Getting away stressfully

Auckland Travel Blog

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Getting away this time was stressful. About a week prior to my flight, an aviation fuel crisis hit Auckland Airport. More specifically, something hit the pipeline transporting fuel to the airport which meant that fuel had to be rationed to 30% of the normal uplift for all airlines.

My flight on 29SEP 0115 had to refuel in Melbourne resulting in a 2h40 longer journey from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur, meaning that I miss my connection to Taipei. A call to the contact centre saw me being shifted to a flight about 11h earlier on 28SEP 1415. They also advised they would accommodate me during the 10h overnight connection. But all this would be done by a different department; I was on a low fare class which had sold out and they needed to recreate that class before I could be revalidated onto the new flight.

I never heard back from the airline and chased it a couple of times. A few days before the flight, upon my enquiry, the airline was no longer processing changes as the fuel crisis was approaching an end. That left me in a problematic spot: my booking was for 29SEP but my ticket was for 28SEP which meant that I’d have trouble checking-in. And if either flight is full, I might not get anywhere. I had bought this ticket in preference to flying standby on staff tickets due to the inherent risk but it looks like I’m no better off now!

48 hours prior to the flight, I managed to check-in online AKL-KUL-TPE despite the reservation and ticket mismatch! It shouldn’t have happened but it did. I was very pleased until another hiccup came along. The airline removed the Melbourne refuel stop. Behind the scenes, the flight had to be cancelled and replaced by another with identical flight number but different arrival. And it appeared that my check-in had been undone. But at least I had home-printed boarding passes to show that I was legit at some stage.

The day prior to departure, another hiccup came along. Someone may have detected that my reservation and ticketed dates didn’t match and cancelled my booking. Aarrrgh! I didn’t stress any more as I previously had a booking with a ticket for the next day and now had downgraded to no booking but still at ticket for the next day. It wasn’t going to make much difference.

On the morning of departure, I woke early to lodge a tenancy tribunal mediation for money owing by a former tenant. I had to beat the clock and have that completed and also showered by 0900 as there was a planned power cut from 0900-1200. More stress.

Once the power went off, I could relax as there wasn’t much more I could do on the internet. We left for the airport and arrived more than 3h beforehand and was surprised to find check-in well in progress. Armed with my home-printed boarding passes, I shot to the front of the special web-check queue.

The check-in staff confirmed that there was no record of my booking and referred me to a team leader. The team leader from the ground handler Menzies mumbled to the Malaysia Airlines ground manager that the passenger numbers had dropped by about 20 since the flight was loaded yesterday. I could tell they weren’t going to have a nice morning as there will be others like me that they’ve got to accommodate. Fortunately the flight wasn’t full.

It took about 20 minutes for them to sort out the situation on the phone for my case and several others behind. They had to recreate my reservation on the flight and reissue/revalidate it before I could be checked-in.

Once I had the boarding passes for AKL-KUL-TPE in my hands I felt this overwhelming sense of relief. Earlier I had been apprehensive about the trip to Central Asia. I put it down to not speaking Russian and being in a region that’s rather unfamiliar. But once my flight was sorted, none of that bothered me anymore. Funny how one problem just creaates such a big cloud over the mind, and the mind starts to find other reasons for creating more worry.

I was airside 2h30 prior to departure which meant I had decent time to kill. Auckland international doesn’t have much public seating area that isn’t in the gate areas or in the eateries. Nevertheless time went quickly enough.

Even though everyone was onboard, some IT issues with aircraft documentation meant we left about 45 minutes late; the documents had to be prepared manually instead, said the very eloquent Captain. It was surprisingly quiet on the right, overlooking the engine. I was lucky to have a spare seat on a fairly full flight.

Flying away from Cape Reinga, it got really bumpy and the meal service was delayed. Otherwise it was a pleasant enough flight, except that it felt long. Through the recent years, I’ve done flights to Asia more on night flights. The route today took us south of Cairns then to Darwin, skipping all of the Australian desert. Funny how the routing and winds can vary so much ... sometimes it goes as far south/west as Adelaide.

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Posted on: Nov 05, 2017
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photo by: Fulla