Across the Globe in 4 Continents

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by Kiwi Flyer, Mar 25, 2007.

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  1. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Report coming soon.


    Here are the links to my previous trip reports.



    Index to this trip report

    1. Intro and Planning
    2. Visas
     

  2. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    INTRO

    Regular readers of my reports will be aware that Easter time means travel for me. It is a convenient time of year for me to take a trip, and I like that it is in between seasons at most places. So if visiting northern parts of North America, Europe or Asia it isn't too cold (although likely still colder than I am used to), and hopefully isn't yet blistering hot in subtropical regions.

    It is also a good time of year for me to earn significant mileage towards requalifying. Yes, not all frequent flyer programs have calendar year qualification periods. My main programs have qualification dates spread throughout the year. Since I credit different bits of an itinerary to different programs to maximise the benefits, it is a bit of a juggling act to make it all work out.

    One day I'll learn not to try to visit both extremes in the same trip (makes for tricky packing to meet the new strict carry on requirements). But for now, I've repeated the mistake.

    PLANNING

    I try to visit some new places each trip like this. So that was my major consideration. Also schedule was important for I only have a couple of weeks to spare. My earning is for star alliance frequent flyer programs, so that limits some options.

    I decided on another CRWSTAR3 (39,000 miles round the world in business class). After various playing around with schedules and spreadsheets I came up with an okay itinerary that I thought met all the fare rules. I then tested it against the RTWMC (online star alliance round the world mileage calculator tool). There are plenty of known bugs with this tool, so I waited until I heard back from agent that the itinerary was okay. Not only was it okay but I had managed to get the official mileage at 38,999. This is harder to achieve than it sounds since each airline has it's own figure of mileage for each route, and these may differ from that given by RTWMC or other sources (eg great circle mapper).

    I held off ticketing for a while, and it was good that I had. After making the reservation my plans changed and I needed to get back earlier. So I changed several flights and downgraded to CRWSTAR2 (34,000 mile limit). If I had ticketed at the time of reservation then I would have either not been compensated, or would have needed to cancel (costing US$150) and rebook (with the associated risk of not getting the same flights back if the booking class is not released back).
     
  3. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    VISAS

    Visas can take a while for me to obtain since the embassies and consulates are in a different city, or sometimes even in a different country. Where information needs to be obtained from the country I'm visiting, as is the case here, the often large time difference also plays a part.

    Other international travel has cut short the window I could obtain the visas in. I use a company that specialises in visas - the extra cost is worth the peace of mind (for checking the applications are correct and complete), the chasing up they do with the embassies and consulates, the speed with which visas are processed (seems to be faster through them) - ie the convenience. I had almost 3 weeks to get the visas, which seemed ample in the circumstances. Nonetheless I got a call 2 weeks later that only one had been done and I would need to pay an expedite fee to get the other consulate to process faster. Oops that other trip may not have been so wise after all.

    It was well that I did since even with this extra fee the passport was returned just a couple of days before my other trip. This is not the closest I have sweated it out - a few years ago I needed a replacement passport on short notice which arrived back the day of international travel.
     
  4. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    UNDERWAY

    With the usual rush before a trip I must have been mad planning a couple of days flying around the country immediately before leaving for overseas. Nonetheless the short journey around NZ went without too much of a hitch.

    I rocked up to check in at Wellington. There were queues at all the counters - not too many people using the quick check machines. With a paper ticket I was unable to OLCI, and using a different status FFP I was interested to see what seat I would get (see the link above for initial unsatisfactory results on a small sample post OLCI roll out). I got a reasonable seat on this moderately full flight.

    Sorry boarding has been called. To be continued.
     
  5. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #5 Kiwi Flyer, Apr 1, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2007
    WELLINGTON to AUCKLAND (WLG-AKL) on NZ 737-300

    I originally didn't include any domestic flights in my itinerary, for as one class only they are a bit of a waste in a business class around the world ticket. However the changes to my plans and tight schedule meant I was going to be leaving a few hundred miles to waste. Furthermore I needed to get from Wellington to Auckland any way. So waste not and add this sector.

    I catch up on my other trip report in the lounge. Soon boarding is called, followed a minute later by final call. I head round the corner to the gate to find boarding has only just started. Grrr.

    The flight is reasonably full but seat blocking worked for me. A few bumps after take off and then above the scattered cloud cover. We have decent views as we head north, passing over Wanganui, over the rough hill country and on the west side of the central volcanoes. In under 2 days I pass over the central North Island 8 times, but I do not tire of the views.

    With the strong head winds we arrive in Auckland a little late. Yay I am on my way.
     
  6. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    A QUICK SIDE TRIP THAT ISN'T AS QUICK AS PLANNED

    Some weeks ago I had the bright idea that since I had several hours to spare, and was going to be at the airport anyway, I could do a side trip to earn some points and status credits. Now, it doesn't seem like such a great idea as I'm a bit frazzled and seriously short on time. Oh well.

    On arriving at Auckland I walked through to the Qantas end of the now partly integrated domestic terminal. I'm quickly checked in and catch up on some work while waiting for the flight down to Wellington (on 737-300). I notice the seat I usually get still hasn't been fixed (it has been broken for several months) - it still auto-reclines. Very annoying for both me and the passenger in behind.

    The flight is uneventful, other than leaving slightly early and arriving slightly early is normal. I head for the lounge for a bite to eat, a drink, and to catch up on FT. Hmmm my flight hasn't been called yet and close to what I thought was the departure time. Grrr it seems the schedule changed after I'd booked and, unusually for Qantas, they hadn't notified me of the flight running 30 minutes later. Fortunately I'm not being met after the flight so nothing more than an annoyance.

    The aircraft is late arriving and so there is a further delay. Optimistically an announcement is made when the aircraft arrived that boarding will be in 10 minutes. Yeah right. In my experience, even when they are trying to turn around fast to recover time when they are running late they cannot do so and sometimes lose even more time. Sure enough boarding started 20 minutes later. I slowly made my way to the gate and was last to have BP scanned, but still a queue in the airbridge so I wasn't holding anything up.

    On board I notice I was in a row of 3 and politely requested to move to a row a couple back that only had 1 passenger in it. The flight was in darkness, not helped by the reading light being hopeless for illuminating on the aisle seats. I tried to doze. We arrived an hour later than I'd booked - unfortunately about par for the course with QF in NZ.
     
  7. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    I forgot to mention NZ has adopted new security rules from 31 March. After a period of a few years of not needing to remove laptops from carry-ons, it is now, apparently dangerous and therefore need to remove them once more. There were also dogs (with their handlers) at some security checkpoints as well as roaming around the terminals.

    For international flights NZ has now adopted the liquids rules for carryon. Some (but not all) domestic flights had an announcement about this on arrival - but if connecting to an international flight it is already too late by then for checked bags will be tagged through and transferred to the onward flight.
     
  8. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    AUCKLAND to NUKU'ALOFA (AKL-TBU) on NZ 767-300

    Back out to the airport. I had a little time free and it was a very nice warm day, so this time I walked from domestic to international terminal. The check in queues seemed longer than usual, perhaps since the liquid rules are so new that agents spend time explaining to passengers and some passengers have to rearrange their baggage. I head directly for the premium check in area. Only 2 check in agents are on duty so there is a small line. However with relatively few Air NZ flights at this stage it really isnt too busy. The big screen tv behind the counters explaining the new rules has a glitch and half the screens scrolling through show some code instead.

    Before I left for the airport I had checked on both Air NZ's departure and arrival screens and Auckland airport departure and arrival screens and noted that several of Air NZ's 767 flights were hours late arriving yet departures seem to not reflect that. So I made a point of checking that my flight was running on time, for I have several shortish connections ahead of me. I was reassured the flight was on time.

    I asked to be checked in only for the next few flights, but not all the way to my next destination. This was for two reasons - firstly I doubted the flights at the end of the sequence would be open for check in, and secondly to keep options open for later on whilst minimising the risk of lost bags. Hopefully this will become more clear when I get to the relevant part of the journey.

    The check in agent was puzzled why I would take this routing, with the old business class product and middle of the night stops in the humidity and forecast showers, when I could have routed more simply with the new business class product. The reasons are simple - I love travel and flying, and this routing adds to my unique routes flown as well as gets a little closer to having flown every single current Air NZ route.
     
  9. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Boarding passes issued I was quickly through immigration. Security was slow despite the extra staff manning the stations. Clearly the new rules will take a while for all passengers to get used to. On the way to the lounge I notice the duty free shops are deserted.

    With NZ being so far away from anywhere other than south pacific and east coast of Australia, a moderately high proportion of passengers have multiple flights to take and thus are unable to take liquid duty free outbound.

    The lounge is moderately busy with departures across asia, south america, australia and beyond in the space of a few hours. I freshen up with a shower, grab a late lunch and catch up on some work.

    The flight is full and seems there have been several op-ups also. We have a delay on departure waiting for 2 passengers who boarded very late. The taxi takes longer than usual, for at this busy time of day we have to thread through the parked aircraft at remote stands and in a couple of places wait for other moving aircraft. As we take off I am dismayed to find my seat is broken - it won't lock into the upright position. This is a seat I'm supposed to be in for more than half a day :(

    My flight is boarding - to be continued.
     
  10. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Auckland to Nuku'Alofa menu

    DINNER

    Starter

    Cured and seared tuna with ratatouille salad, baby spinach and crayfish mayonnaise

    Main Course

    New Zealand loin of lamb with spinach custard, tomato and red pepper compote, kawakawa roast potatoes

    Roasted chili kelp snapper with smoked kawhai potato mash, vegetable medley and pernod cream sauce

    Confit chicken with currant and chicken mousse, herb butter, vine ripened tomato and mushroom rocket risotto

    Dessert

    Gourmet dessert of lemon meringue pie ice cream and manuka honey chestnut ribbon ice cream

    Cheese

    A selection of fine New Zealand cheese

    Beverages

    Freshly brewed or decaffeinated Gravity coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate


    Wine

    Incomplete list (not printed on the menu)

    Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Kaituna Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Fiddler's Green Waipara Chardonnay 2004
    Allan Scott Marlborough Riesling 2005
    Waipara Hills Pinot Gris 2006
    Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2004
    Montana Reserve Marlborough Merlot 2004
    Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2005
    Cross Roads

    Spirits

    Glenfiddich Malt Whisky
    Chivas Regal Blended Whisky
    Jack Daniel's Black Label
    Gordons Gin
    42 Below Vodka
    Courvoisier VSOP
    Captain Morgan Rum
    Ron Bacardi Superior

    Port and Liqueurs

    Portuguese Port
    Grand Marnier
    Baileys Irish Cream

    Beer

    A selection of beer featuring Steinlager, Export Gold, Heineken and low alcohol lager

    Soft Drinks

    Mineral water, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, cola, lemonade, tonic water, ginger ale and a choice of diabetic drinks are available.
     
  11. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Auckland to Nuku'Alofa continued

    We quickly left New Zealand behind in the afternoon sun and headed across the ocean to Tonga. The flight is just long enough to view a movie. The sun sets during our flight and we arrive in twilight. The trip is moderately bumpy throughout. We don't make up any time so arrive slightly late.

    Deplaning takes a while due to the number of elderly and wheelchair passengers who are carried down the stairs. Roughly half the passengers head for immigration and the other half head for the departure lounge as transit passengers. I recalled that the terminal gets rather hot due to small size and lack of air-con, so I dallied in getting off the aircraft and into the terminal. Carry-ons can remain on board for this transit.
     
  12. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    NUKU'ALOFA to APIA (TBU-APW) on NZ 767-300

    After about 30 minutes in the stifling departure lounge it is time to reboard. We take off slightly late, not having made up any time. The flight is again full in both economy and business, meaning I am stuck with the reclining seat.

    One passenger was upset to be moved from her pre-selected seat in row 1 to make way for some VIPs.

    The flight time is fairly short, and again bumpy for the most part. No movies are able to be shown, so even in business class with PTVs only airshow and comedy shows (eg The Simpsons) are on.

    We again land slightly late in a sticky Western Samoa. The lights of the villages twinkling in the night sky in between low scattered cloud. At least here there is a breeze so slightly more comfortable than in Nuku'Alofa despite being hotter.

    Here everyone must deplane with all their carry-ons. This takes quite a while. I was surprised to see an Air China 747 parked up outside the terminal.
     
  13. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Nuku'Alofa to Apia menu

    LIGHT REFRESHMENT

    Club sandwiches

    Beverages

    Freshly brewed or decaffeinated Gravity coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate


    Wine

    Incomplete list (not printed on the menu)

    Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Kaituna Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Fiddler's Green Waipara Chardonnay 2004
    Allan Scott Marlborough Riesling 2005
    Waipara Hills Pinot Gris 2006
    Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2004
    Montana Reserve Marlborough Merlot 2004
    Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2005
    Cross Roads

    Spirits

    Glenfiddich Malt Whisky
    Chivas Regal Blended Whisky
    Jack Daniel's Black Label
    Gordons Gin
    42 Below Vodka
    Courvoisier VSOP
    Captain Morgan Rum
    Ron Bacardi Superior

    Port and Liqueurs

    Portuguese Port
    Grand Marnier
    Baileys Irish Cream

    Beer

    A selection of beer featuring Steinlager, Export Gold, Heineken and low alcohol lager

    Soft Drinks

    Mineral water, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, cola, lemonade, tonic water, ginger ale and a choice of diabetic drinks are available.
     
  14. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Apologies for the lack of update. I've been rather busy travelling but hope to post some more soon.
     
  15. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    APIA to LOS ANGELES (APW-LAX) on NZ 767-300

    A high proportion of passengers were continuing on to Los Angeles. So it was a slow process getting deplaned, through security and later reboarding. As at Nuku'Alofa, I hung back as long as possible. It was a beautiful night, the moon shining between scattered low clouds. A gentle breeze just barely keeping the air moving. An unidentified floral scent hanging in the air.

    The security screening is required by USA and thus US rules apply here. Liquids. Belt off. Shoes off. Many passengers, particularly those from Tonga were surprised and annoyed to have their duty free confiscated.

    We get a fresh crew here. I can think of far worse places to have a layover. Business class is only half full. Apparently they'd made some attempt to fix my seat during the transit but it was unsuccessful. So I switched seats.

    I slept as much of the flight as I could, but that was only about half of it - thinking about too many things to sleep properly. According to the flightpath we took a very northerly routing, heading almost North to fly over Hawaii's big island before turning right towards Los Angeles, to take advantage of jetstream. I would have liked to have seen the big island, so I was disappointed that I woke up just a little too late.

    The strong tailwinds allowed us to make up the previous lost time with interest, although when the captain did the spiel before landing did say they were sorry they hadn't made up as much time as forecast! I guess I missed that earlier announcement.

    Breakfast was, as is usual for Air NZ and too many other airlines, served too early - about 2 1/2 hours before arrival.

    Due to air traffic control we approach over Santa Barbara. There are great views through the smog, over the coast, mountains and later Hollywood including the sign of course. We land towards the sea at the same time a Singapore Airlines 747 is taking off from a southern runway.

    As we taxi in to the terminal there is a wierd coincidence. I looked out the window to see what aircraft was touching down as we slowly turn into our gate and lo it is the aircraft I will be flying on in a couple of hours! Could this be a good omen for immigration queues?
     
  16. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Apia to Los Angeles menu

    SUPPER

    Starter

    Local Samoan prawn Caeser [sic] salad with cos lettuce, bacon, parmesan and creamy Caeser [sic] dressing

    Main Course

    Lemon pepper masi masi with herb butter sauce, baked snow potatoes and broccoli with almonds

    Mediterranean style chicken fillet with roasted vegetable ratatouille and herb spaghetti

    Ham, onion and cheese quiche with country fried potatoes and tropical mango and chili chutney

    Dessert

    Gourmet ice cream dessert of peach and passionfruit and wild berry ice cream

    Fruit

    A selection of fresh seasonal fruit


    BREAKFAST

    Beverages

    Start your day with a fruit smoothie, your choice of juice, freshly brewed or decaffeinated Gravity coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate

    Fruit and Cereal

    Fruit selection with assorted cereals and yoghurts

    Bakery

    Croissants, muffins, wholemeal and fruit toast with fruit conserve

    Hot Breakfast

    Smoked chicken pesto and parmesan omelette with breakfast potatoes and chicken sausage

    Lemon curd ricotta cakes with yoghurt and pohutukawa honey cream and fresh strawberry compote

    Mushroom ragout with potato cake, streaky bacon and vine ripened tomato


    BEVERAGES

    Wine

    Incomplete list (not printed on the menu)

    Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Kaituna Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Fiddler's Green Waipara Chardonnay 2004
    Allan Scott Marlborough Riesling 2005
    Waipara Hills Pinot Gris 2006
    Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2004
    Montana Reserve Marlborough Merlot 2004
    Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2005
    Cross Roads

    Spirits

    Glenfiddich Malt Whisky
    Chivas Regal Blended Whisky
    Jack Daniel's Black Label
    Gordons Gin
    42 Below Vodka
    Courvoisier VSOP
    Captain Morgan Rum
    Ron Bacardi Superior

    Port and Liqueurs

    Portuguese Port
    Grand Marnier
    Baileys Irish Cream

    Beer

    A selection of beer featuring Steinlager, Export Gold, Heineken and low alcohol lager

    Soft Drinks

    Mineral water, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, cola, lemonade, tonic water, ginger ale and a choice of diabetic drinks are available.
     
  17. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    AUCKLAND to LOS ANGELES (AKL-LAX) - nonstop or via Islands?

    Air NZ flies between Auckland and Los Angeles via several routes - nonstop, via Rarotonga and Papeete (Cook Islands and Tahiti - soon to be discontinued), via Nadi (Fiji), via Nuku'Alofa and Apia (Tonga and Western Samoa), and via Rarotonga (soon to commence). This is the first time I have flown Air New Zealand between USA and New Zealand that is not on a nonstop flight. As expected the island hopper flight is generally not as good as the nonstop flights.

    - far inferior seat in business class
    - far inferior in flight entertainment
    - flight duration is several hours longer, which is the difference between going to the airport after work vs leaving work early if heading NZ->USA or between arriving in time to start work vs missing half a day of work if heading USA->NZ
    - middle of the night stops (the same is true in the other direction)
    - each flight segment is shorter, so more difficult to get a decent sleep
    - minimal amenities during the transits, and the heat and humidity in those transits means feel like needing a shower by the time getting to LAX/AKL

    That said, it wasn't too bad and if there was no availability on nonstop and only on the island hopper, and it suited my schedule, I would take it again.
     
  18. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #18 Kiwi Flyer, Apr 9, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
    LOS ANGELES

    I had a couple of hours transit in Los Angeles, which going by my past experiences is barely enough time to do anything by the time have cleared immigration at T2 (which can have over 1000 passengers in the non-US line), customs, pre-security boarding pass check and security. Indeed on the through flights, which have similar transit times, I have sometimes not bothered attempting to visit the lounge when told of how big the immigration queues and on other times have literally arrived airside only to go straight to reboarding the aircraft.

    So I had some trepidation about this transit. For it was vitally important to me, and to my fellow passengers, that I got a shower here. Why? As I've already said, the transits in the islands are hot and humid, so I get sticky. Add long flights both into and out of Los Angeles. Add a couple more flights beyond London Heathrow. Add in that there are no showers available to me at these onward airports. So in about 2 days of nonstop travel (not counting most of a day at work beforehand) I have only 2 opportunities to shower - in Auckland and in Los Angeles.

    As a seasoned flyer, I was prepared by having everything ready for when the seatbelt sign came off I was up and in a well-practiced move grabbed my carry-ons from the overhead locker and past the seats in front of me before those seated there had even gotten themselves out of their seats. While I waited for the door to open I adjusted my carry-ons for comfort and prepared for swift walk/run to immigration. I was second off the aircraft and first to arrive at immigration.

    I was stunned to see a full bank of immigration officers and not a single passenger at any counter or waiting in line. It was as if there had been no international (excluding Canada due to pre-clearance) flights arriving and they've just opened up. Obviously not the case - there were passengers on the other side of immigration collecting bags for example. This I was not expecting. I have arrived at LAX T2 way too many times and I have never not had queues. Sometimes, on a good day the queue might only be 15 minutes. On a bad day well over an hour.

    Thinking back, I probably stopped short for a moment to wonder at it all, before regaining my senses and heading through the zigzag before the other passengers past me. The officer could see I'd travelled to and through USA many, many times and thus processed quickly and easily. A slight pause at customs where I got tangled up with a very dazed looking european backpacker type. The customs form checker took a while to explain she needed to take the red line, and then said to me "what are you waiting for, you're good to go". Great - please hand me back my form.

    Upstairs I sped to security feeling good. Again no queue at pre-security boarding pass check and even the security queue consisted of 1 passenger and 5 TSA agents (who took quite a while to screen for some strange reason :confused: ).

    Arriving at the nice NZ lounge on the mezzanine level the agent at the door is dealing with a NZ Gold Elite passenger who is asking for an on departure upgrade. It seems the process is slightly convoluted in that the agent has to contact Airpoints to do it. She notices I'm back again and welcomes me in. Before I head to the shower I ask her to take my visa waiver stub which they'd stapled all the way through my passport :rolleyes:

    So in less than 10 minutes I'd made my way from gate through immigration and security to the lounge and into a shower. Amazing at most airports, and stunning at LAX. I had to pinch myself that I wasn't dreaming. And why can't it always be like this?

    After I was refreshed I had just enough time to check some emails and post a bit of this report before boarding was called some 60 minutes prior to departure.
     
  19. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    LOS ANGELES to LONDON HEATHROW (LAX-LHR) on NZ 777-200ER

    This is my first time on this flight since it switched from 747-400 to 777-200ER, but as I know already there is little difference other than cabin size / ambience.

    The flight was supposed to be totally full, but about 1/3 of business class passengers did not turn up so we had plenty of room to stretch out. While waiting for departure I rearrange my carry-ons so that I can fit one inside the other (taking my coat and liquids bag out first).

    I settle in with a couple of pre-departure drinks. About half the cabin are flying through from Auckland and the other half joined at Los Angeles. The flight attendants do a good job of checking if passengers are familiar with the seat and IFE and taking those new to it through how to operate them both.

    We push back on time and taxi past the 767-300 I arrived on. In a new change for NZ, the airshow is now switched on immediately after the safety video is played. There has been a tweak to the software and some satellite imagery of the airport is included, so we can see the plane taxiing down the runway and then taking off, flying out to the Pacific and looping back over the airport. It looks pretty neat. So far only LAX and LHR airports had this imagery, for the rest of the flight was back to the normal airshow (which is still very good compared to other airlines' flight maps and information). I guess this makes some sense. At the airports the scale and speed of movement is such that any one can tell from the satellite imagery where they are. Once in the middle of the flight, is a satellite image showing Podunk blur past in a flash miles beneath us going to add anything?

    The other change in the IFE is that the arrival videos are now optional. Yay, NZ has been listening to the complaints. This means we get an extra 30 minutes to watch movies. The old system was very annoying, for if wake up at breakfast on an overnight flight (as almost all the longhauls are) then there was insufficient time to see a movie before the system got overridden for a video you may not have wanted to see. The IFE is still switched off earlier than some other airlines (eg Singapore Airlines plays until very nearly touchdown).

    Tired from the previous nights lack of sleep I sleep through the first portion of the flight and awake over Greenland. I love seeing the ice cap, glaciers, mountains, icebergs and sea ice. So, not having a window seat (and in any case window seats are not that comfortable for viewing out of thanks to the herringbone layout), I spent quite a while at the exit door window, supping some drinks, chatting and watching the frozen world pass by.

    Once we are passed Greenland I go back to my seat for some more sleep, and awake over the Scottish Highlands.

    We do okay out of the Heathrow arrival lottery, only a few loops around and thus arrive basically on time. As well as the terminal transfer and security hassles, the overcrowded Heathrow skies are an annoying factor for me in planning transits. Some days you get lucky and straight in, which means arriving a long time before due time, other days you can spend longer circling southern England than you took flying from the continental Europe (even as far as Spain) and arrive a long time after due time.

    As seems to be the usual case for Air NZ we have a long taxi around the terminals, and a slow taxi for our gate is not yet clear of the previous aircraft. As usual, in my experience, we get the end gate of the furthest pier on T3. This means a long walk to the bus transfer for Flight Connection Centre (FCC), but that is not a bad thing after such long flights.

    I decide I have more than enough time to use FCC and do want to avoid checking bags, so no immigration for me this time. I did notice that NZ did not hand out any immigration fast track vouchers. I am not sure if this practice has been stopped in general, or just by Air NZ? If it is an NZ move then this is a pretty mean cost-cutting move unwelcome by premium passengers, many of whom will have just spent more than a day aboard Air NZ and having paid handsomely to do so.

    I arrive at the bus stop with perfect timing. Straight onboard the bus and the doors close behind me. Arriving at pre-FCC checks I am quickly through while the agents deal to (I was going to say with, but deal to is probably more accurate :shock: ) rogue passengers who dare to take 2 carry-ons, or haven't prepared their liquids. Inside the FCC itself it is a slow process, for of all the screening stations just 3 are manned and one of these is only available to BA premium passengers. Grrrr. Here shoes and belt both have to come off.
     
  20. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Los Angeles to London Heathrow menu

    DINNER

    Starter

    Seared peppered tuna with meyer lemon avocado, cucumber, coriander and jalapeno vinaigrette

    Main Course

    New Zealand lamb two ways with grilled eggplant, braised chickpeas, garlic roasted tomato and salsa verde

    Pan seared New Zealand hapuka wrapped in prosciutto, olive oil potato mash, melted tomato and green olive relish and broccolini in lemon butter

    Pan roasted organic chicken breast, caramelised garlic, marinated lentils, herb salad and crumbled goat cheese

    Light choice of braised short rib, bel paese cheese and caramelised onion sour dough sandwich with coleslaw

    Dessert

    Chocolate pot de creme with caramel sauce, flourless chocolate biscuit and toffee crumble

    Gourmet ice cream dessert of strawberry ripple and macadamia nut brittle ice cream with vanilla almond wafer

    Cheese

    A selection of fine New Zealand cheese

    Beverages

    Freshly brewed or decaffeinated Gravity coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate


    SNACKS

    Help yourself from our range of snacks available for you to enjoy during your flight


    BREAKFAST

    Beverages

    Start your day with a fruit smoothie, your choice of juice, freshly brewed or decaffeinated Gravity coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate

    Fruit and Cereal

    Fruit selection with assorted cereals and yoghurts

    Bakery

    Croissants, muffins, wholemeal and fruit toast with fruit conserve

    Hot Breakfast

    Creamy scrambled eggs with chives, chicken and sun dried tomato sausages, grilled bacon and mushrooms

    Orange brioche French toast with passionfruit cream and manuka honey and apple syrup


    BEVERAGES

    Wine

    Incomplete list (not printed on the menu)

    Kaituna Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
    Fiddler's Green Waipara Chardonnay 2004
    Allan Scott Marlborough Riesling 2005
    Waipara Hills Pinot Gris 2006
    Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
    Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet 2003
    Trinity Hills Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2005
    Jackson Estate Botrytised Riesling 2006


    Spirits

    Glenfiddich Malt Whisky
    Chivas Regal Blended Whisky
    Jack Daniel's Black Label
    Gordons Gin
    42 Below Vodka
    Courvoisier VSOP
    Captain Morgan Rum
    Ron Bacardi Superior

    Port and Liqueurs

    Portuguese Port
    Grand Marnier
    Baileys Irish Cream

    Beer

    A selection of beer featuring Steinlager, Export Gold, Heineken and low alcohol lager

    Soft Drinks

    Mineral water, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, cola, lemonade, tonic water, ginger ale and a choice of diabetic drinks are available.
     
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