Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Trip Home - Part 2

This post has been a little delayed, and while it doesn't quite wrap up the story of the trip, it will cover the last flight home to Perth and our arrival at Perth International Airport.

Arrivals and Departures use the same gates at Auckland Airport, with glass passageways running around the outside of the terminal and then down the middle for arriving passengers, while departing passengers are kept in the open lounge areas

We managed to get quite a bit of rest at Auckland Aiport, after hiring towels for the grand sum of NZ$5 each and having a shower shortly after arrival, we changed clothes, had breakfast and found somewhere to rest, sort photos and charge the laptop, all without leaving the International Departures Lounge at the airport.

The flight to Perth started with a fair bit of turbulence, which didn't help Kate out much, however the Air New Zealand flight staff were quick to pick up on this and made her as comfortable as possible, which made the trip a lot more bearable for her, and probably helped the surrounding passengers more than they'll ever know.

Inside the terminal building at Perth International Airport

Once we arrived back in Perth, we saw how well the SmartGate system can work when everything is functioning properly. While we'd seen the system work in New Zealand on the way to the United States, we'd also seen the Perth system fail last year on our trip, when it was still fairly new. The system cuts processing time down to an absolute minimum by having you answer the relevant Customs related questions before you get to the Arrivals gate and then using automated systems and facial recognition to process your passport. The only downside of this system is that you don't get your passport stamped at the electronic gates, meaning that the only stamps we picked up in our passports this year were from Immigration at San Francisco. After clearing the Arrivals gate, we picked up our luggage, passed through the final Customs checkpoint and headed out into the terminal, where Kate's mum was waiting to take us home.

Night time view of Perth International

For me, the only (minor) dissapointment about our arrival in Perth was the realisation that every other airport we've passed through has nice "Welcome to XXX" signage, or in the case of Auckland, a huge carved archway, greeting visitors to the country. In Perth, we have a sign above the Customs checkpoint in a restricted area where I wasn't allowed to take a photo.

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