The weirdest thing about travelling from eastern Asia/Pacific back to the US is that you get to live a single day twice.  I left Auckland at 7:45 PM on Tuesday the 19th, and after 17 hours on airplanes, arrived at Chicago O'Hare at 10:30 PM on Tuesday the 19th.  What an interesting day it was...

In the morning, I talked with about 30 customers at a Notes/Domino 7 upgrade event.  Good to see that some in attendance had already done the upgrade and were looking for hints and tips.  The local team put together a great event and hopefully it went well in Wellington "today".

Before leaving Auckland, colleague Chris Sparshott took me to the Sky Tower.  He'd never been up top, so we both played tourist and ascended 60 stories.  However, no amount of time or money could convince me to do this:

Auckland Skytower Jumper2

It was hard enough to do this:

Auckland Skytower glass floor 2Auckland Skytower glass floor 3

After a good day overall, I flew back to the US on in "pacific premium business class" on Air New Zealand.  My friend/coworker Colleen recommended it after a recent trip, and wow was she right.  Probably the best business class flight I've ever had, even besting the Lufthansa/Privatair Chicago/Düsseldorf service I've raved about so many times.  

I was in the first "row" of the upper deck on the 747.  The seats are arranged at a 40 degree angle, such that there's nobody in front of you.  They fold down into a fully flat bed, complete with duvet and fluffy pillow.  Pictures here (one and two), though the fluffy pillow and duvet are hiding behind the chair in the picture.  This flight was the first time I've ever been told that the seat does not need to be in the upright position on takeoff.  They also have video- and audio-on-demand, with hundreds of choices for movies, TV programmes, full CD albums, an improved Airshow for flight tracking, etc. The food and wine were fantastic.  The service was attentive.  Just about everything was perfect.

Only weird thing is that one of the passengers died during the flight.  I was asked at some point in the last few days if I had ever been on a flight that had a problem, like an equipment malfunction or a diversion.  In my million+ flying miles, I hadn't had any such experiences.  But about two hours before landing, the flight crew announced they were seeking a doctor.  I knew nothing further until we arrived at LAX, and they asked us to stay in our seats while "the American authorities" boarded the plane.  Only then did someone mention that a passenger had a heart attack and wasn't able to be saved.  I commend the Air New Zealand crew for handling the situation discreetly and professionally.

I don't think I'll ever do another 11 day trip like that... just too exhausting.  In addition to 4-6 meetings per day, plus an evening event or meeting, I had the usual e-mails and a few phone conference calls to deal with from back in the US.  It's just too much "out of pocket" for too long.  I'll be back to ANZ, for sure, but I think we'll do it with a bit less on the daily schedule next time.  Or maybe it's just time for a holiday down under.

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