Wednesday, 25 March 2015
25.03.2015 - 25.03.2015
The prospect of a long flight and the extended waiting time at the airport was daunting and we spent as much time as possible in the comfort of our hotel. With check-out at 12:00 we wheeled our luggage to the bus-stop and waited for the LAX Shuttle. Right on time the coach pulled up and we piled aboard. At $30 each this transfer was only half the cost of the trip from the port to the hotel last Saturday.
An hour or so later we were dropped off at our departure terminal to join the multitudes and their mountains of luggage looking for a check-in desk. We found the QANTAS desk but the sign indicated that there would be no check-in until 16:00 and our flight was not scheduled until 23:55. Seating was at a premium or just not available and passengers were reduced to sitting or lying on the floor using their luggage as seats or pillows. We didn't look forward to standing around for the next 10 hours.
While we waited there was an announcement inviting serving, ex-serving military and their dependants to use the facilities of the USO. As an Australian Veteran I wasn't sure if I was eligible to visit the lounge. I spoke to a very helpful man at the Information desk who made a phone call and assured me that we'd be welcome. He said to come back and he'd provide directions. With the prospect of a sanctuary we patiently stood in line, moved to another line and finally checked in our luggage.
Back to the Information desk where there had been a shift change. As a stark contrast to the helpful guy from my earlier visit the current one pointed vaguely in the direction of the outside concourse. In the confusion of the LAX Terminal buildings the USO is not the easiest to find. A few questions from other airport staff and we found our way to what at first glance looked like a construction site office.
Any lingering doubts about our welcome we quickly put to rest by an enthusiastic receptionist who guided us through the facility. The friendliness of the volunteer staff was exceeded only by the range and quality of the services available. There's a room to store your bags, a play-room for parents with kids. There are showers and restrooms supplied with towels, tooth brushes and tooth paste. There is even a slumber room for those who need to sleep over. Then there is the lounge with large couches, TV, computers and free WiFi. Just to top that off there are drinks, fruit, snacks, sandwiches and hot food served up by a pair of lovely volunteers. I can't speak highly enough of the overwhelming hospitality and all of it is free!
Eventually we had to make our way back to the departure terminal to face the prospect of the security screening. What a surprise to be told that we didn't need to remove our boots, our belts could stay around our waist and electronic devices could stay safely in our carry-on. Yet another surprise at LAX was the ample seating at the departure gate and the boarding of the 747.
All this has been written well after the event and there are no photos to go with this story.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony