Legs 3 & 4 to Australia, March 2-3-4 2022

I woke up in the Sonesta Airport Hotel, where Delta had put me up when I missed my flight to Syndey. I’d had a nightmare about missing my flight in Syndey, never thinking the problem would be LAX. Refreshed and hungry, I went down to breakfast, but they weren’t open yet.

I was stuck where I didn’t want to be until the plane took off at 10:30pm. The sun was shining brightly so I went outside to see where I was. Palm trees lined the roads, and cars streamed by in a continuous line. My nostrils were assaulted by car exhaust. I took a few pictures and returned to the hotel.

Sonesta Airport Hotel, LA

I didn’t receive a voucher for food, so I paid for my own breakfast, and tried to access the hotel internet. It didn’t work so I used my phone internet. At 1:30 I went downstairs for a snack, and when I returned my room was locked.

They must had forgotten I had permission to stay until 6 am, I thought. I went down to the receptionist and told her.

She said, “Delta only pays for just one night. The extra time will cost you $76.“

“They told me last night I could stay until 6 pm.”

“Okay, I will call them,” she said, and fixed my card so it would open the door to my room.

I hadn’t been back in my room more than 15 minutes when the room phone rang.

“They will not cover it.”

“I wouldn’t have stayed, if they hadn’t told me I could.”

“If you leave by 2:00pm, I won’t charge you extra.”

I packed up my things and left. Determined to go back and find out where and why I got lost. Also I had time to check out the Delta Sky Club at LAX.

When I got on the Shuttle bus, there was just one passenger headed back to the airport. A young gal with two dark braids. I complemented her braids.

“She said, I’ve been traveling a lot, I’m headed back to Sydney.”

“Amazing, I’m headed to Sydney too.”

“On Delta?”

“Yes, actually I’m on my way to the Delta Sky Club. Would you like to come as my guest?” Thinking since I’d observed people in Austin bring guests in, that I could too.

“Sure,” she said as we exchanged names, hers being Alex. We went to the Delta check in counter together. I was careful not to set my phone down anywhere. We tried to do the kiosk check in but were redirected to the counter.

At the counter the girl looked at my voucher, and asked, “Are you staying overnight in Sydney>”

“Why, no?” I replied, confused.

“Your ticket says you board the plane tomorrow, on Friday. I will try to fix it.”

I thought for one second, then said laughing, “I cross the international date line, that’s when I arrive in Sydney. I arrive on Friday.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t do many international flights.” The girl said her face turning red.

Alex and I went through security and found the Sky Club. I showed them my ticket and asked to bring a guest.

They said “That will be $39.” Surprised I got out my card to pay.

“You must use an American Express card.”

I would have paid, but I didn’t have that card. I guess I’m just not in the right Delta rewards program where I saw the guys bring guests in Austin.

Alex decided to go off on her own. I was disappointed not to have a companion. I went in and had a delicious but lonely late lunch.

Inside LAX Delta Sky Club

The LAX Sky Club was not as large, or as inviting as the one in Austin, Texas. I indulged in their buffet of very delicious salads, and yoghurt.

About 3:30, with hours before my flight, I went off to discover why and how I got lost. As I left the Sky Club I asked how do I get to the International Terminal.

“Go to the left and find Gate 21A.”

That direction was the same as last night. I walked passed the various stores to Gate 21A, about the distance of five blocks from the lounge. I went backwards to see if there was any other gate to a shuttle that I might have taken by mistake, but there was just the one.

Again I was directed around the corner, up a ramp and down the escalator. As I stepped through the door outside, Then they said, “Get on the second bus.”

That was the problem. Last night I got on the first bus. The one I needed was hidden behind the other bus. There was just one little sign balanced on a saw horse with an arrow saying gate 100-150. In the dark I didn’t see it. There weren’t any signs on the bus saying which gates it was going to.

It was still a good 15 minute ride to the terminal, but the walk through the halls was maybe 5 minutes, so had I gotten on the correct shuttle I could have made it. I explored the international terminal and found the steep escalator I’d gone up last night. I stared at the signs, here it said it was a 15 minute walk to the 200 gates, which was where I was dropped off last night, there was no way I could have made that flight.

I sat and I wandered around, I sat again, and I wandered again. I wandered by gate 133. The sign said “Virgin Atlantic takes off at 7:30 pm. I knew there wasn’t going to be a sign for Delta until after that flight took off and they changed the signs. Finally a 7:00 I walked down and sat to wait by the gate. The Virgin Atlantic passengers boarded and there was one other person left sitting in the next row.

He turned around in his seat and asked, “Are you going to Sydney too.”

“Yes I am. We’re a bit early.” I found out his name was Dave, he had an Australian partner, and was heading back. We talked about all theforms we’d completed. Sure that we were done, they’d checked them when we got our boarding passes. I looked at the desk where we were supposed to line up for boarding. There was a long line. “Why are all those people lined up there.”

“I’ll go see, “ said Dave. “I’m tired of sitting anyway.”

He hurried back, “I think they need to check our documents again”, he said.

We got in line and I started to worry. My Covid test was more than 72 hours ago, would they make me take another test? I mentioned it to the gal next to me.

She said, “They are very picky, you might have to. There probably is a place at the airport.” She allowed me to go ahead of her in line.

I walked up to the counter, dreading having to run off somewhere and miss the plane again. They looked over my documents. She noticed the time on my Covid test.

“I was supposed to fly yesterday. I missed the flight because my plane was late.”

She made a phone call, and said, “They will accept that test.”

My pounding heart finally slowed when she asked, “Where is your ETD?”

“What is an ETD? I have my visa, I have my vaccinations card, I have the covid test. I even have a permit to enter Victoria. “

“You have to go to this web site and print off this, and fill out your Electronic Travel Declaration.“ She put a piece of paper in front of me with an Internet address highlighted.

My eyes started to blur. I didn’t know how I’d fill out one more form.

“Copy that address, use your computer, or phone and fill that out. You can’t take my sheet, I might need it again.”

I tried to scribble the address on one of the piles of papers I’d handed her. Finally I took a photo of it.

I tried to get my computer to work with the airport internet, but it wouldn’t connect. I found the site on my phone, and then had to refind all the information it needed, passport number, flight number, destination, addresses, home and friends. I worked frantically, my gut churning in my stomach as filled it all in again. I knew I’d done this before. I was close to finishing when a message appeared on the screen, “Time has expired.” It all disappeared. Now that I had the information I filled it out faster. After an hour of frantic work I took my phone back up to the counter.

As I stood in line the stewardess announced on the loud speaker that she needed to see me, and some other people. I slowly worked my way to the head of line, dreading something else was wrong. I managed to get the same woman this time. She looked at my phone and said, “That’s fine.”
I went back to wait just five minutes for the boarding. When she scanned my boarding pass, it didn’t work. She went to the desk computer and did something then it worked. Finally I walked onto the plane, and found my seat in a Delta One cubicle.

Delta 1 Suites

They fed us all dinner. And then I pushed the button to make the seat go flat. It actually extends to 6 feet five inches. I pulled my pillow and doona out of its bag. The doona, or comforter was very soft and warm. There was also an amenity kit and slippers.

Ready for sleep

I managed to get right to sleep. I woke up with a headache. I asked the steward to get me some pain medication and a snack. They gave me some Tylenol, pistachios and chips. Then they asked if I’d like breakfast.

I was surprised. I didn’t think we’d been flying that long. Breakfast is usually offered when we are almost ready to arrive. I said yes, and asked for tea. A sandwich arrived along with my tea, rather a strange breakfast I thought. I would need the tea to be awake to go through customs, change terminals again and get on my flight to Melbourne. I tried to check the flight on my screen, but it wouldn’t come up. Finally, after I’d had my tea, I asked, “How much longer?”

The steward said, we’re half-way about 8 more hours.

I didn’t say anything, but thought Oh, No, I just had caffeine, I tried but I didn’t manage to get back to sleep. I watched a movie and listened an audible book.

Finally they said it was one hour till landing and they brought a real breakfast. Despite the comfortable bed I’d only managed to get three hours of sleep during the 15 hours we’d been flying.

The plane landed. I grabbed my bags and hurried off the plane. I’d filled out the paper sheet for immigration when we’d first gotten on the plane, so I put it in my purse and stood in line to have my passport checked. Everything went smoothly. Then I picked up my luggage and shoved it onto a cart, then wheeled the cart over to customs. Again my passport was checked and I’d declared nothing to report. I told the agent I was worried about how to find the shuttle to the domestic terminal. He carefully explained, “Turn right and go down to the McDonald’s, then go out the door to your left.” After that, I was told to go through gate 6. I was overjoyed to see that it was the exit.

I had 3 suitcases on a cart to roll along down the hall. I’d been told that I could wheel the cart onto the bus. That was not possible. But a very nice passenger did offer to help me. When I got to the other terminal I had to go to check in and get another boarding pass and check my luggage again. Then through security. My plane had arrived on time. I had two and a half hours to do this. It went smoothly. Just before I was to go down the last corridor, the ticket agent asked, “It says you need assistance?”

“I needed assistance with directions, and moving my luggage. My luggage is checked now. I just need directions.” She gave me very clear directions, and soon I was aboard the last plane to get to Melbourne.

One and a half hours later I walked off the plane and was greeted at the gate by my partner. I’d forgotten here in Australia they let people meet you right at the gate. It was a big help to have someone hold my hand and walk with my tired body down to baggage claim.

Delta was very nice and gave me a detailed questionnaire to fill out about my flight. Would I recommend Delta? Yes I would, they took good care of me. Would I pay for a Delta One Suite again? No but not because of the staff or the amenities. I would rather use the extra cost to pay for a companion and fly either Comfort Plus or even Economy,. I found the Suite deal just simply too PRIVATE. Not one other passenger spoke to me that entire 16 hours.

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