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Mark Atwood
flight NZ5, somewhere between Los Angeles and Auckland
flight NZ5, somewhere between Los Angeles and Auckland

Fri Jan 16 12:55:15 PST 2009

According to the in-seat monitor, I'm approaching the equator. I'm south and a little bit east of Hawaii. There is a curiously large amount of occational turbulance. In fact, this has been one of the most turbulant flights I've taken. I had always assumed that the air 10km over the oceans was "calmer" than it is over land. And it may, in fact, be so. But not here, not tonight.

There was a meal served several hours ago, but there were no veggie option. The steward said that it had to be coded into my ticket so that it could be specially provisioned. And since it wasn't, it wasn't. (Yet another reason I'm becoming unimpressed with the quality of Sun's travel agent, American Express.) Since I'm not super strict about it, I ate the chicken and noodles, and enjoyed the Kiwi wine.

While prepping for this trip, I had wrongly assumed that New Zealand was north of Australia. (Yes yes, cue standard jeers about USians lack of geography knowledge. Bite me.), for why else would the travel agent have routed me this way, instead of just a straight shot to Sydney. Maybe it's due to some interaction of flight schedules and travel schedules.

I had originally planned to travel in lockstep with krow. He's fun company and a seasoned traveller, so when I get tired or confused, or have something else I'd rather be thinking about, all I have to do is follow him, and I won't get lost. But he has tired of the conference speaking concept in general, so clipped of a day from the start of his trip, and a couple of days off the end.

Which is ok, it's not like I'm going to a developing or BRIC country solo on a work gig. I'm travelling to a developed English speaking country, on a simple visa, to a relatively controlled artificial situation (a conference). Really, the only difference between this and my past work travel is the butt-achingly long flight, having to talk to border control people, and I don't have a client waiting for me.

What I've spent a lot of my travel time doing is reading books. Over half the weight of my shoulder bag is books, and there are several more stashed in my roller carry-on.

When I was a kid, I routinely read through over 1500+ pages a week, averaging over a book a day. I no longer read that many "books" that fast. I may do still read that much, but it's now mostly source code, tech docs, blog posts, and email.

So far, I've read three. Greg Egan's most recent novel, "Incandecence". Gladwell's most recent romp, "Outliers". And "The Starfish and the Spider", which is in same genre. All three deserve their own stand-alone review posts.

To be read are "The Black Swan", "Your Brain: The Missing Manual", and "Eat That Frog!". But not right now.

Fri Jan 16 01:32:01 PST 2009

And according the the monitor map, I've crossed the equator. This is the first time I ever have, and the farthest from "home" I've ever been.

My dad made his first trip to Australia in 1960, when he was 19. I doubt that he travelled on something as large as this 747-400. But was it as fast as this? I doubt it had the range, which meant refueling stops. I should ask him sometime.

Now, to try to sleep for a while...

Fri Jan 16 06:40:50 PST 2009

Not the best sleep I've had. We crossed the dateline while I was out, so it is now Saturday, local time. Auckland is 47 minutes away

Current Location: flight NZ5, somewhere between Los Angeles and Auckland

9 comments or Leave a comment
chaosdancer From: chaosdancer Date: January 16th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got to see the North Island of NZ twelve years ago and (despite breaking my glasses on the third day, and not getting them back until a few days before I left) I had a wonderful time. The food there was wonderful, and the food on the plane back (having been provisioned by real NZ food) was so much better than the food on the way there.

I hope you have a marvelous time!
krow From: krow Date: January 16th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tired doesn't even describe how little interest I have in most conferences now a days :)
dip_thong From: dip_thong Date: January 17th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC) (Link)
"Nigh-feline disdain" I think is the term.
zsero From: zsero Date: January 16th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
In 1960 there would definitely have been refuelling stops. My first transpacific flight was in 1970, on a B-707, and between LAX and SYD we stopped in HNL and NAN.

Special meal orders must be made at least 24 hours before the flight.

Routing you through NZ may simply have been a matter of Air NZ having a better fare. In any case, they're a much better airline than United, so if that was your alternative you're far better off. UAL crew on the Australia run are the ones with the most seniority, only a few years from retirement, and they're not very nice to the passengers - and that's especially true in business class.
errolwi From: errolwi Date: January 16th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
United and AirNZ are in the same Alliance, and code-share. I'm fairly sure that United don't service NZ directly. SYD-LAX is a bit of a stretch range-wise, I'm not sure how many direct flights there are.
zsero From: zsero Date: January 16th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, they're in the same alliance, which is why I assume that United was the alternative. UAL does fly both LAX-SYD and SFO-SYD direct, and have been doing so for decades. It's well within range. Either one would have made Mark's total travel time shorter, so why was he booked on ANZ, which means a stop at AKL, which is out of the way and makes the trip longer? My assumption is price, but it's also a more pleasant experience because you're dealing with ANZ's crew and equipment instead of UAL's.
blarglefiend From: blarglefiend Date: January 16th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Air New Zealand is often a bit cheaper than the alternatives (United and Qantas) who go direct from LAX to SYD. Not "oh my god that's an amazing price difference" cheaper, but enough that a corporate travel agent who isn't going to get the extra hours on the trip herself may book it anyway.

The other common travel agent trick is to route you via Singapore or Japan. Those add a heap to the travel time too.

If you ever make the trip again but opt to go direct, avoid United, make sure you get a Qantas flight. Qantas is the dominant player on that route and a hell of a lot nicer than United.
From: trs80 [typekey.com] Date: January 21st, 2009 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
V Australia and Delta are just about to launch on the direct route as well. Dunno what the inflight quality will be like, but they're both using 777s, brand new in the case of V.
dip_thong From: dip_thong Date: January 17th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like the unexpected change in travel threw you off a bit. I get massive solipsism syndrome when I'm on flights for too long (longer than six or so hours), and to make matters worse, I can't sleep or process auditory information after a while. Getting to South America has always been a bit surreal.
9 comments or Leave a comment