Travels in Australia and New Zealand - on the way to Canberra, fun at LAX
I recently returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand, part for work and part for fun.
Pictures will be posted on picasa once I get a chance to sort through them. Some of the things
about the trip really just need to be told in words, so I'm going to do that here before I forget.
Starting with -- the trip to Canberra!
Our flights were from Albuquerque to LAX (United) and from LAX to Sydney (Qantas) and Sydney
to Canberra (Qantas) -- many many hours of flying. I hate LAX, really I do, and I was dreading
the trip through there. We had 2.5 hours to make our connection. We get in to LAX. We have to
change terminals which means going outside and getting on a bus to another terminal -- thankfully
the luggage transfers without us. Not only do we have to change terminals we have to check in
with Qantas once we get to LAX.
We get off the plane at LAX and there are no signs or maps anywhere that we can find to tell us
where to go -- so we hunt down a gate agent who kindly explains to us that we have to take an
airport terminal connection bus (bus A, NOT bus B or C) to the international terminal. We're also
told these buses come every 10 minutes.
We go to the curb. Bus B comes by, a bus C comes by, several other random buses go by along with
some more bus Bs and Cs -- time passes -- after about 10 minutes a bus A does in fact show up,
let off passengers, toss up an "out of service" sign and drive off. More time passes -- three more
bus As go by over the course of the next about 30 minutes that also go "out of service" right as
they pull up. (Little do we know we could have walked to the international terminal in far less
than that from where we'd started, like I said, no maps we could find). Finally we get a completely
overcrowded angry busload of people (all the other people waiting at all the other terminals I presume)
and just sort of shove of our way on.
We get to the terminal, get to Qantas checkin where we wait in another 30 minute line behind everyone
in LA that is taking this flight (lots of large boxes). We make it through, now we have about an hour
to our flight, and are confronted by a ridiculously long security line -- at first, it didn't look so bad!
then we realized not only did it go down the hallway it wrapped around a corner and came back! We make
the flight with minutes to spare.
The plane pushes back. And sits there. And sits there. The pilot comes on and mumbles something where snippets
are heard of words like "cargo" "heaviest flight" and frighteningly "calling Boeing" (this is a 747). The pilot
was really hard to understand. More time passes and the pilot comes back on and this time is more understandable
and basically explains that due to the amount of cargo they put on board, they were at a weight that was heavier
than they ever flew before and they had to call Boeing to make sure it was ok. Boeing said it was but we would
be spending a REALLY LONG TIME on the runway before taking off and "don't worry, it will be much longer than
you're used to, but we'll make it!" We were not amused, nor particularly warm and fuzzy feeling.
We start off and we are in fact zipping along the runway for a really long time....and still on the runway,and still
on the runway ...and by the way, these runways basically go off towards the ocean....and still quite firmly on the
runway.....finally we feel the front end start to lift up....but the back end doesn't follow quite yet...and we're
still on the runway....then *finally* the front end tips up more and after another agonizing about 30 seconds, the back
wheels also leave the runway, and very shortly after we see ocean beneath us. But we're off!
Next, the saga of the lost luggage and getting to Canberra. But tomorrow, after I sleep, and maybe figure out what
timezone I'm in and what the date really is (crossing the international dateline is kind of evil that way).