I always thought that if I had a 3am wake up call I would stay up until 3am and then make my way to the airport. Always much easier said that done as I am nodding off at 2am in my travelling clothes and clumsily setting an alarm for 50 minutes later. We are testing out the first Aerolineas Argentinas direct flight from Buenos Aires to Sydney whereas previously, flights stopped at Auckland, New Zealand. The reason why they fly so early is because it serves as a feeder route to Asian routes so passengers need to reach Sydney in time for connecting flights.
At the airport we notice that some people choose to have their bags wrapped to protect them from damage (about $70AR/$16AUD per bag). We are on a Airbus 300-200 which is an older plane than the previous one and makes up much of Aerolineas's fleet. There are 32 business class seats and over 200 economy seats and there are just eight people in the business class cabin (there is no first class cabin on this flight). We are offered newspapers (Spanish and English) and magazines (Spanish only) and a juice. At this hour, the first meal that will be offered to us is breakfast.
Breakfast consists of cornflakes, milk or yogurt, fruit salad, a choice of croissant, pain au chocolat and square fat bread with a small pot of dulce de leche. I try one of the warm pain au chocolat which isn't too bad. The square fat bread is light almost like a non buttery puff pastry inside.
A hot dish is offered and it is a choice of a gouda cheese omelette with grilled tomato and mushrooms or croque monsieur and remembering the odd eggs on the other route, I choose the croque monsieur which appears to be layers of triangle bread, cheese and ham baked together as a slightly dry savoury bread pudding.
It is time to sleep as it is now about 6:30am and we haven't gone to bed apart from a 45 minute nap between 2am-2:50am. For me, business class is only really worth the money if there is a lie flat bed as you can actually enjoy a good stretch of sleep without twisting and contorting yourself into all sorts of weird positions.
These seats recline less than other business class seats and the leg rests only extend up a very small amount. The seats recline at a 45 degree angle which makes it less than ideal for restless sleepers. But perhaps that's when the early hour helps because all of us conk out immediately.
Eight hours later, a flight attendant is shaking me awake. "Would you like lunch?" he asks and I ask how long we have left for the flight. "Seven hours" he answers and I shake my head at lunch. Everyone around us being woken up are unsure as to what the logic is behind waking sleeping people for a meal seven hours before we land as two or three hours before landing seems a bit more logical with snacks offered in between. Waking up again when the food is being collected I am offered lunch again and I take up the offer.
The first course is a green salad with bresaola, bocconcini and cherry tomatoes with a balsamic and olive oil dressing. They really do love their beef here and the salad is welcome although quite a few parts of the salad leaves are brown. The juicy, sweet cherry tomatoes are my favourite part of the salad. It is served with two bread rolls, a white and a wholemeal, as well as butter.
The hot course is a choice between salmon poele in white wine sauce served with rice and vegetable ragout or Argentinian beef with new potatoes, grilled chicken and mini chorizo with chimmichurri. Yep, three types of meat in one dish-they love their meat! The sausage is on the fatty side but it's tasty although not the sort of chorizo that we are used to with garlic and chilli. It is milder and more aromatic with herbs here. The chicken is very dry so I leave this and the beef has large gristly bits throughout the centre as you might be able to see but other parts aren't too bad although the beef is cooked until well done as expected.
Dessert is a cheese plate with four types of cheese (gruyere, gouda, brie and edam) with black grapes, some rather desiccated carrot sticks, walnuts and prunes. The fruit and dried fruit is very welcome as I crave things other than meat while the cheese and crackers are also enjoyed.
We now have about six hours left and I try one of the movies. Entertainment really isn't a strength of Aerolineas Argentinas flights and there are two movies on rotation with sizeable breaks in between and they are not on demand so you just have to keep your screen on to find out when the next movie starts. Channel 1 shows the dubbed version of the movie and channel two the original version. The business class headphones are of your regular economy class style and it would have been good if the movies were coordinated to when meals are served as several people in the cabin had nothing to do once they finished their meal as none of the cabin lights would work so they weren't able to read. I watch half of Hugo before falling asleep again and waking up two hours before landing feeling surprisingly refreshed.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you always wake up for meals or do you try and sleep through them?
NQN tested out the flight as a guest of SkyTeam and Aerolineas Argentinas