What a Trip: 34+ Hours to Sydney

I thought I had a great deal when I found a packaged flight to Sydney Australia. Because I left from Hartford, CT (United States) I have to find a connecting flight to Los Angelas.

United Airlines came through with a packaged deal that was not only US$300 less than everyone else, but was supposed to be a few hours less flight time as well (who'd pass up on a deal like that).

So I booked my 24 hour flight and left from home Sunday afternoon.

All the flights were on time and everything was going great until we were descending to land in Sydney. About 5 minutes from landing, the engines of our plane revved-up and we were climbing again. Another 5 minutes passed and the pilot informed us that Sydney Airport was shut down due to heavy fog. We were being redirected to Melbourne (1hr), would refuel (1hr), and then fly back to Sydney (1hr). Or so we thought.

Things got worse from there. We sat in our plane parked at the terminal for 15 minutes until they could decide what to do with us (it was 8am local time). Then they told us to get off the plane, take a break (drink voucher), and we'd be re-boarding in an hour (well, that sounds nice of them). However, after we got off the plane we were soon informed we weren't leaving for a few more hours. And so the delays began... one after the other.

It gets better. Around 12:00 noon they realized they let all of us off the plane (to go wherever we pleased) without ever putting us through Customs (oops!). So there answer to that was to setup a quarantine area at our gate where they'd re-check our passports, carry-on bags, and a frisk-down (not sure I see the logic in this... what about the bad people who decided to just leave the Melbourne airport?).

But wait, there's more! After 5 or so hours of sitting in the Melbourne airport we finally re-boarded our plane. We taxied to a spot (somewhere) and sat there for a prolonged time. We were then told that we had to go "back" to the terminal because engine 4 would not start (great).

So there we were, parked and waiting. Then I looked out my window (at engine 4) and I see what looks like the local handy-man on a step ladder poking and prodding with a long thin metal rod into an open access panel. He continued to do this for 15 minutes until he somehow jump-started the engine. We were told at this point it was safe to take off (oh boy, we felt so safe at that point).

Either way I finally made it to the conference hotel in one piece and took a long hot shower :).

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Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Weyert de Boer's Gravatar Yes, I saw this morning it was foggy when I woke up this morning. Seems like I made a good choice to arrive yesterday.
#1 by Weyert de Boer | 3/20/07 4:43 AM
Andrew Muller's Gravatar Jeff, you poor bugger - not exactly a great start to the whole adventure!!

Will have to catch up tomorrow night, you coming to the National User Group Meeting?

Anyhow, welcome and I'll catch up with in the next couple of days.

#2 by Andrew Muller | 3/20/07 6:30 AM
Jeff Coughlin's Gravatar @ Andrew: I signed up for it and as long as I can catch up on the work I planned to get done today you should still plan to see me there :).
#3 by Jeff Coughlin | 3/20/07 6:44 AM
Sammy Larbi's Gravatar And to think, if you could just float, you'd have been there in no more than 12 hours or so!
#4 by Sammy Larbi | 3/20/07 7:53 AM
JesterXL's Gravatar Not sure how we didn't have the same problem. Our plane was about 5 miles out of Sydney at 7:10 am. The fog was thick, and we did 2 loops as a holding pattern until the fog cleared up. Frankly, when we landed, roughly, I couldn't even see the runway, so not sure how the pilots did.
#5 by JesterXL | 3/20/07 9:25 AM
Dan Wilson's Gravatar @Jeff

What a mess. Almost sounds as bad as all the Flight Cancellations here in the NorthEast at the end of last week.

If only the airline would have been more upfront with you, you perhaps could have rented a car and drove to Sydney. A nice drive up the Aussie coast would be awesome.

Dan Wilson
#6 by Dan Wilson | 3/20/07 9:48 AM
Ben's Gravatar When you fly back to the US don't use Oceanic Airlines. (anyone who watches LOST will understand :p)
#7 by Ben | 3/20/07 4:36 PM
Christine & Hannah Coughlin's Gravatar Glad you made it there safely! We miss you!
Hope you have a great time at the conference with your friends and colleagues.
#8 by Christine & Hannah Coughlin | 3/20/07 4:41 PM
Jeff Coughlin's Gravatar @JesterXL: Wow. That sounds scary. I don't blame the airline for want to divert us (since they told us it was zero visibility). I guess if I were in your shoes I would have been frightened for my life :)

@Dan: I agree. Several of us had discussed the possibility of renting a bus or even a car, but the airline wouldn't let us take our bags (I'm assuming because they realized (realised?... the Oz in me) they needed to stop us in some way from leaving without going through Customs).

@Ben: The thought had crossed my mind a few times :)
#9 by Jeff Coughlin | 3/20/07 4:48 PM
Lucas Sherwood's Gravatar Damn! you could have popped into the City for a quick tour (or a quick usergroup meeting) in that time! Glad you made it to Sydney in the end...

I hope my flight is not that much fun :)
#10 by Lucas Sherwood | 3/20/07 7:00 PM
Gary Barber's Gravatar Jeff, I'm never going to bitch about minor minor fly time across Australia again. That's was just insane. Hope you enjoyed Sydney.
#11 by Gary Barber | 3/23/07 10:27 AM
Mark Picker's Gravatar Well I hope it was all worth it in the end Jeff. It was great finially getting to meet yourself and all the other famous people from our community. I'm glad so many people were too hung over on the Friday morning to attend the Birds of a Feather, it was great chance to chat with you and Matt.

Just hope you have a better flight home.

Now, I better get organising the trip back down to Sydney for webDU 08 :)

#12 by Mark Picker | 3/23/07 9:23 PM

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