After spending a few days in upstate New York, USA, I finally headed home on Saturday, 22 Nov 2008. The story started at New York John F Kennedy International Airport where I boarded Cathay Pacific flagship Boeing 777-300ER for the 13,000km, 16-hr flight to Hong Kong, nonstop over the North Pole. That’d be fun!
Saturday, 22 Nov 2008
The day breaks at JFK Terminal 7, Cathay Pacific’s home in New York. (Trivia: JFK has 9 terminals!).
At Gate 3, BA172 is ready to leave for London Heathrow.
I soon find my way into a Boeing 777-300-ER, operating as flight CX841, JFK-HKG nonstop.
They have this bulky seatbelt …
… which is in fact an airbag. Yeah, I feel safer but the thick and heavy contraption makes wearing the belt a tad less comfy.
The seats next to me at economy. Pretty good.
View across the cabin.
Next to us, BA172, a Boeing 747-400, lumbers towards Runway 31L, as a sibling also flies back to the UK.
I love the Blues, all at Terminal 5. I’m told they rebuilt a new one at the site of the old classic TWA terminal. Last night I came in from Syracuse with jetBlue into this modernist terminal. Good airline.
Can’t get enough of the Blue … especially after Red overdose here in Malaysia.
We stroll past the iconic JFK control tower.
Traffic jam for Runway 31L at a very busy JFK. We are #15 in the queue, and this is a typical day at the office.
Take-off at last, and a view of more JFK terminals.
From JFK Runway 31L, the plane climbs steeply which gives a great view of Manhattan …
… while making a tight 270-degree loop to the left (over the Atlantic Ocean), before crossing Long Island for the north.
The plane heads north and soon passes over Labrador City in Newfoundland, Canada.
And this is the wild northeastern tip of Canada. Beautiful!
A while later we hit the Baffin Sea.
Brunch is served and soon after, I’m given this handy pouch, …
… and inside - water, an apple, and dried fruit - to munch before the next meal, which is several hours away.
As folks settle down for the long journey, I go to the galley at the back to stretch some muscles and to chat up the amois.
This has to be Inuit and Polar Bear territory.
The sea is beginning to freeze.
Ice floes can be clearly seen.
Further north as it gets colder, the floes come in larger pieces.
And even further up north, the noon sun sinks lower above the horizon.
It gets darker as we go deeper into the Arctic Circle, where in winter, the sun never rises. It’s early afternoon local time.
Yes, we are virtually at the North Pole, after squeezing in between Greenland and Baffin Island.
How cold is it out there 32,000ft above the Pole?
What my own GPS tells me - we are at almost 90 degrees North. Just 2.5 degrees short of the North Pole.
My own (maroon) GPS trace just before we glance the North Pole, till the Mongolian border.
Zooming in, and our nearest position to the North Pole is just 280km away.
So six hours after leaving JFK, the plane is within sight of the North Pole, and barely 10 hrs after that …
… it lands safely on time at HKG at 2.15pm, 23rd Nov 2008.
We duly park next to a plane just fresh in from Tel Aviv.
Traversed route as shown after landing at HKG.
Biz class of CX841 B773ER, end of flight at HKG.
An hour after landing at Hong Kong, I board a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur. Sunset over Melaka Straits, from flight CX721, a Boeing 777-200, as we approach KUL.
On finals for runway 32L, KL International Airport.
Touch down at runway 32L, from onboard cam.
Time to disembark after being away from home for 9 days!
> THE END