Flying to Vancouver
My flight NZ 24 departed Auckland at 8.10 pm, and my parents drove me down from Whangarei in the afternoon. My brother came up with the kids from Hamilton as well, so we had a nice few hours together in the really rather incredibly boring International terminal. The observation deck is closed due to construction works at the moment, so it’s pretty much a few food places and a couple of escalators. We made full use of these with my nephew and niece, as well as talking at length about the model of Jean Batten’s plane hanging next to them.
In the end the flight took only 12 hours, despite being scheduled for 13 or more! I was given an extra pillow because my headrest wasn’t working properly, and this, along with the pillow I had taken onboard myself, meant I was able to construct a moderately comfortable spot on the plane and get a miraculous six hours sleep on the way over. The downside of this is that I only got to watch two films from the substantial number I would like to have seen.
It was the first time I have flown long distance with Air New Zealand, and the verdict was "pretty good". The food was not too bad, the flight only encountered a little turbulence (that I was conscious for), and the people sitting next to me were a lovely quiet Kiwi couple. I was disappointed that there was no hot towel, or even a wet wipe, handed out when they turned the lights back on in the “morning”. A small thing, but it does wonders to make you feel awake and a little less like you haven’t showered for a week.
On arrival the airport staff were smiling and friendly, and I actually did feel welcome - not a common feeling in airports. Though I expect some of my positive feeling towards them was just that I spoke their language. We were led to a large hall / atrium area that was full of hundreds of people queuing, first to enter their data for an electronic departure card, and secondly for passport control. The waiting was interrupted briefly by a passenger playing the bagpipes as they came down the escalator into the hall! After passport control I was sent into another room for immigration. There were probably another hundred people in there, mostly working holiday makers. We took it as a bad sign that there were sufficient chairs for everybody. And we were right - it took over an hour to process us. Fortunately there was free wifi, and we all made good use of it! The process seemed to change, and no-one in the queue seemed to quite understand what we going on. In the end they came and took our passports and told us to go and sit in another set of chairs, eventually returning to call our names from the counter. No questions were asked, and no further paperwork required, they simply handed us our work permits and we were done!
I took the Skytrain and a bus from the airport to my Air Bnb room. This wasn’t too difficult, though it did start raining as I got on the bus. Glad I chose to bring my rain jacket! I was only on the Skytrain through a few stations, so it didn’t allow me to get much of an impression of the city from an aerial point of view.
And I was in the country less than 3 hours before I was asked for directions at the bus stop!