It was ironic that I chose the Qantas/American Airlines option over Air New Zealand/United for the trip to New Orleans because the timing and connections in the USA worked out better (and it was cheaper!). The plan was to arrive late Tuesday night, have a peaceful nights sleep to recover from 21 hours of flying, a leisurely morning, maybe a look around, then wander across the road for the conference kickoff at 3pm Wednesday.
Qantas did their part, Auckland to L.A., fine but then things started to go wrong…
Leaving Auckland about 6pm Tuesday means arriving in L.A. about 13 hours later at 10am Tuesday (thanks to the dateline). I was heading for Dallas, then New Orleans but found my anticipated 4 hour stopover extended to 5 hours due to rough weather at Dallas. Then after several additional 1 hour delays all the flights through Dallas were cancelled as thunder storms had settled in for the evening and the airport was closed.
That meant a frantic call (so glad I had a charged cell-phone) to re-book with seemingly all of America flying that way doing the same. The lines at the terminal counters and free-phones were hours long. While I was on the phone planes were filling up so fast they were losing seats in the time it took to ask if the route was OK then confirm. At one stage I was going to via San Francisco, Washington DC(?), Orlando then New Orleans but that evaporated and the next best offer was “sometime Saturday”. Not much use for a conference on Wed/Thur, a Jazz Fest on Friday/Saturday and when I was leaving on Sunday!
It wasn’t anyones fault and the American Airlines call centre were great trying all sorts of alternatives over more than 30 minutes to get me there on time. Thankfully a single seat came free on a flight that would work so I went from L.A. (about 10pm) to Miami, sat around there till 11am, then back to New Orleans. It added a couple of thousand kilometres flying & the result was the planned 21-hour trek actually took 39 hours, 18 of them sitting around in airports! Luckily I had taken a good book but I didn’t expect to read the whole thing on the way there!
I got to New Orleans less than 1 hour before the conference started, just time check-in, have a shower and get to the venue which was in another hotel a short walk away. I nearly missed New Orleans, but am glad I didn’t!
The rest of the photos are here.