Simple plan. Nelson – Wellington– Auckland – Perth.
Arrived at Nelson airport, plenty of time, At Wellington we have an overlap of 35 mins, in Auckland over 90 minutes, so no problem. We got loaded onto the plane. We are ready to go early so at the beginning of the day we are ahead of the game.
Pilot announces that there are winds in Wellington (Saying there are winds in Wellington is like saying there is ice in Antarctica. There are always winds in Wellington!) so, for traffic, we delayed take-off by 10 minutes. Okay, now a little tighter. Take-off and steady climb. Having done this flight a few times even we can tell that we are flying slower than normal. Pilot then announces that we have been asked to slow down. Tick, tick, tick. Through the cloud I notice the windmills on the cliffs, usually a sign of landing in a few minutes and then the plane flies a little further north than usual. We are north of Kapiti island. Then the pilot announces that we are going to do a ‘go around’, Time ticks on, now our landing time will match the second planes boarding. While we are doing the maths of how fast we can run through security and become one of those obnoxious people that delay planes (about who we always complain) I notice the windmills again. Then the announcement of landing 8:05. We have definitely missed it now, and the plane flies on through the cloud, ……and then again…. the windmills We have gone around twice. Eventually we land, as bumpy as Wellington always is, 65 minutes for a 30 minute flight. We are let off the plane first (very thoughtful) but then we have to wait for everyone to get off the plane to board a bus to go 50 metres.
In the terminal we found a counter (we had gone to the right one by sheer luck) and they have new tickets waiting for another plane 08:45. Its already on final call. “Just wave your tickets and push into the front of the security line” Through security, grab everything (hopefully everything) and run to the gate. This one leaves on time, a quick (tailwind assisted) flight to Auckland. Now we land with just over 20 minutes to get from domestic to international, through emigration and security and find the gate.
At this time we claim to be the recordholders of the (yet to be officially recognised) “green line airport dash”. (you follow the line as a direction) 4:30. (They say 10 minutes, yeah, right!) Although it might have been faster if one of us had sat on a trolley. (I will try that next time)
We made it (thanks to E-Passports) and a certain amount of purposeful overtaking of the slow-moving geriatrics. We arrived with about 90 seconds to spare, and as we step into the crowded lounge, and the board reads NZ175 : DELAYED.
An hour later we are now confident that with a delayed plane at least our luggage would have caught up with us. We exchanged currency, had a coffee, and then after further delaying they handing out “refreshment vouchers”. We went for a couple of beers (they are “refreshing”) but no, you can’t use them for alcohol.
The delay continues………. Then at 2.5 hours late we get a gate change. Everyone shuffles along. Then we wait at the new gate for almost an hour while we had what seemed like a class system bus service to the plane. The 9 ‘uppercrust’ passengers got a bus to themselves. (I guess they weren’t paying that much to mix with the ‘likes of us’) Then the 25 or so, what I can only assume were “middle crust”, then everyone else. We were loaded, ready to go, only 3.5 hours late, then there was a missing passenger……. Finally we took off.
Now, (I am sure you can guess this bit) as we stood at the carousel to collect our luggage, the announcement came for Bronwyn to go to the counter, yes, our bags are still in Auckland. This is the point we work out that Terry’s ‘carry on’ has important things like cameras, computer, sketch books. Bronwyn’s has things like, a change of clothes.
We get a bus into town, find the hotel. Our bags will be couriered to our hotel the next evening. They should arrive about 10 hours before we leave to fly up to Exmouth. If not, I guess we will just have to go and buy some clothes.
What went well.
· We got a number of texts from the airline to inform us of the delays
· The plane staff did as much as they could (letting us out first etc)
· The ground staff worked hard to handle a difficult situation.
· The food on the Perth flight was good.
Lessons to take way
· Book with one airline as far through as you can. They can solve their own problems better than across airlines.
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