My last day in Austin I went to lunch with Brandon and he made a random remark of, “Is your flight still happening? You know they are still messed up from that rain right?” The Internet told me I was good to go though, and I arrived at the airport stupid early (4 hours…I couldn’t check in online and I had a convenient ride if I went earlier).
I was not good to go though. Austin air traffic control was still underwater (literally) from the flooding last week and they were limping along with help from Houston. I waited as my flight got delayed 1 hour. 2 hours. 3 hours.
My original itinerary was Austin to LA to Auckland. Easy peasy. When we started getting delayed The United attendant changed the LAX to ACK leg (twice). Then the Austin to LAX flight got bumped again she came on the loudspeaker and said if anyone wants to get to the west coast tonight try hopping on a flight to San Francisco that was leaving in 10 minutes. They put me on that flight, called down to get my bags moved, and I was rerouted- now I’d be doing San Fran to Sydney to Auckland (then Queenstown).
All was going well. On the flight to Sydney I sat next to a Canadian girl who was starting on her own adventure and happened to have the same pack I did, only as her carry on. She said she liked it but it was a bit on the small side for her. (Trust me this is a relevant detail…)
Emphasis on “was” going well. We arrived late in Sydney and learned that United forgot to mention to Virgin Australia that I would be on the flight from Sydney to Auckland. The nice lady reopened the flight for me. Just call me Chuck Norris.
Finally in New Zealand, I went to collect my pack with all of my favorite things and figure out a place to stay since I’d missed my connection. I waited at the baggage carousel.
Baggage services gave me their sincerest apologies, an overnight personal care kit, and a promise to update me within 24 hours.
At the ticket counter, I went to get my Auckland-Queenstown ticket rebooked as I’d missed all flights to Queenstown that day. Since I booked it separately they charged me $120NZ to transfer it (about $70 bucks) to the next day. Yes please, more salt for that wound, thank you.
My Milford hike starts on Nov 6th and isn’t a thing you can change. The huts book up months in advance; the next available date isn’t until April. I started looking up gear rental options and reading the fine print of my travel insurance policy. It was anyone’s guess if my bag was in Austin, LA, San Francisco, Sydney or lost forever.
I got a place in Auckland for the evening, went out for pizza/beer and met some other nice travelers who spoke little English but kindly offered up some deodorant/other necessities for my plight.
The next morning I called baggage services and IT HAD ARRIVED. WHAT. AWESOME. I had breakfast then headed out to the airport to collect my bag and take off for Queenstown. (Yes they would have delivered it but since I was going to the airport anyway I figured I’d just pick it up).
Which took longer than I thought and it was 9:57am when I finally got my bag and was onboard the shuttle to get to domestic departures. My flight left at 10:15am. Eep. I told my backpack to “suck it in” so it could pass for a carry on (aka, took it out of the big duffel and tightened down the straps)
New Zealand is doing something right here. At 10:01am I checked in at the counter, the guy told me I was very late and asked me a few questions about my pack (is it heavier than 7kilos? Nah, 17lbs. Is there anything sharp? Nah. That pocket knife is really dull I thought to myself)). He gave me a boarding pass and told me to run, my flight had been delayed by 10 minutes and was just boarding. Security took one minute boarding took less than ten (that moving to the side to let others pass thing is huge, seriously everyone should do it) and we took off at 10:25am. Wee!
Air New Zealand has the best safety video I’ve ever seen.
Onward and upwards. When I arrive in Queenstown I’ll drop my extra luggage at the hotel and then take a 3 hour bus ride to Te Anau where I depart for the hike in the morning. At some point I’ll need to buy food for this 3 night/4 day hike but that is future Marti’s problem. 🙂