On with the story. I started a timer when I left the house to board the shuttle. I was curious just how long it would take for me to get through five airplane trips visiting six airports, a shuttle ride at the start, and a planned train ride, and hike to my final destination. On I go.
The trip, despite the remarkable number of legs (I blame the bait and switch tactics of the ticketing company: Crystal Travel. I’ll never use them again even if they show as the cheapest on flights.google.com), went smoothly. I had a couple of delays, but nothing egregious, and with layover times pretty spread out, it simply meant I would have to cool my heels in the plane, rather than on the concourse. Though I did splurge and get all hoity-toity and book the trip from LAX to BNE as business class, and the time in the lounge at LAX was nice. Beer and food were plentiful there and on all the flights.
Legs? Did I mention legs? Since I had booked from LAX, I had to get from Denver to LA, and instead of booking the entire trip through Crystal, I decided to get my ass to LAX on a different carrier. So, I booked it via Southwest. As anyone who flies Southwest, it’s a rarity to have a trip of more than two hours on a direct jump, so I guess I added a stop on my own, traveling from DEN –> LAS –> LAX.
I arrived at LAX without boarding passes. Crystal had, when they changed my ticket in the bait and switch, issued a new confirmation, which they didn’t share with me. This made it so I couldn’t do the online confirmation or seat selection. Bastards. I called a couple weeks prior and got seats using my 13-digit ticket number, but after that, I didn’t think to check in until it was time. When I did, all I got was “Online check-in unavailable, check in at counter.”
OK, fine. I can do that. I arrive Southwest at the farthest terminal from the Bradley International. I sling my backpacks front and back, and hike to the terminal. It’s warm and when I get to the counter, I’m already sweaty. When the agent said she couldn’t check me in, I got just a bit more sweaty, this time with flop-sweat. What? Oh, shit. Those bastards have taken my money and left me sitting. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. What did happen is that they neglected to mention that even though I was simply passing through New Zealand, staying only a few hours in the terminal, I needed a Covid-declaration.
I step out of line, and download the app. Ten minutes later, flop sweat subsiding, I’d applied. I told the agent, and she said it might not be approved for up to 72 hours. Open the flop-sweat spigots. Before they really had a chance to get flowing, I got the email saying I’d been approved. Sweet. Back to the agent, and minutes later, I had anachronistic paper boarding passes in hand, and a ticket to the Star Alliance Lounge.
From that point forward, it was just a matter of flying from LAX –> NAN (Fiji) –> AUK (in New Zealand) –> BNE. Customs was a breeze and passport control was a self-actualized process. That was kind of a bummer, because I didn’t get a stamp. I wanted the stamp! Maybe it’ll happen when I leave? Hit up the ATM for some plastic Australian currency, and off to the train. Along the way, I checked the cost of an Uber. It was only 28USD to get to the hostel, and one was available in 2 minutes. The train wasn’t scheduled to arrive for another 28, and that would only get me to within 1.5 miles of the hostel. I made the executive decision to take the Uber.
Checking into the hostel was easy, and I get to my room. Much to my surprise, there is a cat curled up on the bed. A black and white cat. Did I travel half way around the world, and bring a cat with me? She got up, stretched, generously allowed me to give her a few scritches, and regally exited the room. I found out later that she is the hostel cat, and typically doesn’t allow anyone to touch her. I feel honored that she both graced my bed with her hair, and allowed me to give her a few pets.
That, my friends, is how I came to title this post.