Just Travels

Travelling halfway round the world leaves me with little training to mention, but plenty of travel. The time I’ve spent since arriving home has mostly involved recovery. Three days since I’ve landed and at last my legs aren’t balloons! Whether I’m on the way to synchronising with the new timezone is another matter entirely. Throwing in a shift to daylight saving didn’t help either!

I stick to a principle of getting to check-in early. The theory is that if you’re there nice and early the staff are more lenient when it comes to your luggage. Alternatively turning up at the last minute can work too as they rush to get you on the plane. Personally I don’t have the nerve to follow the latter option as a strategy. When my airport shuttle hadn’t shown up at the hotel 15 minutes after it was due I beginning to think I’d forced that way anyway.

Just as I was heading to a taxi rank figuring out how my bike bag would fit in a hatchback the shuttle arrived. I was the last pick-up so at least we were straight to the airport from there. Once we’d arrive there was one final delay as it turned out the driver hadn’t thought to carry any change. When you charge $15 from the city to the airport I’d have thought a collection of $5 notes was essential.

Normally flying BA makes the issue of excess luggage simple. There’s a fixed charge for excess bags and a flat fee regardless of weight. Whilst I’d booked through BA I was flying with Qantas all the way and would be subject to there terms. Qantas operate a much less triathlete friendly system of charging $50 Australian per excess kilogram for long haul. With an allowance of 23kg and bringing a bike and kit home it’s pretty much inevitable I’ll get hit.

A couple of weeks before I’d worked out that I probably had close to 40kg in New Zealand. With Qantas I’d be looking at $850 Australian to get it all home. I spent the last fortnight packing and posting as much as I could. From what was left I’d put as much of the heavy stuff as I could into my hand luggage. The huge Blueseventy backpack I’d got on Epic Camp came in handy there.

At check-in my bags weighed about 30kg once they’d rounded up. Seven kilos excess, more than I’d hoped, but nothing to be done now. It also transpired that whilst there was a gap between landing in Sydney and flying home my ticket wouldn’t allow me to leave the airport without paying an additional fee. Not savouring the idea of nine hours in a terminal I reluctantly went to the ticket office to pay.

Meanwhile the attendant checked my bags in and somehow calculated my excess luggage fee at twice what it should be! When he brought that over to the ticket office I was quick to point the error out. It was bad enough at the correct rate let alone with his mark-up. Some discussion followed in which we established the error in his calculation and the fact I normally paid a fixed fee with BA.

Whether it was a genuine mistake or not, the man at the ticket office looked up the Qantas rate. Sure enough it said $50 Australian per kilogram, but apparently he missed that second part. Instead he charged me a straight fee of $50 Oz for having excess luggage. I knew it was wrong, but this wasn’t the time to prove superior knowledge of Qantas charges. Instead a nervous few minutes playing dumb followed fearing the mistake might be spotted any moment.

From there to Sydney was plain sailing. I’d been put in an exit row and had plenty of leg room. When we landed my name was called out to contact a member of crew. I worried they’d figured out the massive undercharge on my bike bag! It turned out the flight home was heavily delayed.

When I flew back from Kona there was a call for passengers to move to later flights. The airline would put you up in a hotel and pay you for doing this. Unusually I was on a deadline and couldn’t volunteer. Normally not working makes it easier to change my schedule. At the time I made a mental note that if the option came up again I should go for it.

These delays weren’t that serious, but to keep me happy Qantas had booked me a room in a hotel and would pay for dinner too. I’d intended to go into the city (and paid for the privilege) so all of this was a bonus. I headed in, dumped my bags off and caught up with friends as planned. All with the added benefit of a few extra hours and a decent shower and meal before returning for my flight.

When I got back to the airport further delays kept us waiting another couple of hours. I couldn’t have spent 15 hours stuck there especially when half the shops were closed for refurbishment. It seems that whilst they’d been late getting a plane they were now hurrying through fixing a problem with a landing gear. I did wonder if hurrying to fix an issue was really that reassuring.

I don’t know what this says, but I was actually excited that we were returning on a new Airbus A380. It’s just a plane and I’m still in cattle class, but I’d never been on one. If you’re going to be stuck on something for the next 20 hours it’s best to be positive. I think we might have got a bit more leg room than other planes it’s hard to be certain though.

I got through the flight thanks to a decent set of movies, decent food by airplane standards and a neighbour who happily gave up any of her unwanted meals! Very kind, but not helping my plan of avoiding overeating whilst travelling. I’m terrible for boredom eating so once I learnt where the snacks were available I was there between films.

Over five hours late into the UK with a final few frustrating delays as the plane taxied to a free gate. At least I was back home. My bags had turned up too and clearly I’d got away without having to pay much for the excess luggage. All in all a good result.

I’ve followed my usual plan for dealing with jetlag. Go to bed at the appropriate local time and pretend it doesn’t exist. At the least it works in getting my sleep synchronised, admittedly I’m still feeling tired today. I’ve noticed that my legs are still swollen from all the time on the plane. Hopefully I’ll see my ankles properly in the next few days. It makes me suspect it’s a combination of a race and the travel that makes me swell up for so long after an event.

To make things more complicated I also threw in a half-marathon on Sunday. Not strictly a race as I ran as a pacer. Having to pace 8 minute miles was a different kind of challenging and without a Garmin I was still accurate enough. I did finish with my slowest half-marathon time ever, but it was great to have helped others achieve their race goals.

Now it’s back to normal training. Over coming my dislike for cold and wet weather and settling into a routine. There’s three weeks to get myself ready for the hard work to come in Lanzarote.