Beowulf From Singapore, joined Jul 2003, 721 posts, RR: 16 Posted (7 years 6 days ago) and read 4044 times:
Usually, I don't write trip reports for flights, such as VIE-FRA-VIE or VIE-MUC-VIE, which I do frequently for duty and/or private reasons. There is nothing special to report on in-flight service because is there is none, these flights are rather hectic because a meeting is crammed in between them, and the flights are usually uneventful. It's like taking the bus. However, I will write a report about my latest hop to Munich for two reasons. First, it was a bit out of the ordinary rotuine and it gives you the fortunate and unfortunate aspects of non-rev travel. Second, I consider this report as "writing training." Some of you may know that I am two thirds done with my studies and am beginning to write my thesis in fall. Hence, this is not really a trip report for you but an exercise for me to get any message across to the reader as concisely, briefly, and eloquently as possible.
Since I have term break this week, I had contemplated flying to Beijing to meet friends there, but my indecisiveness, full flights, and long queues at the embassy resulted in going to Munich only. The thesis I want to write was the reason for my flying to Munich because one of my thesis mentors lives there. We decided to meet and discuss some initial aspects of the work. Moreover, flying to Munich is a lot cheaper than flying to Beijing, and because I am such a cheap guy, I never take the CAT because it is outrageously expensive and doesn't offer me any additional value. Thus, I always take the S-Bahn. Yup, that's where you can find me, and a lot of other clever passengers, too. The train was on time and I experienced the "Wiesel" (which is the name of this particular type of car) for the first time.
Vienna – Munich
For about half a year it has been impossible to use the self check-in kiosks in Vienna with a non-rev ticket. It had worked before, and I don't understand why OS does not fix this. Logic would suggest that a non-rev passenger with only hand luggage doesn't have to clog up the revenue passenger line. Well, it's OS, thus, logic is a term unheard of. However, there was not a lot of action going on at 08:00 AM, and a cheerful, attractive check-in agent soon took care of my needs. She seemed to be new on the job because she mumbled the various steps of how to issue me a boarding pass. I know, it's chauvinistic, but had she been an old or ugly person, I would have rolled my eyes in dismay. In this case, I found it cute. All right, I found her cute.
After getting my preliminary boarding pass, I went to the transit area and invaded Starbucks. My feelings about Starbucks are mixed. On the hand, I think they sell mediocre coffee at a premium price and are just over hyped; on the other hand, they are the only coffee house in Vienna that is a smoke free environment. Moreover, Vienna airport is generally short on comfortable places to wait and Starbucks is nicely located in a corner at Pier West. However, it appears Starbucks is charging an airport surcharge. At Starbucks downtown, my "coffee of the week, short" costs EUR 1.50; at the airport, it's EUR 1.60. WTF! Well, I got my coffee and sat down to kill some time. Then I overheard a disciplinary talk between the Starbucks site manager and an employee. Apparently, this girl had come late to work repetitively and here are two excuses she gave. First, she supposedly had stomach pain and didn't want to use the employee toilet but rather her own toilet at home. Next, the day before a friend promised to drive her to the airport but had a car problem. I was close to yelling over that she should just say sorry for being late rather than offering such lame excuses. If her stories were true, then why did she have this smirk on her face? Time flies when you are having fun brings it to the point, and I got up to besiege the gate agent for a seat.
VIE – MUC
May 17, 2006
Boeing 737-500 / D-ABIB
09:15 – 10:15 (scheduled)
take-off: 09:23 (rwy. 29)
touch-down: 10:04 (rwy. 08R)
I knew that the flight was rather full but should have a few open spots. When no more revenue passengers required the agent's attention, I went over and asked her if she had a seat for me. She typed away at her keyboard and handed me a boarding pass without saying anything. I took it and saw that I had a seat in Business Class. Therefore, I thanked her and went to the security check. Since I was the last passenger, the security people were cracking jokes about this and that. Maybe they knew I was staff, but I still think that maintaining a professional behavior is important.
Down I went the jet-way, and my first impression when entering the plane was that the crew was typical German, i.e., correct, but rather die before an additional smile. During take-off, I decided that I don't like the B737. The engines are whiny and the looks of the airplane are unfavorable. I know that this a subjective statement, but that's like comparing the A343's engines to hairdryers. Service on this short flight consisted of a snack tray, which had bread with cold cut, a croissant, and yoghurt. Nothing to write home about but not bad either. Why people actually pay to fly Business Class on such a short flight is something I contemplated about during my flight. I don't have an answer, but I assume it is good that people still pay for Business Class. After landing in MUC, the purser made a farewell announcement thanking people for flying LH "knowing that [they] have the choice." I found this a nice touch, but there is no choice on VIE – MUC (not counting the train). Both AB and JP gave up flying to MUC; hence, only OS and LH operate this route. This is not my understanding of choice, but his effort counts.
We had an outside parking position and were driven to the terminal by bus. One person was a HON member and a fancy car waited by the airplane to pick her up. Big deal! My personal driver to Munich was going to be the S-Bahn, and I found out that between March and May, the ticket price had increased by 6%! I had a good lunch, Weißwürste, and enjoyed a nice after-lunch snoozing in Hofgarten. The weather was fine, and I watched the clouds go by. From adjacent Theatinerplatz the sounds of a demonstration echoed over to Hofgarten and all of a sudden, three sky divers glided down and landed over there. What a spectacle and all for free.
The meeting was productive, and it was soon time for me to go back to the airport. I knew that all of the late afternoon/evening flights to Vienna were full. Thus, I planned on trying my luck with OS 116 first and subsequent flights later. For the worst-case scenario of not making it on any flight, I had made provisions to stay overnight. Unlike in Vienna, the self check-in kiosks in Munich work just fine with stand-by tickets. Next, I made my way to security where one of the screeners made a naughty gesture to his colleague regarding a woman with big breasts. I found this very inappropriate. Yes, we are men and our brain might be located further 'south', but still …
Munich – Vienna
OS 116 was my first choice because it didn't show as overbooked in the forecast the day before. I arrived at gate G20 when boarding was in full swing. Once the masses had cleared, it became apparent that five non-revenue passengers and ten revenue passengers were on the waiting list. The gate manager handled things very professionally (I told him that later), calmed everybody down, and cleared all the revenue passengers but for two. Two non-rev passengers also made it on the flight, a captain and an FA, who were both LH staff and wearing uniform although I don't think they were dead-heads. There were two OS staff, one on duty travel, who were outraged about not having received priority over the LH staff. Not sure, what went wrong there. Once the remaining two revenue passengers, who hadn't made it on OS 116 were rebooked onto LH 3560, the stand-bys were put on waiting list for LH3560. A new game, a new chance.
Shortly after the cattle call was made, everything came to a halt because the aircraft scheduled to do this flight had a technical issue and a replacement aircraft had to be found. Everybody was ordered to sit down and wait. Meanwhile, the three non-rev passengers were given proper seat assignments. Only the OS staff on duty travel, who was dressed casual elegantly, and I, wearing khaki slacks and a sports jacket, got upgraded to Business Class; the other OS staff, who looked like he had gotten out of the party zone just an hour before, got coach. This is the first time I saw the dress code enforced on LH. While I waited, I saw LH 722 bound for Beijing being pushed back.
Eventually, a replacement aircraft was found, and we were bused to our Avro. Both in Vienna and in Munich this bad habit of bringing carry-on the size of full-grown suitcases on board was curbed. At the gate, passengers were told either to check their oversized bags in or to not get on the flight. Thank you! Finally! The flight to Vienna was uneventful. We had a nice crew but not super friendly. Business as usual. I don't mean this derogatory, but most LH crews are professional but not extra friendly. We got a snack tray with a cheese sandwich , a seafood salad, and a tart. Not too shabby! Oh, and a little chocolate was given out at the end. After landing in Vienna, we taxied to the Pier West, and I saw an OS A342 taking-off, as well as a B737 all in T-Mobile livery. Does T-Mobile have its own B737?
This concludes my report of a usually boring flight, but since this one was a bit different and because I am an all new and improved Beowulf, I decided to write it up. I am now an ebullient person, at least for as long as my medication lasts. All right, boys and girls, you know the drill.
Questions , suggestions , praise , etc. are highly welcome.
Flpuck6 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 2119 posts, RR: 33 Reply 1, posted (7 years 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3959 times:
LOL Beowulf, your report makes me laugh ... in a good way. I liked reading it, especially for your knack of witty and accurate observations, i.e. the girl being late at Starbucks and OS non-revs being refused on their own carrier.
Do you feel like you spend more time waiting around doing nothing when having to fly non-rev ? I mean, we have to be prepared for any situation, being refused, having to stay an extra night ... even though you were on a day trip to MUC did you feel like you spent most of the day waiting around ?
CPH757 From Denmark, joined Sep 2005, 684 posts, RR: 2 Reply 2, posted (7 years 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3829 times:
Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter): Second, I consider this report as "writing training." Some of you may know that I am two thirds done with my studies and am beginning to write my thesis in fall. Hence, this is not really a trip report for you but an exercise for me to get any message across to the reader as concisely, briefly, and eloquently as possible.
Wow. Long-term preparation. New style? Teach me
Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter): However, it appears Starbucks is charging an airport surcharge. At Starbucks downtown, my "coffee of the week, short" costs EUR 1.50; at the airport, it's EUR 1.60. WTF!
you cheapo! It's even more expensive in China, but don't worry. It's on me if you show up
Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter): For the worst-case scenario of not making it on any flight, I had made provisions to stay overnight
In the S-bahn?
Last flight: SAW-CPH on H9 on 02/11/09 - Next Flights: 23/12/09 CPH-AAL on QI, 30/12/09 CPH-LHR on SK, 19/01/10 CPH-CDG-
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4685 posts, RR: 47 Reply 4, posted (7 years 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3630 times:
LOL, very nice and funny report Nick! If you manage to write about such a seemingly boring and every-day situation as creative as you did in this report, you should not have to worry about your thesis. What will be the topic of it anyway?
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
Beowulf From Singapore, joined Jul 2003, 721 posts, RR: 16 Reply 5, posted (7 years 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3621 times:
Thanks for the positive feedback. Makes me even more ebullient.
Quoting Xjramper (Reply 3): Nice report, but I am thinking that this may qualify for the post with the most simlies in it!
I think I would have to agree with you. Less is probably more. However, these smilies are quite cute to look at, hence, I got carried away.
Quoting CPH757 (Reply 2): Wow. Long-term preparation. New style? Teach me
Don't tell me you aren't done? Weren't you supposed to turn yours in at the beginning of May? With regards to long-term preparation, well, I have four months to complete my whole thesis (including getting the grade). If I take longer than four months, I have to pay again. Hence, I start early to be done in time. And you know how these preparations go with the professors. You talk some general blabla and that's it. It's more about bonding and getting the right backing from him than actually being super productive.
Quoting CPH757 (Reply 2): Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter):
However, it appears Starbucks is charging an airport surcharge. At Starbucks downtown, my "coffee of the week, short" costs EUR 1.50; at the airport, it's EUR 1.60. WTF!
you cheapo! It's even more expensive in China, but don't worry. It's on me if you show up
Really?! I cannot remember if Starbucks was more expensive in China, and I went to one in Nanjing every day. Oh, and you just invited me for a cup of coffee, and I take you by your word!
Quoting CPH757 (Reply 2): Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter):
For the worst-case scenario of not making it on any flight, I had made provisions to stay overnight
In the S-bahn?
You bum, you! Hahaha! No, I had a list of hotels with me where I'd get staff benefits.
Now, let me answer those questions that require more brainpower.
Quoting Flpuck6 (Reply 1): Do you feel like you spend more time waiting around doing nothing when having to fly non-rev ? I mean, we have to be prepared for any situation, being refused, having to stay an extra night ... even though you were on a day trip to MUC did you feel like you spent most of the day waiting around ?
I don't change my travel behavior whether I am flying non-rev or rev. Thus, I don't think I feel like spending more time waiting. I mean, there is this general "useless waiting time" when you go to the airport, wait till your flight is ready for boarding, wait till everybody is on board, etc. My approach to this is either to read something, to nap (on the train to and from the airport), or to just go blank in my mind. I find it very relaxing. What I do hate is a certain anxiety just before getting the information whether one makes it on the flight or not. This is even more annoying when one flies long-haul or wants to get back home. I absolutely dread this.
Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 4): If you manage to write about such a seemingly boring and every-day situation as creative as you did in this report, you should not have to worry about your thesis. What will be the topic of it
As you probably know, writing a thesis is still a different cup of coffee. I don't know a definite topic yet, but my general area of interest in research is the link between the (lack of) development of oil-rich African countries and post-colonial dependencies with their former colononizers. If you are familiar with the Allison model (used by Graham Allison to explain the Cuban Missile Crisis), then it will ring a bell when I say that I want to investigate these post-colonial ties along the lines of the Allison model. To me this seems to be the most useful approach to understand the patterns and mechanics of post-colonial influence. However, it's challenging to find useful scholarly literature on it. There are tons of books on African anthropology and dependency theory, but for my purpose they lack the real-world approach.
Quoting Flpuck6 (Reply 1): accurate observations, i.e. the girl being late at Starbucks and OS non-revs being refused on their own carrier.
Yeah, I found both instances interesting from a psychological point of view. The Starbucks girl's body language was not in sync with her stories, which led me to believe she was dishonest. Now, the OS staff, although not knowing each other, immediately formed a link and shut me out. I mean, I saw them at LH 3560 again, but they never ever said a word to me. Especially, party boy knew that my deck of cards was better with LH. Of course, I understand that everybody is after for his/her own benefit and altruism does not really exist, but at times it's a bit childish.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2895 posts, RR: 25 Reply 6, posted (7 years 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 3592 times:
I have to agree, that though the airline/aircraft/routing combination was not too special, your writing style and the observation of all the small details made this report very funny to read, thanks a lot.
Beowulf From Singapore, joined Jul 2003, 721 posts, RR: 16 Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3328 times:
Quoting Ndebele (Reply 6): I have to agree, that though the airline/aircraft/routing combination was not too special, your writing style and the observation of all the small details made this report very funny to read, thanks a lot.
Thanks! I maybe should have emphasized that I wanted to illustrate the positive as well as the annoying aspects of non-rev travel following this thread Dress Code On Non-rev? (by SDLSimme Apr 24 2006 in Civil Aviation)
HT From Germany, joined May 2005, 6472 posts, RR: 27 Reply 8, posted (7 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3172 times:
Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter): At Starbucks downtown, my "coffee of the week, short" costs EUR 1.50; at the airport, it's EUR 1.60. WTF!
Oh come on ... I was expecting prices being much more higher at the airport than downtown, but 10 cents really don't make such a difference ...
Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter): Then I overheard a disciplinary talk between the Starbucks site manager and an employee.
Bad habit to hold such a talk in a way that customers are able to overhear it. It would have been the employees right to have this disciplinary talk as a face-to-face meeting in a seperate room.
Quoting Beowulf (Thread starter): Why people actually pay to fly Business Class on such a short flight is something I contemplated about during my flight. I don't have an answer, but I assume it is good that people still pay for Business Class.
To my assumption, most of the C-pax were connecting onto longhaul flights. Your flight into MUC has a number of connections to the U.S.