Latitudes and Attitudes
Is 54 hours of travel really as bad as it sounds?
It's three in the morning and my alarm's going off. I cherish the warm sheets and bed that I lay on knowing that I will spend the next 39 hours traveling for our final destination: Australia. What I don't know is that our 39 hours of travel will soon feel short as our trip dreadfully creeps from 39 hours to 54 hours.
Arriving at Boston Logan Airport at 4:45am Eastern Time is met with excitement along with many tears and hugs as we say goodbye to our families for our year long adventure. Though we know we will miss them, the anticipation of arriving on the other side of the world and finally getting to start the trip that we have put some much hard work, sweat, money, and tears into has finally arrived. Walking through security at the airport definitely amplified these emotions as many TSA agents asked "are you going on expedition" as we were still drying the tears that crested our cheeks and ran down our shirts. However we were more than willing to share our future plans and to brag about our adventure with others surrounding us. We made it through security with no issues and after getting a much needed breakfast of coffee, bagels, and donuts we loaded onto our plane that would take us west to LAX International Airport.
After a six hour flight we landed safely in LA at 9:30am only to wait for our flight to Australia at 11:45pm. That's right, a 14 hour lay over (due to the time difference). We did discuss going out and exploring the city but decided that we had to much luggage to do so. Instead we opted to check our 'check on' luggage and to grab a bite to eat before doing some work on our laptops. Come to find out, Virgin Australia's 'checked luggage' counter doesn't open until 3pm Pacific Time. We also shortly discovered that we had to walk to a different terminal to grab some food along with all our luggage due to our terminal not having restaurants before security. We soon rented a luggage cart and off we went. Surprisingly, the 5 and half hour wait went by quickly as we stayed occupied by finishing some things that needed to be done before we officially left the states. Once checking our luggage, we celebrated the official beginning of our trip with a delicious dinner at P.F. Chang's. But we still had 6 and half hours to go. How do you fill 6 and half hours in the airport before a 14 hour flight? Well, I recommend some short naps and doing some yoga. Though I got an occasional look and stare from passerby's, I needed it physically and mentally. At 11:45pm the time finally came! We loaded onto the plane that we waited so long for. Surprising the 14 hour flight went fairly quick. Since 11:45pm in LA is 3am Eastern time, our bodies were ready for bed as soon as our butts hit our chairs. We even fell asleep between the 45 minutes of takeoff and the flight attendants serving dinner. Though Henrik slept soundly for a good six hours I wasn't so lucky. My sleep consisted of sleeping for 2 hours and then being a wake for 30 minutes. Another 2 hours and my legs would be restless and uncomfortable. An hour and a half went by and then I had to go to the bathroom. So once we landed, I was so grateful that we had an hour and half layover (though I knew this would consist of running through customs, baggage claim, checking our bags again, and switching from the International Terminal in Sydney Airport to the Domestic Terminal) it would finally end in a short hour and half flight from Sydney to Brisbane and we would finally make it to our destination around 10:30am to spend the day exploring Buderim Queensland with the amazing Lee family that we were staying with for a couple of weeks. Or so we both thought.
Unexpectantly, our plane landed on time and going through customs took a brief 10 minutes. Since this was the shortest time both Henrik and I have ever gone through customs, we took it as a good sign and cheerfully went on our way to baggage claim. Unfortunately we had to collect our checked luggage before continuing our journey. For some reason, Sydney International Airport doesn't push your luggage through to your next flight for any connecter flights. This makes everyone have to collect it and check them in again causing confusion and anxiety for some. This seemed a little outdated to us but we wouldn't let that stop us from running through to try to get on our 9am flight. On top of this, baggage claim was also backed up as there were delays earlier in the morning from other flights. As we waited, I stood there tapping my foot waiting to bolt as soon as I saw our luggage to catch our abut flight to Brisbane. Atlas the luggage belt finally moved and we had all our luggage by 8:15am. We quickly went to the area to get it checked once again.
5 minutes passed and no one moved. 10 minutes passed and no one moved. Soon an announcement was made, "Due to high winds, many flights have been delayed or canceled this morning. We will try as best as we can to re-schedule you to the next available flight." By the time we made it to the front of the line, it was 9:15am Australian Eastern Standard Time. We had missed our flight due to the aggravatingly slow line that we stood on for almost an hour without any email saying Virgin Australia has rebooked us on the next flight. The two of us waited with angry anticipation about how long we would have to wait in another airport once again.
Unfortunately the women that helped us rebook gave us a slight attitude when we told her we missed the flight while standing on the line. However, while waiting we told another representative about our transfer and the short amount of time we had to connect in order to see if we would make it. "You're not making that flight. But we will help you reschedule to the next available flight that we can" was the response we received. Now keep in mind that originally we had plenty of time to transfer flights when we originally booked tickets for the Tuesday September 4th 10:30pm flight out of LAX. However in the morning on Monday the 3rd, we received an email stating our flight was canceled due to maintenance. When we contacted Virgin Australia to reschedule our flight the representative told us "You will definitely have enough time to get to your connection. Don't worry we have this down to a science."
The cherry on top of it all was that the only available flight to get us to Brisbane wasn't until 6pm due to everyone who missed the 9am flight, who came off of our flight, took the remaining seats for the 11:45am and 2pm flights. Another 8 and a half hours we would have to wait. We did discuss exploring Sydney while we waited but due to my pounding headache and nausea that was slowly creeping up, we decided to stay in the airport.
Once we transferred to the domestic terminal we met with another attendant to see if we could transfer our flight to a location closer to where Buderim is. They responded with "Yes but you would have to pay $700 to transfer the end destination." After clearly deciding that was ridiculous, we ask if there was a Virgin Australia lounge we could hangout in since we had 8 hours to kill due to their lack of organization. After a few quick phone calls, the lounge ever so nicely said "Usually we have a 2 hour cap on how long you can stay but due to your predicament we will allow you to stay for 4 hours. You will just need to pay the $65 fee per person to enter." How lovely!
Once we made it through security and ate brunch, I took a much needed nap on the floor of the airport. Thankfully it helped my headache and stomach. We then found a corner of the airport that allowed us to watch planes take off and land. However after about 4 hours, it started to loose its luster. We ate a small dinner and sat down at our gate around 5 since the flight was scheduled to board at 5:30pm. This exhausting day was finally coming to a close. "Ladies and gentlemen, due to the high winds affecting the airport, flights have been delayed. Due to the backup on the runway, the 6pm Brisbane flight is delayed until 7:30pm. Boarding will begin at 7pm." At this point, I fell sound a sleep in the stiff airport chair until we boarded. We finally landed an hour and half later.
54 hours in an airport made me frustrated, tired, nauseous, disgustingly dirty, sweaty, bored, hungry, and most importantly just done with the whole situation. However, I was able to go through this ridiculously pain of a journey with my best friend who kept be entertained and watched all of our things while I took many of the naps my body desperately needed. I'm grateful he was the one by my side while we took on this never ending day. I honestly wouldn't want to do it next to anyone else.