In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I have been a true-blue, unwavering Air New Zealand fan since the mid-90s, when every 4-6 weeks, I would fly my then three-year old son Cooper back and forth from our home in Sydney and his dad’s home in LA, as per the terms of my custody arrangement with Coop’s dad. I have no doubt whatsoever, the only way Coop and I got through this period of mad hemisphere hopping, (and that Coop still hasn’t a clue of the duration of a LA/Sydney flight), is due to the loving and supremely capable in-flight staff of Air New Zealand.
On more occasions than I can certainly remember, a selfless flight attendant would walk Coop around the plane late into the evening, pointing at various shiny objects to keep Coop distracted, introducing him to other passengers and in-flight staff, simply to give me a small break or much-needed cat nap. They helped soothe him when he cried, gave him an ice cream when we boarded, cajoled him to suck a candy when his ears hurt painfully from the pressure of descent, and gently rocked him to sleep in the back of the plane. Particularly for a mother, these are kindnesses that extend well beyond the business model. It was like flying with a dozen fairy godmothers.
Fast forward ten years later and I’m back on an Air New Zealand plane heading south to Sydney, only this time, I’m not with Cooper, but traveling with the other man in my life, my Australian husband Stuart. We are headed to Sydney where we will renew our wedding vows in front of close friends, extremely proud of the achievement of having a strong marriage and eager to set the tone for the next decade. Neither one of us has been back to Sydney since 2000, and to be honest, we’re a little scared at the reaction we may have. Will the city still feel like the place where we fell in love. Remains to be seen, but curled up in my pod zooming across the Pacific, I feel I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.