At last! After 2 weeks stuck in a campervan with my father in law I could look forward to 12 hours of solitude, he had decided to upgrade to business as he couldn’t cope with economy, whew! Result!
Chas went toddling off into AKL
business check-in and I joined the queue for economy check-in, flight NZ2 AKL
. The trip had been a resounding success, I got head-hunted, bought a house and a car, all that remained was to get home, resign, sell everything, spend loads of money on airfares for the whole Whanau and get back within 8 weeks.
More than that I had spent 2 weeks with Chas and hadn’t actually killed him with my bare hands.
Anyway, after checking in in a haze and trying to blag an upgrade I found myself at the security checks for gate 6. I went through OK
but as Chas tried all hell broke loose, lights flashed, sirens…sirened? And a very large man with a badge asked Chas to open his hand luggage, after first making sure the scanner was between him and any subsequent explosions.
Out came a big pack of zantac (for indigestion) all covered in foil. He tried to go through again…same result…they ran a portable scanner over him..bleep…bleep..bleep.
From various pockets in the obligatory beige car-coat came packet upon packet of indigestion medicine, a packet of cold capsules, some English coins, a metal pen and the biggest tube of haemorrhoid cream I (or indeed the security staff) have ever seen, man I wouldn’t wanna have to live with them blood-buds!!!
Ok, we got through and into the departure lounge where ZK
-SUH sat ready for the 12 hour flog to LAX
I parked Chas next to a nice old lady and they instantly clicked, within seconds they were comparing ailments and medications. Slightly nauseated by this experience I wandered up to the glass and checked out our a/c..hmmm, big…
Suddenly a commotion broke out behind me, a group of Americans, all shouting at once with a collective look of absolute contempt, were hassling the big smiley Samoan on the desk, I edged closer….
“What do you mean there’s no more aisle seats?”
“They’re all taken”
“Well I want an aisle seat…move someone!”
“I can’t do that miss, then the guy I move will be mad at me”.
“Oh my god..this is goddamn ridiculous!”
“No shit, Sherlock” I mused under my breath
“Look” shouted the small but badly preserved “Power Gran”
“If you don’t give me a goddamn aisle seat I am NOT, repeat NOT, getting on that goddamned plane”
“That’s your choice madam, I can’t make any more aisle seats, it’s your decision to fly or not, you bought the ticket”
A younger man with a sneer and a bad shirt chipped in
“Why are you being so stupid? That’s what you are..stupid!”
I wondered whether being American was supposed to be grounds for preferential treatment and was about to go and have a word with the angry Americans when a security guard appeared.
Words to the effect of
“Shut up or go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect 200 pounds”
got them all to simmer down and they sat in a bunch at the back of departure, muttering and glaring at the guy on the desk, no doubt making fists in their trouser pockets and wondering who ever gave such power to a mere mortal. The word “stupid” was repeated like a mantra.
In order to cheer up the Samoan guy I wandered over, pointed to Chas and said:
“That old guy in the pink shirt, he’s my father in law, he’s old and daft and might get confused, can you keep an eye on him on the flight, make sure he doesn’t get stressed…he isn’t nice when he’s stressed”
sir, leave it to me, if you could get me his seat number, I’ll fix it”.
It was nearly time to think about how long it would be before boarding when a van turned up at SUH’s front landing gear and the PA in departure 6 fired up.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a delay of approximately 1.5 hours due to technical problems with the aircraft”
Most problems with a/c tend to be technical; I went and had a word with my new friend at the desk.
“Ah, sir, the door seal was leaking on the last flight, they need to fix it.”
A stairway was pushed up to the front door and a tarpaulin wrapped round so mx could belt the crap out of the door with a hammer and not scare the pax.
Seated directly opposite the “trauma site” was a group of less aggressive Americans, they were not at all happy but in the scared sense.
“Do you know what’s going on, why are they working on the plane?” a sweet little grandma asked in a querulous voice.
I explained the situation
“Oh dear” she turned even paler than her usual pallor
“I don’t like the sound of that”
“Well, look at it this way, would you rather fly in a broken plane or a mended one?”
“I see what you mean…… will it be alright?”
“Absolutely, it’s an American plane after all”
“Thank you young man”
Hmmm, don’t get called “young man” very often these days.
The delay turned out to be 2 hours, which meant the stop-over was going to be fun, it is only 2.5 hours anyway and at this time, transit was shut so you had to go in and out of the USA via LAX
immigration, it took so long on the inbound flight that we got to the departure with nano-seconds to spare.
So, we boarded. Chas was escorted on by a truly lovely FA
and I took up residence in a bassinette row, result! A fraction extra legroom and a big screen to lose myself in.
(unaccompanied minor) sat down next to me and after introductions I started helping her with her crossword.
A startled looking FA
“Why are you sitting there?”
“Errr, its my designated seat?”
“But she’s a girl!”
“And?...oh! ah, er, I see, well… I’ll go upstairs if you like”
Bugger, that didn’t work, they just swapped me round with the woman sitting next to me.
I now had a charming photographer from LA
next to me and he explained how Paul Masson wines did all their publicity shots in NZ
because it looks like California and has a “logistically preferable summer as regards advertising deadlines”.
Next time you look at a bottle of Californian vino, see the picture and go “Mmm, California looks nice”.
Eventually we took off and the captain, realising the problems with the stop-over decided that he would “Give it some welly”
I didn’t know you could thrash a 744 but this one got a pasting, it was patently obvious that we weren’t “cruising” this was flat out, throttles to the stops, excellent!!
After hearing how you can find an elephant and a troupe of performing dwarves at any time of day or night in LA
and chomping down a wicked meal of brown/yellow/green followed by POACHED PEAR AND
CREAM!!!!!..Yum!!! I fell asleep for 5 hours solid, oh the luxury of personal space again without Chas wittering on about the rates in Milton Keynes and other trivial bollox, yup, including the war!
I woke up and went to the back of the a/c to do my in flight exercises and afterwards decided to go check on Chas.
Predictably he was bending someone’s ear about Milton Keynes Council, I interrupted:
“Yeah Andy I am, but one thing though, they (he indicated the FA
’s) won’t leave me alone, they keep bringing me drinks and pillows and asking if I’m alright..now that’s what I call service, ‘ere, meet Dorothy (the pax next to him.)..she’s been to Milton Keynes, reckons it’s a right dump!”
I made my excuses and left
One of the reasons I can be totally unsociable on a flight is that I just slip into my own little world, I love flying and especially looking out of the window and letting my thoughts drift, sleeping is good too and I snatched another 45 mins somewhere along the way but the LA
photographer was a really interesting guy so I passed the time of day with him when not wandering about the cabin, looking out of the windows, spending 10 mins in the lav so different parts of me would go numb for a while and spending time on the jump-seat by the starboard rear door, gazing into space.
’s don’t always let you do this but this crew were a credit to the Koru and very laid-back.
Presently we landed in LAX
, incredibly only 40 mins or so late, I grabbed Chas and we steeled ourselves for ordeal by immigration.
There must have been 2 744’s arrived at the same time, immigration was a total zoo and at one point half my size 12 foot was over the “yellow line” and I got bawled out by someone in a brown uniform who must have had closely related parents, I hesitate to use the world “asshole” because mine does a good job…..
is a dump, I know some people like it but in my opinion (and I have been there 3 times now) it is a crapulous cess-pit of brown and grey and the staff seem to hate people, fair enough, I hated them, with the exception of the guy in Starbucks who was great.
It eventually became apparent as we tried to disembark, that we would not get through all the various queues and the poxy escalator that would only take 5 at a time.
I pointed this out to an Air NZ FA
who grabbed the “Tensa-Barrier” ripped it aside and yelled to the immigration bods:
“This lot need to come through right now”..way to go! I could have kissed her but she was at the immigration kiosks pushing all the NZ2 ers to the front of the line.
The strange little man at the desk made me quite scared when he said he was off shift in 10 mins and could he come away with me…dunno, was it the big feet or the English passport he desired???
We re-boarded, all good, I had the same seat as before but some new neighbours, a biker type, his wife and a baby.
We got into conversation and the wife mentioned she worked in Perth (Australia) for a magazine.
“Which one” I enquired
“Oh, Woman’s Ways” (I have changed the name).
“I know someone who works for them! Or rather her sister works for me”
Jade (The wife) squealed “She’s my mate, we stayed at hers the night before last!”
“Bugger!” I was already assimilating the Kiwi ways. What’s that, one degree of separation?”
Well, you could have slapped us all with a wet fish and called us Julie.
The rest of the journey was a total blur of conversation, JD
(The hubby) was a top bloke, their baby was soooo cute I could have eaten her and she didn’t cry once on the whole journey, she actually spent most of it trying to give me her Air NZ
teddy, which was nice….
Jade was so small she could curl up and sleep on the seat so to avoid pangs of jealousy I did my usual wandering about trick whilst the 3 of them slept.
The last thing I saw of the USA was what looked like an Island, stuck out on the east coast, all lit up with street lights, I wondered what was occurring down there, how they lived their lives and did they ever wonder who was overhead.
Between bursts of conversation, trips to make sure Chas was being looked after and anti-DVT
walks the flight seemed to take no time at all, pretty soon we broke through cloud over Twickenham and London looked as grey and crowded as ever.
We touched down and reality hit with a bump, time to stop dreaming, I have a family to migrate, forms to fill in and some explaining to do to the boss.
“Oh, Hi Mark, yes, I am a day late but Chas had to upgrade or die…..my new contract? Yes, I signed it this morning….er, um…well…….you see……something happened in New Zealand and…well…………..here’s my resignation too..........”
We, the undersigned, do hereby consent.....