushi stand up bar, one coffee bar. The Red Carpet Club was a major disappointment in the International terminal. It was small. It had OK food, and an open bar.. but the two important things I go for are power plugs and the ladies room. There were a grand total of 4 plugs for computers etc. and I was out of luck. The ladies room consisted of ONE stall and two sinks. There was a constant line to get in, and I was trying to “freshen up” at one of the sinks and it was just a pain. So, that’s why there was no blog from Sydney.
While on the plane getting ready to takeoff, I called the Concierge at the SF Hyatt, and told them my dilemma of a dead Dell battery, and in the middle of world tour—he said there was a possibility they could get me one on Sunday within my time limitations. He said to come to desk as soon as I arrived – they didn’t want to get the wrong one… so there is hope of a real battery! Thanks to Brad, Tyler and Biff!
So.. I’m on my way back to San Francisco. From the beginning, the flight showed an expected flight time of 13 hours (less than the 14 going west). Normally the difference between east and west bound bi-coastal flights is an hour, I expected it would be greater on this trip…but I guess I hadn’t thought about the fact we spend a lot of time going north-east… not just straight east on the jet stream across the country. Ground speed averaged around 636 mph, and we spent half the trip at 31000 feet and the last half at 36000 feet.
On the trip back I’m in seat 12B which is in the upper deck of the 747-400. Up where the pilots are on this big guppy plane. It’s configured 2x2 and I’m in the left bulkhead aisle seat. It’s up a short straight flight of stairs from the main deck. Up here, the overhead storage won’t hold carry-on luggage, just briefcases, etc. As you walk in they have you stuff it in an over grown cubbyhole to the right of the stairs going up. There is a galley at the back of the upper deck. There are two lavatories at the front on the deck on the right side (why I choose the left bulkhead, because its back another 5 feet from the lavs compared to the right bulkhead seats. The reason that is, is because there is a pilot crew quarters from the left bulkhead up to the cockpit door. There are two pilots, and two others in the crew quarters. I got to see pilot change out… at 6:30 hours into the flight, they closed off the lavatory area with the wire gate deal. One pilot came out to use the lav, and a moment later a second one came out…. then they went back in, and two more came out…. The other two pilots never came out and roamed the plane..just stayed in their little room!
The configuration of the upper deck has 3 sets of two on right side then a big open space for raft etc and emergency door. Left side is seven sets of two with only somewhat wider space at the left hand emergency door. Dinner was a beef, chicken, salmon choice, but apparently the upper deck is the last served, and this time only choices were chicken and salmon.
Once again it was dark for most of the flight… Sunrise came a little earlier this time and two people had left the windows open so people woke up about 3 hours prior to arrival.
I got less sleep than “last night” but still all in all slept pretty well. HMMM… it appears there are 5 crew in the cockpit/pilot quarters… Five crew breakfasts went in…..(they got a different breakfast).
So, signing off for now. Almost there, slowing down, groundspeed now 524 mph, altitude 25000, air temp up to -35C… time to destination is 17 minutes! Looking forward to that shower! Signing off, I’ll post this when I connect in the room (after that shower!)