In order to get a good deal on tickets, I’m willing to fly a bit out of the way; okay a lot out of the way. My flight home from Sweden was not only long, but ended up being longer than anticipated.
The journey started out decently. I found a cheap flight to Istanbul on AtlasGlobal which arrived late on the Saturday night, with plenty of time to make my connection. Since these were two separate tickets I wanted to allow for a lot of time in case something went wrong; luckily, it didn’t. AtlasGlobal is a discount carrier based in Turkey, but they are much better than any other “discount” airline I’ve flown, such as EasyJet or Ryan Air. The flight from Stockholm to Istanbul was on time, and fairly pleasant. With free food, free drinks, and a row to myself, it was a lot better than many flights in North America. I will say that someone was allowing their children to run up and down the aisle, jumping on seats. Some people just have no clue. I was close to saying something, but then the drink cart came by and blocked them in the back of the plane for a while… and the wine also helped.
We arrived in Istanbul in the evening and were bussed in from our gate. After making my way through transfer security, I was in the main concourse of the international terminal. Istanbul is not an airport that ever sleeps, with flights leaving at all hours of the night, there are always people filling up the terminal. As my flight left at 6 am the next morning, I decided I would stick it out in the airport. Luckily, I was able to get into a few of the lounges, which helped. In addition to leaving the airport for a few hours being a hassle, I had heard of a few stories of people who had been in Istanbul for less than 24 hours and had had the dreaded SSSS (extra security screening) on their boarding passes for the next 6 months or so. No thanks!
I spent the first few hours in one of the Priority Pass lounges, the Primeclass lounge on the lower floor, but it was fairly busy and closed at midnight, so I soon moved over to the SkyTeam lounge as it was open 24 hours. It was much quieter, and empty, so I managed to grab a bit of shut eye on one of the benches in the TV room. The lounge started to get a bit busier around 4:30 am, so I got up and had some more of the Turkish coffee (I had lost count of how many cups I’d had by now), grabbed my haul of turkish delight I had gotten from duty free, and made my way towards the gate around 5 am.
Boarding was a relatively smooth process: we were once again bused to the plane from the gate and I boarded the Air France flight to Paris. At this point I was extremely sleep deprived and I barely managed to stay awake, pretty much napping the entire flight, except for the meal service, which was actually pretty good. Even the coffee couldn’t keep me awake though, and all of a sudden we were touching down at Charles de Gaulle airport.
Since I was only connecting I didn’t have to head through passport control and instead went right to the international terminal, made it through security (although the Priority lane took almost as long as the regular lane) and found the Air France lounge. I didn’t have too long of a layover, but I did opt for a super fast shower and a few snacks. The lounge is very large and bright, with big windows and many smaller areas (they even have a little map, it’s that big). I was in too much of a rush to take many pictures, and soon found myself heading to the gate… where boarding was already well underway.
The next leg of my trip was on Delta, in their international business class product, Delta One. The reverse herringbone seats were not overly spacious, but didn’t feel cramped, and offered great privacy. I put my carry on away, enjoyed my pre-departure bubbly, and we were soon on our way for take off. Since this was technically a daytime flight (leaving around 10am and arriving at noon) I was probably one of the only people looking forward to a nice long nap during the flight; my minimal sleep time at the Istanbul airport and a mid flight nap was not going to tide me over long term. I did manage to stay awake through the meal service, but spent most of the flight in and out of dreamland… those blankets and pillow make it a pretty cozy little cocoon.
Before I knew it, we were landing in Seattle and it was time to disembark. As I was one of the first people off I did notice someone holding up a sign for Christian Louboutin?!?!?!? Turns out he was sitting along the other aisle… Damn, there went my opportunity to convince him to make some vegan shoes 😉 After making my way off the plane I went to the Sky Club to relax during my layover. But the relaxation was short lived as my flight to SFO (where I had a connection to my flight home) kept being delayed. I hopped on the phone to be proactive about the whole thing, and even ended up speaking to an agent to see if I could just fly home (no) or even maybe hop on a bus. At the end of the day, my flight out of SFO kept being delayed, so after much running around the airport, including a brief stop at The Club lounge at A gates, I ended up boarding my late flight to SFO.
While Delta may be good on their international flights, their domestic flights leave a lot to be desired. It’s hit or miss with special meals (this time was a big miss) and while the flight attendants are generally apologetic about it, it’s still annoying. The flight itself was great and we landed in SFO not too late… only to discover that my flight home (which had been delayed until 3am last time I checked) had been cancelled! Luckily I have family in the Bay Area, so I connected with them and made plans to crash on their couch for the night before I was even off the plane. I went straight to the Alaska counter and managed to get a flight out of San Jose the next morning (where some family was also flying out of) and took an Uber to see my family for the evening (surprise!).
Arriving at the airport the next morning proved to be even more of a hassle… The airline apparently needed a piece of paper which I hadn’t been given and took almost 20 minutes to find a work around. At this point I made it through security, went straight to the gate, where it took another 15 minutes for the gate attendants to figure out how to get me on the plane. Luckily, I made it on, and even managed a last minute upgrade (I was settled in to 10E-I hate middle seats-when the gate attendant came on the plane and gave me my new 1A seat… thank you!). Once that was all handled it was fairly smooth trip the rest of the way home… a layover in Seattle and a short hop to YVR I was finally back on Canadian soil!
I knew this would be a long trip, origianlly scheduled at 45 hours, but it ended up taking me 56 to get home! But I made it, and got a lot of frequent flyer points in the process 😉