After months of plotting and not a little planning, we left Sydney on Saturday 22 September for a marathon overseas trip to Northen Europe. There are many special things about this trip, not the least of which is we have cut our airtravel to the minimum, and what we are doing is mostly in business class. No, we haven't come into a fortune, but we did engage a brilliant travel manager: Robin Wood of Travel Managers, who helped in all kinds of unexpected ways (thanks Naomi for the recommendation). The "Grand Plan" involves, planes, trains, ferries and a car with time in Hong Kong, Helsinki, Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, several places in the UK and of course London! We are planning to keep traveller posts coming regularly until we return to Sydney in late November.
So far our experience of Business Class is two flights, one to Hong Kong with Qantas and a second from Hong Kong to Helsinki with FinnAir. FInnAir being an overnight flight, we really appreciated being able to raise our legs and pretty much lie down, but the food and fittings were very ordinary - shabby even. Interestingly, all the cabin crew were women, unlike Qantas where at least half the attendants on any flight seem to be men these days. The service and food on Qantas (A380) were both exemplary, and the seats and cabin were, amazingly, spacious. (We never thought we would use that adjective to describe an airplane!) There is a real sense of Aussie knocking in the stream of public commentary on Qantas these days, but we can honestly say that we have always found their service and the airplanes themselves to be excellent. This includes M-H's six-week trip in 2000 with Narelle, her late partner, who was in poor health and required a lot of extra attention - all of these flights were in cattle class - and the Qantas service shone above all the other carriers she encountered.
This post is being written at 6.15 am in Helsinki, aided by mild jet-lag. In the next post we'll write about our Hong Kong adventures - with photos.