Sunday, October 07, 2007

Day 1: A Very Long Flight

Our flight really started wtih check-in - since this can be done online, it was a couple of days before hand when P checked in, changed our seat allocation and printed out our boarding passes.

I'm sure I remember that in the past, seats were never allocated until check in. It seems that now, every passenger is allocated a seat before hand. So the facility to change seats if you don't like what you are given is good in theory, but in practice, the flights are almost full and there isn't much choice of seats to change to.

However we were able to obtain our favourite seats for the Christchurch - Singapore leg. Right in the back of the plane are two rows on each side where there are only two seats across, instead of the usual three. That means an aisle seat and a window seat, and no one else to disturb if you want to get up and down during the flight. (I've heard that the back of the plane is safest too, but then, we don't expect the plane to crash).

Singapore Airlines is a very popular airline to fly from New Zealand as it has excellent service. It helped that we were able to fly more directly than on any other carrier - Christchurch all the way to Manchester (or Heathrow if you wish) with only one stop at Singapore. The alternatives were Air New Zealand to Heathrow via Auckland and Hong Kong, or Emirates to Heathrow, Manchester or Glasgow via Sydney and Dubai.

I'm told that not all airlines have these individual screens for each seat in economy class. Besides watching your own choice of movie or TV program, starting when you want, or playing games, you can learn a language or watch the progress of the flight.

You can see why I had to take a photo of this one with my name up on the screen - though the Australians get the spelling wrong!

For a couple of hours there is nothing to see but ocean. And then we started crossing Australia, and went on ... and on ....

The photos are adjusted in Photoshop to try and improve the contrast - they were rather hazy and indistinct - after all we were 10,000 feet up.

After we left Australia I thought there would be more ocean, but I hadn't looked at the map properly. There are chains of islands pretty much all the way to Singapore.

This is somewhere in Indonesia.

We left Christchurch about ten in the morning and arrived at Changi airport around five at night - it's about a ten hour flight with changes of time zone - and had a six hour wait at the airport for our connecting flight. I find it a little disturbing that it is named "Changi" given the context in which I have previously heard the name (for my younger readers, a notorious Japanese prison camp during World War II). I expected to feel that I was somewhere new and exotic, however in reality there weren't too many more Asian faces than you see in Christchurch airport. Although the potted plants were more tropical. And the transit lounge is vast, with endless shops - although the prices seemed rather high. We found an internet connection and sent messages to our family, then strolled about until it was time to board our flight to Manchester.

We hadn't been able to change our seats for this flight and were seated in the middle section of the plane. It didn't really matter as it was dark and there was nothing much to see. I enjoyed watching the progress of the plane, with exotic names like "Samarkand" and "Tashkent" popping up on the screen. At one point I got up and peered out the windows by the toilets where I could see a few lights, somewhere over Czechoslovakia. That was a very long time after boarding - it's about fourteen hours from Singapore to Manchester.

I did manage to catch some sleep after dinner, but not as much as I expected, because I found that breakfast gets served very early in the morning (around three a.m. UK time).

And then we arrived in Manchester.... (Next post).


Sara said...

Hello, Michele sent me...loved the photos taken from the plane...and enjoyed reading your post.

.:mar said...

It sounds like an exciting trip!! great pictures.
Thanks for your bday wishes and wise words :)

Carmi said...

You've brought me right back to my own mega trip earlier this year from London, Ontario to Shanghai. It's a 24-hour, three-leg trip from home. Coming back was a little better in that we skipped a transfer point, but it resulted in one monumental leg of 15 hours non-stop that just about did me in.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And I'd bestow eternal happiness on the folks who decided to install those nav systems in the passenger cabin. I shot similar pictures as we were over the Pacific and approaching Asia because, frankly, it was completely surreal to even be there.

Glad you're home safe and sound, and glad you're sharing these wonderful words and images with us. Michele says hi, btw.

gautami tripathy said...

That is one amazing post. More to look forward to.

Suppose you enjoyed it from day 1 onwards.

Great photos too.

Hope Michele keeps sending me back to enjoy the trip along with you..

Deb R said...

This is exciting to get to hear about your trip!

I haven't been on very many planes that have those little screens where you can see the progress of the flight, but I think they're very cool. I wish all the planes had them.