1 week till lift-off!

Today marks the one week till departure point (well, pretty much, Monday-Monday counts as a week right?!) and it is very exciting.  Well, almost.  Faced with a 32 hour journey including 8 hours worth of stopover in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on the way to Paris you could say I was a little less than enthusiastic with the ‘getting there’ bit of my holiday.  That was before I checked out the Changi airport website and found something miraculous!  The place not only has practically every shopping option you could ask for but it also has a butterfly house, several different gardens including an orchid garden (as if you could have a garden in singapore without orchids!) and a fern garden, playgrounds and rides for the kids, lockers for your bags, a train to get around and several lounges – yes I did say lounges!  Gone are the days when airport lounges were only available to the privileged  frequent-flying business person who belonged to a special airline alliance club.  Now there are lounges at nearly every terminal available for anyone to walk in to and pay a quite reasonable fee for the privilege (which is considerably cheaper than paying for a club membership that you might use once a year!).  You can have a shower, hot food, surf the web and update your facebook status or tweet about your location (I suggest something along the lines of ‘look ma, I’m at Changi’), have a nap in the little nap rooms, have a snooze in the massage chairs or use the gym facilities.  Wow, just wow!  Check it out and see for yourself.

Last time I passed through singapore airport (in 2003) on an overnight flight we tried to sleep on the floor near the boarding gate because most things nearby were closed due to the late hour and we couldn’t be bothered going to the main terminal in the 2 hours we had.  Then when we thought we were boarding again mum popped a sleeping tablet so she could fall asleep as soon as we took off.  This plan backfired as, naturally, our section was the last to be called on to board so she was falling asleep on her feet.  When we finally got to our seats she collapsed and I could not wake her.  Her compression stockings had been rolled down to her ankles for comfort while we were off the plane, her seat was upright and she hadn’t even bucked herself in.  So it was left to me to take care of all that then put her seat down and tuck her in with a travel blanket once we had taken off – honestly, mothers, the things we do to take care of them 😉

This time around will be far more interesting.  I am actually a little disappointed that I will have to collect my bags, go through customs, check in, check my bags and then go through customs again wasting vital time from my 4-hour stopover because Jetstar and Air Asia are not on speaking terms when I could be exploring a rainforest or having a dip in the pool.  And here I was thinking stopovers were boring – take that Tullamarine airport!  Stuff the in-flight entertainment, I’ll be sleeping and hanging out for the airport stopovers – here’s hoping the check-out-then-in process is fast.

Next stopover is Kuala Lumpur airport which is not quite as fancy or as big as Singapore Changi airport but they also have lounges, shopping and other leisure and entertainment options.  I plan to have a walk, a shower and a massage at KL, a perfect 4-hour stopover plan if I might say so myself!

Despite all the excitement my stopovers promise I am still a little apprehensive.  It would be quite reasonable to say that my last Jetstar experience was less than satisfactory.  I have flown with Jetstar a fair bit since it started and have been quite happy with what I got for my money – they always score highly in the smoothness of take-off and landing evaluation which are two of my main judging criteria and the flight staff are quite friendly and helpful when you need them.  Unfortunately the experience you remember most is the most recent or the one that had the biggest impact, sucks for Jetstar that they were one and the same; I was flying to Sydney at the most popular time of the year, between christmas and new year and the check-in line was ridiculous.  It went for nearly 100m, back past the Virgin and QANTAS check-in desks that had no line at all and I ended up being called to cut to the front to check in in time for my flight which I only made by 2 minutes, the people behind me nearly didn’t.  That was even after arriving at the airport the standard 2 hours before take-off.  It was disorganisation at it’s best.  Moral of the story; don’t fly budget airlines during peak travel times…

The main question for during the flight is what to take with me in the cabin – So far on my list I have; ear plugs, eye mask, travel pillow, travel blanket (don’t laugh, those things get cold and you’re not always given one on international flights these days), medication supply (regular and emergency), flight compression socks, skinz, mp3 player, phone (iPhone of course) and sudoku book.  Passport of course and ticket printout thingies all to go in my new travel document wallet.  Also; phone charger, camera, camera charger and a change of clothes incase my bags are misplaced in transit.  I will pick up my traditional ‘Terry Pratchett’ book at the airport book store, take some snacks and buy water (once I have gotten through customs) to fill with electrolyte tablets, I wonder if I’ve forgotten anything.

You may think it is excessive to wear both compression socks and skinz on the flight but your blood pressure tends to lower and you get fluid pooling in your legs and feet and retention, particularly on long-haul flights.  I can’t afford to let that happen if I want to arrive at my destination and still be able to stand up and construct sentences – my blood pressure is low enough without assistance and I would really prefer to not be the amazing collapsing woman (particularly on an international level)!

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