En route, New Zealand

Trip Start Nov 06, 2003
Trip End Jan 24, 2004

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Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, December 3, 2003

On the road at 4:00 a.m., driving south towards lightning that charges across the sky above Melbourne. The arcs flash instant mortal sunsets in the clouds. We find out later that fist-sized hail broke glass throughout the city.

Ghost-like people flit into the Melbourne airport at five o'clock. We join the grey silent cue at the Quantas desk for our connecting flight to Sydney enroute to New Zealand.

Miraculously, Emma and I have been upgraded to business class for Auckland. I try to get Julie and Lucy upgraded as well, but they remain stuck in steerage. I do the noble thing, offering to trade seats (secretly hoping that she turns me down); thanks to that economy seat with the baby bassinet, she opts to stay put.

Back in business, we no doubt make spectacles of ourselves, trying our motorized, fully reclining seats and individual pull-out televisions. We're giggling idiotically - and I'm sorry to say that part of the glee is the secret guilt of getting this while Julie is packed in her economy seat. We do actually feel some remorse when our brunch menu is presented:
French champagne to start; a selection of warm breads; creamy scrambled eggs with small Chiplota sausages; dried plums wrapped in bacon, accompanied by baked potatoes; an assortment of fresh seasonal fruit; and finally, blueberry and peach tart with blueberry sauce. "Would you like any freshly squeezed juice with that, senor?"

Emma and I discuss swapping seats with Julie part way through, but I sense that this would be frowned on by the airline. When I go back to check again, the economy seats have individual televisions as well, so I don't feel as evil.

Woohoo! The business seats have some kind of adjustable, self-modulating lumbar control. It's like a massage in the seat! Something unfortunate in human nature ignites from this taste of elite travel. The curtains are drawn closed to the masses, and I give up all semblance of taking a nap. Give me the free Cognac Courvoisier! Top up my herbal tea! Bring on the Nintendo!

We descend to a seamless arrival in Auckland. We've prebagged our food to make it easy to confiscate at Quarantine, and Lucy works her charms on the rest of the Kiwi airport staff. We even get a lift on one of the beeping airport carts, another silly secret desire satiated. The luggage carts are free, our Ace car rental goes smoothly and we're off to enjoy Auckland on a warm, cobalt day.
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