We had to be at the airport at 5 am for our 7 am flight to Sydney, as Virgin unfortunately stopped flying MEL-LAX directly in October last year, so we had a layover before our international flight. Our cab arrived at 4.30am and we loaded our few suitcases and bags of everything we now owned in the backseat/boot. 20 mins and $55 later we arrived at Melbourne International Airport. As we were lucky enough to be flying Business Class (thank you sneaky point accumulating!) there was no wait at the priority check in desk. Our check in agent was friendly and chatty and asked us if we had an ETSA. It was a great feeling to be able to tell her, nope, we don’t need one – we have a Permanent Residency visa in our passport as we won the Green Card lottery! Funnily enough, she was well versed with the lottery as she had also been applying for it for the past 3 years and is eager to win as her boyfriend lives in NYC. We had 3 checked bags each (1 over the limit) and were prepared to pay the extra $150AUD each for the extra 2 bags, but our lovely check in agent said “don’t worry about it” and kindly sent them through for free -saving us $300AUD! If you’re reading this friendly Virgin Australia check in lady, THANK YOU!
We definitely could not complain about the leg room on this flight! I am now spoiled for life after flying business (again 😉 ) A glass of champagne before take-off didn’t hurt either!
For anyone interested in flying business with Virgin Australia the below are some images of their menu as well as the meals. (Note – if you are vegetarian and you put in a special meal request just be aware you won’t have the option of ordering from the menu – you will get the prepared special meal only-which may not be as good 😛 ! )
13.5 hours later we arrived at LAX at approximately 6.30am LA time! The immigration area was virtually empty, it seemed everyone else went to the left side for citizens and visa waiver entry, and we went through the “Visitors” line. We only had to wait behind one person before being called up to the desk. We handed over our yellow “Do Not Open” envelopes and our passports and had our fingerprints taken. We were then escorted over to another area, handed over our passports & envelopes again and were told to wait for another officer to process us. After a short wait he asked us to sign both sides of a form and took an ink print of our right index finger on each side too. Another short wait while he did some paperwork (we assume) and then he handed back our passports and a “Welcome to the USA” sheet of paper about our green card and that was it, our Permanent Residnet status was officially activated!
We collected our many bags and went and caught our transfer van to Echo Park, where we had booked a room in an awesome AirBNB house for a month! She allowed us to bring our French Bulldog, Kira, to stay too as she also has a Frenchie (a deciding factor in renting there!)
Our friend took us out the afternoon we arrived and helped us get set up with US cell phone number… that was the moment that it all felt real – this was not a holiday, we were not going home..