After a few hours sleep (hostel karaoke and a keg of beer will have that effect) we’re up early in the morning to escape from Banana Bungalow (and beat the LA traffic and get our rental car back and then catch a shuttle to the airport terminal).
To let us out of the gates, the night security guy has to remove the vacuum cleaner from between the two gates and its electric cord which is wound round and round the two gates to tie them shut. That’s some pretty reliable security right there.
We get to Budget and drop off our car, pay for it $500 (just £275) and then take their shuttle to the airport. I must say that Budget have been very good to deal with in the USA. We had a one-way hire from San Fransisco to Los Angeles, which can be expensive, but with budget there was no extra costs for a one way hire in the state of California. We took out loss and damage waiver and also roadside assistance and a sat nav, for two weeks for just £275! And Budget painlessly swapped our car for a new in LA when the windscreen cracked, free of charges.
At the airport we have a few hours to kill before our check-in desk opens and it has to be said that LAX terminals are the absolute worst for having ANYTHING other than check-in desks that can be accessed by passengers that are yet to check-in! Nada. We eventually hunt down a Starbucks near the terminals and kill some time there reading the paper.
When we head back up to our check-in desk there a massive line has formed in our absence! We join its tail and reach the front counter about half an hour later. At the check-in desk a small problem arises. It would seem that our reservation is for the 22nd of July, but our tickets are for July 18th. Four days ago. It would seem this problem has come about because after we booked our flights home, we decided to change our LA-Quito flight date to give ourselves enough time in the USA, thereby pushing back our flight by 4 days from July 18th to July 22nd. We paid STA a £25 fee for the change to our tickets and that we thought was that. Until we got to the check-in counter and found out STA hadn’t made the changes in the system completely and without matching reservation and ticket dates we were going nowhere. There was also talk about having to pay some penalty for the date change, but because the tickets were student tickets, our airline Avianca did not know how much the penalty was.
So I set to trying to call STA to sort the situation out. After trying every combination of 00 44 (0)871 ... ... I could think of, and failing to get through, (unless you count to the man I hauled out of bed and could hear very poorly and kept shouting ‘Is this STA, I can’t hear you very well!’) I burst into tears at the check-in counter. Eventually the helpful Avianca supervisor looked up the international calling code when calling from the States. It turns out that unlike NZ, Australia and the UK and Europe, the international prefix is not 00 followed by the country code, its 011.
Eventually connected to STA a couple of phone calls and some last minute fixing of a f*ck up in changing the dates, followed by a ‘sorry’ from the STA branch, the situation is rectified and we are able to check-in. At check-in we are told that boarding is now, so a mad dash through the airport is made, much like the movies excepting leaps over luggage carts. Luckily we have no problems at security save for a gentleman in front of us in the queue who is on island time. But we arrive at our gate in time to board, so all is right in the world.
In Bogota we have another dash through the airport to make our connecting flight to Quito...