We had the best time in the US. It was the first time for the kids to visit and our first as a family and we were just so excited to go.
We left a cold Adelaide first and arrived in Sydney airport. We only had a little over an hour get through Sydney airport domestic terminal, ride a bus to the international terminal, then through immigration and to the boarding gate. This was the connection I was anxious about and in the end we had probably 15 minutes to spare before they opened up the gate for boarding.
We got to ride on Qantas' Airbus A380, the largest plane in the world as they say. It was impressive on the outside and inside they did have new amenities we have not tried before like touch screen and widescreen consoles. All four of us got to sit together in the center aisle so no window seet but at least we sat together.
The A380 was nice and new, however, in terms of space, even though it may have looked large on the outside, the seat configuration still felt like every other international flight we've been on and no real improvement in terms of room. Bear in mind, we were only in economy and Qantas had a whole new section called premium economy which boasts a few more centimeters of space per seat I think.
The on-board entertainment was nice, with all content on-demand like games, TV shows and movies. There was even a view of the outside through a camera mounted on the plane's tail and you can view the outside as if you were riding on top of the plane!
Good as the system was, we also had a few issues with it. One of our consoles froze 3 hours into the flight as it was trying to load a game. Repeated attempts by the airline attendants to get the console reset came to no avail and we resigned ourselves to just having to share the 3 other consoles for the remainder of the 15 hour flight. We figured we would be sleeping most of the time anyway so hope not to be missing much. The staff were apologetic and they did try to make it up with a $100 gift voucher for duty free.
When it came to the meals it wasn't too bad in economy. What we didn't get though were child meals for the kids. We're not sure if it was our travel agent forgetting to book child meals or Qantas not getting our booking but it would have been nice to have the child meals set up. We've never had a problem on Singapore airlines and we sometimes the child meals are better than the adult meals!
Anyway after the meals and a sleep the Qantas crew were able to reset the consoles. They had to do a group reset across a few rows in order to fix the problem and they only got this done probably with 5 hours left on the flight. Still, that was good anyway so were all able to experience the entertainment on board anyway.
We arrived in LAX morning local time and as expected the line through immigration and security checks was a monster! We got through fine anyway and collected our bags in no time at all. Now, we had 5 hours until our next connecting flight to San Antonio, Texas and we thought we had time to kill at LAX. I tried looking for our next flight and this was where we had a little "fun".
Our booking had Terminal 8 as our next connecting flight but turns out LAX appeared to only go up to Terminal 7. I tried to work out which airline we were supposed to go and figured out that what we thought was the connecting airline operated out of Terminal 1. After walking around a bit trying to figure out which shuttle to take, we finally made it to Terminal 1 only to be told that the actual airline that were connecting to did actually operate out of Terminal 7! It turns out that Terminal 8 was accessed through Terminal 7 so we had to ride another shuttle all the way back.
This makes me come out with my favourite quip: "We're not lost kids, I know where we're going, I just don't know how to get there!"
At any rate, we finally made it to the counter and after checking in and passing through another security check we made it to the gate with a couple of hours to spare. So it looked like that 5 hour layover was useful after all.
We waited for a bit, had a meal and finally got on the 3 hour plane ride to San Antonio. We arrived in San Antonio past 7PM in the evening with the whole Vidal clan waiting. Good thing they figured out where to wait because I totally forgot to give them our itinerary! All's well that ends well though as it was great for us to see all their smiling faces as we stepped into the arrivals area of the airport.
Despite San Antonio being a good 4 to 5 hour drive from where home is in Texas, they all drove up to meet us! My sister even caught a plane because she had stuff to finish up just so we can be together in San Antonio for the rest of that weekend! I am quite thankful for that.
So, finally after a few years, we were one complete family again!