Tag Archives: Business Class

by

USA Training – Dallas Week 1, Day 5

No comments yet

Categories: In Transit, Training 2018, Tags: , ,

image

Thursday, October 18, 2018 – The final day of the first week of the CAP, and a return journey to Australia.

Awaking at 6:30am, having dutifully packed all my luggage the night before, it was simply a matter of getting ready to check out of the hotel.  I did this, and waited in the lobby for Peter and Will – the latter of whom was staying on in the US for an extra week, so it was just Peter and I making the return voyage this fine day.  Fine?  Indeed, the rain had finally stopped on our last day in Dallas.

IMG_0259IMG_0266
Bags packed / A train crosses near the State Farm campus at CityLine

As per usual, we drove to the CityLine complex and consumed breakfast before launching into the second day of DoDAF training.  Class went as late as 2:30pm, so we got under way on our journey to Dallas Forth Worth airport.  First stop, a record store – in lieu of our aborted attempt to travel to an alternate shop the previous day.  This took us through the long and foreboding concrete jungle of Dallas’ motorways until we reached Josie Records, just off the Lyndon B Johnston freeway.

IMG_0276IMG_0273

Here, I picked up a few records which followed me as carry on luggage back to Canberra.  The range was impressive and the prices respectable.  The condition of all the records I bought was VG+ to Near Mint.  The big ticket item was a mint (unopened) Weezer blue album repress through the fanatically impressive Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab label and are not easy to come by back in Oz.

  • John Lee Hooker – The Real Blues (early 70s compilation)
  • The Horace Silver Quintet – Finger Poppin’ With The Horace Silver Quintet (French Blue Note repress, 1983)
  • King Crimson – Discipline (US 1st)
  • Gang Of Four – Songs Of The Free
  • Weezer – Weezer (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab)

From here, we checked out a boot shop opposite the store, and I bought Toni a dress and myself a country inspired button up shirt.

IMG_0271

We then jumped back into the car and headed for a large mall just outside the DFW airport complex called Grapevine Mills.  The initial entry point was a huge, huge discounted fashion retailer called Burlington, which had a seemingly infinite row after row of fashion.

image

IMG_0283IMG_0288

IMG_0287IMG_0289

The complex also featured a Lego Discovery Centre, however unluckily it closed at 4pm, so instead I was able to take a look through the adjoined shop, where I bought two Minecraft key chains for the boys.
On the way out, I stopped at a bookstore and bought a repress of the Beatles “white album” in mono, which I’d been avoiding, but seemed the only way I’d pick up a copy for a reasonable price.

From the mall, it was a quick journey through to the airport’s terminal D, where Will dropped Peter and I at the door, and we hauled our luggage inside.

IMG_0290

It is a massive terminal – one of the largest I’ve ever seen.  Once we did the bag drop for checked luggage, it was time to find the business class lounge.  Unfortunately for us two things – we were at the airport about two hours early for our flight, and secondly, the makeshift “co-op” lounge was absolute shit.  When we finally found it (not obviously sign posted), we had to take an elevator up, and inside it was shared between American Airlines and some others.  It was long, and we found seats towards the back of the “lounge”.  The food was mostly gone, and no one seemed particularly attentive.  The bar was small and service was slow.  There were all sorts of people in the lounge, with gloom on their faces.  It was shit.

There was an Aussie in the back corner doing conference calls with ear buds in his ears, booming across the room and near to where we sat.  We couldn’t really hear ourselves over this boorish git who evidentially has to face the music come Monday.  What a shame.  After getting some of the rather unappealing food I eventually  packed up my stuff and moved away from the Aussie PA system and Skyped home.

It wasn’t long before it was time to board.  As I found my seat (18F) which was a massive improvement over the inbound flight, I was surprised to find out that my companion (in the adjoining seat) was no other than the PA system – joy.

IMG_0299

Well, the flight went incredibly well, after take off and dinner, I managed a record 10 or 11 hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep, partly owing to the fact I wasn’t at all hot during the flight.  This meant that I only had to deal with about five hours of flight time (about 2 hours at the beginning and 3 at the end) which meant I was awake and ready for breakfast as we approached the coast of Australia.

IMG_0295IMG_0300

By the end of the trip, I’d watched seasons one and two of Silicon Valley, seen the Incredibles 2 and Tomb Raider, and played about two hours of Civilization V on my laptop (which was too powerful for the business class A/C outlets).  We waited ages for our bags once frustratingly clearing customs (express was not being honoured, so we had to go through with ePassport).  We very nearly didn’t make the domestic transfer in time, but ended up getting to the terminal with a minute to spare.  An hour later, we’ve touched down in Canberra where I’m met by Toni and the minions at baggage collection.

Thus ends the first week of training in Dallas.  I’ll return early next year, as I am excused from week 2 as I’m already TOGAF certified. 

Stay tuned for more in early 2019.

by

USA Training – Dallas Week 1, Day 1

No comments yet

Categories: In Transit, Training 2018, USA, Tags: , ,

Sunday, October 14, 2018 – I arrived at Canberra airport and bid farewell to my family as I was dropped off at the departures wing, laden with a light assortment of luggage and ready for a long journey.  The destination: Dallas, Texas in the United States, kicking off the first week of a series of weeks of training in the US as part of the Raytheon Certified Architects Program (CAP).  With the exception of some web based content, and an exemption from the second week (I’m already TOGAF certified) all of the training is instructor-led out of Richmond, Texas.  I’ll have two more trips early next year.  I am travelling with two colleagues from work, Will (Brisbane) and Peter (also from Canberra).

Per company policy regarding long flights, I was booked Business class from Sydney to Dallas direct (a 15.5 hour direct flight) and would be travelling via the now rather dated Airbus A380 – by comparison to the newer Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  Regardless, despite the nature of this site and all my years travelling, I’ve never actually flown business class before!  There was the time Toni and I upgraded to Business class between Shanghai and Amsterdam, but that’s a long and disappointing story with a long rant directed at KLM for sitting on processing the appropriate refund for weeks.

IMG_0107

The A380 is the world’s largest passenger airliner with a wingspan of 80 meters and length of 73 meters.  A double decker with business class occupying most of the upper deck, it’s a small town in terms of compliment with well over 300 passengers catered for, plus crew.  The Qantas configuration has the Skybed for business, and they stack fairly economically into the appropriate class cabin.

IMG_0108  IMG_0109 

The big feature is full 180’ recline to a flat position, making sleep almost too easy.  There’s also a built-in massage feature, a bottle compartment and a flip out light.  The seat can be manually adjusted to many positions, and the frame features a pop up LCD screen for entertainment, and a fold out table for meals.  There’s plenty of space between the foot support and the Skybed in front, and reasonably ample storage.  I was unfortunately seated in the shittiest seat, adjacent to the bathroom in 22B which wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I did endure nasty smells for the balance of the outbound flight.  I was also incredibly hot, with sweats, which I was unable to attribute to anything specific (return flight makes me think it was environmental).

Now, with regard to business class seat selection – there’s some factors that impact where you get allocated, and it doesn’t happen at the time of check in.

1. Tickets are seat (roughly) allocated when they are purchased
2. Some seats are withheld for planning purposes/etc
3. Seat preference (per #1) is decided by Frequent Flier membership tier (i.e. from platinum down)
4. Within 24h of a flight, seat changes fall under “airport control” which means changes can’t be made online or over the phone (I assume this is for Intl only, as I have changed seats through the app on domestic flights plenty of times up to boarding time)
5. So basically, I had a crap seat by default because I booked a bit late (2 weeks prior) and was bronze membership at the time
6. Only the airport can change it (usually if there’s no shows, late check ins etc.)
7. Lesson = membership has its benefits, or, buy tickets early

As the Dallas flight was full (for Business), no seat change was possible.

The meals were exceptionally better than the Economy class meals, and access to the Business lounge was useful, but not particularly overwhelming.  I feel Qantas could have put a little bit more effort into making the lounge a bit more attractive, but it still beats the hell out of Economy options (none).  I managed to get about 6 hours sleep, broken by watching a film for two hours in between. 

IMG_0115IMG_0114

IMG_0113

I was provided a change of clothes for sleeping purposes, this meant I arrived in Dallas dressed in passable attire, although at the time I wasn’t sure whether to assign blame for the constant heat I was feeling to them or not (no issue on return trip).

IMG_0116

The in-flight system featured a pretty cool external camera, although it was black for most of the trip, except a couple of hours from landing.

IMG_0120

One criticism I have, is that they kept the cabin dark until about an hour or so from landing (at midday) in Dallas.   I had woken at 8 AM Dallas time, to avoid jet lag, and the cabin being in night mode for such a duration made it challenging.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas Forth Worth – according to this website, DFW is the 12th largest airport in the world (airports I’ve visited are listed in bold): 





























Rank Airport Location Country
1 Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International
Airport
Atlanta, Georgia United States
2 Beijing Capital International Airport Chaoyang-Shunyi, Beijing China
3 Dubai International Airport Garhoud, Dubai United Arab Emirates
4 Tokyo Haneda Airport Ōta, Tokyo Japan
5 Los Angeles International Airport Los Angeles, California United States
6 O’Hare International Airport Chicago, Illinois United States
7 London Heathrow Airport Hillingdon, London United Kingdom
8 Hong Kong International Airport Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong Hong Kong SAR, China
9 Shanghai Pudong International Airport Pudong, Shanghai China
10 Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport Roissy-en-France, Île-de-France France
11 Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Haarlemmermeer, North Holland The Netherlands
12 Dallas/Fort Worth International
Airport
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas United States
13 Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport Baiyun-Huadu, Guangzhou, Guangdong China
14 Frankfurt Airport Frankfurt, Hesse Germany
15 Istanbul Atatürk Airport Yeşilköy, Istanbul Turkey
16 Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi India
17 Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Tangerang, Banten Indonesia
18 Singapore Changi Airport Changi Singapore
19 Seoul Incheon International Airport Incheon Republic of Korea
20 Denver International Airport Denver, Colorado United States

As you can see from the names in bold, I’ve visited more than half of the world’s largest airports.  Dallas Forth Worth seemed to be a lot larger than most of the others I’ve visited.  Customs was quite straightforward, and baggage collection was a breeze – so professional and efficient – so myself and my two colleagues were on hour way to the hire car collection before long.

image

We drove to the hotel (Hyatt Regency North Dallas) navigating the tricky and confusing concrete confection known as freeways with Apple Maps failing (so I had to install Google Maps once we made it to the hotel).  Peter decided to stay at the hotel, so Will and I got an Uber to AT&T stadium to use the General Admission electronic tickets I’d booked earlier in the week to watch the Dallas Cowboys take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 image

IMG_0129

The stadium is a modern day marvel; it is located within a sort of entertainment precinct, sharing an area with the nearby Texas Rangers baseball park and a Six Flags amusement park in Arlington, Texas.  After passing security screening, we made our way to the front concourse with a mass of other football fans.  It took a while to get orientated as the stadium is massive.  We couldn’t get a good vantage point for the first or second quarters of the game, but after Will found on tap beer, we were at least sorted on that front.  By halftime we managed to get a standing location right above the endzone, after having scaled four storeys of increasingly worrying distance from viewpoint to the field.  We were at the very top at once point where we found a manner of sponsorship layouts and even stacked Ford cars on display.

IMG_0134IMG_0188IMG_0144

IMG_0194

IMG_0209IMG_0210

As we entered the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys comfortably ahead, we walked the remainder of the concourse level (blocked at halfway by our ticket type), and walked past numerous concession stands, the Cowboys Pro Shop and thousands of fans making an early exit.  The noise from the crowd was deafening at times, something not registered when watching games by TV.  There was also a mini zeppelin hovering over the crowd taking footage.  The jumbotrons in the centre of the stadium are insanely huge, I have no reference for scale.

When we left the stadium, it was still light and not raining but to avoid the crowds, we walked a mile or so to a sports bar called Humperdinks Brewpub for dinner and drinks and to let the crowd dissipate.  We met two guys from Kansas City on the way, and they told us of their stadium tour the day before.  The sports bar/restaurant was opposite the six flags rollercoaster park, and in a rather convenient location.  I ordered a rib eye steak and beer as Will and I attacked our first dinner in Texas.  When we were ready to leave, it was dark and raining quite heavily.  The Uber we booked was a no show and there was some issue in getting a new fare with Will’s phone at 1% battery.

IMG_0217

Luckily, we managed a second Uber, with a driver from Rwanda.  He got us back to Richardson safely, and I had enough time to Skype back to Australia before saying good night and getting into my first bit of rest in many, many hours…  Day one of training was to kick off the nest day.