Day 44 – Sunday, 19 May 2013 – San Diego to Melbourne via Los Angeles

We had our last breakfast at the Blue Pearl. Russ is certainly going to miss his French toast for breakfast. Once back at our room we put up the Privacy sign and Russ put his ears in to meditate, as he does not expect to get much of a chance later.

I re-packed both the suitcases which had been disordered during our stay in San Diego. I even was able to throw out a few items that were no longer required (such as black tea bags, sugar satchels etc) and make sure that nothing had been left behind.

Russ kindly donated all his change of pennies to the staff. It is amazing that they still use one cent pieces in the States, and the $1 paper bill abounds. I am not sure what the Americans would do if they ever get rid of the paper dollar bill. They have already done so in Canada, and Australia prints many of the Canadian bills as we own the patent for the plastic notes.

Around 11:30am we gathered our belongings and headed across to Reception to check out. Rachael was once again on duty and laughed that we had had the same breakfast every day we had stayed at the Dana.

Don had the shuttle bus waiting out the front and soon appeared himself to load all the luggage. Russ and I were the only couple leaving but many of those who had attended a Conference were also departing on this shuttle.

They were dropped off first as they were all using South West or Alaska Airlines to return home, where as Don took us the extra mile or so to reach the American Eagle Airline area.

Every time we have had to go through security checks it has changed. Today we had to remove our shoes right up, and the metal objects had to be separated from other items to go through the scanners. The personal screening was done with one of the new scanners whereby you stand on the foot icons and raise your arms in the air and a bar whisks around the front of the cubicle and does a reading. Then you are requested to step out while the scan is revealed.

It is the only time I have had to remove my money belt around my waist and have it scanned through the x-ray machine all by itself. Each time they change what is expected it throws you, or it does me.

We managed to collect all our belongings (which fitted into seven trays – 7, I say) and then staggered over to seat to make sure we could put our shoes back on, and return everything to its correct place in the back packs.

We got a banana (good travel food) and a muffin as there was no yoghurt available. The lady at the check-in counter (before we went through security) had printed out all our passes and put our big luggage straight through to Melbourne. Russ had enquired if it would be possible to take an earlier flight to LA and she had printed us a Priority Waiting List pass just in case, but had informed us that she would not know if there were seats available on the next flight until much closer to the time.

As it happened, we were paged for the very next flight and it was somewhat of a debacle as many passengers were carrying on board a lot more than was allowed. Those with wheeled bags were made to leave them in the passageway to the plane and were uploaded as extra luggage into the baggage area. We were told our backpacks were fine, but I had to sit with mine under my legs as there was no room available to stow it in the cabin draws.

The plane flight was shorter than Mildura to Melbourne. One minute we were in the air, the next they told us we could use electronic devices, and five minutes later we had to turn them off and we landed. The really good thing about boarding at San Diego was that we had gone through security, and didn’t have to do so as the shuttle bus for American Eagle Airlines dropped us off in a secured area where we could change shuttles for the Tom Bradley International Terminal drop-off.

We made our way to the gate where our flight would depart at 11:25pm and it was in the newest section of the terminal which is still to be completed. We did have to walk a fair distance to get any food come tea time, but it was a pleasure to enter the ladies and have my choice of 16 cubicles.

Russ laid down on the floor and did his meditation and I attacked the Diary. We had a pretty good internet connection so after I had managed to complete a few days Russ uploaded it straight away. I then continued typing away before it was time to take a break and go and find some tea.

Russ stayed with the baggage and went hoofing along. I found some yoghurt with muesli, and wrap for Russ and a Danish for me, and got a decent cup of black tea for Russ and Earl Grey for me. We got talking with another couple who are from Melbourne and have been on a sea cruise. They developed colds and were not feeling real good, but glad to be travelling home. We were able to offer her the use of our power board as her adaptor was not working and she had almost exhausted her iPad battery.

I packed up everything about 10:30pm as were flying in an A380 Airbus and they have staggered boarding in order to be able to access both decks for their passengers.

Russ had tried to log onto Qantas and pay for an Exit Row on the flight but it kept rejecting his request. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the airport and made enquiries the exits seats had all been bought.

Needless to say, Russ was impressed at the amount of room he had when we finally got to our seats. We shared our three with Harry, who had been on a company trip to the south and they had spent some time in Las Vegas, before getting to LA.

The trip went smoothly, although we had three little babies seated in the middle exit and left hand side exit rows across from us and they were crying at different times during the night. We were served with dinner after we had boarded then the lights were turned off for a long period of time. They bestirred themselves periodically during the night to offer drinks of water to the passengers, but breakfast was not served until we were only about one and a half hours out of Melbourne. It makes for a very long 16 hour flight.

The food was good, and it was interesting that most of the flight crews were male, only a few of them female.  Sometime during the journey we crossed the International Date Line and lost a day.