Sunday, June 02, 2019

Christchurch to Wellington, via Hamilton (!), dinner and a good night's sleep

Yesterday [1 June 2019, depending on when you are reading this!], I popped down to Christchurch for a Flying New Zealand executive meeting. These are one-day affairs so I had an A320 flight down at 08:30 [Airbus A320-232, ZK-OAB, in case you're interested], with a plan to come back that evening on a 17:05 departure from Christchurch.

The flight down was uneventful enough, with generally smooth conditions [a couple of lumps leaving Wellington] and clear conditions until about halfway when we were in cloud for the rest of the flight. Christchurch was very wet with standing water everyo\where, includin off the sides of the runways and over local roads etc.

The flight was on Air NZ, the following Jetstar aircraft was just a random photo I took during the day. If it looks a bit dark and gloomy... that's because it was like that.

Airbus A320-232, VH-VGA, operated by Jetstar Airways
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you may not have noticed the rather rubbish weather has been rather widespread recently, so on Saturday morning, Air NZ was offering flexibility for anyone who wanted to move their flights forward, which I did.

Here are a couple more pictures of the gloomy and wet day that was Christchurch. The picture quality isn't great, but I was shooting through two or three thick panes of glass, with the outer one being rained on :-)

Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NES, operated by Air Nelson/ Air NZ

ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MVO, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ

The earliest flight I could rebook on was a 16:05 departure on an ATR72-600, ZK-MVH. I must say that it wasn't looking hopeful at getting to Wellington even at that point, but in due course, the barely half full ATR72 got started, taxied out and we got going on what should have been a 40 minute direct flight to Wellington.

ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MVH, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ
I guess that you can read the title of this post, so it doesn't take much to work out we didn't make it. Due to the weather in Wellington, with winds gusting up over 50 knots, strong crosswinds, and a whole heap of other aircraft trying and diverting, we ended up diverting to Hamilton - about another 40 minute flight north.

Hamilton is nothing much to get excited about [some say that Hamilhole is a better description!], but there was the chance that the winds would die down and we'd get on another flight back to Wellington that evening.

Did not happen. Ha!

So, after flying much further than expected, we arrived in Hamilton.  A few minutes after landing, I was walking to the airport hotel for a feed and a sleep, before flying out this morning back to Wellington.

Photo of the terminal from my hotel room
The same view after a sleep
Around 07:30 the next morning I was back in the terminal checking in for an 08:15 departure. It is surprising how easy it was to recognise people you mostly had barely a glimpse of on a flight the evening before!

Our ride for the trip home was another ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, which is still in the older livery, presumably as it will be replaced by a newer ATR72-600 at some time. The following image gives a reasonable view across to the control tower. You can also see that the weather is rather nice [but cold].

ATR-GIE ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ
Anyway, here are a few photos from the flight itself. I had none of the arrival, as it was fairly lumpy. All of these photos were on my phone camera, so the quality is not great.

A few minutes after takeoff - still lovely weather [although cold]

A few minutes north of Whanganui

Look closely and you can see Whanganui beneath the cloud
Anyway, soon after this, we arrived to a cold and lumpy Wellington. It was a "sporting" arrival, but not at all uncomfortable.

A few notes about the diversion experience.

  • Firstly, the diversion could not be helped. It will have been absolutely the right decision, so there's no reason to moan or complain.
  • In-flight comms from the crew were great. There was a clear explanation of why we were diverting, where we were going and we all knew that we'd be looked after on the ground before we arrived.
  • The Captain came back after the flight to give some more explanation and to offer to talk with anyone who wanted to.
  • For me, an overnight pack of essentials [toothbrush, toothpaste, antiperspirant, shampoo, a tshirt even laundry detergent, a comb and a few other bits and pieces] was offered by the Air NZ ground crew - really helpful when I had no spare clothes or anything!
  • Accommodation, dinner and breakfast were covered by Air NZ. I didn't have time for breakfast, but it was all sorted if we wanted it.
Basically, I couldn't fault the airline response to the event. Awesome.

Lastly, this is the second visit I have had to Hamilton, where I've had to stay overnight without a change of clothes... I think I will need to plan a little better next time. I suppose at least on the last visit I had planned to go to Hamilton!

1 comment:

Andre M said...

Nice write up and photos Rodney.

I've always wondered just how domestic inflight changes are handled, seems like AirNZ looked after you well.