One (36 hour) travel day
1 rental car
1 trade show
How it all went down……
There are easier - in fact direct - ways to get from Toronto to Brisbane (I’m looking at you Air Canada). However, this was not that.
No...not at all.
And here is why.
My partner - the lovely, charming and generous Stephen - decided that it was time for me to visit my parents in Canada. This could be code for him needing a break from me, but let’s go with the parent thing for the good of this story (and our relationship). When booking the tickets on points with Qantas months ago, I had zero visibility into schedules, events, or other places I might need to/want to go whilst in North America. So we left the booking simply at Brisbane to LAX return, and I would deal with the rest as I got myself sorted. As the dates drew near I scanned the interweb for any industry based events that I could attend to maximise my time on the other side of the planet, and found one, and only one.
Luxe Pack in New York.
On the day that I was flying back to Australia 🌏 😩.
My flight out of LA wasn’t until 10:05 pm local - so I figured as long as I was in LA by 7:30pm all would be good. And so began the workback schedule. Could I find a flight from New York to LA that got me in on time to make my connector to Australia but gave me a few hours in New York? Check. A flight from Toronto to New York that got me in early enough to get to Manhattan and spend a few hours at the show. Check. Was there a margin for error. Nope. Here's how it went down....
Get the hell out.
Bonus - no traffic on the 401. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Return rental car to Hertz at terminal 3 Pearson International Airport (YYZ) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ great service/great vehicle.
NB - booked it through Hotwire and got an awesome deal!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
WestJet flight YYZ - LGA. Toronto Pearson International Airport is always pretty reasonable and on this day was no exception. The only drama was of my own creation with an overweight bag. I was that person at the airport - repacking and creating a second checked bag ($100 for 3 extra kgs or $50 for an additional bag!). Although I prefer flying Air Canada due to a more robust schedule and their loyalty programme, WestJet is always delightful to fly.
They only get ⭐⭐⭐ stars because of the luggage issue. Which I admit was my “fault”, but it is also my story.
Arrive at Laguardia.
I’m sure it will be great when the construction is finished, however - avoid LGA at all costs until then. A bloody nightmare to negotiate your way through. ⭐⭐ One bright spot - super easy and organised pickup areas for uber/lyft etc. (once you find it)
Uber from LGA to Javits Centre. Great ride with Naeem. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Luxe Pack at the Javits Centre - this is a packaging show for the beauty industry. It was a) the reason for vectoring around the country to get home and b) a bit of a long-shot as I had never been, and didn’t know anyone who had. It was well worth the travel drama. The Javits Centre is first class and had a reasonable ($4/item) bag check. For $12 I could unburden myself and commence the 2 hour exploration of packaging porn. Luxe Pack itself was a terrific show and I was able to get through 80% of the exhibition area in the 2 hours that I had, and came away with information and ideas that I could not have gathered in any amount of time sitting at my desk in Australia.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Uber ride from the Javits Centre to JFK. Great ride with Pappa. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Delta 975 - JFK to LAX. In spite of checking in online it still took over 30 minutes to get through the line to drop bags. This was a reminder for me of what it is like to fly on an airline where you don’t have status… ⭐⭐
Once I was through check-in and security (thank you 🙏 Nexus) I had an opportunity to explore Terminal 4 of JFK. Wow - a stark contrast to Laguardia! Clean, organised and a beautiful variety of retail and restaurants. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
My flight left a few minutes late but nothing of note (and yet, I have….🙊). Delta’s ground crew are very strict about their seating process - no zone jumping here 🙅. The flight itself was better than I had anticipated with both in-seat entertainment and a snack provided. However it was the first time in yonks that I had sat behind the wing - again a testament to my not having status on Delta. I forgot how bumpy it gets at the back of the plane. ⭐⭐⭐
Watched the movie Widows with Viola Davis - so good! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
7 pm (local)
At this point I had been on the move for almost 18 hours and was exhausted but relieved to be in LA 3 hours in advance of the most important flight of the day - the one that would get me home.
Walk (aka drag my sorry butt) to Tom Brady terminal.
Drop off bags. Be thankful 🙏 for Qantas gold status and short lines.
Clear security again. Be thankful 🙏 for Nexus card again.
Find Qantas lounge. Be SUPER thankful 🙏🙏 for Qantas status.
I was hot, sweaty, exhausted, cranky and sore from dragging so much of my life across the continent. And then - a true revelation. I entered the lounge and made a beeline for the washroom. As I came out, I looked at the sign directing guests to the showers. The clouds parted. The angels sang. I had often wondered who on earth would have a shower in an airport lounge. And now I knew. Me!! I asked the lovely attendant what the process was and she said that she had a shower available and asked what amenities I might need.
To say that that shower was one of the top 3 of my life is not an exaggeration. ⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐🙏⭐∞
The Qantas flight from LAX to Brisbane was unremarkable - mostly because as soon as we reached altitude (Premium Economy and an empty seat next to me!) Long Haul Spa skincare was applied, noise cancelling headphones put on, blankets and pillows were arranged to create the perfect cocoon, and my eye mask was brought down like a “sorry, we’re closed” sign. And the rest - as they say - is history.
5 AM (local)
I arrived in Brisbane on time, cleared customs and security without issue - although I had a momentary lapse of reason when I saw that Border Security: Australia’s Frontline was shooting. It’s one of my dad’s favourite shows. I got over it quickly and carried on to the exit.
So, on a 36 hour travel day when absolutely everything could have gone wrong, nothing really did!
And whilst perhaps not news (or blog) worthy, don’t the travel fates deserve a mention when they don’t f’up your day?
I’m giving them ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - and hope that they will continue to travel with me😇.