Day 1-2: We’re off- New Zealand & Australia!

At the airport before check-in. Do we have enough bags? Not sure.

Here we are.  Enjoy the before pic – who knows the state we’ll be in the coming days!

So, despite organizational preparedness, we encountered a lengthly snafu upon check-in.  No idea what the problem was, but I stood and spoke to the check-in agent and our travel agent for over an hour.  I watched all 6 of our checked bags ride away on the luggage belt with no boarding passes in hand.  I was assured our luggage would make it to NZ and have a lovely trip even if we did not.  Not terribly comforting.

At long last the agent gave us security passes – still no boarding passes.  The original  seats we selected were no longer available – and hopefully the gate agent would be able to get us 6 seats together once we got there.

We got to the gate, and I then stood in line for the remainder of our time in Austin to obtain seats and boarding passes.  The flight was over-sold and delayed.  We never got boarding passes and were assigned seats in the same general area – 6 single seats requiring human interaction on the part of the girls and myself to arrange seat changes to get us all together.

Please note – Bryan sat by himself – slept, watched a movie, had a cocktail and enjoyed himself.  I entertained Lincoln for the whole 3.5hr.  He was really pretty good – but constant.  The girls chatted, played games and watched a bit of a movie.

We had a 5hr layover in LAX.  How nice you might think, LAX is a large airport you might think.  It is and the international terminal is nice, I hear.  However, we were stuck in an ancient terminal likened to one I would imagine seeing in a 3rd world country.  The place was filthy, crowded and complete with 3 restaurants.  Fortunately, the time passed fairly quickly.

Boarding was effortless – except the great feeling of sadness we experienced when passing through first class, business class and then into our economy class.  We did get upgraded seats to preferred, but they were dismal compared to the fully reclining luxury we strolled past.  I might have shed a tear.

The flight was lovely.  Yes, I said it.  The flight was lovely.  The staff was generous and even happy.  The seats were as comfortable as our economy class could buy.  Each of us had our own personal entertainment system complete with LOADS of movies, music, games and touch-screen refreshment ordering.  The bathrooms were clean – even after hours of use by the multitudes.  The wine was delightful.  The food was..meh.  GF option was wretched.   And I saved the best for last – Lincoln, the non-stop, action-packed 3yr old, slept!  And was well behaved in his wakeful hours.  The girls slept and were perfect angels when they were awake; Bryan slept; Bev slept; Jerretta did not – except very brief moments here and there.   Despite the insomnia the flight was swift and gratefully uneventful.  I do feel a bit like I am standing on a rolling ship, but I am still standing!

Arrival was easy.  We did have a rather exhaustive search in customs – these Kiwi’s take their agriculture and cross-contamination seriously!  Rental car pickup was easy.  Driving on the other side of the car and the other side of the road – not so easy.  Bryan handled it with grace and only almost killed all of us twice.  On par with the learning curve.

With the help of GPS, we arrived at our hotel,  got breakfast and checked-in.  Bryan and the kids went for a swim.  I got the hotspot set up and did some blogging.  Mom unpacked.  We’ll have a little R&R before meeting our family friend Sarah and her family for dinner.

Successful first and lengthy international flight! Up next…Zoo & Hobbiton

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