The end of our New Zealand trip
All good things come to an end… Christchurch Airport would be our last stop on this amazing journey in a wonderful country.
Our last morning had the sadness of a near departure in it. The chef in The Jane Hostel managed to serve eggs benedict with a hollandaise sauce that had failed. It felt like only a couple of days since we arrived in Auckland, and now the adventure came to an end (for this episode!). We loaded our luggage in the car and went off to the Christchurch airport.
Christchurch Airport, the Budget computer says no…
If you ever would like to have a day filled with fun and joy at low expense, go and ask something at the people of Budget Rent A Car. Bring your patience and tolerance for rigid thinking. Our travel agency had booked and prepaid our car with them. So when we entered it back, filled with gas and without any damage to the car, we were a little surprised to be presented with a bill. The amount to settle was rather limited, but still, we felt like this was incorrect.
The lady at the counter and her male colleague (presumably a trainee) could not explain where the amount came from and went to see their supervisor. He/She (never seen that person, residing in a back-office – if (s)he even existed) informed us via the agent that we had to pay an extra day, because we picked it up at 9 o clock in Auckland and it was now a couple of minutes over 9, and we had to pay the full day. But, as we had rented for a month, Budget would wave the extra day. Wow, so we have had 10 minutes of free use of the car, thank you, gentle people…
But now the agent had to correct the amount on the bill. So after a lot of frustration, we had 4 (yes, four) of these agents trying to correct an invoice. The system at Budget must be very solid in not giving the money back. It took them another 15 minutes to get this sorted out and corrected. And it all is the computer’s fault sir. Yes, thank you and bye-bye.
So, now that we got rid of our car, we could get our boarding passes. As we had four segments in front of us, with 3 different airlines, we could expect the worse. Especially as the first segment is with Air New Zealand, where the weight limits are stricter than with Cathay Pacific and British Airlines. Even after we shipped some of the stuff home by mail, we still had a lot with us. So we had a second supervisor intervention in the same hour. Fortunately, here the pragmatic kiwi-spirit and the gentle customer service of New Zealand Airlines guided the decision to accept all luggage. And on to security we were.
Much to our surprise, there was no queue at the security in Christchurch Airport, and we encountered agents that were doing their jobs correctly, but in a friendly way. I still wonder why the TSA in the USA has to make security such an unpleasant experience when you see that most other nations enforce strict security on airplanes without being rude to passengers. The security people at this airport knew what delivering a service meant.
Air New Zealand
Since my last flight on Song Airlines, in 2007 or 2008, I did never enjoy watching the security videos on airplanes anymore. But the people at Air NZ have made their movie with the national rugby team featuring in it. It’s the first security video that I went looking for on youtube (and found it!).
When arriving in Auckland and leaving the country, the friendly immigration officer sees our Belgian passports and starts discussing the victory of Kim Clijsters in the Australian open. Cool if they know us for chocolates or tennis, rather than for the Belgian politics…
- Christchurch Airport (CHC) – Auckland (AKL): 321 KM – 1h 20minutes
- Auckland – Hong Kong (HKG): 9641 KM, 11h 20 min.
- Hong Kong – London (LHR): 9124 KM, 13h 20 min.
- London – Brussels (BRU): 349KM: 1h
A long journey, with lots of layovers. Thanks to frequent flyer status, we could use lounges and showers in Hong Kong, and thanks to Cathay Pacific for the in-flight battleship (zeeslag), that can be played by two passengers against each other. And maybe one day, the people at FlightCare and Aviapartner in Brussels Airport will manage to get the luggage out and in the arrivals hall within half an hour. Now we had to wait 45 minutes – again!
- Brussels was 30 degrees less than Christchurch. A t-shirt and a small jacket clearly could be considered as underdressed;
- After a month in clean air, we arrived in smog-alerted Belgium;
…but we were are happy to be home again! Now we can start saving and planning for a new trip, not sure where we go next time, however :-)
PS: those of you that enjoyed my New Zealand travel journal: all my posts from the New Zealand travel are at https://boarding.today/tag/new-zealand/
Some pictures are on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kblanqua/sets/72157624945452856/
The featured image above this article is courtesy of the Christchurch Airport Administration
Updated May 9, 2018 – corrected image size and removed spelling errors.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.
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