It seemed like the universe was trying its best to keep me from New Zealand, first with health problems, then with travel hurdles. On the day of the trip I had both a cold and a migraine, but managed to find those quiet lounges hidden away in airports for executives and for surprisingly small amounts of money, was able to rest in them, take medicine, get water and food, etc. Priority economy class allowed me to skip security lines and preboard, at a time when it was extremely helpful. Sometimes throwing $$ at things actually does help…
But nothing was going to get me around my cancelled flight to New Zealand. Apparently a cyclone was hitting Fiji (where I was routed through) and the entire 727 was being diverted onto Qantas – an airline I initially hadn’t chosen because it was so expensive. Unfortunately they were routing us through Sydney – and our huge planeload of people quickly filled up all the Sydney to Auckland flights on yet a third airline, who had no real interest in our story of woe and thus was not particularly helpful.
Thanks to my early arrival in LAX, I managed to snag a flight with “only” six hours layover in Sydney. Some people weren’t so lucky, nor were the people just trying to transfer to their own flights standing behind us at the Sydney international transit desk. I have to say, Sydney is ranking right up there with the worst airports I’ve ever been in, along with Heathrow and Houston. The restaurants were actually quite impressively good (oysters, caviar, and sushi), but there’s not an airline representative to be found to answer any questions, and the layout is sprawling, confusing, under construction, and extremely noisy. But, after some excellent espresso and a good lunch, the last vestiges of my migraine finally disappeared and the cold was tailing off.
Along with various other baffled customers just trying to get to Auckland, we eventually located the right gate and found out how to get our boarding passes (a story all its own). Finally on the plane – only to encounter thunderstorms and be in a holding pattern on the ground for about an hour. I thought we would never get there, and worried quite a bit about the B&B people who had arranged to meet me at the airport, as it was getting now ever later at night.
However, the quite comfortable Air New Zealand plane finally took off, and finally landed, and I got through customs easily thanks to the excellent instructions of my guides, and it turned out that they appreciated my late arrival because it was the birthday of my hostess. They had planned a fancy dinner out, which the original arrival time of my rerouted flight would have disrupted, but since it was late, the timing was perfect. They checked in advance, happily enjoyed their excellent meal, and picked me up just at the right time.
I slept wonderfully at what seemed like my usual bedtime, and it appears that I’m all adjusted, time-wise, due to the gradual 36-hr travel process. Today I spent most of the day walking in the beautiful parks of Auckland, getting an early start on my bird list. The B&B has an amazing view of the Harbor and is well located for restaurants, etc.
All’s well that ends well! Neither cold nor migraine, nor cyclones or thunderstorms could keep me from my appointed vacation :)