Friday, September 19, 2014

Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 2, Brisbane to Honolulu

Australia series

Australia Day 1--Qantas flight 8 DFW-BNE (Dallas to Brisbane)
Australia Day 2--Flight to Sydney, the Westin Sydney hotel & sightseeing
Australia Days 3/4--Hunter Valley & the Blue Mountains
Australia Day 5--Sydney sightseeing and Manly Beach
Australia Day 6--Paddy's Market, Bondi to Coogee Walk & Darling Harbour
Australia Day 7--Sydney to Cairns, Holiday Inn Cairns & the Cairns Esplanade
Australia Day 8--The Great Barrier Reef
Australia Day 9--Kuranda Koala Gardens, Skyrail & Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Australia Day 10--Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation
Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 1, Cairns to Brisbane
Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 2, Brisbane to Honolulu

At the international terminal, I checked in to my fight, Hawaiian Airlines flight 444, from Brisbane to Honolulu. I was in seat 1J. Oddly enough, this was the one seat I couldn't reserve online and had to phone the airline to book. Thankfully, the business class check-in line was a lot shorter than the economy line.

Economy check-in line was really long
After checking in and clearing security/immigration, I went to the Hawaiian lounge, which they shared with Air New Zealand. There was a selection of free hot and cold food items.

No more Qantas Club for me, I had to go to the Air Zealand Lounge this time

Free food

Free food

Free booze

It was too bad the lounge didn't have any nice views of airplanes. Instead, all I saw was a parking lot.

View from the lounge

I didn't realize until after booking that Hawaiian's business, or first, class did not have lie-flat seats. They didn't even have angled flat seats, like the Lufthansa business flight I took last year. As this was a nine-hour overnight flight, I was kind of disappointed.

My Hawaiian Airlines business class seat, 1J
I'm normally not a fan of the bulkhead due to its proximity to the galley, however I selected seat 1J for the extra bit of leg room, knowing the seat did not lie flat. 

Bulkhead leg room (or lack thereof)

Seat controls
Upon boarding, I received a pre-departure glass of champagne. A flight attendant asked all of the first class passengers if they wanted breakfast in the morning. Slippers were tucked into the seat pocket and flight attendants handed out little amenity kits with toothbrush/toothpaste, an eye mask and ear plugs.

Not much of an amenity kit, but I'll take it

After take-off passengers were given iPad minis (filled with movies, TV shows and music) and headphones.  Soon after this dinner service began. I got to choose one appetizer and two entree items. I chose the cheese plate for my appetizer.

Appetizer and an iPad mini

For dinner, I selected lamb chop and grilled snapper. I took a few bites of everything except the lamb chop. The mashed potatoes were pretty tasty. My drink of choice was a Mai Tai (it's Hawaiian Airlines, how could I not?).

Lamb chop and grilled snapper main entrees

For dessert, I had the chocolate mousse cake, which was also tasty.

Chocolate mousse cake

After dinner, I reclined my seat (as much as possible), let out the footrest and attempted to get some shut eye. I caught a few winks here and there, but it was not good, consistent sleep. 

Before I knew it, breakfast was being served. I wasn't much of a fan of anything being served, but I had a few bites of yogurt, fruit and the danish.

I enjoyed watching the sunrise and the beautiful views as we began our descent into Honolulu.

Watching the sun rise over the clouds

Hello Hawaii!

Another nice thing about sitting up front is being first off the plane, which means being first in line for immigration. However, it seemed most folks on the flight were Australians entering the U.S., so they were in a different line anyway. 

I quickly proceeded through immigration, then had to go to baggage claim to pick up my bag. It took about 20 minutes for the bags to start coming out and it felt like a long wait. It was at this point, I checked my phone and found out about the Malaysia Airlines flight that had been shot down. I felt very solemn, but very fortunate at the same time, having just safely departed a flight. 

My suitcase was among the first to come out. I grabbed it, handed over my entry card to customs and proceeded to the the American Airlines check-in desk. The plan was simply to hand over my bag as it was already checked to Dallas, then head out to explore Honolulu during my nine-hour layover. However, as you'll read in the next installment, this is when things didn't quite go as planned.

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