Over the years, I have flown a lot – mainly between Sydney and Frankfurt or Sydney and San Francisco. Today, for the first time in a long time, I had a flight with Qantas from Sydney to San Francisco. And I must say: it was the most productive and most comfortable economy flight I had in a long time.
This is gonna feel awkward, since it’s not one of my usual technical posts. But I just have to say “Thank you” to Qantas. When I fly to the US, I tend to catch a US airline because they usually turn up as the cheapest. This time, Qantas was the second cheapest, so I decided to spend the extra hundred bucks on getting a modern airline. Yes, get that US airlines: no matter which of you I take, I always feel like I am thrown back into the last century. Legspace is rare, seats are uncomfortable, food is crap, service is poor, oh … and have you ever heard of personal entertainment screens? Yes, I know, your planes are from the last century. But honestly: I had a personal entertainment screen on my Singapore Airlines flight when coming to Australia for the first time in 1998! Couldn’t you at least upgrade the inside of your planes?
Anyway, back to this flight. It all started with the question: would you like to sit in the centre isle in front of the baby bassinet? Oh, I usually take a window seat to get some peace and quiet – but hey, I’m not going to say “no” to space! And, man did I use it!
I settled in with a good book and a little nap until the first meal and after that felt strengthened and awake enough to start hacking. With my new MacBook Pro, I was bound to get a few hours in before the battery would die on me. Not the 7 hours, that Apple claims, but that’s because I was going to do lots of compiles of Firefox. Anyway – without a seat in front of me, without the personal entertainment screen pulled out, and with the nice thick cushion that Qantas supply on my lap, protecting me from the laptop heat, I almost felt like I was back home in my living room.
On top of that – and unfortunately for Qantas, but fortunately for me – the plane was only two thirds full, so I had the middle seat on my left empty, which I immediately used to extend my table space. I had continuing catering service for the next 4-5 hours of compiling, applying OggK patches to the new Chris Double Firefox codebase, and fixing compile errors (all configuration based – I have yet to get to writing actual code). Ongoing catering service, no need to cook for myself, uninterrupted coding time, good music from the inflight entertainment service – I think I’ll move my office into a Qantas plane! Not been this productive in ages!
Everywhere around me the lights were out, people were watching movies, but I was working and really enjoying it. And then, the battery was empty, half way into the flight. Bummer! But I didn’t give up this easily. Thought it’d be worth asking if there was a way to recharge without occupying a toilet for two hours. And as with everything else, Qantas inflight personnel made an extra effort to please: they found me a empty seat in business class and hooked up the laptop for an hour to recharge. Totally, utterly awesome! I got it back after another nice reading break – cannot start watching movies, since that makes the brain go mash. I got another few hours of compiling in before my body forced me to catch a few hours of sleep.
Now, I’m about an hour away from San Fran and the laptop claims 40min of power left. Funnily, that number seems to go up rather than down, so I’m sure it will last until arrival (uh! It’s now at 1:24min – oh, compilation just finished!). Hopefully I will be able to find out, why some of the Ogg Theora/Vorbis/Kate videos that I created using kateenc and oggz-merge don’t play in the patched Firefox. After all, it would be awesome to be able to show it off in the upcoming HTML5 Video Accessibility workshop!