Not Just Once

The plan was simple: drive to Wellington, hop on a plane, land in Sydney, spend six days catching up with family and friends.


Except …

It began about the time we were meant to board our flight in Wellington on Sunday morning. First there were a series of delays until finally, an hour and a half after we were meant to take off, they cancelled our flight. Computer problems they said.

We retraced our steps, reclaimed luggage, and tried to rebook on another flight. Four hours later we were told we were booked and confirmed on a flight to Sydney. We went to book in only to be told our names were not on the passenger list and there were no seats available!

More waiting. There were rumours of the possibility of a flight to Auckland and from there to Sydney. Until we heard that a flight to Auckland had been cancelled. I turned to DH and said, “We’re not going anywhere.” Sure enough, eleven hours after arriving at the airport we were put on a shuttle and taken to a motel.

Eat. Finally. Sleep in a bed (a bonus for Son#4 who had by this time not seen a bed for well over thirty hours). Relax and try not to think that a whole day of our holiday had been eaten up by waiting around an airport. Or that I had missed catching up with my friend of almost forty years and whom I had not seen for almost twenty years! (Honestly, I just wanted to sit down and bawl like a baby but there were enough others looking like they wanted to do that.)

Next day we flew out. On time. With tickets upgraded. And a perfect landing.

We had almost a week of lovely weather (even if the locals complained about the cold – we thought it was gorgeous for that time of year!). We caught up with friends, saw wildlife, and visited many old haunts.

The last day dawned and an early start but I wanted to catch up with my friend in Sydney. We met at the airport and had a wonderful day at a place called The Mill. As she and her husband were driving us back to the airport I received a phone call. Our flight had been cancelled. Weather this time.

So another motel except it was different this time. This time I was no longer on home soil even though it is the land of my birth. But my home is where my heart is and there were four fine sons (one was with us), three beautiful daughters, and six precious little girls waiting for me back in New Zealand.

The story should have ended just after that with a perfect flight back home. Except it didn’t quite work like that.

We arrived at the airport and booked in all with no glitches. Okay, I did have to remove my boots going through customs (thankfully I had no holes in my stockings!), but almost immediately we were put on a shuttle to take us out to the aeroplane. And there we stayed. For well over twenty minutes. No seats, no fresh air, packed in like sardines in a can.

Finally we arrived at the plane only to see aircraft staff shaking their heads. The Captain, apparently, was doing some extra checks. However they let us board shortly thereafter and there we sat. And waited. (How many hours have we spent waiting this trip in total?)

And then came the announcement apologising for the delay, apparently caused this time because they had to wait for the flight plan to be changed. On landing previously a fire extinguisher in the cargo hold had ignited. Now they only had one fire extinguisher in the hold and wanted to fly closer to land in case we needed to make an emergency landing.

Oh great!

By now, surprisingly, I was not feeling too confident about flying in this plane. But as DH pointed out, there was nothing we could do.

Sydney airport is a busy airport and we had to wait again until it was our turn to take off. Which, in time, we commenced to do. About the time I was expecting to see the nose rise into the air, the take off had had to be aborted due to warning lights that had appeared and which couldn’t be ignored. By this time I’m wanting off the flight.

However, we soon took off, safely, and had a smooth and perfect flight to Auckland, landing just as our connecting flight to Wellington took off. More service desks, more issuing of tickets, but they booked us on the next flight and we barely had time to collect ourselves before we had to board.

There was some turbulence and gusts of wind on approach, but not enough to distract me from reading Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman that I had bought in Sydney.

A long drive, and then the absolute bliss of crawling beneath our own blankets in our own bed.

I’m thinking it may be a wee while before I take on flying again!


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