Travel woes: Budapest to Auckland


Unlike most other Durham students, I am not a seasoned ‘Gap-Yah’ traveller, most of my previous travelling comes from quaint family ventures and hostile rugby ‘Tooers’. The latter prepared me well for my journey across the world, just a week earlier I was in the midst of a dispute between GCRFC, and the crime syndicate known as Wizz Air. A slight miscommunication regarding our flight check in saw us swindled of 22,108 HUF each and just barely scraping our way out of Budapest.

At least in that scenario I was able to take solace in the comradeship, hideous haircuts, and heavy hangovers that tended to characterise our time on Tooer. However, as I made the journey down the M25 towards Heathrow, I was acutely aware that I was alone, with an average haircut, and crucially, stone cold sober.

From Heathrow I would fly to Houston, from Houston to Auckland, and finally I would connect from Auckland to Dunedin.

Despite the retched reputation of US passport control I found it all fairly simple, put on a brave face and hope you don’t get deported…easy! Finding my bag was less easy. For some unknown reason the luggage men at Houston remove your bags from the carousel and expect you to sift through a pyramid of luggage – I’m certain at most other airports this would be considered some kind of hazard.

All began quite smoothly, I collected my tickets at Heathrow, and had more than enough time to spill a completely full bottle of water in the quiet lounge. Despite my heinous crime, I was allowed to board the plane. The first flight was pretty uneventful, I spent half my time speaking to a couple of native Oklahomans and the other half watching Avatar two – 12 hours well spent I’d say.

“For 14 hours I visualised how I was going to dash through security to heroically catch my flight just as the gate was closing”

Nonetheless I had made it. I checked my bag in, met some friendly sniffer dogs, went through security for the second time and began waiting for my flight. I was waiting quite a while…in fact, I was waiting so long that I realised I probably wasn’t going to make my next connection in Auckland.

Taking off two hours later than scheduled meant it was definitely going to be tight. For 14 hours I visualised how I was going to dash through security to  heroically catch my flight just as the gate was closing. Sadly, when I finally touched down in Auckland my connecting flight had all but left the runway.

I discovered quite quickly that even if my flight had been on time, I probably wouldn’t have made it anyway. It took 45 minutes for my bag to come off the carousel, followed by 60 more minutes waiting to declare a packet of Percy Pigs in my suitcase, and then a final 30-minute walk to the domestic terminal where I would finally be able to check onto my flight that already departed.

In fairness, Air New Zealand were very helpful, I had automatically been switched to the next flight and much of my time spent visualising my great escape could’ve been spent asleep…the only slight issue was that the next flight was in six hours.

With my destination in sight, I set about trying to waste six hours in any possible way. I drank my first pint on New Zealand soil, I experimented with my first Southern Hemisphere McDonalds, and even plucked up the courage to chat with a Kiwi. Once I was exhausted of speaking to a piece of fruit, I walked through security for the third and final time to await the much more comforting two-hour fight to Dunedin.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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