Here I am sitting in Auckland International Airport slightly irritated that there isn't a Telecom wireless hotspot. There is an Auckland Airport hotspot, but of course they want their pound of flesh to use it.
I very nearly didn't make it this far today.
It snowed yesterday evening. As it was snowing I was thinking "well there it goes, should be gone by morning". I realised that there may be problems when I was up at 2am to see to Jessie, who had just had a bad dream, and I saw it snowing outside again. When I woke up this morning there was a good 5-7cm of snow on the ground. I know that doesn't sound like much to those of you used to a lot of snow, but in Dunedin everything stops.
As soon as I was up, I got on the web to see if I could get any information about closures for roads or the airport. I found the phone number for the airport, but no answer there. Any how, I had to get packed. These days I can pack for international travel in about 20 minutes. That done I thought it best to check with my airport shuttle. I called the shuttle number and talked to the lady at the other end. Before I got much out she said "If you are chasing a taxi, forget it." After a brief explination she said that there would be no chance of me getting picked up, but if I got to their depo, they would get me to the airport. My next thought was "who do I know with a four wheel drive vehicle?" Unfortunately the list was slightly shorter than one.
Walking it was. Dragging my suitcase, I started down the hill to the taxi depo. I only arsed up once going from Highgate onto Stuart Street. It was very icy there. I decided to walk down Stuart Street rather than some of the more direct routes down the hill on the off chance of hitching a lift. I was about 100m down the hill when I saw a van start down. As I was looking at it I decided "I'd rather walk than get in that on this ice." As they went past, a guy hung out the window and snapped a photo of me dragging the suitcase through the snow. The van went about another 20m and then stopped. It tried to reverse a little up the hill, but no chance, it just slid sideways. As I came up next to it they asked if I wanted a lift, and before I thought any more about it, "sure" came out of my mouth. They were just three guys out for a drive to look at other people in trouble. They had reduced the pressure in the van tires to 10 PSI and the driver seemed to know how to handle driving in the snow really well. Since they were just off for a drive, they dropped me off right outside the taxi depo. Here I was, nice an early.
The airport at this stage was closed due to ice on the runway. I had managed to talk to someone at the airport, and they said they were currently doing 360s on the runway, but he expected it to be OK within a few hours. My international flight wasn't until 9:45pm, so I though I had better get myself there.
When we finally got to the airport it was about 40 minutes before my scheduled departure of 11:20am. The queue was HUGE. London huge. Earlier flights had been cancelled, and as I stood there in the queue they let us know that my flight was cancelled too.
When I finally got to see someone on the desk, he looked at my tickets and said "Sorry, there is no way I can get you to Auckland today. You have to call 0800 737 000 to talk to Air NZ reservations. I can't help you since you have an international leg on the flight."
Dragging my bag I head up to the cafe to make the call. "We are experiencing heavier than normal call volumes. The current wait time is in excess of ten minutes." No shit sherlock. Anyway, I hold and finally talk to someone. "All the flights to Auckland are entirely full" she says. I ask about tomorrow. There was one space on a flight to Auckland tomorrow morning, but the international flight was full unless I wanted to upgrade to business class. "How much is that?" I ask. "£6000" comes the reply. Otherwise the soonest I could get a flight to London was Wednesday. Bugger. "The only option" she says "is to go and see if you can fly standby to Auckland somehow and hope you get there before you flight tonight." This did not fill me with excitement. However, I felt that I must do my best to attempt to catch the flights or I couldn't honestly say to the powers that be that I did my best.
I head back to the check-in desks. The queue is still really long. I completely ignore the queue and walk to the check-in desk for the Koru club members. I tell the guy there the situation, and that I had talked to Air NZ reservations and what they had told me. Clack, clack, clack, "this must be your lucky day" he says. Bullshit I thought. He managed to get me the last seat on a flight to Auckland via Christchurch. So here I am, just downed my coffee, and saving this in a text file to upload to the blog when I don't have to pay for it.