I am a mileage freak and used air miles for a free ticket from the US to Geneva. I soon learnt this summer that the airlines are not as generous as before. My sister was able to get a free ticket on Continental for 50,000 miles. The routing was: New York to Geneva nonstop. The return a weird Geneva to Paris, Paris to London on Air France and then Virgin Atlantic.
I had 50,000 Delta miles and was planning to use them on CO. However when I called to book DL announced that they had changed the rules (kept it hush hush) to 60,000 miles. I only had 52,000 so my plan to fly on CO with my sister were dashed.
I had enough American miles; 60,000 with a free stop in London so I thought. Oh no they announced; you are no longer allowed a free stopover in London. You have to pay an additional 10,000 for the stopover. So the whole trip came to 70,000 miles.
Up to about 5 years ago AA allowed 2 stops anywhere in Europe. Their program has become a lot less generous.
Had I used a 55,000 mile award on United, the routing would have been:
Singapore Airlines to Frankfurt, LX to Zurich and LX to Geneva. Return: LH to Frankfurt, AC to YUL and AC to LGA.
However because of the rip off high taxes on tickets via London I ended up paying $200 for my so called "free ticket." This compares to only $80 in taxes for a nonstop ticket to Geneva.
I hesitated using Air Miles because the fares this summer were the lowest I have ever seen them. On Northwest $640 compared to about $1,000 the year before. So in the end I only saved about $440; not really worth it.
Here is a picture of the AA 777 taken at 5 PM, an hour before departure.
Because AA in the past never served cheese which I like with the bread I bought a piece of cheddar cheese for $1.07 at the airport deli. the price has been maintained at $1.07 since years. I had the shock of my life when on the dinner plate there was a cheese spread. A nice sign that AA were improving the meals. The cheddar was better but next time no need to buy the cheese.
The desert an oatmeal thingy ma gig looked unappatizing and tiny till I bit into it. It was delicious, rich and filling. Here is a picture.
The seat pitch on AA at 32" is always comfortable. The crew were nice and the coffee seems to have improved. Entertainment so so. We arrived in London too early and had to fly around for 30 minutes as the airport only opens at 6AM. It was delightful to arrive so early as the airport was quiet and deserted. Here is a picture with the new control tower and the new BA terminal behind it. I love the Air Canada colours (no more). Little did I know then that 3 months later, I would fly from Geneva to Montreal on Air Canada and that they would "permanently lose my suitcase." That will be another trip report.
I had to wait 5 hours for the BA flight to Geneva. They told me they could not put me on an earlier flight as they cannot locate luggage. AA can, BA can't. BA in July were still serving a very nice sandwich with a delicious chocolate bar. I love the baby Coke cans on BA; it's enough with less calories. I don't like big cans. As I was in heaven munching on the delicious chicken curry sandwich I was reading about the giant losses at BA. I said to myself this delicious snack won't be served for much longer. They also let you pick as many newspapers as you wish.
The flight to Olbia, Sardinia was on Easyjet (Switzerland). The fare was $180 roundtrip and took only 1 hour 15 minutes. Seating was comfortable, the crew very friendly; seemed mostly French, not Swiss. Though it's supposed to be a Swiss carrier they screw you if you pay for food in Swiss Francs. They made us understand they prefer Euros. Easyjet are my "heroes." They offer great affordable fares from Geneva to really great destinations. They also have the best website of any airline. You pay about $10 to pick a seat. No one does. Everyone runs to get the best seat. It's a bit stressful boarding because of this.
Here are some pictures from the takeoff from Olbia Airport back to Geneva.
Could see all the ships preparing to leave for Corsica and the Italian mainland.
Most of the aircraft at the airport were Merediana, the airline of Olbia founded by the Agha Khan in the 1960s.
Here are a few pictures of the Costa Smeralda. Because it was built in the 1960s it really looks like California. You have to go to the mountain villages to really realise you are in Italy. The water is beautiful but freezing cold, even in July. The water must be warmer in Greenland.
Italians seem to like congragating in the water and chatting as can be seen in this picture. I loved slowly swimming past them and listening to their conversations. Their language is like music to me.
The nicest outing was on a Norwegian whaling ship built in 1935.
One could see Corsica from here where the mountains were. Only 1 hour away by boat. We could see the town of Bonifacao (can't spell it) built on cliffs.
The Queen of England has a house here. The white one. She did not seem to be in town.
Behind us the town of Palau with the ferry boat to the Magdalena Islands.
A picture of the most beautiful swimming pools I have ever seen. This new hotel was empty. Only about 6 of us shared about 7 swimming pools.
I can't drive shift. Better learn quick. It cost us $240; 170 Euros to rent an automatic car for one day. Here is the picture of this expensive car. The front and back window wipers suddenly started to function out of the blue; and I had no clue how to stop them. Very stressful experience.
The Costa Smeralda is nice but a "ripp off." It's really a resort for the super wealthy. I saw enough yachts, billionnaires, Hermes, Louis Vuitton handbags in one week to last a lifetime. Happy I went once to see it but I would not go back. And as to the freezing cold water ......... Also the restaurants are a ripp off; tiny portions and not all that good. $20 for an orange juice about 14 Euros; $30 for a sandwich (EU 20).
As we were landing in Geneva the pilot flew right next to the Mont Blanc. As I started to take a picture, my camera crashed. Canon cameras seem to crash after 3 years automatically.
BA were still serving a sandwich from GVA to London till September 1. No more food on flights less than 2 1/2 hours. They will not even offer anything for sale. The hostess in fact offered me 2 when I told her I was surprised to get one. They decided to keep on serving them for 3 more weeks. Because I purchased my own I ended up eating 3 sandwiches. Shame: I loved the BA sandwiches and the chocolate biscuits they used to serve in the "old days." I will miss them dearly and think about them everytime I board a BA flight to Geneva from London.
AA flight was excellent back. No pics as my poor camera crashed.
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