One of Andy's many, (mostly) complimentary nicknames for me is twenty-tab-Sally, originating from the fact that whenever there is any kind of research to be done - from what car we buy to what we eat for dinner - I thrive in searching down every single option and combination of options out there. Sure, it cuts down on spontaneity but what I lose in that I gain in the fun (fun! I tell you!) of being completely informed at all times on all occasions. Of course, what I'm not good at is making the actual decisions, but I took the precaution of marrying someone who is good at that.
My day job, too, requires the ability to analyse and - joy of joys - draw up spreadsheets that allow decisions to be made across multiple criteria. So when the time came to book flights back to the UK for E and me, I rolled up my sleeves, opened my twenty tabs, and made some lists. I decided we needed:
1. A reputable airline that I knew and trusted. If it was just me, or even Andy and me, I might be tempted to wing it a bit in the name of a good fare, but travelling solo with E, I needed to know who I was dealing with. My backpacker, bargain-basement travel days, for now, are behind me.
2. A stopover. Everyone has an opinion on stopovers. Some people (my Mum, for example), prefer to go straight through as quickly as possible - but she's one of the lucky ones who can sleep on an aeroplane. I am not one of those lucky ones and, in the name of sanity and sleep, need to be able to get off the plane, stretch, sleep, shower, eat, and wear out E ready for the next flight.
3. Flying into Manchester. Avoiding a transfer in NZ when you live in Wellington is nearly impossible; most of the long-haul international flights leave from either Auckland, Christchurch, or require a change in Australia. A second transfer in the UK was just a step too far.
So, throw all these in the mix, add in a further requirement of not TOO extortionate, and what do you get? Well, even though my twenty tabs included all the flight comparison websites and some travel expert websites, the cheapest deal I got that ticked all the items on my criteria list was directly on the Air New Zealand website, using the multistop trip tool.
So in August, E and I will be setting off to fly Wellington-Auckland-Singapore with Air New Zealand, where we will stay for a day and wear ourselves out in the pool of our hotel, before flying Singapore-Manchester with Singapore Airlines. Coming back we will fly Manchester-Singapore with Singapore Airlines, have 48 hours in Singapore before flying Singapore-Auckland with Singapore Airlines and the final leg, Auckland-Wellington with Air New Zealand.