1993

Worldwide service

13 September 1993 United 842 Auckland to Los Angeles, Business

Now we come to an interesting financial puzzle. The end of my contract sees a return fare paid back to the country of origin, but my new post is in New Zealand. What is the best thing to do? The simplest solution is to collect the Business Class fare back to Britain and pay an economy fare out to New Zealand. This is not, however, either good value for money or a good idea. With a single carrier, it is possible to get a Business Class return cheaper than a Business Class single and an Economy Class single. The only problem is that it is not possible easily with every carrier. Enter United Airlines, which although an American carrier can offer what we want.

The first snag was that our tickets had been issued incorrectly, so that I needed them to be re-issued at the airport. The other problem was that our original MCOs for hotel accommodation had been lost just before we left Port Vila, resulting in the problem of us having to fill in lost ticket forms, not a straightforward task at all. My advice to you is not to lose your tickets, but more of this later.

As for the journey itself, I am bound to say that it was completely unmemorable. Overnight we passed the International Date Line for the first time in that direction, giving the opportunity for us to enjoy 13 September twice. After clearing immigration and customs, the journey to Anaheim was much as it had been before, and as before we spent the whole of our time there at Disneyland. Disneyland stays largely the same. The family you take with you is what changes. However, for the first time the PeopleMover was working in our presence. Actually, it's not that interesting, but it was working for once.


17 September 1993 United 934 Los Angeles to London Heathrow, Business

The Friendly Skies is how United sees itself, and they certainly do try. The service is unmistakably American in style. The cuisine they offer on board the flights is also undoubtedly to the American taste. I commend them for this, but unfortunately I do not have the same requirements as the average American traveller. I am still convinced that one is always well advised to travel on an airline based around your own culture. As a British citizen, my liking for Air New Zealand seems something of a contradiction here, but perhaps as a new resident of New Zealand, it may fit in to the scheme somehow.

Why am I not saying anything about the flight? It was unmemorable in the extreme, to the extent that I cannot remember a thing about it. It was a Boeing 747-400 and we were able to board pretty well when it suited us, being both Connoisseur Class passengers and travellers with young children. Beyond that, and the knowledge that it was a long, overnight flight, I remember little about it.

Immigration was straightforward at Heathrow. We had arranged to be met at Heathrow by a friend, but we had not bargained with the scale of arrivals at Terminal Three early in the morning. After about twenty minutes looking at the sea of faces, which perhaps is better described as an ocean of faces, we paged him. It is a simple process, resulting in people meeting much more quickly. A taxi quickly took us to Euston, where we took our leave of him, after a very short meeting. However, we would be staying with him for the last night of our stay in Britain.

For now, it was the train up to Merseyside, to see our families for the last time before we left to take up permanent residence on the other side of the world, a different prospect to a two year contract in Vanuatu, even if it had been extended.


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