Four flights in a row

12 October 1993 United 1435 Orlando to Chicago O'Hare, First Class
12 October 1993 United 841 Chicago O'Hare to Los Angeles, First Class
12 October 1993 United 841 Los Angeles to Auckland, Business
14 October 1993 Air New Zealand 8405 Auckland to Napier/Hastings

It's been a long time since I sat down to write about flights, and I've let time overtake me somewhat, but the new inspiration caused by putting these thoughts onto the web has spurred me onto adding the bits I never wrote. Just thinking of these mammoth four flights in one hit wears me out, and I think that is why I never wrote about it. It's good, as I said before, to fly first class, but the edge is definitely taken off it by knowing that there is no business class on the flight, and also by knowing that what you are doing is no better than business class. When there are only two classes on a flight, it doesn't matter what you call them.

Another thing that takes the edge off flying in the premium cabins is flying with children. I still haven't found out who it was that said there are only two classes: first class and with children, but it's at least nearly true.

Anyhow, we'd finished a wonderful time at Walt Disney World, our first time there. Walt Disney World is on a much larger scale than Disneyland, and runs to three major theme parks, the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center and MGM Studios. Each of them contains features to be found at Disneyland, moved to the appropriate setting. Walt Disney World was our prime motivation in going to Orlando, which it is for many of the tourists to the area, but it is clear from the locals that there is some problem. On the one hand, they are grateful for what the Disney corporation is doing in generating jobs and revenue to the service industries, but on the other hand they seem to want more of it in their own resorts, facilities and what have you. I don't know how much the tourist figure to central Florida would be affected if Disney wasn't there. I doubt if anybody else really knows, and that is surely a part of the problem.

We had a good time there, but it was now time to set off to the airport for an enormous flight. It started easily enough with us sitting around in Orlando's spacious airport, picking up a short flight to Chicago. It ran a few minutes late, as I remember, but the connection at O'Hare was fairly easy. We had checked our baggage through to Auckland, so that was a great convenience to us, assuming that it followed us.

The flight was uneventful, taking place as it did on a bright and sunny afternoon. It was just turning to dusk as we arrived at Chicago O'Hare. We were not to see anything at all of the Windy City, however, for all we were doing was changing flights. We walked up and down the concourse at the airport a few times, looking at what was there. It was a very large building, full of people moving from gate to gate. The structure of hub and spoke is very efficient for airlines, but it does mean that the hub airports have a very large number of people doing nothing but moving between flights, in cities they never really visited.

We climbed on board the DC-10, at least I think it was a DC-10, for the flight to Los Angeles. Like the last flight, it was two classes only, but it was a big aircraft. I'd not been on one like it since Zambia in 1987. We were already tired by the time it took off, and relaxed as best we could during the flight.

It was the same once we got to Los Angeles. This was an airport we knew quite well by now, but all we did was find the right gate and board the flight to Auckland. The craft were getting progressively larger as the journey progressed. What can I say about an overnight flight that has not already been said. Service was competent, the sun rose as expected, everybody was suffering as we landed. Situation pretty normal.

It wasn't much later that we had cleared immigration in Auckland and arrived as real New Zealand residents. We retrieved our baggage with no trouble. We tried to connect to an earlier flight to Hawkes Bay, but it was not possible to do so because the transfer between terminals didn't make it possible, so we continued on the flight on which we had originally been booked.

The SAAB 340 that carried us to Napier bucked the trend: it is smaller than a 747. As it came in to land, my wife turned to me and remarked that she had never lived anywhere so countrified before. Nor had I. As we collected our bags from the luggage cart, there was nobody to meet us. We knew nobody there, nobody from my new company was there either. We knew which motel we were going to, and we got the airport mini-coach to take us there.

We sat in the rooms, a small two room suite, with our bags around us, hopelessly tired, hopelessly jet-lagged, knowing nobody, wondering what on earth the future held. It was a desperate time.

Within a couple of hours we had called a real-estate agent and explained our position. He saw us at about lunchtime and took us round maybe six properties that might be of interest to us. One of them was, but he had committed the crime that no real-estate agent should never commit: he showed us a house that we loved that had already had an offer against it. As it turned out, we moved into a house at the end of October that had been presented to us by another estate agent. I cannot recommend him, but the property he had to offer was good enough for us to put in an offer.

There is something about house buying that I cannot explain. It is the "good feeling". Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. I recommend that if you are considering a property, you take notice of your feelings, not as the complete guide, but certainly as a major part of it. As we settled in to our new home, finding a church, a kindergarten, a supermarket and all the other essentials of like back in what some call civilisation, we flew no more, but my annual total had reached 33945 miles, a new record.

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