For many of our Canberra based members, the move to early departure flights with Qantas often means taking the “fog gamble”. Unless you’re on the first flight, you can be stuck at Canberra waiting for your aircraft to land. After a flurry of trip reports from members heading to Europe, this week we are journeying from Canberra to the USA. Fortunately, this time, there is no fog to be seen.
Well here we are in the Business lounge in Canberra. No fog! This has been my stress point for some weeks and I was kicking myself for not overnighting at the airport in Sydney. However all is well.
First destination for our travellers is Minneapolis, then off to Buffalo for a drive down to Niagara. After a pilgrimage to Saranac Lake, a drive to Gettysburg follows. Finally it’s across the continent to finish at San Francisco, with a visit to Google. With such a great itinerary, it would be easy to get excited, but sadly recent events have left our traveller feeling somewhat down.
Normally I would be feeling very excited as I love travelling – a whiff of aircraft fuel is like ambrosia. However having lost a good friend in the MH17 tragedy I find myself feeling very down and not really feeling like going. Hopefully that will pass. My friend loved travelling and we exchanged many e-mails swapping travel plans and experiences. She lived in Melbourne so we only saw each other a few times a year, but e-mail is so wonderful. I feel very sad thinking I won’t see an e-mail pop up in my inbox in a few weeks saying “are you back yet?”
If any lounge is going to help pick up your spirits, it’s the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney, where our travellers arrive after the 9 o’clock rush. With its a la carte dining and scenic outlook, an oasis awaits far away from the chaos of the gate area. Breakfast arrives, as its on offer to late in the morning, along with a glass of champagne. There cannot be a better way to prepare for the long flight to the USA, with the lounge considered to be one of the best on offer in the world.
After a long flight, one thing nothing can prepare any traveller for is the immigration queues on arrival in America. With Los Angeles usually the worse, it’s often a matter of luck how long it may take. Picking the wrong queue and being stuck behind four couples fresh off a Middle Eastern flight is not a great start. With customs cleared, it’s off to for a visit to Quarantine, an inspection of some declared wattle and bottlebrush leaves in order. Finally, 2 hours after landing, our travellers make it to the lounge for their connecting flight.
The journey is just beginning, yet there are many questions that need answers. What exactly are the wattle and bottlebrush leaves for? Why the pilgrimage to Saranac Lake, and has Google really become a tourist attraction, rather than an intern magnet? The answers to these questions and more will hopefully become evident over the next two weeks can be found HERE.