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Adventures In Non-Revenue Travel  
User currently offlineMjlhou From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 154 posts, RR: 4
Posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 9895 times:

Adventures in Non-Revenue Travel:
A multi-carrier voyage from HOU-ZRH via 2 days in VCE

I must say that from the standpoint of most airline employees, having the flight benefits of 1 airline can be quite lucrative. Fortunately for my wife and I, we have 2 airlines through which to utilize flight privileges. For this trip, we decided the most efficient transport to our first stop at Venice, Italy, would be traveling with American Airlines/American Eagle from HOU-DFW-LGW and then with British Airways from LGW-VCE.

As with most airline staff-travel, we completed online listings for the airlines and sectors we intended to fly approximately 1 week ahead of time. We chose to travel from Houston's Hobby airport aboard AE3974 to DFW at 1345 which gave us ample time to connect onto AA0050 to LGW(London Gatwick), and then finally connecting at LGW with British Airways flight BA2584 to Venice's Marco Polo airport(VCE). After enjoying the ambient scenery and magnificent cuisine of Venice for 2 days, we chose to travel with Swiss International Airlines LX1663, operated by Flightline, to Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH).

Upon arrival at Houston's small and convenient Hobby airport, our bags were checked, security was cleared and we were at American Eagle's only gate at HOU, gate 28, within 10 minutes. Boarding began at 1330 and was complete by 1442. The door was closed and the Embrear 145 pushed from gate 28 right on time. We taxied out to the only runway open and utilized by commercial airlines at HOU at the present time, 32, and were airborne within 5 minutes. We climbed out and banked to the left for a northerly departure over downtown Houston and over passing IAH. The cabin service onboard was pleasantly provided by the usual 1 FA onboard the EMB145 for AE. After just 40 minutes in the air, we began our descent into DFW, finally landing on runway 23 to the west. Shortly after landing we waited just 5 minutes for ramp personnel to marshall our plane into gate B12 about 4 minutes ahead of schedule.


After utilizing DFW relatively efficient new tram system, we arrived at the new international D concourse and proceeded to gate D23, which was assigned for AA flight 50 to Londons Gatwick airport. We checked in with the gate agents and assured we were on the standby list for a hopeful upgrade to first class. Understanding that non-revenue upgrades would not be processed until just before boarding time, we proceeded to browse the array of duty-free and compliment of other airport shops throughout the D concourse. This was the first time I had flown and international sector from the new D concourse at DFW and I was really curious to see what was on offer. AA's new concourse appears to be open, modern and very convenient, although it doesn't possess the style of other new and modern terminals throughout the world.

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/7861/dfwg23ob3.jpg


At approximately 1620, the gate agents announced that there would be a short delay in boarding because AA's maintenance technicians were late in delivering the aircraft from the hangar. Just after the delayed boarding announcement, I was anxious and delighted to hear our names called to receive our boarding passes, and as our luck would prevail, we received boarding passes for seats 3D & G in the 777-200ER's first class cabin! After the plane arrived at the gate, I also realized that this 777(7AH) was one of AA's newly refurbished types with a new compliment of Flagship Suites and new Recarro business class seats.

http://img180.imageshack.us/img180/4503/t50ls1.jpg


My wife and I were excited over the novel concept of dinning restaurant style, looking at each other and with what most would consider a large dinning table, and all while flying on my absolute favorite aircraft, the 777!


http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/7483/777dfwic7.jpg


Boarding for AA flight 50 began about 30 minutes late after all at about 1655. Once onboard, the usual compliment of very senior but professional and courteous AA flight attendants offered the usual premium cabin pre-departure drink of orange juice and champagne. Maintenance technicians finally brought the logbook onboard at about 1730, at which time the doors were immediately closed and the cabin crew prepared for departure. By the time we were cleared for gate pushback, it was 1744, now 39 minutes behind schedule. At this point, we were only concerned that our departure wouldn't jeopardize our connection to British Airways in London.

The Boeing 777-200 commenced its takeoff roll from DFW's runway 32R at 1804, minding a short line for takeoff. After a westerly departure, we banked to the south and circled back, finally heading northeast in the right direction towards the east coast. About 25 minutes after departure, the in-flight meal service began. We consumed the standard pre-dinner appetizer for premium cabin passengers traveling on US flag carriers of warm mixed nuts and smoked salmon accompanied by garnishes and toast points. Both my wife and I opted for the expedited meal service, which would allow us plenty of time to sleep in order to be well rested with enough energy to explore Venice at night by the time we arrived. I opted for the lamb shank served with fresh steamed green beans, accompanied by a salad and of course a selection of warm dinner rolls.

http://img236.imageshack.us/img236/8004/fclassmealve9.jpg


Once the main meals were finished, we both also opted for the ice cream Sunday's with hot fudge and butterscotch topping with whipped topping, always a nice ending to a good meal. Approximately 1 and a half hours into the flight, our meal service came to an end and we converted our face-to-face dinning table into our beds for our overnight sleep.

http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/8983/movingmapri7.jpg

About 1 our before our arrival into London, we were awakened by the purser for breakfast. When offered the chance, I'll always indulge in a full hot breakfast to include a fluffy omelet with saut'ed potatoes and onions, complimented by warm breakfast breads and fresh OJ. Upon reaching Ireland and completing a little more than 8 hours of flying time, we began our initial descent into LGW. Landing in London was uneventful and smooth, with disregard to the overcast skies and at times light rain. At about 0830, about 55 minutes late, we pulled into a remote parking stand adjacent to the main terminal.

http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/7605/fclassptvye5.jpg

http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/4183/7771lgwgw2.jpg

http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/6090/777lgw2pj2.jpg

http://img243.imageshack.us/img243/5927/eklgwcx2.jpg
After boarding a bus for a short jaunt over to the terminal, we proceeded to the transfer area where AA and BA share a transfer desk and we were checked in for our continuing and final segment of the day.

http://img152.imageshack.us/img152/9480/airbridgelgwuc4.jpg

Flight BA 0365 from LGW-VCE was to be operated by a Boeing 737-432 and was scheduled to depart at 1105. Since we had nearly 2 and a half hours before our flight to VCE, we joined the apparent masses in the LGW transfer area, which resembled the likes of the common US shopping mall. We were delightfully pleased with the convenience and amenities offered at LGW as we hadn't used it to transfer before and had mainly used LHR for our past London transfer needs. We found a small area with a few lounge chairs and relaxed for about 45 minutes until the gate for BA2584 was posted.

http://img139.imageshack.us/img139/5994/lgwmallav8.jpg

BA would operate the mid-day flight to VCE from gate 39, a fair walk from the transfer lounge. This walk would prove to be scenic for me as we traversed the skybridge, which LGW is slightly known for. When we arrived at the gate, the BA ground crew had the 734 surrounded as they were trying to ensure the aircraft would be ready for an on-time departure.

Boarding for BA365 began at about 1050 and was rather efficient. This flight too, had quite a low booking factor and we were able to have our own row of 3 seats near the rear of the aircraft. The BA gate agent was kind enough to block the middle seat in row 20 so we would have room to stretch out.
Doors were closed at 1112 and pushback occurred almost immediately. For this departure, we would utilize the same runway as we did for the arrival into LGW. Although the weather had deteriorated from overcast skies and occasional light rain to heavy rain, our departure was not delayed beyond the control of British Airways. The 734 was airborne at about 1120 and began its 2 hour and 45 minute flight to Venice.

http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/7797/ba734pl9.jpg

http://img91.imageshack.us/img91/9546/italpsbatm3.jpg

Shortly after takeoff, the very pleasant British cabin crew came through the cabin to offer beverages along with a rather satisfying sandwich of ham & cheese or nicely seasoned tuna fish. This is something reminisint of a past time for US carriers that we always enjoy when flying international flag carriers. At approximately 1420, we began our initial descent for VCE. After descending for quite some time, we realized that the weather in Venice was not going to be ideal for touring this day. We finally reached the low ceiling on the approach to Marco Polo airport and continued our landing at 1442. BA 2584 arrived at the main terminal at the exact scheduled arrival time of 1445. Although the Italian immigration procedures proved to be simple and swift, I can't say the same for the company providing ground handling for BA flights at VCE, as our luggage didn't arrive in the claim area until 40 minutes after arrival.

After 2 nights of Venetian bliss, it was time for our comparably short travel day from VCE-ZRH. We checked out of our hotel at 1100 local time in order to take the nice bus service offered from downtown Venice to Marco Polo airport. As most airline staff does when traveling, we allowed ample time for check-in procedures, however, these efforts proved to be useless once inside the airport. We arrived at the check-in area at1210 and noticed that the check-in counter for LX1663 was not yet posted. We could only pass the time by having a seat near the entrance to the airport, as the majority of the airport restaurants and duty free shops were past the security checkpoint. Since Swiss international is ground handled in Venice by Lufthansa, it would seem that they don't concern themselves with Swiss business until their flights have either departed or are fully checked in. Maybe a shortage in ground staff might also explain the late check-in process for the LX flight, although, an LH flight to Frankfurt, which was scheduled to depart 15 minutes after our flight was posted for check-in about 20 minutes before our flight. The counter was finally posted at 1315 for a scheduled 1440 departure. After waiting just 5 minutes for check-in, the staff was nice enough to process our seats at the counter and we quickly proceeded thru the security checkpoint. Still having almost an hour to spare before boarding, we indulged in a small sandwich and a Bellini before heading to the gate. At gate 21, the agent took our boarding passes and directed us to a bus which take us to the remote stand where the Flightline operated BAE 146 awaited all passengers. Considering this flight wasn't so full, we lagged behind most of the passengers in order to get a few pics of the aircraft that would take us to Zurich.


http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/8168/lxbae185gm7.jpg

Upon boarding, the flight attendant in the front offered us the bulkhead with the middle seat open so we might have some extra space to stretch out. Unfortunately for me, I didn't realize that a mother and 2 kids would soon board and sit in the row behind us. As time would tell, the physical stamina of a 4 year old Italian girl to kick a seat back would be quite high and my ability to refrain from confronting her mother about her such activity would prove not to be as resilient! Aside from my ability to witness this girls onboard exercise regiment, the situation was compounded after the captain announced a 1 hour and 40 minute delay because we lost our take-off slot due to the fact we waited for late boarding passengers. We eventually departed a once again overcast Venice and headed north over the Italian Alps on our way to ZRH.

http://img243.imageshack.us/img243/2319/bae1853ld8.jpg

http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/1149/lxbae1852al1.jpg
During frequent breaks in the cloud cover, I was able to experience some absolutely amazing views of the snow-covered Alps. Our arrival into ZRH was also met by a very low 1000-foot ceiling. After completing the approach and landing using runway 28 at ZRH, we taxied to a remote stand where we once again were met by an awaiting bus, which drove us to the main terminal. Although my relaxation was hindered by the hyper-activity of a 4 year old and a parent who didn't believe in discipline of any kind, the Flightline flight attendants were very gracious, efficient and did their best to support the reputation of Switzerland's national airline.

In conclusion, although the travel day in itself was long, the 3-leg journey proved to be rather effortless and progressed smoothly. As non-revenue passengers and having a non-priority viewpoint of the OneWorld operation as an alliance, I can only imagine how smooth and easy the route might be for confirmed passengers, as it SHOULD be. I am of course somewhat biased to the company my wife works for, however, I'll continue waving my proverbial OneWorld flag. As for Venice as a destination, it's a quaint that everyone should see once in a lifetime. Just as with any major tourist destination, try to steer clear of the standard tourist gimmicks and traps as they're in abundance even in the off-season, I can't imagine the volume during the summer. I'll follow this report soon with an addition to include our journey from Zurich, Switzerland back to Houston, Texas. I hope all enjoy.

Cheers,

MJLHOU

[Edited 2007-12-12 15:17:12]

[Edited 2007-12-12 15:18:49]


Don't worry about things you can't change or control
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAtrude777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5700 posts, RR: 52
Reply 1, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 9830 times:

Great Trip Man!

Excellent Variety of airlines and aircrafts as well! F/C looked awesome as usual!

Alex



Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
User currently offlineMjlhou From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 154 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 9820 times:

hello again all....I realized after posting the TR that the runways numbers for HOU and DFW were posted incorrectly. HOU's runway in use for this TR was 22 and at DFW we used 17R....sorry for the confusion.

MJLHOU

[Edited 2007-12-12 15:56:52]


Don't worry about things you can't change or control
User currently offlineMSYtristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 9764 times:

Nice report. This one brings back some memories of me during my nonrev days.

User currently offlineTriple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 761 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 9618 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

You picked a nice airplane...my favorite...777. What do you do for AA? I am retired AA living in Japan as a missionary.


Have you kissed a 777 today?
User currently offlineMjlhou From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 154 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 9274 times:

Triple7man....

I actually work for WN as an FA, my wife is the AA employee and she is a CSA. I absolutely love Japan and think the people are so very gracious, you must enjoy living there and your work. Thanks for the reply and take care.

MJLHOU



Don't worry about things you can't change or control
User currently offlineAtrude777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5700 posts, RR: 52
Reply 6, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 9004 times:



Quoting Mjlhou (Reply 2):
.I realized after posting the TR that the runways numbers for HOU and DFW were posted incorrectly. HOU's runway in use for this TR was 22 and at DFW we used 17R....sorry for the confusion.

Good Going Bro  Silly


Alex



Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
User currently offlineDFW13L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 8885 times:

Great report man!

I'm quite fond of the AA 777 first class. I noticed your pic in the middle of the Flagship suites and you had said you were in 7AH. It didn't click until you mentioned it was a refurbished first/biz class. Most of the 7AA series are the old pacific version. In fact I've flown 7AG LGW to DFW, and have seen 7AH there. That's cool that you got the new audio/video system. So I have a couple questions if you don't mind.

Was it really on-demand audio/video (AVOD) or was it still the channels where you have to wait for the next movie to start?Also, I have heard that the VCRs in the flagship suites are gone with the new ones. So, you didn't have a menu of movies on small cassettes for them to bring you your choice?

Sorry for all the questions. Maybe I'll just have to get lucky like you did and get the right seat on the right plane to LGW or somewhere.

I appreciate the post. It makes my airline and my airport look good!

Thanks,
Matt

PS-are you going to let us know how you got home from ZRH? Since AA37 ZRH - DFW is no more, I'm curious.


User currently offlineDavescj From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 2307 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8747 times:

Great TR!! Can't wait to hear about your return trip to the states!

Dave



Can I have a mojito on this flight?
User currently offlineTriple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 761 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8730 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!



Quoting Mjlhou (Thread starter):
I'm quite fond of the AA 777 first class. I noticed your pic in the middle of the Flagship suites and you had said you were in 7AH. It didn't click until you mentioned it was a refurbished first/biz class. Most of the 7AA series are the old pacific version. In fact I've flown 7AG LGW to DFW, and have seen 7AH there. That's cool that you got the new audio/video system. So I have a couple questions if you don't mind.

AA is in the process of converting all their 777's to the Flagship Suite in First Class and the new seats in Business Class. I have kept up with it on the AA employee website, and I think only 3 of their 777's are still in the Pacific configuration for First. So all 777's except 3 now have the Flagship Suite in First class. Once these are done, they will go to the 777's with Flagship Suite, and put in the new Business Class seats.
Again, all but 3 777's have the Flagship Suite in First class. And I'm looking forward to flying it at Christmas again from
NRT-DFW-NRT.



Have you kissed a 777 today?
User currently offlineDALCE From Netherlands, joined Feb 2007, 1712 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8661 times:

Great report, the non-rev flying is just great!
Thanks for sharing!

Brgds,
D-ALCE



flown: F50,F70,CR1,CR2,CR9,E75,143,AR8,AR1,733,735,736,73G,738,753,744,77W,319,320,321,333,AB6.
User currently offlineFlyboyOz From Australia, joined Nov 2000, 1987 posts, RR: 25
Reply 11, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 8622 times:

Howdy mate,

Greaat Report! I'm sure that you have a wonderful trip to Europe and I'm sure that you will love Venice and Zurich. I will go back to europe soon, Yes, I love the B777 cos it's the most comfortable aircraft I've ever had. I flew on SQ 77W from FRA to SIN and I fell in love with that that aircraft.



The Spirit of AustraliAN - Longreach
User currently offlineMjlhou From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 154 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 8516 times:



Quoting DFW13L (Reply 7):
Was it really on-demand audio/video (AVOD) or was it still the channels where you have to wait for the next movie to start?Also, I have heard that the VCRs in the flagship suites are gone with the new ones. So, you didn't have a menu of movies on small cassettes for them to bring you your choice?

Hello there! Yes...it is truley on demand, no more tapes that the purser needs to bring. I know that was frustrating for many. It was fortunately a pristine looking aircraft and still had that new leather smell of the new cabin. In the begining of the flight, the system wasn't working so well and 3 FAs to include the purser where wushing to try and fix it before departure, however, it DID end up working through the flight. I watched only a part of that Movie "1408" with Samuel L Jakcson to see how it worked and I would say it's good. Glad you enjoyed and I WILL also post a report with details of my journey back from ZRH.

MJLHOU



Don't worry about things you can't change or control
User currently onlineB747forever From Sweden, joined May 2007, 17126 posts, RR: 10
Reply 13, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 8323 times:

Nice TR.

The pics are really good.

You had a really big luck to get the upgrade to F class. And the best thing is that it was the new seats.

Seems that you enjoyed your flights.

Looking forward for the return sector.


Thank you for sharing

B747forever.



Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offlineCrjflyer35 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 668 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 8218 times:

Great trip report, you got to fly on 2 of my favorite a/c the T7 and the Bae 146! lucky dog!

A question for you, as an airline employee to another. Does AA have a system for employees to upgrade to Intl'l first / business for free, or do you have to fork over a set amount? With my airline (US/HP) we are charged a little bit for domestic first and a little more for Int'l Envoy...just curious. Hope you had a great time! My wife and I are using my bennies to go to Spain for a week or so next month, so this was a nice read! Hopefully we'll be in Envoy on the A333.



Ok, wait for the RJ to pass, cleared to push tail south Mike, and you're cleared to spin #2 in the push.
User currently offlineJDAirCEO From Uruguay, joined Jan 2006, 274 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 8194 times:

Coach is free for five+ year employees, this includes domestic and international.

If you want J or F you have to select those when listing for the flight on the employee website. Thee fee goes up of course between J and F and the length of the flight. Long-haul fllying in F can actually start to add up half your pay check. F is nice to do once or twice but many employees opt for J to save $$$ if their trip will include a lot of flights.



An MD-80 is great... in first class
User currently offlineXJRamper From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2471 posts, RR: 51
Reply 16, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8134 times:

Awesome report! Gotta love the 777!

Quoting Crjflyer35 (Reply 14):
A question for you, as an airline employee to another. Does AA have a system for employees to upgrade to Intl'l first / business for free, or do you have to fork over a set amount? With my airline (US/HP) we are charged a little bit for domestic first and a little more for Int'l Envoy...just curious. Hope you had a great time! My wife and I are using my bennies to go to Spain for a week or so next month, so this was a nice read! Hopefully we'll be in Envoy on the A333.

That was one thing I didn't like about working for ZW, we had to pay to sit in f/c for domestic. Is it still 20 per leg?

I love nonreving on my airline, its free and best of all, if there are no medallions (which is usually impossible) you get f/c for free domestically. I am still a little fuzzy on international flights, but I believe that the only thing we pay are departure and arrival taxes and we are automatically upgraded if there is space available.

XJR



Look ma' no hands!
User currently offlineCrjflyer35 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 668 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (6 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 7963 times:



Quoting XJRamper (Reply 16):
Is it still 20 per leg?

Yeah, still $20 a leg domestically, though you rarely get a chance to sit up front unless it's a redeye with how quickly US will upgrade someone for free. Int'l is $100, but I figure it's worth it for a flight over 5 hours.



Ok, wait for the RJ to pass, cleared to push tail south Mike, and you're cleared to spin #2 in the push.
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