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)

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Paris, tu m’as manqué!

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 1 (February 2017)

This trip started way back when I thought I would need a ticket back from Europe in March. I found some award space on American Airlines from Zurich to NYC to LAX and home. As it turns out, I ended up not being in Europe, so instead of cancelling the ticket I looked for a flight to get me over to Europe instead. I lucked out and found a points flight from Vancouver to Paris! It’s been so long since I have spent more than a day in Paris, I took it as a sign and booked it on the spot! And then I was able to tag on a flight to Zurich on the same ticket which made it easy to get back home again.

Unlike many of my trips, this one involved a direct flight 😮 Air France YVR-CDG on a 777-200 with the new business class! These seats are reverse herringbone seats so they’re nice and private even though they’re not entirely sectioned off. I was able to score a single window seat (the seats are arranged 1-2-1) which made it even better!

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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

3 ticket, 6 fights, and 56 hours…

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. Continue reading

Heading to Stockholm

So if you remember from one of my previous posts (Stockholm for a Whole Week!) I had a trip planned to visit my friend in Stockholm; well I’ve finally gotten around to typing up our adventures!

Firstly, the trip over went fairly well.  I made all my connections, got to check out a number of lounges and made it to Stockholm just under 24 hours later 🙂  My voyage started bright and early (well not really that bright) in Vancouver as I had booked a separate ticket down to SFO to start my international trip.  Luckily I was upgraded on my SEA-SFO flight (thanks Alaska!) and got a few other surprise things (free Starbucks card!) which made this a great start to my trip.

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The long road home… via Japan.

My original plan was to fly home from Melbourne via LAX.  I was very excited because I’d manage to score a first class ticket on Qantas!  Unfortunately, with my change in plans, I ended up having to cancel the ticket 😦  So instead, my flight home ended up taking me back through Japan on Japan Airlines (known as JAL), luckily in Business Class.  the best part about it is that you get to skip the lines at the airport! Continue reading

Stockholm for a Whole Week!

So I’ve got another crazy trip coming up! If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you would not find this shocking. The surprising part is that I’m actually spending a whole 6 days in Stockholm! The crazy part is just they way I get there. I never spend that much time in one place, so it should be fun! I’m going to visit a friend who just bought a house there (although I really don’t need a reason to visit) and I managed to get a fantastic deal on airfare!

It’s a bit convoluted…My routing is as follows:

  • YVR-SEA-SFO on Alaska
  • SFO-AMS-ARN on KLM
  • ARN-IST on Atlas Global
  • IST-CDG on Air France
  • CDG-SEA-SFO on Delta
  • SFO-SEA-YVR on Alaska

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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.

From one corner to the other…

Of the United States that is.  Okay, so technically it’s not quite true since I actually flew from Vancouver, but we’ll just go with it.

One of the things I’ve always found a bit funny/strange is that most of the time it can take longer to travel within North America than it does to travel to Europe.  There are very few direct flights from the Pacific Northwest to Florida and exactly zero from Vancouver, so you’ve always got to stop somewhere.  I had a pretty direct route this time, YVR-DFW-TPA.  One stop only!  This was key since I tend to have really bad travel luck and had to get there by 4pm Friday.

The good thing about travelling west to east is that usually you can catch a redeye flight.  The bad news is usually you have to catch a red-eye flight.  I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with domestic (North America) red-eyes in that they’re rarely long enough to get a good chunk of sleep, even if you can manage to grab a nap, but you also don’t lose a full day travelling and waste a day of vacation.  The flight to Dallas left just after 11pm and was 4 hours long… Just enough time close your eyes and get comfortable(ish) before you’re starting your decent. But I had a limited schedule and not a whole lot of extra time to waste, so the red-eye it was. Continue reading

Trip Report: Air Canada YVR-SEA Economy

So by the time I was finally getting my flights all sorted there was almost nothing left for a transpacific flight in business class; in fact, the agent who was helping me couldn’t pull up anything at all on their system.  I was finding one transatlantic flight with availability: SEA-FRA on Lufthansa, but that meant getting to Seattle first.

There were some schedule changes that made my original flight a bit more onerous, so I ended up switching to a single stop in Chicago and then on to Istanbul. However, when I was printing out all my documents, I realized that my visa didn’t start until the 9th (the day I was supposed to arrive) and now my flight was scheduled to arrive the 8th… Lesson learned: get the visa for a day or two before you arrive in case your flights/schedule changes. Continue reading