After a 4 hour flight to Dallas and 15 1/2 hours to Brisbane, I am enjoying a "Long Black Coffee" (the Aussie version of an Americano) and discover: Brisbane Airport has free Wifi - very nice!
Because I am traveling on 2 separate tickets, I need to clear immigration (very important to have your Australian electronic visa ahead of time) and collect my baggage.
Because I slept on the plane and it's the beginning of a new day here, I actually feel quite refreshed. I always find it easier to travel West.
How do you prepare for long air travel (which is often required to reach the best diving locations)?
My personal tips:
- Find out what time it is at destination when you depart and immediately act as if you're there (ie. don't sleep if it's the middle of the day at your destination)
- Drinks lots of water. My tip: carry an empty water bottle and refill after security at a water fountain. Or ask the cabin crew to fill it up - that way you don't need to wait for them to come around.
- Wear comfortable cloting so you can put your feet up. Yes, I didn't have anyone sitting next to me. My tip for seat selection: If you like an aisle seat, select one in the middle section of the aircraft. If you select one in the outside sections, you will always have people wanting to climb over you.
- Always keep your passport and travel documents in the same place - that way you never need to frantically search for it. DO NOT keep it in your jacket or back pocket of your pants.
The security officer commented: "you are very organized" ... Sounds good - I try to be i.e. wear shoes that come off quickly, have all your liquids in a clear plastic bag, don't have anything in your pockets, wear pants that don't need a belt etc.
How do you best handle foreign currency for a trip like this? For PNG you need $100 Kina (approx.$60AUD) in cash for the entry visa. This can easily be obtained at the foreign exchange in Brisbane Airport, but you either need Australian cash or there is a high fee for using your credit card (they consider it a cash advance). There are several ATMs at Brisbane Airport, just make sure you don't have too low of a daily limit on your debit card for cash withdrawals. I also get some extra Kina for tipping.
I'm quite impressed with Air Nuigini: it's about 2 1/2 hrs from Brisbane to Port Moresby (PNG's Capital) and we're being served a hot (decent) lunch, plus treated to a movie. The official limit for carry on luggage is only 7kg (approx 15lbs), but since the aircraft wasn't full, it appears nobody is checking. Too bad, because I decided to check in my carry on (after removing my laptop) and later on realized that my dive computer was still in there. Lesson learned: always be prepared that your luggage or carry on may be too heavy and know what exactly you can and want to remove or shift around.
This time I selected a window seat and for quite some time was able to see Australia's beautiful coastline, including the Great Barrier Reef.
Upon arrival in Port Moresby I'm greeted by a represenative of the Tourism Board (and yes, all my luggage, incl. my dive computer is there!) and a 10 minute ride through town gets me to the Grand Papua Hotel, where I will meet up with the rest of the group tonight for dinner.