New Zealand 2014

Day 01

March 14

  Well, I have been planning and looking forward to this day since 2009. This will be the 'longest' trip that I have taken in a while so I have been careful about both finances and days off. Also, flying internationally takes a good bit of thought as to how you pack given the weight and size restrictions. So for the last few weeks, I've packed and re-packed, and weighed and measured and sorted. I also went through the TSA Pre-Check program which should make things a lot easier. My planning pays off, as I get both my checked bags to pass with ease, and the TSA Pre-Check allows me to get through security in record time without having to half undress myself. Now I'm at the Nashville gate and I can just chill for a while.  
  Finally the boarding begins, and for the next 20+ hours I'll be in various plane seats.  
  My challenge is that I'm not your 'normal' size so I don't fit very well into the confines of a plane seat. I figure they must base the 'normal' size on a small six year old child given the lack of space back in the cheap seats where I fly. Fortunately, this flight is one of the shorter legs as it is just taking me from Nashville to Los Angeles for my connection to Brisbane.  
  I always try to schedule my connecting flights on the way out so that my poor luggage at least has a fair chance of getting to the plane. So I've got some time to kill and a stomach to fill once I land in Los Angeles.  
  There's a sandwich shop close to the gate so I avail myself of their wares. And they do have a pretty good chocolate chip cookie even if their sandwich is a bit 'short', so all is not lost.  
  As the evening wears on, I see the 747 that will take me to Australia pull up to the gate. In all my years of flying, I've never flown on a 747. I've been on 727s, 737s, 757s, 767s, 777s, DC10s, L1011s - the list goes on and on. So I am sort of looking forward to checking that box finally.  
  I generally book a seat at the back of the plane - especially on long flights. You generally get to board first - which means overhead space is relatively empty. And normally there are less people to trip over getting back to your seat since they are all in front of you. Plus, there are usually bathrooms at the back of the plane which gives you a little more walking room. I check it out and I have a nice little 'walking' alley that will come in handy as the flight goes on.  
  This flight will take me across the international date line and the equator in the 14+ hours that I am on this silver bird.  

It's a full flight and there's sure not much wiggle room. And as my usual lot, the human in front of me decides that putting their seat all the way back in my face is necessary for their comfort. There's about a half inch of clearance between my knee caps and the seat back in front of me and this reduces it even more. When a flight attendant walks by, I ask her -

'Could I please have a couple of blankets?'

'Are you cold?' she asks.

'No ma'am, I've had both knees replaced and I need some padding for them against the seat back. The knee caps pressing on the metal replacements are just a tad bit uncomfortable' I tell her.

She brings them to me and I thank her, but I'm not sure she gets it. Now it's time to try to get somewhat comfortable as you can in a flying sardine can. I put in my earplugs, contort into as steady a position as I can and try to make a visit to slumberland.