Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Getting There is Half the Fun

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  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Danielle,

    He was called Cnut.

    Pronounced canoot, I believe. I know a Canadian Knut.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 825 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Ah, yes, Hell. I went to get a drink from the supermarket in Hell Senteret and found the ice tea stacked next to the fridge. But that was the most hellish thing that happened to me there. They have a beautiful little railway station with a sign saying "Hell Gods Expedition". Definitely worth a visit, even if for no other reason that whenever somebody tells you to go to Hell, you can say, "Been there. Lovely little town. A bit chilly in the winter, though."

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan, in reply to David Haywood,

    The nice European university who paid for our tickets made a decision (on our behalf) that it would be fine…

    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    Hell, flying back to NZ with small children is bad enough. I spent two and half hours walking back and forth "jiggling" my 4 month old son. As soon as I stopped he screamed, as the flight attendant found out. She was ok with me walking after that.

    Double-plus-agree about express queue for parents with kids. It happened once that we were ushered to the "priority & flight attendants queue". My pathetic relief was, well, pathetic, but heartfelt. If I was desperate again I think I'd try just rocking up there and if asked say you were told to by .. *airly waved hand* .. someone.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Travelling in the US with a person who uses a wheelchair is fun. At every security point they believe the wheelchair user is faking and try and make them (ie threaten with guns) stand up so they can search under the cushion. (I would suggest that travelling anywhere by plane for a wheelchair user is definitely not fun)

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    noise cancellation headphones

    The New Zealand ones -Black Box by Phitek - are cheaper here than Bose. Got to try some out briefly on a domestic flight and they were great.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I just got back from Oslo last week. It actually made me think of Wellington but with 3 decades of oil wealth. Was a bit sad to see that NZ had been out fiorded, out laked and out coffee'd but wasn't particularly sad to see that we'd also been out kebabed. Eating out in Oslo being so expensive that every one seems to want to eat kebabs all the time as an alternative.

    Lovely country though

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1024 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It’s LAX. It wasn’t built to sustain the volumes of passengers it gets especially post-911 and post- the restrictions on liquids that kicked in in 2007. What’s more, for some reason the airport is a microcosm of the city and as such is built around a multi-tiered highway and a huge carpark. It’s so weird. Why is it that the only place you can eat once you’ve gone through security for an international flight is that sub-par Mexican place? No one knows.

    And yes that transit lounge situation is still all kinds of wrong.

    As Danielle said, SFO is pretty good. Dallas/Fort Worth is great if you’re heading south and can fly through Sydney. Plenty of the internal hubs have a lot going for them – Detroit is nice but weirdly long; Denver is awesome (cowboy hats!conspiracy theories! Chicago O’Hare is awful; Washington Dulles is fine and has a five guys; Atlanta is okay.

    On the regional level, you can get barbecue in Memphis, a “y’all come back now y’hear?” in Nashville, and Pittsburgh, which is the best airport of all, has a dinosaur skeleton, a pirate, and free wi-fi.

    It’s really not all bad and most airports -- even though the security isn’t exactly relaxed -- don't have the same intensity as LAX.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Houston airport has great food, but it's named after George Bush senior, which is off-putting. (Also, I have a sort of irrational dislike for Denver because I always seem to be landing in snowy turbulence and I am a Very Nervous Aeroplane Passenger with many unwarranted fears.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Jake Pollock,

    As Danielle said, SFO is pretty good. Dallas/Fort Worth is great if you’re heading south and can fly through Sydney. Plenty of the internal hubs have a lot going for them – Detroit is nice but weirdly long; Denver is awesome (cowboy hats!conspiracy theories! Chicago O’Hare is awful; Washington Dulles is fine and has a five guys; Atlanta is okay.

    Adding to this: Seattle isn't bad (I may just have Stockholm Syndrome after the number of hours I've spent there) and Boston is a bit small for its volume. Las Vegas has pokies everywhere, which is frankly just creepy. New York-JFK was designed by Kafka. My only real memory of Minneapolis-St. Paul is running through it, because it's *huge*, but the blur rushing past looked okay.

    My current real beef with air travel into/in America (apart from all the usual) is the way that at some neighbouring airports - Montreal, in my case - they put you through immigration/customs/etc for America before you get on the plane. As you can imagine, this can impact somewhat the required arrival time at the airport. They don't tell you this when you book your flights. I didn't quite miss my plane, but going through US immigration on a tight time deadline is pretty much the definition of "stressful".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Thank you so much for sharing your escapades in such a humourous manner. Makes me feel somewhat guilty of the long haul flights we have done with our children, without mishap. Although boy did lapse into unconsciousness as we queued for passport control in Libya after 48 hours of travel from NZ. Then things got a bit weird as there was an irregularity with one of our passports. After I had lugged comatose boy through immigration, our 7 yr old girl was stopped because she didn't have a visa. We had been informed that she didn't need one, but unbeknownst to us this is because Libyans can travel on their mother's passport until they are 8. My wife stood firm, and after a very tense 30 minutes, they were finally allowed to join us in Libya.

    One thing we did realise after our first long haul segment, is the children's meals are totally inappropriate for our kids : Chicken nuggets (deemed inedible by the kids), "fries" (barely edible), chocolate bars, biscuits, sweetened dairy food and sugary drinks - no fruit or vegetables at all. We got in touch with the travel agent and got their meals changed to 1 adult meal, and 1 fruit platter, which they shared on all our other legs. I'm sure it helped. Because special meals arrive before the main meals they got to demolish that first, which is good because children are not reknowned for their understanding of the logistics of delivering meals to a planeload of passengers when they are seated such that they receive their meal later than almost everyone else.

    LAX being bad is definitely not a recent thing. It is the worst airport I have ever been to - a 2 hour transit in 1997, that was inexplicably lengthened to 4 hours, in a grimy room with no windows, and insufficient seating, ventilation, and lavatories, and a complete lack of food and drink. Staff unfriendly and unhelpful, who enjoy shouting at you. Eventually an AirNZ flight attendent brought a trolley load of sandwiches and water pottles off the plane. I though the poor guy was going to be killed in the crush.

    Hope your travails can become mere travels.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Age. Age makes a huge difference. I shepherded my three daughters (14, 11 and 11) to London and back recently, transitting at Shanghai Pudong. The planes all had a 2-4-2 seating configuration in economy class, so we got window and aisle seats, 2 in front and 2 behind. The girls watched movies, read books, chatted a little, slept. I did some needlework (exceedingly genteel). It was all very restful.

    And a stunning contrast to the time that I walked from Brisbane to Palmerston North (back in the days when we had international flights landing here), up and down the aisle, toting a toddler. Every now and then I would deposit one toddler with my husband, and pick up the other one. I had fabulous biceps back in those days.,

    Many thanks for the laughter, David.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Remember that in the US (unlike the rest of the planet) there are no real international departure lounges - or international transit lounges - everyone has to go through immigration when they arrive, even if you're on the next flight out of there - the (small) upside - no immigration going the other way. In fact most US airports don't have ANY immigration facilities - it's why you go through US immigration in Canada BEFORE you get on the plane to fly to the US (remember to get to the airport early).

    If you've been stuck in rush hour at HKL (late afternoon) you'll appreciate the importance of international transit as a good idea

    That LAX departure lounge with that Mexican restaurant isn't anything special, it's not even in the 'international terminal' - it's a domestic departure lounge too.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Danielle,

    dislike for Denver

    I kind of like Denver. I think it's nice the way they are doing their bit to encourage exercise by making sure that your outgoing gate is as far as possible from your arrival gate.

    Our worst timing experience was transiting through Mexico city, we couldn't read the signage (not their fault) but standing in the very long immigration queue (hoping it was the correct queue) watching the minutes tick towards the departure time of our connecting flight was very stressfull. We cleared immigration with enough time for me to sprint to the gate and beg them to hold the door open while my partner caught up.

    It does seem that fitness training before international travel is a good idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    LAX being bad is definitely not a recent thing. It is the worst airport I have ever been to – a 2 hour transit in 1997, that was inexplicably lengthened to 4 hours, in a grimy room with no windows, and insufficient seating, ventilation, and lavatories, and a complete lack of food and drink. Staff unfriendly and unhelpful, who enjoy shouting at you.

    That'll be the room we were herded into in 1991, with a baby. It just makes no sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I think you need to understand the US immigration agent's world view - they get lied to all the time, their job is to figure out which of us are trying to pull one over, these days they work for DHS, they're told they're soldiers on the front line. And they're probably paid crappily, and expect to be blamed if they were the one who let the next 911 crew through.

    No matter how crappy I feel I make sure I have a smile, a "good morning", a little joke (the same lame joke every time, I figure they'll never remember it they see so many people), in my case I always mention that Oakland is home for me too (it is after spending 20 years there).

    (the same is true coming through Auckland at 5am - be nice to the person who had to get up at 2am to meet you)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    (having said that I'm not trying to justify the crappy way we're treated there, just trying to explain some of the why)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Just popping in to say how much I've been enjoying reading this thread (on my mobile while waiting for Bob to sleep). Well worth the awfulness of our trip to read other people's even more awful experiences. I feel much better now, and realize that I should simply be giving thanks that we don't have twins.

    Paul Campbell wrote:

    No matter how crappy I feel I make sure I have a smile, a “good morning”, a little joke

    I attempt the same approach at LAX but the DHS officers are a deeply stony-faced group of people. I'd hate to be doing stand-up with them as an audience.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    BTW I suspect that evidence in their file on you that you reliably leave before your visa is up probably counts for a lot once they see that you're in, the rest is all pro-forma

    One of the downsides of having no exit immigration formalities has been that historically the US got it wrong a lot - that green thing stapled in your passport that the airport checkin people would take from you was supposed to do it - but the airlines apparently sometimes lost them - without a stamp in your passport you have no proof that you'd actually left (and NZ don't stamp NZ passports when you get home) - there's way too many stories of people being detained as they arrived in the US in transit or for a while because the US records say they're still there as over stayers - for about 6 months they replaced that system with kiosks and now I guess they figure they're watching you way too well to miss you leaving. If you do leave the US over a land border DO make sure you get your passport stamped, don't just speed through that closed border checkpoint at 2am

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Now I feel all left out - we spent 5 weeks travelling from NZ via Sydney, LAX & Miami to Bermuda, then to Gatwick and Rome, and back the same way (all in one hit from Bermuda to NZ -43hrs). LAX was the least favourite airport, but we got thru customs in about half the time we were led to expect. American Airlines was our least favourite carrier, even Jetstar in NZ has a better experience.
    But overall, travelling with an 11 & 13 yr old and an 82yr old diabetic nana, it went much better than we had any right to expect.
    And now, 5 weeks afterwards, I barely remember the butt-numbing hours of flight, and semi-comatose jetlag - its the sunset over the Seine and the shimmer of the Grand Canal and the pink sands of Bermuda that are fixed in my memory. The slide-show on my PC desktop has no images of airports or customs desks, just canals, beaches, alps and smiling family faces.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I was slightly disappointed when we flew into Rome, we queued in the non-EU queue, once we got to the officer he took one look at New Zealand on the cover of the passport and waved us in - no stamp or anything, no official evidence that we were even in Italy. The Chinese guy ahead of us took 5 minutes to get processed though.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    that's the thing our passport is worth something - we're trusted because we carry it - when people like the Mossad screw with it we all lose from that

    My 10 year non-ePassport has another year to run on it, I got one of the last ones, one downside of the new 5 (really 4.5) year ones is that you don't get to collect a lot of stamps anymore

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta,

    I don't know how people laughed at this - perhaps it's because I can't relate (I don't have kids yet), or perhaps because I loathe long-distance air travel enough as it is without having the bonus multiplier of little humans that don't quite understand what's going on. Perhaps I lack the black humour gland?

    This also gave me an uncomfortable reminder that I've got a total travel time of 26 hours to deal with soon, on the venerable China Southern. Shudder.

    I also agree that LAX is a ridiculous airport. I still recall the brusque unhelpfulness of the staff there.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Konrad Kurta,

    on the venerable China Southern. Shudder.

    I do not envy you. When I first came to China I flew China Southern from Hong Kong to Changsha. It was a 737-300 or above, but looked and smelled old inside, the seats cramped as close together as possible, dark and dingy. The inflight meal was a packet of crackers and a can of fizzy thrown at you. Fortunately the flight was only 1 hour. A year later I flew China Southern Changsha to Guangzhou on the way to Norway. Same deal, with the added bonus that descending into Guangzhou the plane kept zigzagging all over the place, getting ever closer to the rooftops and rivers that looked thick enough for us to land on, as if the pilot was lost and was about to jump out and ask for directions.

    Then again, my Mum flew China Southern to and from Beijing a couple of years ago and was quite happy with them, so it would seem they've improved.

    Oh, and when it comes to zigzaggy approaches, I think the scarier one would be the approach to Yuncheng, Shanxi, in smog so thick I couldn't see the ground until we were uncomfortably close. I can understand the pilot struggling to find the airport in such (in)visibility. Then when we pulled up to the terminal and the door opened the first thing I smelt was coal. Ahhh... back in Shanxi.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    China Southern had a novel if ruthless approach to making sure their Y2K software issues were dealt with - booked all their senior managers on flights that would be in the air at midnight on 31/12/99.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington, in reply to Russell Brown,

    ...in that she was recovering from heart surgery. By Friday, her birthday, in ludicrous Wellington weather, they were feeling morose and my friend had received no presents whatsoever.

    Ahem, I'm pretty sure she'd received one..... from Nelson.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

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