Back to North America: NYC edition

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 6 (March 2017)

Before leaving Switzerland, we spent a night out by the airport as we both had morning flights the next day.  We arrived at the Radisson Blu hotel and checked in for our last night in Switzerland.  I was looking forward to the stay as they have a huge vertical wine library in the center of the hotel.  After finding our room, which faced the inner courtyard (and the wine), we made our way down to watch the acrobats fetch requested bottles from the tower.  It’s actually a neat thing to watch and would suggest having a glass or two if you ever find yourself at this hotel or have some extended time at the airport (since it’s outside security.)

zurich-radisson-blu-wine-bar-airport
Wine bar at Radisson Blu (Zurich Airport)

Sadly, the morning came and my friend left before the sun to catch her early flight home.  I was lucky enough to enjoy a wonderful breakfast before checking out to catch my flight.  My flight home, as you may recall, was a points ticket I’d found about 6 months earlier. I’d managed to snag an AA business class ticket home, although through a circuitous routing.  I was travelling Zurich to New York, with a long overnight layover, before hopping to LA on AA’s transcontinental First Class, then up to Seattle and a little hop home to Vancouver, both on Alaska.

zurich radisson blu
Breakfast spread at Radisson Blu

After spending some time in the lounge during a few small delays in Zurich, it was time to board the plane.  I settled in to seat 2A, which was actually the first row of the cabin.  This plane, a Boeing 767, has staggered seats, so if you want a true window seat, you want to sit in an even row number.  After some pre-departure bubbly it was time to say goodbye to Europe.  The flight was smooth and I did manage to squeeze in a nap as I was going to have a long day ahead of me once I landed.  I will say that I find the vegan/vegetarian meal options on AA to be very sad.  It’s usually just rice and veggies, no creativity in the dishes.

Landing at JFK, I quickly made it through customs (thanks Global Entry!) and grabbed the bag I’d had to check because of all the wine I was bringing home.  I then head up to departures to recheck it  so I wouldn’t have to lug it around all day.  Unfortunatly, this didn’t seem to work so well because my flight didn’t leave until the next day, and there’s a rule about keeping luggage overnight?  After waiting for a while, a lot of back and forth with the staff, and eventually getting a few supervisors involved, I was able to check my luggage.  I guess the solution was to send it on a flight that evening, as my bag made it to Vancouver well before I did.

Free of my luggage, I hopped on the train in to the city.  Getting in to town on public transit is doable, if somewhat time consuming.  First you hop on the “Airtrain” and get off at the Howard Beach/JFK Airport station to transfer to the “A-line.”  This will (eventually) take you into the city.  I hopped off at High Street and decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.  It was a bit chilly, but brilliantly sunny, so it was a fairly pleasant walk.

Making it to Manhattan, I didn’t really have a plan beyond visiting a few of the vegan hot spots.  I ended up making it to Moo Shoes, Orchard Grocer, and Confectionary! before hopping back on the subway and back to Brooklyn for dinner at Champs Diner.

Since my flight left very early the next morning, I decided to rough it in the airport for a few hours in the evening before security opened again at 3am.  I found a few chairs and cobbled them together into a makeshift bench and did manage to get a little bit of shut eye.  Once security opened (not until 3:30, ugh) I made my way inside and tried to find the correct lounge for American.  Of course I chose the wrong one and was told I could actually go to the First Class lounge, which was back by security.  There was construction going on, which made it very confusing as to which lounge was actually open.  Finally making it to the empty lounge, I enjoyed some coffee, a snack, and a shower, before heading to board my next flight, back to the west coast.

Because I had booked international business class, that actually included first class on the domestic leg.  The flight JFK-LAX was a transcontinental flight on the A321 (read fancy, updated plane).  I’m sure I looked slightly disheveled as I boarded the flight and took a seat in the first cabin.  Actually, unless I’m dressed nicely with professional looking luggage (aka not a backpack) I usually get side looks when I line up to board with business class folk… but you just gotta own it!  The lie flat bed definitely came in handy as I managed to pass out for a good portion of the flight.  I also had a really delicious breakfast meal, which was a nice surprise.

aa first class jfk lax
Transcontinental on the A321

Landing in LA, I had a bit of time to kill before heading to Seattle.  Of course, the flight was delayed, but that just meant more time in the First Class lounge in LAX… which is really just a sectioned off the lounge with slightly better food and booze.  After we finally got around to boarding the plane to Seattle, I ended up having a pleasant conversation with the person sitting next to me which made the flight go by much faster.

Seattle was the last stop before the quick flight up to Vancouver and finally being home.  It’s always slightly frustrating to be so close to home, and yet so far.  Spent a little bit of time in the Alaska lounge before it was finally time to board my last flight of the trip.  The good thing about having the last flight of the night is that it’s a 737 for a 30 min flight.  I enjoyed my big lounge chair and had a bit of a cat nap before finally disembarking onto Canadian soil.

 

Advertisements

Soaking up Sun in Palm Springs

So after getting my fill of snow in Utah, it was time to head off to the dessert in California.  I usually try to not waste a lot of time at the airport and end up cutting it fairly close when it comes to checking in, but this time I surprised even myself.  After scheduling the 5am shuttle from my hotel, we actually ended up leaving at 5:05am, at which point I was starting to get a little worried as my flight was at 6am. A slightly stressful drive over to the airport went smoothly and I went straight to the counter to drop of my bags (thank you priority check-in!) and walked over to security.  As I was heading through the security check I got a notification that my flight was boarding, so I picked up my bags on the other side, walked to the gate, and straight on to the plane.  From the time I left the hotel to the time I was sitting in my seat on the plane was a mere 20 min!  I think that will be my personal best for quite a while. Continue reading

127 miles down, 38,607 miles to go…

I’m on my way!  I have successfully completed the first leg of my trip and have 2 more flights to go today.  After an early wake up call and a ride to the airport, I headed over to the nexus lane and zipped through security… Well, relatively zippy.  The regular line was quite long, and I was through in about 10 minutes and went through the nexus passport control. I did get asked about my luggage (apparently taking carry on for a 3 week trip is a bit odd) but the customs dude seems okay with it once he saw it. 

I took a quick wander over to Starbucks, but the line was very long, so I just headed to the gate instead.  Boarding started just a few minutes after I arrived and I scanned my Boarding pass and was walking down the jet bridge.

Recently Alaska switched the YVR-SEA service from the Q-400s to the CRJ-700 and it was my first flight on the new planes (new to the route, not actually new planes)  so I was eager to check it out.  I had secured seat 1A so after leaving my roller bag on top of the ramp I settled in to the front row (because is there any other row?? 😉 ).  It’s a bulkhead seat so there is a bit more leg room than normal.
The rest of the passengers boarded fairly quickly and we pushed back from the gate ahead of our departure time.  After a quick safety demonstration, we started to taxi towards to runway, but the captain came on on told us they were holding out flight in Vancouver due to the weather in Seattle and we were looking at a 25-30 min delay.  Of course the flight was delayed… I was on it :/ This was part of the reason I booked such a long layover on LAX, because there was going to be no way I was missing my flight to Dubai!

After sitting in the holding area for about 15 minutes, we continued our long taxi to the runway and were in the air a little after 6:30.  This was going to make my connection to LA a little tight, but there was still a good chance I’d make it.  

The flight itself was pretty uneventful, except I did notice it was a LOT quieter 🙂 We landed and about 7:10 and after holding for a few minutes for crowd control (SeaTac is a very busy airport) we finally pulled up to our C gate.  Since I had to wait for my bag at the gate, it took a few more minutes which meant I had just enough time to hop over to the N gates on the train and make it to my gate.  No lounge for me 😦 

They had just called “all rows” when I arrived at the gate so I quickly made my way onboard and settled into 2A.  I

 was planning to post this on the ground, but blog posts from the air will just have to do.  Currently speeding towards LAX on the rest of my long journey…

route finalmap

 

a total of 38,734 miles of flying.  To put that in perspective, YVR-YYZ is about 2,000 miles… so I’ll be flying that over 19 times over the next 3 1/2 weeks.