1992 Round World

It's such a long way home

13 April 1992 Cathay Pacific 201 Hong Kong to Bahrain, Business
14 April 1992 Cathay Pacific 201 Bahrain to London Gatwick, Business

After the meal, it was time to return to the hotel to meet up with Qantas Jetabout again. This time, they saw fit to lay on a bus which spent almost an hour touring the colony picking up tourists for flights. As we set off for the airport, the announcements were quite clear, but now hazy in my mind. Those of you travelling on Qantas flight something to somewhere, your flight leaves at 10:20. Those of you on Qantas flight something else, your flight leaves at the same time, 10:30. Can they be serious? Do they really listen to what they are saying? The coach disgorged its passengers outside the terminal and after our bags had been deposited on the pavement, almost as an afterthought, they added that if anybody was travelling in Business Class, check-in was "somewhere back there", indicating a different part of the terminal. I am not one to complain to excess. Perhaps I am. Nevertheless, I would expect a better service than that. We had to transport a large amount of luggage and two very tired children halfway across the terminal to find the Business Class check-in area. I was not thrilled by this as service, but it was not in any way the fault of Cathay Pacific. However, they can be blamed for trying to furnish us with four separate seats. This is not good practice for an airline who hope to receive repeat business from the other passengers, for putting children of less than three years and less than one year apart from their parents will not result in a happy flight for anybody. So I was glad when they decided to find some more suitable seats for us. This was good for all concerned. It is a long way from Hong Kong to London.

A pushchair which we had purchased in Vanuatu had reached the end of its useful life when we reached the departure lounge. To be more accurate, it had been pressed into service beyond the end of its useful life. Knowing that a higher grade one would be waiting for us in London, we decided to dispose of this one. After due consideration, we decided to remove Club Pacific and other identifying tags from it before it was discarded. The prospect of airlines going to the expense of returning a defunct pushchair to us, while amusing, seemed a rather poor use of the resources of the world, and the airlines.

As I mentioned a moment ago, it is a long way from Hong Kong to London. Even so, I wish the flight attendants were not so zealous. So does my wife. Their traditional pincer movement is to offer some unsuitable good to the children from one side. While they are being turned away, another attendant approaches on the blind side. This second attendant offers the food or other item, which has been accepted before we can do anything about it.

The flight from Hong Kong to Bahrain is long enough in itself. Knowing that a sector almost as long will follow it does not encourage. As it turned out, the flight was almost an hour late arriving in Bahrain, because of unusually strong headwinds.

Just as we were approaching Bahrain, a recorded announcement was played over the public address, explaining that for security reasons, all passengers were required to disembark. This message was cut short before the end, followed by a live apology and a recorded message telling us that, for security reasons, all transit passengers were required to remain on board. It is encouraging to note that whatever happens, it is for security reasons. This is one more thing inspiring one to travel by air, because everybody has such a high regard for safety.

Leaving Bahrain after the aeroplane had been restocked with food and other amenities, it was time to educate the new cabin crew in the ways of small children. I fear that this is an uphill struggle. I also notice that the frequent traveller magazines compare and contrast service and classes in the air and on the ground, catering, airport transfers and the like, but never address the question of which carriers offer the best service for those travelling with children. While they seem to agree that those business travellers who automatically assume children are bound to be a nuisance are being unfair, they do not seem to acknowledge the large number of passengers who do travel in premium cabins with children. I might write such an article myself, but my experience is too limited. In any case, which magazine would dare publish it?

Soon afterwards, it was breakfast time. Bahrain dairies had produced a very acceptable kiwi-fruit yogurt, which my son devoured with relish. However, he turned his nose up at the actual kiwi-fruit supplied. I didn't.

It seemed only a short while after breakfast that we started our descent into London Gatwick. We had chosen London Gatwick in preference to Heathrow because it was more convenient for the person meeting us, and we were indifferent, except that the Gatwick Express is a much easier way to get to town than the underground.

Once inside the home country, it was a short wait to collect the baggage. After that, a trip through London, and a night spent there before travelling to Liverpool for three weeks on Merseyside. Impressions of my home, as I have mentioned before, are not best suited to a narrative like this, so I fall silent until the point when we return to a place connected in some way with aviation.

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