Flight Report : Hong Kong - London Heathrow

It was a very early morning departure - even moreso than the Air New Zealand flight I've taken in the prior 2 years. Leaving at 7:35am, even taking the first Airport Express of the day would've been tight, and the airport bus didn't even start yet for the day. My only other safe option was a taxi.

We were among the first passenger flights to leave that morning, and considering how quiet it was at the airport, I actually believed it.

I suspect this Air New Zealand plane would head to London an hour after me. Looks like they downgraded from a 747! Every time I see their plane in Hong Kong it is parked at that spot!

The day before when I did online check-in, I experimented around the Qantas website to see if I could find a more spacious window seat right at the end of the plane where the row of 3 becomes 2. On these long-haul flights I normally park around there for more leg room and storage space, while not having to cross 2 people to get out. The bathroom nearby didn't bother me so much since I was by the window. It would be the aisle seat passenger's problem. Later on I discovered I could actually select a spacious seat at the front of the cabin. I knew it wasn't business since it was row 3X. I dug up the seat maps and noticed it was Premium Economy. A bit puzzled since my fare was dirt cheap, I printed the boarding pass and was expecting to be told it was a system glitch. Subsequent logins into the Qantas website still showed my old window seat.

Well ... it turns out I was upgraded at online check-in.

We taxied for a while towards the western edge of the runway. With a left window seat, I expected aerials of Kowloon on such a beautiful day.

The skies were quite clear that morning. Shenzhen was visible in the back beyond the hills.

Unfortunately, shortly after takeoff, we reached a set of crowds over Kowloon. So much for aerials ...

We began to turn north and then west around Sai Kung. Soon, Ma On Shan was visible and the skies cleared again.

Tsuen Wan was not visible when we first passed above it. I had to zoom a bit when we were over Tolo Harbour to catch it on the second try. After another turn, we crossed into Shenzhen.

Breakfast consisted of an omlette with sausage and beans. The fruits, sausage, and beans tasted the best. It wasn't among my better airline meals. However, afterwards, we received a snack pack and hot chocolate for the long transcontinental crossing. Then, an even bigger meal was served a few hours before landing.

When I first sat in Premium Economy, I thought it was a Business Class seat. It was wide and comfortable. The blankets were better than those in typical Economy. It seemed a world away from the chaos out back.

As we reached midday, we crossed the English Channel and began our descent into Heathrow. I was hoping to capture some decent aerials of Central London with the nice weather conditions.

We entered London's north side, then looped back east (left turn) and looped again west (right turn) over Central London for the final approach. Since we turned right over the best part of the city, I was on the wrong side of the plane to capture aerial shots. Next time I'm booking a right window seat.

The Tube is always the best and cheapest way into the city from Heathrow.

Service Summary

Although the food didn't taste particularly good, I thought Qantas gave more thought to the menu than Air New Zealand's offering. Premium Economy was a great experience. With Business Class costing well over HKD 20,000, Premium Economy seemed a much more affordable way to get more space and peace on a long flight.

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