Category Archives: USA

QANTAS FIRST CLASS

Qantas QF93 MEL-LAX

Seat: 2A

Cabin: First Class

Configuration: 1-1-1 (4 rows of suites)

The first thing that hit me was the feeling of spaciousness. Whereas Emirates First Class has privacy, Qantas first class has space as it has open sides, but after being seated you swivel your chair towards the window so that you are facing the television screen. Once you are in the swivel position you feel more private as you are now facing away from the aisle. There is a lot of little storage spaces, drink holders and areas to put your stuff. There is even room for visitors to come and sit and chat, or even to sit down and share a meal with you.

The only thing I would say that is a negative is that the space is designed, there is a little “wall” where your arm rest is and you have to awkwardly twist to reach around to access some of the storage spaces. The décor is rather bland or “understated” after flying with the Middle Eastern carriers of late. There aren’t any of the little touches, such as the fresh orchards in a wall sconce, or polished walnut bits, or the little bowl of snacks to munch on during the flight, OR a personalised “mini-bar”.

QF FIRST LOUNGE

First Class Lounge breakfast menu

After arriving in Melbourne, getting through Immigration and Customs, we were left with only an hour to sample Qantas’ First Class Lounge. On first impressions it looked on the smaller side, but service was efficient as the restaurant was full and they served us our breakfast in the lounge area we we plonked our stuff. The egg and bacon roll was exactly what I needed at 8am as I had already been awake since 3.30am for the early flight to Melbourne. The great thing about the First Class Lounge was that it literally was above our plane, so boarding was easy and meant we could leave the Lounge at the last minute.

QF BUBBLES BEFORE TAKEOFF

Champagne as soon as you are seated

Upon embarkation, The Crew introduced themselves and offered a nice glass of Veuve Clicquot and a plate of olives. They were welcoming without being annoying. I like to “get ready” before take-off and work out what I might need during the flight, explore the storage nooks and crannies and sometime the crew can be too convivial and fuss over you and you end up with 5 or 6 people coming to introduce themselves that you never remember their names or what they do. This Qantas Crew had the right amount of “fuss”.

Menu – The Neil Perry lunch menu was full of good choices. The Maggie Beer pate (always a favourite) and the caviar with celeriac puree appetisers were very nice and a good small size. As it was only 11.15am (my time), and only a few hours since breakfast, I

QF MENU

didn’t feel like too much to eat, so I chose two small entrees rather than a big main course. I couldn’t go past the Lobster and soba noodles with XO sauce and I had heard that the First Class Steak Sandwich was a must. The Lobster was excellent, the steak sandwich was also nice but very simple – steak, chilli sauce on a bed of rocket in a baguette….where was the beetroot, egg, onion, cheese and tomato. I won’t fall for that trap again!! The wine list was also very simple with only a few choices. I expected more, but still managed to find a Riesling I like.

Despite being full, Emma the hostie, implored that I had to have the Ice-cream sandwich. Oh wow, it was fantastic and full of honey, nuts and chocolatey goodness. Leave room for this treat.

Breakfast was the usual choice of eggs & bacon, yogurt, muesli  etc.

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The Seat – The seat swivels to face the window or your guest after take-off. There are USB ports to charge your devices as well as noise-cancelling headphone. It is comfortable and fully reclines into a fully horizontal flat bed. While you are changing into your stylish black Martin Grant (who I assume is a designer??) pyjamas and slippers, the cabin crew make up the bed for you with a mattress and duvet. Despite being so comfortable, I didn’t really get any serious sleep: maybe 2 hours here and there and eventually I just gave up. Unlike most flights, it was really hot in the cabin which didn’t help with sleep. I should have taken the sleeping tablet that was on offer by my travelling companion.

iQ – Qantas’ entertainment system had a lot of choice. They had a lot more recent movies than I’ve experienced on a lot of other flights.

The Crew – the crew on-board were fantastic. They were friendly and attentive without being too in your face. They had a great knack of knowing when to be chatty and when to leave you alone. They were also very helpful with some suggestions on what to do and where to go in our ultimate destination, New York. Upon touchdown in Los Angeles, my inner 9 year old self was beaming with excitement as  I was invited into the cockpit to have a look before disembarking.  Nice end to a good flight.

QF A380 COCKPIT

Overall: Despite the lack of sleep, I enjoyed the overall Qantas First Class experience. I absolutely rate the service; it has been friendly, efficient without feeling forced. Can’t wait until next time. Hopefully, there will be a next time.

#thedontforgettravelgroup

THE DONT FORGET TRAVEL GROUP

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FLYING ON DEATH ROW

I didn’t even know that Row 87 existed.

I do wish, however, that I never ‘discovered’ it, but here I am sitting in it on QF 11 heading to New York via Los Angeles. It has felt like a never ending journey, and I still have 14 hours to go.

Just getting on this plane felt like a journey in itself as I passed through Economy cabin after Economy cabin. It felt like when you drive through a city and you leave the good suburbs behind with their manicured lawns and tree-lines streets and in each new suburb, the front yard is a little more overgrown and with each passing suburb the number of rusted car carcasses increase.

The upside to being in Row 87 is that the 5 toilets for this section are only 1 row away. You get to feel the humanity up close and personal, as everyone crowds around your seat doing their little “hurry-up-I’ve-got-pee” dance, while making judgements of what you are watching. Look, I haven’t seen Kung Fu Panda, OK? Don’t judge me.

Every time I hear the toilet’s vacuum flush (which is constant) I secretly imagine another “pee dancer” being sucked out of the plane. This would really free up some space up front. Whoosh. There goes another one.

Of course it is worse around service time when the people sitting at the front of the plane (not the real front, but the Economy front) have already finished their meals. I believe that eating celebrity-chef-inspired food off a tray must trigger a message in your bladder saying “I’ve gotta go….now”. Like watching the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, they all get up at once and head for the toilets at the rear of the plane. Like the crocodiles in the Mara river, lying in wait to impede their progress is the food trolley as the Crew try to serve the rear of the plane. Then the life and death struggle begins as the Crew play Frogger (old school arcade game reference…ask your parents) as they go backwards and forwards trying to negotiate space and hand out lukewarm “sorry we don’t have your choice” meals to those in the surrounds of Row 87.

Whoosh. There goes another one..

This A380 is so big that doing a lap, as recommended in the inflight magazine to avoid deep vein thrombosis, I was in more danger of pulling a hamstring as I recorded 5,579 steps on my Fitbit. I was certainly in more danger of causing an injury to the protruding limbs finding their way into the aisle. I was thinking I could really do some damage with one of those food trolleys….no wonder cabin crew are always smiling. They know the game.

Whoosh. There goes another one.

The seat configuration in this section is 3-4-3. The new livery still doesn’t hide the fact that you are trapped in like sardines. Another upside to Row87 is that most people want to sit as far forward a possible. No-one willingly allocates themselves seats so far down the back. It’s a bit like Daveron Park, you’ve heard of it, but you don’t know where it is or know anyone who has ever been there. This “I’m-not-going-to-the-dark-side” attitude in seat allocation has mean that I have an empty seat next to me. This little sardine feels less like the one that John West rejected.

Whoosh. Another one gone.

Of course the reclining seat in front still feels like a personal attack from the enemy. Nothing is more confronting than watching the seatback coming towards you at an alarming rate. Too late, no time to untangle your legs. Too late to lean down to get any of your comfort items from your bag under the seat. Too late to use the tray table as the angle of the seat prohibits any practical uses. Too late to watch the entertainment system in any comfort. When I was young, my mother used to warn “don’t sit close so to the tv, you’ll ruin your eyes”. She was a very wise woman. And while we didn’t end up with square eyes, she knew that watching a screen 5cms from your face is not a good thing.

Whoosh. Another one gone.

Oooooh fancy celebrity chef inspired “hot chicken panini” just arrived. I’m now eating lunch at 4.58pm Adelaide time and 11.58pm LA time. It must be celebrity chef inspired eating time.

Whoosh. Bye bye, whoever you are.

Another added benefit to sitting in Row87 is that you get to spend more time on the plane than those at the front. When the plane lands and the “quick-every-one-stand-up-ding’ can be heard, you get to stand in the aisle for what seems like hours. I’m sure those at the front of the plane had already disembarked, claimed their luggage, passed through customs, navigated the traffic and were already home in bed before Row87 has even advanced to Row 86

Whoosh. Whoosh. Uh oh a double whoosh. I wonder if that’s two gone, or something quite stubborn not going?

Row 87 is also known as Death Row. It’s a long walk to freedom.

http://www.dontforgettravel.com.au

BEST VALUE HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS FOR AUSTRALIANS RIGHT NOW

Australian Dollar hits 7 year lows!

The start of 2016 hasn’t been good for the Australian Dollar against the US Dollar. Ok, lets be honest, 2015 wasn’t so good either. The little Aussie Battler is in for a battle as our dollar is heavily linked to the economic fluctuations of our biggest trading partner, China…And their outlook isn’t so crash hot. (Ed: Don’t use the term “crash” when talking about currencies) 

Its perfectly fine to skip this section of the newspaper (Ed: Are you sure people still read newspapers?) or glaze over when watching the news when this topic come up, but the danger is only looking at the headline or listening to the lead in comment and thinking its all of a sudden too expensive to travel anywhere.

In the majority of the cases, the headline is about the Australian Dollar’s value to the US Dollar, and yes, over the the last 12 months the $AUD has fallen in value by 17% against the $USD. (Ed: I remember the good old days when the dollar dropped below $.50).

To the traveller this means that when you arrive in the United States everything is automatically 17% more expensive than it was 12 months ago. The $4.00 coffee at Starbucks will now cost your $4.68 and that $100 pair of jeans will now cost you $117. Obviously this means that you either need more money to do all the things that you want, or cut back in some areas. But it doesn’t mean that you have to cross the US off your list completely.

currency change jpeg

Source: http://www.XE.com comparison of AUD 15 Jan 2015 vs 15 Jan 2016

There a few shining destinations to think about if you want good value for your Australian Dollar. If you are a skier, or love nature, or you just love going to a really nice place, then head north to Canada or south to New Zealand. The Australian Dollar is slightly up against these two currencies so it wont hurt your hip pocket. (Ed: what if they fall skiing and land on their hip?, I guess the burgeoning wallet full of cash will cushion the fall).

The United State’s southern neighbour, Mexico, also offers better value for money this year.

If you really want to drive your dollar further (Ed: I think Budget own this tag line) then grab that plane ticket and head to South American countries like Argentina and Brazil (Ed: you need to warn the reader that Brazil wont be cheap during the Olympic Games). Another destination to put on the list is South Africa. South Africa was relatively cheap before, but with the $AUD’s value increasing by over 20% against the Rand, it is now “a must”. (Ed: If you need me, I will be in Cape Town).

Its not all doom and gloom.

There a a lot of little gems and this may give you an opportunity to visit a place that you may not have had at the top of your list. Don’t let the headline stop you from getting out there and discovering the world.

For those that dont like to read, here’s the info in an infographic form…..

BEST VALUE DESTINATIONS FOR AUSTRALIANS RIGHT NOW.

The Dont Forget Travel Group

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story

In this week’s photo challenge, capture an image that tells a full story in a single frame. Every photo, I believe, tells a story, so I have taken a different approach and chosen some photos that capture a moment that makes you want to know what the full story is…or what happens next. These image do not tell the full story, they just leave more questions.

Bear kiss

Bear kiss

Out on the Tundra at Churchill, Canada looking for polar bears, we came across another Tundra Buggy. Just happened to snap the photo just as the man stuck his head out of the window as the bear reared up. What happened next?

 

 

 

 

roadside chat
roadside chat

 

This photo captured a moment in time on the streets of Beijing. We’re left wondering what are these two men talking about and why are they squatting on the side of the road chatting?

 

 

Hand feeding gulls

Hand feeding gulls

The split second moment that this Greek ferry passenger hand feeds a seagull. Is this a common occurrence? Did she do this often as the gulls seem to expect it?

 

 

A glimpse of Petra

A glimpse of Petra

 

The moment that you come across the break in the canyon walls and get your first glimpse of the Treasury Building at Petra in Jordan. It is the moment that you feel like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade.

 

 

 

 

Dumb and dumber

Dumb and dumber

The split second moment that you wonder why you are about to re-enact a stupid scene from Dumb & Dumber while in an Ice Bar in Whistler, Canada. Why would you even think of doing this?

 

 

 

 

 

Extreme X-Scream

Extreme X-Scream

The split second that I thought I was going to die. The moment I thought that riding the X-Scream in Las Vegas was a stupid idea. Why would anyone do this giant teeter-totter, 866 feet above the ground?  Is being the only person on the ride an indication of how crazy this is?

Enjoying the ice sculpture at Lake Louise, Canada – the split second moment of serenity just before you get pelted!

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Put letters together to make words. Put words together to form sentences. Put sentences together to produce chapters. Put chapters together to tell stories.

There is an order to letters and to keep the letters in order there is the alphabet. To bring each letter to life is a picture that represents that letter, either physically, metaphorically or graphically.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words here is my 26,000 word essay!

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

I love getting high!

Never one to suffer from vertigo, I love being high….whether it be on top of a mountain after trekking for a few days, or from the Observation Deck of a skyscraper where the effort was no more strenuous than pushing the elevator button. I have always enjoyed sweeping views, particularly vistas from being “On Top” of things.

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge with the added edge of each challenge is to have a “travel twist”.

#Postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Many societies live their life on the streets, they eat on the streets, they conduct business on the streets, they socialise on the streets, they educate and raise their children on the streets. They embrace street life.

If you click on the photos you will see a short explanation of each photo, if you are interested.

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge with the added challenge of trying to make all photos travel related. #postaday