LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1736 posts, RR: 17 Posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 18353 times:
Fuel dump fares, what do we really know about them? Well for starters you have to be a complete maniac to in order to find them. And so was frankly the case for our fellow trip reporter, malt beverage connoisseur, Fedora spokesman, and friend FlyingFinn76. While spending most his days on the road, battling faulty computers, or cursing at an airline notoriously known for their sudden and unpredictable schedule changes, and allegedly having a metrosexual [former] CEO. His nights are either spent recovering in a sleep deprived coma state, working up the next story for entertaining his audience, or in this case practicing a certain black magic of airfare bargain hunting, commonly known as ”trick it”. The complex nature of these methods have yet only been mastered by a handful of skilled and devoted addicts/professionals, and the end results are simply staggering.
By implementing a series of carefully selected destination and routing combinations, fuel surcharges and even the parts of the airfare itself disappear like magic! Over the course of this year our Finn in the skies have presented us some astonishing deals reaching out to all corners of the world, some of which being simply too good to be refused.
On a dark January afternoon in 2012, this happened to be just the case. After a long and intensive night of combating booking engines, The Finn finally presented his victory in the form of three killer deals, one of which particularly caught my interest.
Booking & Preparation
The fare in question was an Aeroflot Open-Jaw ticket originating in Rome, with a destination stopover in Tokyo, before finally terminating at London’s Heathrow Airport. For the price of just €245 this was a bargain that just couldn’t be missed. After some extensive nagging, The Finn reluctantly gave me instructions in finding the fare. Having located it on Expedia, the good ’ole proper VISA Card (which btw now is long gone) made its appearance, before an e-ticket was issued straight to my inbox. This highly impulsive process was over in less than five minutes.
With the Rome and London ends still loose, finding suitable ”transfer flights” became my number one priority. On a glorious April evening in 2012, Expedia presented me an interesting six segment Lufthansa itinerary, so interesting in fact that it was booked right away. For a reasonable €200, I would be flying ARN-HAM-MUC-FCO/LHR-DUS-HAM-ARN, leaving me with some nice ”loungeovers” along the way.
Apart from the fact that this would be my first ever visit to The Land Of The Rising Sun (a country which for long have been high on my ”to-visit” list), a two night pitstop in Rome was chosen along the way. As for The Finn himself, we would be sharing the Economy Class confines on all four Aeroflot segments, making it our 2nd joint trip together. And to me, that also meant accessing the lounges as a companion thanks to his Flying Blue Gold – Skyteam Elite Plus status.
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1736 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 18534 times:
Monday September 17th 2012
I find myself once again at the departures hall of Arlanda Terminal 5. My home turfs. A place where people from all walks of life come to gather. The jetsetting businessmen off to sign a deal across the atlantic, the "Svenssons" going on their annual mainstream holiday of mediocrity, the refugee being deported back to his homeland where an uncertain future is to be faced. And then there's me. The "out-of-place" looking kid in the windbreaker jacket queueing up behind the Business Class counter, over washed with the judgemental looks from the passers by.
Check-In at Arlanda
"-Travel documents please", said the short haired middle aged woman as she waved me over. Traveling with luggage for the first time in months, I had all reason to use the counter this time, and as I handed over my passport I began hearing the ever so familiar typing sound. A thing that tickles my mind is the excessive typing that you so often hear at these manual counters. Given the modern days OLCI where the formalities are done with just the click of a mouse, one could only wonder what the extra typing is for. It's like they're writing an essay...
Soundlessly a paper boarding pass is printed, and my tiny shoulder bag receives a red *Priority tag before disappearing into the bowels of Arlanda. I thank the woman and head for security.
Security & Lounge at Arlanda
A clueless young gentleman stares long and confused at my boarding pass and frequent flyer card before hesitatingly pointing me towards the FastTrack security lane. I guess Tobias was right. Faster than my eye can blink, I find myself dumped into the vast expanses of the T5 tax-free mall.
Quickly I make way to the lounge, my time is limited and I'm hungry for breakfast. After entering through the swooshing glass doors, I find the place as notoriously packed as it's rumoured to be. I end up sharing table with a group of Swedish businessmen bound for Chicago in Economy. One of them was already hitting the wine at 8am in the morning... That's understandable if you're facing 10 hours in a middle seat at the last row of an A330.
The standard Scandinavian cold cuts breakfast. [archive picture]
LH2927 Stockholm – Hamburg
Duration: 1h 30m
Date: September 17th 2012
Seat & Class: 19F Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Canadair Regional Jet 900, D-ACNA
I turn up at the gate minutes before boarding. Instantly the GA spots my backpack and insists handing me a yellow "delivery at aircraft" tag. I explain to her that I flew the CR9 just a week earlier, but she refuses to listen… One by one we're called to the podium, where ID's are thoroughly inspected, before letting us board. This resulted in a very calm and civilised boarding process.
Isn't she a thing of beauty? The CRJ-900 flying me to Hamburg.
Two jolly smiling german girls greet me at the door as I board. A welcome change from SAS where the old grandmas just shrug and stare. The cabin is fitted with the old style seats, worn but very comfortable, they will soon be replaced by the notorious NEK.
Sufficient legroom at row 20.
SAS Norge at the adjoining gate.
Thanks to the seat blocking Lufthansa offer to Star Gold passengers, 20D remains empty despite the healthy load. We soon push back and taxi to runway 01L/19R. During the safety demo, I couldn't help noticing one of the stewardesses smiling and giggling. Either it was the passenger in 6D pulling a flirt, or maybe just part of the inhumane working conditions Euro Wings put on their employees, we'll never know.
Takeoff was quick and noisy. We experience quite some turbulence as we shoot up into the stormy skies.
Stormy skies as we climb to 40 000 feet.
Blue skies soon appear from my window, and almost instantly the girls are up and running down the aisle. I'm pleasantly surprised when breakfast is presented to me.
Yoghurt and muesli make up for brekkie today.
It takes a while until the drinks cart reaches my row. I opt for the usual OJ and coffee.
This is very generous for a 90 minute flight.
Having eaten the bread & cold cuts part of breakfast in the lounge, this muesli + yoghurt combo fits the bill perfectly. The OJ had a very nice and citrusy flavour, with hints of lemon zest. As for the coffee it tasted good, in fact you could even make out the beans, which is a welcome change from the chlorine infused rubbish SAS serve.
Cruising nicely at 40 000 feet.
Soon enough the girls come around to gather the trash. Interestingly I notice one of them handing out in-flight service surveys to some passengers. A businessman in 21C, and the sleeping girl in 19F receive them. Not me, the trip reporter with the big camera. Oh well Lufthansa just lost some good criticism from my side. A leg stretcher was soon on the agenda, skipping the lavatorial visit.
The cabin of this cramped CR9.
The remainder of this short flight was devoted listening to the mellow tunes of The Arctic Monkeys"-I ask why don't you catch proper crooks instead?" was the lyric quote stuck in my head, and before I knew it we were descending to Hamburg.
Kissing the tarmac at Hamburg Airport.
My connection in Hamburg was short. 30 minutes to be exact. To my slight fear we land five minutes late, and by making matters worse we pull up at a bus gate. Worryingly gazing at the clock, my Munich flight had already began boarding, and yet we're stuck here crammed in the aisle. Eventually a bus turn up, and we make some frustratingly long turns around the tarmac before pulling up at the terminal. It was now 10.45 and I cold hear the final call for the Munich flight being made over the PA. I panic, I run. Up the stairs and zig zag through the crowds of business travellers, before the gate lady spots me and smiles. "-Ah looks like you made it, you're the last one!"
LH2065 Hamburg – Munich
Duration: 1h 15m
Date: September 17th 2012
Seat & Class: 29F Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Airbus A320-211, D-AIPL
The boarding process can best be described as tranquil, as I’m the only person down the jetway. Once onboard I receive some curious looks from the fellow passengers. Supposedly they must've made an announcement about "connecting pax" over the PA. I find my seat on the 2nd last row, and immediately the plane pushes back.
"Wheels Up!" at 11.07
Quickly climbing towards cruising altitude.
The flight is near empty and uneventful. The crew springs out in the aisle, and soon I'm presented with the service offerings on this Category 1 flight.
A granola bar, white wine and coke. Perfect!
I gulp the coke, chew down the Corny and sip the wine. Everything tasted good, providing enough substance for this 1hr flight.
Cruising altitude midway through the flight.
I'm busy spending most of the flight flicking through the (less) Miles&More (cost) catalogue, and before I know it green bavarian fields appear down below.
I find myself in the terminal of Franz Josef Strauss airport. It's past noon and I'm hungry for lunch. Before heading off to my preferred G24 Senator Lounge, I paid a short visit to a lounge yet unexplored in my agenda.
The Lufthansa Senator Café
This seemingly oddball lounge used to be the old First Class lounge at MUC. As you'd imagine, the place was too small to cater the demands of today's First Class passengers. Once the current First Class Lounge had opened, Lufthansa made use of the space for the "loungette" that it is today.
Lounge overview. Seating capacity is maximum 10 guests.
Apart from a Barista ready to make your coffee of choice, the offerings consisted of light snacks and desserts.
I saved tummy space, and went over to the G24 lounge which left the warden with a slightly confused face.
Lufthansa Senator Lounge G24
The bouncer spots me, but refused to give eye contact. I crack a faux cough, and she reluctantly scans my BP. The tight connection in Hamburg had me slightly worried about my luggage, so I ask the desk lady if she can track it for me. "-Sure thing" she says, "it's all looking good on the computer, so your bag has probably made it". I thank her, and dig for lunch.
A fusion of Bavarian Leberkäse and cream spinach, along with rice and Indian Tandoori meatballs.
The businessman at the adjoining table was pigging it out, to which I saw no shame in doing so myself. Everything tasted perfect, and the meatballs had me completely full.
I look myself in the mirror behind the bar and decides that I should probably get a shave and a shower, after all those formalities were skipped this morning. I mozy over to the shower lady who gladly gives me a "room. I'm off to make another "Petteri Chew" which left me feeling more like a human.
Showered and fresh, I sit at the bar with a glass of Champagne. The barman recognises me from the last time, and we have a small chat. A large Bailey's is ordered, which I savour along with coffee and dessert before reluctantly dragging myself to Gate G26.
LH1847 Munich – Rome
Duration: 1h 35m
Date: September 17th 2012
Seat & Class: 6F Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Airbus A320-211, D-AIPR
Priority boarding is just being called as I turn up at gate. I flash the goldy plastic, and the gate lady gladly welcomes me over. The red light sounds as my BP is scanned "-Can this be my first ever op-up?" I think to myself. Sadly it's just a seat change, a bad one i.e. I am moved from my last row window seat, to 6A on the "sunny side". "-Great now my pictures are ruined…", I mutter.
Parked at gate.
Sufficient legroom at row 6.
What happens next, I'm sure you're all familiar with at this stage.
"Wheels Up!" at 15.07.
Climbing out, away from Munich.
I am among the first passengers to be served. The purser who spotted my gold tag at boarding was extra friendly. In fact so that he even offered to fold down, and place all items himself on my tray table.
Raspberry pie, coffee and TJ. A perfect afternoon snack.
Lufthansa once again failed to disappoint, the catering was perfect, in fact so that the friendly purser insisted on giving me a 2nd piece of pie. How could I turn down such a kind gesture? The pie ended up in my bag as I was just too full from lunch.
Cruising at altitude.
Cabin view after the usual leg stretcher.
Our initial descent to Fiumicino was announced by our female first officer, she would be the one behind the controls when bringing this A320 safely back to earth, and safe it was. Touchdown was as smooth and tender as a kiss on the cheek, shattering all my preconceived notions about the skills of female pilots.
Arriving at gate.
When In Rome…
I inhaled the humid, warm Mediterranean air as I waltzed up the jetway. Some thoughts of concern went through my head while making way to the baggage hall. "-Boy, I hope these two days won't be rough", I thought to myself. After all, my previous impressions of Italy hadn't been good, and the crookful allegations regarding the country capital only made matters worse.
I woke up from my thoughts as the belt roared to life. My small shoulder bag, wearing the distinct red *Priority was the first one off the belt. Paradoxically enough, luggage delivery at Rome proved to be a success.
The bag made it all the way despite the short connection at Hamburg.
Hotel La Locanda Del Manzoni Rome
Fast forward to 7.30pm. The Terravision brought my safely and cheaply to Termini, from which a sweaty 2-stop metro ride followed to Manzoni, from there my hotel was just a stone throw away.
The lady at check-in couldn't speak a word of english, and my italian was very poor. Through a series of gestures and "common words", I successfully obtain my key and pay the agreed upon rate of €99. A bargain price considering the location, and the ripoff average cost for a room in the city…
The room was small, simple, and clean. Good enough for my likings.
The bathroom, containing complimentary toiletries.
The hotel was by no means a Radisson Blu, which I've grown so fond of lately. However the place was simple, clean and comfortable, suiting my needs perfectly. The room even had its own front porch as it was located on "la terrazza".
I washed off, changed clothes, and hit town. Colosseum was just a few blocks away, and soon enough I was standing mesmerised in front of one of the greatest structures man has ever built. It was well past 9pm, but I was still full from lunch. I take an elongated walk around the area before settling for a reasonably priced restaurant, a stone-throw away from Colosseum.
Dinner tonight consist of Cannelloni, and red wine, lots of it since I accidentally ordered in a 1 litre carafe of the mediocre tasting "house wine". It would be a shame to throw away perfectly good wine, especially when you've paid for it. So I did like any self-respecting and patriotic Finn would've done. Down it. I am by no means a big drinker , but strangely the wine went down very well. In fact I didn't get near as drunk as originally feared, and I was left with a good nightcap.
Day 2 – In Rome
The barking of the neighbour's pitbull wakes me up in the morning. It's 8am, and the hangover is surprisingly nonexistent. I peacefully conduct my morning rituals before hitting the breakfast. "-Today's gonna be a long day, so I'd better load up", I think to myself. Breakfast was a typical Roman affair, consisting of Cappuccino and Cornetti. Not exactly that ubiquitous pig-out style extravaganza buffet you'd get in a large chain hotel, but I found it perfectly adequate. Maybe it was the excessive use of sugar in the Cornetti which gave the sensation of being stuffed to the brim.
A full day of sightseeing awaited, and here are the highlights:
Colosseum. Located right at my doorstep.
The place was packed with tourists, so please ignore the facepalming bloke spoiling my shot.
Some old ruins which I can’t remember the name of.
Believe it or not, but that’s actually a hospital!
Fontana Di Trevi. Packed with tourists as always...
Some Spaghetti Alle Vongole was my lunch today.
A roman classic: The Original Fiat 500.
Piazza Del Popolo.
The Vatican City.
A few days before setting off to Rome I contacted my friend Cristiano (who you may remember from such reports as this one: SAS, Lounges & Lovely Bavaria: ARN-CPH-MUC (pics) (by LH4116 May 4 2012 in Trip Reports) ) to let him know that I would be swinging by Rome. He was more than happy to have me over. By 8pm he swung by on his Vespa to pick me up at the hotel. In the true Roman cliché spirit, we took a few turns around Colosseum before speeding off to the restaurant in the outskirts of the city centre where his wife Claudia was expecting us.
What followed was a lovely evening with an amazing Pizza alla Romana, some good wine, Limoncello, and great company. We had a marvellous time together, and hopefully it won’t be the last. Cristiano was more than happy to have me back in Rome for a longer visit, ”-You must come here for at least a week”, he said with great enthusiasm. ”-But you have to bring your girlfriend next time. Rome is a city meant to be shared, you know.”
Claudia rode her scooter back home, exhausted from a long day at work. Cristiano insisted in taking me back to my hotel on his Vespa, to which I could only comply. Another scenic and memorable ride followed as we took an extra tour around the monuments missed on my walking tour earlier that day. Back at my hotel, I lie on the bed and instantly fall asleep. Partly for the exhaustion of a day’s worth of walking, and partly for the Limoncello.
Wednesday September 19th 2012
The familiar marimba tone sounds through my hotel room at 6am. The slight hung’ish-ness leaves me snoozing for another thirty minutes before reluctantly making the effort in dragging myself up from bed. I shower, dress and pack up my remaining belongings before heading down for breakfast. As I walk out on my porch, I inhale the musky scent of the morning air which Rome has legendarily made itself famous for. Still full from last night, I settle for a modest Cornetti and Espresso. I leave the key to the muscular man working the nightshift. He checks to see that I’ve paid the bill before giving me the thumbs-up.
I walk through the empty streets to Termini Station. It’s an odd but pleasant experience to see this bustling metropolis in such a peaceful state. I make it to the station just in time to catch the bus to the airport. The feared traffic jams were nowhere to be seen, and we cruise nicely along the highway until the airport comes in sight.
Check-In & Security at Fiumicino
The Departures Hall at Fiumicino Terminal 3.
I arrive early. Early so that the Aeroflot counters have yet to be opened. I sit down for a while at McDonald’s, enjoying the views of the tarmac with a latte in hand. I return downstairs just after 9am to find the counters open, with a zig-zagging line formed behind the Economy Class counter. I am faced with one of my pet-peeves of air travel. Queueing. I try my luck at the Business Class counter, waving my Star Alliance Gold card to the agent. Surprisingly she welcomes me with a smile, and lets me pick my desired seats off the screen. I dump the bag, thank her, and leave.
This one is for our friend Philip!
In-spite of the crowded terminal, I manage to pass through security fairly quick and soon I find myself dumped just in front of passport control. ”-Where the hell are you?”, a text from the Finn pops up on my phone. Ten minutes later, I see him marching towards me, down the endless hallway leading to passport control. He greets me with a firm, steady handshake, and a ”-Hellooo” in his ever so funny yet cynic fashion.
The usual Fedora is replaced by an Airbus branded baseball cap, and for a man who’s spent the night on a rough concrete floor he seem surprisingly rested. This as opposed to the grumpy, sleep-deprived state he seems to find himself in all too often these days. I suppose the army must’ve taught him well.
We clear passport control and catch the train to the non-Schengen G satellite.
Alitalia Freccia Alata Lounge Giotto
We arrive at a lounge complex, forming the very core of this satellite terminal. There are two Alitalia lounges, one upstairs and one downstairs which The Finn insist we use. Entering a SkyTeam Lounge appeared to be a fairly complex affair. The Finn handed his Flying Blue Gold card to the agent who gave it a well educated look. She then ran behind the counter, made a phone call, signed some papers, made another phone call, had The Finn sign a paper, before finally granting us access. All this without ever bothering to take a proper glance at my boarding pass.
The F&B section combined with the staffed bar. The first thing you see as you walk in.
One of the many seating areas in this lounge.
The lounge felt chic, exclusive, modern and minimalistic with its parquet floors and plush calf leather armchairs. The food offerings included only light finger foods such as mini-frittatas, Cornetti and sandwiches. The non-alcoholic drink selection was extensive, and all alcoholic beverages had to be ordered from the barman behind the counter. This lounge lacked the decadence and excess we see in most lounges these days, which frankly was a welcome change.
The Finn and I order up some sweet lightly sparkling dessert wine from the bar, sit down at two empty armchairs, and say cheers. We have a great trip ahead of us.
In addition to the wine, I settle for some mini-frittatas.
On the agenda this morning is one hour’s worth of lounging. We spend the time catching up, laughing at The Finn’s jokes, and drinking. Yes alcohol, at ten in the morning. Sitting here with the morning drinker himself, it would be rude not to have a glass or two. ”-Time’s up!”, says The Finn. We collect our belongings and walk towards the exit. ”-Arrivederchi!”, The Finn exclaims as we march out the door. The lounge lady looking flabbergasted squeaks out a silent ”-goodbye”.
Did I ever say that The Finn is not only a FlyingFinn, but also a FunnyFin. The man cracks jokes which can have even the most demeanour of creatures giggle like a schoolgirl. This happened to be just the case as we rode the elevator up to gate level. As I desperately search my bag for my passport, I accidentally whip it out on the floor. ”-Well looks like you found it”, he says with a jokeful tone as he picks it up and looks at it, ”-You know Jonas, in West Africa people would pay thousands for this”.
The man sharing our elevator burst out in laughter, giggling like a schoolgirl exposed to the word penis. The man would not stop laughing, and every attempt by The Finn to make a conversation ended abruptly by the man giving brief answers before turning his head away. Either he was grasping for air, or he was too embarrassed for laughing at a stranger’s joke.
SU264 Rome – Moscow
Duration: 3h 20m
Date: September 19th 2012
Seat & Class: 28F Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Airbus A321-211, VQ-BEI
After the elevator incident, we turn up at the packed gate. In the midst of this crowd, Alex comes towards us waving and cheering. So here we are three a.netters, exchanging the usual pleasantries. It was to my slight surprise I discovered that this would be Alex’s first long haul flight. Soon enough boarding is called, and we all clog the gate.
The A321 operating our first leg to Moscow.
The freshness of the cabin is what strikes the most me as I walk through the door. -”Hmm, this will be a comfortable flight”, I think to myself as I walk all the way to row 28. To my pleasure, The Finn will be occupying the window seat behind me, enabling us to blissfully exchange words during the flight. I settle in to my seat, and find it strangely comfortable.
Mandatory knee shot. A comfy 32 inches of legroom on this bird.
Parked next to a Delta A330.
Our departure was delayed due to a sick passenger whose stretcher needed to be carried in through the back door. This resulted in a missed takeoff slot, and 45 extra minutes on the tarmac. The plane eventually took off.
Takeoff over the sea.
Climbing out towards our cruising altitude.
The service began almost instantly after the captain’s decision to extinguish the seatbelt sign. A young blonde stewardess comes down from Business Class to welcome The Finn by name, and ask for his meal preference. I’m left slightly baffled by Aeroflot’s performance in taking that extra step in recognising elites onboard. On Star Alliance this is unheard of, particularly on Lufthansa who finds great pleasure in pissing off their life giving HON Circle members.
The service on Aeroflot was agonisingly slow, inefficient and disorganised. First a drinks round was made. This followed by the collection of trash. Then comes the meal, but no drinks follow. What on earth are they thinking? Are they trying to replicate a restaurant? By the time the meals are served, the drinks are already finished, and we’re left with nothing to wash down the food. This highly flawed service delivery process became evident on all four flights with Aeroflot.
I opt for my usual diet coke.
The lunch served on this three hour flight.
By the time the cart reaches my row, I’m left with with the fish option. Fine by me I suppose. The starter consists of a piece of hot smoked, and raw salmon on a bed of iceberg lettuce and a wedge of lemon. The entrée is a fillet of wild salmon covered with hollandaise sauce, served with roasted vegetables and potatoes. Dessert was a generic faux praline.
The meal tasted good, but not spectacular. I had expected the meals to be much worse on Aeroflot. The starter was amazing, I’m a real sucker for salmon which only had me craving for more. Lucky for me The Finn (I was now occupying the aisle seat on his row) passed me his untouched piece of raw salmon. ”-Take it. It’s filled with nasty worms anyway”, he says with a paranoid tone. The entree tasted equally good, except for the slightly dry wild salmon. I much prefer the farmed ones. The sauce however made up for that.
Trays are collected and coffee is served. The faux pralines gave the sensation of chewing cold wax, and the coffee was bland with a hint of chlorine.
The reminder of the flight was uneventful, some chatting with The Finn rounded rounded with writing a few lines of this report, on my trusty old gal iPhone 3Gs. The only proper iPhone ever made! Soon descent starts, and I move back to my original seat.
Coming in for approach over rural Russia.
A smooth touchdown.
We docked in the late afternoon sun to our gate at the D Terminal of Sheremetyevo Airport. We squeeze ourselves out of the plane, and follow the signs to the transfer desk. The Finn gets stuck because OLCI messed up his home-printed boarding pass. We eventually proceed to a rather pointless passport control, followed by an even more pointless stamping of the boarding pass, and a security check. At last we were free.
The bright and modern airside of Terminal D.
The Finn insists in stopping by at the tax-free store to pick up what he calls ”Hotel Vodka”. He ended up going for a rather exotic chilli pepper vodka. Paying for it turned out to be a hassle, apparently some chinese guy was slowing things down at the register, and I overheard The Finn muttering his priceless ”-Bloody Hell!” and -”Jesus!” curses. I couldn’t help but giggling.
For reasons of solidarity, and uncertainty regarding the access rules after the recent Flying Blue Aeroflot Lounge snafu, The Finn chose to skip the lounge visit in favour for a visit at a traditional Russian restaurant by our gate. The food was cheap, the wifi free and fast. If only all airports could be like this, then we wouldn’t need this constant crave for lounges.
I settled for a pirogue, and some pork soup.
SU264 Moscow – Tokyo
Arrival: 10.20 (+1)
Duration: 9h 25m
Date: September 19th 2012
Seat & Class: 34A Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Airbus A330-343E, VQ-BEL
Boarding is a tranquil and orderly affair, like you would expect when the majority of passengers are japanese. I’m about to board my first A330, the Ford Fiesta of long haul airliners. The Finn sits in 15K which means that we won’t see much of each other during the flight. The cabin is modern, fresh, and clad with the ubiquitous light brown seat fabric. I soon settle into my seat 34A. The cushion is hard, lumbar support mediocre, IFE box surprisingly non-existent.
The legroom was adequate enough for my liking. Or ”Lagom”, as we say back home.
A blanket and pillow had been placed on each seat.
Aeroflot offers a state of the art Panasonic AVOD entertainment system.
Without warning, the plane rattled about as the push-back commenced. A cheesy safety video was played on the screens, and before we knew it the Rolls Royce engines roared to life as we thundered down the runway, and in to the russian night sky.
Takeoff, with parts of Moscow visible.
Climbing out whilst enjoying the setting sun.
Nightfall came quickly, and without much better to do, I fired up the IFE. While The Finn may have expressed his dislikes about the offerings, I found them to be perfectly adequate. The number of movies and TV-shows were enough to keep me entertained through this 9 hour flight.
I started off by watching Failure To Launch, starring the gorgeous Zooey Deschanel.
Halfway through my film, the crew came out to distribute menu cards and drinks. I ordered two drinks this time, to cope with the flawed serving procedures.
Some tomato juice and white wine. It both looked and tasted like piss!
The crew soon came around to distribute the meals, the choice was either chicken or fish. I went with the former. It turned out to be chopped pieces of chicken breast in oyster sauce, boiled vegetables, and noodles. The starter was a rather dull chicken breast, and cheese on a bed of iceberg lettuce and black olives. The dessert was a generic chocolate cake.
Dinner is served!
The starter had a nice juicy chicken piece of chicken breast, with some fresh and crunchy lettuce. It tasted more than well. As for the entree it came to be a slight disappointment. While it sounded so good on the menu, the noodles were overcooked, the sauce bland and greasy, and the chicken was dry. Dessert wasn’t much to brag about either, just another dry piece of coloured sponge cake.
After the trays had been cleared, I went to check on The Finn who was well busy watching Forrest Gump, and enjoying the wine. We both agreed that the wine tasted like piss, but nevertheless it was served for free, unlike most other Aeroflot routes where the flow of alcohol is highly restricted. Before returning to my seat, I too ordered in some extra wine. I chugged it, and went to sleep.
Morning over eastern Siberia.
I manage three hours of sleep. Economy Class is not ideal for flights longer than five hours. My neck was feeling stiff and my ankles had swollen like baked potatoes. I climbed over my seat mate, and took a leg stretcher down the aisle. Half ways, I feel this strong nerve twitch in my right leg. I look down to find it completely red and swollen, I could hardly walk. I limped back to my seat, where I spent 30 minutes trying to massage the pain away.
Meanwhile, with roughly three hours before hitting Tokyo, the crew commenced the breakfast service.
I start off with some orange juice. Note the menu card.
The choices this morning are either omelette or crepes, to which I chose the latter. The crepes were filled with apple sauce, and topped with shaved almonds. They come served with the same salmon starter as on the flight from Rome, and the ”dessert” consist of a fortune cookie.
Breakfast is served!
The crepes were doughy, tasteless, and lacked that sweetness you’d normally expect from this french breakfast delight. Overall a filling, but not too satisfying breakfast. The crew later came around to collect the trays, and distribute coffee which was much needed at this early morning hour.
The reminder of the flight passed slow, very slow. I watched through some episodes of The Simpsons on the IFE, took another walk down the aisle, and dozed off for a brief while.
View of the mid Economy Class section on this A330-300.
Getting close to our destination now!
Descent was eventually initiated, and we soon began our approach to Tokyo Narita Airport. This followed by a smooth touchdown.
Coming in over the fields of Japan.
I have a deja vu moment as we park up next to no one other than Rijsttafel!
Before I’m even able to reach for my backpack from the overhead bin, the cabin is already empty. It’s to my slight horror that my shoes are now too small to fit my feet, and again the twitching nerves have me limping out of the plane.
I reach passport control, and The Finn is nowhere to be seen. While his flight wasn’t due to leave for another four hours, I couldn’t quite understand why he was in such a hurry. I quickly pass through passport control, and find my shoulder bag nicely on the belt. I proceed through customs, and then find myself in Japan!
Four Days In Wonderland
With limping legs, I stumble out to the arrivals hall, looking eagerly for a place to buy train tickets to town. I soon discover that the Kei’sei counter has everything to satisfy my public transport needs. ”-Cash payment only!”, says the ticket officer the moment he spots me pulling up the ’ole MasterCard. I sigh, ”-Oh well, there goes any hope for a plastic holiday”, I mutter in my thoughts. I later return with a 10 000 Yen bill which does the trick well.
With all necessary travel documents in hand, I submerge downstairs to the train platforms. As I fiddle about, trying to figure out how to insert my ticket in the gate slot, I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder. As I look back, it turns out to be no other than the young man sitting beside me in 34C. We exchange a few words of pleasantry, and he soon insist I’d get a taste of Japan’s notorious oddball sodas as we pass by one of the ubiquitous vending machines. They are more or less a national icon. ”-It’s my treat”, he says, pushing for the oddest flavours he could find. I end up getting a soy milk green tea, and a yoghurt flavoured soda with tiny lemon infused jello-cubes on the bottom. Both were amazing.
We continue our conversation on the Commuter train bound for Tokyo, and he soon offers to invite me over to his home. ”-I’m actually free for the rest of the day, so I can take you on a tour around the city in my car, if you’d like?”. How could I refuse this kindness, which nearly brought a tear to my eye. We drop by his house to unload his suitcase, before firing up the car and hitting the empty afternoon streets of Tokyo.
Traveling by car in this country sure felt like a luxury.
We stop by the Tokyo SkyTree, located just a few blocks away from his house.
We swing by Otemachi. Sadly the imperial palace was closed.
Ending the tour at Tokyo bay. That’s the Rainbow Bridge at sunset.
At 5pm local time, he drives me back to my hotel. I couldn’t thank him enough for what he had done to me, and I insisted in taking him out for dinner. He declined, saying he had things to do. I waved him goodbye as he drove off, before checking in to my hotel.
Hotel Nihonbashi Villa Tokyo
Hotel rooms in Tokyo are normally expensive, very expensive. Unless of course you don’t mind living in a remote suburb. It was perhaps why I booked this modest 3-star hotel off Booking.com the moment I came across the bargain rate of Yen 4500 per night. Not much more than what you’d pay for a sleeping capsule. The hotel is located in the calm, and humble business district of Asakusabashi. Public transport was easily accessible, and places of interest such as Asakusa and Akihabara were just a few blocks away.
The hotel staff were perhaps the friendliest I’ve ever met, or maybe it’s just the overall culture of politeness and good manners, which seems evident throughout this country. After reserving the agreed upon price from my MasterCard, I’m given the key for accessing my room.
My tiny and cramped single room on the 8th floor.
The spotlessly clean bathroom ”module”.
The room is very basic and cramped. There’s hardly any room to move about after unloading my bags. The bathroom was spotlessly clean, containing all essential toiletries, as well as a toothbrush, comb and razor.
It was 5.30pm, and the jet lag fatigue was slowly creeping up on me. ”-Suppose a quick shuteye wouldn’t hurt”, I thought to myself as I laid my weary head on the soft down pillow before closing my eyes. I woke up later after what felt like 20 minutes, but I am left with a slight shock as I see the clock already showing 7pm. I jump out of bed, and head out for dinner and more sightseeing.
The world’s busiest pedestrian crossing at Shibuya.
I end up having a shrimp tempura with cold Soba noodles at vending machine street food shank in Asakusa before walking back to my hotel at 10pm.
Day 2 – In Tokyo
”-Bloody hell”, I grunt as I wake up late at noon. Half a day of sightseeing is already lost, but luckily it’s raining outside. I perform the morning rituals, before running off to the nearest Lawson Convenience Store to pick up some cup-noodles for breakfast. Yes, cup noodles. They’re a cheap and filling way to start the day, a popular snack among students, and office workers as well as thrifty tourists like myself.
The cup noodles here are tastier and more filling, than those back home.
What follows next is a productive day of sightseeing.
A stereotypical Japanese gaming hall in Akihabara.
The rain that day was gushing down. Luckily it ceased after a short while.
The Imperial Palace.
The best sushi in Tokyo can be had in Tsukjii located just steps away from the fish market. I recommend you visiting Chiyoda Sushi, located just next to the metro station H10.
Dessert consisted of Coolish. Soft ice cream in a ”space bag”.
For coffee I skipped Starbucks in favour of the local alternatives. Café Veloce, serving up a tasty Gelé Au Lait. That’s an iced coffee with espresso infused jell-o and liquid sugar.
Later that evening, I headed down south to the Tokyo Tower.
Dinner was to be had at a Yakinuku Restaurant/Bar. I ended up ordering a ”Grilled Hakuchoro”. It turned out to be fatty chicken stomach, and the taste was revolting.
Day 3 – In Tokyo
The alarm clock went off at 8am, I woke up. After a shower, shave, dressing and cup-noodle breakfast, I headed out to explore the city yet more. On the agenda today was a visit to Shinjuku, to pick up some merchandise my sister had ordered me to buy. Having purchased the goods, I headed over to The Nikon Plaza, to have my camera left in for a clean.
View over Shinjuku and Tokyo, from the 28th floor. Simply stunning.
My camera was handed back approximately one hour later. Enough time to try out the new Nikons in the showroom. I thanked the camera master, and headed off to catch the train to Ikebukuro, where I made a visit to the Toyota showroom. It turned out to be rather unspectacular.
The buzzing shopping district of Ginza at night.
The famous Ginza Apple Store.
Later that evening, I met up with The Finn at Roppongi. He had the excitement of a 10-year old, when proudly telling me about his first flight on The Dreamliner.
The Roppongi Crossing. Much going on here on a Saturday night.
We soon swing by a nearby Sushi joint offering drinks at Happy Hour prices, where The Finn ordered in his first bits of sushi for the whole trip. Given his seemingly paranoid view on raw (or cured for that matter) fish, boiled shrimp was the obvious choice.
We were later joined by an old colleague and friend of The Finn. A finnish man living as an expat in Japan since a few years back. I sit by and sip my Suntory & Ginger, as they catch up on old memories, most notable a certain failed business trip to Glasgow. In the midst of this stroll down memory lane, we move along to a nearby Ramen joint at Roppongi Hills.
While the prices certainly aren’t those you’d normally expect to pay for a bowl (1700 Yen), I settle for small side of fried dumplings. I end up finishing the untouched leftovers of The Finn’s fatty pork belly. Thanks man!
At 10pm, we catch the last metro back to our respective hotels. On the way, I stop by a small supermarket to pick up some Udon Noodles and Miso for my sister. We say goodbye to The Finn’s friend, and hop on the train back home. I stop by at The Finn’s hotel near Ueno station to borrow a power adapter, before making it back to my hotel just before midnight.
Day 4 – In Tokyo
This is my last and final day in this wonderland of the rising sun, and the rain gushes down on the streets as I look out the window. ”-Dammit, I’m going to get soaked”, I mutter on my way to the shower. The hotel receptionist is kind enough to borrow me an umbrella, and I set off to explore the quintessentially Japanese neighbourhood of Asakusa. After spending hours getting saoked in the rain while looking for an ATM, I pop in for some lunch at a traditional Ramen shack.
A big bowl of Ramen, and 5 dumplings. Cheap as it should be, only 540 Yen!
The rain keeps gushing down so I drop in at a nearby Starbucks, and kill some time there until the raining ceased. It became dark before that happened.
The Asakusa crossing at night. The streets are still wet.
The Asakusa market.
A Japanese curtain of some sort.
Empty and wet streets on this lonesome Sunday evening.
I take the metro to Shibuya for one final visit before leaving for home. The place was packed as usual. My last meal in Japan ended up being the culinary icon Teriyaki Burger, at the equally iconic MOS Burger.
A Teriyaki Burger. Sorry about the concealing lettuce leaves.
Monday September 24th 2012
I wake up the following morning at 6am. My shoes are still wet from the previous day as I grab my bags, and leave the hotel just after 7am. It’s sunny outside, and the streets are surprisingly calm despite the feared weekday morning rush hour that Tokyo has made itself so notoriously known for. I catch the Kei’sei Narita SkyAccess Train from Asakusabashi via Otemachi, and arrive at Narita Airport Terminal 1 one hour later. The air conditioning on neither trains was functioning properly, and with the heat I end up sweating down my clean change of clothes.
Check-In & Security at Narita
Once again, flashing my Star Alliance Gold card to the bouncer grants me access to the Business Class check-in desks. The friendly girl lets me select the exit row window seat on the long haul segment, and I’m happy as a clam. My bag is dumped, and soon The Finn joins me at the counter.
He too was lucky enough to get the exit row window on the opposing side, and for the LHR segment he chose to be seated right behind me. With our boarding passes in hand, we head for customs and security. We do some last minute shopping, before heading over to the lounge.
Delta Sky Club Narita
The lounge entrance.
A woman greets us at the counter, inspects The Finn’s Flying Blue Gold card, glances our boarding passes, takes the invitation card, before welcoming us by name. Now that’s a first! The lounge is large and bright, offering an abundance of comfortable seating, and a stunning panoramic view of the active runway.
Overview of the main seating areas.
SkyTeam once again fails to disappoint in terms of lounges. This overseas SkyClub is different from the dire and spartan affairs found in the US. There was a proper food section, with various salads and hot soup, a generous drink selection of soft drinks, and spirits including Bailey’s... And a fancy beer machine to keep The Finn happy.
The food and drinks section.
I settle for some wraps, a side-salad and Ginger Ale.
Rounding things off with my usual Coffee & Bailey’s combo.
A grand total of two hours were to be spent here, mostly chatting and enjoying the spectacular views of the runway. We manage to spot both the JAL B787, and the Lufthansa A380 taking off, as well as my beloved personal favourite: The SWISS A340-300.
Lounging with The Finn, as always means morning drinking. After downing a few glasses of Bailey’s I moved on to some Jack&Gingers. The Finn however stuck to his beer, after all that beer machine could keep him entertained for hours, I bet.
”-Time to go!”, said The Finn before gulping a finger of Jack Daniel’s. We soon bid the lounge lady goodbye, before catching the escalator down to our gate.
SU263 Tokyo – Moscow
Duration: 10h 05m
Date: September 24th 2012
Seat & Class: 29K Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Airbus A330-343E, VQ-BEY
My chariot for this 10 hour leap across Siberia.
Boarding is already at full swing by the time we turn up at the gate. The Finn flashes his gold card and joins the priority boarding lane, whereas I take the more humble approach. Onboard I am slightly shocked to find the plane fitted with the infamous Aeroflot signature blue faux leather seating instead of the earthy light brown fabric. The seats are hard and uncomfortable, but at least I have my exit row to be thankful for.
Fantastic legroom at the exit row.
Truly a great day for flying.
We push back, and the Rolls Royce Trent 700 power plants roar to life as we begin our taxi.
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1736 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 18481 times:
We make a heavy takeoff, before flying out over the pacific where we make a 180 degree turn towards east as we set course for Moscow.
Flying out over the pacific coast.
Passing by Narita again, as we set course for Moscow.
Cruising altitude is reached 30 minutes into the flight, over the sea of Japan.
With the seatbelt sign extinguished, I got up from my seat to look for a pillow and blanket as the steward had taken those away from me just prior to departure.
View of the mid Economy cabin.
The Economy Class seats.
Upon returning to my seat, I plugged in my headphones and fired up the IFE system. Men In Black 3 was the first movie to be enjoyed. Soon enough, roughly halfway through the film, the crew came around to serve drinks. This shortly followed by serving of the lunch trays. The choice today was either chicken or fish. I chose the former.
I go for my usual TJ & Diet coke.
Lunch is served. Presentation looks gorgeous!
Narita catering have a long reputation of delivering meals of great quality, and by the looks of what’s presented on my tray table, that certainly shows.
The starter consists of two vegetable sushi rolls, and a shrimp sushi, along with some pickled ginger and soy sauce. On the bottom lies two thinly sliced cuts of roast beef and turkey breast. The chicken entree consists of large chunks of chicken breast, with steamed vegetables, a creamy coconut milk sauce and Japanese rice. Dessert is a somewhat mediocre spongecake, with caramel sauce.
Everything on the tray tasted simply fantastic, and I enjoyed every single bit of the meal!
The crew later came around to serve coffee after the meal.
After the trays had been cleared, we were instructed to close our window blinds as the cabin was dimmed to near-dark. I put my seat in ”relax mode” (née recline & legs on the exit slide) and began watching another movie. Relaxing however proved to be near impossible due to a large group of loud romanians gathering up around the area near the exit door. While I may have some understanding for people using the space to take a leg stretcher once in a while, but spending three hours straight talking and laughing loudly in front of passengers trying to get some rest is not okay.
Both The Finn and I were genuinely pissed about these people’s behaviour, and the crew didn’t bother to make any effort in moving them. If this was a US bound flight this behaviour would have gotten them arrested, but that’s another story. Eventually the romanians cleared, and I could relax in peace.
Very cloudy over Siberia, mid-flight.
As with all westbound flights it seems, my internal clock was stuck at three in the afternoon. Time seem to be at a standstill, but yet flowing on nicely. Mid-ways through the flight I went to check up with The Finn, seated at 29A. A brief chat, before stopping by the galley for some hydration before returning to my seat.
Keeping hydrated is crucial on these long haul flights, but sadly Aeroflot seems to be ignoring that matter. Not a single time during this 10 hour flight did I come across a crew member doing an extra drink round through the cabin, and neither was there a self-service ”bar” set up in the galley. Pushing the call button or asking the crew in the galley were the only ways to receive some liquid.
Roughly 90 minutes before reaching Moscow, the crew conducted the second meal service. This time the choice was either chicken or seafood, of which I chose the latter.
The second meal service consisting of a hot meal.
The starter dish consisted of what appeared to be some sort of batter fried eel, with glass noodles and cream cheese. Entree was a seafood pasta with squid and shrimp in a tomato sauce. Dessert was a rather oddball melon jell-o.
The contents of the starter dish may not be to the likings of most people, given the very rubbery texture of the glass noodles and unfamiliar taste of the eel, but truth been told I actually enjoyed this dish a lot. Entree offered a generous helping of shrimp and squid, both of which blending in perfectly with the tomato sauce, and as for the pasta it managed to keep a nice al dente texture. The melon jell-o dessert tasted sweet and fruity.
After the trays had been cleared roughly 40 minutes of the flight remained. I ended up engaging in a conversation with the man seated beside me, a very polite japanese-australian businessman off on a six day business trip to Russia. Our conversation included all sorts of topics, and it spanned out throughout the reminder of the flight.
I bid the man goodbye shortly after our plane pulled up at the gate, and squeezed my way over to the other aisle from where I would de-board together with The Finn. Once again the terminal was deserted at this hour, and after the same pointless transfer procedure we found ourselves in the chic, modern airside hall of Terminal D.
Aeroflot Jazz Lounge Terminal D
In the months prior to our trip, a major conflict had arisen between Air France – KLM and Aeroflot. AF-KLM accused Aeroflot for sending them faux lounge bills to which they refused to pay. The result; Banning all Flying Blue Gold & Platinum members from using Aeroflot’s lounge facilities.
The conflict eventually got sorted, and The Finn and I had no problems in accessing the lounge with his FlyingBlue Gold card, or well apart from the long hold-up at the transfer desk trying to find out whether we were eligible for access or not. A rather disinterested agent scans The Finn’s boarding pass and takes a brief glance at mine before welcoming us into the lounge.
The lounge is by no means what you’d expect of a flagship lounge at a carrier’s home base. The place was tiny, dark, and the ”eternal christmas lightning” as The Finn called it added a sense of cheesiness to the atmosphere. Imagine cheap 90s plastic christmas lights and you’ll get the deal. The Mercedes Benz branded leather chairs and video screens showing car commercials appeared to be a result of poor product placement, or perhaps the idea was to attract buyers from the 2010s bling bling Russian nouveau riche society; The type of people expected to visit this lounge.
Offerings were near abysmal consisting of dry pirogues, week old potato chips, luke warm beer, soda, and juice served from cartons that had been left out for too long.
I settled for some pirogues and tomato juice.
”-You know Jonas, this lounge is only good for shorter visits like this one. For longer visits this place sucks!”, The Finn said, and I couldn’t agree more. Our visit was indeed a short one, and soon the boarding call SU263 bound for London Heathrow was made over the speakers. I took a quick visit to the washroom while The Finn finished his beer, before leaving the lounge.
SU263 Moscow – London
I bother not to cover this last segment with Aeroflot, mainly since it was practically identical to the first segment from Rome. The flight could however best be described as a mediocre affair and the worst of my four Aeroflot flights. The A320 was one of the older examples in the fleet with worn out seats, dirty windows and stained carpets.
The meal served was perhaps something that would correspond to most people’s preconceived notions about Aeroflot. A bland and unidentifiable fish dish, served with rice and haricot verts. The female purser serving our section was your feared stereotypical babushka. A large, demeanour Russian woman who didn’t smile nor talk. She only conducted the in-flight service procedures in a near robot-like manner.
As for The Finn the lack of sleep from westbound travel put him in his notorious sleep-deprived grumpy state. ”-Jonas, please!”, The Finn yells after I tried to put my seat in slight recline. The highlight of this four hour flight was the approach to Heathrow which offered some extremely spectacular night time views over Central London. Both The Finn and I sat mesmerised with our faces glued to the window throughout the whole thirty minute approach.
The London Nightstop
Terminal 4 of London’s Heathrow Airport is by no means a pretty affair. The place could best be described as an utter and complete dump. It’s the terminal where all the weird-o carriers such as Arik Air or Kuwaiti Airways end up. For an alliance like Scary, oh sorry SkyTeam it’s the natural place to be. After all, they seem be taking in practically every low-grade airline out there, with Air Koryo and Iran Air already on the ”future-members-list”.
Passport control even at this late hour proves to me a major inconvenience. The EU lines stretched nearly a mile long, and getting through took nearly half an hour. Eventually we find ourselves wandering about the bowels of Heathrow trying to find our way to Heathrow Central. Along the way, The Finn stops by to fill up his Oyster Card which he claims to be ”-The new AMEX”.
A red double decker bus soon pulls by, and we hop on for the short ride along Bath Road. Our epic adventure has come to an end, and it’s time to go our separate paths. It has been a great pleasure and an honour to travel with The Finn. I couldn’t be more thankful for his kindness in admitting me to the lounges, and sacrificing his precious solitude to put out with me. ”-Well that’s a bling-bling looking hotel right there”, he says as the Radisson comes to view. I bid my farewells to The Finn before stepping off the bus. The man cracks a brief smile and mutters ”-Yeah you too, c’ya…”, before drifting in to his sleep deprived state of solitude. I step off the bus, and watch him disappear into the unknown darkness of London Suburbia.
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel Heathrow
Lately I’ve grown very fond of the Carlson Rezidor Hotels Group, mainly for their generous rewards programme but also for providing consistently high quality accommodation at affordable prices. A friendly young gentleman takes care of the check-in formalities for me. I am pleasantly surprised to receive an upgrade to a King room and a complimentary full english breakfast, courtesy of my status with Club Carlson. I wish the gentleman a pleasant evening, and proceed to my room on the 3rd floor.
The decor of this property wasn’t the usual contemporary Scandinavian that you’d normally expect. This hotel was truly a quintessentially English affair with large wooden statues in the lobby, brilliant marble floors, and broadloom carpets in the corridors.
Some nice London artwork on the wall.
Generous reading materials provided.
Very comfortable pillows.
Bathroom and amenities.
I was very pleased with the comfort, cleanliness, and decor of the room. It had a very quintessentially English feel to it with the earthy fabrics, full marble bathroom, slippery bathtub, and faulty dimmer switch. With no time to waste I jumped in for a quick shower before tucking myself into bed and falling right asleep.
Tuesday September 25th 2012
I woke up at 7am the following morning feeling clean and more rested than ever. Reluctant to get out of bed, I spent the first hour of the morning watching the BBC Channel 4 news, before taking a shower followed by breakfast. An extensive breakfast buffet was served in The Oceanic Bar. The place had a chic and exclusive atmosphere to it, and I began feeling a bit out of place as I looked around. The breakfast guests this morning consisted mainly of sophisticated looking businessmen in suits, and wealthy looking families with kids, most of whom casting merely disturbed looks at me. The waiting staff placed me near an equally out of place looking Nigerian girl still wearing her pyjamas. She turned out to be polite and friendly, so we ended up exchanging a few words over breakfast.
The breakfast spread was extensive, but I settled for a traditional full English consisting of sunny side & scrambled eggs, baked beans, back bacon, blood sausage, bangers, hash browns, a grilled tomato, and mushrooms, topping it up with a generous helping of HP sauce. A pot of black tea and a some marmite soldiers are served on the side. It doesn’t get more proper than this.
After finishing breakfast at 9am, I return to my room to do some final packing before leaving the hotel half an hour later.
Check-In & Security at Heathrow
The local bus to the terminal leaves right in front of the hotel, and in no time I find myself once again wandering about the bowels of Heathrow, trying to figure out the way to Terminal 1. Eventually I manage to locate the terminal, and quickly make my way to the Premium Check-In.
The Lufthansa Premium Check-In at LHR T1.
The check-in counters.
”-Helloo, Sir. Trravel documents, pleease”, greets the friendly scottish lady behind the counter. My tiny shoulder bag is put on the belt and receives a BMI branded priority tag. Since I had checked in the previous night using Lufthansa’s excellent iPhone app, I decline the lady’s offer in printing me proper paper boarding passes.
With roughly two hours to spare before departure, I head for security. Interestingly enough Star Gold entitles you to use the FastTrack lane. Sadly however the queue turned out to be longer and slower moving than at the regular lanes. I have the loudmouthed, disorganised americans with oversized hand luggage to thank for that. After 10 minutes of queueing, I finally make it through.
The airside section of Heathrow’s Terminal 1.
The entrance to the Star Alliance Gold/Business Class Lounge
My initial impressions of Terminal 1 were positive, the place was bright, clean and offered a decent amount of shops and restaurants. I personally made my way to the Star Alliance Lounge which is the only lounge left for *Golds after BMI’s exit from Star Alliance. At the reception my iPhone BP is scanned and I’m granted access.
Two of the many seating areas.
One of two food and drinks sections.
The amount of criticism this lounge has received over the years doesn’t justify its actual standards. I personally found the lounge to be adequate enough in terms of seating and offerings. There were many seating areas available offering comfortable leather armchairs or sofas. The food offerings included a full english breakfast during the morning hours, which was later changed to a selection of hot snacks such as chicken satays and baked potatoes. Drink offerings included the usual soft drinks, beer, and wine, as well as a generous selection of spirits including Bailey’s.
Being full from breakfast, I settled for some Bailey’s, water and an espresso.
As the morning progressed, the lounge began crowding up as the US bound departures closed in. Once again the americans began invading the lounge (gaining access with their Red Carpet Club membership cards. Jesus!), taking up every inch of seating space by placing their oversized hand luggage on the couches, yapping loudly on their cellphones, and acting shallowly and overly polite towards the staff, to the extent of genuinely pissing me off. I eventually moved my stuff, and sat down at the quiet reception. You’d be amazed by the number of people trying to access this lounge using their credit cards…
Eventually my Lufthansa flight to Dusseldorf indicates boarding on the screen, and I schlepp over to the gate. What follows are three unspectacular Lufthansa intra-Europe Economy Class flights, and some generic off-hub Senator Lounges, I think we’ve seen enough of those already. I arrive back home at 11pm, just in time to get some decent sleep and make it to class the following day.
Well things didn’t really end so smoothly. My LHR-DUS flight got delayed by one hour due to a runway emergency at LHR. With some excessive running in Dusseldorf I make the connection to Hamburg. Sadly however we remain on the tarmac for one hour, until the captain declare the flight as cancelled. Apparently our A320 had gone kaput due to a faulty fuel pump. The ladies at the Senator Lounge re-book me to a later departure which also ends up getting delayed too, and I miss my connection to Arlanda.
This was actually a sigh of relief since mom refused to pick me up in Västerås anyway. I end up spending the night at a hotel in Hamburg. For some reason Lufthansa refuse to put me up at the Radisson Blu near the airport, and I’m left with taking the S-Bahn to this place:
Hotel Amedia Hamburg
In-spite of the somewhat cheesy name this hotel turned out to be just fine. What the name implies is that all media is free, i.e wifi, satellite channels and pornography. At the check-in, I receive my room key and a €20 voucher to use in the restaurant.
The room is quite unspectacular, but clean and comfortable enough for my short 6 hour stay. I make it down to the restaurant where I feast on an incredibly tasteless tagliatelle with prawns, and a forrest berry pannacotta. If it wasn’t for the fact that the meal was free, I would’ve seriously complained. The service was quick, and I manage to finish the meal quickly enough to have some time over for sleep.
Wednesday September 26th 2012
The night was short, but I managed to get a solid 5 hours of sleep before forcing my way out of bed at 4am. Yes it was a ”-Bloody hell!” or ”-Jesus Christ!” wakeup, as The Finn would say. The morning rituals were quickly conducted, before picking dropping off the keycard at the reception and catching the first S-Bahn train straight to the airport.
The departures hall used by Lufthansa at Hamburg International.
On this wednesday morning the terminal was crowded, mostly with holiday makers traveling on the early morning charters. The Lufthansa concourse was empty, and I quickly made way to the check-in counters.
Check-In & Security at Hamburg International
A yawned ”-Good morning” is how I’m greeted by the woman behind the Business Class counter. Having already obtained a boarding pass the previous evening, I promptly hand it over for the woman to scan. Soon my booking appears on the computer, and the check-in lady instantly turns friendly. ”-Hi Sir. Do you have any bags to check-in?”. I put my undersized Samsonite on the belt, and it quickly gets labeled with a *Priority tag. ”-Would you like to have a seat more towards the front of the plane?”, she asks with a smile. I accept her kind offer, and she even took the step further by blocking my adjacent seat. ”-It’s a special service we give for golds”, she says.
Impressed by her level of proactive-ness, I wish her a pleasant morning and precede to security. To my surprise a FastTrack channel is available, and I quickly decide on using it. Once again however this turns out to be a mistake, as a seemingly disorganised man with an FTL tag slows the queue down by taking ages to re-arrange his liquids. ”-Why don’t people think in advance…”, I mumble in my thoughts, while gazing towards the regular lane which appeared to be moving faster.
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Hamburg
A half-asleep male lounge dragon scans my boarding pass, and lets me in without saying a word. The Finn as well as many others have praised this lounge for being better than the other off-hub Senator Lounges, mainly for offering an open-air terrace, which is a rare feature for lounges. Apart from the terrace (which by the way was closed) the place was just like any other bog-standard Senator Lounge. Sufficient but not extraordinary.
The main seating area. Wonder why Lufthansa have kept these old chairs.
Since I left the hotel too early for breakfast, I hit the spread and fetched myself a rather sufficient continental breakfast.
Breakfast of cold cuts, bread, yoghurt, coffee, and cereal. Perfect!
The light breakfast hit the spot perfectly, and since westbound jetlag have the tendency to reduce my appetite, I was feeling quite full already. Gradually the lounge began to fill up, mostly with businessmen. A quick glance at the clock reveals that boarding for the Stockholm flight is about to begin, so I quickly grab my bag and head to the gate.
LH2926 Hamburg – Stockholm
Duration: 1h 30m
Date: September 26th 2012
Seat & Class: 5F Economy Class
Aircraft & Reg: Canadair Regional Jet 900, D-ACNJ
Originally, I intended not to cover this seemingly unspectacular EuroHop. Partly because we’ve seen too many of them on the forum (I count myself as one of the guilty here), but mainly because it was practically identical to my outbound flight.
On the bus to the aircraft, I was lucky to discover that this flight would be operated by one of the newer fleet examples of the CR9, and even better it had the new seats. So here follows a quick summary of the new NEK cabin on Lufthansa’s CRJ 900 aircraft.
Overall impressions of the new cabin were positive. The seats themselves maintained a higher level of comfort than those found on the A319/320/321/B737 aircraft. This mainly due to the thicker cushions and improved lumbar support. The overall seat pitch have also improved compared to the old seats, this mainly due to Lufthansa keeping the same number of seats on the CR9.
Apart from that, the seat features on the CR9 are practically the same as on the mainline jets, and the seats are clad in the same plush, dark grey leather.
In-flight service consisted of the same yoghurt and muesli.
Descending into Arlanda after 60 minutes in the air.
The flight was mostly uneventful, and soon we descended through the stormy rainclouds. Moments later the wheels kiss the ground, and I am back on home soil after nine days abroad. I exit the plane and head for the baggage hall, where the SAS luggage monkeys once again make sure that all priority tagged luggage come out last. Worse is the fact that those bastards purposely left the bags out to soak in the rain, as mine was literally dripping when I picked it up. As luck would have it, the Swebus bound for Västerås sits right outside the arrivals hall, and I manage to arrive in town just in time to class. That’s what I call efficiency!
This sure has been one long journey, a fun one in fact. I really enjoyed my time with The Finn, the man could genuinely be described as an original character, and I certainly hope we will do more trips together in the future.
As for Lufthansa they delivered a solid, high qualitative, and consistent product as always. There’s not much to say about the flights other than most of them being near flawless in terms of service. I am however very impressed with the way Lufthansa dealt with my re-bookings and accommodation. No questions asked, just a new boarding pass straight to my hand. Big kudos for that!
As for Aeroflot I don’t think I would be flying them again anytime soon. While they managed to offer a fairly solid product, the overall impression of quality was lacking. While the seats and IFE were of great standard, the catering and service delivery was not. It is quite apparent that the inefficient drinks serving (or rationing) was the biggest flaw. If they are trying to re-create the sensation of being in a restaurant, they’ve certainly got it wrong.
As for the catering, it managed to keep an acceptable level of quality, however the selection and variation of the dishes was very poor and uninspiring. All in all, Aeroflot offer a decent Economy Class product on long haul flights, but it’s nowhere near as good as SWISS or Lufthansa.
Feel free to have a look at my previous reports. The reports are categorised chronologically based on their year/date of publication.
AirAfreak From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 750 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 18358 times:
Great trip report and wonderful of you to show us your visit inside Tokyo! Thank you for the sushi recommendations! I only know Narita Airport and nothing outside of the airport! =] This trip report will prove quite helpful for my next flight to Japan... without connections!!!! haha!
Thank you as always for taking the time to make this trip report happen... and very glad to see you had some nice catering from NRT-SVO with SU... finally, huh?!!!
triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 767 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 18353 times:
I lived just outside Tokyo for 4 years and Tokyo quickly became my favorite city in the whole world. Many of the places you visited brought back memories from looking at your pictures, especially Shinjuku, Shibuya and the Ginza. Tokyo is a fascinating city and I'm glad you had the chance to go.
Most places are cash only as you could see.
And many Japanese (and foreigners living there too) get along fine without cars. I sold mine before I moved there. Most places are within a 5 or 10 minute walk from a train station, and by train, you can get anywhere in Tokyo and in Japan.
Your pictures remind me of how much I loved living there. Thank you for posting
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined exactly 10 years ago today! , 3604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 18354 times:
Very nice report Jonas. Look like you and The Finn had a nice trip. How come you didn't decide to do "mission 787" as well?
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Fuel dump fares, what do we really know about them? Well for starters you have to be a complete maniac to in order to find them. And so was frankly the case for our fellow trip reporter, malt beverage connoisseur, Fedora spokesman, and friend FlyingFinn76. While spending most his days on the road, battling faulty computers, or cursing at an airline notoriously known for their sudden and unpredictable schedule changes, and allegedly having a metrosexual [former] CEO. His nights are either spent recovering in a sleep deprived coma state, working up the next story for entertaining his audience, or in this case practicing a certain black magic of airfare bargain hunting, commonly known as ”trick it”. The complex nature of these methods have yet only been mastered by a handful of skilled and devoted addicts/professionals, and the end results are simply staggering.
Ha, nice intro!
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Blue skies soon appear from my window, and almost instantly the girls are up and running down the aisle. I'm pleasantly surprised when breakfast is presented to me.
ooh, I liked that cereal and youghurt. I had it on the LGW-FRA inagural
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): The service on Aeroflot was agonisingly slow, inefficient and disorganised. First a drinks round was made. This followed by the collection of trash. Then comes the meal, but no drinks follow. What on earth are they thinking? Are they trying to replicate a restaurant? By the time the meals are served, the drinks are already finished, and we’re left with nothing to wash down the food. This highly flawed service delivery process became evident on all four flights with Aeroflot.
Yes, a very annoying service concept. Did they not even have a bottle of water on the meal trolley?
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): We continue our conversation on the Commuter train bound for Tokyo, and he soon offers to invite me over to his home. ”-I’m actually free for the rest of the day, so I can take you on a tour around the city in my car, if you’d like?”. How could I refuse this kindness, which nearly brought a tear to my eye. We drop by his house to unload his suitcase, before firing up the car and hitting the empty afternoon streets of Tokyo.
Very lucky of you to get a free guided tour
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter):
”-Bloody hell”, I grunt as I wake up late at noon. Half a day of sightseeing is already lost
Never heard of an alarm clock!? Essential with time zone travelling
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): The seats are hard and uncomfortable, but at least I have my exit row to be thankful for.
Did you not have any issues taking photos there. Did the FA not care?
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Reluctant to get out of bed, I spent the first hour of the morning watching the BBC Channel 4 news
Ha, you mean BBC 1, or Channel 4. BBC 4 only runs in the evenings, and is not the channel to go for for the news! Channel 4 has nothing do to with the Beeb.
jwhite9185 From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 1555 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 18353 times:
Very interesting read there Jonas - In fact, not only did it take up my lunch half hour, it took up the best part of 45 minutes when I got home too!
And as usual some very good pics in there - not only of Tokyo, but the trip report type pics too - you'll have to give some some pointers!!
You're right about LHR T4. I visited there for the first time in many years back in August. Even despite the refurb, it still seemed to me like the weakest of the terminals at LHR. Amazing to think that almost the entire BA operation was housed there not so long ago.
T1 isn't too bad once past security, but is a bit worn out landside. Although as its due to be knocked down soon, I guess they don't see much point in doing too much work there.
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 1): We continue our conversation on the Commuter train bound for Tokyo, and he soon offers to invite me over to his home. ”-I’m actually free for the rest of the day, so I can take you on a tour around the city in my car, if you’d like?”. How could I refuse this kindness, which nearly brought a tear to my eye. We drop by his house to unload his suitcase, before firing up the car and hitting the empty afternoon streets of Tokyo.
Hmm going off with a complete stranger in an unknown city... you're a braver man than I am! Although that was very friendly of him.
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): The breakfast spread was extensive, but I settled for a traditional full English consisting of sunny side & scrambled eggs, baked beans, back bacon, blood sausage, bangers, hash browns, a grilled tomato, and mushrooms, topping it up with a generous helping of HP sauce. A pot of black tea and a some marmite soldiers are served on the side. It doesn’t get more proper than this.
MSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 14
Reply 10, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 18351 times:
Great to see another installment online, I was always curious about your take on SU! I It seerms like you actually had a great time! SU looks great, especially the condition of the A330's.
It's always a nice step to get a proper meal on the shorter flights as well! Thanks for sharing the NRT pics! They look awesome!
Lufhtansa looks good as usual!
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
Avianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5939 posts, RR: 35
Reply 11, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 18349 times:
WOW what a report and routing!
Just excelent! Nice to see more cracy people hunting for great fares here
I just booked as well a trip to Tokyo, for Feburary and looking really forward to it, specially after your detaild report.
My routing will be
CCS-IAH-LAX-HNL (1,5 days layover) all UA
HNL-GUM using the island hopper with 5 stops than 1 night in GUM - UA
GUM-NRT (4 days in Tokyo layover) - UA
NRT-SJC - NH with the Dreamliner
SJC-IAH-CCS with UA
all togehter for cheaply 740 USD all in nearly as good as your open jaw ticket!
looking forward for your next reports
pd: nice to see pictures from MUC my hometown airport
celestar From Singapore, joined Jul 2001, 470 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 18349 times:
Love your writing but why most of your photo taken using such a bad distortion wide angle lens?
It was OK to start off with, but I start to feel uncomfortable watching those hugely distorted pictures!
Still, without a question, this is a great report to read. Thank you
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1736 posts, RR: 17
Reply 13, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 18350 times:
Hello guys, thanks for your replies. I'm glad you enjoyed the report!
Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3): Thank you as always for taking the time to make this trip report happen... and very glad to see you had some nice catering from NRT-SVO with SU... finally, huh?!!!
The ex NRT catering was indeed the best of all flights. Catering ex Rome was also very good, so I suppose the Moscow catered meals were the worst, especially the fish I had on the last segment to LHR.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 4): Aeroflot looks pretty good, but the food on the flight back from Tokyo looks much better than the outbound.
Hey Matt! Oh yes Aeroflot really managed to exceed my expectations on this trip!
Quoting triple7man (Reply 5): Most places are within a 5 or 10 minute walk from a train station, and by train, you can get anywhere in Tokyo and in Japan.
Hey there. Tokyo was indeed very easy to get around by foot. I actually had to do a bit of walking every morning since the nearest metro station supported by my tourist metro pass was in Akihabara which was a 15 minute walk.
Quoting triple7man (Reply 5): Your pictures remind me of how much I loved living there. Thank you for posting
Thanks. I actually remember your old reports from back when you lived there, especially the story with your cats. It was very moving, I must say
Quoting palmjet (Reply 6): 1. The inflight cruise pics on the A330, particularly on the way home. Very cool.
Hi PJ, thanks for reading! Yes it's very important to pick the right side of the plane to get the perfect Brewster's angle to get those yummy blue skies. Right side on westbound, and left side on eastbound
Quoting palmjet (Reply 6): 2. The moody night shot in Tokyo with the lone lady walking down the laneway. Superb.
Oh yes, I guess the moodiness of the picture sort of reflected my state of mind. I was feeling quite sad to be leaving Tokyo as it was my last evening there.
Quoting palmjet (Reply 6): Great details too - as I said to the Finn, the the meals on SU looked a bit suspect and certainly if you are not a fan of fish, may be best to BYO "bring your own" snacks!
Well I wouldn't say they only served fish. We were always given two meal options, one of them always being fish. Most of the times we were unlucky with being stuck with the fish since we were seated at the back. So if you don't like fish, pick a seat towards the front.
Hey Mr. Chew! Well those B787 tickets were rather expensive, so I saw no point in booking them when I have a B787 flight coming up (hopefully).
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7): ooh, I liked that cereal and youghurt. I had it on the LGW-FRA inagural
Indeed. I actually came to think of your LGW report when that breakfast was served
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7): Yes, a very annoying service concept. Did they not even have a bottle of water on the meal trolley?
Nope, didn't see any bottle of water on the tray. They did have water on the rubbish cart though.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7): Never heard of an alarm clock!? Essential with time zone travelling
I did in fact set my iPhone to 8am, and my in-room alarm clock. Sadly I must've hit the snooze button a few too many times, or accidentally turned it off (at least the iPhone, due to the stupid layout where swipe means off instead of snooze)
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7): Did you not have any issues taking photos there. Did the FA not care?
Not at all actually. The stewardess only smiled once she saw me pull out the camera
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7): Ha, you mean BBC 1, or Channel 4. BBC 4 only runs in the evenings, and is not the channel to go for for the news! Channel 4 has nothing do to with the Beeb.
Ah yes, sorry for the mixup. Watched some weird-o ensemble British Hollywood TV movie on BBC 4 the night before. Apparently it was set in Britain, but starring actors such as Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black and Cameron Diaz. The morning after I did indeed watch the news on Channel 4.
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 8): It seems that legroom is 32" and not 31" on LH.
On Aeroflot the legroom was 32". Not sure about the rest of the LH long haul fleet, but on the A380 the legroom is 31".
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 9): Very interesting read there Jonas - In fact, not only did it take up my lunch half hour, it took up the best part of 45 minutes when I got home too!
Hi James. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my report!
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 9): Amazing to think that almost the entire BA operation was housed there not so long ago.
It is indeed quite interesting. Good at least that the current T5 manages to keep higher standards.
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 9): T1 isn't too bad once past security, but is a bit worn out landside. Although as its due to be knocked down soon, I guess they don't see much point in doing too much work there.
T1 was quite allright actually. I guess the bad layout of the gates was my biggest dislike about the terminal, e.g having to walk 15 minutes through corridors till you reach the gate.
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 9): Hmm going off with a complete stranger in an unknown city... you're a braver man than I am! Although that was very friendly of him.
It is Japan after all, the safest country on earth so one shouldn't worry too much.
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 10): It seerms like you actually had a great time! SU looks great, especially the condition of the A330's.
Hoi Marc! Yes the condition of all planes except the last A320 was immaculate.
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 10): It's always a nice step to get a proper meal on the shorter flights as well! Thanks for sharing the NRT pics! They look awesome!
Most EU airlines actually serve proper meals on flights to Moscow. BA also began their long haul service to Moscow, which offers an even better product than SU. So in all, I would say that the competition offers better meals (e.g LH, LX, BA, etc).
My, that's a crazy and exotic routing. For that price it's certainly a bargain, and I hope it'll bring in some good miles. Thanks btw for reading my report. Hope it gave at least some inspiration for your trip!
Quoting celestar (Reply 12): Love your writing but why most of your photo taken using such a bad distortion wide angle lens?
It was OK to start off with, but I start to feel uncomfortable watching those hugely distorted pictures!
Hey there, thanks for reading. I keep my wide-angle lens on since it's the perfect lens for traveling. The distortion isn't that bad and it isn't really visible on all pics, only the ones with the shortest focal length and when the camera is tilted. The lens is also super sharp and it renders colours perfectly. I think you should look around the forum a bit more and get concerned about those who clog their reports with blurry cell-phone camera pictures. I'd say that's a bigger issue than a little bit of distortion!
The777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6789 posts, RR: 55
Reply 14, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 18350 times:
Hi Jonas !
Thanks for a very nice report with fantastic pictures !
Food actually looks very good on most of the Aeroflot flights but too bad you didn't think it tasted good.
Glad that you were able to take advantage of this great offer!
Very nice of FlyingFinn to invite you to all the lounges and have you tag a long quite a bit.
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 2): gaining access with their Red Carpet Club membership cards.
Red Carpet (United Club) card doesn't give you access to other lounges than United Club and Maple leaf lounges but a C or F boarding pass will give access. So the people you saw in there were actually F or C passengers.
Glad you had a great time in Rome before your trip! I LOVE Italy !
Japan is amazing and you should go back.
Looking forward to your next report !
Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....LX and LH 777s
Avianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5939 posts, RR: 35
Reply 17, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 18350 times:
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 13): My, that's a crazy and exotic routing. For that price it's certainly a bargain, and I hope it'll bring in some good miles. Thanks btw for reading my report. Hope it gave at least some inspiration for your trip!
yeah I am really looking forwar to it - the GUM - NRT is on b777 otherwise it would be all way from CCS upto NRT in a narrowbody
I39OO From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2012, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 18349 times:
what can I say? A great read! It's been fun to image you and P. going around the airports around the globe with you giving him a hard time...
On a more TR-related note, Aeroflot looked like a decent carrier. Far, far away from the horror stories my girlfriend's boss told me about his flights to Bangkok on the Il-96: people playing portable DVD players out loud, BYOB enforced from take off to landing, fist fights and all sort of disruptive behaviour.
Your pictures of Tokyo are a treat for the eye! I loved to see the districts I used to know, Asakusa above all. You'd have used one day to pay a visit to Nikko, I dearly recommend it should you ever find another fuel dump fare.
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): The place was packed with tourists, so please ignore the facepalming bloke spoiling my shot.
That's a great line! I've actually thought you put that guy in the picture on purpose...
I can excuse you only because you're a Swedish barbarian ! Those are the Roman fora, the pulsating brains of the Roman empire (with the Imperial fora not very far - I actually consider 'em as a whole). Plenty of politics happened there and loads of killings and other interesting stuff.
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1736 posts, RR: 17
Reply 19, posted (2 years 8 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 18347 times:
Hey there, thanks again for your replies!
Quoting The777Man (Reply 14): Food actually looks very good on most of the Aeroflot flights but too bad you didn't think it tasted good.
Well the food was so-so. The meals ex Rome and Tokyo tasted great, but the others were not so nice. I suppose it all comes down to which catering facility is used.
Quoting The777Man (Reply 14): Red Carpet (United Club) card doesn't give you access to other lounges than United Club and Maple leaf lounges but a C or F boarding pass will give access. So the people you saw in there were actually F or C passengers.
Actually the RCC card does give international lounge access, and it's even stated in the Star Alliance conditions. Besides I saw a woman pull out the card and show it to the receptionist, mentioning the name of the card at least twice. She and her husband were both on Y tickets…
Quoting photoshooter (Reply 15): It's so cool that you combined a few European cities before heading East!
Thanks! Yes I quite liked that concept of travel too, quite a bit of contrast while I think of it now. I actually wanted to fit in a weekend in London as well, but that wasn't possible due to school the following day.
Quoting signol (Reply 16): Lufthansa food has always appeared to be hit and miss, it seems to me. On my only flight in recent years, it seems I missed.
Hey Signol! My past experiences of LH catering have always been positive, guess I've been lucky.
Quoting signol (Reply 16): Those Airbusses land themselves, don't you know
That's true, but it's mostly subject to the ILS system present at the airport. Usually auto-land is only supported by ILS CAT IIIB & IIIC.
Quoting signol (Reply 16): Did you get any Flying Blue miles for the trip?
I did indeed earn a modest 3025 miles. Have no idea what to do with them, but perhaps it's always good to keep a small stash for future accumulations.
Quoting signol (Reply 16): Those photos of Rome are certainly worthy of more formal publication - have you tried sending them to Lonely Planet, or entering photo competitions?
Hehe, never thought about that.
Quoting I39OO (Reply 18): On a more TR-related note, Aeroflot looked like a decent carrier. Far, far away from the horror stories my girlfriend's boss told me about his flights to Bangkok on the Il-96: people playing portable DVD players out loud, BYOB enforced from take off to landing, fist fights and all sort of disruptive behaviour.
Yeah that was the old Aeroflot, and those days are luckily over. Nowadays the BKK route is one of their top routes it seems, and it'll be the first one for their new B77W. Ironically enough I bet most a.netters would kill for a ride on the IL-96…
Quoting I39OO (Reply 18): You'd have used one day to pay a visit to Nikko, I dearly recommend it should you ever find another fuel dump fare.
Wow that place certainly looks amazing, will for sure pay a visit there next time I'm in Tokyo. I would however say it's more likely that I'll show up on a First Class award next time, or at least that's the plan
Quoting I39OO (Reply 18): I can excuse you only because you're a Swedish barbarian !
Hehe, well I'm not much for history anyway. Although monuments are nice to look at
roberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 1081 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 18095 times:
After reading the Finn's report a little while ago, also very nice to read your side of the story.
A great report as always, with the usual 'lagom amount of high quality pictures'. I enjoyed reading it!
triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 767 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (2 years 8 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 17342 times:
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 13): Thanks. I actually remember your old reports from back when you lived there, especially the story with your cats. It was very moving, I must say
Thank you. That was an answer to prayer to be able to bring my 2 cats with me to Japan. In case you don't know, KC died in June 2006. I had to give Simone away before moving to Thailand. She died in January 2012. I usually go back to Japan to visit once a year. And I hope to fly through Tokyo in a few weeks on the way to New York.
Parton87 From Sweden, joined Sep 2008, 533 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 8 months 3 hours ago) and read 16732 times:
Thanks for the nice story! A great read with your humor and many stunning pictures, just as you expect from you! You and the other A-netters was really lucky getting these cheap fares with SU. Even if they seem to lack in some ways they seem to a quit good carrier and I wouldn´t hesitate to try them in the future.
Tokyo seems super nice. It´s on my to visit list too... hope I can go there soon
What a nice idea to spend a couple of days in Rome. That´s a lovely city and I visited for the first time a month before you and It was a very enjoyable trip.
Also nice to read about your flights on EW. I flew four flights with them in October and all was very enjoyable. Friendly crews and nice snacks. Transit in HAM was very convenient too.
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 1): Isn't she a thing of beauty? The CRJ-900 flying me to Hamburg.
Indeed is a beauty. I flew on the same A/C a couple of weeks after you!
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 1): This is very generous for a 90 minute flight.
Looks good. I was very happy with the service on EW
That´s short. I´m glad you make it. I was a little nervous too when I had just some 40 min transfer time there in October but in the end it was no problem at all. Just ten min from leaving the plane with the bus to being at the next gate.
skiaplg From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2012, 80 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (2 years 8 months 2 hours ago) and read 16672 times:
The product on the A330 certainly looks nicer than the product on the Aeroflot B767. I flew CDG-SVO-PVG roundtrip a few summers ago, and pretty much all of the trip was very poor. Essentially no IFE for non-Russian speakers in the B767, a lengthy layover in the hot and seatless Terminal F, and the catering ex SVO was sub-par. I guess one of the redeeming features was the price, and the amount of Flying Blue miles I received.
Looks like they're cleaning up their act - even though the catering ex SVO looks similar to what I had. Tokyo looks amazing though!
adamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1193 posts, RR: 11
Reply 24, posted (2 years 8 months ago) and read 16584 times:
Great trip report as usual with many nice and high quality pictures
Looks like you had a fantastic trip to Japan, beautiful pictures of that great country!
Lufthansa looks good as usual and Aeroflot better than I expected
deltamartin From Sweden, joined Dec 2010, 1061 posts, RR: 7
Reply 25, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 16134 times:
I finally got around reading this great report of yours. Seems like you had a great trip together with The Finn! LH seemed good as usual and Aeroflot longhaul didn't seem to bad, at least not considering the fare!
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Entering a SkyTeam Lounge appeared to be a fairly complex affair. The Finn handed his Flying Blue Gold card to the agent who gave it a well educated look. She then ran behind the counter, made a phone call, signed some papers, made another phone call, had The Finn sign a paper, before finally granting us access. All this without ever bothering to take a proper glance at my boarding pass.
That does indeed sound like a 'complex affair'. I've never had to sign anything when entering a lounge!
I'm flying SAS to NY and back in January, on my EWR-ARN leg I have reserved such a seat (on the A side), I hope it will be comfortable to sleep in since it's a night flight!
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): The starter dish consisted of what appeared to be some sort of batter fried eel, with glass noodles and cream cheese. Entree was a seafood pasta with squid and shrimp in a tomato sauce.
I would not have enjoyed that meal. Not my cup of tea, at all.
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Terminal 4 of London’s Heathrow Airport is by no means a pretty affair. The place could best be described as an utter and complete dump.
I've never been to T4, but apparently it was far worse before the renovations a few years ago.
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Apart from the terrace (which by the way was closed) the place was just like any other bog-standard Senator Lounge.
I'll be visiting my first Senator lounge in a couple of days, at a transit through FRA, I'll probably check out the new one in the A+ pier.
CARST From Germany, joined Jul 2006, 882 posts, RR: 2
Reply 27, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 12794 times:
Up front let me say, fantastic report Jonas. Great photos, very high quality, all of them, good style of writing and very entertaining. And the your style of writing is what really makes your reports so good, it shows your creativity. A thing I am lagging behind on, as I tend to let the photos do the talking in my reports.
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): As for The Finn himself, we would be sharing the Economy Class confines on all four Aeroflot segments, making it our 2nd joint trip together.
I told the Finn already in "the" Facebook group you two should to all your trips together. Your conversations are mostly ready to be inserted into some comedy movie. In a very positive way. Btw, when will you be rejoining the group? ^^
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): I stumble out to the arrivals hall, looking eagerly for a place to buy train tickets to town. I soon discover that the Kei’sei counter has everything to satisfy my public transport needs. ”-Cash payment only!”, says the ticket officer the moment he spots me pulling up the ’ole MasterCard. I sigh, ”-Oh well, there goes any hope for a plastic holiday”, I mutter in my thoughts. I later return with a 10 000 Yen bill which does the trick well.
Deja vu! Exactly what happened to me when doing the AZ fuel dump run in November. Where to go? What, only cash? Where to change money landside? Ah just the opposite side of the Keisei counter. Back with a 10k Yen note. Must have looked like the typical tourist for the Japanese employees there.
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Day 2 – In Tokyo: ”-Bloody hell”, I grunt as I wake up late at noon. Half a day of sightseeing is already lost, but luckily it’s raining outside.
Happened to me on my first day there, too. After flying to SIN and back and after one nights slept to NRT and then to ITM and back I was soooooooooo tired on the first real day in Tokyo, I slept until 11AM or so. It was raining. So nothing really lost. So my holiday-part of the trip started in the afternoon. More in the upcoming report... ^^
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): Once again, flashing my Star Alliance Gold card to the bouncer grants me access to the Business Class check-in desks. The friendly girl lets me select the exit row window seat on the long haul segment, and I’m happy as a clam.
I am really wondering that this is working. Didn't they really look that at the card? Did they not realize that this is the wrong alliance? Or do they want to impress Gold members of other alliances?
Quoting LH4116 (Thread starter): The Finn flashes his gold card and joins the priority boarding lane, whereas I take the more humble approach
On my flights with roberts87 I have to say that he could always take me through priority boarding lanes with his gold card, me being his guest. I think there is also something written about that on the AF/KL FB website. It is working like on at the lounges, golds can take guests with them through priority lanes, too.
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1736 posts, RR: 17
Reply 29, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 11559 times:
Quoting CARST (Reply 27): Up front let me say, fantastic report Jonas. Great photos, very high quality, all of them, good style of writing and very entertaining.
Hello Carsten, thanks for reading and I'm very glad to hear you enjoy my work
Quoting CARST (Reply 27): Btw, when will you be rejoining the group? ^^
Hmm, not sure actually. Maybe in a few months or so.
Quoting CARST (Reply 27): Didn't they really look that at the card? Did they not realize that this is the wrong alliance? Or do they want to impress Gold members of other alliances?
Well usually the gate agents have no clue which cards entitle you or not, as long as it's a shiny gold plastic it'll go through. It's always worth a try. In the lounges however they are a bit more strict as they often times keep a chart available behind the desk that clearly specify which cards gain access and which don't.
Quoting CARST (Reply 27): It is working like on at the lounges, golds can take guests with them through priority lanes, too.
Well that's pretty standard for most airlines to allow golds to invite a companion to use the lounges + fasttrack.
Quoting stipica (Reply 28): just to say hi it is always fun to read your work ...