I have been checking periodically since Monday to see if anything but a middle seat opened up for my flight from LAX to SYD on Saturday.

Thank my lucky stars!  Tonight an aisle seat (and the middle next to it) opened up and I was able to snag it.

I still prefer windows for overnight flights, but at least with an aisle I have the benefit of getting up and walking around as much as I want.  15 hours is a lonnng time to be smashed between two people you don’t know…

Today I also finalized my rental car for New Zealand.  I went with a well-reviewed New Zealand company rather than paying the premium prices at an “international” firm and I got a nice little compact for $889 for 3 weeks, one-way from Aukland airport on the North Island (where I’ll arrive late on March 4th) to Christchurch airport on the South Island (where I depart on March 28th).  Bonus, it includes the car ferry across the ditch.  Shifted a condo reservation so I could make the time exactly 3 weeks, and decided I’d just spend my last 2 days in Christchurch.  I still have to book my Cairns car rental, but have a line on a good deal for a compact SUV (since I’ll be exploring  in a rainforest area).  I’ll wait until I get to Sydney to book it.