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June 14th 2015
Published: October 22nd 2015
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We touched down in Dubai just after midnight local time. Our flight was on time which was a relief as the last time we flew via Dubai we circled for ages due to congestion. With only one hour twenty to make our way through Dubai Airport to our Qantas connection to Melbourne we really didn't have any time to spare!

We de-planed and commenced our epic journey through the metropolis that is Dubai International Airport. Even though we didn't have to change terminals it took nearly all of the time that we had to hike and ride from our arrival gate to our departure gate! I don't think it's possible to transit through Dubai without having to ride the train between gates? By the time that we finally arrived at the gate our Qantas flight was departing from boarding was already well underway so we pretty much continued through the gate lounge and straight onto the plane. Sweet!

We had barely stowed our hand luggage and taken our seats when the flight attendants commenced their pre-flight checks so we started to get a bit excited about the possibility of departing right on time, if not slightly ahead of schedule. It was also looking like we would be continuing onto Melbourne with no-one in the seat beside me, no-one in the seat in front of me AND the seat behind be unoccupied as well. The Captain made his announcement for the flight crew to do the cross check and it looked like we were going to be good to go.

So, as our departure time came ... and went ... the good news was that the surrounding seats remained unoccupied. The bad news was that the Captain announced over the PA that there was a problem getting the flight's cargo manifest signed off. He assured us though, that it should only take another five minutes and we would be on our way.

Groan! We hadn't had time to buy and consume any water on our way through the airport so we were both feeling parched. The water fountain was just behind us so, after another passenger had used it to fill a water bottle, Bernie slipped out of his seat and dispensed a glass of water for each of us. And then, as we continued to wait for our flight's cargo clearance, another glass each.

About 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time the Captain announced that there was a problem with the computer system that Qantas uses to sign off on the cargo. He explained that the flight couldn't leave without the signed-off loading sheet as it provides all of the data on the plane's load that is then used to 'trim' the plane in flight. So, he said, the European IT people were in contact with the Sydney-based IT people and hoping to sort out the problem in the next 10-15 minutes.

Ho-hum, another 20 minutes (or so) later and the Captain announced that the Amadeus system - that half the world's airlines use for their passenger and cargo manifests - had crashed world-wide and he couldn't really say when our loading sheet would be available!! So the flight crew unbuckled themselves and served us the snack that we were supposed to be eating after our flight was actually underway. The ground crew also hooked us back up to the terminal air conditioning which was a relief as the plane's air conditioning was struggling to keep the plane cool sitting on the tarmac in Dubai.

Eventually, after far too long cooped up on a plane going nowhere, the Captain was back on the PA to say that he finally had the load sheet and we were good to go BUT, obviously, we had missed our departure slot AND there were a lot of other planes that had been delayed with the same problem so we would now have to wait for air traffic control to find us a departure slot!! Ugh!

Finally, finally! we were pushed away from the airbridge and we commenced taxiing out to the runway where we joined a seemingly endless queue of aeroplanes awaiting their clearance to take-off. At long last we made it into the air some two hours after our scheduled departure time. Hopefully Kerry is going to be tracking our flight and will adjust her trip to the airport to collect us accordingly?? Although the Captain is hopeful about making up some time in flight this seems unlikely. There is so much congestion over the Middle East, due to all of the delayed flights, that he has advised that it will be some time yet before we reach cruising altitude.

After all of the problems getting underway the rest of the flight was, thankfully, uneventful. We didn't make up much time though and our Melbourne arrival time slipped from 8.55pm to after 10.30pm. Even though Kerry was tracking our flight she still had a bit of a wait for us because they kept changing the flight's ETA. This late arrival wasn't such a problem for me, but Kerry and Bernie are fronting up for work in the morning!!

I think that, technically, it might have been very early on Monday before we actually arrived home to two ecstatic Golden Retrievers who'd had a long day on their own. Another epic homeward bound journey. At least this time it didn't involve an unscheduled detour via Singapore!!

Steps for the day 4,949 (3.37 kms)

We covered a lot of ground on foot during this holiday. Our total steps for the entire holiday amounted to 818,898 steps (558.32 kms). To put that in perspective - not quite El Camino Santiago, but we could have completed the Mont Blanc Circuit three times or the Larapinta Trail - to Mount Sonder and back again to Alice Springs - with about 100km to spare!

As usual we have returned home to start counting down to our next holiday. Only 251 days until we fly to Santiago to commence the Best of South America & the Galapagos Islands tour/cruise (plus a Patagonian add-on!) with Bunnik Tours.


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