Friday, March 11, 2011

Home, Sweet Home...

Days 34, 35 and 36, Mar 8th, 9th and 10th

Safely home. We left Harvey's on the 10:45am shuttle on the 8th and walked in the door at home at 10:45am on the 10th.

We checked out of our hotel in the morning, using up all our rewards points, not that there were many left after Diane and Lorraine waged war on the hotel gift shops. Breakfast was at Cabo Wabo for the 7th straight day where we were certainly on first name terms with our waiter.

The shuttle arrived and we were met by a sour bus driver who was obviously not having a good day. A 90 minute odd trip to Reno airport saw us check-in and prepare for more than a 2 hour wait for our plane. Clive and Lorraine decided to check-in at the kerbside check-in where Lorraine tipped the guy a few dollars to overlook her overweight bags. It

At 3pm we were in the air and headed for LAX aboard a Southwest Airlines flight. A pretty smooth flight saw us land at LAX and collect our baggage and leave the terminal about 4:30pm. It was at this stage that we said our goodbyes to Clive and Lorraine who were headed to Pasadena for a few days before flying home on Thursday, arriving on Saturday in Sydney.

Diane and I took a terminal shuttle to Tom Bradley and checked in. Even though the flights to Sydney and Melbourne don't leave until 22:30, 23:00 and 23:50, the check-in process opens at 2pm. I guess it is to accommodate passengers who have to check out of their hotel by midday and need to leave their baggage somewhere rather than lug it around Los Angeles for the day. If so, that's good customer service.

By 5pm, we had checked our baggage through, even though our flight wasn't leaving until almost midnight. We had time to go somewhere, but we still had our hand luggage and I had my laptop etc, so we decided to just suck it up and sit out the 7 hour wait. After having a snack and a coffee, we thought we may as well clear security whilst there were no crowds and spend the time at an eatery/bar or some shops once inside the terminal. Big mistake. When we went thru, we found 2 or 3 VERY small shops with almost nothing to sell and no restaurants at all. From memory I thought there was a heap of shops and bars inside when we had been waiting at LAX previously, but obviously not the case. I finally worked out that it was more than likely when we connected from LAX to New York from another terminal. As it turns out, Tom Bradley is a ghost town once you get thru security and immigration.

Well, there was no way we were not going to go stir crazy stuck in here for 6 hours, so we asked somebody could we get out. To our mild surprise, it was no problem at all and we just walked out back into the terminal itself. We had a light dinner, Diane had the worst noodle dish she had all trip and I had bagels and cream cheese, just OK. We then had a drink and waited impatiently. A quick wander thru the duty free without purchasing and we decided to head back thru the security checkpoint again.

Once inside we waited in a vacant lounge until the QF12 was due to leave at 22:30 where we then made our way to that gate, which was the same gate that our flight, QF108 was leaving from. We were then treated to a bit of a show as one passenger hadn't shown for the flight. They made multiple announcements over the PA, different staff went different ways to try and track him down. It then got to the stage where they had to remove his bags from the plane, but this was not going to be an easy task, finding unknown colour bags from a full plane, but they cannot leave a passenger behind without offloading his baggage, for obvious reasons. It was getting quite comical as at least 10 staff went out to look for this guy. He was eventually found in the 'oneWorld lounge' and the call came thru the radios that he was located. This led to the bag search being abandoned and finally this guy turns up, escorted by about 6 staff members and seemingly oblivious to the commotion he had caused. The plane eventually left about 20 minutes late.

It was then our turn to sweat. Because we had checked in at 5pm, 7 hours before the flight, we didn't get seated at check-in, not even an economy seat, our boarding pass was marked 'SBY' for standby, allowing us to pass thru security and immigration, but not guaranteeing we would actually get on the plane. Our 'contact' in Sydney assured us we would be fine, but it would still be nice to have that seat number. Diane went to the counter and was told that the staff seating sheet had not come thru yet. He agreed it was pretty late, but there was nothing they could do until it came thru. They began to board, boarding first class, business and premium economy first. They then called for rows 55 thru 75 to board and still we sat in the waiting area with no boarding pass!!!

Some guy came near the counter and spoke to a woman who was checking and directing the premium passengers. She went to the counter and we heard her say 'Standby passenger MrX' and grabbed his boarding pass which was sitting on the counter. This made Diane jump up and see the same woman who kindly grabbed our passes which were just sitting on the counter waiting for us to be called but it appeared all too much for the staff. We were not seated together, one in front of the other, but up the pointy end so all good. When we boarded there were empty seats galore in business and it's hard to work out why we were just not given a boarding pass, if not at check-in but when we first went to the gate. I've read on some airline staff forums that the staff at LAX like to make other staff sweat for amusement purposes, perhaps that was there motivation, but whilst we got a tad concerned, we were never really sweating as our 'contact' had given us the 'you'll be fine'.

We boarded the plane which was one of the 747's with the indigenous paint job. I soon noticed the huge difference in the amount of room on the 747 and the A380, the latter being much roomier. This was more than made up for however by the friendly cabin crew. We both recognised one of the older guys as someone we had flown with before. We were looked after splendidly. I was plied with copious amounts of Shiraz followed by 2 'generous' Cointreau and ice whilst Diane's sleeping pill of choice was cognac. Both worked fine and I got 5 or 6 hours before waking and watching 'The Kings Speech'. It was a fine movie, but I think maybe didn't transfer well to the small screen on the plane, some very dark cinematography and scenes made it difficult to see.

We arrived ontime at 09:20am, walked off the plane at 09:25 and walked straight thru the automatic line. Our bags were waiting for us as they were still marked standby and got offloaded first (they would have been put on last) and we walked into the arrivals terminal at 09:40am. Almost a record surely for touching down and walking to the taxi rank!!!

A friend had looked after the car for the 5 weeks and he was soon there to pick us up, we dropped him back at work and we headed home and as I said, arrived home at 10:45, exactly 2 days after we had left Harvey's to come home, less time difference of course.

So that's it, nothing much more to say. Soon enough we will be both back at work and working to pay off the credit cards and start planning our next trip which at this stage looks a fair way off, but will more than likely be Europe, using a combination of cheap flights and train travel to commute between Priceline hotels in major European cities.

Thx to all who took the time to read my ramblings and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed bringing them to you.

Until I see you in the flesh...


  1. Glad you both made it home safely. I enjoyed your trip!

  2. Your holiday was so long in the making and very short in the taking. Thanks for an enjoyable blog. Enjoy work !!!!!