My flight to Sydney, by the numbers

About to cross Harbour Bridge

About to cross Harbour Bridge


Number of dead birds on the runway at OR Tambo: 50-60

Length of delay caused by dead birds: 45 minutes

Hours in discomfort: 12.5, if you include the time on the runway.

Meals: 3 if you include the snack pack.

Choice of dinner: 3 (penne, chicken and hake curry), but actually none, because only the curry was left. Curry anything is never a good idea in a small, enclosed space.

Drinks: 1 small bottle of Promised Land cabernet sauvignon from South Australia. Qantas is quite stingy with alcohol.

Movies watched: 3 (Argo – excellent; Cloud Atlas – I quite enjoyed it but still, huh? and Hitchcock – good)

Minutes of actual sleep: 0

Number of big guys seated next to me: 1. He turned out not to be so big when he stood up, but he couldn’t cram all of himself into his seat, so stated spilling into mine. Sleep was impossible in part thanks to his snoring and restless shifting, and the fact that he left his light on the whole night. I was swearing, but he turned out to be quite sweet, a 52 year Linux administrator from Cape Town with a much younger wife and 3-year-old son. They were visiting Australia because they’ve never been and they have so many friends here. He grew up with Trevor Manuel and knew him well. Did I know of any good places to stay between Sydney and Melbourne? He asked. He was going to get off this flight, get the hired car and drive to Melbourne.

Cost of parking at Sydney airport: $16, which I paid because it was credit card only. That’s R160 for an hour.

Australia is eye-wateringly expensive. Not quite as bad as the UK, but we’ve been used to horrific prices in the UK for years now. The idea of paying R170 for two coffees, a bacon roll and a piece of toasted raisin bread still takes some getting used to.  I’m trying hard not to convert to rand, because to convert is to ruin any possibility of enjoying your trip, but I have to if I’m going to keep a lid on expenses.

I’ve managed to sort a 3G modem now, so I’ll try to catch up on all the updates before too long. Still to come: my first evening in Lane Cove with my friend Chris, breakfast by the river, shopping in Hornsby and dinner in Glebe. On the cards today: a trip to the Blue Mountains. Tomorrow I head to the bank and Taronga Zoo to visit my Twitter namesake.



One thought on “My flight to Sydney, by the numbers

  1. simonewb

    Sounds like torture! Long-haul flights are their own special kind of hell and when you’ve got to sit on a runway for more time than you prepared yourself for, even if it’s just 9 minutes, it’s worse! We sat on the plane in Dubai on the runway for TWO HOURS while they sorted out technical problems. And in those two hours, the captain spoke to us once to let us know what was going on. And then they served curry on that flight too – on a 14-hour flight to New York. Yes. Curry.


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