I should subtitle this entry “because there hasn’t been enough drama already” but I’ll resist. Woke up to an email…my Virgin Australia flight had been canceled. For some reason, the inbound was canceled so might flight was canceled as well. Called Virgin, and they said “no problem, you’ve been rebooked for tomorrow.” Um, I don’t want to go tomorrow, I want to go today. Ugh.
Fortunately, my good friends at Solomons Air also had a flight that day…but Virgin wouldn’t rebook me on it. It actually took nearly 30 minutes of fighting to get them to agree to give me a refund. Ugh. There was an upside though – the new flight on Solomons wasn’t actually about $100 cheaper booked day of…so in the end, things actually worked out well!
Got to the airport only about an hour before the flight after all the drama, but no problems at all. Checked in, got the exit row again, and life was grand.
Oh look, same plane as a couple days prior! That’s because Solomons only has one jet…
Welkam on board!
Solomons Airlines flight 700
Honiara, Solomon Islands (HIR) to Brisbane, Australia (BNE)
Depart 15:00, Arrive 17:15, Flight Time 3:15
Airbus A320, Registration H4-BUS (ex Air Canada) Manufactured 1992, Seat 15C
The flight was only about half full today, which meant I had the entire exit row to myself. Score! Double score…there was no sketchy sandwiich on this flight but a proper meal. It was described as “beef” and was actually reasonably tasty:
Quick shot how the “other half” lives on the way out.
Landed right on time, and decided to give the eGates at Australian immigration a try, not wanting a repeat of my experience coming into Darwin. It worked like a charm, and soon I was on the airport express train downtown and back to the Four Points hotel. The downtown area was an absolute security nightmare, with the G20 set to happen in a couple of days.
Checked in, had a quick shower, and headed out to get some dinner. While I was talking to the front desk lady about something, I heard a loud popping sound, kind of like if someone had popped a giant piece of bubble wrap. I looked around expecting to see something broken, on fire, something. What I didn’t expect to see is a giant flying creature that apparently I had stepped on.
Quiet evening, caught up on sleep a bit, and then had another full day to decide what to do. With the giant security mess, I decided I would get out of dodge for the day and see something new. Caught the train down to the Gold Coast…or at least attempted to. It took me like three tries to figure out the trains…because not every train goes to every station. Then you need to take a bus. Then, your iPhone decides to die when the bus drops you off, so you have no idea where anything is in town. Yeah, that.
Grabbed some lunch, and my iPhone decided to come back to life. I had an email from my hotel…note this was about 2pm. The email told me they were sorry, but needed me to move out of my upgraded room to my original room no later than 4pm. Um, you told me at check-in I had the room for both nights. Replied that I’m sorry, at the beach for the day, but happy to discuss with them when I return. This was followed up by an email instructing me if I couldn’t move on time, I would have to pay for the upgraded room. Uh, you expect people to sit around their hotel all day waiting? Then, they offered to pack up my belongings and move them for me. Um, no. That’s a recipe for things to get lost and the blame game to start.
Finally, sent them an email saying I was really disappointed in the way they were treating a platinum member over what is a $50 a night upgrade. (It was just a high floor room.) They went silent. When I got back later, the new manager on duty was very apologetic, offered Starpoints in compensation, said I could keep the room, and said “this whole situation could have been handled much better.” Ok, apology accepted.
Back to enjoying the beach. Wandered around for a bit, and what do we have here:
Couldn’t resist, and had a very fun hour or so trying! Sometimes, the most fun travel experiences are the ones that are totally unplanned. I went down to the Gold Coast with no plans what so ever, and ended up having an unexpected great time.
A few shots of the beach at Surfers Paradise:
Post-surfing lesson reward. Mmmm…
Surfers Paradise has this meter maid thing down. I think I’m going to suggest to DC that they make this the meter maid uniform in DC as well:
Caught the train back in time to get some quick dinner before crashing early. It had been an unexpectedly busy day going down to the beach (rough life, I know) and was going to be an even earlier morning with the flight to Auckland!