I seem to have good airport karma, as potentially disastrous situations have turned out OK. For this trip I’m booking point-to-point flights to avoid being locked into specific arrival and departure dates – is that asking too much? Maybe it’s unrealistic thinking you can stay as long as the visa lasts and things are going well OR leave soon after arrival if the vibes aren’t so great.
In today’s economy, one drawback to booking point-to-point flights is airline baggage fees. Since I am traveling for 7+ months I have two bags and that requires a bit of negotiating / fannagling. However, even with extra fees for more than one piece of luggage I’ve managed to beat the RTW airfare quotes by over 25%.
As a point of reference Malaysia Air charges higher excess baggage fees than most other airlines – but the charging of those fees is apparently discretionary. When I arrived at Cape Town airport to check-in for flights to Auckland via Kuala Lumpur – with two bags – they told me the excess baggage fee was R6000 (that’s about $800) – YIKES! Of course I gasped and indicated that I thought the fee was more than outrageous and explained my long journey, blah, blah. The check-in agent called his manager who listened to my sad story and waived the entire fee – amazing! I’m still not sure why he waived it – maybe airport karma?
Often you can sort out the extra bag situation in advance on-line and pay a flat charge (usually around $100 but rarely over) if the bag does not exceed 40 pounds. I didn’t know that when booking the Cape Town – Auckland part of my journey. I’ve covered the two bags for flights from Auckland to Christchurch and Christchurch to Phnom Penh. Thinking the return flight to Oregon will be a slam dunk since most US airlines allow two bags (under 45 pounds each) for international travellers at no extra charge.
The other good karma is getting seated (in economy) next to really nice people and more often than not having the middle seat vacant – WOW – that is a blessing. During the flight from Cape Town to Kuala Lumpur I sat next to (an empty seat between us) the sweetest jolly Aussie who shared his licorice toffee with me – looked just like Elton John. On the other side of the aisle was an adorable elderly Chinese couple maybe in their 80s who wore their age beautifully. We exchanged smiles throughout the flight. During the Kuala Lumpur – Auckland flight there was also a vacant seat between me and a really nice Māori guy who had a very pleasant smile and disposition.
With the help of Benadryl I slept through most of the day / night because by the time we landed in Auckland I wasn’t sure which it was – day or night… It’s dark and raining in Auckland and I’m jet-lagged, spaced-out, and exhausted but unable to sleep and hoping tomorrow is brighter.