My husband and I are on what we consider the “trip of a lifetime.” It took us 28 hours to get to New Zealand from the states, maybe more. Some would say with the time difference it took us two days. I kind of stopped counting after the 3 hour delay at LAX and the 2 missed connections in Sydney and Auckland. But that was so last week and I wasn’t going to write about it because we are here for 3 weeks and loving the trip which I promise to share — but first — getting to New Zealand is not a small effort and worth talking about. Assuming a journey this far could be seamless is foolhardy but we adventure traveling humans tend to be optimists so we don’t normally plan for set backs. But this time we did — a little.
It was the packing challenge that gave us control over the chao and the small window of one short night to arrive in Queenstown before our 2 week group trip began. However, if we lost our luggage, we would be screwed. So began the carry on packing challenge but a worthwhile one. We must have re-packed our suitcases 4x until everything fit. And that’s as much as we could get control over.
But it was not smooth sailing from the moment we arrived at LAX and tried to check into our flight that was moved to a midnight departure from 9 pm that we hadn’t secured our Australian and New Zealand visas.
“Just go to the App store and download the NZ Visa app and get going because it’s going to take you a bit,” said the check-in attendant with raised eyebrows.
“We’ve seen this happen all the time but you have to get this done ASAP — good thing your flight is delayed.”
Bill and I were totally thrown and began a manic pathetic attempt at scanning our passports with our I-phones and filling out forms on our phones as the clock was ticking til boarding time.
Desperately we pleaded, maybe begged for help and raced back and forth to the check-in person but we were on our own.
Seinfeld would have had a field day with us. We resisted “losing it” and kept our focus.
“Bill, how did we not do this before we got to the airport — how come Delta didn’t give us a heads up, why didn’t the travel company tell us?” These questions were all useless and the truth is — we should have known.
But then Bingo, we completed the form and it was accepted and the response was —- “Wait — this could take 2 hours.” We didn’t have two hours.
Thirty minutes later, miraculously we got the Visa for Australia and prayed we would have New Zealand by the time we landed but we had what we needed to check in. Exhausted, we boarded our flight at 12:45 am.
The next 15 hours were heavenly. Bill had secured us beds and the Delta service was awesome. We drank and ate and slept and had coffee and, I finished my book and watched an incredible movie. But, we knew because of our delay we would miss our connection to Queenstown but there was nothing to be done til we landed.
I do have a fantastic movie to recommend for BA50s which we saw on the flight….The Good House with Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline. (Click here to see the trailer).
The movie took place in a fishing village North of Boston and although we’ve seen a few great films from that corner of the state, this one is a keeper and I bet soon to be a classic Rom Com especially for BA50s. It dealt with alcoholism, loneliness, family stress and love and that may not sound fun but it was totally well done and entertaining and great acting!
It was early morning when we landed in Sydney and the chaos began again. A Delta agent met us and assured us the flight they switched us to, despite a short 50 minute layover in Aukland, would get us there in time.
It didn’t .
We grabbed out bags in Auckland and walked over a mile to the domestic terminal in 90 degree humidity and arrived at our gate as the door closed.
“Wait, we are on that flight, did the door JUST close, can you please ask the flight people if we can get on it — we were promised we would get on this flight.” Sophie , the gate keeper in charge was having none of this. She assured us we were NOT getting on the flight which we could see was just sitting there.
Weary, grouchy, and unclear what our options were we felt stranded.
Alas, this is what they talk about when they say travel can be grueling.
“Well, perhaps you can help us figure this one out. What CAN we do as our group trip leaves tomorrow at 8 am and we have to get to Queenstown tonight.”
“Sorry we have no flights,” said Sophie.
I looked at Bill as my neck started getting hotter.
The peaceful lull of our overseas 15 hour flight had worn thin and left us frayed.
“Are you sure there’s no other flight tonight?” we were nervous Sophie was holding out on us. She was a very grumpy lady.
But then like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat Sophie tapped away at the keys and without saying much printed out 2 tickets for a flight that would leave in 2 hours.
“Here you go, but you know those are not carry-ons, you will have to go through security again and check those bags.”
I really didn’t like Sophie at all.
“It’s a small plane and those weigh more than 7 kilos.”
That was true – they were unavoidably overstuffed.
And so we looped back through security after checking our bags and sat and sat and sat at the gate where now Sophie was the gate agent – just our luck. And that flight was delayed 2 hours because cruelly, they were waiting for passengers to arrive from another flight.
“Bitch, she wouldn’t wait for us but she’s making us wait for those other people.”
Childish rantings were kept to a whisper and finally we boarded and luckily I got seated next to Murray,
a character straight out of The Hobbit.
And then the fun began as our plane floated across the pink skies of the South Island, over the mountains and lakes and glaciers whose names and geology Murray colorfully shared.
We had finally arrived at 10 pm, in time for a quick sleep and to begin our tour of the most magical country of New Zealand. But as I said — this chaos was so last week.