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Jun '18

Trip Report: Auckland To Sydney To Dallas

Time to bid adieu to New Zealand. Up at 5am, well, 5:20, to get to the airport for my 8:35am flight. Another Uber ride.

The Auckland Airport is torn up, and it’s a maze to get to the lounge – but at least there is a lounge, though they only let me into the Business Class side (even though my connecting is in First).

Besides being torn up – my gate is a twenty-minute walk from the lounge. At least I had eggs, hash browns, and creamed mushrooms to nourish me. And, there should be breakfast on the flight to Sydney.

My business class seat – 2F:

And the leg room – not the best, not the worst – I was expecting a little better for International Business Class:

I found it interesting that there were only four people up front out of 12 seats. Apparently, they don’t upgrade people on Qantas.

We were 45 minutes late leaving the gate to a paint scrape on one of the cargo doors. And they do serve breakfast after the offer of bubbles in a real glass:

Followed by yogurt with strawberry compote and chorizo and eggs (I didn’t eat the kale):

Didn’t want to overeat in either the lounge or the flight since I’ve got the First-Class Lounge waiting for me.

I have (or had) plenty of time to make my flight in Sydney, but they have me scheduled for a spa treatment in the First-Class Lounge Spa – which was reduced to a 10-minute express massage. It wasn’t helped by having to take a bus to the terminal:

Finally found the lounge (BAD signage), and checked in at the desk – they’d been paging me for my treatment – so off to the Spa went I:

The inside was HEAVY on the woo.

But when you look at the rest of the lounge – not surprising.

With great retro flip number flight displays:

And an EXTENSIVE menu of dishes made to order:

When the waiter came by, I said I probably didn’t have time for lunch – he recommended the salt and pepper squid and the bartender made me a wonderful “perfect” Manhattan:

I could get used to this! Though, you’d think they might have sent a car for me to meet me plane-side. I’m only half kidding.

And my plane for the next 13 hours….

Yep, the double-decker A380-800.

They had three bridge ways – one for First, which is in the front of the lower section, one for Business on the second level, and a third for Economy in lower half of the back of the plane (though there is some Economy at the back of the top level, which I hear is going away when they redo the interiors in the next couple of years.

Here are the front stairs up to Business:

And the First-Class section:

And my suite, 4A:

I read up on this section, and 4A has three windows, and being on the left-hand side, only has crew and four other passengers using the aisle.

With all sorts of controls – the one on the wall is removable…and the headphones are noise cancelling:

We were still on the ground when goodies started showing up:

The bubbles are 2006 vintage-dated, and yummy:

With pajamas and amenity kit:

Once we were in the air…the parade of food began. I chose the chef’s 10-course tasting meal. And there is a chef on board, I kid you not. It started with the caviar vol au vent with crème fraiche and Korean beef tartare with pickles, doenjang mayonnaise and sesame (with a glass of Woodford Reserve):

Followed by setting the table for dinner – Moroccan spiced carrot soup with coriander yoghurt and dukkah croutons:

Then tuna poke salad with wakame and sesame soy dressing:

I opted for the grilled lamb with green beans, mac and cheese over the beef massaman curry:

I put off the cheese course and sweet wine for a little bit (which turned into never) and the bed was calling…

And I actually got some sleep, four or five hours (out of the 13-hour flight), plus watched three movies: Thelma and Louise, The Seven Year Itch, and Austin Powers. Serious fare.

There was a huge breakfast menu, but I was still a little full from last night, so this was my choice, including more of that lovely vintage Champagne:

I’d wanted to try the mid-flight option of the steak and brie on baguette – but no room in the stomach, and sleep sounded like the better option.

Breezed through passport control with Global Entry (was actually the first one through!) since all the Aussies had to go to a desk and chat.

Dallas (DFW) is a HUGE airport with multiple terminals and the though of catching the interterminal shuttle to A, then catching DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) to Love Field and calling for the hotel shuttle when the temperature is 95+ didn’t sound fun. I booked an Uber – and when the driver put my bags in the trunk he unzipped a good size soft side cooler with ice and cold drinks – even BEER! I opted for the Diet Dr. Pepper since I am in Texas.

Got early check-in – and discovered that the hotel has a couple of strikes against it:

  • In need of a serious refurbishment
  • It is near nothing other than Love Field

The room:

Not nearly on the same level as the Ramada Auckland. But it’s for one night, and I did find a restaurant (Mile High Subs and Giolittis Café) a block down on the same side of the street (with a couple of police cruisers out front), so it was just cutting through a bunch of parking lots. That was my ONLY choice. Did I mention that Texas doesn’t really believe in sidewalks? There were a handful of restaurants on the other side of the freeway. Not at 95 degrees. I was surprised that the chicken alfredo (to go) was actually pretty decent. The other choices were pizzas or hoagies.

No liquor stores or even a convenience store, so it’s a dry evening. Probably won’t kill me (it would have been an $8 Uber to/from).

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