We made it to Aukland, but just by the skin of our teeth. When your job is logistics, you tend to over plan things a bit, not a bad thing when travel is a touch complicated. On Sunday morning we got up and had ourselves ready to go 30 minutes ahead of schedule. So we decided that the extra time wouldn’t be a bad thing. In Northern Illinois there is a wonderful option to get to and from the Chicago airports without driving into the city. A Van Galder bus, yes we find the closeness in name funny too, takes you right up to the terminal. Parking at their facility is incredibly reasonable and the bus fare is too. The busses are clean and drivers very helpful, it’s a great option.
Sitting in a comfortable seat chugging along to O’Hare I decided it was a good time to check flight status. That and a text from our travel mates saying theirs was delayed. Low and behold a storm in San Francisco had pushed back our departure time by an hour, that still left us time to our connector which was not delayed.
Well that was not the case, in the end we were delayed by three hours, thankfully the pilot made up 30 minutes in the air. As the plane lands I dial Air New Zealand in hopes that our last leg is also delayed. No such luck, but then the flight attendant announces that there is a family trying to get onto a New Zealand flight and everyone needs to let us off first. Hey! That’s us! So we very quickly deplane and find that we in a group of 12 and the crew is holding the plane for us. The running begins. Amazingly in 15 minutes all of us show up at security and the plane is still waiting. Among us was a family of 8 going to a wedding, they had a relative that was already on board and keeping the NZ crew informed of where we were. The captain decided that he just couldn’t leave being that we were there and it was going to be Christmas tomorrow.
This is where the good luck ran out, all 12 of us had the same type of tickets and all 12 of us couldn’t get through security. We are again in touch with the sister who’s on the plane letting the crew know where we are and what’s going on. TSA won’t let us through, then agents from Air New Zealand come up to escort us through, no go. Finally they pull the staff from gates, reissue us tickets and send us back to TSA. We all got through, all got on and all got to breathe. To the passenger of NZ7 on December 23rd, thank you for being patient.
The 13 hour flight was not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be. I slept most of it. Customs was a breeze and we gathered again as our group of 12 in hopes that our bags had also made the made dash across the airport. No such luck. We had packed a change of clothes in carry ons, along with a few toiletries.
This really didn’t spoil our first day. We met up with our friends and started out to accompany them as family get togethers began. This included a spirited brunch, a savory lunch (with roast lamb) and a relaxing dinner. As the evening came in we hung out drinking a few Lion Reds and watched a bit of the Maori channel.