Escape From LAX: A Comedy of Errors

by Andy + Liza

Turns out, other countries don’t like it when you want to fly into them unannounced, with no plans to leave.

It also turns out that some of them (see: New Zealand) won’t even let you onto the plane with a one-way ticket even though they will FOR SOME REASON let you print out boarding passes, assign you seats, and call your boarding number after you’ve had 3 drinks at the Border Grill and high-fived each other like 20 times.

Travel tip #1: ALWAYS CHECK (AND RECHECK) A COUNTRY’S VISA REQUIREMENTS BEFORE YOU GO. #DUH

We’d been so crazed leading up to our departure that we didn’t do this. We just read somewhere that you don’t need a visa to get into New Zealand and bought one-way tickets. Fail. In order to visit the land of Hobbits and crisp Sauv Blancs, you need to show proof you won’t stay forever.

This pertinent information was relayed by a chipper LAX gate agent who, in addition to confiscating our boarding passes, reminded us that “it’s important to research the place you’re traveling to before you go.” Right.

With our open-ended travel plans, we’d assumed we’d just buy flights along the way, Carmen San Diego-style. Wrong.

So we’re stuck at LAX watching everyone else board our 9:45pm flight to Auckland, while frantically trying to book outbound tickets to Bangkok on shitty LAX WiFi.

Why shitty WiFi and not regular phone service? Becaaaaaasue instead of switching off our cell phones tomorrow like we asked, AT&T switched them off immediately. Cool.

So just as we’re about to pull the Kayak trigger on Bangkok flights, the gate agent says we can’t use Bangkok as “departure” proof since we don’t have Thailand visas either.

So we’re about to book a flight from Auckland to Sydney because somehow that counts, when we hear…

“Sorry, we just closed the gate. You missed it.”

Siiiiigh. #globalfail

The Air New Zealand people were kind enough to rebook us on the same flight the following night. So we called our friend Todd from an airport landline and cabbed it (no phone = no Uber!) to his spare bedroom with our packs. We spent the entire next day in a Santa Monica coffee shop (remember, we rented out our apartment) trying to research visas and book flights. Pretty JV for a trip we’ve been planning for months. 

Long story short: We got on a new flight last night and landed in Auckland this morning. The kiwis let us in, but  only because we were able to prove we wouldn’t stay. But it’s really nice here, so we kind of get it. They have phenomenal mussels.

This is one mistake we won’t make again. Mostly because there are so many new ones ahead of us. 

Andy + Liza