Trip Reports

now browsing by category

 

Trip Report: To Kansas for BBQ – Kansas City to Seattle

After winding my way fairly slowly from the downtown core out into the suburbs north of the city to the airport it was a stark contrast to living back west. The area was just flat, way flat. I would of loved to of gotten a chance to go out running in warmer weather here as I am sure I could get some decent times on the flat ground. I stopped to fill the car and in the process while doing so I tried ever so hard not to fall over and kill myself in the gas station car park as it was covered in ice and snow. Add on some gasoline and you have a lovely slushy mixture of slipperiness. I was going to miss this city, it wasn’t at all as bleak or as desolate as I expected. The people were great and the city itself was a unique twist of old and new. I had to come back.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I dropped the car off at the rental lot, waving bye bye to another awesome 300C experience. I was going to miss being National Executive, I was considering buying the membership for $50, as it did feel worth it. Right after dropping off the car and making my way back inside into the warmth, the shuttle was boarding full of people so I had barely stopped for a few moments before I was on my way again. Back to the terminal and starting to begin my journey home. Kansas City airport is made up of 3 horseshoe shaped terminals and I was heading to a terminal that was shared with Delta, Alaska & Southwest. Stupidly I got off at the wrong end and had to walk the entire horse shoe, all the way to the other end where Alaska was right next to Delta. I was on the hunt for a good place to leave behind an AirlineReporter sticker so had a few spaces in mind.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I checked in pretty quickly and was handed a boarding pass and pointed towards security. While the terminals were fairly small it meant that once you clear security there really isn’t that much at all. I had not even thought about the half bottle of water I had in my bag when I got into the security line… rookie mistake! It took a good 10 minutes to get through the security check point. Not that there was many people ahead of me (about 5) but that they just took forever! Why is it when I am in the midwest I get stuck at security. But then I got myself stuck because I forgot to empty my water bottle. Even bigger rookie mistake!

From Kansas City BBQ Run

So I took my walk of shame after the security agent (not the TSA) brought my water bottle back to me empty, although he pointed me towards where I could fill it up (funnily enough right where he just emptied it). I went towards the gate and then a very familiar accent started making annoucements to gate check bags free of charge. Figuring that I could now offload some stuff for free and dodge a bag fee, well… who was I to say no to that! So I gate checked my bag and turns out the Delta agent working the Alaska gate was actually an Aussie from Brisbane (well the Gold Coast really). Totally wierd to run into a fellow Aussie in the middle of no where almost. Both of us a LOOOONG way from home. I settled in with a gate checked bag tag while I moved some stuff around to make sure that I had a light backpack for the flight. I even managed to stash a AR Sticker somewhere in the terminal while I was waiting for my flight.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Alaska Airlines – AS759
Kansas City International to Seattle Tacoma
1645-1830
Boeing 737-800 (N558AS)
Economy Class – Seat 29F

Boarding: 1605 (Gate 59)
Push Back: 1646
Take off Roll: 1710 (Runway 19L)
Top of Descent: 1813
Touch Down: 1836 (Runway 16L)
Shut Down: 1844 (Gate N3)

Boarding was called and it took a while to get through all the different elites that Alaska allows. It seems that by the time they got to my group it was like the entire plane was trying to get on first before me. Ah well didn’t matter I wasn’t needing overhead bin space, though I wondered as I dropped my bag at the door, with the other gate check bags, if I would ever see it again. As I walked onboard I finally paid attention to the tail and noticed the Flower Lei on the tail which denotes a 737-800 with Etops. Something Alaska did to really promote their hawaii flights. The day before it had been a 900 today an 800. I am totally confused here. As I walked up to my seat, the crew member there looked familiar. It was the same one that worked yesterday, so I said to her “hello again” to which she half recognised me and said “quick trip?”. It certainly was! Had a quick chat about the aircraft and the swap and them doing back to back different aircraft different days.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I settled into my seat conducting the usual things, not that many photos as it was pretty crappy looking outside. Then it happened. My seat mate showed up… and she was old, and looked not at all there. That was confirmed moments later when she sat down and started rocking back and forth…. continuously… something that would continue for the entire flight. We were warned by the captain about wanting to get out of there quickly as we had to de ice and that would eat up time obviously. So Alaska doesn’t seem to paid their flight schedule they just make everyone board way early.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We deiced and headed for the runway. Waving bye bye to Kansas City as we climbed out through the clouds and the crap below into the sky. I settled in as best I could next to the crazy lady. Thank god for noise cancelling headphones as not only was there crazy lady next to me, but two screaming babies in the rows behind me. I didn’t hear a thing though. Ahhh bliss. I declined the snacks on offer instead thinking I will just have a few sodas and relax before getting back and scurrying home. Sadly the crew just ignored me for the drink runs and every time I tried to ask they just kept on walking past me. This happened for every single service during the flight. Why I wasn’t offered I have no idea but the crazy lady next to me seemed to be having a hell of a time constantly fidgeting and moving about and several times elbowing me in the ribs.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

The one thing that brought a smile to my face was that while she kept fidgeting, the lady next to me kicked her travelling companions beer all over them. I smiled while she went into an overdrive of craziness. I just sat back watched Top Gear and laughed silently and sneakily. It was probably bad of me to be like that but hey, if your going to be an ass on a flight, it is going to come back to you eventually.

From Kansas City BBQ Run

We started descent somewhere over lights and I had no idea where we were or what was going on because it was just so dark out. Eventually I think we head north over elliot bay and then right turned right over downtown and onto approach to SeaTac. We landed comfortably and easily and started taxiing to the gate, right back to N3 where it all started the day before. While I sat at the back waiting for the plane to empty out, I was catching up on life via the internet and texting away. By the time I made it off the plane it was a solid 12 minutes after we had pulled up. If this time kept eating up and I beat my bag to the baggage area I could pretty much recoup most of the costs of my flights thanks to baggage delay points… come on delays!

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

I made it off the train and rocked up at baggage claim with my bag circling the far side to which I just ran around and grabbed it. Damn it! Pretty soon I was heading over to the shuttles and it was already ahead of me just leaving the 1st pick up point. I sprinted after it running the entire length of the pick up points to finally get onboard… I had made it all the way to the shuttle point without getting to cold and I was soon in the warmth of my truck, driving home!

Trip Report: To Kansas for BBQ – Seattle to Kansas City

Saturday 7th April 2013

A leisurely morning almost compared to my usual trips as I could sleep in till a half normal time, work out, have breakfast and partially clean the house all with a couple of coffees under my belt and making my flight without a hassle. An extra coffee for the truck and I was headed out a little delayed waiting for something to upload to my tablet. I was travelling light this time with just my duffle and a backpack. No SLR, no laptop, just the tablet and my p&s.

From Kansas City BBQ Run

I made it to the parking garage with good timing and by the time I hit the terminal since I already had my boarding pass I was looking good if the lines were not to bad, sadly… they were not good. I tried and old trick since the Alaska mobile boarding passes barely showed any information and used the United/Alaska premium security entry and funnily enough they let me through showing my Gold Card. O silly Seattle TSA, how Gullible you are.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Through security (eventually), grab a photo of one of the numerous Alaska special liveries at SeaTac that morning and onto the Train to the N Gates, popping out just about 10 minutes before boarding should commence. Being mindful that Alaska board almost an hour before departure for some unknown reason. Ran into someone I knew for a quick hello and chat, grabbing a printed boarding pass and then it was to Starbucks for more coffee and a water bottle fill and I was off to the gate, rocking up just as boarding started for general economy.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Alaska Airlines – AS762
Seattle Tacoma to Kansas City International (SEA-MCI)
1030-1542
Boeing 737-900 (N315AS)
Economy Class – Seat 24A

Boarding: 0950 (Gate N3)
Push Back: 1029
Take off Roll: 1040 (Runway 34R)
Top of Descent: 1513
Touch Down: 1540 (Runway 1L)
Shut Down: 1458 (Gate 59)

Boarding for my area was called and I was off to the back of the flight, all the way back. Being a 737-900 (my 3rd flight on the type) it is like boarding an A321… lots of way to go to the back (not as much though but you get the idea). The whole point of this trip was doing it on the cheap, I wasn’t checking bags or anything so I just sucked it up and went all the way to back like I was meant to. Luckily I was at the front of the line so I did manage to get some overhead bin space. With a full flight expected I stashed my gear and sat down as quickly as possible.

From Kansas City BBQ Run

All my gear stored appropriately and I was doing the usual pre flight stuff (photos, log book, general tweeting) and next thing I know the doors are shut, theres a middle seat next to me free and we are pushing back. SCORE! What was even better was the sun was out as we pushed back and although it was freakishly cold the light was awesome. So as we taxiied past a few specials and some heavies at the South Terminal, I saw the Spirit of Hawaii (which had been parked at the gate next to ours) sitting in the penalty box… o no! We took off ahead of them and pretty soon we were turning left towards the east and parts unknown.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

It was wierd to be using my phone and tablet all the way over as it was my first flight with the new PED rules and I do like it! Managed to get through a good chunk of my book but sadly, no music for the first part of the flight. I hadn’t checked the batteries on my headphones so as soon as I turned them on, they went dead. Checked for spares…none… DOH! So no music till I could take out my earplugs.. dammit, ah well.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We cruised east and the crew started a very long service process, selling their entertainment systems, then food, then we can get a drink. But it was ok I had water and thought ahead to bring some lunch with me. Bagel, Turkey and some carrots. Boring, cheap ($3 total) and filling enough for a 3 hour flight. With a diet lemonade I was ok enough. Even managed a few rounds before they closed up service. What did I do on the flight? I read, used some free wifi thanks to Gogo and just bummed about.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We started descent somewhere outside of the airport, I had no idea where I was or what should or shouldn’t look familiar so just took it all in. As we approached Kansas City (Missouri side) you could see a sprinkling of snow around the airport, which did not bode well at all really. It was going to be cold, I had expected that but I didn’t want it to snow on me. We came back around after going the long way into the airport. As we touched down and cleared the runway it was a plethora of trijets on the freight ramp. A couple of 727s and an MD11F, add on a DC9 as well and it was awesome vintage time. Off in the distance was a couple of ex Qantas 767s awaiting destruction as well. It is always unique being in the midwest. The rest of the airport seemed deserted with just one or two aircraft in existence it seemed.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

We pulled into the gates next to a Delta 757 and just like that my flight to Kansas City is over. By the time I Was able to extricate myself from the back of the plane, I was prepped to grab my jacket from my bag before I froze to death. That didn’t take all that long as once you leave the gates your about 4 steps from the landside of the terminal…Aircraft to Landside in less than 10 metres…. SCORE! Next thing I know its time to get my jacket out and get moving, since I had just officially stepped foot in a new state.

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run

Trip Report: To Kansas for BBQ – Introduction

I had set myself a goal this year to be able to add at least one more state to my list of US States visited and unfortunately I had left it pretty late to get to that point. Without it I would go one short on some of my goals and that could not be so. But I didn’t want to spend all that much money really. It’s the end of the year, travel is expensive in the holiday season so it was time to use up some of those points that are just floating around.

I had enough points in my Alaska account for a round trip economy or enough in my american for a one way in first. So I figured round trip economy would be perfectly fine but if i took some out of each I could get away with a bit more choice. But where to? The two easiest places for me to get to were either Kansas City or Anchorage. Both would add points off my list, both had interests to keep me going for at least 24 hours if required. The issue was picking which one to visit. Yes Alaska at this time of year is freezing cold, but then where isn’t. But the time of year it would not be all that much light during the day, so that would be cool I guess. Getting some plane spotting in for a day and seeing Alaska would be nice. But then there is Kansas City where I can knock two states off for the price of one, as the Airport is technically in Kansas City Missouri a few miles from the Kansas City in Kansas… I like this idea. A friend out there tempted me further by offering to show me around and take me for some good BBQ as well. It wouldn’t be the first time I had flown across the country for BBQ, might as well do it again right?

Flights booked and thanks to using points and times etc it was going to be my most boring trip of the year almost with tickets on the Alaska direct flights in each direction, the price in cash outlay $5 total, points was down a good 25,000 all up with half from each of my Alaska & AA accounts. Not a big deal there. Next came picking a hotel, this was probably going to be the most expensive part of it. But the day after I booked the flights, IHG released their points break list where they offer accommodation for 5000 points, well under what they normally offer. Funnily enough a hotel in Kansas City Kansas was on the list. I snatched it up instantly. Hell I could now justify both states as I was flying into one and staying in the other. It may of been a little bit out of the main downtown core but who cares. Total cost to me $0 cash, 5000 points.

So car hire was booked on the usual last minute specials that National offers and I was looking at a damn cheap trip, what with a cost of less than $45 in cash outlay on the three essentials I was look pretty good, it was just time to wait for the day to arrive.

Trip Report – An Aussie Goes to Kiwiland – San Francisco to Seattle

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

After making my way over to T2 on the AirTrain and walking down through to the Virgin America check in, I was tired and just wanted to get home really. What I wasn’t really in for was the hassle that I was about to get at check in. Since I was on a seperate ticket for the Virgin America flight and needing to check a bag (although the company would be reimbursing me for that anyway), I was going to try for a Main Cabin Select upgrade as I was hoping to use that cost for a bit of a meal onboard. Online it wouldn’t let me do it, and it wouldn’t let me assign seats either so I had to wait till check in.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I arrived at the premium desk and had to wait… and wait while the staff chatted amongst themselves and when she waved me forward, she continued to chat and pretty much ignored me. The staff member was extremely unhelpful during my check in process and after some back and forth over a bag weight that was 1-2lbs over the standard weight, and telling me that she would not allow my bag to fly at all, even without the cost of paying for overweight baggage, she just refused to let it fly outright. Then once I said I wanted to upgrade to MCS amazingly I was able to take my bag, then when she told me the price which was Double the price it should’ve been, I pushed back and was rudely told “pay it or your bags not going to go for that price and you’re going to have a middle seat” (though not in those exact words of course). I forked over my credit card, thought about how much I could claim back from work for the meal as well the bag and just figured I would make a complaint to Virgin America over it (probably won’t though).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I cleared security pretty quickly as the lines were short and once through met up with my co worker who wasn’t to far behind and we kind of found a few places to set up during the couple of hours we had in SFO. I had a few things on my mind, Coffee, Wifi, clearing work emails. So that is pretty much what I did, nothing really that exciting. I settled in for the time by the gate at a power point and it just kind of sped by. I had checked to see if I could score an exit row seat as well instead of the row 3 so that i could get to do some stuff for as long as possible on the flight.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Time flew by, my coworker joined me by the gate and then as boarding was called, she disappeared to the bathroom, leaving me to mind the stuff till she returned.

Virgin America – VX744
San Francisco to Seattle Tacoma
1430-1635
Airbus A320 (N840VA)
Main Cabin Select – Seat 10A

Boarding: 1350 (Gate 50)
Push Back: 1430
Take Off Roll: 1455 (Runway 01R)
Top of Descent: 1604
Touch Down: 1628 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down:1631 (Gate B11)

Once my co-worker returned they were calling group B by that stage so had well and truly missed my boarding group and I headed over to get onboard and store my stuff since I would not have much chance later on as people would push their way on anyway. I got onboard and settled into my window exit row and boarding slowly happened around me. It was weird to watch them all board and take their seats while I watched tv and just tried to relax. We were ready early but obviously being a slot controlled airport we had to wait for our turn before we could push back.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

We pushed back dead on time and as we were towed away from T2 and towards the power up point, there was a lovely long line forming for the active departure runways, Dual take offs were happening on 1L & 1R with the occasional racing take off, which was pretty cool to watch. By the time we waited for our turn (almost 25 mins since push back) we finally took off on the right side, swung to the right then back to the left to climb out over Oakland, north towards Seattle.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

As we climbed out I hit up the order screen to set up some lunch, I was a little dissapointed to see the fresher items were not on offer but hey, its VX, they don’t make any sense at any time. I ordered some lunch (Protein Meal and some nuts) and figured I would just settle in to watch some tv while we cruised north. Flight time today of 90 minutes and once we were at cruise altitude the WiFi was switched on, the crew set about to work, and I just zoned out. Next thing I know my lunch is being delivered and I am chowing down as we fly North. I didn’t even realize what was going on till we started to get towards the top end of Oregon. I kind of wish the flight had been faster so I could get home sooner. At least with a coworker once I hit the ground I could use the HOV lane ;)

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Descent was announced and I packed up my stuff, getting myself sorted. It was a pretty non eventful flight and the descent was about the same, easy, quick and without a hassle. We tracked north past the city and then did a nice turn above the clouds over the city (thank you mapping function) and with a final shot of Mt Rainier before we descended below the clouds (now I know I am really home) we ducked under into the grey below. Tracking for a 16R arrival, the airport looked quiet and it was, because minutes after we were on the ground, we pulled up at the gate.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Disembarkation was relatively quick and once in the terminal, I waited around for my co-worker and then we headed towards baggage claim, the truck and home! 2 hours later I was at home, a world away from where I began the day, but almost 2 weeks after leaving, I was happy to have my own bed!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Trip Report – An Aussie Goes to Kiwiland – Auckland to San Francisco

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Monday 21st October 2013

A day full of excitement and exhilaration after jumping off the top of a tower, watching as friends did the same and then catching up with a friend for lunch. Before I knew it, our bus to the airport was ready for us and I was heading towards the airport, to begin a long journey home to the USA.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I was heading for Auckland International for my first of 2 legs home and I was fairly sad to do so. I was happy to be back up in the air, to be flying one of the two remaining 747s in the Air New Zealand fleet, but the sad part was leaving all my new friends behind, I didn’t want the trip to come to an end, but thats life right? Suck it up princess!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

We got dropped off at the Airport by our driver who had been looking after us for the last several days and after leaving a little present for one of my friends who was getting picked up later (Tessa did always want that drink from me) I headed into the terminal and headed towards the Premium Check In area. As I entered the area (which was surrounded by construction panels) I was suprised to find out that they use kiosks now for all flights, including the USA. I knew there would be a problem, but was assured that there wouldn’t be. As I scanned my passport and started the process of check in, I knew things were not going to work when it asked me to confirm I had tickets onward from the USA. Which I didn’t. The staff took over, as I expected they would, as the kiosk errored and did not allow me to check in.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

So off to the counter I went and I was checked in. My seat was moved to an empty row and I was told the space available upgrade I had been told I should get, was not going to happen at all and had it been on the right ticket, would of worked cause the flight was wiiiiiide open. *sigh* Lied to again *sigh*.

With my bag dropped at the Bag drop (1kg over the 23kg limit for standard econ but thanks to *G I was not worried) and watching as it was safely sent on its way, I filled in my departure card and got a little lost as they had changed the process slightly to get up to customs. You now head up the lift just inside the door where as previously the lift was after the check in desks. Felt like a bit of a dick at that point but hey it happens. Customs was over extremely quickly and then came the hell that was security. It was a MESS. With a few Jetstar flights, heaps of NZ flights, China Airlines and of course 2 of the Emirates A380s departing shortly, of course it was going to be a mess.

Security took about 10-15 minutes to get through the line, but I did get to keep my shoes on which was great. Everything else was pretty standard. Liquids & Laptop out, belt off as well. No big deal, nothing I haven’t already dealt with so many times this year. Once through security I spun the duty free wheel, won nothing all that exciting and headed up to the Koru Club for a bit of a relax before the flight. My main reason for the lounge today was to do a touch of work prior to the flight, back up some of the photos from the day and get myself prepped for the flight. Almost missed the door again to the Koru Club because it was so non descript and felt like a dick again, but meh. I had the usual hassle at the door thanks to the Aegean card (seriously don’t Star Alliance staff know their own partners) and I was finally let in, where I scoped out the power locations and got set up for some work. I checked on seat assignments and was assured that I had the best I could get and to double check before leaving that the seat would be free as if not they would move me to a free row.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I settled in with a coffee and a snack to get some stuff done and the time seemingly flew by, I barely even noticed the hour or so that went past in the lounge and I had to rush off out of the lounge to make a few stops on the way out to the gate. Being out on the end of the NZ flight pier (gates 6 & 8 are always used for the USA flights so they can do the extra checks they always do for some stupid reason) it isn’t as long of a trek compared to the Emirates gates but it is still a good 5 or so minutes from the lounge, add in a stop to change some cash and at the store (still forgot to buy the magazine I wanted…. doh!) it was cutting it close to the advertised boarding time.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

The line for the gate was huge at the secondary checks and by the time I cleared that I was at the gate to see my beautiful Queen waiting for me. Tonights flight was on 1 of the 2 remaining 747-400s that Air NZ has in their fleet and they they won’t be around that long either, but might as well get one last flight on it before they dissapear. Having now flown almost all of the Air NZ long haul fleet in both Economy & Business (just Econ on the 77W to go) I was excited to get back onboard. Todays aircraft may look old and be old, but I will ALWAYS love the beauty that is a 747. There is a reason they call her the Queen of the Skies, it is because she deserves the respect of everyone who flies her, like any Queen should have.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

The gate area was a mess for such a light load and the time for boarding came and went, this did not look good for an on time departure, but hey, what can you do. In between annoucements that LAN had cancelled their flights (suprise surprise) and the boarding instructions, time seemed to just fly past.

Air New Zealand – NZ8
Auckland to San Francisco
1915-1115
Boeing 747-400 (ZK-SUH)
Economy Class – Seat 55A

Boarding: 1900 (Gate 8)
Push Back: 1915
Take Off Roll: 1929 (Runway 23L)
Top of Descent: 1038
Touch Down: 1105 (Runway 28R)
Shut Down: 1118 (Gate 93)

Boarding was eventually called and like the scrums that NZ rugby fans just adore, the boarding area and process turned into one. Originally supposed to be boarded in stages, all the premium were called and irrespective of eligibility, everyone bolted for the gate and the 3 control points. I got into the scrum and soon I was scanned through, heading onto my first 747 in almost 2 years! Hey, I wasn’t going to complain.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I settled into my row and spread out a bit with so much of my crap stored under the seats in front instead of the overhead in case they kept the seat belt sign as I wanted as much access as I could get out of it. I was going to enjoy my time on this flight. Leg space was spacious at the seat and with 3 seats to myself and a galley next to it, I was in for a good time. The people infront of me were moaning that they “paid for premium” and were stuck up the back in Economy. Sorry guys what you paid for was not premium but actually “Preffered Seating” allowing them access to the better seats that came with a blocked seat next to them essentially. Damn americans who don’t read.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

We pushed back dead on time which was a shock and I was suprised to see that we had loaded a 747 in that short time frame. As we pushed back I snapped away at all the good traffic around us and was especially happy to see a freight Convair 580 powering up and also the DHL 757F on the ramp as well. As we lined up for a 23L departure the sun was setting and it was giving magnificent views. Take off felt spirited but I am sure this lady was heavy with fuel. I still enjoyed the show as we climbed out into the sky over Auckland, turning right over the city, and heading North East towards San Francisco.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

The most brilliant sunset was happening as we climbed out and I was just glued to the window and did not even care about anything else. A brilliant sunset is always going to keep me on a window without the need of something to read. I could of been watching a movie (and next time I will put on some music as the selection had my favourite DJ on it) but instead I watched the Avgeek dream. A Winglet, a sunset and a colour change as we headed up into the sky.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Climb out was gradual and the seatbelt sign was off relatively shortly after take off but it didn’t stay off all that long and was soon back on. Documents were handed out shortly after and I set up my “Poor mans business class” (whole economy row) for the flight ahead. No annoucments about service, no menus on Air NZ, it felt so foreign to me after having some amazing flights this year on Long haul economy. O the differences between airlines you see these days. Me I was just happy to be back in the air really. Spending time somehwere I love (the sky) without the threat of being attached to a rope or being thrown off the top of a tower.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

As the crew prepared for the dinner service they announced that tonights choices were a chicken curry (suprise suprise) or Corned Beef. Having not had Corned Beef in forever I was happy to be going for that, and I settled in and waited what felt like forever for my turn. I found a whole heap of movies I wanted to watch and while enjoying Caddyshack my meal was delivered with an apology. “I am sorry but we have run out of Chicken so you have to have the Corned Beef”. O how shall I ever live with that ;) I could of faked the fact that I didn’t get a choice and milked it for extra ice cream to make up for it, but I thanked them, assured them it was no problem and waited for a drink before eating.

The dinner looked ok (not sure what the Salad was) but at least the main looked tasty and fairly good proportions of meet to starch to vegies (something that is not often found in Economy). It was very tasty and with a drink and some Ice Cream, I was quite happy to sit back and enjoy it all. What more can I ask for? A Tasty meal, a beverage and a movie while cruising along watching the sun set out my window.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

After dinner was cleared away and I was not offered coffee (sadly) I ended up doing a bit of work on the trip report and we still had the seat belt on after going through the occaisional bit of turbulence (light really) and watching the crew get stuck into the leftover meals (they better have some extra ice cream in there *wishes*). I settled in trying to get comfortable and after a couple of hours I did get that extra ice cream I was after along with some coffee and even tried to get some sleep. Having 3 seats to myself meant I should of been able to stretch out, but the arm rests on these old queens don’t fully go up, so you kind of have a bit of a point where they stop, which is crap but you deal with that. It means that you can’t really lie down without a hassle but I am to tall and big for that anyway and I know that skycouch on the 77W would just be a waste of money, I would rather go for the J upgrade any day.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I did manage to get some rest (I wouldn’t call it sleep) and in between bouts of restlessness I think i got maybe an hour or two. Around about 3 hours out from SFO I woke up from a rest to the most beautiful sunrise out the window, and from that moment on, I stayed awake, starting my “day”, time to start shotgunning the coffee right? I must of passed out again because next thing I know it’s just before 2 hours out of SFO so I quickly got myself sorted as I could smell breakfast getting ready in the galley (which was right next to me). From there I managed to continue watching the hobbit which had turned out to take me almost 6 hours to watch a 3 hour movie. HAH! I kept watching and eventually I settled in for my breakfast. Choices this morning were Cereal or Eggs and they advised that since those in the back missed out on their choices earlier they would start in the back (not that i missed out).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

The cereal was nice and tasty and I enjoyed it, the fruit was fairly bland though which was a disappointment but I had a banana stashed in my bag from the lounge in Auckland. Breakfast was consumed along with a few cups of coffee (I wanted to steal the coffee cup cause it was excellent) and once that was sorted and cleared away, I got myself changed and cleaned up in preparation for descent into SFO. At about the hour from touch down mark I got myself sorted, putting away my gear and getting set (as that is the point I have to put my ear plugs back in) and they announced a bit of a delay to landing due to “congestion” in SFO (which really means fog).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

We descended into SFO and the fog had burnt out for most of it so there wasn’t to much of a hassle during the descent. I did love the look of the huge 747 flaps and spoilers as we descended over the coast. We made some weird turns over the Bay Area with a right turn south towards San Jose, then a big sweeping right turn back towards SFO. I was wanting to descend into SFO on the fated 28L, but sadly it was 28R (if thats a bad thing).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Watching the bay area speed by as we descended into SFO and next thing I know I see the runway, the ill fated location and then hello I am on the ground. Touching down on what will probably be my last time onboard an Air NZ 747 since they will be removed from fleet soon enough.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Clearing the active at SFO was quick but i was to busy getting back into the real world and having my phone connect back to my Tmobile account. The flood of activity came back as sms and emails and tweets flooded back in after almost 12 hours of being disconnected from the world. It is sad but I am extremely connected to life that way. I got my email from the guys at Cranky telling me all was good and it looked like I would be ok to make the connection which was great and once we pulled up I just had to wait through the disembarking process before scurrying to immigration.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I finally got out of the aircraft and into the terminal where it was on for young and old to get to immigration. I left my co worker behind as she was on a US passport so would be through quicker than I was, but my line wasn’t to bad as it looked like I beat the rush of kiwis making it to the desks. I wasn’t in line long (maybe 5-10 minutes) and I wasn’t grilled all to badly at immigration (mind you I was half asleep and looked like hell, so I think he went easy on me) and I was through to baggage claim. My bag took forever to come out and then it was out of the secure area, into the terminal, change a few things and onto the Airtrain to Terminal 2 and my Virgin Flight home to SEA.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Trip Report – An Aussie Goes to Kiwiland – Wellington to Rotorua

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Thursday 17th October 2013

A very rushed morning after a morning run around Wellington Harbour (training) and watching the sun rise and the city wake up. A rushed pack of my bag and a few errands around the city (mission to get things going but unfortunately that did not work all that well. I wish it could of happened a little bit easier but unfortunately, it was not to be. At the appointed time I was in the lobby of the hotel, waiting for the bus departure with everyone else. We were off to the airport heaps earlier than we needed to be but as I had no say in it, I just did as I was told. No group check in or anything like that, but a group bus transfer was on the cards.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

When we got to Wellington Airport I did the right thing and got myself sorted out, I waited forever at the Premium Desk and for some reason they just never came to serve me. What the hell! Bad call Air New Zealand. But eventually I got helped and checked in, with my A3 number added to the boarding pass, *G status showing, bag on its way to Rotorua and I waited for the others to finalise. I had offered to guest in whoever wanted to come with and one person ended up taking up the offer.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Headed to the Koru Club which in Wellington is actually pretty nice. Good runway side location with plenty of floor to ceiling windows and plenty of space. A spacious lounge with plenty of seating options and a really good food spread for that time of the morning. Lots of the usual snack options that you find in Australia (Fruit, really good hand made cookies) and some of the more morning tea options as well like fresh scones and slices. The lunch options were also on the verge of being handed out which was pretty cool as well.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Lots of snacking options (to many really) and several different coffee options being by the pot or a barista service, what more do I need. A couple of cups of coffee later and a good chat with one of the group (I may have been conned into half a scone) and then before we knew it, it was time to head for the gate. As we left the Koru Club, boarding was called.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Air New Zealand (Operated by Air Nelson) – NZ8584
Wellington to Rotorua
1150-1255
Bombardier Dash 8-Q300 (ZK-NEW)
Economy Class – Seat 5A

Boarding: 1135 (Gate 7)
Power Out: 1157
Take Off Roll: 1200 (Runway 34)
Top of Descent: 1234
Touch Down: 1251 (Runway 18R)
Shut Down: 1253 (Gate 2)

Walking down towards the single digit gates at Wellington you head out to the gates that don’t require security and I do love that rule in New Zealand for any flight with less than 50 people, no security required. Awesome!! Popped out right at our gate and within a few moments I was scanned through (after a brief pause for my boarding pass to respond correctly and then I was out onto the tarmac. The usual Aussie/Kiwi reaction to a camera on the ground by the staff (No photos, no photos!) and a few pictures as soon as I had passed the staff and I was waiting to get onboard.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I was worried that my camera bag would not fit in the overhead lockers as it was quite big and I know I had issues on the Horizon Dash 8 back in May, I wasn’t sure how it compared to the Q300. Thankfully under the seat in front was big enough space for the camera bag and my backpack into the overhead bin. Got to love some juggling. Laptop out and into the seat pocket, getting myself situated and a few photos, time to settle in.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

We waited for a little bit while the last of the paperwork was fixed and finalised and then the doors were shut and we were off to Rotorua. As the props powered up right next to me, the vibration obviously began but that is always a reassuring thing on a turboprop aircraft. If the vibration stops, that is probably not a good thing. Half the flight was filled with our group and I would be suprised if anyone behind me was paying attention to the safety demonstration as to be honest, there wasnt really one. Instructions to read the safety card was it and that was pretty much it. Powering out from the gate and headed towards the southern end of the runway for our Northbound departure out over Wellington.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

No holding at the runway point, just a quick flick of the throttles to takeoff power and the props spinning up. We were airborne just past the Koru Club I had just barely left and climbing out past the city with a slight right turn but not by much. The city off on my side meant that I could enjoy the departure as we climbed out, off into the skies above. The first ding went off about 30 seconds later signifying electronics are ok and then advised of the service onboard today of tea, coffee, water and a cookie as well (not that I was going to eat the cookie, it would go into the stash).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I took the offered coffee (I am quite happy with the Air NZ coffee and the fact that it is french press over instant is a good thing) and watched as my cup vibrated its way across the tray table and also grabbed a water when offered. We flew north along the coast and a lot of clouds below us unfortunately. The flight was very non eventful as we cruised north, I wrote most of the trip report before we had even hit cruise altitude and I instead sat back with my coffee and water and relaxed. Eventually it was TOD (top of descent), power to idle, dip the nose down and down she goes. A quick clean up by the lone crew member and a hand out of the traditional sweets onboard Air New Zealand and we heading fast toward the cloud deck.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Passing through the thick cloud deck we were getting bumped around a little but nothing at all that bad. I am sure some of the people may have worried but I couldnt care less, it was not even remotely bad. As we popped out below the clouds we seemed to track north over the city and the lake. Being able to spot some landmarks on the city was good but having never flown into Rotorua before it was hard to guage runway location or even what direction we were going to land. It seemed the airport was on the other side of the aircraft as we dropped gear half way over the lake and all I had on my side was water.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Right turn with gear deployed and flaps to full, we started our final turn onto the final approach and we made the last minute descent and touch down onto the runway at Rotorua and then that distinctive sound as they threw it into full reverse pitch and wound up the engines to help slow us down. We cleared the runway at the lone taxi location and headed towards the tiny tiny airport, which I swear is New Zealands smallest International Airport (2 flights a week to Sydney). It didn’t take long for the crew to shut down and let us all free and suprisingly the smell did not smack us all in the face. It was there a little but not at all that bad as I had remembered, it must be stronger in town compared to the airport.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Took a number of photos before I walked into the Terminal and we met our escort for the next part of our journey and by the time I went to collect my bags it had just dissapeared onto the belt portion where it heads back out around for its 2nd lap. Dammit. Got my bag on the second loop and then it was off into the city, not before leaving a little something on the airport ;)

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Trip Report – An Aussie Goes to Kiwiland – Auckland to Christchurch

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Friday 11th October 2013

I hear an alarm going off somewhere in my room, could it really be time to get up again? *sigh* No gym this morning as I was totally out of it and had planned on getting to one when I get to Christchurch, so this morning was an expedited routine of shower, repack, and out the door. All completed in less than 30 minutes (well apart from the out the door part, I sat around watching the news till I was set to go and meet my coworkers).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

In the lobby while I waited, logged into the free internet provided and cleared out some of my emails and since no benefits like free wifi or even water were offered and the staff were totally indifferent about anything and didn’t seem to care, I just did what I needed to do. When my coworkers joined me, I logged out and we headed towards the domestic terminal. My bag was in walking mode (ie strain my arms not my shoulders) and the 750m walk from the International Terminal to the Domestic began.

I wasn’t going to wait for the shuttle as I always tell my clients it is easy to walk it and I wanted to prove to myself I was giving the right advice. It was definitely correct as the walk was flat, not at all complicated and done with 7 minutes (at Mal pace that is). When we got to the terminal I checked in at the Premium desk, was moved to a lovely window seat up the front and that is that.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Air NZ domestic is a pretty simple affair, especially at check in. For years now they have had the self check in for everything including bag tagging and even premium guests with Star Gold have to do that part yourself (though the staff will hand you your bag tag to put on yourself). No real weighing of my bag or even a second look. hah! My coworkers had not really understood the process and they joined the every increasing line of people who probably also didn’t figure it out. But hey, isn’t that what learning is all about?

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

After everyone had their boarding passes and their bags were dropped off to be checked, plans were put in place. I offered to guest one of them into the Koru Club for breakfast or coffee and explained that once they went through security, that was it, there was nothing on the other side, which is sadly true. But security should take all of 5 seconds so you cross at the very last second right before boarding (or even as they call it). Neither of them chose to join me as I just wanted 2 things, WiFi and coffee. I wanted to get a couple of emails responded to asap and check in with work to let them know we are safe and sound.

Security was effortless and I still had my shoes on, my belt on, my jacket on as well. I felt like a human being rather than someone who was being treated like crap by the TSA. My laptop did have to come out but i mean that was it! Surely that can be done everywhere right? Once through security, flicked up to the gate to take a shot of the aircraft and grab the registration and then to the Koru club. I noticed an Air NZ 320 with sharklets at one the gates, but the gate location blocked any photo opportunity which was crap. To the lounge it is!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The Domestic Koru Club in Auckland was pretty well stocked and the breakfast offerings were more than ample, but I didn’t partake. I grabbed a banana for later, a WiFi code, and some liquids (coffee & water). I had barely any time in the lounge to get what I needed done but I did it. A couple of things I noticed in the lounge that was excellent was you could board directly to the regional aircraft straight from the lounge and that they had take away coffee available. Something I did not realize till I was literally about to leave the lounge.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Air New Zealand – NZ507
Auckland to Christchurch
0610-0725
Boeing 737-300 (ZK-NGG)
Economy Class – Seat 4A

Boarding: 0545 (Gate 30)
Push Back: 0608
Take Off Roll: 0616 (Runway 23L)
Top Of Descent: 0709
Touch Down: 0730 (Runway 02)
Shut Down: 0733 (Gate 16)

Boarding was called earlier than advised and they had called the Wellington flight about 5 minutes before ours and within 5-10 minutes of that announcement they were threatening boarding closure within 4 minutes. So I knew I wouldn’t have much time, but my priorities were set that morning. COFFEE! Coffee always comes first right? With a double long black in hand I headed to the gate where it looked like boarding was already over as there was no one around and when I stepped onboard my coworkers were already in. Craziness!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

I got all my stuff onboard and stowed and passed on a message to one of my coworkers and settled into my seat for departure. Plenty of legroom up in Row 4 and I wonder if that is just a Space+ seat for preferred pax or if it is normal. My original seat was the exit row so I guess I would not really know. It was raining (slightly) and dark outside so photos were practically useless and it wasn’t all that long before we were closed down and pushing back for an early departure (2 minutes early).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Push back had to be the world’s longest as we just kept going further and further back, way more than would usually be the case. It was a little bit of a wait to get taxi clearance and then we were headed for the active runway, the same as we arrived on the night before. Passing a Jetconnect 738 being towed to the international, and wishing it was light enough to get a photo, I kind of wished that it was daylight, but can’t have everything right. We were the only one in line as the Wellington flight was already on its way and the Jetstar flight ahead of us, was already powering out before we touched the taxiway. Next thing I know we are turning onto 23L, holding for a brief few seconds while the First Officer (who was handling today’s flight) gave her same gas and down the runway we went, into the morning sky.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Climbing out through clouds and darkness, we cleared above the clouds to sunlight and sunshine and my brain could not understand anything, but then I was barely a functioning human at this point. I was 3 coffees in but after 4 hours sleep in 2 days, who is functioning (I need a gym session to get me back on track). As we climbed out the Seat belt sign stayed on for a bit for “turbulence” but if you want to call those bumps turbulence you can but it was more like hitting a speed bump occasionally over a 10 minute period.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Once electronics were ok’d I pulled out the laptop and finished off some notes and stuff from the last few days and service shortly began in the Cabin. The mornings choice was Tea, Coffee or Water and Cookie or Muffin. Give you one guess what I had. Yep the cookie! Well not really, I took the cookie to save for later as an emergency snack as now it was time to get back on track eating wise. Back to my usual self, no more flight day exceptions. With my 4th coffee of the morning poured infront of me (french press, not instant) I was a happy man.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We cruised along above the clouds without anything happening and before we knew it, we were starting descent into a cold Christchurch. Mind you it was still early in the morning as we descended and the temperature was a mere 5C. Electronics off, and seats to upright position please. Descent was relatively quick and although most of the cloud was up high, once below the layer the views were pretty outstanding. The area is extremely flat around Christchurch but I guess that is why they call it the “Canterbury Plains”.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we followed in the Jetstar flight which had taken off ahead of us from Auckland it was all flooding back into me (this wasn’t my first time to this airport and funnily enough it wasn’t my first flight on that exact aircraft). What I really wanted to see was just how much the airport had changed since I was there back in 2010. Well to be honest what I saw when we finally touched down I did not expect. There wasn’t much on the Deep Freeze ramp just a C17 and a C130 but the new domestic terminal gates looked immaculate.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The last time I was there the airport was a bit of a construction site, well not any longer! It looked amazingly good and just so well done. The clean lines from the outside must definitely make for an impressive sight on the inside. We pulled up to the gate and before the engines had even shut down the seat belt sign was off and people were up and out of their seats ready to get moving. It didn’t seem like we were going to have to wait long as moments later the airbridge was connected.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We were let loose into an amazingly modern terminal and it was a thousand fold difference from what I had seen when I was previously there. They had put quite a bit of money into this airport and it has definately been worth every cent. I had not stopped moving since being off the aircraft and it was only a short distance from the gate to the escalators down to baggage claim, as we walked down to it, our bags popped out and within the first 6 bags all 3 of ours were out. Aircraft to bags in hand to shuttle at the door in less than 6 minutes! Holy crap that is fast!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we drove away in the shuttle, my brain was firmly on the prize ahead of me. A workout and some time on the ground after a truly epic journey to the other side of the world.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Trip Report – An Aussie Goes to Kiwiland – Honolulu to Auckland

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

I managed to extricate myself from the Aircraft and although we landed early, by the time I had gotten off the aircraft it was around about the time that I normally would have been off, had we been on time and I was sitting up the front still. That is nothing to complain about. I was met at the end of the boarding area by a couple of Hawaiian Airlines staff members who were going to escort me over to the main terminal to where my aircraft to New Zealand was waiting. They had set up for me to access the aircraft to take some empty cabin shots before it was bonded by customs and no one but the crew could come on. Fine with me!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we made our way up out of the mess of people ahead towards the shuttle area, I realised that I was heading for the famed “Wiki Wiki Shuttle”. A shuttle bus that ran along the roof top of some of the terminals and is also apparently part of where Wikipedia was named after (though because I read that on Wikipedia, take it with a grain of salt). It was great to chat to the Hawaiian staff ever so briefly but any chatting to a fellow avgeek is always great.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

They took me over to my connecting gate and the Airbus A330 that was to take me to Auckland sat waiting for me. We had to wait a little bit for the catering staff to finish and empty out of the aircraft, then it was all me! I snapped a few photos and within about 5 minutes we were good to go. Into a totally empty aircraft that was eerily quiet but made for some great photo opportunities.

After snapping away to my hearts content and then holding back from playing in the cockpit (I wasn’t there to play, I was there to work) they told the best vantage points for some exterior shots and I went for a nice walk in the open breezeways of Honolulu airport. Got to love the fact that the terminal is practically open air for the entire thing. Seriously that is awesome! Being able to hear the engine noise, smell the burning jet fuel and most importantly enjoy the feeling of real sunshine and warmth is like a dream come true. Avgeek nirvana.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

With all the photos done that I needed to get done, I headed back towards the gate area, to catch up with my coworkers and also to get some power for my laptop as it was not going to make the whole flight and I did want to at least get some work done (though not much was going to happen on what little battery power I had left). Catching up with my coworkers and talking about general stuff was good and soon enough the holding bay for the gate was filling up.

Hawaiian Airlines – HA445
Honolulu to Auckland
1345-2145
Airbus A330-200 (N381HA)
Economy Class – Seat 42J

Boarding: 1302 (Gate 29)
Push Back: 1340
Take Off Roll: 1355 (Runway 8R)
Top of Descent: 2100
Touch Down: 2137 (Runway 23L)
Shut Down: 2141 (Gate 8)

Boarding was announced and that it would be conducted in groups and that passports would be checked prior to boarding the aircraft. As they slowly called through the different groups, with Wheelchair passengers, then first class, then children with infants under 2, then finally priority boarding. With that, since I was down the back of the bus (the things I do for a window seat) I headed down the jetbridge towards my waiting Airbus.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

It was weird to be back onboard again and actually seeing crew moving about. Boarding through Door 2L was expected and I was advised to cross to the far side of the aircraft and to the back of the “Bus” you go! All the way to the back (not as bad as last time though). I was told when I got my seat swapped that there was no guarantee the seat next to me would remain empty, so I didn’t unpack my crap to much to begin with and kind of held back from just exploding all my stuff everywhere. I did the usual pre flight things while I waited. I took photos, filled in the log book, took more photos, tweeted, read about the Delta and Alaska partnership falling apart at the seems (the best part was that my email was full of emails from the other blog staff about how we had managed to break the news to the web first… way to go!) and generally just didn’t realize what was going on. While on the ground they had distributed small amenity kits (essentially headphones, earplugs and an eye mask) along with also a menu! Yes a menu in Economy, but it also doubled as a postcard so you could write a letter to someone and post them the menu.. hrm tempting! I will try not to be a cheap ass and use the postcard to send to someone.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Next thing I know the doors are shut, boarding complete is announced and we are pushing back… errr where did my time go! I hadn’t even done up my seatbelt before we were halfway through the safety video and I had managed to scramble to stow my stuff properly. Next thing I know my camera battery dies and I am stuffed without any photo ability (apart from the occasional photo from my phone which obviously was a very very naughty thing to do, but if it was important I was going to take the shot). We taxiied out to the active departure runway which was the famous (or infamous depends how you look at it) Reef Runway.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We taxiied out past Hickam and were followed to the active by a Navy P3 off on a flight somewhere. If I had of been on the Port (Left) side and had a working camea, I would of had a perfect series of photos of us holding on the active while a Navy P3 sat directly out my window waiting in line. Dammit! Didn’t matter, for the second time in my life I was departing the reef runway from Honolulu, both times in an A330 (different airlines and destinations though) and going to enjoy the climb out. We powered up as the pilot pushed the controls forward up in the cockpit and there must of been some crosswind on take off as we got nailed around quite a bit on the roll. But we soon were airborne and watching the winglet bounce is always fun.

We climbed up and away from Honolulu and slowly climbed to cruise altitude. We were barely in the air, still with seatbelt signs on and people were already moving about. Is it just me or does no one pay any attention to these signals anymore… seriously! I try not to move about at all, but below 10,000ft is definately a no no. We were far off cruise altitude and I do feel that sometimes american pilots keep the seat belt sign on far to long (through to a 40 minute climb to cruise is a bit much when it is clear as a tack out) but people in general these days seem far to complacent. Enough crapping on about people, back to the flight.

Climb out was long (as expected as I am sure this plane is heavily laden with cargo) and we were informed of a flight time of 8 hours 47 minutes which should have us arriving around 7pm… Say what now. A flight time that is roughly on time but getting us in 2 hours early… me thinks someone didn’t set their watch correctly this morning. I moved my watch to Auckland local (1 hour less but 1 day in the future) and settled in to fill out the immigration forms that were being handed out.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Once we hit cruise at 38,000ft the seat belt sign came off, I hopped up to stretch and get down my electronics so that I could settle in for the flight ahead. Did I mention the seat beside me stayed empty. Though any remaining empty seat out there in the cabin filled up quicker than hell. Avod on the A330s is still a paid affair but the offerings though good (and work was paying so it wasn’t going to cost me anything) apparently had the ability to connect USB devices. I knew it would charge which was great, but I was hoping to be able to stream from my tablet to the screen so that way I could watch it on the slightly larger screen. Not to be, must only be iphone/ipod compatible as neither of my android devices worked. I settled in to do some work while I waited for service to commence.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Beverage service came through with offer of some snack mix and it was tiny cup time. Can’t I get a full can sometime today? Being a daylight flight I was intending on treating the first meal as lunch, working/chilling out for the afternoon and then our last service would be “Dinner” before hitting the sack as soon as we touched down in Auckland. Since I would be up about 4am for a quick shower and change before heading for another flight to Christchurch I had my day planned essentially. I mulled the plans over in my head while I had some snack mix and typed away.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

When that was all cleaned up, shortly afterwards out came the first meal service. Ahhh economy. It’s the same on any airline. Take off, Feed the pax, make them sleepy, shut the blinds, go to bed now people. Pfft!!! That was not going to happen to me today. It may have been an effort to stay awake as long as possible, but that is what I was going to do. I settled back to my lunch which was promptly delivered (no choice) and started to watch the movies that I had brought.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Although I couldn’t stream the movies through the seatback, I could keep the tablet charged fully with the usb plug at the seat, so while my tablet stayed nicely powered, I sat back to enjoy my tv shows and movies in relative comfort (2 seats to myself) and set up a kind of tablet stand out of the stuff I had around me. Unfortunately their would be no “GhettoIFE” on this flight as the sick bags don’t really accomodate a 7” Tablet.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Lunch wasn’t all that bad and once it was cleared away and I managed to get myself some more coffee, I pretty much spent the next several hours just watching TV shows and movies and having a conversation with a co worker in a forward row (went for a walk). The snack bar was set up forward this time (was set up in the rear cabin of the 767 and I checked it out and purchased a little bit of a snackage for my afternoon movie) and continued on doing nothing really.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The flight cruised by, as we raced the sunset away from the USA we kept battling to see if we could out pace it, but it was not to be. The sun slowly set as we passed around Fiji with about 3 hours or so left in our flight. The sunset wasn’t the best I have seen but it was still pretty damn good. The sun dropping behind the clouds made for a good backdrop against the winglet and I got a few photos. I kept thinking to myself “This is why I love to fly”, getting shots like that, just make it exciting to me.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As the sun set we slowly started to dwindle down our time to New Zealand. Around 2 hours out I expected the final service to begin, it was advertised as “High Tea, Hawaiian Style” so whatever that was, who knows! But nothing came. I packed up my stuff around the 90 minute mark… still nothing, but at 1h 15 mins from Auckland. The crew started what felt like a rushed service. The high tea was a little snack box with a small sandwhich, 2 small cookies and a chocolate macadamia nut. Not to bad if you ask me. Add in the fact that I just had to have the one thing that every single person who flies Hawaiian should have (POG) and it wasn’t a bad snack service.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As they rushed around the cabin clearing things away as we began descent into Auckland roughly 30 minutes out. It felt very very rushed for all the crew to be finishing things up as we were literally already into a slow descent. Couldn’t see anything out the window as it was all cloud and darkness, so not much to really worry about and I just finished the flight off reading the inflight magazine as the moving map had been switched off at the 30 minute mark.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Final preparations for landing were made mere moments out as we came onto finals from the opposite side that I have always landed at in Auckland. After a nice hard thump on landing we slowly taxiied to the international terminal. We were briefed to stay in our seats, do not move and do not touch anything while they sprayed the aircraft for quaratine reasons. That process took FOREVER! Almost 15 minutes while we couldnt move or do anything. Eh… kill me now. I was already fading fast and this was not helping.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

When we finally got the ok to move, I tried to get myself out of the aircraft as quickly as possible but I wasn’t holding my breath for a fast exit since I was at the back. By the time I was off, I didn’t expect to see my coworkers anywhere and I didn’t even see them at what felt like the worlds largest duty free store (but it’s not I am sure that’s in Dubai or somewhere) buying wine. From that point onwards my plan of action was to get through immigration, get my bag, get to the Telecom store, buy a sim and get to bed!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Thankfully immigration wasn’t to bad (had to ask for a stamp which I got chastised for.. pfft) and headed out through customs with my bag. Telecom was pretty much right at the exit and within 10 minutes of entering the store I was fully switched on with a new sim, new number and a half gig of data (plus access to a gig a day free wifi at Telecom hot spots). Seemed good enough to me.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Our hotel for the evening was the Novotel Auckland Airport and thankfully there is no messing around with shuttles or anything like that. It is right at the terminal exit, just past the shuttles, on the other side of the pathway. Could not miss it! Got to love that kind of location. Check in was a breeze, waved goodbye to my coworkers who were discussing wake up call times and I headed up to my room for the evening to charge up my stuff and conk out.

Trip Report – An Aussie goes to Kiwiland – Seattle to Honolulu

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Wednesday 9th October 2013

After leaving the Holiday Inn and heading over to SeaTac to deposit the truck in the Wallypark garage (thank you costco vouchers) I caught the shuttle over to the terminal so that I could check in. I got a text from one of my coworkers to say she was already checked in and through security and that I can meet her on the other side. Only one other coworker to track down and it would all be good.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The shuttle dropped me off in the total wrong spot but hey, that’s a parking shuttle for you and I walked through the terminal to the Hawaiian check in desks which are located in the far south of the terminal with the International Airlines. Check in was fairly empty and funnily enough I stepped into the International Line right behind my other coworker. Perfect!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

It was then that I found out things were not going to move fast at all. My coworker had been in line for almost 20 minutes and not because it wasn’t staffed. They were churning people through fast as anything, but the problem was that the family infront were delaying things due to some passport issues… who doesn’t realise you need a passport to leave the country.. seriously? But whatever. It took a further 15-20 minutes to even move forward and eventually they checked me in at a non international counter which they could of done in the first place, but I digress. Managed to talk my way into getting Priority Boarding and Security on a ticket that I shouldn’t (thank you Velocity Gold Card and a smile) and with about 45 minutes before boarding it was time to tackle SeaTac security.

Security wasn’t to bad and we were able to get through the priority lines fairly quickly. I had a quick discussion with one of the TSA agents about football teams (Hook Em Horns!) and that meant that my time in the line up wasn’t all that bad. Maybe it is just me but SeaTac TSA are improving somewhat, even If I still get the occasional pat n grab when I have nothing wrong with me (stupid body screening). After pointing my coworker in the direction of some shops I headed to starbucks to grab some caffeine before jumping on the train to the South Satelitte.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

By the time we got through security and I had my coffee with me and off the train, there was a bare 15-20 minutes till boarding and with my priorities already set straight, I sat at the gate chatting with my coworker. I made myself known at the counter to see if I could wingle my way into a window seat (sorry ladies, but this Avgeek wants a window on a daylight flight), I was told I would be paged if they found one for me. 10 minutes later… “Paging Mr Muir to the Podium”… Score! It may be a window in the very rear of the aircraft but hey, it will do.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Hawaiian Airlines – HA21
Seattle Tacoma – Honolulu
0845-1145
Boeing 767-300 (N596HA)
Economy Class – Seat 46A

Boarding: 0800 (Gate S16)
Push Back: 0845
Take off Roll: 0901 (Runway 16L)
Top of Descent: 1107
Touch Down: 1132 (Runway 8L)
Shut Down: 1141 (Gate 59)

Boarding started with a massive line of gate lice and constant offers to get check bags, so although there is meant to be lots of “Hawiian Hospitality” some things just don’t change. First up were familes with children under the age of 2 (which was strictly specified and enforced from what I could see), along with elderly etc. Then first class, then priority, then who knows cause I was already onboard the aircraft.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Todays ride was a non winglet equipped 763 (no Extended range here!) which although not a new type for me, was unique as there isn’t that many airlines not flying Non ER birds these days. The interior looked pretty good for this old bird and although there wasn’t seat back IFE, I didn’t mind. I was happy with my laptop and my ipod for this flight. The next flight is where I would be wanting some seatback goodness.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

All the way to the very back I headed and the aisles are narrow but then any 767 is, though 2-3-2 is a rare site these days. Seats looked ok with a slim line fit and reasonable seat pitch, nothing spacious but nothing overtly disgusting either. My only problem was that I seemed to of gotten the only window that was scratched over to eternity so my dream of photos out the windows were pretty shattered. But meh!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Boarding progressed as I settled in and the flight filled to 100% capacity (as they said it would) with not much effort and although their was lots of talk of specific space for bags in the overhead, the boarding process seemed to go off without a hassle and not that much of the usual “Sit down, shut up” attitude you get from some airlines (*cough* United *cough*). I did like the fact that they announced that we were fully boarded, doors closed and departing on time, prior to the safety demo, and depart on time we did, pushing back right on 0845.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The taxi out was fine and I missed a shot of Alaska’s new livery which was revealed the day before (but hey I have a new special scheme to hunt). We taxiied north to the 16s and after a few take offs in front of us, we lined up and held. Not sure why we held as we were the only aircraft around, no one was behind us and there hadn’t been an aircraft in front of us to wait for. Meh whatever. The 767 rolled with a little bit less vigour than what I have experienced on ER birds and were soon climbing out to the south and with a gentle right turn, signalling our turn away from the mainland headed towards sunshine and happiness.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Once through 10,000ft I broke out the ipod to get some noise going but the seat belt sign did not come off for quite some time, till when we hit full cruise. I don’t know if this is a Hawaiian thing or not but to be honest it just felt like I was trapped. I have probably flown to much premium travel this year as I am to used to eating or doing whatever when I want but flying down the back of the plane means one thing, you work on their timetable. You eat when your told, drink when your told, even use the bathroom when your told. They did stress the fact that you shouldn’t be moving about before the seatbelt sign gets off, but that didn’t stop anyone (as usual).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

A couple of little bumpy bits on the climb to cruise and once at cruise the seatbelt sign came off mere moments before they began the morning service. Unlike every other airline in the USA, Hawaiian Airlines provide complimentary meals at meal times on all flights. A very rare thing and obviously I wouldn’t expect a massive meal or anything but free is free. Being that we were taking off before 9am and it still being before 6 in Hawaii, our service that morning was to be a “Continental Breakfast”. I had read online that it was a “Cheese Plate” but what was handed to me was more of a Fruit Plate, but hey, I like fruit and to be honest, prefer it over cheese. There was one solitary piece of local cheese but that was it. Meh the standout was the real metal fork! Something I did not expect to see on the meal, let alone on any US based carrier. Hell even the Aussie carriers don’t give you metal cutlery.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The breakfast service was accompanied by Tea, Coffee, Water and Juice. Coffee was of course Hawaiian and not that bad, and of course other than the usual juices on offer, there was also POG. Pass-O-Guava juice (POG) seems to be a Hawaiian staple and it is kind of like what Biscoff is to Delta, you know your flying HA when you see a POG cup onboard (though they were pouring from cans). The fruit was fresh, the coffee good and tasty (not overly hot) so breakfast went off without a hitch. I liked the fact that they gave you a little gift to take with you (instant Kona Coffee satchel) but sadly it was marked “Made in China” for something that was advertised as “Hawaiian” (well 10% hawiian at least).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

After breakfast was cleared away, another round of drinks were offered and they settled in for a long flight across the pacific. Our flight time was blocked as just over 6 hours but in reality 5h 27 minutes today apparently. A little bit of schedule padding never hurt anyone. Although my IFE jack didn’t work all that well, I could barely hear the music that was playing, I was suprised to learn that they did play one movie during the flight (Iron Man 3). Hawaiian offers Tablets for rental but you should pre book them on the ground (and you can at a seperate desk in the terminal, next to the gate) so you don’t miss out as they only load a limited amount. For this 767 flight, I would of been screwed had I not brought my laptop or tablet.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

I settled in for a long overwater flight of working, writing and coffee drinking, what seems to be the norm for me when travelling right? The crew on this flight were good and they constantly came through the cabin offering water or you could head up to the back of the aircraft to the “Snack Bar” where you could purchase a snack or pick up a drink. Really good if you ask me!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The flight kind of just cruised by and nothing all that uneventful happened. I worked, I read, I listened to some music and just generally chilled. There wasn’t much else to do really. I ended up finishing the work that I wanted to do, along with also the magazine I had brought with me (conserving tablet power for the onward flight so that I could watch some movies).

Before to long the final beverage service began and it was more of a snack service as not only could you get some free rum punch but you could also get a packet of crisps (chips whatever you want to call them) with your drink. Nice! Looking good all around for Hawaiian it seems. After my tiny tiny tiny cup of diet coke (the crew member didnt even give me more than a mouthful, after filling the cup with ice and then a splash of diet coke that was it!) I sat back and enjoyed my banana (thanks Holiday Inn) and we cruised ever closer to Hawaii.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Starting to pack things up about 45 minutes out from Honolulu seems the norm with the airline as they announced an imminent descent (15 mins earlier than most would) and that they would have to start collecting tablets etc. So not the thing you want to hear I guess if you had purchased one, as the movie on the main screen had finished.

As we started turns for descent into Honolulu the islands started to slowly come into view and I would have to say that if you are heading west from the USA out to HNL, the Starboard side of the aircraft would be the smartest bet for the best photos, as all I got was ocean. We turned over what looked like Waikiki maybe before making another right turn towards the active runway. That was a good thing for me as this was the same approach I had flown on the last time I flew to Hawaii and would mean one thing, Joint Base Pearl Hickam. Being able to get some landing shots of HNL is great, getting landing shots of HNL as you flew over what was up until a little time ago called “Hickam Air Force Base” is always great. Last time I had managed to snap an E4 on the deck with a few F-22’s on the line as well. What would be in store for me today!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we glided in over Hickam there was plenty of heavy metal on the ground with lots of C-17s and a spattering of C-5s. A number of Navy 737s and what looked like an Air Force 757 (I forget what the military designators are for those two) and lots and lots of P3s. I thought I spotted a couple of harriers but the F-22s were hiding in their revetments. Damn them jet jockies ;)

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We landed on to the 26L/08R series and had a breif taxi off the active. As soon as we were down my phone was out and linked in as I was being met on the ground by Hawaiian staff to get some empty cabin shots of one of their 330s before my flight to Auckland. So making sure that I could get that handled before I stepped off the aircraft (though being at the back of the plane meant I would be around for a while).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we taxiied towards our parking spot which was announced to be at the Interisland Terminal, there was plenty of purple & white around with Hawaiian obviously dominating out here (most obvious sentence ever). There was plenty of the Asian carriers in attendance as well, with a whole multitude of JAL 767s on the deck, a China Airlines 747 in a special livery (not sure which one) and a few Korean A330s as well.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Pulling up the Interisland terminal finally the chimes went off and everyone was set free. Not that I could go anywhere as it was jam packed the entire plane so I was literally one of the last few off the aircraft. But hey.. the things you do for a window seat right? The flight had gone really well, now it was time to do a little bit of work right?

Trip Report – An Aussie goes to Kiwiland – Introduction

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Tuesday 08th October 2013

My brain is absolutely worthless I think to myself while sitting on the 405 in the truck on my way to work, for the second time that morning. I had already spent over an hour and a half in the truck due to traffic and also the fact that for the second time in a month I had forgotten my passport at home on an international trip. Driving back from the Canadian border is a hassle, forgetting my passport when I am travelling to New Zealand is a whole other story. Thankfully I wasn’t leaving that day.

Work was sending me to New Zealand for two weeks and thankfully I wasn’t having to pay. But unfortunately the flights out were early in the morning so rather than have to battle peak hour traffic on the day I have to leave, I thought it smart that I could do it the day before and stay by the airport the night before. At least when I leave my passport at home the day before I have plenty of time to go back and get it. Even if it takes me 2 hours to get to work and I am 20 mins late (I would of been early had I remembered it but that would of been fine).

I worked away getting all the usual last minute things done and finished off my day by calling the bank and letting them know that I was heading to NZ and to make sure that they didn’t decline any transactions. By the time I made up my 20 minutes of lateness and headed out of the office, the sun was already starting to slowly set and I hit the streets towards the south and my hotel for the evening.

I had looked around for airport hotels and they were all $150+ but the good thing about Seattle’s airport is even though it is south of the city and has a lot of hotels around it, there are a few outlying suburbs (like Renton, Kent, Tukwila) that are about 10-12 minutes drive away and offer much better value. I had managed to pick up a great rate on the IHG Friends and Family rate for the Holiday Inn & Suites Kent that included breakfast and wifi for like $95 all in. Quite a bargain really. All in all it was just a bed for the night and a quick workout in the morning. I made pretty good time and by the time I finished off a last minute thing online, I took the truck out to grab some gas and top it off and some food for me. Feeding the truck as well as me… simple plan really.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

I grabbed some dinner at the L&L Hawiian BBQ in Renton for the evening (fitting realy) taking my tasty goodness back to the hotel where I could watch tv in piece and quiet, read some emails and hit the sack. The rooms at the Holiday Inn Kent were not overly big and it is more a motel style than anything (2 story, walk up, around a central courtyard) and I could of pictured this in any out of the way small town. But they were clean, comfortable and warm because the night sure wasn’t (although the room heated up a hell of a lot more than planned). I hit the sack around the usual time but wake up wasn’t far off.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Wednesday 09th October 2013

Waking up at 4am is never pleasant, but considering I barely slept at all, getting up meant that I could hit the gym for a bit. I had to negotiate with check in the night before to access the gym that early as for some reason they don’t allow use before 5am. Which is wierd because it is not staffed or monitored. I had agreed not to use the treadmill so as to keep noise and pounding on the floor to a minimum, so 6 miles on the exercise bike it was. Can’t complain really, it was either that or running outside in the frigid cold (Bothell was 37F that morning, not sure what it was in Kent). I will take a lighter workout over freezing myself to death any day.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

By the time I cleaned up and checked out, breakfast was opening up at 6am (haven’t they ever heard of early morning departures for a hotel that advertises themselves as “Airport”) so I grabbed my complimentary breakfast, which was as I expected, pretty basic but still good. Unfortunately my desire for a good bowl of oatmeal was failed when all they had was quaker instant packets (which I despise for the amount of sugar in it) so I stuck with a quick bagel and a banana. Coffee & breakfast consumed and I hit the road to the airport.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The Holiday Inn was clean, comfortable and good value for what I got out of it. Sure it isn’t directly next to the airport and about a 10-12 minute drive away, but at half the cost, free breakfast and wifi… I won’t complain.