New Zealand to France, Long Way Round

While some of us may be more experienced than others at travel, we all have long trips that really stand out as being a nightmare. My nightmare trip was coming back from New Zealand last year. Was it anyone’s fault? Nope, well no one’s but possibly my own and some bad luck, but Qantas was still just as great as I had heard. Possibly a few American Airlines flight attendants could have been better but… well let me get to story of my trip.



After finishing my time in New Zealand, I had an extremely early flight the next day and because the trip from downtown Auckland to the airport takes so long, I opted to stay at the airport hotels. This still demanded a 4am wake up time, as the airport wanted everyone on international flights there at least 2 hours before departure. Yet, security wasn’t open until an hour before the flight, so we got to twiddle our thumbs until they opened security for the day.

Next was a flight to Sydney, it takes roughly 3 hours to fly to Sydney, and everything went smoothly. We arrived and after that, I had to deal with an 8 hour layover in Sydney. I’ve never had the opportunity to attempt to kill 8 hours in an airport, but it is not the best way to spend one’s day. The time went slowly, but eventually the plane began boarding, which was not nearly as smooth as boarding in LAX, despite them being the same plane. Then again, fitting 400-500 people on a single plane cannot be an easy thing to do.

Shortly after everything was closed down and the plane pushed back, we were in the air for our trip from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth. Now let me explain this flight, the Sydney to Dallas flight, at the time, was the longest flight you could take in the world. In air time for this direction was slightly less than going Dallas to Sydney, but still just short of 16 hours in the air. Now if you’re keeping track, with this flight included, I had been in transit for 27 hours.

This seems a great time to tell you, I can’t sleep in economy class. I’ve tried many many times, the most I can get is maybe 30 minutes at a time. So including when I had gotten up, I was awake for roughly 30 hours at this point. Global Entry didn’t work for me at Dallas for some reason, so I had to wait in a long line at customs. By this point I was hungry, and really wanted a shower, but still had one more flight to Philadelphia… after another 2 hour layover.

We boarded the plane to Philadelphia, an old American MD-88 aircraft if I remember correctly. These planes have the ability for the pilot to open small side windows while on the ground. Apparently the pilots had done so, and they could not get it to close properly. They brought a technician on board and worked to get it fixed. Now I am an Aerospace Engineer, so I know what they are going to have to do on some rudimentary level at least. So after a little while it hits me, we’re going to have to exit the plane, they need to do a pressurization test when they get this fixed. No more than 20 minutes later the announcement was made, “please get off the plane we need to do a pressure test.”

We exit, and wait, and wait… finally 2 hours after scheduled takeoff we get called to reboard. Except, the flight attendants had wandered away and no one could get ahold of them. So we waited some more for them to come back, an additional 20 minutes trying to find them.

We took off, I made it home, was picked up from the airport and went to bed… for a few hours and I do mean a few. Then I was awake again and packing for a work trip. I had to leave that day to France for a week of work meetings. So back to the airport I went. Boarding a plane to Paris, flight time of around 8 hours to France, 2 more hours in the airport, 3 hours on the TGV train, 30 minutes on a bus, and finally in the hotel in Aix En Provence. Immediately I went to sleep and having never wanted to explore a city less than when I arrived in Aix.

My inability to sleep while traveling is a problem, which is part of the reason I have been seeking out all of these points to help me travel more in business and first class cabins where seats are lie flat designs, this is far more likely to allow me to sleep at least enough to keep me from going slightly insane.

So that was my nightmare trip from New Zealand to France, the long way round. Does anyone else have some nightmare trips they want to tell me in the comments?

 

Rocket Scientist, Travel Junkie, and Ruler of the 4th Moon of Omicron Persei 8