This is one trip Triston was excited about before we got to the airport. He is never excited about a holiday before we get to the airport. Sydney to Tahiti is an off-putting prospect because of the flight times and connections.
He had a mini freak out the night before our flight. Nothing is ready. He doesn’t feel prepared, he isn’t packed. The house isn’t clean. In his freak out he sits and decides to watch tv for 2 hours to “calm down”.
In reality, we had packed but we couldn’t find the tripod I wanted to take. I don’t know why I lose this one so much but I can never find it when I want it and when I get back from trips I always find it. I make a mental note of where that is and laugh at how it was in an obvious spot. Then, it seems, I promptly scrunch up that mental note, throw it in the bin, set it on fire, and toss the whole flaming mess off a moving train. Can’t find it. Moving on.
When I get home, it will be in the most obvious spot. No doubt. When I do happen upon it again I can laugh at the fact that it was lost in plain sight. Any-who, I have two tripods so I packed the other one while Triston sat in his cranky state.
Qantas offered us a paid upgrade – start at $200 plus points per person and increase your bid to increase your chances. I laughed. What a waste of points and money. The day before, right on 25 hours, we decided we would put in for an upgrade but a classic points upgrade. It is just the flight to Auckland as Qantas doesn’t fly all the way to Papeete.
20,000 points each. A huge amount of points. Considering the classic award flight cost in business to Auckland, it is almost outrageous. We are connecting to Papeete so breaking the flights down to separate tickets wasn’t too appealing. Still, this way we spend no cash.
I check before putting the request in that the plane is the one with the better business class. It is, we put the request in. The upgrade comes through. Yay?
We have the plane with flatbeds, not the seats in business. Yes, it is a morning flight and only 3 hours but we have the points. Plus it is a pseudo anniversary trip. Not sure if anyone else will count Easter Sunday as our anniversary. We kind of just made it up ourselves to make the dates fit with the celebration we wanted but hey, we can so why not.
Ok, we wake up at 6 am. Get ready and leave by 7 am. Uber to the airport, check-in at business. The day is 27th of March 2018 and we have been told the airport has some works going on. No problems, business check-in is still the same place. Immigration is easy with the e-gates. Customs/security is also easy, apart from people in front of me.
Despite being in the express lane, the line coordinator for the regular lane gave in to a family of non-travellers. Allowing them to use one of the dedicated express lanes. The one I am ushered to. This causes a standstill. The family is repeatedly sent back for not following any of the rules. Any rule. Not just forgetting one. It appears as though they have not once been to or through or possibly near an airport, large scale event, anything where a queue might form. Crazy. Just crazy.
The family, of 3, take over half an hour to put their bags on the belt and go through. With all their failed attempts to empty their pockets and follow directions, the time has ticked by.
Triston was ahead of them but they cut me off. Usually, Triston picks the slow lane. This time he was through and waiting for me. We were told where to line up. I guess that made the difference today. It worked for Triston. Only, I was stuck and he still had to wait. I laughed at the irony. He got annoyed. Unscathed by the process and more surprisingly, neither of us bomb tested, we were on our way to the lounge.
Breakfast time in the business class lounge is something I haven’t experienced in a long time. It wasn’t too bad. Bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, pastries, toast, pancakes, coffee, juice, special frittatas – brought around by staff, not available at the buffet, yogurt, fruit, boiled eggs. Soft drink and all your alcohol were available as always.
The business lounge is ok, it was very busy. Quiet, which was a nice change from the afternoon when I find it is full of families and the hum of the lounge is a decent bit louder. The best thing about the lounge is that we can wake up and not worry about anything.
Wake up late – ok shower in the lounge. Wake up hungry, you know you have a decent amount of food options in the lounge. Now, wake up cranky, well, that’s on you.
Our flight is delayed, an hour or so. At the moment there is still time to make our connection in Auckland. We are not too concerned but further delays will start to stress me out.
Eventually, its time to board and we head to our seats 1E & 1F upfront. I plan to watch the end of Coco as I had watched it partway through on another flight but I decided just to watch it from the beginning as the headphones and screen are better in business class.
Triston watches his own movie. I watch the better movie though. Sometimes we watch the same thing this was not one of those times. We sit back and relax, we are settled well before take off and after all of the safety and take off announcements there are no more interruptions until the lunch service.
In Business class the choice and quality is a decent step up from economy, I don’t remember the full list of options, but do remember that there was a starter of bacon and bean soup and also a main of bacon and bean soup. Triston joked and said he will get bacon and bean soup for starter and main – he didn’t. Overall the flight to Auckland was smooth and uneventful – exactly how you want a flight to be.
Making our connection looks tight. The distance between where we are and the next gate seems like miles. After eventually making it through international transfers, Triston’s carry on bag is searched and bomb tested.
We are going through the bomb testing when another transfer person arrives. Our screening is almost complete and his bag is also selected for screening. My bags weren’t so it wasn’t a case of everyone getting screened.
This person makes a huge fuss. Huge fuss. In doing so he confuses the staff and slows his whole process down. He is saying that his flight is about to leave and he is going to miss the plane and they need to be quick. Hurry, hurry. One way to make yourself look guilty is to say something like that.
We are also a little concerned about missing our flight. Not because we won’t be taken care of. It is booked as one ticket so we will be fine. Even if we don’t make it to the next flight. Our concern is that we won’t be able to get to Tahiti in time for our next flight. We don’t want to miss the first day of our holiday.
The gave us a little peace of mind, we were rushing but we weren’t panicking like this other guy. We make it to gate six and find out the flight is actually delayed. Boarding is in about 20 minutes. There isn’t enough time for us to go to the lounge so we wait at the gate.
We said nothing and let the guys get on with their job, this guy has caused a kerfuffle and everything takes a lot longer for him, no matter how much he says the process needs to be quick. On the screens throughout the terminal and in the transfer area it said “go to gate” this means you still have a long time before boarding, boarding doesn’t take 2 minutes, usually, it would take at least 20 minutes.
Time flies. Our row is part of the first call for boarding. With that announcement, everyone is trying to board. The gate staff strictly enforce the rule. People are told to wait. They wait where they stand, blocking the way. This causes a huge issue as the people behind can’t get through. We watch. Confused. Finally, the line starts moving as people manoeuvre around them.
There are at least 5 couples who are told to wait before we get to the front of the line. No big deal but it is just nicer when people listen to and follow instructions. Although, it is hard to know what languages people were speaking and the announcements were in English and French.
We haven’t flown with Air Tahiti Nui before so didn’t know what to expect and for this leg, we were in economy. We had the window and aisle seat, the plane was an A340- and had 2-4-2 configuration in economy. Triston prefers the aisle and I like the window, so the configuration suits us.
Towards the back of the plane where the tail tapers in it changes to 2-3-2 so there are fewer people in the middle row if this is more suitable for your travelling party just know there are sets of 3 and sets of 4.
On our London trip, I watched 3 billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri which is on this flight so I tell Triston to watch it and we watch together. It is an interesting movie, no happy ending, nothing big or fancy. Just a terrible crime, which you don’t see, and the unapologetic and in no way romanticised life after. I enjoy the style of storytelling. If something could go wrong, it generally did. Just like real life.
The film is a modified version. I haven’t seen that too often. The plot of the movie is almost lost without the swearing. Half the story is told in the swearing. It is amusing the number of ‘crud buckets’ the town has. This flight isn’t super long but it feels like it was taking forever.
There is bad turbulence for long stretches. The pilots did a great job in trying to avoid the worst of it but we still hit fairly bad turbulence. Before take-off we are advised there is severe turbulence en route. I think going through pretty bad is a valiant effort. It is exponentially better than severe.
Triston and I are sleepy. Though the day hasn’t really been very long. Economy, after business, is a bit of an effort.
Dinner service was actually pleasant, although ill-timed with turbulence and I do believe some people prompts brought meals back up. We both have beef. It is a stroganoff type of beef with pasta, possibly fettuccini.
Tikehau day 1 was 27 March 2018
Updated 22 September 2019