LYChemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 904 posts, RR: 3 Posted (3 years 3 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11708 times:
I received the dreaded phone call from an elderly parent living alone 4,000 miles away at 3 AM; my mother telling me that she had fallen, was in pain and heading to the hospital. She asked that I try to come as soon as possible. Having just returned 3 months before I was not too excited with the prospect but duty calls.
Because the fares seemed reasonable. I did not want to use up an Award ticket.
I looked on Expedia for the best fares. I needed a ticket valid at least 3 months in the event I had to stay a long time. The cheapest at $600 was JET Airways connecting to SN Brussels via Brussels. I love Indian food and JET looks great. But JET only give 50% mileage credit to American Airlines frequent flyer accounts for Y class travel and zilch on United. The return flight left at 6 AM, too early for a night owl.
I needed 6,000 miles on my Delta Airlines account for a free European award ticket and saw that Alitalia were offering a fare of $680 via Rome. However the flight to Rome was on Delta and when someone told me Delta serve OREO cookies as desert on their flights to Europe I decided I did not want to risk an attack of Air Rage in mid - air with jail time in an Italian prison.
Air Canada also offered a fare of $600 via Montreal or Toronto. The flight to Geneva originates in Toronto with a stop in Montreal so I picked the Montreal connection. I would get United miles and could change dates for a fee of $150. My father had lived in Montreal in the late 1950s for 6 months; he had applied for Political Asylum but they turned him down and told him to leave ASAP. This trip would at least give me the chance to get a quick glimpse of Montreal, where I nearly grew up. My father had always told me that it was freezing cold there.
I had 3 hours to connect in Montreal; ample time for a relaxing and stressless connection. I arrived at the gate and saw my plane. As I approached the gate I saw that no, this plane was 1 hour late and heading to Toronto. We were told that the flight to Montreal would also be delayed to bad weather between Newark and Montreal.
Here is the small commuter flight operated by JAZZ. It's a Canadair 100. There were only about 20 passengers boarding.
The weather at Newark was really nice. Here is the flight to Toronto departing.
Our flight finally arrived 2 1/2 hours late. By now it was obvious that I would miss my connection to Geneva and I was hoping they would put me on Lufthansa to Munich. The Agent told me that there was a chance I would make my connection but I did not believe him. All passengers connecting to Frankurt were put on to the Geneva flight as it was clear they would miss their connections.
I was upgraded to C to Montreal. The aircraft was a Canadair 705. Instead of 2 / 2 seating C class seating is 1 / 2. I had a seat all to myself.
Here the plane is arriving. I was thrilled to see it. The flight was full.
Most people in C were Swedish executives heading to a pharmaceutical conference in Montreal. I was served apple juice in a real glass (wow) and peanuts. Here is a picture of C class, the peanuts and the nice glass. Now I know how the "other half lives." Life can be so beautiful. In the meantime I was biting my nails, fearing that I was about to spend the night in Montreal.
The 2 crew members, a young lady and young guy were fluent in French Canadian and English. The way they speak French to me is quite exotic and I was at least entertained listening. The entertainment video system is very good but I think Y class have to pay. I was too nervous to bother. The 50 minute flight was noisy and bumpy. The steward warned us that we may not make the Geneva flight. However those heading to Newfoundland had nothing to worry about.
We landed in Montreal at 8.30 PM. The GVA flight was leaving at 8.45 PM. We had to first go through Canadian Customs. A trolley car was waiting for us. The Customs guy let me through at 8.50 PM. The door to the international gates was shut. I looked at the departure board and to my shock saw that the flight to GVA had "departed on time."
I felt sick. What an idiot I am, I said to myself. I should have taken SWISS nonstop for $700 but because I wanted some excitement in my life I chose Air Canada. In the end, I got more excitement than I had bargained for. This was only the beginning.
Continental was $2,000 because their tickets are only valid 1 month. I E mailed them that they were not competitive and when I checked they were extending their tickets to GVA, now to 3 month validity from 1 month.
The others were also depressed. There were about 10 of us. No one told us what to do. We all asked ourselves "so what do we do now?" We decided that we would have to pass passport control and pick up our luggage.
The lines were long. An AF 747, a KLM DC-10, a Transat flight from Cuba and us had just landed. There was a big sign welcoming us to Montreal for the "Pharmaceutical Conference." How cute. During the 45 minute wait to pass through Passport Control, a Swedish guy asked me "you were in Business Class. Don't you think it's disgraceful that there is no express line for business class passengers?' I was completely numb from this question. Being a peasant, I had no idea that F or C passengers have special Express lines through customs. I did not want him to know that I was a "fake C class passenger who had been upgraded." Well I responded ...."I should not even be here. I missed my connection."
I picked up my luggage and was told to go to the Air Canada ticket office. There was a Swiss couple with their teenage son. All they did all the way to GVA was read books; they never uttered one word to each other. They were sent to the Travel Lodge, an old motel. A middle aged couple from New Jersey traveling to Frankfurt, a German father and son and I were sent to the Hilton Gardens. We were very lucky.
Here is a picture of the hotel.
I was given a $15 voucher for dinner, $7 for breakfast and $10 for lunch. I was routed the next evening through Frankfurt on AC / LH. I asked if it would be faster through Zurich? Why responded the Agent. OK I got the hint. Shutup.
The hotel dining room was closed but I was able to buy a delicious tuna red pepper sandwich. I got to my room at 11.15 PM. I put on the tele and woke up the next morning at 9.45 AM with my clothes and shoes still on, the television and lights on. My mouth still tasted fishy as I had not brushed or flossed my teeth. Breakfast was served till 10AM so I ran downstairs as fast as I could.
I had a beautiful view of Montreal from my room.
I was really happy as I could now show off to all my friends that I had visited Montreal. I don't know why but I had taken my swimming trunks with me. The hotel had a beautiful heated pool and jacuzzi so I went for a swim. In the internet room I met the German boy who was busy doing his homework. His dad went into town to visit the city.
At lunch I met up with the couple from New Jersey. I was pretty impressed when I saw that they each had their own laptop computers. But what really impressed me was that they had bright red plastic EMIRATES luggage tags. These two were clearly world travelers. All I had was a paper Air Canada tag.
I then decided to go to the airport early to visit the beautiful Marriot hotel. I was told that Air Canada do not send their stranded passengers to this hotel as it is a bit too fancy / expensive. Here is a picture.
From upstairs I had a nice view of the airport. I was pretty distressed when I saw SWISS leaving for Zurich without me. It's a code share with AC so I don't see why they did not put me on this flight. I would have arrived in GVA 6 hours earlier.
A picture of the airport.
The flight to Frankfurt was full. There were many members of an Indian tribe on the flight; they told me which tribe but I forgot. They specified that they were not from India but from Quebec; as if I did not know. I think they said the Iroquis tribe. It was interesting listening to their language. I started thinking of the John Wayne western movies. Here is the 777.
The seats were comfortable with good legroom. The only thing I did not like was the "mood lighting." It's OK to put it on after dinner but the darkness depressed me. The choice of entertainment was good. We got a newspaper which was a nice touch but I read it in 10 minutes.
The French lady next to me who has lived in Quebec since 40 years started a phone conversation on her cell phone. She complained that she had a Lufthansa ticket and found herself on an Air Canada plane. The conversation went like this ,,,,"I hate Air Canada... I expected I would be on Lufthansa. I also like Swissair (they went out of business years ago). " Anyway she told me all about the political situation in Quebec and that many people had fled to Toronto.
The meal was mediocre. Here is a picture.
The starter was better than the lettuce one gets on the US airlines and on Swiss. The chicken was good. But the desert, a cheap wrapped chocolate brownie was not very enjoyable. I ate it all and I hated every single bite. I was very distressed that there was no cheese. I thought that a flight from French Quebec would at least offer some cheese. Even the US airlines like AA, Delta now serve cheese.
What bothered me somewhat was having to eat dinner (somewhere over Newfoundland) in the dark. I like a well lit cabin. I could barely see what I was eating. Here is a picture. I also noticed that the paper cups were so tiny so I had to ask for 2 orange juices.
The crew were mostly Quebecers; very well groomed and friendly. Breakfast was great. A delicious banana muffin. And the coffee was great. When I asked for a second cup the hostess told me "that's very funny. The coffee is called Second Cup." It's the Canadian version of Starbucks. They issue shares which pay an annual dividend of 15%. Not bad. I invested $1,000 bucks as a joke. The company is very small.
In Frankfurt I had 2 hours to connect. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get to the gate. First I got lost as the signeage was not easy to follow for a simple person like me.
The people at security in Frankfurt seem to work in "slow motion" and there are not enough of them. It is not a pleasant airport to connect. Last time I was in a terminal with hardly any toilets. This seemed a new terminal which was more pleasant.
The Lufthansa 737 was empty. The crew were very nice. We were served a delicious cream cheese fish sandwich on a cheese roll. However I was devastated that Lufthansa have now eliminated the traditional mini chocolate caramel TWIX bar. Here is a picture.
Air Canada only fly to GVA in the winter 4 times a week. I had to stay longer and paid $150 to change the date. Then I got a call that my 96 year old aunt had to go to the hospital as she caught the Shingles. Again I had to change the return for another $150. Some airlines now charge $250 so I was happy about the fee and the ability to change the dates twice. However the air ticket ended up costing me $900. I was a fool not to have used an Award.
I had 2 suitcases. Air Canada do not charge for the 2nd suitcase. BA, Virgin charge about $50 and CO now I believe charge $30. Before leaving I went to the airport restaurant from where one can get great views.
I was surprised to see that Qatar Airways operate a small Airbus in the winter. Here is the AC 767 arriving.
The flight was about 60% full. There was quite a large crowd who arrived from Beirut on MEA and connected onto our flight. They tended to liven up the atmosphere on board. Boarding was very relaxed and civilised unlike my previous experience on CO where the purser yelled at us at 9 AM (too early for me) to hurry up and sit down so that we can leave on time.
I had 3 seats to myself. On Expedia I noticed that some seats have 31" , 32" and even 33" legroom. I picked 32" as 33" were booked. When I boarded I noticed that the seat pockets had not been cleaned. I found a dirty napkin and plastic hidden inside my seat pocket. In the seat pocket next to me I found a stirer. Here is a picture of the goodies I discovered. I reported it to the Purser who took note. What a sneak.
I regretted not picking the window seats next to me. The 2 ladies had 2 seats to themselves which made me somewhat jealous.
The view was spectacular as the Mont Blanc today was not covered by clouds. Again the meal was mediocre.
The starter was OK and so was the chicken. But the desert was a disaster. A milky creamy sickening liquid. However the peach was edible. Whoever chooses the deserts at Air Canada should be jailed. I wonder if it's one person or a committee of 10 tasters.
I started reading the magazine. After 5 minutes the articles and pictures looked familiar. Even though we were in November the magazine in my seat pocket was still from October. I was able to find the November issue 3 seats down.
The snack for an 8 + hour flight; a spinach cheese wrap was measly.
We arrived in Montreal in a depressing rainfall.
The plane was continuing on to Toronto.
I had to pass US Customs in Montreal which was a pain. You do not see your suitcases but they take a picture o them. I had to wait to have a picture taken of my 2 suitcases. Then I was allowed to go.
By this time I was starving. The food options are very disappointing. I expected that in Quebec I would see delicious French pastry and French style sandwiches. The food looked so awful that I ended up having a Burger King hamburger.
I was surprised that the plane to New York, La Guardia would be a baby Embraer 175. The 1 hour flight was noisy and bumpy; only about 1/4 full. There was 1 steward.
Flights to Newark were 2 hours late due to weather. It seems that Newark is more affected by weather delays than La Guardia.
I arrived at La Guardia and freaked out when only 1 of my suitcases arrived. The next day I had to call Air Canada in India as they handle the lost baggage. After 5 days I was told that there was only a tiny chance of ever finding my suitcase ever again. It had wondered off onto the horizon forever. I was devastated. I don't know anyone who has ever lost a suitcase "forever." Especially as the suitcase had 4 address labels on 2 handles.
After speaking to AC in India every day for 2 months I finally was contacted by a human being in Montreal who told me they had found a suitcase with Davidoff Cigars. I told them that it was not mine. Shortly after I received a letter telling me that because I had not kept many receipts I would receive compensation of $1,167.44 though to replace all my stuff will cost me 4 times more. I won't discuss the issue further here.
The lesson: buy baggage insurance and try to fly NONSTOP.
IrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 1727 posts, RR: 6 Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 11366 times:
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter): However the flight to Rome was on Delta and when someone told me Delta serve OREO cookies as desert on their flights to Europe I decided I did not want to risk an attack of Air Rage in mid - air with jail time in an Italian prison.
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter): The steward warned us that we may not make the Geneva flight. However those heading to Newfoundland had nothing to worry about.
This TR was, by far, one of my most favorite reads on this forum - very witty and well-written with a sense of humor. It nicely sums up a lot of the very real and very common experiences that the majority of us "common-folk" travelers in Y endure on intercontinental flights. I reveled at reading you recount familiar reactions that I would have had, such as: "getting more excitement than you bargained for," watching airline meals become more sub-par with the disappearance of the little things like Twix Bars and Cheese, lousy banana muffin breakfasts, dirty seat pockets, raising your eyebrows upon thinking, "there's actually an express line for C passengers?" and being cautious about revealing your "real" identity as a fake C passenger, wishing you could be housed in better hotels like the Marriott, and of course, observing the nature of/attempting to befriend those who get stranded with you.
It's very thrilling; I definitely lived vicariously through you here. In short, this TR will definitely reach out to the many other "peasant" travelers who, like yourself, have watched the industry continue to rot over the past decade and wind up on the receiving end of very unfortunate circumstances. The news about your luggage are very tragic to hear, but you do end with a great kicker in "lesson" that nicely wraps up the experience. It is sad that sometimes we have to make choices that try to accommodate constraints like ticket change flexibilities, award travel redemption options, for the sake of family emergencies, that in the end wind up costing us more than we would have liked
Anyhow, on the positive side of things, I hope other readers appreciate this as much as I did, because this was a very refreshing read, a nice change of scene from reading the same, often repetitive, reports about flying high, executive style replete with the limousines, lounges, and lie-flat seats, caviar, blah blah blah (might get burned for this)
rcaq From Austria, joined Aug 2009, 98 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 11228 times:
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter): Anyhow, on the positive side of things, I hope other readers appreciate this as much as I did, because this was a very refreshing read, a nice change of scene from reading the same, often repetitive, reports about flying high, executive style replete with the limousines, lounges, and lie-flat seats, caviar, blah blah blah (might get burned for this)
The difference between of what you call "High Flyers" and Y-Class pax reports, in general, is the time spent on uploading a well presented TR, ranging from HQ pictures to some useful piece of information in the text.
It's no doubt that some people tend to be too picky, simply expect too much from airlines, but again, my general impression is that those sharing their High-Life experiences here - be it on behalf of their company, their mileage status or w/e - just take their time making their reports as interesting as this one.
As for me, I enjoyed this TR just as much as you did - Thanks to the OP for sharing. I agree with my preposter's opinion on the quality of your trip report.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1705 posts, RR: 42 Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 11131 times:
Nice report on an eventful journey. I think you were lucky to get the triple seven (even -300ER) on YUL-FRA instead of the old 767 direct to GVA, but then again you lost a day, so it's not too good.
Shame about your luggage on the journey back, let me get this straight: did you see the photo of both of your pieces of luggage in YUL customs or not? If so, then they were lost on the short hop down to LGA, which is weird, sounds like somebody nicked them at either YUL or LGA.
That compensation doesn't sound too bad actually, I never carry stuff that's nowhere near a thousand bucks worth. Ten dollar T-shirts and thirty dollar jeans are good enough for me
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter): when someone told me Delta serve OREO cookies as desert on their flights to Europe I decided I did not want to risk an attack of Air Rage in mid - air with jail time in an Italian prison.
This must be the oddest reason I've ever seen for not booking a particular flight/itinerary. Care to elaborate, what's so horrible about Oreos?
MD-11 actually. Even NW finally retired these old birds.
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter): I was pretty distressed when I saw SWISS leaving for Zurich without me. It's a code share with AC so I don't see why they did not put me on this flight. I would have arrived in GVA 6 hours earlier.
Maybe it was full. If not, then you could've insisted on it a little more sternly - usually the agents will just book you on whatever is the first option that shows up on their screen as most people are happy with that, but if you proactively come up with your routings (keeping in mind the preference on company or alliance flights, hence they'd book you on BA only as a last resort) you can usually have it your way.
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter):
In Frankfurt I had 2 hours to connect. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get to the gate. First I got lost as the signeage was not easy to follow for a simple person like me.
Ahh, Frankfurt. It can be a mess or an absolute dream, depending on where you arrive and where you leave from. Like somebody once put it "Frankfurt is one of those airports that's so messy that you just don't understand how things work at all, but usually they end up working very well!".
Quoting LYChemsa (Thread starter): I was surprised to see that Qatar Airways operate a small Airbus in the winter.
They do the A319 on DOH-ARN as well, although that one will be upgraded to A330 soon. DOH-CPH will be launched on an Airbus as well. Those are some seriously long flights.
AC least used to do a transatlantic flight from LHR on A319 as well, I think it was to YSJ (or maybe Halifax?).
LYChemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 904 posts, RR: 3 Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 9875 times:
Thanks for the nice comments. Writing about the trip is better than going to see a Shrink. The permanent loss of my luggage somewhat traumatised me. I am sure that I will recover psychologically in about a year's time.
Actually I was not joking about the banana muffin. It really was delicious with the "Second Cup" coffee. That and the Jacuzzi were the best part of the trip.
Thanks for your input.
LOL good catch about the DC-10. You are right. It's an MD-11, though they too are getting somewhat old now. Yes, I am not kidding. I detest OREO cookies. I find that serving any cookie as a desert on an 8 hour flight is insulting. At least AA now serve a carrot cake, a real desert on flights to / from Europe. Also Air France keep up the French tradition of serving a good sized / edible / filling desert.
When I take the CO flight at 9 AM I have to wake up at 4.30 AM. Saying good bye, half asleep to my mother at 5.15 AM is also stressful as it takes 15 minutes of crying, kissing and hugging. Psychologically draining. To then be woken up by a screaming Pursar on the intercom to hurry up and sit down .......
The Swedish execs arrived on SK. There are not many international flights into Montreal. Most of the international flights are from Toronto. It's a bit of a provincial city. However I liked the relaxing quiet atmosphere of the place compared to hectic, noisy New York. I think it's a nice place to live from what I understand. I hope to go back one day, maybe by bus.
I did not see the picture of my suitcases. The custom officer told me that he saw them. I believe it shows up on his computer.
Yes, I agree. I am convinced the suitcase was stolen between US Customs and La Guardia. How can a suitcase be lost with 4 address labels, even if the destination sticker was torn off. Because I risked going away for over 2 months I took nearly all my clothes with me. A nice new blazer costs about $500; Bally shoes I bought on sale at $250 now cost $400. It all adds up. When I was 20 years old all I had were $10 tee shirts, but when you get older you can no longer run around in a $10 tee shirt.
What a real pain in the arse. You can only get on with things, but you always think somehiow a bag will always find its way home. I'm young and I often pack valuables.. to empathise, it is traumatic. I had all my money and some precious family objects stolen on a train from Budapest to Praha (despite being cautious - I'm rather savvy) and after I felt drained and quite violated. Eventually with my best friend at side I picked myself up and got on with it... lesson learnt.
I think your reports document well the omnipresent downgrading of the flying experience. Its nice to see it through your observant eyes;;; from shouting stewards to gelatinous deserts. Perhaps you should treat yourself a trip on one of the Asian/ Gulf carriers - QR or SQ and re-experience and console yourself that the pleasure of flying is still alive and mostly well!
Thanks again - and I hope your mother is doing better
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3): Ahh, Frankfurt. It can be a mess or an absolute dream, depending on where you arrive and where you leave from. Like somebody once put it "Frankfurt is one of those airports that's so messy that you just don't understand how things work at all, but usually they end up working very well!".
I transferred twice at FRA and it went very smooth both times. But a lot has to do with the fact that it was a transfer between two European flights I guess. FRA does look like an old airport, but I like the fact that the planes are pulled up really close to the windows of the terminal.
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3): flying nonstop is boring, the more convoluted the routing is the more fun it is as well!
I rarely fly nonstop myself and the one time my luggage was lost was in fact on a nonstop flight (AMS-LAX). They lost my luggage (and of half the plane in fact) at LAX. Thankfully, they found it later that day.
LYChemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 904 posts, RR: 3 Reply 10, posted (3 years 3 months 2 days ago) and read 7541 times:
Thanks. My mother and aunt are back to normal. Thank goodness.
Appreciate your feedback.
You hit the nail on the head. I feel "violated." I did not even realise that I was attached to some of my things. Like a cheap SPEEDO raincoat that they don't make anymore.
As to QR, they actually had a flight from New York to Geneva. Unfortunately it only lasted for about 9 months. I just missed it. SQ do fly from New York to Frankfurt though so maybe I will have a chance to try them.
Hi CRJ 900:
Thanks for pointing it out. Now I remember no charge if you have your own equipment. I liked the entertainment and the maps.
I discovered that there is a big difference between delayed and lost luggage.
I also noticed from the new terminal in Frankfurt that it is very close to the planes. It's fantastic watching them pass by because they get so close. Have not seen this anywhere else.
flightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 848 posts, RR: 4 Reply 11, posted (3 years 3 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6988 times:
I recall you mentioning in one of my own reports about your lost baggage!!! I'm assuming this is the same incident or is AC in the habit of constantly losing your luggage! I don't even want to think of lost luggage, at least not when I'm on the outbound. On the inbound i'm usually light anyway, but still luggage is luggage.
The trip report was hilarious. What a long dreadful way with delays to deal with, especially when you are already pressed for time. I'm glad to hear you loved one is doing fine, and it was very nice of you to make this trip to be with your mother.
Yes Qatar flew the Airbus A330-200s on the JFK-GVA-DOH route until they deployed the Boeing 777-300ERs to fly nonstop. I was actually checking for some fares today and now realise they will be flying the route with the Boeing 777-200LRs.
I could not help but squirm when I saw the pic of the tuna sandwhich lying directly on the tray table without a napkin below. I hope you didn't get sick after it eating it that way. Lufthansa is really nice, at least I liked them, however Frankfurt airport is an absolute horror to transit through.
lychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 904 posts, RR: 3 Reply 12, posted (3 years 3 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6765 times:
Actually, I really liked the Lufthansa sandwich. Sometimes I am sarcastic so it's difficult to figure out if I mean it or not. It was even better when they used to accompany the sandwich with a small Twix bar. I won't be surprised when they stop serving sandwiches one day.
I agree not very hygenic putting it on the tray table but my doctor told me that a few germs can be good for you.
Thank you for confirming to me that I am not crazy or unreasonable when I complain about Frankfurt Airport.