Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Australia: Traveling

I wanted to share a couple of stories about my flights to and from Australia, just because its not every day I spend 20 hours by myself on a plane.

If I was nervous about anything to do with this trip, it was traveling by myself and being "in charge" of my money and passport. Chris has always handled all of that when we travel together. But thankfully everything turned out just fine.

I flew Air New Zealand. I was assigned a middle seat for my flight to Auckland. Chris recommended I try to upgrade my seat when I checked in because, really, who wants a middle seat. I checked in, to find that I was only allowed a 15 lb carry on bag, mine weighted 20. Size had nothing to do with it. So I urgently shuffled some stuff into my back pack and checked my luggage (first bag was free so it was all good). Then when I inquired about upgrading she said there were aisle seats available and I could move my seat for free. In fact, she put me in a premium seat (the front row of the economy section so I had double the leg room)!

When I got on the plane, it looked like I would have an entire middle row to myself - that's a lot of leg room! But before we took off, the mother with a two year old sleeping across her entire body had asked the flight attendant if she could switch with me so her son could lay down in the middle two seats. I being a mother of a two-year old who would never sleep on a flight had to say yes, of course. Please take it all. I ended up getting a window seat in the premium row with an empty seat next to me. It was really perfect. Then, as a "thank-you for being human" gift, the attendant brought me noise-canceling headphones from first class and ear plugs, "just in case." Score!

I watched a movie, "Pitch Perfect 2," ate my dinner and went to sleep. I think I actually slept pretty well because the flight didn't seem to take as long as I had expected (it was still 13 hours). I had a 3 hour layover in Auckland before flying another 4 hours to Melbourne.

The flight to Melbourne was pretty uneventful. I had an aisle seat and they fed me breakfast. I watched "The Book Thief" and read my book "Love Does." Customs and baggage claim went well enough. I had to ask a few people for help because the kiosk for customs didn't like my passport, but the customs officer was wonderful (although did not crack a smile at all).

The flight from Sydney to Auckland was also uneventful, and seemed short in comparison to the long day ahead. I had planned it that way because I knew if I had flown to LA and then had to connect to SFO, I would have gone insane. I would have been so close, yet hours away. This way felt more direct somehow. I used my layovers to journal and read; that little screen is too distracting for me to do that on the plane.

My flight to SFO was delayed 30 minutes which felt like terrible news . . . I hated to have to wait at all. I had an aisle seat on the flight to San Francisco, which was exactly what I wanted. I hate asking other people if I can go to the bathroom -- especially if I'm feeling nervous and have to go every hour. (That didn't end up happening, but I was concerned. Also note, that if you are in a middle seat next to me, I give you plenty of opportunities to do the same!) The couple next to me seemed nice although they watched their TV screen the entire time which I found annoying when I tried to sleep. I had left my neck pillow in the Aukland airport, so sleeping was a little more uncomfortable for more than just that reason. I ended up watching more TV than I had planned on.

I have never really minded airplane food, and I was surprised by how often I was fed. It seemed like I was given 4 full meals on my travel days and then water refills throughout the flight. I was stuffed.

I arrived at SFO and didn't have any problems with customs. Baggage claim took nearly 45 minutes which again felt like terrible news, just hurry up already! Finally my bags came, then I got to walk the long hallway out into the greeting area where this tall handsome man waved and pointed me out to the tiny little guy at his knee. William didn't spot me for a moment or two and when he did, a tiny smile crept on his face and he mouthed the word "mama" and then looked up at Chris. I burst into tears and swooped down to gather him in my arms saying "Yes, baby, I'm mama. Mama's here." He replied, "Mama, airport." And home we went talking about airports and airplanes and flying in the sky.

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