Auckland to Sydney, A Tale of Adventure

Trip Start Feb 17, 2008
Trip End May 08, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's 4:30am in Auckland and the alarm clock is blaring into our brains, telling us that the second half of our journey is starting.  As we board the airport shuttle, it looks as though we are the last ones being picked up before heading out to the airport.  This is incorrect...there is one more pickup stop before we are on our way, which really doesn't seem like a big deal.  After 30 minutes of circling around the same streets in residential Auckland, it quickly becomes apparent that the driver has no idea where he is or where he needs to be.  After many map consultations and stops to ask other shuttle drivers parked in the area  where he is, we successfully pick up the last passengers and arrive at the airport. 

Regardless of our delay and arrival at the airport at 5:45, there is not much concern  about making our 7:45 flight...until we see check-in line...  It appears as though half of the airport is in our line and looking a bit exhausted.  We soon realize why the cloud of anxiety has been brewing as the line is moving at an almost comically slow pace.  By judging the distance moved over 20 minute intervals, it would take us approximately 3 hours to reach the check-in counter.  The line begins to move quicker the closer we get, but this is not completely comforting as it is now 7:30 and the status of our flight has been at "boarding" for 10 minutes now.  Our nerves are starting to really get frayed as there are still a few passengers ahead of us.  At this point, we are both praying that we do not get the associate with the bunny ear headband (it's Easter weekend) because it seems as though every passenger who arrives at her counter ends up having some sort of problem.   We luckily bypass the easter bunny representative, and hope arises.  Even though it is now 7:55 and the plane is delayed, I am not completely freaking out, probably due to the counter girls seeming to be in no huge rush, regardless of the "last call" status of our plane.  After finally getting our bags checked, the worry still weighs, as we do not officially have seats assigned to use.  We are supposedly going to get them assigned at the boarding gate.  Beginning to feel that we are in the clear and will finally be on our way, we happily, but frantically, run up to security which is our only obstacle to boarding our waiting plane.

Holy crap... I've never seen a security line like this before.  Our hearts sink as we run smack into the back end of a mob of people.  Freak out resumes as we frantically look around for other options.  We run over to some security checkpoint ladies who don't seem to be doing much of anything and desperately plead our case.  They take one look at our tickets and with wide eyes and shocked faces, they quickly rush us to the front of the line.  The glimmer of hope reappears that everything is going to work out fine.  I feel a tight hand squeeze the life out of my arm as Karla does one of those whispering yells into my ear, trying to be incognito..."OH MY GOD, IT"S ALICE COOPER!!!!!!" Amazingly, she is correct.  After rubbing out my eyes a few times, lo and behold, sure enough  Alice Cooper, legendary shock rocker,  is a few feet in front of us going through security.  While Karla tries to contain her excitement, the uplifting light of hope that we would make or plane was quickly extinguished at the realization that there was a rock 'n roll hall of famer attempting to get through security directly in front of us.  Everything comes to a screeching halt as Mr. Cooper proceeds to completely set off the entire security area like a parking lot of car alarms.  Things are not looking good at all.  Luckily, we sneak over to a security area on the other side of the wall while everyone else is gazing at the rock and roller who looks totally confused, probably explaining that there must be some equipment malfunctions of some sort.  Yeah....  Slipping through, we catch one last glimpse of Mr. Cooper getting shuttled off to the side to be further inspected. 

Running to the gate, we arrive 1 hour after the plane is supposed to be in the air.  The ladies at the boarding gate looked quite relieved that we have arrived and wave us down to get checked in.  It is explained that this is the only flight for Argentinean Airlines of the day, and that it would not leave without all of it's passengers as there was no real schedule to keep.  This helped the stress levels quite a bit.  There is some confusion as to why we do not have seats assigned and are asked multiple times if we are staff.  After consistent answers of "no", the lady at the gate attempts to assign us seats.  Realizing after a few minutes that she has no idea what she is doing, she makes a few phone calls and five minutes later, there are three people in front of the computer screen trying to assign us seats.  I figure that because some people on standby were unable to board the plane, that it must be full.  Another 10 minutes go by and there are now 6 people standing around the screen scratching their heads.  This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.  The plane is now delayed almost 2 hours, and I cringe as a stewardess from the plane comes out and whispers into one of the associates ear, "The captain is PISSED!".  Apparently all 6 airline employees are stumped on how to assign us seats, so one of the girls takes out a pen and writes down on the boarding passes 53D and 62C. 

Although happy we are finally on the plane, comfort is not part of this happiness as we now have to walk all the way to the rear of the aircraft to take our seats.  Every passenger who has been on this plane for well over an hour has the chance to give us the evil eye and a shake of the head.  They saying goes "Don't be that guy..."  well, we were those guys.  We get to the back of the plane, failing to be inconspicuous, only to realize that there are people sitting in our seats who have valid boarding passes with printed seat assignments.  Amazingly, the psychic powers of the boarding gate lady were not honed enough to be able to identify where the empty seats were on the aircraft.  Having a chance to really look around the plane, we notice that there are plenty of seats available in first class.  Pleading our desire to sit together after being through 3 hours of hell, we hint at the notion that there is plenty of seating available in first class.  Either taking pity on us or falling for our charm (I'd like to think the latter), she gives in.  Sinking into the Lay Z Boy chairs up front, Karla and I clink our newly acquired glasses of champagne together, give a sigh of relief, and proceed to giggle like little kids.  The next few hours of pampering and luxury were going to be the perfect way to start off the second half of our voyage to Australia...
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robinwilg on

What An Adventure
You guys really seem like you are having a lot of fun and exploring. I am jealous. But I get to do this amazing trip with you right from my home. Makes it a lot easier with a little one. HA HA.
Keep enjoying, stay safe, and can't wait to see you when you get home.
Love, Robin, Wil and Bryce

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