It all started when my wife and I decided to take a five star bus tour of Western Canada, followed by a cruise up the Inside Passage finishing with a tour from Anchorage to Fairbanks in Alaska. Our tour company contacted us six months before the tour to confirm their planning of our flights back home to Brisbane from Fairbanks. The day they contacted us, they wanted our decision. With a very busy day ahead of us that day, we agreed to the suggestion in a hurry.
However, the next day I sat down to work out the time involved in the trip home. It turned out to be 34 hours basically going from one airport to another with various length stopovers. At our age, we felt we needed an evening stopover along the way in Vancouver. We contacted via our travel agent the tour company to organise that. They told us it would cost $500 to change the flights plus accommodation in Vancouver was very expensive. So we opted to leave the arrangements as they were.
So let me tell you about our flight. To begin with we had to take our airport shuttle from our accommodation at 2.30 a. m., Fairbanks time, to be at the airport by 3 a. m. Checking in at the airport created a problem for us because the airline staff member wanted to charge us $20 per suit case. We had to explain to her we were not stopping over in Seattle but continuing on to Australia via Vancouver. International passengers are not charged that fee.
Our next hassle was breakfast. We were given a box of food for breakfast which we had to eat near the check-in counter before going through customs into the airport lounge where we were to board first part of our flight to Seattle.
Our four plus hour flight to Seattle was incident free. We landed in Seattle where we had a two hour plus stopover. We knew our luggage would be moved onto our next flight. So all we had to do was to find our next departure gate to get our flight to Vancouver. Others passengers from our flight were in same predicament joined us trying to find our way to that departure gate. It took us 30 minutes to achieve that goal.
The one hour flight to Vancouver was smooth. In Vancouver, we had an eight hour stopover. So we arranged to spend that time in an airport lounge where were fed, had an opportunity to shower, read, sleep or have a coffee or a drink. As we walked through the terminal from the plane, we could see below us our airport lounge. However, due to the construction work in the terminal, we were taken around a winding route before we were able to move into the main terminal. We could not find the airport lounge. Fortunately, we asked a gentleman who drove a golf cart where it was. He drove us there telling us that our airline staff should have met us off the plane and guided us to the lounge. The airport lounge was “our saviour”.
The flight home was fourteen hours long. We both struggled with sleep and being uncomfortable. Once we arrived home, unpacked and headed to bed, we found we needed two weeks to get to feel normal again. We did enjoy our trip to Alaska and Canada but we won’t ever forget our 34 hours of air travel to get home.
So our advice to less experienced overseas travellers is to take time to work out the hours involved in long overseas flights before agreeing to what is suggested. Consider night’s stopovers along the way. We found both Singapore and Dubai were worthwhile. If we were to go North America again we would stopover in Hawaii for a day before continuing on.