Luggage – Carry on Only

I’ve been prompted to return to a draft post first started back in 2017. Back then I was a weekly FIFO warrior spending a week away will within the Qantas carry on luggage allowance. Yes, less than 7 kg, including medical, dental, IT and some meals. At the time I was always amazed at the absolutely ludicrous ways that other passengers absolutely failed to store they luggage in the overhead lockers, it was like they could only see 2 dimensions.

I’m sure many are rolling their eyes are people who fly weekly with hand luggage only. Those suits who clog up the works and all, and I agree there are some people who do clog up everything. This post is about how to not be that person. Some maths on why carry on only is important for FIFO. Occasionally I did check in luggage to go to work. The minimum wait time for luggage to arrive at the baggage carousel was 30 minutes. Multiple that out twice a week for 50 weeks, and you get 50 hours standing around waiting for luggage. More than a full working week wasted.

However, times have changed, I no longer do weekly FIFO and Qantas have just announced changes to the carry on luggage baggage allowance. Qantas always had a fairly complex arrangement between luggage dimensions and weight and number of pieces. The short story, at least for domestic flights, is make sure your bags are less than 105cm.

What does 105cm mean? Basically just add up the length width and height of the bag in cm, then you got it. You can have upto 115 cm in a bag, but only 1 bag. Qantas will allow 2 bags that are 105 cm. Yeah! That’s strange, much much more than 1 bag of 115 cm.

1 x 115cm bag = 56cm + 36cm + 23cm

Up to 10 kg

From the Qantas website.

The other factor is the weight, the new rules say max 14kg and 1 bag can be upto 10 kg. So if you have 1x 115 cm then 10 kg. 2x 105 cm then you can have 14 kg in luggage. Plus, of course, your small personal item – laptop bag/handbag. I’m not even going to get into the 185 cm garment bag…

You can find all the nitty gritty direct from #Qantas. Although, I note the CSM on my morning flight on Friday got the new carry-on rules wrong, telling us the new rule is 2 bags one at 10 kg, and the other at 4 kg. So no mention of bag dimensions, but not if you have 2x 105 cm bags you can still have them both at 7 kg. The second bag does not have a 4 kg limit. Maybe, just maybe, the Qantas rules are a bit complex. 

Virgin Australia pretty much match Qantas for the luggage dimensions, but you’re limited to 7 kg max.

This gets me on to the bugbear from my FIFO days, once you’re on the plane you have to stow that hand luggage in the minimum space possible. Maybe I should say use all the space, the overhead lockers have height.  There is usually at least one person who jumps on with their little laptop satchel bag and just puts it into the overhead locker laying down. Stand it up, then you don’t take a big footprint with empty air that could be used by a larger bag.

My laptop bag standing up to leave plenty of room for others. (not my rollie bag)

Actually, I had 2 main bugbears about carry on luggage. The other one was #VirginAustralia crew putting their luggage into the locks above row 3 in economy. Row 3 is the front of the economy section, and is frequently occupied by people who spend some money on flying. It is also one of the rows where everything has to go into the overhead lockers, but there is limited space available as the crew are militant in stopping economy riff raft from using the business overheads. Naturally, the overhead lockers are the best place for Crew to dump their carry on luggage.

I had a whole heap of examples of other outrageous carry on luggage that I saw over 8 years of weekly flying. There was the suitcase that someone rolled on once, it was at least as tall as my legs. Unfortunately all the pictures seem to have disappeared.

I would implore readers to be very careful with their carry on luggage choices. Rollie Bags should be avoided at all cost as the empty weight starts at about 2-3 kg. You’re throwing away a big chunk of your carry on allowance. I travel with a soft carry bag that is 105 cm and lets me pack all my stuff within a 7 kg limit, plus the previously pictured laptop bag.

Everyone is different and some people must have a wheelie bag just to be able to travel. Once you’re on the aircraft I will just ask you to make sure you carefully use the overhead locker space. Maybe practice some Tetris!!! You know that game from the 1990s…

New luggage allowances from Qantas were recently announced. My take on travel with carry on luggage. #Qantas # VirginAustralia
AirBoss bag by Red Oxx, my carry on luggage ready to go
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My Travel Year – 2018

I’ve just updated my travel log at Openflights, which means it might be time to review my 2018 flying year. It was a pretty lean year as far as flying goes, mostly because in April I moved to a new job that is actually in the same town as my home. The upshot of this change is that I went from my biggest flying year in 2017 to only fly 68000 km in 2018. In fact I didn’t even leave Australia, not even to Tasmania, for the first time since 2009. It was definitely time for a change.

2018 flights using Great Circle Mapper

The great part of the reducing flying is being able to do some more interesting trips. Notable is that I got to visit Cairns twice, in many ways my hometown. On each visit I used different airports! Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast and direct from Adelaide on Jetstar! The last flight broke my golden rule about only flying Jetstar if there is free Champagne.

But it is always good to collect a new flight route, even if there is no Qantas First Lounge in Adelaide. I also added new airports with Alice Springs and the Sunshine Coast. Overall I had 57 flights (68,000 km), with Adelaide to Sydney remaining as the mainstay with 38 flights between those cities. It was very exciting to visit new airports where I had to pay attention rather than just zombie through the airport like in Sydney.

Visiting Cairns twice was definitely a highlight for the year. It was amazing to catch up with all the people up there and I wish I could do it all again. The first visit was for a school reunion, and it was a shock to recently learn the venue has since shut down. My class mates… shutting down pubs. The second visit to Cairns was a father’s day present to visit the Australian Amour and Artillery Museum for AusArmourFest. Not sure how many remember the advertisements from the 1980s, but I did want to drive a leopard tank. Riding in the turret 30 odd years later was as good as I could manage.

I’ve already written about the trip to Alice Springs, a work trip to a conference. It was an amazing time, and best was adding a new aircraft type, the Fokker 100. I wish I had some more pictures of the drag show from the conference dinner, but they’re all blurry. Really not sure why…

Besides the F100, I also added a flight on a new Qantas 787-900 from Melbourne to Brisbane in premium economy (another potential trip report). In this case we were scouting out the aircraft for a future trip to the USA. There is probably not much more to add, the 38 flights to Sydney for work things are just Plane Boring. I’ll leave you with the Top 10s and analysis from OpenFlights.org.

Flight analysis 2018
Top 10 by Distance

Malaysian Business Class

Back in October (2016 it turns out, so long ago) I had the opportunity to try out Malaysian Airlines new business class. The reason for such extravagance was my desire to break the family holiday in KL with a weekend trip back home to be a member of the Nuclear Citizen’s Jury (jury two). Flight MH139 was brilliantly timed to minimise disruption to the holiday with a late night departure and arrival in Adelaide at about 8am. Business class was the the only option to allow a full day’s work on arrival. 

Malaysian Airline’s Enrich frequent flyer program came to the party by offering a 50% off special on award flights. The business class flight ended up costing 6556 Enrich points and ~A$723. Unfortunately, my spreadsheet doesn’t seem to have the details of a cash fare, probably because I was flying back via Melbourne using separate flights. Lets guess that a return KL to Adelaide would’ve been about A$4000, and a one way business seat close to A$3000. The Enrich award is a pretty good use of points if we compare to return economy flight with Qantas and Jetstar that would be about $800 to $1000, Especially as my Enrich points were just about to expire.

I returned to the family holiday with a separate Qantas Airfare to Adelaide Melbourne and an economy Enrich award Melbourne to KL for 6296 points + A$264. I bet I took the economy award to save about $500 extra for a business award.

KL Taxis great service, nice and cheap.

Going back to Adelaide for the weekend also meant that I was going to miss our last few days in the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur. This is absolutely a favourite hotel. So much a favourite they just sent me a happy birthday email in 2019. Reluctantly, after evening canapés and cocktails in the Horizon Club, I was in a taxi.

Check in was really easy once I arrived at KLIA. Travelling in business class I could use the priority check for business, which was relatively empty. As Malaysian Airlines is a Oneworld Airline I was also able to use the first class check in area thanks to Oneworld Emerald (Qantas Platinum). At that time of night both options were quick and seamless. Shortly after paying off the taxi was I enjoying dinner in the Golden Lounge in the Satellite terminal. In fact a la carte dinner in the first class side of the lounge. I know some people have trouble finding the Golden Lounge in the Satellite terminal, experience is a great help as it’s easy to get to the lounge on the second visit.

There must have been a distinct failure on my part as I don’t have a picture of the menu for the night nor of my meal. Due to the late night departure I made my way to a shower after the meal, and I think I then tried out one of the sleeping rooms. Finishing this blog so long afterwards has let the mists of time descend onto events. Regardless, eventually we had to board the flight home. I have this vague feeling that most of my night flights from KLIA board fairly late.

Seat 4D Business Malaysian A330

Once on board I was quickly into my seat, 4D for MH139, the operating aircraft was an A330 – Rego 9M-MTM. The Malaysia business suite was new and featured good storage space in two locations, clothes hanging hooks and the all important power outlet. The controls were easy to access and understand. There was a decent selection of in flight entertainment options with a decent sized TV screen. The dining table had a good arrangement that allowed it to be moved aside so that it was possible to leave the seat mid meal, even if a little awkward. I particularly liked the little storage cupboard on my seat, however this was not available on all seats, with my seat buddy in 4G missing out. Amenity kits with all the basics (eye mask toothbrush kit and mouth wash) were provided in a good reusable hardcase. Plus of course the noise cancelling headphones. I can’t comment on the headphone quality as I prefer to use my own in ear head phones.

I hate to say I also missed the menu on the flight, I think because I had preparation to do for the following day. The seat itself had plenty of leg room. I know I had the satay, a Malaysian Airlines staple and then I was quickly flat out asleep for the remainder of the flight. The bed itself was very comfortable, and I’m sure I enjoyed the sleep as I was able to put in a full days works when I arrive back to Adelaide. The leg room in most seats looked to be fine for a fairly tall person just under 6 foot. This can be compared to Emirates where leg room seems to vary depending on the seat. (EK A380 business)

The flight in the Malaysian business suite was definitely the highlight of the weekend. The Citizen’s Jury turned out to be a waste of time hijacked by extreme interest groups. It’s worth remembering that Qantas was still operating the Skybeds back in 2016, with a new Qantas business suite just on the drawing board.

Malaysian A330 Business cabin

All to soon the weekend was over and I was heading back to the family holiday in KL. I departed Australia via Melbourne, allowing an enjoyable glass of Champagne in the Qantas First lounge followed by a night flight to KL. On arrive it was a quick KLIA Ekspres train trip back into town to prepare for a move into the Ritz-Carlton for a simply amazing stay in one of the Suites.

Intercontinental Perth

We planned a little birthday trip away for my birthday, mainly to try out business class on the Qantas 787 in preparation for a trip to the USA later in 2019. This meant flying to Perth on the domestic leg of QF 9, the flight from Melbourne to London. The flight has a decent flight time to allow a good introduction to the plane. I promise to write something about the flight itself. Having decided to fly to Perth, with the distance involved, there was the perfect opportunity to make a weekend of the trip.

Intercontinental Perth – Hay Street

The weekend was set, the flights were booked, and so it was time to find a hotel. I’d previously visited Perth a few times and stayed mostly with my cousins, once in a motor inn or something, in the Hyatt Regency at the eastern end of St George’s Terrace, and most recently in Perth at the Crown Towers. I’ve been doing a few Hilton stays over the last year, so the Perth Hilton was on the list. Accor is another of my usual hotel groups. An important requirement was to stay somewhere close to the city as we had just a day and a morning to explore Perth. In the end my darling wife found the Intercontinental Perth, which is located right near the shops we wanted and had Club lounge rooms for a good price.

We booked into a Club King Room with city views, which was a very decent room up on the fourteenth floor. There was some debate about booking a Club Suite, the extra luxury would’ve been wonderful, we just didn’t see much time to enjoy a suite with sightseeing and shopping to be done. The room was excellent; I’d heard that they designed the rooms to not be like the usual hotel room, to be more personal like a home. The designers certainly achieved a warm welcoming room with good use of the available space. The tiles in the bathroom were beautifully textured, almost matching the wall paper in the room to make for a classy experience. The couch and desk/table, without a glass top for once, finished off the room well.

The bathroom was discrete with a separate toilet, the option of a normal or rain shower. Overall there was an excellent use of the available space. The wardrobe was spacious with, joy of joys, proper coat hangers (with hooks). There was a good number of power outlets on both sides of the bed and near the table, as well as multiple USB outlets. I didn’t need to use my power board as the power outlets were all conveniently located and easy to access. The mini bar was well stocked, with Nespresso and T2 tea and real milk. Complementary water as well, this might be because of my IHG Gold.

The only slight disappointment was not being able to get the Marshall speaker to pair to my iPhone via bluetooth, lucky there was the option to connect using a cable. There was also something funny happening with the lifts. Twice while heading to the Club lounge on the top floor the lift arrived promising to go upwards and accepted selection of floor 16, only to head down to a lower floor. Once we picked up the people, who wanted to go to the ground floor, the lift then took us upwards to the Club level. Luckily not a major hassle, just one of those slightly strange experiences. Maybe something to do with the buildings former life as a bank.

Intercontinental Club – excellent, helpful staff

The Club itself was simply amazing with excellent staff who were general interested in our plans. The Club staff all volunteered numerous helpful recommendations. The service was attentive and really could not be faulted. The Club itself was open from 6:30 am to 8 pm, with a la carte breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails and canapés. General soft drinks and snacks were available at other times, or alcohol for purchase. There was a wide range of alcoholic drinks available about 4 beers choices, a good range of spirits including Maker’s Mark and a gin from South Australia, and at least 3 or 4 options each for red, white and sparkling wine. My wife enjoyed a very good pinot noir from Victoria and I tried a couple of cocktails, the martini was very good. The evening cocktails (5 pm to 7 pm) are inclusive of all drinks.

View from the Club lounge towards Perth Train Station, sorry about my fingers

The quality of the food was wonderful and there were a wide range of options, at least for breakfast and evening canapés. We didn’t make the afternoon tea. As well as the Club we had the option of breakfast downstairs. I recommend taking a club room if staying with the hotel, well worth the price.



Enjoying a coffee up the street

The hotel is located within easy walking distance of the luxury brand shops, the local shopping malls (Hay St mall was feeling a bit old), London Court, Perth Railway station, Elizabeth Quay and King’s Park. The train to Cottesloe Beach was easy, convenient and quick. There appeared to be a number of eateries and coffee shops within easy walking distance, for example in the foreground area of the view towards Perth Train Station above.

If staying in is more your thing there are 3 distinct restaurants/cafes within the Intercontinental itself. A cafe/tapas bar at the front of the building, Heno and Rey. The Loft bar and grill is located on the first floor, and Ascua Spanish Grill on the ground floor accessible from the foyer or from King St. 

Overall, we cannot wait to visit this hotel again. A must stay if visiting Perth.

The Alice – Qantas Club

A pretty last minute decision was made to attend the Australia Society of Aerospace Medicine conference in Alice Springs. This was to follow a developing interest in radiation dose to astronauts, and more importantly to learn about the work on this topic in Australia. The medicos doing Aerospace Medicine are pretty into all the health stuff for astronauts. About 4 or 5 weeks out from the conference this saw me booking in a trip to the Red Centre. I decided to leave The Alice on Qantas to try out the Qantas Club.

I wasn’t expecting much from the lounge, and I was disappointed. It really is just a nicer waiting room with some free drinks and a good view of the planes.

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The entry was just a little hole in the wall at the end of the Qantas terminal that was pretty easy to miss when placing around. There were no other signs to indicate the location, and it’s not even clear that Qantas Platinum is allowed to use the lounge. Fortunately, Alice airport is pretty small and I managed to get the adult pants on for long enough to find it.

 

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The view from the Alice Springs Qantas Club.

Once inside the lounge the staff are super friendly and helpful. The typical hospitality you get in the Territory or in the bush. The views from the lounge are great, desert and the pathway leading to the planes. This time I decided to upgrade to business class for the trip to Adelaide. Maybe a waste of points, but the staff were just wonderfully helpful. At least the upgrade only needed a small number of points, as booking at the last minute meant I was on a flexible airfare.

Food was fairly basic in the Qantas Club, chips and dips and some sandwiches. The beverages offered a much better selection. Being the Territory the bar was open at a decent hour, and fully self service.

 

Given the size of the lounge and the timing of the flights, there was rather a large crowd. This was probably made worse by having a large number of people departing from a conference involving people who like to fly.

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Quiet conference dinner

 There were a surprising number of faces in the lounge who were also at the conference dinner (which happened to be held on the Alice Springs runway).

Should enough it was my turn to wander out to the aircraft taking me home. The Territory, the Alice, are so wonderful it is always sad to leave. The great part of an airport like Alice Springs is wandering across the tarmac to the plane. Being close to the aircraft more than makes up for a basic Qantas Club. Boarding in Sydney can be so impersonal that the great lounge is almost not worth it; almost. We also had a visit from Retro Roo 1!

Wandering out to the aircraft also offered a chance to view Australia’s first boneyard, which currently seems to have about 5 aircraft sitting out there in the hot, dry desert sun. Take off from The Alice gave a view of the harsh, arid landscape that I find so beautiful.

The real bonus was to fly over the mine site where I first learned to love the outback. The mine has changed a lot since I first lived there. The 3 water bodies on the left didn’t even exist back in the last century

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Olympic Dam Mine and Lake Torrens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping those Qantas Points Alive

You’ve been saving your Qantas points for that 1 special flight, or woolworths gift card. It’s hard saving because you don’y fly very often, maybe once a year. But the special day comes, you’ve got the points you’re flying in luxury to a special place on those points. You log in to your Qantas account – to find you have ZERO points!

It is a familiar and regular story over on the Qantas Facebook page. People are often unaware that deep in the Qantas Frequent Flyer conditions there is an 18 month expiry for Qantas points. If you don’t earn points for 18 months Qantas will cancel all the points in your account. Qantas are pretty strict about this, they even cancelled the points of someone who was battling cancer. (word on the street is the points were reinstated once Qantas saw some sense). Qantas are not unique in cancelling points, most modern airlines do it. Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program even has a hard expiry where the points expiry even when you have been earning.

Qantas are more generous in that your points stay alive as long as you are earning points. Qantas points only expiry if there has been 18 months since you last earned a qantas points. Family transfers do not count either when it comes to points expiry. If you have saved up a decent swag of points that are waiting for a business class seat on a special trip it is important to keep earning qantas points. Luckily earning does not have to be from flying only.

There are 100s of ways to earn Qantas points, but not all of them are equal. Flying  somewhere is obvious but it takes time. Similarly with renting cars, staying in hotels, spending on credit cards, Woolworths shopping and etcetera.  Credit Card spending is a rather good option for regular points earn, if you can’t get a credit card there is always Qantas Cash, which is a debit card attached to your frequent flyer card. There are also a few bank accounts that offer Qantas points for deposits, for example QUDOS bank. The downside of earning points with these methods is there can be a delay of more than a month and having to commit money, of course. Points do have a cost after all, businesses are not going to give away points for free. The delay is a particularly important consideration, Qantas points expiry at the end of the 18 calendar month after the last point was earned. If you’re points are expiring on 28 February, spend with Qantas Cash today will get points in March when it is too late.

Fortunately, there are a couple of nice ways to earn Qantas points and to get them immediately. A very nice earning method is Qantas Epiqure they often have bonus points offers where you can get half a dozen nice wines, sometimes at a good price, with bonus points from Qantas. Even better the points are in your Qantas account within a couple of days, when the wine is shipped. You do have to spend money, and there may even be shipping charges. I’m a premium epiqure member (open disclosure) that comes with free shipping. Perhaps not cost effective but the points are quick.

The most cost effective method I use to get points is Qantas ASSURE – there venture into private health insurance.  I assume that most people think of Qantas as an airline not a private health insurer and might miss this little trick. Certainly Qantas do offer buckets of points for buying their health insurance, 50,000/100,000. Previously you could only get Qantas points form Assure if you purchased their health insurance.

But you can now earn points with Qantas Assure without spending money. Simply download the Qantas Assure App and link it to a step counter, fitbit or even the one in your phone. The Qantas Assure app has daily and weekly step challenges, you can even challenge your friends. The most recent update to the Assure apps allows everyone to earn Qantas points for completing step challenges.  You can challenge yourself with a few as 1000 steps per day. There are only a handful of points on offer, but you only need 1 point to keep your Qantas points alive. More importantly the points come in weekly.

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I’ve managed to earn more free points from Assure, than points that are locked until I buy Qantas Health Insurance.

My Flying Year in Review – 2017

The end of another year and it’s time to look back at a big flying year. In fact my biggest, longest year since I got into this FIFO caper. I use openflights.org to keep track of my flight details. This provides a basic level of data and analysis that can be broken down by year, route, segment etc. It is also a free service with option to donate to keep them going.  I’ve finally all the flight details, only missing 1 or 2 aircraft regos in the USA, to find I’ve flown 213,537 km (132, 686 miles) in 2017. That’s definitely the longest distance I’ve flown in a year by a good 25,000 km.

Flight Map 2017

My 2017 flights displayed using Great Circle Mapper

The travel involved 118 flights during the year, just over 2 per week on average, involving 18 airports, 6 countries, 13 different aircraft types operated by 7 airlines. Unfortunately (boringly?), 100,000 km was flown on 87 flights between Adelaide and Sydney. In between those flights I had a few extra long distance trips that help bump up the distance flown. The longest flight was between Sydney and Dubai, closely followed by San Francisco to Sydney.

The year started with a quick trip to South Korea for work. My Korean hosts were wonderful taking visitors from Japan and China out to a town called Gunsan, with some interesting history. I also had the time to find my way down to the spa in the bottom of Incheon airport. The other work trip for the year was to Paris for a conference at EuroDisney. That was an interesting conference location, thankfully within easy reach of local dining options as well as a short train ride into Paris.

There was also a family holiday trip to the USA, where I got to meet cousins descended from my grandmother’s sister. A highlight of this trip was flying on the upper deck of a Qantas 747 from Brisbane to L.A., including a visit to the new Qantas international lounge in Brisbane. We also visited with good friends who are working in Florida, meaning a visit to DisneyWorld. Two Disney visits in one year! The fourth overseas trip was a frequent flyer holiday with an overnight trip to Singapore.

There also a couple of extra domestic flights the shortest being Sydney to Canberra to attend Science meets Parliament, and a long flight to visit Perth on the West Coast. Perth really is an amazing city, much different to the last time I was there. There was also the token Jetstar, a Qantas group company, flight just because…money.

Openflights will analyse the flights and list the top 10s by distance or number of flights. Some screenshots follow for my 2017. The screen area my laptop isn’t quite big enough to follow show the pie charts on from the analysis, but most of the detail is there – a lot of work flights, a lot of economy, aisle seats and try to fly business class on the long ones.

Analysis 2017

Basic analysis of 2017 flying year

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The most travelled top 10 based on distance for 2017 flying

Top 10 by segments 2017

The top 10s based on number of flights taken for 2017 flying

 

Paris Disney for a Conference???

I’ve had conference at some fairly interesting places, suburban Tokyo and Seoul spring to mind; both enjoyable locations. Yet the idea of a conference at Paris Disney was difficult to accept, there was a real cognitive dissonance when contemplating EuroDisney as a place of work. Yet I found myself booking flights, registering and looking at the Disney hotels. Needs must when it comes to promoting Australia.

In the end the Sequoia Lodge was the only option, it was the last hotel available from the conference block booking, not booking via the conference added 50% to the cost. Turns out Sequoia Lodge is a cosy 800 bed lodge in the woods.

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Cosy Sequoia Lodge

Certainly the Disney locations have a great outlook and surrounds. The room itself left a little to be desired as a conference hotel. I certainly agree that Disney is a family fun time venue, more on that later, but they also market Disney business services. i.e. Conferences. Thus it was a shock to find a hotel room with a fridge or iron. the concierge was terrific in providing an iron and ironing board for the entire stay.

Check in was an experience after 24 hours on travel. I arrived at the main entrance to the hotel and joined the queue to have my luggage x-rayed before entering the reception area. It was then somewhat frustrating to be set back out of the reception area to the “convention” check in desk. The check in experience with business services was actually seamless, the annoyance was then having to repeat the bag x-raying process to get back into the hotel. I did have a special moment once back in the reception asking for directions to the room when the nice lady decided to tell me off about putting the swipe card next to my phone. I’m sure I din’t swear, but she got the hint that I just want to know the way to the room.

On the plus side, the room was available at about 11:30 am. That is really great for a hotel. The room was clean and functional for a single person or couple. The double bed was actually 2 single joined together in typical European fashion. There were 3 big sets of draws, ok hanging space and amazingly a large number of real coat hangers. This is especially useful for hanging suit jackets out to air in the bathroom or from the backstop for the door. The room had a safe and a portable baby cot.

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Sequoia Lodge behind the tress from the Disney Village area

On the negative side the towels were small. They were kids towels. I needed 2 towels per shower to feel dry! Thankfully 4 towels were provided in the room. I’m sure this was appreciated by many other people. Disney also did a really strange, or wasteful, thing everyday. They took away the used soap. Why? Why make me use a new soap everyday. They also replaced the toilet roll everyday. Strangely enough I’m not often put off knowing that I previously used the toilet paper.

What else? Breakfast was included with the room. A bonus that is always useful for a conference. I’m not sure of the cost of breakfast, perhaps 22 euro. It was certainly great for a freebie, but not for 25 euro. Not least because the lack of a fridge in the room rules out sneaky breaky takeaways. The breakfast covered the basics for Europe – cheese pastry, bread, butter, a select of basic hot food, machine coffee, tea bags, juices, yoghurt and that’s about it. One really cool thing was a soft boiled egg station where you could boil an egg to your liking. This was good because the alternative was hard boiled eggs or those powdered scrambled eggs you get on a buffet.

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Donald helping with boomerangs

Disney is normally something for children, young or old, but they did pretty well to host the conference. Disney does have a whole business support team to help. Even Donald Duck helped to get the boomerangs to our stand in the conference centre at the Newport Bay Club.

Overall as a conference event Disney Paris was fine. It was clean, the conference was a short walk away, but it was accessible. The large number of children around did make for some interesting experiences. Why are they kids running around when you get back to the hotel for a nightcap from the conference dinner? Are you allowed to scold the parents about getting the kids to bed? At the end of the day you’re at a conference for the scientific knowledge rather than the venue. Disney worked well, it might have been different, it was just a matter of avoiding the kids. Luckily Paris was an easy 40 train tip away.

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Newport Bay Club – conference venue – easy walk to Disney Village

 

 

And how was Jetstar for work?

Perfectly fine for 90 minutes, but showing its cheapness. I arrived at the gate to find a line up of people having their bags weighted and an older dear loudly pronouncing that bottles of booze weight too much. It was a new experience. As a Jetstar noob I just joined the line for the scale. Once I got to the front and clumsily put my luggage on the scale we found out it was 10.45 kg. The nice lady said something about being over weight, but was happy to give me the tick of approval when I showed the boarding pass stamped with Bizflex. After the all clear it was then a matter of standing around watching proceedings with my mouth open. Plenty to see that doesn’t happen on the Virgin Australia or Qantas.

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Noticed the Jetstar plane (VH-VGN) Back in Adelaide as I was leaving this morning.

The inbound aircraft was about 10 minutes late. Unlike my usual airlines they actually turned around the aircraft really quickly, and we were soon on board. An interesting part of the boarding was to put the middle of the plane on first, rows 10 to 20. The process was really efficient no doubt helped by pax who follow orders. The couple across the aisle had a spare seat in their row, yet they resolutely stayed in their assigned middle and window seats. The other domestic airlines with a business friendly aura seem to have some pax who only really consider themselves. An approach that can slows things down at times.

 

Once on board it was then a matter of sitting there enjoying the self promotion. No IFE, at least none that I could find (well I didn’t look), so I listened to the music phone. Our side of the plane also had a spare seat. A benefit of a paid seating model is that people are encouraged not to throw away premium money on middle seats. After takeoff the empty middle seat provided a great opportunity to bring my “handbag” down from the overhead for easy access to work stuff. Encouraging an extra bit of work due to no IFE is also business friendly. I’ll have to have a word to “the boss” if he keeps booking me on Jetstar.

I opted to purchase a meal from the menu, the tapas plate was $15. The crew member gently placed the various prepackaged items on the tray table and gave me a little plastic dish for the olives. Great attention to detail, it’s the little things… 😉

 

After my brush with the civilised remnants of the once great British Empire. I settle in to read my work thing while listening to Hamilton singlehandedly win the Battle of Yorktown and enjoying the dessert provided by Qantas. It’s not free champagne but who can resist a liquorice allsort? I finished up the reading and the musical just in time to land in Adelaide about 10 minutes early. It was a quick exit from the plane such that I made it to short term car park in 8 minutes. That was when I found that the extra day had added 30% to the cost of the pre-booked parking.

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Dessert

Overall Jetstar was perfectly fine for a work trip on a short domestic flight when using the Bizflex pack. The only down side with Jetstar is the schedule, I guess they only take less popular airport landing slots. On Sydney to Adelaide the last flight of the day is almost always at 5 pm, that doesn’t work for someone working normal office hours. If Jetstar at a 7 pm departure from Sydney that would be very attractive, similarly at 6 am going in the other direction. Unfortunately, they don’t making Jetstar an option in very limited circumstances.

Jetstar – a business friendly airline?

I’ve broken my golden rule – Don’t fly Jetstar* unless they give me free^ champagne. I’ve booked a Jetstar domestic flight. This was due to a combination of factors, high prices on Qantas and Virgin Australia, booking late, reasonable time for an early mark from work, flight schedule and just giving Jetstar a fair go – challenge my prejudices.

So it was that a month ago I decided to book Jetstar home at 3 pm on a Thursday afternoon. My normal approach is to book a plus bundle to get Qantas status credits and points. But during booking I noticed the Bizflex bundle. Bizflex doesn’t earn with Qantas but I was at the end of my year and didn’t need more earning anyway. Bizflex does not have a checked bag like the Plus bundle, but I don’t check luggage. Bizflex does offer a 10 kg carry on allowance, not 7 kg, and it has flexibility to change flights. My carry on luggage is 10.4 kg according to the Jetstar weighting machine. Bizflex actually has better flexibility, a FIFO friendly carry on allowance and costs about the same as a Plus bundle. So I booked it!

A month passed, things happened, a job came up and I need to extend my stay in Sydney by a day. A quick check with Jetstar online, and it was indeed possible to change my flight without a change fee ($99 on Qantas). The fare difference of $226 was not unexpected only 3 days before my flight and was reasonable. The alternative was to move the jetstar flight out a few weeks at no cost and then pay Qantas or Virgin Australia $400+ for a flight home this week. The Jetstar cost was pretty friendly for a dynamic business.

Come today and I’ve finished my job early. I was utterly surprised that I was then able to jump on the Jetstar app and change flights again. This time to move it 2 hours earlier for zero additional cost. Bizflex lets us change the flight, on the day, using the app, up until the flight opens for check in. You can also move the flight at a Jetstar counter until check in closes. I’ve also managed to keep seat allocation in the first 3 rows of the plane with all these changes – even 4 hours before the flight. Impossible to do that on Qantas. This is all very business friendly.

The only slight inconvenience is having to go through security twice to use the Qantas Business Lounge in Terminal 3 at Sydney. I also need to leave the lounge now to make the trek to terminal 2 to get the flight. Hopefully, Jetstar keep up the good work.

update: 15 minutes to change terminal…

^it’s not free, I pay Qantas a few $ in airfares, * It’s Qantas that’s giving the champagne