Providence to Auckland - the plane journey
04.16.2015 - 04.18.2015
The trip started horribly. My flight left at 11:30am EST, so naturally we had left in plenty of time. The airport is a grand total of 20 minutes away and leaving at 9am seemed almost excessive. As soon as we pulled onto the main highway, however, it was apparent that we would not make our intended 9:30am arrival time. The traffic was backed up to a dead stop. Firetrucks and police cars pushed their way past us at a snail’s pace, unable to move more than a few meters at a time as cars tried their best to move out of the way. Our car stayed within the same 10m stretch for over an hour, occasionally moving to the side to allow emergency vehicles to pass but otherwise trapped in a complete gridlock. We later discovered that an accident had occurred not a mile in front of us as we had entered the highway, just invisible around the next turn.
Somehow, miraculously, the traffic cleared. It was like the parting of the red sea – before us, the road was suddenly open and passable. We made it to the airport in ten minutes, just in time for me to go through security and board the plane before final call.
Providence to Philadelphia was easy. Philadelphia to Los Angeles was somewhat less so, as the woman next to me seemed insistent on ignoring the rules of ‘airplane mode’ on her phone. Once landing in LA, though, it was smooth sailing. I walked from the domestic to the international terminal and passed through security with no issues. The international terminal reminded me of a mall, with three levels of restaurants and duty-free shopping. I had a five hour layover, which I used to watch a movie for my English class and work on notes for a geology class. Dinner was a quick meal at Panda Express (note: California’s Panda Express orange chicken is much, MUCH spicier than I had tried anywhere else), and I helped a Swiss couple sort out their American money in the checkout line. I ate my meal in solitude next to a window, watching the sun slowly set over the Los Angeles airstrip.
9:15pm PT rolled around. It was about 1:15 or so in the morning according to my body, and I was getting tired quickly. I boarded my plane and sat beside an older gentleman in a National Geographic hat. We chatted about Antarctica and photography for a while until it was nearly time to take off.
A glance around the plane told us that the flight was far from full – indeed, a full row of four seats sat empty. The gentleman beside me eyed the seats for a few minutes until just before we began to move – then, he jumped to his feet, grabbed his things, and rushed across the aisle to get the seats to himself, leaving me alone in the window aisle of three seats.
I moved from my aisle seat to the window and allowed myself to relax as we began the takeoff. We leveled out after a short takeoff and left the lights of the city behind. A flight attendant came over just as I put my headphones in and smiled at me. “You know this is a sky couch, right? You didn’t pay for it, so you may not know, but let me show you.” He pulled up the leg rest of one of the seats. To my amazement, it filled the leg space of the seats. All three seats together created a small bed. I was thrilled. Karma was repaying me for my poor luck trying to get to the airport this morning.
I got eight hours of sleep that flight. I woke up only when someone, trying to make room for another person to pass in the aisle, sat on my feet ten hours into the flight. I mumbled ‘sorry’ to him, which doesn’t quite make sense… I think my Canadian cousins may be rubbing off on me. Whoops.
I spent the last couple hours of the flight enjoying a fruit breakfast provided by the airline and watching an episode of Game of Thrones on the in-flight entertainment system. We landed in Auckland without a hitch, 5:30am local time. I had reached New Zealand.