Saturday, 5 November 2011

On Air Canada flight 34

Note: In truth I should have written another entry before this one which would explain about the Driza-Bone coats and other bits. However, I didn't have the time on Friday (Oz time) and couldn't think about it on Saturday (Oz time). I am currently so zonked that I don't think I will have the spare brain cells to write it today, Saturday (Canuck time.)

With the added weight of two Driza-Bone coats, my luggage was much heavier than anticipated. Furthermore, the ticket machine at the train station was rejecting my cards. My credit card has been problematic in the last 36 hours. I have checked with Visa and the problem is the system and distance, not my card. However, in order to buy a ticket to the airport, I had to find a bank machine which means further haulage. My hands are raw from all the schleppage in the last two days. Halfway across the Pacific I realized that I should have applied the Burt's Bees Hand salve that I carry for my hindquarters on my hands. I will be able to have access to it when I am reunited with my duffle bag in Vancouver for customs.

The train from Sydney to the airport is almost all underground which disappoints me. However, it is quick. It is also remarkable, as it is a double-decker train.

Once in the airport, I got Leonardo out of storage and renewed the duct tape. The roll of duct tape I bought yesterday is slightly stretchy which makes it less predictable. Air Canada's mobile access has changed: I no longer can pay the bike surcharge nor do I get an electronic boarding pass. I think I unfairly disconcerted the check-in clerk by asking why. The Aussie clerk on loan from Quantas didn't have a clue. After disposing of the checked luggage, I had an outdoor breakfast next to a guy from Australian customs having a smoko. I politely inquired why I had to fill out an exit customs form. He said he didn't know, but it was a directive from Canberra. This Aussie exit customs added to the length of time it took to get through to the gate area. As it was followed by security, a random bomb pat-down (I should have pointed out my first name is Daniel not Achmed. ;-) ) and a queue at the TRS (Tax Refund Service) to get back the GST on the Driza-Bones, I had not quite enough time to investigate duty-free as closely as I wanted.

While made my way to my gate, I heard a couple of interesting gate calls. One was an Air New Zealand flight to Queenstown. That center of extreme sports is located in the Southern Alps. I didn't think it had an airport large enough to support trans-Tansman flights. I also suspected (correctly as it turned out) that the Air Kiwi plane (a 737 at best) would be dwarfed by all the heavy iron widebodies at the other gates. There is a lot of heavy iron at Sydney, I saw Airbus 380s from three different airlines (Quantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines), 747s from at least six and a goodly number of the relatively unpopular, but long-legged Airbus 340. While looking out the window, I could see the reference markings on the Tarmac for the ground handlers to know where to stop aircraft of various lengths. They went from the very long Airbus 340-600 to the short Fokker 100 .The other odd call was for an Emirates flight to Christchurch. Emirates is a big Middle-Eastern airline that I find a rather improbable would flying into the South Island of New Zealand, especially as it only operates wide body jets.

As I approached the gate I observed a three year old having a bit of tantrum. I had the thought, "I hope the brat isn't sitting near me." Low and behold, he, his parents and infant sibling are across the aisle from me. A disadvantage of bulkhead seating. I know I was a borderline hyperactive kid myself but this kid needs more parental discipline, IMHO. Actually, he wasn't that bad but the bulkhead seat wasn't great for him as the TV screen was too far away from him to absorb his attention.
Two hours into the flight, I looked out the window. I was surprised to see we are flying over land. I looked on the map to discover it is the New Hebrides! It is somewhat comforting to know there is somewhere to land around here.

The problem with this flight is that it left at midday. It is having a hard time trying to convince me it is time to sleep! I have set my watch to Vancouver time (six hours ahead and a day behind) in order to choose a decent time to try to get to sleep.

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