Right. I’ll try to keep this reasonably brief. For those of you just joining us, if you have another ten minutes of your life to waste then it might be best to go back and read Singapore: Part 1 of Several first. For those of you that would prefer a brief précis, we had got to Singapore, we had a very jolly couple of days, then the computers fell over, no planes went anywhere, we didn’t go to Sydney when we should have done and for a short while no one had the faintest idea what was going on. So we went to a bar and waited. And drank some very reasonably priced wine. Silver linings and all that.
So almost two days later than planned, all the computers had been turned off and turned back on again, and we were told we were going to operate to Sydney that night. There was a definite air of trepidation en route to the airport…we weren’t entirely sure what frame of mind the passengers were going to be in. Although we knew we were the first crew to operate into Sydney since the computer carry on, we weren’t sure how many of these passengers had faced delays of almost 48 hours and how many had come straight through from London, so would have been travelling for at least 14 or 15 hours at this point.
Luckily when we reached the aircraft and started boarding everyone seemed in a pretty good frame of mind, made even better when told the pretty quick flight time of 6 hours 50 minutes. It’s a late departure out of Singapore, so the flight out was quite quiet with the majority of the customers in Club choosing to go to sleep soon after take off.
Although sometimes that can be nice, on night flights when you’re tired combined with all your customers being asleep and not wanting anything can make for a very long boring night trying to keep your eyes open. One tip I would give to new crew, on the night flights where it is quiet and you are really struggling (especially if you’re on second break), do not, sit down! If you sit down it will be game over and you’ll make yourself feel ten times worse. Stay standing up, do cabin walk throughs, toilet checks, anything to keep moving. In club, make sure you know how many customers you should have on each side if you aren’t full..and make sure you keep counting them when you do toilet checks (especially on the 777-300 where the club loos are at the back of the cabin, not the front like they are on the 777-200). It’s amazing how many people think it’s ok to just make their way through the curtain and put themselves to bed in club. And when you tell them to move, they’ll pretend they don’t speak English. They almost certainly do. And if they really don’t, its amazing how well one can communicate with some firm hand gestures when required.
Anyway, we landed in Sydney. It was half past four in the morning. It was bloody freezing. It was dark. All I wanted was my bed. I couldn’t tell you anything about what the city looks like from the back of the bus on the way to the hotel because I was asleep. We got to the hotel around 6:30am and all went to bed for a few hours before planning to meet for 10 to go out and have a look around.
Waking up from my nap was hands down the most tired I have ever felt. I was stumbling about like I was drunk, it’s a truly horrible feeling. Either way I dragged myself downstairs and met the others, we get just 24 hours in Sydney and as it’s a hell of drive from UK you really want to make the most of it. Not that you don’t want to make the most of everywhere you go but it’s difficult to ‘make the most’ of an Aberdeen nightstop and the like.
A few of us had decided to head over to Manly for lunch, about a 40 minute ferry ride from Sydney. We walked down to Circular Quay, it’s a bit like Sydney’s version of South Bank in London I suppose. All ferries and bars and views of the bridge and opera house and so on and so forth.
Now here’s the thing. I’d never been to Australia before. I sort of missed the boat on that one really, whilst everyone else was off finding themselves on some beach in Australia after leaving school, I ‘found myself’, or something along those lines anyway, riding horses around muddy fields at some ungodly hour of the morning usually. So there we were. On Circular Quay (or The Rocks or whatever it is you call it), looking at Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Arguably some of the most iconic structures in the world. And do you what, they did absolutely nothing for me.
I fully appreciate I should probably just stop now and leave quietly. But I won’t. I felt like I should have been more inspired by them than I was, maybe it’s because I was so so tired and so so cold (have I mentioned Sydney was freezing and windy?). I’ve been very lucky and seen a lot of places, but for me I didn’t stop and stand there and say ‘wow.’ I think I actually said something along the lines of ‘Right which wharf does the ferry go from and are we getting lunch here or in Manly?’. The bridge was alright actually. The opera was massively over rated I thought. And in need of a power wash.
We then had the standard Mixed Fleet ‘lets all stand about and argue about what to do/where to go/whose been here before/how do we get there/how cold we are/how tired we are’ carry on that is very much a requirement of any trip. Eventually we got the ferry. For those that are Mixed Fleet (or are going to Sydney and want to know) its Wharf 6, you need an opal card which you buy from any of the shops along there, stick $20 AUD on it and you’ll be fine.
We got to Manly. It was quite nice. Nice beach, nice shops. Some nice looking bars. It was really, really cold and windy. It was pretty quiet as it’s the winter at the moment but after a walk about we headed to the New Brighton Hotel, just back from the beach where we had some pretty decent pizzas and some fizz. By the time we had lunch and buggered around a bit more, we decided to head back to the hotel for a nap as we were starting to really flag and tempers were starting to run just a little bit short!
After an hours sleep, we headed back out down to Circular Quay again to find some dinner and watch some of the ‘Vivid Sydney’ light show. Vivid is an annual festival that takes place for 3 weeks in the winter (May/June) and sees Sydney lit up with various different lights and projections on to landmarks such as the opera house and the bridge. As well as lights there are various street performers, talks and live music events. Definitely worth an outing if you’re in Sydney whilst it’s on. I thought the harbour looked much nicer lit up at night than it did during the day.
We called it a night at around 9pm and headed to bed. I managed to sleep almost all the way through the night, waking up briefly around 4am (about 7pm UK time) but managed to go back to sleep until breakfast. Another tip that will only be relevant to any new or current crew; the new hotel gives us a free breakfast. It’s really good and definitely worth getting up for. After breakfast it was time to get ready for pick up and the flight back to Singapore.
I’d love to say the flight back to Singapore was without drama but I would be lying to you. Firstly, I got pulled up by security. FYI, it’s liquids in Sydney exactly the same as it is in the UK. 20 minutes late and now without any make up remover, hair spray, perfume, face wash, toothpaste, and more importantly crew purchase (gin miniatures), I made it to the aircraft.
Turns out whilst I was being interrogated by security I had missed a whole world of drama at the gate. It turned out the A380 that was in Singapore heading back to London that night (with quite a few of our passengers on it) had gone tech (it ain’t called the A3flakey for nothing..) on arrival in Singapore. Some of our customers had been told about this by the ground staff in Sydney. Some hadn’t. Customers boarded and started talking to each other. Customers started to ask us a lot of questions. Customers started to get quite cross and allow themselves some quite unkind comments about The World’s Favourite Airline. As is the case 99% of the time in these situations, generally you, the customer, will definitely know more about whats going on than the crew.
Either way, you do what you can to make people’s lives easier. I went up to the flight deck for take off out of Sydney as it would be my last chance (my last trip and being heavy crewed out of Singapore, 4 pilots not 3, meant their wouldn’t be a spare jumpseat in the flight deck). The views on the climb out of Sydney were amazing, sitting in the flight deck is one thing I really miss about flying and something that the public obviously don’t get to do. I would like to go back to Sydney, and the rest of Australia, it’s a shame we only get 24 hours there, on such a long trip with such a big time difference that is really not long at all, certainly not long enough to properly understand why everyone raves about it.
As ever all these pictures are my own, however my title picture, of the harbour bridge at sunset I stole either from my friend Chris or the Captain. I can’t remember which. But either way I don’t take any credit for it!