My first trip by plane was not very eventful. Some of the procedures on the airport I knew already from travelling by train. As my parents never had a car trains have ever had a very important part in my life. My neighbours, my grandparents, my aunt, my uncle and so on all told what it would be like flying but everyone told me something different. My kindergarden teacher gave me a little present and told me not to open it before I entered the plane. Actually I was so afraid that forgot to open it before we were in Sydney. Once arrived at the EuroAirport we cleared check-in and proceeded to the customs area. That was the first time my dad showed me my passport. In Switzerland children`s passports can be integrated into the parents` until they are 15 years old.
At this time the “Y”-Part of the EuroAirport did not exist, so only few planes could park at a gateway. I hoped to get one of these planes but my wish was not fulfilled. Instead we were directed to a bus that brought us to our Saab 340B parked on a remote stand somewhere on the tarmac. Arrived at the plane I realized that our machine had the same livery as the planes on the postcards my daddy brought home sometimes from business trips.
I always thought that only men could become pilots but as I entered the plane my mum told me that our first officer was female. Because I couldn`t see anything out of the window (I was not tall enough L) I spent nearly the whole flight to Frankfurt thinking about this woman being an airline pilot.
Old Crossair traditionally offered some chocolate just before landing. I also took one of these chocolates that I also knew because my dad brought them home sometimes. Our stumpy little 33-seater touched down at Frankfurt`s Rhein-Main airport after something more than one hour and we quickly proceeded to the bus that brought us to the terminal. From what I had seen out of the bus FRA must have been one of the world`s biggest airports I thought.
Flight: QF 006
Date: 2 April 1993
Equipment: Boeing 747-438 "Longreach"
Departure time: approx. midnight
This was considered to be my first “Jumbo” flight ever. On the day of my first flight I would get the experience of flying in a Saab 340 and in “Jumbo” Boeing 747-400.
After having cleared customs and security check again we proceeded to Concourse E where all the Qantas flights have their departure. After flying with such a small aeroplane before I was very surprised to see so many people at the gate. Also the plane that was coming in after a short sector from Paris CDG was much bigger as the one we had had before. I could absolutely not understand why there was no cockpit at the front. Later I realized that there was an upper deck and that the cockpit was located up there. On this mysterious bird I also found no door. This “problem” was solved when I saw the gangway moving onto the plane. The name of the plane was "City of Melbourne". About ten years later I found out that this plane was later given a special livery to promote the Melbourne Formula One GP.
My family (parents, my little sister and me) had the seats in coach. We got the four middle seats in the 3-4-3 configured cabin. To be sure that the kids do not run around inflight, our parents took the aisle seats (D/G) while the kids were “stored” in E and F. I don`t remember the exact row number any more but I think that is not that important nowadays. I only remember that it was no exit row and that the seats were located in the non-smoking area. Still waiting on the ground the cabin crew served drinks for everyone. It must have been orange juice because on all the other QF long-hauls that I flew on later they also served orange juice. While sitting there at the gate they also passed the headphones that would be used by everyone for the next 12 hours. After having seen hardly anything on the Crossair safety demonstration I now saw everything including life vest and oxygen masks what I found very funny at this time.
The take-off wasn`t that special at all. On the Saab six hours before I felt slightly different when we left the ground. Soon after take-off dinner was served. I was not very hungry. At this time I used to go to bed at about 8.30 pm and now they served dinner for the second time at about 1 am. I thought that they were all completely mad.
I tried to get some sleep in this narrow seat. It was not very easy but somehow I succeeded and got 2 hours of sleep. When I woke up it wasn`t dark outside any more. My first thought was about having had a real night (9-12 hours) of sleep but my parents told me that it were only 2 hours. Somewhere in the former Soviet airspace my sister lost her dummy. When my dad tried to ask for it in the row behind he didn`t know the word. Whatsoever they found it and finally my sister was happy to have again her dummy and my dad was happy about “having learnt another English word” he told me later.
After ten hours it was time for an intermediate stop in Bangkok. I didn`t know the city before but later I learnt that it was the capital of Thailand. As we arrived in BKK in daytime I could see many aircraft sitting on the tarmac and waiting for new tasks. There were many TG aircraft as well as one LH 744. When I saw it I thought it must be something like a “Boeing 747-500”. When I came home again my neighbour told me that there is no “747-500” so I think it must have been a 747-400 too. When I deplaned in Bangkok I saw some people entering the plane with aspirators looking like backpacks. I found that very funny. In Bangkok it was very hot too. I was told that it were about 35º C.
The stop did not last very long and soon we could go back into the plane. The flight from Bangkok to Singapore wasn`t very long, only about two hours. The whole sector was flown by daylight, lunch was served and I wanted to have a window seat. It would have been amazing for 6 year old to see out of the window of a 747 but instead I had to sit in the middle, squeezed by my dad and my sister who was only 3 years old at the time. In BKK a new crew had boarded the plane what I found out when I ordered another drink and not the usual f/a came to care for my desire.
After about 120 minutes we touched down in another city that I didn`t know before. Singapore would be the last intermediate stop on the way Down Under. By the time for deplaning it was still bright outside and temperature was still about 30ºC. At SIN`s Terminal 1 there is a playground for the kids. My sister and me spent most of the time running around there, slightly annoying our parents.
After an hour the Boeing 747-400 was ready again. It was the final leg of my first big air journey and it was another overnight flight. With my routine from the flight from FRA to BKK I knew how to get some sleep. I slept for about two hours again and woke up when it was about 4 am. Not much later breakfast was served. My daddy got some jam into his hair. Nobody knew where it came from but he got quite angry about this.
In the approach into Sydney I had some major problems with the air pressure in my ears. I did not have this problem on the flights before, so this was another new thing I learnt when I was flying to Australia. We touched down at Sydney`s Kingsford-Smith Airport at about 6 o`clock in the morning. This was normally not my wake-up-time as I normally got up at about 7.30 am at this time. Yeah those were the days …
I think it was really worth, doing such a travel with only six years of age. I got to know what flying long-haul is like without PTV on my first day of travelling by plane. I got to know what it is like to annoy flight attendants with ordering a drink every 30 minutes (what would have been about 35 drinks on the way from Basel to Sydney J). I even had the pleasure to be on a 744 on my only second sector. The only bad thing was that I never had a window seat on the jumbo while on the Saab 340 I had one but did not see anything out of the window.
Afterwards I was really tired. I suffered from a jet-lag like never again. About the first three days in Oz I always thought it was morning when it was 6pm and other things like this.