What are you guys like when it comes to travel? I'm a stickler for organisation, and once it was decided I was going to join Brad on his trip, pretty much booked everything on the trip. And I mean everything. Out of the seven cities we visited, Brad booked on hotel room, tickets to a basketball game and the Statue of Liberty…annnnd…that's it. Oh and his plane tickets to and from LA I guess.
I took control of everything else, and although it took a while, I think that in hindsight, I did a pretty good job in regards to flights, accommodation and general logistics.
So I thought I would focus this first post on airlines and getting a sim card for your phone.
I know, kind of boring, not so delicious, but I know a couple of my readers are heading to the states soonish, so thought this might be of help to you, as I would have loved to read a post like this myself!
Getting to the states, Brad had booked his flights before I decided to join, and the cheapest tickets he could find, with the most reasonable layover were with Air New Zealand. They were around $1200, when I bought mine a month later for the same flights, they cost me about $1500.
Now, I have done a fair bit of flying, but had not flown with Air New Zealand since I was like 7 (oh god, that's getting to be so long ago now). So I didn't really know what to expect and was kind of worried it would be…I don't know, subpar?
But gosh, was I surprised. I loved Air New Zealand. LOVED.
I even looked forward to my 12 hour flight from LAX to Auckland. Look forward to a long haul flight. Can you imagine?
All planes we took were newly fitted out, with surprisingly spacious seats, usb ports and powerpoints in all seats (even in economy) and some of the largest tv screens in the seats I had ever seen…I think they were even bigger than Singapore Airline's A380 economy screens!
What I loved even more though, which I had never come across on an airline before, was that their on-demand movies, tv shows and music were all available 'gate-to-gate'. Basically from the second you get on the plane, to the second you get off. So while waiting for other passengers to board, you could be getting immersed in the action of 'A Good Day to Die Hard' (don't judge too much, I love mindless action films) and continue to while taking off, then be watching 'A life of Pi' as you land and taxi to the gate.
Simple, but totally brilliant. There was also a great selection of movies and shows, ranging from the very recent releases to old favourites. On the way to LA I ended up watching about 6 hours of David Attenborough goodness.
Service was super friendly and easy to access, as you could simply order food, drinks and snacks via your giant tv screen. Waking up to a piping hot milo after a 5 hour snooze on my way to LA was really the best thing ever. Really, why is milo so good?
You can also order baps.
Something else that took me completely by surprise, was how tasty the food was. Yes. Tasty aeroplane food. I know it's an oxymoron, but Air New Zealand somehow broke the mould.
My gluten intolerant meal of lamb stew with potato slice was surprisingly well seasoned, full of flavour and totally tender. The thin potato slices that were assembled into a small rectangular square were perfectly cooked, not mushy, but soft enough to scoop up neatly. I was super impressed.
And then I stole Brad's chocolate ice-cream. After eating my gluten free chocolate bar. Teehee. It was delicious. Fortunately he's not a sweet tooth, like at all. Yay!
The only meal that I wasn't really impressed with were my scrambled eggs for breakfast, which had a really strange granular texture and were a bit bland. Everything else we ate onboard though, was seriously good. Best airplane food I've had? Definitely.
That's how Brad slept on the way home. Hehe.
Even the toilets had a cute fit out, with a library-like wallpaper with a variety of funny and quirky book names. I appreciate Air New Zealand's sense of humour.
It was also great while in LAX, since we flew in from New York pretty early, we could actually check in our bags about 10 hours before our flight, which saved us from having to drag them around with us all day.
Also as a quick mention, the layover we had in Auckland airport was short, but very comfortable. There's a really lovely little waiting area where they have comfy sofas, fit for two, with two powerpoints at each. Plug the laptop in and you're good to go for a few hours no?
Whilst in America, we flew Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and Jet Blue. The only one we had issues with in regards to delays (or generally really) was Jet Blue, but we were on the plane and it only took about an extra 30 minutes. The only thing I didn't like about Jet Blue, was that getting through security at their terminal in New York was absolutely ridiculous. It probably took nearly an hour…for a domestic flight! When we were in LAX on our way home, it only took about 15 minutes to get through security…little bit mixed up no?
The last thing I did want to make mention of here was getting a sim card for a smart phone.
It took ages of googling to figure out that yes, T-Mobile only offers prepaid plans, and you can get micro and nano sims for your phone.
All of the prepaid plans from T-Mobile had unlimited calling and texting (fairly handy) and the most basic plan you could pick up was $50 for one month, which included the unlimited calling and texting and 500MB of high-speed data. After that it apparently slows down to somewhere between Edge and 3G speeds.
I opted to add $10 to my plan so that I would get 2GB of high-speed data.
On top of that you will also get charged an extra $10 for the sim card itself.
All up making the bill $70 in my case (and 9c for tax).
Seriously, having data was an absolute godsend. Google maps is pretty reliable for figuring out public transport or walking routes and I came to realise why Yelp was actually kind of cool (I found the coolest little consignment shop in Seattle with it, amongst many other little delicious finds). With T-Mobile, I generally had pretty good coverage all across the country, although the data often hated it when I went indoors, for some dumb reason.
I hope that wasn't too boring for everyone? For those planning a trip to the states, I hope this helps out a little bit, but I promise my next American post will be much more tasty for everyone.