Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Nov 28, 2012 – Nadi, Fiji to Victoria Canada, layover in Los Angeles
Nov 28, 2012 – Wednesday –Nadi, Fiji to Los Angeles, California
My alarm goes off at 2AM and my taxi driver Peter is ready for me at 2:15AM when I schlep my bag down the stairs into the lobby. I am #3 in line for the check in counters at the airport, and when they open, my check in is complicated, since I have to be rebooked on my connecting flights. The good news is I have a seat and a boarding pass! The bad news is that I have to overnight in San Francisco, which apparently Air Pacific will pay for.
As I take the escalator to the departure lounge, Air Pacific announces they have overbooked the flight, and appeal to passengers to relinquish their seat for a cash payment of US$500, hotel accommodation, and guaranteed boarding on tomorrow’s flight. I’m glad I have a seat…I’m certainly not giving it up!
We are on a new Boeing 777-200ER, which is a Euro Atlantic Airways aircraft. They are a young Portuguese crew (Portuguese owners), which Air Pacific has obviously hired to fill the gap for a 747. There is one Fijian flight attendant aboard, and I tease her about this fact as I board…she giggles. Unfortunately, this aircraft is about 100 passengers smaller than the 747, which explains why Air Pacific is constantly struggling on the ground to cope with the extra bookings it has. The couple seated beside me waited until Sunday for this flight, showing up at the airport each day, only to be denied boarding. Their situation makes my flight delay look easy, although I’m still not happy about Air Pacific’s poor performance.
The bonus is that there is much more leg room in this aircraft, there are less people aboard, and the air in the cabin is much better than what I encountered on Air New Zealand’s 747-400 on the way down to Fiji. I still blame that flight for causing the throat infection I suffered through aboard ship. The flight departure is delayed an hour and a half from 7AM to 8:30AM, when we finally push away from the jet way. This is going to screw up all the connecting flights for onboard passengers, since our arrival time with be late as well.
Once we are airborne, I can feel the motion of the aircraft change with the change of flight crews in the cockpit every few hours. It’s pretty obvious when they start playing with the trim and power levels, although they maintain a 35,000’ cruising altitude, and it is generally a smooth flight with only occasional bumpy sections. The old men and women have found the free wine, which is available from the galley, and wander the isles with their glasses of red or white. I split my time aboard the aircraft between snoozing and working on my MacBook Air editing photos and writing my travel journal. It’s nice to have a notebook that fits on the fold-down tray, and I can listen to music from my iTunes at the same time. I also browse some magazines using my iPad, but the aircraft is shaking side to side in the rear section I’m seated in, which makes it uncomfortable to read for long periods of time.
We arrive late as expected, despite the flight only taking 9 hours and 35 minutes which is quite a bit faster than expected. I clear US customs and immigration and retrieve my bag, but then have to wait in line again to get my flights to Victoria rebooked. The guy in Nadi who booked them screwed up badly. If left as-is, I would have to overnight in LA and San Francisco, meaning it would take me two days to get home from LA. The guy who does the rebooking for me knows what he is doing, and has flights that make sense put in place in no time.
I end up taking a taxi to the Airport Hilton, so I can get ahead of the crowd milling about at the free shuttle. I run into Lauri Roche in the hotel lobby, as we both check in, so after a quick cleanup, we both go downstairs for the dinner provided by the airline. By this time, it is coming up to midnight, and Lauri has an early morning flight to catch to Vancouver, so we bid adieu.
Nov 28, 2012 – Wednesday – Los Angeles to Victoria
Since my flight yesterday flew eastward and crossed the International Date Line, I get to live Wednesday over again.
I go downstairs to have breakfast, which is provided by the airline. I call home to let them know I’ll be arriving at Victoria airport at 10PM today. I catch the shuttle to the airport just before noon. Because I have paper tickets, I am redirected to the re-ticketing check-in and am issued boarding passes for both LAX and SFO. My bag is checked through to Victoria, so I go through security and then upstairs to find my gate.
I have over two hours spare time, so I connect to the free Internet service at LAX. I didn’t expect LAX to have free Internet – bonus! Hopefully my flights depart on time and I get home this evening…