That is a typical Kiwi greeting, for all of you non-kiwi speakers :)
So here is my long awaited update from half way around the world! As most of you know, we are New Zealand residents, and to gain our permanent returning residency visa we have to spend 184 days per year for the first two years (confused yet?) That's basically one full year within the first two years, and this time was hanging over our heads. So, while in Grand Cayman we did some research for flights and decided to sail back to Florida, store the boat (again) and fly here for awhile just to get some time under our belts.
Our flight was on February 25 out of Tampa, with a plane change in Houston and then a layover in LA. From LA we took the longest flight to Auckland, and then changed planes again for the jump to Christchurch on the South Island. The flight from Tampa departed at 11am, so that meant we had to leave Venice at 8. John was a trooper on the ride up there and through the airport. The Tampa airport has amazing children's play area where John could get out some of his pent up energy, it was a fully padded room with windows to look at the planes- awesome! The ride from Tampa to Houston should have coincided with nap time, but John was too excited to sleep. On the landing his ears were bothering him and he screamed and cried a lot- I think it was the combination of the altitude and being really sleepy. He fell asleep weeping on my lap just before touchdown, and he stayed asleep in my arms until we boarded the next plane! The first plane landed at the same time the next was set to begin boarding, so we gathered up all of our gear and ran through the airport to the next gate- my arms were shaking from holding sleeping John by the time we got there! We were really lucky on the first 2 flights people moved so we could have an extra seat with John, so far it was working out pretty well- but the longest flight was still to come.
We had a few hours to kill in LA, which ended up being good because we had to gather our bags, take a bus to the international terminal and then go through check-in and security again- whew! We had dinner at one of the airport restaurants and then let John play for awhile, he was completely crazy at this point, he didn't take much of a nap and it was already way past his bedtime. Luckily there were a bunch of other young children on the flight so he had some playmates, too bad there wasn't a padded room like in Tampa!
At just under 2 years old, John is still considered an infant by the airlines, which means he is a lap baby on domestic flights and for the international he flew for 10% the adult fare. We didn't know what the 10% was getting us, but we soon found out. On Air New Zealand, they give the families with infants the bulkhead seats, and a small bassinet folds down from the bulkhead for the baby so sleep in! We weren't aware of it, but it is against airline policy for anyone to sleep on the floor, which is what we though we'd end up doing with John. When we got on the plane we immediately folded down the bassinet to try it out, John wasn't thrilled, he was a bit too long for it and was cramped. Oh well. I got myself mentally prepared to hold him on my lap for the 12 hours- the plane was full so there weren't any empty seats for all of us to move, and the people seated in our row refused to move to accommodate us. While we were getting ready for takeoff they dimmed the lights and John fell asleep right away- didn't even finish his milk that I had ready for him! When we got to altitude we unfolded the bassinet and Jeff made it cozy with John's blankies and I slipped him into it- he stayed asleep, HOORAY! Jeff and I pulled out our personal TV's and started catching up on all of the movies we have missed over the last 2 years. Dinner was served, people walked passed constantly looking in at the sleeping little blond baby (why did they have to get so close?). John STAYED ASLEEP!!!! He slept 9 of the 12 hour flight, woke up just in time for breakfast. Our little champion! We landed in Auckland and let him run around while we waited for our connection to Christchurch. We were moved to the from of the security line (we didn't clear Customs until Christchurch) and again, he had a few other children to play with in the terminal. The flight to Christchurch was uneventful, John ate a muffin (they still have free food on flights over here!) and looked out the window at the mountains. We landed in Christchurch and again got to skip ahead in line- I guess it pays to travel with children!
I was really nervous about flying with John, he is such a busy boy. But as you now know, everything turned out great! Now we have the flight home in May to think about.....
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