10.10.2011 - 13.10.2011
If there is one word of advice I can give anyone its check your visa's... TWICE!!
We went to the airport looking forward to the start of our adventure, left nice and early allowing 2 hours extra travel time incase of accidents etc. All our kit had been checked and double checked, packed and repacked and our seats had been booked online so we had already checked in. We were perfectly organised! ... or so we thought...
We arrived at the bag drop desk and were told that for some reason it would not accept our booking as the system required more info.. So we were sent to an information desk slightly further along. The very polite woman checked our tickets and asked if we had ESTA ?? I was a bit bemused as I couldnt recall booking another girl on the trip, so we asked her to explain. To our dismay she explained that all visitors to the USA (including those who are just passing through the airport) require a special visa called an ESTA. We nearly fell over backwards with shock when she told us that these need to be applied for and can take up to 72 hours to be authorised! We could however try our luck and apply online and it may go through straight away. So we rushed off to a computer desk and started googling ESTA and applied on the first site we found. It said we would receive an email when it was authorised so we spent the next hour constantly checking email in the hope it would come through... nothing...
Getting panicky now I went to a desk to ask a BA steward if she could check on the status, only to be told that an awful lot of dodgy sites take your money and dont apply for the ESTA! We were distraught!! There was now only about half hour left until check in closed and we had also paid £30 when the real cost was $14 !! Jayne looked like she was about to throw up with anxiety that our trip might not even start. So we hurried back to the computer desk and started running through the application again on a BA authorised site (just to make sure). Jayne got right to the end of her application and it said she couldnt apply because there was an application already in process? Hurray we thought, it wasnt a dodgy site, so off Jayne rushed to ask at the check in desk if we had ESTA. She came back whooping and jumping that the woman had said YES. Great, so we rushed to the check in desk where they checked Jayne in, and then told me my application wasnt on the system. OMG Jayne now looked like she was going to pass out! We looked at each other and knew what we were thinking, she would have to go on while I tried to arrange a later flight and meet her at the airport the next day. The woman checked again, and again, and again with no success. She then spoke to a colleague and checked one more time..DING DING DING! The Authoriseed application had arrived on their system, we were on our way!! We rushed through the security and got to the plane with minutes to spare. Not the relaxing chill out trip to the airport we had planned, but the start of the adventure none the less.
Our first Journey was long, very long. 11 hours to LA then 4 hours to claim our bags and re-check in, then another 11 hours to Fiji. We managed to stick our heads outside LA airport for 5 minutes to gulp in some fresh air and then we were off again. Arrival at Fiji airport was at 6am. Exhausted we were met by 4 skirt wearing men with flowers in their hair (I've since found out the skirt is called a Sulu) playing guitars and singing us a welcome to Fiji. We had finally made it to our first destination, we could have both cried with excitement and relief as we went through security and headed out into the warm humid air of Fiji.