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).
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.
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?
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!
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.
Air New Zealand – NZ507
Auckland to Christchurch
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.