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Another manic month for kiwi

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by Kiwi Flyer, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    A previous month of madness (as documented in the A Kiwi Flyer's month of madness trip report) had me meet lots of great FTers and see some interesting parts of the world.
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    I now resume a month later, for the next manic month. I'll skip over the few longhaul trips in between and start with the next noteworthy trip. So begins another manic month for Kiwi.
     
  2. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    A FLY AWAY WEEKEND

    Several months ago I came across a great business fare to Seoul, Korea on Singapore Airlines. With using up a lot of miles on my previous trip I took the opportunity to recoup some of those miles very quickly and in comfort.

    So after a busy week I headed out to Auckland airport for a quick mileage run. If I have the time I usually take the airbus, preferring it to the cost of a taxi or parking at the airport. They generally run every 20 minutes and, as I get on at one of the last stops on its route in the central city, are only a little slower than a cab. Unfortunately today it was not to be - after waiting 30 minutes the first bus past when straight by :(

    After a moment to think about it, realise I will be cutting it fine to check in before it closes if I wait for the next bus, so reluctantly hail a cab. The cab is parked very nearby and the driver explained he often parks there so as to pick up people whom the bus misses :( The traffic is good so make check in before it closes, although my boarding pass has a sequence number in the high 200s. Singapore Airlines had earlier this year changed ground agent and it seems they are still not totally familiar with the system as once again I hope there will be no problem printing boarding pass (with my correct FF # entered) and once again there are problems and cant get the right FF # in the system.

    At least the premium lines let you pay for the departure tax at check in, saving a visit to the bank. In NZ the departure tax cannot be prepaid (unless you make special arrangement with your TA). So there is a constant reminder of how much departure tax is incurred, each and every time leave the country. I keep thinking by now I must have personally paid for all the immigration, customs and quarantine facilities given the number of overseas trips. But I suppose the reality is the taxes at other places is a lot more (NZ departure tax is NZ$25) but the cost is hidden except at time of purchase of tickets.

    With not long to go until boarding time, and wanting to freshen up in the lounge, I decide to let the miles go to the wrong FFP. Fortunately the difference in earning power is not great and I certainly dont need the miles from this trip to requalify.

    After a short detour to the premium immigration agent at the far end of the check-in closest to the domestic terminals, its upstairs through the precleared lane and security. Upstairs again to the Air New Zealand lounge where the lady on the front desk pleasantly reminds me the flight will be boarding soon, and welcomes me back ;) I have a quick freshen up and then its back to the gate area to board.

    The pier separation project is still not totally finished but each time I go through I see more changes. This time the escalators down to gates 1 through 4 are now in place but not yet being used. The flight normally runs from gate 6 but today it is using gate 5 instead, which is an open area shared with gate 7 by the base of an escalator. This area is too small for a 747 full load of passengers, even with the Air Tahiti Nui flight leaving from gate 7 having just closed.

    Boarding starts about a minute after I arrive, and within a few moments I am settled into my upper deck exit row seat, with today's newspaper and a drink in hand. Ahhh that feels good. The 10 1/2 hour flight passes quickly. I dont have the menu to hand, but its the same as the one posted in my previous trip report for AKL-SIN.

    The flight path is unusual for this route, with a very northerly path crossing the Australian coastline to the north of Cairns. This means get a good view along the length of the Great Barrier Reef as we fly almost parallel to the coast for a considerable distance. After cutting across the base of York Peninsula we cross the Gulf of Carpentaria and fly north of Darwin. Somewhere over Indonesia we head more directly to the west. In my experience the usual routing (westbound) is to pass near Brisbane, Uluru and Broome. However, I have also had southerly routings over Tasmania and Adelaide. I guess the jetstream happened to be a lot further north today than is usual.

    As with the past several flights through Singapore there is a long taxi on arrival - seems only one runway is operating again. Arrival gate is F60 - which is the furthest one from the lounge. I seem to get that gate, or a nearby one, very often for the flights to/from New Zealand. Still it is good to stretch the legs and work up a thirst :lol: In the first Silver Kris lounge I have some Dom and check my emails and some messages on FT before heading out for the redeye to Seoul.

    At the gate I get the magical beep and rejection of the boarding pass. I think I know what is coming and work hard to supress a smile. Then the agent hands me a new boarding pass for an F suite. Thanks very much and woohoo. In over a hundred flights on Singapore Airlines, this is my first operational upgrade. As with many european, asian and pacific airlines, Singapore Airlines will not upgrade unless they absolutely have to - preferring to preserve the front cabins for those who have paid for them. This is, it seems, a big contrast to us-based airlines who freely upgrade based on status or fare.

    I've barely recovered from that pleasant shock when I step on board only to be greeted from a friend and FTer who is working the flight. Its a shame all this is happening on a redeye as I'd like to catch up properly, and also to savour the experience of F. But after a few glasses of dom I succumb to sleep and wake up a couple of hours later just in time for breakfast.
     


  3. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    A FLY AWAY WEEKEND continued

    We arrive to a frigid Incheon, but thankfully the terminal is warm. I walk past the immigration counters to the transit security point and then wander the terminal to stretch my legs and browse the duty free.

    When I made the booking I had in mind to take a side trip to Khaborovsk in Russia, however on later reflection decided against it for a number of reasons. The flight back from Khaborovsk would have a tight connection to my booked return flight from Seoul, and given it is a wintery -20C in Khaborovsk at this time of year I didnt want to risk misconnection due to delays.

    If you are thinking the name Khaborovsk sounds familiar, it was recently in the news as being downstream of Harbin, China and affected by the recent spill in the ?? River.

    Another reason for not taking the side trip was the hassle of a Russian visa meant it was not worth entering Russia for such a short time, and so I would be stuck airside until the return flight.

    So some weeks ago I put in a request to change my return flight from Seoul to earlier in the day. However I was only waitlisted with all flights showing as full (and overbooked in both economy and raffles). The waitlist hadnt cleared by the time I left Singapore but I decided to take my chances while enjoying the facilities of the airport, including the very nice Singapore first class lounge.

    After making a few circuits of the airside part of the terminal I headed into the lounge and asked if the waitlist had cleared. Not yet - need to see how many no shows there are. While I'm waiting I have a shower to freshen up and a nice cup of coffee so that I'm ready for the next flight back to Singapore if I manage to make it on. A few minutes after boarding commenced I get the message that there weren't enough no shows. I mentally flipped a coin as to leave the airport and head into Incheon city or Seoul, or stay in the lounge. The very cold day outside and not enough warm clothing decided the issue.

    I thought about catching up on some sleep but I can never get a deep sleep in an airport lounge - too conscious of possibility of missing the flight I guess. So instead I grab a nice hot asian breakfast, hop onto the computer and while away the hours. I also managed to catch up on reading several big documents for work that I had been putting off (a few hundred pages each of heavy going material tends to do that to me!).

    Soon enough it was almost time for my flight so I leave the lounge a little early in order to walk another few circuits of the airport. The flight back was fairly uneventful. I wasnt feeling hungry so skipped dinner and managed to snooze a little. Back to the lounge at Singapore where I checked email and surfed FT, waiting for NCRBILL to arrive on his mileage run. Not too much later I get a PM and turn around and there he is. Hmmm maybe I need to get a few more FT tags as he didnt see them.

    We chat for a while before he heads into the city to sleep. Me I decide to stay in the lounge (its open 24 hours) since by now it is past 2am and my flight is fairly early tomorrow. I take a walk around the nearly shut down terminals to stretch the legs, have a shower and grab one of the sleeperette rooms. An hour later of unsuccessful dozing I give up and get back into the main lounge. One of the fellow overnighters is snoring very loudly.

    Before too long the lounge stirs into life, slowly filling with pax for the early morning flights and staff put out the huge breakfast spread. I manage to catch up with MAN Flyer who had a few minor dramas to deal with.

    I head out to the gate (yup a high F50s number again) and run into the queue for gate screening along the pier by the next door gate. Clearly not enough agents doing the screening and an on time departure is looking unlikely. The flight is very full and we do eventually leave somewhat late. Fortunately the tail winds are very strong and so we make up time enroute.

    By now I've seen all the December movies/shows I want to see (yes even with all the hundreds of channels), and so I spend the flight dozing, reading, drinking and eating of course. I always enjoy flying SQ down to Auckland. I dont know if its my imagination but the service is always good, and the FAs are generally in good spirits with a short layover in Auckland to look forward to - plus the flight time is not as long as other long hauls eg to/from Europe or North America.

    We land on time at Auckland. With this flight scheduled to arrive around the same time as the evening Australia flights, it always seems to be hit or miss as to whether or not there will be a big queue at immigration. Tonight we strike it lucky and I'm through immigration, customs and agriculture quarantine x-ray, and out the door in about 5 minutes flat. The airbus has stopped running by this time of night, so jump into a cab back home.

    Traffic is almost non-existant and the trip into town is quick. I get my gear sorted for work the next day and grab a deep sleep in no time at all.

    Next up the start of an around the world.
     
  4. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    ACROSS THE PACIFIC THE LONG WAY

    The end of the year is a great time for travelling as work pressures fade for a couple of weeks at least. As with the previous few years I was again in search of a possible white Christmas but in my heart I know it will not be one - the past few Christmasses I have managed to miss the snow by a few miles each time.

    So it was just a week after the short trip to Seoul that I was again making my way to the airport. But being the last few work days of the year it was not without the usual few minor dramas and doubts as to whether or not I'd actually get away. After some frantic days I manage to pack in the wee hours of the morning before putting in a 3/4 day at work and head for the airbus to the airport.

    This time I time it better and only wait 15 minutes. Being one of the last shopping days before Christmas I expected traffic to be heavy, and it is, but we still make good time. Arriving at the airport and it is the expected zoo. Thankfully SQ now uses premium immigration at the far left hand end of the check in area thus bypassing the main queues, and my status allows me to bypass the long check in lines too. A change since the previous trip in that luggage is no longer pre-screened before the check in area. It seems the behind the scenes full screening of all international baggage is now online just in time for the busiest travel weeks of the year (at least in this part of the world).

    Despite having an overnight stop in SIN I manage to get my onward boarding passes for the next day ^ One less thing to slow me down tomorrow.

    Somehow my exit row seating request got lost :( but managed to snag an upper deck aisle seat. I settle in and am convinced (yeah that was hard) to have a 2nd glass of pre-departure champagne. Literally as we begin to push back I get asked if I want a better seat. Woohoo another upgrade on SQ in short succession after years of no op-ups!! I follow the IFS back and take my new seat ...
     
  5. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    ... also in Raffles. No op up this time (you didn't really expect I'd get 2 op-ups in a month on SQ?), but rather a move to seats with more space to spread out.

    The flight to SIN passes quickly. Again a fairly northerly routing across Australia. For those who like to keep score ;) the satay was nice but I declined seconds. The food was also the usual good stuff - sorry no menu this time.

    We arrive on time at SIN, and thanks to no bags and fast exit through door 2L (unlike some other airlines, on SQ it is often quicker to exit from the rear of upstairs cabin than the main business cabin downstairs thanks to the strict policy of exiting in order of cabin enforced by the FAs).

    For a change I am leaving SIN airport and head to immigration which is the busiest I have ever seen in Singapore. I guess I should have expected it being one the last days before Christmas but it seemed strange to have to wait in line. Never mind, in typical Singaporean efficiency I am through in 10 minutes and rush to the taxi line which takes longer, snaking as it does past the roped off zig-zags.

    The cab ride to hotel is quick, as is the check in at the Conrad. Get a nice upgrade and for once arrive early enough to grab a drink in the lounge before it closes for the night. The teddy bear is decked out for the season but otherwise the amenities are as normal for Conrad.

    An all too short sleep and its back to the airport. No breakfast at the lounge (not yet open) but never mind the SQ lounge breakfast is actually pretty good (and then there is the flight as well). Having boarding pass already means I skip straight to immigration, and quickly through and back to my second home the SIN Silver Kris Lounge. I grab breakfast and check out my emails. For once no FTers around (at least that I can tell).

    Then its off to the gate for my flight to Seoul (yes again!). I have arranged my RTW to maximise (or close to it) the number of PPS sectors I earn, while also visiting places I want to visit. This means taking the first flight of the day to ICN and then changing planes to the flight to Vancouver, instead of taking the direct one-stop service from SIN. This gets me an extra 1.25 PPS sectors for a minimal cost in miles used up :D

    Due to not getting much sleep this week I doze most of the flight, but awake to have some more satay. Since there is no Dr Loosen Reisling (despite being on the menu), which I am partial too, I have some champagne (and also water lest you think I am a total lush!) instead.

    What a difference a week or so makes. Last time to Seoul it was below freezing but no snow. Just recently South Korea had the biggest snowfall in decades and the entire countryside was blanketed with snow. And yes still well below freezing. So on deplaning I am quickly up the airbridge into the heated terminal. At the transfer screening station there is a small delay as a few fellow pax obviously unused to the realities of airline travel today take an eternity to put their many bags onto the xray machine and take off coats, jewellry etc. I dont mind. Not sure if its the drink or just I am zoned out now being on holiday. Once through I make a beeline for the great SQ lounge and grab a shower while the lounge is still quiet. Thoroughly refreshed I while away the remaining minutes til boarding.
     


  6. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    RAINY VANCOUVER

    Back out to the gate for another full flight. Singapore Airlines has a special menu for Christmas eve and Christmas day which is in effect for this flight - has one main and one dessert in the Christmas spirit. I will post it shortly.

    Sorry I have to go. My meal has just been served.

    Thanks to CGK for typing this up.

     
  7. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    I forgot to mention before that for a change there are no ads before the movies or programs on Kris World. This seems to have been a recent change and I'm not sure if its temporary or permanent change. Anyway it threw me the first time I noticed it as I am so used to fast-forwarding (about 4 minutes for movies and 3 for programs) but now there is no need.

    On this overnight flight from Seoul to Vancouver I doze a little but dont sleep much. We have some very strong tailwinds - well in excess of 200kmh and so the flight time is shorter than scheduled. I had hoped to see the mountains along the coast as we head southeast along the canadian coastline, and had selected a seat on the left hand side of the aircraft specifically with this in mind, however thick clouds obscured the views until the last minutes of final approach. We had a short delay taxiing into the gate, and while we were waiting I thought how the poor weather sea and mountains reminded me a little of Wellington.

    On the way to immigration we pass some totem poles and other native art, as well as a waterfall. The sound of running water is not what you want to hear while standing around waiting in a big queue! If you can try to finagle yourself into the right hand line. As the far right hand officer is dedicated to international transfer passengers, of which there seems to be few, essentially the right hand arrival line moves twice as fast as the others ;)

    After a few cursory questions I am through, change some money and get a ride to the hotel. The Hilton metrotown doesnt really have convenient transfers from/to the airport - it can be done but requires taking the bus to downtown (transfer at airport station) and then skytrain to metrotown, or bus to eastern Burnaby (also transfer at airport station) and then skytrain.

    I get a nice room upgrade to a suite but, as reported in previous years, the exec lounge is closed for christmas-new year period, reopening January 9th. Once checked in I head out into the rain for a walk through Central and Deer Lake parks before it gets too dark (around 4pm) followed by last minute shopping.

    I also took a few trips downtown to wander around exploring, check out the lights etc at Stanley Park.

    A few days later its an early start to head back out to the airport for a short trip to Edmonton. I left it a little late to leave and so I checked in right at closing, and have no time for a visit to the lounge. Straight out to the gate and onto the Air Canada A319, an aircraft I would get familiar with over the next few days.

    I notice the layout of the business class cabin is not uniform - that is the seat pitch seems to vary with each row and differs on both sides of the cabin (there being 4 rows on the DF side and only 3 on the AC side). I am not sure if it is just this particular aircraft, but 4DF in particular seems to have very small pitch and I would be very disappointed to get what is essentially a wide economy seat if I had those seats. The service is very so-so, as is pathetic attempt at breakfast that is served.

    The flight passes surprisingly quickly. Unfortunately the poor weather on the west coast meant the mountains were totally obscured and the flight was a little choppy, we only reached clear air on approach to Edmonton with the vastness of the canadian prairie before us. The unseasonably warm weather (around 16C the previous few days) had melted all the snow, at least that I could see - and so if it wasnt for the fresh 0C air it could have been australia for all I knew.

    I popped upstairs to the Maple Leaf lounge where I got checked in for the return flight, and checked some messages and look into something for this afternoon. Afterwards I wandered around the airport vicinity before the return flight. Same aircraft type but different seat. Yup sure feels like a different pitch, and I also noticed the seatbelt length was considerably different! A light meal is served on this flight and again no view so I settle into a book, which I'd brought with me but had yet to start reading until now.

    This time I'm staying out by the airport (another early flight tomorrow) so it doesnt take long to get checked in once landed and I'm soon heading into the city centre.
     
  8. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    TO VANCOUVER ISLAND AND BACK AND BACK AND BACK

    Since seeing mention of the float planes at Vancouver in a trip report I'd been interested in trying to fit a flight or two into my schedule - as long as the weather cooperates.

    With the weather forecast dreadful (rain and high winds) for the rest of my time in Vancouver, this afternoon's high overcast seemed as good a chance as any. So I checked out Harbour Air's schedule and found a convenient flight turn around to Nanaimo. I hadnt pre-booked as I wasnt sure the weather would hold but there seemed to be availability so I trusted it would work out if I rocked up to their harbourside office about half an hour before the flight. And so it proved to be, although it was difficult finding the office given the considerable construction along Coal Harbour's waterfront - the walkway was a bit of a maze.

    The office doubles as a small waiting room and while not a plush lounge it is a reasonable shelter from the elements and has hot & cold drinks.

    It wasnt long before we walked across the pier to the tiny Beaver. There were 5 passengers so a full flight. Luggage is strictly limited but of course I had minimal (just some water and a few things for later).

    As we slowly taxiied out into the harbour we had to wait for a jetboat crossing the "runway". Take off "roll" was fairly short and I was surprised at how stable the aircraft seemed to be and the view wasnt obscured by spray at all.

    We crossed the narrow straits to Nanaimo at a fairly low height - well below the clouds and with fine views of the inlets and islets. The flight itself was very short just over 10 minutes and landed at the harbour in Nanaimo. There's more spray on landing compared to take off but still not as much as I'd expected. Turnaround was fairly quick and the flight back was a race against the encroaching darkness.

    Once back on land I walked across the downtown peninsula to meet infoworks and CGK for enjoyable drinks and dinner.

    The next day was another early start to the main (land) airport for a day trip to Victoria. This time I have enough time for a quick lounge visit - it seems nice enough with the expected amenities. Then off to board the Dash 8 across the tarmac - fortunately in between the heavy showers which have been falling. For the first time in a long time my bags are checked in.

    No food service on this short flight - as I expected - although they do hand out some lollies. The aircraft climbs considerably higher than the floatplane did the day before, but still around cloud base level so no views of the mountains. The flight to Victoria is a little longer than to Nanaimo at around 20 minutes. The airport at Victoria is tiny, but after a short wait for bags and picking up some brochures I head into the township some 20km or so away.
     
  9. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    After several hours in the quaint (a bit touristy) town I headed back to the airport only to find my flight had been cancelled. The Air Canada agent then informed me the next several flights were overbooked but I'd been protected on one in several hours time and was welcome to try the waitlist although it was very long. I wasnt too happy with this so asked to be put on another airline.

    After checking with supervisor for authorisation I was put onto a Pacific Coastal flight in over an hour's time. As it happens most of the passengers on this flight had come from Air Canada so the flight cancellation was likely quite costly.

    The Pacific Coastal flight was on a Beechcraft 1900C - a first for me, although I had previously flown the 1900D. Obviously bags needed to be checked for the flight, but the view through the cockpit more than made up for it. Another short low altitude flight across the sound and straight into Vancouver airport followed by a long taxi to the south terminal, which Pacific Coastal uses (and also Harbour Air I think). Off the plane and straight onto a free shuttle bus to the main terminal. Some of my fellow passengers had missed connections as a result of the later flight time. As expected, my miles havent credited automatically and so I will have to chase those up.

    Summary update

    Map

    13 flights
    30,549 flown miles
    Aircraft 747, 777, A319, Beaver, Dash 8, Beechcraft 1900C
    Airlines Singapore, Air Canada, Harbour Air, Pacific Coastal
     
  10. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    NEW YORK

    The next day I headed out to the airport early - fearing immigration would take some time. Unfortunately I made the mistake of getting dropped off at domestic terminal not realising US departures are at the far other end of international terminal, so I had a small hike to check in.

    The Air Canada agent on premium check in was totally disinterested in serving me, and I had the distinct feeling that if it weren't for a reasonable queue in this line quickly forming behind me she would have left the counter unmanned. This is my first visit to US since the new rule requiring address to be given at check-in (which can be matched to address given on visa waiver form). She doesnt seem to type much in so I wonder if there's some abbreviations used? Since the visa waiver form is actually collected at US immigration in Canada, I'm not sure how having the address info a short while earlier helps with security - but what do I know?

    Check in completed and I join a loooong queue for immigration. For some reason at the entrance to duty free the line is split into 2 by an agent, only for it to reform into 1 line on the other side. I cant see what that achieves.

    The queue is incredibly slow and I am glad to have checked in so early as it took 90 minutes to reach immigration. The reason for the long queue? (A) lots of pax (yes its holiday season) and (B) only half the immigration booths are manned. Its not hard to do the maths and realise there's far too few officers to process 1000+ pax an hour. I'm sure many folk missed there flights that day.

    Having arrived at the airport so early I did have enough time for a brief visit to the US departure Maple Leaf Lounge. It had soup and some biscuits on offer but little other food. A modest selection of drinks and 2 computer terminals.

    Soon enough it is time to board - and yes its the A319 again :( but fortunately I avoided row 4 successfully. The service was minimal - apart from handing out food/drink and collecting later the FAs were nowhere to be seen. Again there was no views to be had - both due to the extensive west coast cloud cover and also the encroaching night as we headed east. The approach into JFK airport was mostly clear however so good views of Manhattan, Statue of Liberty, etc.

    With the late arrival, and another early start tomorrow I stayed at an airport hotel. It was fairly basic but clean and had all you needed, perhaps a little expensive for what it was though.
     
  11. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    NEW YORK

    The next day I headed out to the airport early - fearing immigration would take some time. Unfortunately I made the mistake of getting dropped off at domestic terminal not realising US departures are at the far other end of international terminal, so I had a small hike to check in.

    The Air Canada agent on premium check in was totally disinterested in serving me, and I had the distinct feeling that if it weren't for a reasonable queue in this line quickly forming behind me she would have left the counter unmanned. This is my first visit to US since the new rule requiring address to be given at check-in (which can be matched to address given on visa waiver form). She doesnt seem to type much in so I wonder if there's some abbreviations used? Since the visa waiver form is actually collected at US immigration in Canada, I'm not sure how having the address info a short while earlier helps with security - but what do I know?

    Check in completed and I join a loooong queue for immigration. For some reason at the entrance to duty free the line is split into 2 by an agent, only for it to reform into 1 line on the other side. I cant see what that achieves.

    The queue is incredibly slow and I am glad to have checked in so early as it took 90 minutes to reach immigration. The reason for the long queue? (A) lots of pax (yes its holiday season) and (B) only half the immigration booths are manned. Its not hard to do the maths and realise there's far too few officers to process 1000+ pax an hour. I'm sure many folk missed there flights that day.

    Having arrived at the airport so early I did have enough time for a brief visit to the US departure Maple Leaf Lounge. It had soup and some biscuits on offer but little other food. A modest selection of drinks and 2 computer terminals.

    Soon enough it is time to board - and yes its the A319 again :( but fortunately I avoided row 4 successfully. The service was minimal - apart from handing out food/drink and collecting later the FAs were nowhere to be seen. Again there was no views to be had - both due to the extensive west coast cloud cover and also the encroaching night as we headed east. The approach into JFK airport was mostly clear however so good views of Manhattan, Statue of Liberty, etc.

    With the late arrival, and another early start tomorrow I stayed at an airport hotel. It was fairly basic but clean and had all you needed, perhaps a little expensive for what it was though.
     
  12. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    ONE WORLD STATUS RUN

    For some time I've been following how to get into American domestic first for quite cheaply even other long distances, and with the revamp to Qantas frequent flyer one of the few real enhancements (as opposed to the other kind which are nothing of the sort) was the increase in status earning in first.

    So with having a day free I scouted out a round trip that would net 480 status credits comfortably (well as comfortable as you can get in American domestic first :p ) and avoiding the dreaded winter transfer at Chicago.

    New York JFK to Dallas to Fresno to Dallas to New York La Guardia fit the bill and was available - each segment nicely over the 1200 mile mark and thus zone 3 earning, and the turnaround at Fresno will be the same aircraft to minimise the risk of misconnection.

    So it was an early start yet again back to the airport. On the way I realised that my first American flight will complete the set of having flown in all One World airlines - something I have yet to do in the (admittedly larger) Star Alliance which is my preferred alliance.

    I'd hoped to get all the boarding passes issued at JFK, but as expected only got them for the first two sectors. Oh well I can try again at the Admirals Club in Dallas. Then wander over to the older part of the 2 terminals (sorry forget which number 8 or 9) where the flight departs from. There is an elite line at security - but this actually takes longer than the regular line, and no they wont let me switch. I thought there was an AC in this terminal but I must have missed it so ended up wandering the short corridor to stretch out with a day of cramped seating ahead of me.
     
  13. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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    We boarded on time. I had managed to snag bulkhead seat, and thanks to my status boarded early (from reading FT I knew the US-based airlines you need to board early to ensure space to stow carry-ons near your seat unlike the asia, pacific and european airlines I am more used to).

    The aircraft was a 757. Meal was a mediocre breakfast so I just had some water. Flight pushed back on time. There was total cloud cover most of the way - until about half an hour or so out from Dallas - but we were above the clouds most of the time and so of course I noticed lots of contrails glistening in the sun. We landed pretty much on time and had a long taxi towards the terminal but instead parked up at a remote stand while we waited for our gate to clear. The pilot announced a 5 minute delay. We waited some more. Then another 5 minutes, and another. Eventually about an hour after touchdown we pulled into the gate.

    So my nice easy connection with enough time for a lounge visit had turned into a mad dash to the next flight - of course it had to be departing from the diagonally opposite terminal. I had made good use of the time spent waiting by looking up the map in the American Way magazine (having never previously visited DFW) so had some idea where to go and I ran and ran and ran. I was surprised given how many connecting passengers there were (many onward gates announced by the FA) that there was no one at the gate to assist those with tight or missed connections.

    By the time I got to the gate for the flight to Fresno boarding had not long ago started so I hopped straight on - to another bulkhead seat on the MD80(?). Once doors closed there was a delay as some bags needed to be offloaded. Apparently they were hard to find as this took quite a long time. A light lunch was served. I cant recall it exactly so not memorable. We had great views of the southwestern plains before clouds again (and some turbulence) over the mountains. Fortuitously there was a clearance over Yosemite so nice views on descent before going back into the murk closer to Fresno. With our late departure and strong headwinds we arrived around the time the next flight was due to leave, so I hoped not having checked in wouldnt cause any issues. I quickly deplaned and went straight to the desk to collect my 2 return BPs - not a problem ^ Another mileage runner (FTer?) had passed through the day before so the GA was not in the least fazed by my turnaround. A couple of pax hoping to upgrade groaned however as I collected my BPs. This had been done so quickly that the aircraft was still being emptied of passengers from DFW-FAT. So I had time to wander around the small terminal. There is very little there - a placque announcing a fairly recent expansion, and several odd bronze disks in the floor. I'm not sure what they're for - perhaps for future concessionary stands?
     
  14. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    With the late arrival it was no surprise that the return flight to Dallas was also late. I wasnt worried as this time I had a bigger connection in Dallas, although obviously any delay eats in to lounge visit time :p

    Its been a while since I've flown out of an airport where an active air force (or in this case marines - why they should have an jet air capacity in the first place when there is a perfectly good air force as well, and then to base it well inland of all places I have no idea but I digress) uses the same runways as civilian aircraft (unlike eg Singapore where the air force has its own runway). So it was a surprise to have the taxi held up for some marine jets taking off and others landing.

    The snack served was very similar to that on the way in so I pass. The weather had deteriorated a bit so no views, and in any case by the time we reached Dallas it was again dark. Again arrival and departure gates almost as far apart as can be so by the time I reach the lounge there is no time to do anything other than use the bathroom and back out again. The monitors show our flight back to New York as boarding but arriving at the gate it is clear we wont be for a while. The gate agents refuse to give a boarding time so I decide not to return to the lounge (which is some distance away within the terminal).

    Apparently the aircraft had just arrived on international flight and so supposedly required special cleaning/security checks. These dragged on and on, so we boarded nearly an hour late. My own personal on-time performance stats for AA are atrocious - all four flights either late arriving, or both late departing and arriving; and none could be blamed on the weather.

    With the delay they also changed the meal service (in F at least) from dinner to snack :( which turned out to be the same as the light lunch on the Dallas to Fresno flight. The 737 was full but again I had a bulkhead seat. By now I was getting tired and so tried to doze but the seat wasnt comfortable enough to do so. The only thing of interest (well to me) were the lights of other aircraft taking off and landing at Dallas Fort Worth and presumably Love Field, and then also on approach to New York city - this time on a different flightpath (duh different airport) to the previous night. However during the day the cloud and showers over New York didnt clear and so the view was mostly obscured.

    With the flight being so late and nearly first to leave the aircraft (and no checked bags) the taxi queue was non-existant and so quickly made my way to the Millenium Hilton. Whether it was my HHonors status or the tired look on my face I dont know, but scored an upgrade to a fantastic corner suite ^ Unfortunately the first few times they set the keycard it didnt work so it was 2am before I was finally able to get checked in properly.
     
  15. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    ANOTHER OVERNIGHT FLIGHT

    I hadnt properly appreciated the magnificent view from the room on checking in, but I have to admit I spent several minutes just looking out the window before getting started for the day. Ground zero immediately in front (and a long way down), the river and across to Jersey, Statue of Liberty, many tall skyscrapers in the vicinity of Wall Street, the other other river and some bridges. Breaking out of the reverie, a short stop for breakfast at Church & Dey and then out to explore. Did the usual touristy things but had fun despite the near freezing temperature and occassional snow and rain showers.

    After a couple of days it was time to head out to JFK on the train. I was seeing someone off on the LH flight so visited the lounge there despite not having checked in. The Senator lounge at JFK is okay but not great - selection of rolls, food and drinks. No computers. Could get crowded but not today. Some newspapers and magazines. Then I wander over to terminal 4 which Singapore uses. Check in still isnt open, but I can use the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse anyway. Wow! I'd say the best feature to be the food and drink - with actual meals cooked to order (from a selection - see below). Some of the bar staff actually wandered around the lounge asking folk for drinks orders, and indeed insisted on the consumption of several glasses of champagne.

    So after several hours, with a brief interlude outside the lounge to check in, I had had enough food and more than enough drink to keep me going for a while.

    FREEDOM MENU

    Here in The Clubhouse, you can order from today's menu at any time. As soon as you're ready we'll take your order from your table - or simply help yourself to our selection from the snack bars. Plus, if you'd like to plan what to eat during your flight, just ask our staff for a copy of today's onboard Freedom menu. And remember, Freedom gives you the flexibility to eat in before your flight or dine out at 35,000 feet.

    Daily specials

    A selection of daily specials are on offer to complement the set menu, please ask a member of the team or see a copy of our specials card at the bar.

    Lighter bites

    Soup of the day served with a selection of fresh breads

    Jumbo pesto shrimp with arugula and prosciutto

    Pear tomato salad with baby greens and crumbled blue cheese served with grilled bread wedges and sherry vinaigrette

    Bigger bites

    Flying club sandwich - a frequent flyer on the menu. Tortilla wrap with tofu, corn and garlic and herb mayonnaise

    Bourbon baby back ribs with three cheese macaroni

    Pan seared salmon served with warm quinoa, tomato and asparagus salad and lemon and chive dressing

    Naughty but nice

    Seasonal fresh fruit creme fraiche

    Warm granny smith apple cobbler

    Selection of international cheese with accompaniments

    Snack bar

    Just help yourself!

    Wines

    A selection of fine wines are available, please ask a member of the team

    Cocktails

    If its on the bar we'll mix it the way you like it! Just ask!

    Hot 'n' herbal

    Choose from cappuccino, espresso or one of our herbal or fruit infusions

    Better bytes

    If you're more interested in bytes than bites, you'll be pleased to know The Clubhouse is now a hot spot with high-speed wireless internet connection. Details and charges will display when you access the hot spot provider. You can easily check your email, surf the web, or book your next flight with Virgin Atlantic from the convenience of your comfy chair.
     
  16. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    FWIW here is the menu for JFK to Frankfurt. I didnt ask for much but no Dr Loosen riesling and notice no blue mountain coffee any more (the same applied on all my SQ flights this trip).

    DINNER menu

    A Savoury Note

    Ceasar salad with marinated prawns, asparagus and olives

    The Main Event

    Braised short rib of beef with root vegetables and celeraic-pear puree

    Braised grouper fillet in Oriental hot bean sauce with vegetables and egg noodles

    Stir fried chicken in dried chilli with vegetables and fragrant rice

    Stewed lamb shank in red wine with lima beans, baby carrot and asparagus

    The Cheese Board

    Gourmet cheese with garnishes

    A Sweet Note

    A selection of fresh fruit

    Ice cream

    A Connoisseur's Choice

    Gourmet coffee

    Selection of tea

    and pralines


    CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST menu

    A Fresh Start

    A choice of apple, tomato or freshly squeezed orange

    A selection of fresh fruit

    From the Bakery

    Assorted breakfast rolls

    Butter - Fruit preserve

    A Connoisseur's Choice

    Gourmet coffee

    Selection of tea

    BEVERAGES

    special cocktail

    Orange Cooler

    cocktails

    Singapore Sling
    Silver Kris Sling
    Gin Fizz
    Cloud Nine
    Screwdriver
    Bloody Mary
    Daiquiri
    Red or White Wine Cooler

    aperitifs
    Campari
    Dry Vermouth

    non-alcoholic cocktails

    Citrus Royale
    Tropical Sparkle
    Golden Spice
    Fruit Spritzer
    Sunrise Surprise

    spirits

    Cognac XO Otard
    Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky
    Johnnie Walker Black Label
    Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
    Gordon's Dry Gin
    Absolut Vodka
    Bacardi Carta Blanca

    liqueurs

    Cointreau
    Tia Maria
    Baileys Original Irish Cream

    beer

    International Selection

    stout

    Guinness Stout

    champagne

    Charles Heidsieck 1995

    white wines

    Dr Loosen Qualitatswein Dr L Riesling 2003
    Kloster Eberbach Riesling Kabinett 2003 Rheingau
    Montagny 1er Cru 2002

    red wines

    Chateau Cissac 1998 Cru Bourgeois Haut Medoc
    Nipozzano Riserva 2001 Chianti Rufina Docg Frescobaldi

    port

    Taylor 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port

    tea selection

    Pure Ceylon Tea
    Earl Grey
    Darjeeling
    Camomile
    Decaffeinated Tea
    Japanese Green Tea

    chinese tea selection

    Oolong

    gourmet coffees

    Brazil Santos Bourbon
    Colombian Supremo
    Kenyan AA Kilimanjaro

    specialty coffees

    Brewed Coffee
    Cafe Royal
    Espresso
    Cappuccino
    Decaffeinated Coffee
    Mocha

    other beverages

    Chocolate
    Milo

    mineral water

    Carbonated mineral water
    Non-carbonated mineral water

    fruit juices

    Apple
    Orange
    Pineapple
    Tomato
    Cranberry

    soft drinks

    A range of regular or low-calorie drinks is available

    iced drinks

    Iced Tea
    Iced Coffee
    Iced Mocha
    Iced Chocolate
    Iced Milo
     
  17. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    With the lounges being landside the boarding call is announced a few minutes early so we have time to get through security, but it doesnt take long to get through and board.

    The flight was very empty - just 1 in first and 2 upstairs business cabin, and 2 more in business class downstairs. Economy was also light - definitely under 100 passengers all up. There seemed to be the full complement of crew. I guess it is hard to rearrange schedules, so we had fantastic service.

    We arrive to a very grey and freezing europe. Fortunately I missed the big snowfalls of the prior week which would have upset my schedule considerably. Due to the early arrival I would not yet be able to check in to the hotel, and the inclement weather meant I wasnt keen to wander around in the cold just yet. So I paid a visit to the "B" Senator lounge in Frankfurt. As noted elsewhere on FT this has recently been renovated. There are no major changes (its still just as small and prone to overcrowding) but the minor ones have improved it considerably IMO. Smokers are no relegated to separate room so the air is clean (unlike the rest of the terminal). The wall of tvs has gone and layout changed slightly, giving impression of more space (but none actually). What's this I see in the corner - finally LH has installed 2 computers! Admittedly they are in high demand so it can be hard to get on, but at least they are there.

    I soon change my mind - figuring I should be exploring and seeing/doing stuff and to hang with the cold. So I take the train into the city. 3.25 euros for anywhere even remotely central. I'm staying at the Hilton which is in the financial district on the edge of the old town. There is a choice of about 3 or 4 subway stations within easy 5 minute walking distance but Hauptwache is easiest (no connections necessary to/from airport).

    Once checked in I wander through the old town and along the banks of the Main River for quite some time. Despite the similar latitude I notice it gets dark much later than Vancouver or New York - due to being further west within the time zone I suspect.

    Coming up - a run through western europe.
     
  18. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,689
    216
    Canberra / London
    [quote=" So I take the train into the city. 3.25 euros for anywhere even remotely central. [/quote]

    Hey Kiwi,

    That's super cheap.

    No doubt you've sampled the luxurious train offerings at HKG, KUL and SYD, which will set you back well over AUD 10 one-way.

    Nothing more needs to be said (just don't take these rides).

    :)
     
  19. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    Yup and that fare includes connections through the subway system to most of the city.
     
  20. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    5
    Summary update

    Map

    19 flights
    42,259 flown miles
    Aircraft 747, 777, A319, Beaver, Dash 8, Beechcraft 1900C, 757, MD80, 737
    Airlines Singapore, Air Canada, Harbour Air, Pacific Coastal, American
     
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