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2006/01/15 Visiting Cairns, Australia
π 2006-01-15 01:01 in Australia, Ntrips, Trips
w Now that I was certified for diving, I figured I would go to Cairns to go diving (follow the link for diving pictures).

The flight to Sydney was about 13h, and thankfully I got upgraded to business with miles, so it was as pleasant as it could have been.

Before landing to sydney, I told my new watch to swap the display of the SFO and SYD timezones, and show Sydney on the main hands. They showed that I landed at 06:50, and my next flight was 09:15, so I thought "great, no rush".

I started being nervous when it took an extra 10-15mn for my laptop bag to show up at the carrousel (after my big luggage). This is one thing I really don't want to lose... but I got it in the end, just quite late. Note to self: deal with the morons in security who like to empty the bag each time instead of taking the risk of checking it in.

I then got nabbed by customs because of how I answered the pre-screening questions (I'm going on vacation in Cairns, diving, I have no idea what I said wrong). At the gate they say "we have a code 18" or somesuch, and I get my luggage opened up and questioned. Too bad for them, I had pretty much nothing I wasn't supposed to have.

Once out, I went to the vodaphone counter to get a refill for my Australian GSM SIM.
Then, I went to the United counter to get a paper for the damage they did to my luggage, again. And because they're skilled, out of 4 wheels, they always take out one of the two needed to roll the luggage while pulling it from the handle. Grr... That took a good 20mn.

Eventually, I made it to the Quantas counter, as it turned out that I was actually taking the first leg of an international flight to Japan to get to Cairns (took me a little while to figure that out, I was heading for the domestic terminal). I apologized for being a little late (usually, it's a 2H checkin for international flights), and the attendents looked a bit worried and made a special exception to get me on the plane. Mmmh, ok, it was like 07:40 for a 09:15 flight, but whatever.

I then went to duty free to find and buy a very overpriced battery for my underwater camera (yeah! I won't have to overly worry about running out of juice under water), and someone takes off with my boarding pass that was on the counter and leaves me his. Great...
Back to the checkin gate to get another boarding pass, through security, and direction the gate, where I was hoping to finally plug in my laptop and chill a little bit. Instead, I'm told "last boarding, hurry". Uh, it's barely 8?

Once in the plane, I hear some announcement that they're sorry the plane is late for departure. It's 08:15 for a 09:15 departure, I don't see the big deal...
I play with my phones to send an SMS :) and notice the time on my nokia which says Sydney: 09:20. Then, it finally downs on my that my watch had the Sydney timezone wrong and was one hour late (due to summer daylight savings time). Argh, argh, argh!

At that point, I replayed the last hour and a half and realized how incredibly late I was the entire time, and how I should have been running through the airport instead of getting my luggage inspected, buying SIM cards, camera batteries, and a huge tomblerone bar (homer voice)mmmh, tomblerone :)
I guess I got lucky on that one, and I now have a big tomblerone bar in my laptop bag. Yum :)

There is a fair bit to see around Cairns, both Kuranda and the rainforest tour. I started with Kuranda, a village in the rainforest that you reach by cable car, and can leave by train:

The next day, I did a draintree rainforest and coastal tour:

The evening, I went to see an aborigine show:

See more images for Visiting Cairns, Australia
2006/01/24 7kg carry-on limit on Australian/New Zealand planes
π 2006-01-24 13:25 by Merlin in Australia, Ntrips, Trips

Ok, it's so easy to complain about airlines that it's not fun, but eh, I had nothing better to do in the plane (at least all 3 took off, and on time even)

This is my 3rd and last flight from Cairns, Australia to Dunedin, New Zealand after a 4H night in Auckland.
It will have taken more time and effort and time to get from Australia to New Zealand, than it did to get from San Francisco to Australia :)
The highlight however was how Quantas and Air New Zealand actually seem to enforce their 7kg carry on rule when I had two carry ons (due to the laptop) around twice that weight. They didn't seem too willing to negotiate, so I had to use my emergency backpack, make it a second checked in luggage, offload my carry ons a bit, and put the rest of my carry ons on the floor out of the view of the attendant so that she could weight the almost empty carry ons (now 8kg or so), and I put them back in the bag as soon as she cleared them :)
This little ploy didn't work on my second flight though, they checked my carry-on weight and size, again, but right before the security checkpoint, where I couldn't be creative with the weight. I had to go back to the attendants, with whom I had already built rapport :) and made my plea, explaining that I was between two flights, my checked in luggage was not available to move things to, and that I needed help. Since I was only a few kilos above the weight by then, they gave me a waiver, and I was able to board the plane.
I was lucky though, they refused 8kg carry-on luggage from peers I met at the conference...

But seriously, 7kg carry-ons? My laptop bag has never been at 7kg or less in its entire life...
The reason they gave was in case the carry-on fell on someone's head from the overhead compartment. Grumble, another stupid rule that shouldn't apply to me but I get penalized on due to the stupidity of others (if I packed it, I can carry it, and I won't drop it because of the weight).
On the other side of the scale, so to speak, I understand that they want to limit the total weight per passenger and they don't like bozos like me who stuff 2 32kg suitcases, and then stuff all the extra weight in their carry-ons, but in this case I only had one piece of checked in luggage and was well under total weight.
Besides, to really be fair, they should just give a total weight allowance per passenger, including the passenger's weight, and make you pay extra after that. If you are skinny, you get more luggage allowance, if you're not, you get less. Of course, I know that would never work since 300lbs people would scream murder, but eh, a plane does care about that, a cessna 152 will not even take off if you weight that much, and bigger planes require more fuel for those people.

Besides, if your carry-on wasn't overweight when you started, it will be after you do the mandatory passage through duty free (I'm not kidding, you have to walk through the store to get to your gate). And well, tomblerone is heavy, and some might not be able to resist, you know who you are :)

Oh well, logic and the real world don't mix, I'll stop here :)
(yes, I got to Dunedin eventually after a 5h night layover in Auckland, as you can't easily get from Cairns to Dunedin on a monday)

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