Well after spending several days driving the Pacific Coastal Highway (California 1), in San Francisco and driving back to LAX, it was time to depart the USA and make the final two legs of my trip home. After returning the rental car, it was time to jump on the Hertz bus to Terminal 2. After spending 3 full days driving, with a few little stops to take some photos, and ‘enjoying’ being stuck in LA’s traffic, it was a nice change to have someone else driving for me. The bus ride to the terminal took about 8 minutes, and with the bus driver wishing me a safe trip home, off I went into the terminal to check-in. I arrived at the terminal around 5 hours before departure, and was invited to head directly to the check-in counters. The lady behind the counter, asked me what flight I was on, and I said NZ1 and handed her my passport expecting an easy check-in and being on my way within a few minutes, well how wrong I was. The lady then informed me that NZ1 was running around 5 hours late with a new departure time of 1am due to some problems in LHR. She then asked if she could take my passport into the office for further advice, which I said yes to. While I was waiting, I checked my cellphone battery bars as I knew my phone battery was nearly about to die, but I knew I needed to text home and inform them about the flight being delayed, so I got the text done as quickly as I could and just hoped that the power would last intill the text was sent, which thankfully it did, with no warning note that the phone was about to switch off. About 5 minutes later she returned saying that she has permission to re-book me onto NZ5 which departed at 10.30pm, which was one hour later then NZ1s normal departure time. I thought about this for about 30 seconds, cause if I took NZ5, I would get home about 2 hours laterand be on a full flight to AKL or take NZ1 and be on a half full flight and ask for a row to myself but get home around 10 hours late, I loved the idea about NZ1, but didn’t like the idea of getting home after 6pm. I took the NZ5 flight. After the new check-in agent was shown how to re-book the flight, I was given my boarding passes and I then handed my checked luggage to the TSA agent and off I went. I then checked my boarding passes and noticed something was not right……..I was still booked on the 7am flight to WLG, and NZ5 got into AKL at 6.30am. Since all the Economy Class check-ins were busy, I went over to the Business Class check-in as it was empty and spoke to the NZ check-in agent, who went away with my affected boarding pass and returned a few minutes later, saying that I would need to get re-booked onto a new flight in AKL, since my bags had already been checked-in. I then got a text asking for my new arrival time in WLG, so I replyed saying that I will find out in AKL, as I didn’t know yet. I then switched off my phone, so I could save the battery life for arrival into AKL. As I now had slightly under 6 hours till departure, I walked back outside and walked down to Terminal 7 and back to kill some time, called into every terminal to explore, what I could explore, and returned around 1 hour later. Decided to go throu Security and explore the airside shops in Terminal 2. After passing throu security, I walked down to the furthest gate and was surprised at how small this terminal was. Walked back down one side and explored the shops on that side, before walking back on the other side and exploring the shops on that side. Since it took me around 10 minutes, I went back to my departure gate and sat down and stayed there for around 2 hours in complete boredom, One thing I wasn’t impressed with, was how dirty the terminal was. Everywhere you looked on the floor, there was rubbish, like empty Burger King burger boxes, Burger King soft drink cups, chocolate wrappers. The rubbish bins were worse as they were simply overflowing, with rubbish dropping on the floor around them. Does LAX even employ people to clean the terminal? It was simply disgusting, and passengers were talking about the mess. After looking throu my bag, I found some chocolate bars, so I enjoyed a tiny snack, before walking off to find something to drink. Decided to stop at Starbucks and get a coffee. While waiting for my coffee, the person behind the counter noticed my t-shirt and asked me if the All Blacks are a rugby team. He said that he played rubgy at college, and that he thinks its better then American football. Once I had my coffee, off I went back to the gate and back to the same seat. As the lounge slowly got full, it meant that it was getting closer to the departure time. Around 8.30pm, announcements started to come over the PA for any customers booked on NZ1 to come to the NZ Customer Service Desk for more updates on the flight. Around 9.30pm, the FAs started to arrive for NZ5. Finally the aircraft pulled upto the gate around 9.45, and the FA’s boarded in preparation for the flight. Around the same time, the pre-boarding announcement came, with an estimated time for boarding in around 20 minutes. Around 20 minutes after that, the boarding call came with Business Class, and any special requirements first, followed by Premium Economy and then Economy class by row numbers. While the first stage of boarding was happening, I got talking to a person around my age, who also knew a lot about aviation, and we got talking on subjects like QFs B787 and A380 order, NZs B787 order, EKs A380 order etc. We discovered that he was sitting in the row behind me. It was nice boarding last as it means that your less waiting on board and your one of the first off, and quicker throu customs. Finally my row was announced, so off I went.
Airline: Air New Zealand
Aircraft: B772ER, ZK-OKG
Capacity: 100% full
Once on board, the greeting FA’s showed me the way to go to my seat and off I went. After finding my seat, I happily sat down and started to read NZs inflight mag while sometimes looking up at the PTV to see some scenes of New Zealand. About 15 minutes later, we were being pushed back. A few minutes after that, off we started to the runway. Just before the runway, we waited for a few US Airways A320s to depart before us, before making our way onto the runway. Within a few seconds of being on the runway, the engines roared to life with and off we thundered down the runway. This was one heavy aircraft as we basically used the whole runway. Once airborne, it was a slow climb to cruising altitude. As I looked out the window and watched the lights of the USA grow smaller and smaller, it was goodbye to me second home country and in 12 hours hello to home sweet home. About 15 minutes after take off, the IFE was switched on. 10 minutes after that, the New Zealand arrival cards were handed out, so I completed my one then, so I wouldn’t have to before landing. Roughly 30 minutes after that, dinner was given out, followed by the drinks cart. I asked for my usual, coke. Roughly 45 minutes later, the clean up round came. After taking a sleeping tablet during the meal, I woke up around 6 hours later with a very sore neck and back, and got back into watching some movies. I was starting to feel thirsty, so pushed the FA call button and within about 10 seconds, an FA arrived at my row. Requested I push the cancel button and came back about 1 minute later with water. Several hours later, a little girl came around with the NZ sweets in a basket. About an hour after that, the pilot came on over the PA again and announced that the descent into AKL will shortly begin, with an arrival time into AKL at 5.50am and gave the weather for AKL, which didn’t go down to well with the passengers, which was rain and 6 degrees currently. A passenger sitting a few rows back said “rain…oh how typical” which made a few of us laugh He also gave the weather reports for HLZ, WLG and CHC, which put a smile on my face as WLGs weather was 100% better with clear skys and 9 degrees currently, and the FAs came around with the final rubbish collection. Shortly afterwards the seat belt sign came on and we started the slow descent into AKL. I looked out my window, hoping to see some parts on New Zealand, but couldn’t see a thing due to the cloud. About 15 minutes later we finally broke throu the cloud and I got my first look at New Zealand in over three months, which was the road leading into AKL, about 10 seconds later the brakes leaped into action and we taxied into the terminal and pulled in at gate 3. After quickly clearing customs, it was off to the baggage claim belt. Shortly afterwards an announcement came over the PA for NZ5 passengers saying there was a mechanical problem with the aircraft, and there will be a delay in the bags arriving, but around the same time, the light on the belt started to flash with the annoying siren sound and the belt started to move. Out came four things, and the belt stopped again. The things had CREW tags on them and the pilots collected them and off they went, much to the disgust of some passengers who said, “why can’t they wait like everyone else” with others agreeing About 15 mins later another announcement came over the PA saying the problem has been fixed ad the bags are on their way. Three minutes later the light started to flash, with the annoying siren sound and the belt again came to life with bags following to the passengers delight. My bags were one off the first off, so I was happy as I walked to an empty MAF booth and asked a few questions in relation to the YES answer on Farm Animals. Once the lady heard me say, working at a kids summer camp, she quickly replyed “Camp America’, and I answered “yes”. Once I said what animals I had been around, she said “line two please”, and off I went to the x-ray machine, put my bags onto the belt, handed the MAF person my arrival card, collected my bags and off I went., As I still had around 20 minutes till the 7am flight that I had a boarding pass for was about to depart, I went directly to the NZ transfer desk and asked to be re-booked onto another flight as I had to be re-booked onto NZ5. I was printed a new boarding pass and got new tags put onto my luggage and off I went. Pulled out my phone, switched it on and phoned home and told them off my new arrival time into WLG. I stopped off at the airline model shop, had a look at the models, and saw nothing of interest to buy, before walking towards the end of the terminal to walk to the domestic terminal. As I walked out the warm terminal building and into the outdoors, the cold weather instantly hit me, and my first thought was “damn I’m in the wrong country”, so I pulled my sweatshirt out of my backpack and quickly put it on, before continuing the walk to the domestic terminal. Once I was inside the domestic terminal the warm terminal building was a very nice change. Had a look around the terminal to see what changes had been made since May, and heaps had been changed since then. The new commuter/NZ Link part of the terminal looked flash, but the NZ check-in area was a mess. The Bach had moved and looked real nice, so stopped off and grabbed something to eat and a hot chocolate, while watching Breakfast on the big TV above. While watching TV, I heard on the PA that fog was rolling into WLG, but it wasn’t expected to cause any problems yet. About 20 minutes before boarding was due to start I grabbed my bag and headed off to security and went upto the departure gate and found a seat and waited for the aircraft to arrive. About 10 minutes later the aircraft pulled up at the gate. 20 minutes after boarding was due to have started, the boarding call was made with my row number.
Airline: Air New Zealand
Aircraft: B733, ZK-NGK
Once on board, I quickly found my seat towards the rear and made myself comfy. About 10 minutes later the doors were closed and we were pushed back. After about 2 minutes we were on our way towards South Auckland for a north take off. Shortly after take off, the snack cart came around, As I had eaten I wasn’t hungry, so didn’t purchase anything, but took three Air NZ sweets and munched on those for a while. As we neared WLG, the pilot came on over the PA and announced the weather conditions for WLG and said the fog was clearing up and it looked like it was going to be a fine sunny day with a high of 15 degrees, which I was very pleased to hear. The 733 touched down hard which gave me a fright as I didn’t know we were about to touch down, as I was busy reading an article in the paper which the person in the next seat let me read. The Wellington based crew then said the usual thank you for flying and welcome to WLG, from your Wellington based crew. After disembarking, I really felt at home while walking to the baggage claim. Got my bags then waited for a few minutes at the drop off area waiting to get picked up.