We checked out of the hotel at 2 p.m. and took a cab to the airport. We tried to check-in at the international terminal at the airport as the woman over the phone had told my colleague to do: "take your itinerary to the new airline carrier's desk and they'll have all of your information." Not. As if it could be as simple as that.
After much run around, three different service desks between two companies, we finally made our way through travel security and to the international gate. By this time it was 5:00 p.m. and we were hungry. Our only option? Burger King! In a foreign country no less! I instantly regretted not having had lunch at the hotel before departing. I never eat fast food. So this was a double disappointment for me. I ordered the least offensive item on the menu... chicken tenders with BBQ sauce and made the most of it.
We killed time by shopping around a bit (only one eatery in the terminal but TONS of shops!) and were thrilled to load onto the plane at 7:00 p.m. Less than thrilling was that it was completely packed (having since acquired additional passengers from our originally booked Quantas flight) and I was relegated to the center seat in the center of the plane!
Never in my life have I sat in the center seat. In 30 years of travel! At 5'9" and on the amazonian side of female proportions, this was sight to be seen, I am sure. Not to mention that my colleague to my right and the unknown stranger on my left immediately sacked out leaving me essentially trapped in the middle for the duration of the 12 hour flight! The seat in front of me reclined so sharply and violently (at least 80 degrees) that the mini-LCD screen that was embedded in the back of it nearly clipped me in the nose!
Misery definitely was re-defined for me in that 12 hours. For a moment I almost entertained an anxiety attack. This must of been some odd repayment of the extraordinary trip over! I didn't sleep at all on this trip home and the movie menu was the only thing that kept me sane. I watched "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Other Boleyn Girl" and read OK! Magazine which a nice young lady in the terminal finished and offered to me.
The airplane meals came and went and were uneventful aside from the fact that smell of them almost got the best of me. IWhat is it about airline food that has to stink so badly? It was not appetizing in the least, so I stuck to the dry roll with a bit of cheese and the juice offered. The rest went untouched. Thankfully I had tucked some dried fruit and nut mix into my carry-on and with the act of a Chinese contortionist I managed to retrieve to from the space beneath the seat in front of me.
We arrived at LAX 11 hours and 45 minutes after our departure from Auckland. It felt so much longer because of the horrendous seating arrangement, but as I said, I was glad to have even secured a seat on this flight home. Note to self: next time, be sure to fly Quantas! I am totally bummed because I don't even earn miles on the Air New Zealand flight! I am going to have my travel agent call Quantas and see if they'll honor the miles (they are part of the One World Alliance which shares miles with American Airlines) since they're the ones who had to bump us. I can only hope to have some sort of reward after enduring that flight!
Despite my makeshift piece of luggage lugging 5 bottles of wine, we cleared customs rather swiftly. The only delay was trying to find that box, which someone had pulled off the carousel and conveniently forgot to place it back on again! UGH! Why do people do that?
We made our way to the Domestic terminal and found a palatable lunch along the way. For an International hub, LAX is not very user friendly. Being there made me so much more grateful for the layout, tram and dining options at DFW. We boarded the plane for our 4 p.m. departure back towards the middle of the country. We arrived at DFW at 9:00 p.m. and loaded onto the short flight home to Tulsa at 10:00 p.m., where we touched down at 11:05 p.m. May 21, 2009 was a 36 hour day! My exhaustion was instantly overcome by elation and in no time I could spot my dear hubby waiting for me just behind the security gates.
We got home just before midnight and fell into bed soon after that. Home just in time for my sweetheart's 32nd birthday. I was glad to be in my own bed, next to my man.