Flight Reviews

YYZ-DUS-MUC 11 Sept 2010

Toronto to Dusseldorf on LH.  Unable to generate my boarding pass DUS-MUC on web check-in.   Nice surprise at the gate in T1 when the agent called my name and moved me from row 31 to row 3.  Biz class on LH is roughly comparable to AC Executive First with near lie flat seats.   I think the service was a bit more attentive however.

ORF-IAD-YYZ 21 May 2010

Unexciting and safe yet better than the trip down as the transit time in IAD was a little under an hour so home quickly and thus happy family.

YYZ-IAD-ORF 16 May 2010

Two consecutive one* hour flights over a ten hour period.  Maxing out the OP Beer at the lounge!  YYZ – IAD is about 1hr wheels up to wheels down in a UA CRJ 700 – comfortable enough for this length of flight – not sure I would want to go much longer though.   United Red Carpet Club in IAD is pathetic – crappy munchies and typical cash bar – I would take an MLL any day.   22 Minutes tarmac to tarmac from Washington into Norfolk – but 4 hours if you drive.  Airline can’t be making too much money on this flight unless it is a milk run fully loaded to other destinations….

YYZ-MUC 26 Jan 2010

Executive First, upgraded, outbound on a Boeing 767. Although the interiors were refurbished only a couple of years ago, they are already looking a little worse for wear. The outside wall of the pod opposite me showed significant surface damage (likely from roller backs as passengers load and unload), while my seat was missing some plastic trim, exposing raised screws into the floor. Front cabin was full except one seat, whilst the economy cabin seemed to be perhaps half empty.

WAW-FRA-YYZ 30 Oct 2009

Warsaw Chopin Airport Terminal 2 is quite new, and very easy to navigate.  Seems as if plenty of money (EU?) is being dropped on former eastern bloc infrastructure.  This is now the third of four former soviet bloc countries I have travelled to in the past couple of years which boast new international airports.

At any rate, our LOT flight was late departing as the pilot informed us that heavy traffic in and out of Frankfurt had resulted in a delayed gate availability.   Needless to say I had a keen eye on the time as we approached, then circled for a couple of laps before arriving at the C gates at just past 0900.  Fortunately being at the front of the bus allowed for a quick sprint to the B gate security (although I could hear them calling AC 873) and then on to zoll controle.   Could very well have been much tighter connection if the flight had landed at the A gates which is often the case.

Executive First on the return – nothing to write home about.  The front cabin crew were efficient but not particularly friendly or engaging.   A big change from the friendly crew on the Lufthansa flight only four days earlier.

YYZ-FRA-WAW 26 Oct 2009, Air Canada 872 / LH 3302

IMG_0029

A Concourse Frankfurt International

I have only ever flown in business class with Lufthansa twice, and without fail they have greeted me by name, implying that the cabin crew have taken the time to examine the passenger manifest.    Unfortunately, Air Canada seems to have a fairly spotty record.  I suppose if you are a very frequent flyer on the same routes, the cabin crew would get to know you, however I can think of only once or twice where the In Charge or Service Director came around and greeted everyone by name.  Does this mean that AC is a terrible airline?  No – rather that in my opinion it is simply that LH takes care of the little details just a bit more than does AC.    At any rate, front of the bus from the big smoke to Frankfurt and on to Warsaw.

Important Frankfurt (FRA) navigation tip:  I don’t know why it took me so long to clue into the roof top shuttle train at FRA, but I’m sold.  No longer will I exit customs, head down the escalator and turn right into the usually massive security B / A gates line up – instead it’s straight out through to the concourse, take a sharp right follow the signs for D&E gates, up to the top and lo – there is also the train to the A gates.  Once you get arrive at the A concourse, there are almost never any line ups at the very underused security check point and you come back down exactly where the elevators from the B-A tunnel disgorge their travellers.    Faster all around I think.

BRE-FRA-YUL 18 Sept 2009, Lufthansa / Air Canada

One of the (decreasing) benefits of star alliance gold status is being able to check in at the business class counter regardless of fare class.   At 0440 in the morning with the lineup at Lufthansa economy counter trailing out the door and onto the sidewalk, this benefit was quite welcome indeed.  Oddly I wasn’t able to snag my AC  boarding pass in BRE and so joined the lineup at the transit counter in FRA.  The somewhat harried looking agent was very kind in assigning an exit row window seat and as a consequence I had enough leg room to pitch a tent (Boeing 777) – almost like biz

YUL train station rough in

YUL train station rough in

class but without the champagne.   Although I absolutely despise FRA, I am beginning to enjoy the YUL-FRA link as it is invariably about 1.5 t0 2 hours less than YYZ-MUC (despite that Airport being one of the best).   One of these days* they will get around to moving the Dorval VIA station onto the airport property and then YUL will be able to compete with major European hubs for transit accessibility.

—————–

*  According to the proposed development plan, Montréal–Trudeau Airport will be connected to the CN-CP rail network by two tracks leading from a station incorporated into the terminal. At its own expense, ADM has begun work on the future Montréal–Trudeau rail station beneath the new sector for departures to the United States adjacent to the air terminal, as it is more advantageous to do so now.

YOW-FRA-BRE 09 Sept 2009, Air Canada / Lufthansa

Arrived from Ottawa into Frankfurt to find that the B pier is completely under construction and our docking station was at the C gates.  A temporary snaking corridor lead to an obviously much too small zoll controlle and a line up which backed away down the corridor.   Fortunately I had plenty of connection time.   Arrived in Bremen, lovely little airport, and then quickly out to claim my rental car and onwards.

MCI-YYZ 29 July 2009, Air Canada Jazz

Hmm, only 20 passengers on the 50 seat RJ.  I wonder how much longer AC will be able to keep this once a day flight to KC?  Reduced capacity in the near future?

YYZ-MCI 13 July 2009, Air Canada Jazz

Skip two down.  The same only later in the summer.

MCI-YKansas City International AirportYZ-YUL 19 June 2009, Air Canada

Let’s see – no services after security, and a tiny starbucks doing double duty as a lounge adds up to a  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”a “>sucky airport.  MCI, useless.  Full flight from YYZ to YUL but on time and somewhat more service available on the 50 minute flight than the two hour torture from MCI.

YYZ-MCI 15 June 2009, Air Canada 8029

An hour and a half in the Maple Leaf Lounge, followed immediately by two hours jammed into an RJ to be deposited in KC.  On the whole, I’d rather swill beer at the lounge than fly in an RJ…..

VIE-MUC-YYZ 12 June 2009: Lufthansa, Air Canada.

Have I mentioned I like MUC?  Arrived from VIE at an outboard station with about an hour and a half to spare.   However this airport is so well laid out, that despite the shuttle bus to terminal 2, it was a very quick trot up the escalator, past the G gates and up another escalator to zoll control, and on into the lounge for about 45 minutes or so.  Hands down the best airport in europe.

TDG – VIE 11 June 2009:  Tyrolean Airlins

Outdoor beer garden at TDG – these cats could show us a thing or two about how to operate an airport…. and who knew there could be a ‘business’ class on a DASH 8 314?  Apparently there is, not that I got any of it.  Mind you I was one row back which allowed greater leg room.  Anyway two and a bit hours later I arrive in Vienna, then off to hotel with a 37euro taxi fare in hand.  Yoiks!

YYZ-FRA-VIE-TDG 08 June 2009:  AC, LH and Montenegro Airlines

The Toronto – Frankfurt portion of this particular flight was noticeable for its quiet.  Unlike plenty of long haul flights where there are several opportunities for the crew to break in on the intercom (turbulence, duty free, dinner etc), this time it seemed as if there were fewer interuptions.  At any rate I was able to obtain needed pod rest.

The AC cabin crew were quietly efficient, seemed in good spirits and otherwise friendly.

MUC-FRA-YUL 15 May 2009:  LH and AC 875

Returning on a K fare (any lower, and I’d have been riding with the luggage), I requested and received an exit row seat on AC875.    Anyone looking for substantial leg room on the AC 777-300s, should choose seats 31 ABC/HJK, or 50 ABC/HJK as they are the outboard exit row seats and have about seven feet or more of unused space between the seat and the bulkhead in front.  Can be a little noisy as some people tend to congregate in this area during inflight walkabouts.  However, equipped with earplugs and noise cancelling headphones, I was able to rest quite nicely.

Curiosity of the day:  lamb pizza pocket served as the second light meal – Lamb Pizza?

The real p**s-off was that upon arrival in the customs hall in YUL, the line snaked back on itself several times as three agents attempted to process to international flights.  The upshot was that despite being 45(!) minutes early, all of that gain was lost, thus eliminating any chance of getting an earlier train homeward.

YUL – FRA – MUC 01 May 2009:  Air Canada 874 and LH XXXX

Nice surprise on checkin:  my fare class was too low for the available upgrade certificates which I have,  but the lovely checkin agent at Montreal noted that economy was oversold and upgraded me anyway.  BZ to Air Canada.   Interestingly while there were still a couple of empty business class seats, economy was packed.  Perhaps this particular flight is ‘recession proof’?   The service wasn’t very efficient but at least was pleasant.  Still, I much prefer the overall cheerful attitude on VIA 1 – AC flight attendants could make the experience that much better for their paying customers if they adopted more than a workman like attitude to inflight service.

MCO-YYZ 04 April 2009: Air Canada 913

Nice of Air Canada to remind me that my air fare included a complimentary meal on board – after I had arrived in Toronto!  Buy on board is likely making AC tons of cash, since it is all too easy to ‘forget’ to tell customers that certain air fares actually entitle you to a complimentary meal.

YYZ – MCO 28 March 2009:  Air Canada 912

Three hours aboard an Airbus  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”Airbus “>A320 in cattle class – including food for purchase – yetch.  Thank god for the layover in the MLL at pearson.  Beer does do a body good.

Air Canada approaching bankruptcy?  Being stranded in Florida might not be so bad….

FRA – YUL 12 March 2009:  Air Canada 875

Every time I fly through Frankfurt I swear never to let it happen again – and yet there it was – the interminable hike from the car rental return to AC checkin (C gates), the return hike to B security, the awful cramped concourse and of course the @!&*ing pre boarding holding pens!  A well, at least this flight is about two hours shorter than the MUC-YYZ run, with a relaxing VIA 1 run ahead of me.

AC 874, March 05 2009

 

YUL – FRA 05 March 2009:  Air Canada 874

 Signs of the recession in Executive First?   Boeing triple 7 Airbus with 42 executive first ‘pods’, of which approximately 10 were empty.  I don’t think anyone who requested an upgrade was refused unless they lacked the appropriate certificate for their fare class.  Assuming between 7 – 10 upgrades this means that paying customers in executive first were around 22 or 25.

Bison served as dinner meal – quite tasty.   Was given a cutlery set in which the fork had clearly not been cleaned thouroughly as it was coated with some sort of caked on residue – not acceptable.

IAD – YYZ 27 February 2009:  United Airlines

GTAA is a joke.  Arriving YYZ, we stood off the bridge for about 20 minutes while GTAA rustled up an ‘adapter’ for the bridge.  Question:  since UA uses the same type of aircraft at least once a day into Pearson, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this sort of adapter is required.

YYZ – IAD 22 February 2009:  United Airlines

Short flight, even less headroom.  UA uses Embraer 145s for this particular run – not really all that comfortable, but then again it is only about an hour in the air.

MUC – YYZ  13 February 2009: Air Canada 847

Upgraded to Executive First on the return from Germany to Canada.   Many of the same crew as two weeks ago with the same Service Director.  They seemed a little disorganised, particularly whilst obtaining our meal preferences.  Had the veal, but not sure it agreed with me – could have been related to recent bout of flu however.

YYZ – MUC 30 January 2009; Air Canada 846

AC 846 on another refurbished 767 in Executive First.   Boarding appeared to be a little rushed as the grooming staff had barely left the aircraft and we were ushered on board.   Little things like no offer of orange juice or sparkling wine prior to pushback confirmed for me that this particular flight / crew were a little rushed.   My seat lost power about two thirds of the way into the flight – causing the In Charge and various other cabin attendants to wrestle the toggle switch which is apparently underneath the seat and to the rear – thus in just about the most inconvenient place possible.   Flight was smooth with negligible turbulence and arrived on time in Munich.   Some consternation as luggage had been removed from the YGK-YYZ flight and I did wonder if mine might have been some of it – however it did arrive eventually.

YYZ – MUC 28 November 2008; Air Canada 846

AC 846 from Toronto to Munich on a refurbished 767 in Executive First.  Second time in one of these neat herringbone style pods – confirms my initial impressions which is that the seat is a little hard – but compensated for by the 180 degree lie flat ability plus about a gazillion intermediate positions.

BRU-FRA-YYZ 06 November 2008; Lufthansa, Air Canada

Received a panicked email / phone call at 0600hrs from a colleague in Madrid whilst I was waiting in Brussels for my early departure to Frankfurt.  Apparently he had misplaced his corporate credit card and was due to check out in about an hour.   Sucks.

Upgraded from FRA to YYZ.   Service was unobtrusive, bordering on the forgetful.

YYZ – FRA – BRU 01 November 2008; Air Canada 872

AC 872 from Toronto to Frankfurt on a 777 in Executive First.  Although these new executive first seats have been around for a little while, it was my first experience of one.  Quite nice indeed.   Frankfurt airport sucks as usual…..

FRA – YUL 27 Sept 2008; Air Canada 873

Actually, not so much about our return trip as a shout out to Lufthansa for going above and beyond the call of duty to look after the Parental Units.   Medical conditions essentially limit the amount of energy each can devote to the marathon of checkin etc, however Lufthansa very nicely brought a buggy for them and then escorted them through customs, security and all the way to the gate.

YUL – FRA 18 January 2008;  Air Canada 874

AC874 from  pre=”from “>Montreal-Dorval (I refuse to refer to it by its new name) to Frankfurt on an Airbus 333.  The equipment was an older aircraft without the new interiors.  Service was acceptable – that is the cabin crew seemed to be friendly but a little disorganised.  I ordered the beef tenderloin which was a mistake as it was a bit tough – the first time I had encountered an Executive First meal which was not acceptable.  Fortunately I wasn’t very hungry.

YYJ – YVR – YYZ 28 December 2007: Air Canada 034

Boeing 777 in Economy.  The Heir and I travelled home together, with the elder fierce creature entirely enthralled with the inflight entertainment system.   Herself and the Spare travelled homeward on Boxing Day.

MUC – FRA – YVR – YYJ 15 December 2007; Lufthansa and Air Canada

Up early from the hotel to catch an early bird to FRA (0620!) and then onto the long haul transpolar to Vancouver and then a short hop into Victoria.    Home to see family for Christmas.    Herself and kids travelled via YYZ to Victoria four days ago.

YYZ – MUC December 2007: Air Canada 846

Outbound on a refurbed 763.  Pods are looking nice, I am hoping to be upgraded soon, but no such luck on this flight.  Ah well, ear plugs in, sound cancelling headphones on,  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=””>blankie snugged up around my shoulders, and eye shades on and it’s off to dreamland until we descend.

YYZ – MUC – EVN November 2006: Air Canada 846 and Lufthansa.

The choice was:  transit via munich with a 12(!) hour layover, and onward by Lufthansa to Yerevan, or fly Air France to Moscow and take my chances with Aeroflot or yuri’s fly by night airline into Armenia.  It was pretty much a no brainer – despite being penned in an airport for several hours, on balance I would much rather arrive in one piece – the odss being higher on Lufthansa – than become a participant in some horrific russian airline theatre…..

$30 USD to enter the country, payable before passing customs.  10000 flipflops to leave Armenia (roughly equates to 30 bucks), so they get you coming and going.

YYZ-YVR-HNL-SYD-BNE-SIN-HGK-MUC-OTP-MUC-YYZ:  September/October 2006:  Air Canada, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa etc

The five week around the world trip from hell.  Upgraded from Toronto through Vancouver to Honolulu.  Upgraded from Honolulu to Sydney.   Flight and food unremarkable.   Nice folks at SYD got us through the customs line up ahead of others in order to snag an earlier flight to Brisbane.

Brisbane via Singapore to Hong Kong on Singapore Airlines in economy class.  Fantastic flight as the entire row was empty allowing me to raise the arm rests and create my own slightly lumpy lie flat bed.  Helped to kill eight hours.   At Hong Kong gate agent moved me to the double exit row on the Lufthansa Airbus.  As soon as the flight took off, I was able to put my backpack under my feet, wrap the blanket around me for warmth and shoved earplugs and noise cancelling headphones on and was out for nine hours.  Woke just as they were beginning to serve breakfast prior to landing first thing in Munich.

Two weeks later Munich to Bucharest:  a short LH flight into the international airport at Otopeni.   I opted for a rental car which was a mistake as road signs and traffic in Bucharest are non existent and crazy.  Mind you, apparently if you don’t get the right kind of taxi, you can find out at your destination that the fare is double or triple.

YYY – LHR – AMS September 2003:  KLM

Royal Dutch Airlines has the best pre-boarding procedure ever.  At checkin you are issued a coloured paddle along wih your boarding pass.  At the gate, the agents call passengers holding certain coloured paddles – and they enforce it – turning back anyone without the coorect colour.  What a welcome change from the free for all at Air Canada!

YGK – MUC 03 June 2003: AC 846

Air Canada 763 in Economy.    I am expecting to meet a colleague whom I have never actually laid eyes on to share a rental car from Munich to our destination.  Not really sure how this will work out.   A child, mother and grandmother are occupying the two left outboard seats – kid is making a horrific racket, clearly not happy travelling.  No sleep.   Baggage handlers at MUC are amazing, our baggage was on the carrousel before we cleared customs (about 10 minutes max).

___________________ 

Favourite Airports:

  • Munich Airport – MUC -(Terminal 2) possibly one of the best laid out terminals and very easy to access by car and train.
  • Schiphol – AMS – Not sure why I liked it, but perhaps because it seemed easy to navigate.
  • Toronto – YYZ (Terminal 1) A great terminal – lots of light and space – not at all claustrophobic.   Mind you the interminable hike to the international pier wasn’t exactly a stroke of genius in the planning department.   Hate landing at IFT though (IFT not in use now for international flights since May 2007). YYZ needs a high speed train link to downtown.
  • Calgary – YYC – Great airport for little kids, complete with Dinosaurs (guaranteed to make any 2-7 yearold happy) and plenty of roaming space
  • Victoria – YYJ – Despite the fact that it doesn’t have a high speed highway or train connection, the airport and surroundings are simply beautiful. Also it’s home – so I have a soft place in my heart for it.

——

Least Favourite Airports

  • Kansas City – MCI – old and provincial. No restaurants or cafes once through security.
  • Bucharest – OTP – drab, poor layout, few security checkthrough points.
  • Frankfurt – FRA – annoying setup – claustrophobic.  Is it just me or are the passenger holding pens at gates 41 to 48 really tiresome?
  • Vancouver – YVR – old and tired and seemingly always under construction.

—–

Airport List (Arrived / Departed)

Canadian Airports  

    • Calgary – YYC
    • Edmonton – YEG
    • Fredericton – YFC
    • Halifax – YHZ
    • Kingston – YGK
    • Montreal – YUL
    • Ottawa – YOW
    • Toronto – YYZ
    • Thunder Bay – YQT
    • Vancouver – YVR
    • Winnipeg – YWG
    • Victoria – YYJ

US Airports  

    • Charlotte NC – CLT
    • Chicago OHare – ORD
    • Des Moines – DSM
    • Honolulu – HNL
    • Kansas City – MCI
    • Norfolk International – ORF
    • Orlando – MCO
    • Philadelphia – PHL
    • Reagan National – DCA
    • Seattle – Tacoma – SEA
    • Syracuse Hancock – SYR
    • Washington DC – IAD

International Airports 

  • Amsterdam – AMS
  • Brisbane – BNE
  • Bremen – BRE
  • Brussels – BRU
  • Bucharest – OTP
  • Dusseldorf – DUS
  • Frankfurt – FRA
  • Hong Kong – HKG
  • London – Heathrow – LHR
  • Madrid – BAR
  • Prague – PRG
  • Podgorica – TGD
  • Riga – RIX
  • Singapore – Changi – SIN
  • Stockholm – ARL
  • Sydney – SYD
  • Vienna – VIE
  • Warsaw – WAW
  • Yerevan – EVN
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