Sunday night, 19 February 2017
My flight from Sydney was scheduled to depart on Sunday night at 21:35. I decided to use my complimentary pass to the Qantas Club lounge, which I’d earned when I qualified for silver frequent flyer status last year. So I left home nice and early, calling a taxi at 17:30, but it didn’t arrive for almost fifteen minutes, so it was well after 18:00 when I reached the airport. I got to use the priority check-in queue, because the night before I’d received a text message from Qantas saying that my requested seat upgrade to premium economy class using frequent flyer points had been approved, so it promised to be a good flight all round.
The woman at the check-in counter apologised, saying there were no aisle seats available, so I had to have a middle seat between other people. But she gave me a bulkhead row, with extra legroom. She also gave me a printed card with details of my return flight on it, just in case Japanese immigration wanted to see evidence that I was planning to leave the country.
I passed through into the departure area, where I changed some dollars into yen. The commission fee was outrageous, but I wanted to make sure I had enough to load up my Suica card to pay for a train fare from the airport to my hotel. After getting 2000 yen, I went up the escalators to the Qantas lounge, where they took my complimentary pass and ushered me into the hallowed halls.
The area was a bit bigger than I expected, running along a north-facing wall of the terminal, so the windows had good views of the city skyline. There were two buffet areas for serving food, though only one was open at the moment, as the lounge wasn’t very full of people. It had hot soup, fried rice, and a pasta dish, plus a cheese board, four or five types of salads, a cherry cheesecake, chocolate brownies, fresh fruit. Then there was a self serve bar with dozens of wines, beers, spirits, and mixers. And nearby was a gelato bar with half a dozen flavours and an attendant waiting to scoop out cupfuls for anyone who wanted some.
I grabbed a small plate and took some chick pea and tomato salad, zucchini, chick pea, and green pea salad, and some potato salad. I didn’t want to eat too much, as my in-flight meal in premium economy was supposed to be good too from the reviews I’ve read. I also grabbed a James Squire “Swindler” summer ale to drink. I found a seat by the window, down the end of the lounge near the closed buffet area, where there were fewer people and more space, and settled into a comfy armchair to relax before my flight.
Enjoying the food and drink in the Qantas Club lounge
After finishing the salads, I grabbed a slice of the cherry cheesecake and took my time eating that, while watching the sunset light filtering through gathering storm clouds over the city. Checking the weather radar, it looked like a heavy storm was on a direct approach to the airport. Sure enough, it started raining, and there were lightning strikes visible. I wandered up near the gelato bar to see out the windows there, and a lady on the staff informed me that the white flashing lights we could see out the window over on the tarmac indicated lightning strikes within ten kilometres, and would turn blue if there were strikes within five kilometres, which would trigger a shutdown of aircraft movements at the airport. I returned to my seat, and sure enough, soon after the lights started flashing blue. The rain was really heavy, but I didn’t see any hailstones at all, and certainly none like the giant ones that hit Sydney the day before.
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