We’re only on Day 5 of this grand adventure and I already have too much to say, so I’m going to start with our initial departure and slowly play catch-up:
Day 0: The Grand Departure
We spent our last couple of weeks post-NYC-move visiting family along the East Coast, so our departure was from Charlotte, NC to Kona, Hawaii via LAX. [I’d like to digress for a second here to say that the initial flight was Raleigh -> Charlotte -> LAX -> Kona, because the extra leg made the flights half the price ($800 to $400) when we booked them months ago. Our grand plan was to rent a car that morning to drive from Charlotte (where my mom lives) to Raleigh for the first leg and go on from there. By sheer luck, the Raleigh flight was moved way earlier (too early to reasonably drive there in the morning) and when I called AA to complain, I managed to convince them to let us just skip the first leg and start in Charlotte instead–what we wanted from the start! #winning] Our flight from CLT to LAX was quite uneventful, but it’s worth noting that we ended up with an empty middle seat (we specifically picked the aisle and window seats with the hope that no one would select a middle seat and taking the risk that I, given my short legs, would get stuck with the middle seat if someone did indeed pick it)–another win.
Things didn’t get interesting until we landed in LAX and needed to figure out where/how to kill 5 hours before our second flight. Fortunately, both Ben and I have oneworld status via British Airways, plus we got Priority Pass as a benefit to our Citi Prestige credit card, so it meant we had access to a few different lounges. Since I have oneworld Emerald, it meant access (along with 1 guest) to both the American Airlines International First Class Lounge and the Qantas International First Lounge. With 5 hours to kill, why not try both? On the way to the AA lounge, we had a lovely run-in with fake-Johnny Depp and fake-Jack Nicholson (I thought they were real ’til I put my glasses on 😂)–they’re pretty legit lookalikes!
The lounge itself was under construction so not as nice as some others I’ve been to, but do I care about decor? No. I came for the free food and booze, and AA did not disappoint. The standard AA lounges are often a bit frugal on this front (at least compared to non-US airline lounges, though it depends on the airport), but the First Lounge was spot on 👌🏽. Just look at the free-for-all booze selection (below), and that wasn’t even all of it! As if this wasn’t enough, then Jordana Brewster and her husband, children, and friend/nanny (?) stroll in to have a little snack before their flight and I died. I didn’t want to bother them so I didn’t ask for a picture (Ben isn’t really helpful as a witness because he’s terrible with celebrities but I swear it was real and not in my head), but the whole time my brain was exploding with things I would want to say to her, like 1) Do you miss Paul? 2) Are you coming back for any future movies? 3) Also, because I’m nosey, what was the surrogacy process like (I’m a genetic counselor, you know)? TELL ME EVERYTHING. I had this entire conversation with her in my head while freaking out but played it totally cool (or so I think). It was the most LA moment of my life and I loved it.
After having tasted all the best looking food and downing a couple of glasses of bubbly, it was time to move on to the Qantas First Lounge to see how the Australians do it. We took it pretty easy once we got there and mostly just caught up on email, etc but it was comfortable and wonderfully empty. This lounge had a bartender with an extensive selection who could make you whatever you wanted–kudos, Qantas. When we had an hour left before boarding, we sat down for a plated meal (I obviously had the burger–but it was a classy one, I promise–and Ben had the lamb 💁🏻♂️), and it was surprisingly delicious. Alas, our 5 hours of being bougie had to come to an end and we moved on to flight #2. This one was also uneventful but no empty middle seat this time–dreams dashed #firstworldproblems. The girl in our row (who got the window seat) was fortunately small, so my middle seat was less cramped than usual–and thank god for that because it was one of those new AA planes that somehow managed to shrink the seat width even further, as if McDonald’s is making American butts any smaller 🤦🏽♀️.
I managed to fit in 3 movies (well, 2.5) on this flight, all about smart, badass girls/women. I wanted to see The Zookeeper’s Wife in theaters but never got around to it, so the flight seemed like a great time to watch it. NOT. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is great (I truly recommend it if you haven’t seen it) but sobbing on an airplane is sort of a hot mess. I managed to hold it in for most of it, but this is a movie that needs to be watched in the comfort of your own home where you can ugly-cry and snot all you want. From there I moved on to Gifted, which was adorable but also ended up being a tearjerker. By now, the poor girl next to me must have thought I was insane. Finally, I decided to rewatch Hidden Figures (to complete the badass female trilogy, of course), and I was not disappointed. I didn’t make it all the way through because we landed early, but it was just as magical as I remembered. As far as I’m concerned, this was the best movie of the year.
After landing and taxiing, they open up the plane doors and, in true island fashion, there is no jet bridge and instead you walk downstairs off the plane onto the tarmac. That Hawaiian air felt amazing and walking into the open-air Kona airport was the most relaxed I’ve ever felt at an airport in my life. I could already feel my East Coast blood pressure going down and years being added back to my life. After successfully finding our luggage (we knew the bags made it as soon as we landed because of our handy dandy luggage trackers!), we headed off to find our rental car. I’m pretty sure we stood in line for over an hour to get our car and somehow everyone around us was totally chill. I guess that kind of zen is contagious? Someone needs to bottle that up and spray it in New York because if we had come on this trip 2 months ago, I think I would have blown a coronary waiting in that line. Apparently, Zen Sally is already here!
Thanks for reading–more soon!