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TRIP REPORT: Heading to New Zealand

TRIP REPORT: Heading to New Zealand
Series: Trip: New Zealand 2022

After booking this trip twice, the third time is lucky. We originally booked this nearly 3 week trip to the North Island of New Zealand for the winter of 2021. And then of course – COVID and lockdowns, and border closures prevented us from going. We rebooked for November 2021, for more money, because, summer. And promptly kissed that goodbye for extended NZ border closures.

Optimistically, we re-booked for mid-winter 2022, got a refund on the summer fees, and here we are in delightful, if cold, central Wellington.

But let’s backtrack a moment, and take you back to our departure on the first day of the NSW school holidays. Chaos!

a group of people in an airport
Check-in at Sydney’s T1 – almost pre-pandemic busy.

Leaving Sydney

We didn’t quite obey the ‘3 hours prior to departure’ arrival advice from Qantas. Otherwise, we would have hit the airport at 5:40 am. My husband was adamant that this was not going to happen. After our regular arrival time haggling, we compromised on leaving around 6:15 – 6:30 am. Given my usual packing indecision, we actually left a little after that, with our Uber dropping us at Sydney’s Terminal 1, around 7 am.

a group of people in a line
Sydney T1, Business Class & Premium Economy check-in

T1 Sydney First Class check-in closed

The shock of it! One of the nice, but rarely enjoyed benefits of having Platinum status with Qantas is that you can check in at the First Class counter, no matter what class you are actually travelling in. I know it’s a small thing, but I love sitting down while they sort everything out before they hand you your ticket and baggage voucher, and you head via security to the First Class Lounge.

Not this time. The First Class check-in is closed. So we had to queue for the Business Class and Premium Economy check-in. To quote Dr Smith in Lost in Space, ‘Oh, the pain. Oh, the pain.’

a man with wide eyes
Dr Zachary Smith, Lost In Space (the original)

So, maybe it took us 15 to 20 minutes in the queue before we were on our way to the lounge. We had completed online check-in so our vaccination records had already been parsed. We only had to show our New Zealand Travel Pass and our passports before getting our luggage tagged, and heading to the Express Pass lane to complete our departure obligations.

a wall of plants with flowers
Living wall entrance to Qantas First Class lounge, Sydney

2PAXfly Takeout

I love digital, except when my phone dies, which happened to me on the last night of my recent visit to New Zealand

I would have loved to start our trip with First Class check-in, but in these times of lost luggage, understaffing, flight delays (more about that later in this trip report) not to mention flight cancellations, this was a mere misstep in the path of our travel.

We headed into duty-free to make the obligatory olfactory and alcohol purchases, before ascending the escalator to the heaven of the Qantas First Class lounge. Strangely, unlike the rest of the airport and airlines, there didn’t seem to be a staff shortage in duty-free.

Other Posts in the Series
TRIP REPORT: Qantas First Class Lounge, Sydney, July 2022 >>

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