06.27.2016 - 06.29.2016
As an airline employee it can be difficult to fully plan a long trip. You won't know your next month's schedule until two weeks prior to next month beginning. You hope to get the days off you need in addition to the vacation days you bid for a year prior. In our case it all worked out. We would be free to travel from the 27th of June through most of July. The trip was on! Our plan was to go to Australia, make our way to Tokyo and then over to Hawaii before coming home.
Since we didn't know until the middle of June when the vacation would begin it made planning for hotels, cars and flights in Australia a bit of a challenge. Not so fun fact: Since we were arriving right about the time kids there start their winter break there are lots of families in Australia going on vacation and hotels, flights and car rentals were filling up fast. Did we know this prior to starting this trip.....nooooo, we did not. We were able to find some nice hotels and hoped the travel would work out accordingly. The car rentals were a little bit difficult too since we had to find a car that would hold 6 people plus bags. We got it all done and packed (checklists help!) and started looking forward to the first flight from Houston to LA.
The night before we were to leave we checked the flight and found that it was quickly overbooking with other airline employees. Given the nature of our reservations and timelines we elected to purchase seats to LA and avoid the stress. The afternoon of the 27th we arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport to start the trip!
The kids were pumped up to be flying since we normally take a road trip for vacation. Given the nature of airline employee travel we had never tried to take a flight trip with all six of us. We'll see if they still like air travel after this trip is done! We made it to the gate all the while answering questions about airports, airplanes, airplane food, airplane seats, airport moving sidewalks and just about anything else four kids can think to ask when they are excited.
Flight 1141 to LAX departed at 4:15pm and arrived 5:45pm. Already loving how the time zone changed a 3 hour flight into 1.5 hours. When we arrived we found the section of LAX that we were in was undergoing a complete refurbishment, to include the air conditioning. It was really hot and humid in the airport. We had a quick takeout dinner at Carl's Burgers and made our way to the gate to wait for our flight to Sydney, Australia.
While waiting we all plugged in our phones to charge and tried to get some rest. A few neck pillows were purchased which I highly recommend for anyone about to take a long flight. They make a big comfort difference! We put our phones on airplane mode (including the kids) and explained that it cannot come off airplane mode until we are back in the US. Check with your carrier but know that voice and data are really expensive overseas (If I were to do it again I would have purchased a burner phone on arrival and used it).
And with that we boarded for our flight. We couldn't get first as it had completely booked up but we were able to get economy plus. Nice seats, large lcd display and plenty of room. Based on our direction of flight we were going to depart in darkness and stay in darkness for the next 15 hours. It made sleeping easier but we knew it was going to mess with our body clocks when we arrived. Arrival time was scheduled for 7am on the 29th of June. We lost a full day crossing the international dateline.
We enjoyed dinner and some movies (like 5 or 6 movies) and tried to get some sleep. Great flight and great cabin crew made for a very nice ride! As we descended for landing the sun was just peeking over the horizon. It backlit the clouds and made for a really nice arrival. After landing we joined the long line to go through customs and make our way to a cab for the ride to the hotel. As soon as we stepped outside we started to laugh. It was 46 degrees! It felt great after leaving Houston in the 90's. There was no humidity and the sky was clear. It was awesome.
Our cab ride took about 45 minutes due to the rush hour traffic but we arrived at our hotel (Holiday Inn Old Sydney) located in a historic area called the Rocks. We dropped off our bags and hit the road to start sightseeing!