TRIP REPORT: Around the world in a fortnight

TRIP REPORT


Submitted by: Nino Sertić

31 December 2017 – 14 January 2018

A few years ago I saw Richard Quest’s report on CNN about his trip around the world in 9 days on low cost carriers, and ever since then I wanted to do the same. I spent a lot of time planning the trip, studying all possibilities, adjusting time and cost, choosing dates etc. My original plan was to use FlyDubai service from Zagreb, but since they terminated it my plans had to change. Finally I decided on the dates, and the fact that I want to fly from Zagreb, make a full circle and come back to Zagreb. Decision was also made to fly east because it would allow me to travel by night and save money on accommodation. The route was chosen, visas secured, tickets bought 4 months in advance. Final route: Zagreb – Doha – Singapore – Sydney – Honolulu – Los Angeles – Stockholm – Zagreb.

I apologise for the small number of photos, but I generally don’t take a lot of photos because I like to focus on the experience and take "photos with my eyes”.

First leg of the trip: Zagreb – Doha, 31 December 2017, Qatar Airways QR 216

Aircraft: Airbus A 320-232, A7-AHT
Age: 5 years

Since there are no LCC connections from Zagreb the first leg (and second) of the trip had to be a full service airline. I decided on Qatar Airways because it was 100 euros cheaper than Emirates, and it also had a better schedule which allowed me to do sightseeing in Doha before continuing to Singapore. The flight was around 60% full so I had the privilege of having the entire row for myself. Flight departed and landed on time and service was very good – just what you would expect from QR. Seats (8F) were comfortable, leg room standard (I have to say here I never have leg room problem - even Ryanair is OK if you ask me), IFE was through personal touch screens and it made a 5 hour flight shorter. We were served breakfast with choice of drinks. After arrival in Doha I decided to visit the city because I had an 8 hour layover before my next flight. I decided to use public transport to go to the centre because it was fast and cheap. Also, Qatar introduced visa free travel for a number of countries, including Croatia, so entering Qatar was hassle free.


Second leg of the trip: Doha – Singapore, 1 January 2018, Qatar Airways QR 946

Aircraft: Airbus A350-941, A7-ALB
Age: 2 years

This leg of the trip was also a QR flight and I was looking forward to it because it would be the first time for me on an A350. This flight was full and passengers were a mix of Europeans and Asians. I asked for a window seat and was assigned 32A. Leg room was better than on the A320, but it’s what you would expect from a wide-body aircraft. Service was again standard with two meal services - one was a snack and the second one was a full meal. What surprised me was that we got metal silverware (when I last flew with QR 2 years ago it was plastic). Since it was an overnight flight most passengers spent it sleeping, including myself. IFE was through personal touch screens that were somewhat bigger than on A320 but not much. The choice of programmes was great. Arrival to Singapore was on time, and border formalities were quite easy and hassle free. Overall experience on QR was great. I had flown with them before and would do it again. The one-way ticket ZAG – DOH – SIN was 460 euro. I can definitely recommend it because of their competitive price and great service.


Third leg of the trip: Singapore – Sydney, 3 January 2018, Scoot TR2

Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, 9V-OJA
Age: 3 years

After spending 2 days in Singapore sightseeing and eating the best pineapple in my file it was time for the next leg of the trip. While I was planning this trip I was considering two options for reaching Sydney – one was Air Asia and the other one was Scoot. Both offered the same price and legacy carriers were not an option because their prices were double (Singapore Airlines, QANTAS). I decided on Scoot because I was a bit apprehensive about Air Asia and their safety record. Scoot is owned by SIA and operates from Changi Airport’s Terminal 2. Singapore Airport was a positive surprise when it comes to prices. Water was 1 euro, and food prices were same as downtown Zagreb. This just goes to prove that airports don’t have to be expensive and that prices at Zagreb Airport are ridiculous. Flight to Sydney departed at 2 am so everyone spent most of the flight sleeping. The flight was full and most of the passengers were Australian. For this flight I decided to pay extra to get a window seat because I sleep better if I can lean on the wall, and also I wanted to secure the view. I reserved seat 22A and was very happy with my choice. Leg room was standard for economy. Since Scoot is an LCC all services were extra and I decided I didn’t need any. Also, Scoot doesn’t offer seatback IFE, but you can stream content to your own device at an extra cost. The flight was smooth so I arrived to Sydney rested and ready to explore the city. The ticket price was 250 euro (no check in baggage) which I think is an excellent price considering it was a long-haul flight. My experience with Scoot was very positive and would definitely recommend it.


Fourth leg of the trip: Sydney – Honolulu, 6 January 2018, Jetstar Airways JQ3

Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, VH-VKB
Age: 4 years


After 3 days in Sydney it was time to continue the journey. For the flight to Honolulu I decided on Jetstar and the price was a decisive factor again. At 315 euro for a one way ticket this was a no brainer since QANTAS' or Hawaiian's best price was 500 euro. Before the trip, I read a lot of reviews that said that Jetstar's product is quite bad, that they have a lot of cancellations, and that the on board product is not very good. My experience was quite the opposite. Flight left Sydney on time, seats and leg room were standard economy, there was seatback IFE (although at an additional cost of 7 euro), cabin crew was welcoming and helpful. The only thing that is true is that aisles are narrower than with other airlines so everyone in an aisle seat has to be very careful where their arms and legs are during meal service. Jetstar is an LCC so basic price includes only carry-on luggage. I decided to pay extra only for seat reservation and I opted for an aisle seat (since it was almost a 10 hour flight I wanted to have an option of stretching my legs) – 45D. The flight was full and 90% of passengers were Australians going to Hawaii on vacation. Once again I can say that the flight was good and that I would recommend Jetstar to others. One interesting thing about this flight is that it left Sydney in the afternoon of January 6, and it arrived in Honolulu in the early morning of January 6. Because we crossed the International Date Line I got to experience the same day twice.


Fifth leg of the trip: Honolulu – Los Angeles, 8 January 2018, Virgin America VX1060

Aircraft: Airbus A321-253N, N921VA
Age: brand new


Three days in Hawaii were great and after a lot of sightseeing and enjoying summer in January it was time to continue the journey. After studying all the possibilities of flying from HNL to LAX, I decided on Virgin America again because of the price but scheduling also. Prices between HNL and LAX vary on a daily basis. The one-way ticket was 200 euro (prices for the day before were around 300 euro), and the flight departed HNL at 11 pm and arrived in LAX at 6:30 am the next day. This gave me the chance of spending the whole day in Honolulu before heading to the airport. HNL is quite an interesting airport since there are no doors and whole sections of the airport like walkways between gates have only roofs but no windows. Virgin America aircraft was brand new and I was looking forward to experiencing the A321neo. Virgin America has free seat assignment so I choose a window seat during the booking process – 22F. All seats have seatback IFE through which you can order free drinks and snacks. Leg room was standard, seats comfortable for the 5 hour flight, red LED lighting nice, cabin crew professional. This was yet another comfortable flight, and I must say I’m sorry that the Virgin America brand has since disappeared as it was integrated with Alaska Airlines.


Sixth leg of the trip: Los Angeles – Stockholm, 12 January 2018, Norwegian DY7088

Aircraft: Boeing B747-4H6 (Wamos Air), EC-MQK
Age: 19 years

After spending a few days visiting friends in LA and doing some sightseeing it was time for the final part of the journey and to return home. My original plan was to fly from LA to London and then to Zagreb but while I was researching my options I came across an offer by Norwegian and it was too good to miss. Norwegian offer was 189 euro for one way ticket Los Angeles - Stockholm - Zagreb. Naturally, I bought the ticket. I was also looking forward to flying with Norwegian because I haven’t had a chance to before. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to experience Norwegian service. When you make a lot of flights in a short period of time it is only natural that delays will happen. I’m only glad it happened on the last leg of the journey. Before going to the airport I checked the flight status and saw that there was a 5 hour delay. Since I had a rental car I went to the airport, found a Norwegian representative, got a boarding card, found out that the flight would be delayed for 8 hours and that I will miss my connecting flight to Zagreb. I decided to do some more sightseeing around the airport. Flight to Stockholm departed at 2 am on January 13 (original departure was 6 pm on January 12). All passengers were given a $15 voucher to buy food and drinks. LAX's new International terminal is a real improvement compared to the old one, passengers have a lot of food and shopping options, and the facilities are very modern. When it finally came time to board the plane, it was done by buses. The aircraft was on a distant parking position and it was a 747 by Wamos Air. I found out later that they do a lot of work for Norwegian and that our original aircraft was pulled out of traffic because of engine problems (Norwegian has had a lot of problems with Rolls Royce engines on their Dreamliners). Since the 747 has more seats than a 787 I had a whole a row to myself – 64A. The 10 hour flight was comfortable and I am glad I got the opportunity to fly a 747-400 because they are becoming a rare sight in the sky, but flying an old plane like this has its drawbacks. The cabin was old and needed a good cleaning; also there was no IFE, and no running water in the toilets. One good thing was that all passengers got free meal service. Upon arrival to Stockholm I contacted the transfer desk and got a flight schedule for the next day. Because the delay was Norwegian's fault they paid for my hotel and ticket to Zagreb for the next day.


Final leg of the trip: Stockholm – Copenhagen – Zagreb, 14 January 2018

1. Stockholm – Copenhagen, SAS SK1415, Aircraft: A320-251N, SE-ROE (brand new)
2. Copenhagen –Zagreb, Croatia Airlines OU 481, Aircraft: A319-112, 9A-CTL (17 years)

This final leg was originally supposed to be a direct Norwegian flight ARN-ZAG, but because I missed my connection Norwegian rerouted me to ZAG via CPH.

The first flight was operated by SAS and the aircraft was a brand new A320neo so the cabin was nice and clean. There were only around 30 passengers on this early morning flight (it was Sunday and this is obviously a flight for business people). Cabin was fitted with slim seats, leg room was standard, and the service included free tea, coffee and water. The flight time was 1 hour.



Second flight was Croatia Airlines from CPH to ZAG. The flight was full because of the Handball Championship in Croatia. I asked for a window seat and was assigned with 12F. Departure was on time, flight was comfortable, leg room standard, but the service has gone down compared to my previous flights with CTN. One drink service was free and every passenger got a small snack (couple of tiny cuts of pancetta and crackers) – I know that airlines are cutting down costs and I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular but I have a feeling that the packaging costs more than the snack. Still, whenever I can I like traveling with CTN (I think it’s because I like hearing announcements in Croatian).


This whole 2 week trip around the world was an amazing experience. I’m happy I got to experience flying on aircraft I haven’t before. All the airlines I’ve flown with have treated me good, and I would recommend them without hesitation. Finally, I proved you don’t need to carry a lot with you because all I had was my backpack.


Share your travel experience by submitting a trip report to exyu@exyuaviation.com

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed the report. Good routing and interesting airlines. At least you got to experience the A320neo twice :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great trip! Thanks for the report.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can just say WOOOOW

    ReplyDelete
  4. I chose to fly on a 747-400 too recently because like you I realised it could be my last chance.

    What surprised me was how loud (pleasantly loud :) ) she was on takeoff compared to what we are used to now.

    Great report!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Vec sam pisao i ranije da ZAG-DOH sa dva dnevna leta ima slabu popunjenost na jednom letu(nekad prvi nekad drugi). A ovde se uporno prica kako Qatar sprema uvesti 787...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe loads weren't good because it was New Year?

      Delete
    2. No wonder the airline stopped sending anything larger than A320.

      Delete
    3. Ne, drugi dnevni let je konstantno oko 50% do maksimalnih 70% u retkim situacijama i to uglavnom economy class. Qatar ima visak aviona zbog toga sto ne moze da ih uposli u Saud. Arabiji, UAE... pa ih mora slati negde. Dodatna stvar im je to sto EK leti za Zagreb i tako sa dva dnevna leta drze konkurentnost. Inace bi odavno ukinuli taj jedan.

      Delete
  6. I koliki je na kraju otprilike bio ukupan trošak?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Avio karte 1500 eura. Nadao sam se da cu proci jeftinije ali dani oko nove godine su i inace dosta skupi, a meni je jedino taj termin odgovarao radi posla. Na smjestaj sam potrosio jos 300 eura sve skupa.

      Delete
  7. Good choice of cities and airlines.
    I also totally agree about Singapore which has not been chosen as the best airport in the world for so many years without a reason. The overall experience at Changi airport is amazing and normal pricing of food and drinks (and everthyng else) just adds on top of that.

    At aprox. 1400€ price tag for all the flights I don't find it particularly cheap, especially considering that most of the flights were LCCs with no baggage included. Maybe it would have been worth considering some open-jaw ticket combinations, which can sometimes be a lot cheaper than one way tickets

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that the final expence was somewhat high but than again it were almost all long haul flights and I did choose the cheapest possible options. Regular airline tickets were double the price and on some sectors even more. When it comes to baggage I'm glad I only had carry on because it makes your life so much easyer

      Delete
  8. tnx for sharing love those stories

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

EX-YU Aviation News does not tolerate insults, excessive swearing, racist, homophobic or any other chauvinist remarks or provocative posts with the intention of creating further arguments. A full list of comment guidelines can be found here. Thank you for your cooperation.