When you can get them. I’m certainly not going to complain though in my situation – my flights were nearly free thanks to points, but the routing just is a bit odd:
My flight plan is thus: Nanaimo-Vancouver-Phoenix-Los Angeles-Auckland!!!! Air New Zealand does operate direct flights from Vancouver to Auckland, but only on certain days and none were available to me via Aeroplan. So, I took this option. On the big plus side, we flew over the Grand Canyon, a definite perk, before landing in the scorching wasteland that is Phoenix – 41C right now, before humidity…okay, there is no humidity in the desert.
Regardless of how I travelled, the first flight was required, and really, the most fun. It’s a short little sea-plane hop from Nanaimo to Vancouver, and drops me at Vancouver’s airport. Well, nearby, since the plane lands in a nearby inlet. The airport is right on the coast though, so it’s only a short shuttle ride to the airport. Once I got there, I was the only person waiting for an US Airways flight – nobody was available to check me in. Turns out I was just a bit before the 3 hour normal wait period. Shortly after I arrived however a person came to claim my bag and check me in. And off I went (to security).
Another interesting peculiarity of flying this way is having to connect through the States – going from Canada to the US, I actually went through US Customs before boarding the plane. I think this was the first time I got to experience this (other times, coming into the US from other counties, you clear customs upon landing in the US), and while at first being a bit odd, once I got off my flight in Phoenix I grew to appreciate it – I walked off the plane and didn’t have any more security checks to worry about! It was rather nice and civilized.
And that’s where I sit currently, Phoenix’s airport. This thing is monstrous (and kind of dark/muddled), I took about 40 minutes to wander around one of 3 terminals here, and then went to find lunch. Chose spicy Mexican, which may end up being a mistake considering I have another 19 hours of travel or so: 3 more hours here in Phoenix waiting, a short 1 hour hop to Los Angeles, 2 hour layover there, and then, finally, my 13 hour long haul to deliver me to Auckland! Almost there!