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Old 28th December 2022, 15:56   #1
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International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Starting a new thread on experiences, good and not so good, on international flights. This thread is also meant to share advice, words of caution to fellow members & readers and provide helpful guidance about international air travel and airlines. Given the large number of Team BHPians who are flying international each day it is my hope this thread will be useful.

First some fun facts on air travel followed by a couple of my less pleasant experiences.
  • The world’s busiest air route is Seoul-Jeju both in South Korea with 17 million passengers*. In fact, amongst the top ten only one route is outside Asia and that is New Mexico-Cancun with 5.6 million pax. India’s top city pair is New Delhi-Mumbai with 4.9 million at rank 13th. The busiest international air route is Hong Kong- Taipei with 6.5 million pax. Interestingly all top 10 international routes are in Asia.
  • Business class in a rudimentary form came in 1978 with Pan Am, British Airways and Air France offering extra services and amenities to those economy class passengers who had paid a full economy fare. Qantas introduced the first separate Business Class, as we understand it today, in 1979.
  • Question: How long does the oxygen in an emergency mask last? Answer: The oxygen masks provided from above your seat, in the case of an emergency, are designed to give out a full 15 minutes of oxygen, enough to allow the pilot to lower the altitude of the plane to a level where the outside air pressure is breathable (around 10,000 feet or 3,000 meters).
  • One fact which ill-informed passengers and media do not believe is that the air on board an aircraft is very clean. In fact, roughly 40 percent of the air we breathe during a flight is being filtered through a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) system. The other 60 percent is fresh air that’s being brought on board from outside the plane. Cabin air is completely changed every three minutes, on average, while the aircraft is cruising.
  • Carrying cargo pays more than carrying passengers. An economy class ticket on an average covers its share of the costs and the discounted economy class ticket is most often only covering its share of variable costs.
  • KLM, the Dutch airline, is the world's oldest airline in continuous operation under its original name. It was formed in 1919. Aviance {Colombia}, Qantas and Aeroflot are the other three airlines with 100 years of unbroken service under the same same.
Back in May 1996 I was on a United Airlines flight from Paris to Washington DC. As a younger more struggling professional I was in economy. It was a Boeing 767 with a 2+3+2 seating. I was in window seat 'A' and a European {probably French} passenger in seat 'B'. Soon after take off my neighbour spoke to the air hostess in French and said something to the effect of ‘please change my seat, I don’t want to sit next to this black bum’. I understand enough of French {though I can’t speak the language} to know what he said and looked at the air hostess and said in English, ‘please oblige him’. And she changed his seat. The air hostess was a French lady and I got the impression that back in the day she felt the request made by that passenger was perfectly reasonable. :-(

On another occasion in 2006 I was the solitary passenger in the business class cabin of Air India flying back from South East Asia {can't recall the port of embarkation} and the cabin crew after serving my meal all sat around in the empty biz class seats and talked endlessly at the top of their voices including playing film songs on a Sony walkman {remember those things}! I actually had to request them to maintain silence in the cabin as I wished to sleep. I'm grateful that at least after my polite but firm request they piped down.

Where cabin service and check-in service go United Airlines would be at the bottom of my list of major carriers hands down. I have many anecdotes of the rottenness of their service. Air China would be next low down on my list with American Airlines a close 2nd runner up. I haven’t flown some bloopers such as Aeroflot, Olympic {Greece}, Ryan Air, Air Canada. American carriers usually break the scales on terrible service. Asian carriers, the major international ones, usually come out tops on cabin service IMHO. Among the European carriers I'd rate Lufthansa and KLM, Virgin Atlantic up there and SAS, Alitalia, Iberia down there.

*Data for 2021

Photos of the two worst airlines I have flown with.
Attached Thumbnails
International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-unitedairlinesjpg.jpg  

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-79466_airchinaairbusa320_502715.jpg  


Last edited by V.Narayan : 28th December 2022 at 18:07.
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Old 28th December 2022, 18:14   #2
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th December 2022, 18:34   #3
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

I wouldn't blame the Airlines alone, but the passengers too. My little flights with Air India remind me of clogged and overflowing Toilets which I have not encountered in my favourite Lufthansa flying Delhi to USA and other flights/carriers.
Besides, I have observed Air India Crew to be ignoring Indians while favoring other nationalities. This I have not found with other Carriers as long as the passenger is decent, fluent in English, respectful to crew and not Alcohol guzzler.
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Old 28th December 2022, 20:22   #4
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Airlines flown by me

Star Alliance

Aegean, ANA, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Eva Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Thai Airways, Turkish and United

Oneworld

Alaska Air, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qatar Air, Royal Air Maroc, Sri Lankan Airlines

Skyteam

Aeromexico, Air France, China Eastern, Delta, Kenya Airways, KLM

Standalone airlines

Air Asia, Air Baltic, Airlink (South Africa), Air Tahiti, Caribbean Airlines, Cubana, Easyjet, Emirates, Frontier, Gulf Air, Indigo, Jetblue, Jetstar, Kuwait Airways, LAM Chile, LAM Mozambique, Lionair, Rwandair, Ryanair, Spring Air, Scoot, Skymark, Spirit, Tigerair, Ukraine International Airlines, Vietjet, Vistara, Vueling

I am missing out a few probably.

Most memorable airlines - Singapore Air, Turkish, ANA. SQ is truly the undisputed champion, while Turkish has the best food. ANA has the cleanest planes.

The most boring airlines - United, KLM, British Airways, Iberia, Kuwait Air. They get you from point A to B but that's about it. As glamorous as riding a Delhi public bus.

Worst of the worst - LAM Mozambique (delayed in Maputo on a domestic flight for 3 days), and Cubana - (flight to Cuba from Cancun with 200 passengers and just one bottle of 1.5 liter of water used by the staff to fill plastic cups. Had to drink the water with miniscule sips)

Most efficient - surprise surprise!! Ryanair (you need to know the tricks of the trade and it can do wonders if you want to travel within Europe on a shoestring budget)

Most hyped but probably average experience - Emirates. My personal experiences have been outright horrid. The flight crew can put Biman Bangladesh to shame.

Last edited by no_fear : 28th December 2022 at 20:30.
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Old 28th December 2022, 20:30   #5
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Here is an interesting anecdote. I am probably hazy with the details as this happened back in 2000 or so. I was flying business class to the US with Singapore Airlines and in Seoul airport they realised they overbooked the business class and they wanted a volunteer to downgrade to Economy class. I looked young, brown and single, so they approached me and requested very politely if I would be kind enough to downgrade to Economy class and they would refund the price difference. I did not mind and gave my consent - they were very polite and it was hopefully more to do with my young+single status than my skin colour (wishful thinking).

During the flight, two flight attendants came up to me, thanked me and gave me a bunch of gifts as a token of appreciation. One of the gifts was an upgrade coupon. My return trip was also business class. I had the option of using the coupon for a future journey to upgrade from economy to business class which would offer substantial benefits in savings and comfort. Or upgrade my return business class to first class which would offer fairly marginal savings and improvement in comfort. It may seem trivial but it was a deeply philosophical choice for a young person like me as I was not routinely eligible for business class travel and it would be awesome to upgrade from economy to business class.

I flew first class. It was wonderful - they kneeled to serve and made me feel like a king (too bad I am a teetotaller). To this day, I have not had another opportunity to fly first class and mostly fly economy class. I consider it to be one of the best decisions I have made in life and to this day serves me as a reference to be less pragmatic in life. In life, I prefer one first class + one economy tickets to two business class tickets. When the Indigo ladies push me around like cattle, I think of the day when the prettiest Singapore air hostess kneeled and served me a feast of gourmet food with no fellow passengers within hearing distance.

I scanned the stub as it was beginning to fade to keep as a souvenir :-)

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-fc.png

Last edited by androdev : 28th December 2022 at 20:36.
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Old 28th December 2022, 20:53   #6
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

This was back in 2007 and my first international trip on my own (as a young adult). Actually, it was the return trip after spending 3 months in Australia but technically I'd say it was my first round trip. I was flying Air Malaysia with a nearly full-day halt at KL, with my first leg ending early morning and the connecting flight later in the night.

I got a transit pass and did some sightseeing & shopping in the city and returned back to the airport with some 2 hours to spare. My security check-in was completed in less than 15 mins so I had a lot of time to spare in the duty-free shopping section. Or so I thought. I went about browsing the liquor and chocolate sections blissfully unaware of the time passing by when I overheard an announcement in Malay with my name. I then looked at the time and realized I had just ~10 mins to departure. I literally ran to the boarding gate and thankfully the staff had waited for me and allowed me to board the plane. The poor attendant mentioned they had every other passenger on the flight boarded at least 15 mins ago with only me left.

To date, I have never felt so embarrassed as I did that day. Also, that was the day I realized why Air Malaysia and Singapore Airlines were top-rated on customer service.
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Old 28th December 2022, 22:21   #7
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

First - without meaning to be elitist - avoid the budget airlines.

Why?

Check In- Passengers come in with cargo - leading to delayed check-in

In-Flight - No entertainment, no decent food, loud talking, no space

Transfer - People have huge carry ons and then need to do repeated security pass throughs as they never empty their pockets, baggage thoroughly.

Plenty of crazy other things - flight timings keep changing (Go Air), need to reconfirm (Air Arabia)

AirMiles -

Keep Redeeming them - try last minute at check in

Some like Singapore Airlines are like fairy gold - never worth anything.

Emirates - worked for me - managed to upgrade to Business Class - Seattle to Dubai - worth every point. Also did London to Dubai for a small surcharge

Lufthansa - Worked well once from Frankfurt to Bangalore

If I had not redeemed the points, I would have lost them post Covid

My experience with Airlines


Air India - They know how to cope in a crisis - My cheapo ex company routed me in winter from London- Delhi-Mumbai-Bangalore - before international flights started in Bangalore. Checked into LHR to find my flight had not even reached New York due to Delhi Fog. 10 hours in LHR, I had returned the car, the house was now locked up. Luckily, the Air India lady knew what to do.

"Only 1 PAX?"

"Ok, will put you on a flight to Mumbai leaving in a couple of hours"

British Airways- Bland. They lost my baggage in the T5 first day , first show. Ended up in the US with one change of underwear. To cut long story short, my baggage came back 10 days after I reached home. I use BA only if I need to visit directly /stop over in the UK. I did get upgraded Business Class once. - it was nice but nowhere like Emirates. Tip - for good food - London-India - specify Indian Vegetarian - its usually prepared very well.

Emirates - Not the best but reliable. DXB is boring but the best latte I have enjoyed at GetYourFix. Best for trans-atlantic as they fly past the North Pole

Qatar - Clean, quiet, efficient - recommended

Thai - Food is not so great. BKK airport - big and nothing more - bathrooms are not always clean. Best duty free are the shops immediately after clearing immigration.

Singapore Airlines - Good Food - decent service except between India and Singapore. Changi airport is a nice place to be

Cathay - Not bad but beware of thieves. Some lowlife stole my headphone - BLR to HK

Royal Malaysian - They lose your baggage. A dear friend of mine is currently sitting pant less in South Island , New Zealand. The bag is in Auckland but shows no sign of movement.

US - I stick to Jet Blue - I used to avoid short flights and drive. Domestic flights best used with carry on bags only.

Turkish - Good food, clean aircraft

Airports

LHR
- Terminal 4 and 5 are ok - Terminal 1 and 3 are grimy and crowded

Frankfurt -Big, bland, confusing to transfer

Beijing - Massive - once asked the Shangri-la for an airport pickup and it starts with a pretty lady meeting me directly at the gate, taking me through immigration and taking me to an exclusive room and floor where my car awaited

Shanghai - If you are on the Pudong side - take the Maglev and a taxi onwards. Taxi Guides are on hand to make sure you get to the right place

Hong Kong - transfer is time consuming, dinner time is crowded, try to look for somewhere in one of the wings instead of the food court

Geneva - Boring

Munich - Nice but small

Nice - Nice homely place.

JFK - Big, dirty, - taxi is a ripoff - try booking a Town Car - much easier or take the subway into town.

SFO - Boring, a few nice restaurants but nothing else

Vancouver - Very pleasant

Colombo - Old - Beware of people trying to help load baggage - they merely want cash. Give yourself time and people are slow


Exchanging Money - Avoid at airports. Forex reconversion in China - so complex that its not worth it.

VAT Refunds - Worth it for recovering huge amounts and expensive small hand carried items. LHR has a long queue for declaring checked in items. The staff there will suggest you to hand carry and declare after immigration. BKK - you won't get much refund for all the effort.

Most surprisingly decent airport - Manama - quick, clean, pleasant.

Bathrooms

Most are never pleasant except Dubai post 11 am, Qatar, Singapore, Frankfurt

Bangalore Airport - If your bowels are not upto lasting beyond the flight - try the set of bathrooms located behind the check in rows accessed from behind the middle elevator. You walk in, the janitor will size you up and offer a clean stall. Do remember him on your way out.

Last edited by ajmat : 29th December 2022 at 07:43.
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Old 29th December 2022, 04:24   #8
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

This was in Feb - 2009, I think my 3rd international flight. By now, I felt I had enough travel experience to know how it is done in comfort. So I packed off everything in checked baggage and just held on to my backpack with a camera, laptop and chargers for a trip to SFO via LHR. The flight was supposed to land at 0730 hrs and I peeked out of the window to see this:

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-picture-037.jpg

After a while, we were cleared to land and couldn't even taxi our way to the gate. My shorts and t-shirt attire did not like the weather. After about 2 hours of hold on the taxiway, we disembarked using conventional airstairs.

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-picture-060.jpg

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-picture-065.jpg

As I type this, I can still feel the cold that bit me as soon as they opened the aircraft doors.

What ensued later was a 13 hour in queue wait time at T5 in Heathrow just to get a ticket reissued. The city was gridlocked and no staff could make it to the airport. The entire pax traffic at T5 was handled by 2-3 ticketing agents. Thankfully people were civil and did not make a fuss about the facilities and treated each other well.

No free wifi, no decent snack or food was available. Thankfully some airport staff passed by every 2 hours with a bag of chips and some bottles of water.

My bags arrived a week later. After this incident, I ensure that I have adequate supply for atleast 2-3 days of clothing, toiletries and other essentials for any travel.

Other useful advice:

1. Use https://flightaware.com/ to track your inbound plane. There's a button that shows where it is. If it is delayed, there is no point in going in early to the airport.

2. Use https://www.seatguru.com/ to figure out your seating configuration. There may be useful hacks to get an extra legroom seat without having to pay extra money.

3. Use miles graciously. I regret not having done that in the previous decade. I realised how useful alliance statuses are much later. Star Alliance Gold pretty much offers you everything that business travellers get: Priority checkin, Extra baggage allowance, priority tags on your bags, lounge access, faster security at some airports.

4. Enroll for Global Entry if you are a seasoned traveler to the US. Even once a year is reason enough: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-t...s/global-entry

Indians qualify to apply for it. What you get for $100 is essentially a Green carpet walkout at US airports to skip the queue. After 22+ hours of flying, this is a boon. An added bonus is TSA Pre inclusion with Global Entry. TSA Pre gives you a faster security clearance for domestic travel. It's like using an expressway within US airports.

5. For best fares, use - https://www.google.com/flights and toggle "track prices" for finding out the best deals. The dategrid and price graph features are super helpful. Use it only to get pricing, book on the relevant airline website.
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Old 29th December 2022, 06:37   #9
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re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Airlines i have flown across the years

Air India - LHR - Mum / Del - Hyd - back when i was a student i used to fly Air India frequently as fares were the cheapest and had the biggest luggage allowance , the biggest gripe was not being home in Hyd after touching down in India and stuck in Mum / Del with a longish layover - perils of cheap tickets , loved the food but don't miss the broken IFE or overflowing toilets after few hours into the flight which was the case on most of my 7 round trips with them

Emirates - this was my go to airlines during initial working , great food and brilliant IFE selection but seems to have lost the sheen over the past few years , specifically check in desks in Hyd is an absolute pain and rude check in agents on my last 2 visits made me stop using them since 2014

BA - My present go to when I travel LHR - HYD due to the non stop flight and brilliant arrival times on both legs , hate the business class set up as need to use the foot stool to make it a flat bed and desperately awaiting club suites which i believe is already available on LHR - BLR/Mum leg

Qatar - With avios being accepted on Qatar the game has changed and happy to have a Doha layover as I find the Q-suite extremely comfy on LHR-Doh leg but similar to EK the Doha - Hyd leg and return leg is a pain due to layover waits and aircraft seating config

Ryan Air & Easyjet - Only if i have to and no other option in sight for shorter trips to Europe from Luton & Standsted

Iberian Airlines - Great deals on business class from Mad - JFK has been my go to for our personal holidays

KLM - used it to fly LHR - AMS over the years but beginning to prefer using Eurostar as getting into Kingscross and relaxing on a train is more comforting
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Old 29th December 2022, 14:23   #10
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Re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Great thread, thanks!

Due to my work I have flown an awful lot. At one time I held platinum status with three different airlines. These days it is only KLM and that is about to expire, as I don’t travel professionally anymore, just for pleasure.

I flew a lot on Southwest Airlines when we lived in the USA. I much preferred it to either American Airlines, even though I had platinum status (or whatever it was called at the time). Southwest does not have different classes, and no assigned seats. They use a different boarding system from all other airlines. It works well. Southwest also used to fly to the often smaller airports in large towns. E.g. it flew to Love Field, which was much smaller and much more convenience than DFW.

Also, they essentially run their planes as a bus operation. So if I would show up a little early at the gate and there was an earlier flight with seat available, they would just take me along. No complicated rebooking, different fares or any of that crap. If there was a seat it was allocated first come first served. Very simple very effective.

I have flown a lot with KLM during the last 10 years. I was not that keen on KLM earlier, but I do like them these days. Of course, when we lived in Delhi we could fly home, direct, every day of the week. Very convenient and these days we live back in the Netherlands, so when we fly it tends to be KLM.

One of my worst experiences was in the early 80s with Somalia Airlines. I had been relieved by chopper of the cost of Somalia. Chopper ride into Mogadishu. A Bell Huey with a Vietnam veteran at the controls. Jeans, Cowboy Boots, Stetson on his hat and cigar stump in his mouth. I got to ride left hand seat with him.

When we were approaching Mogadishu airport we could not get in touch with ATC. They just did not respond. My vet-pilot told me happens all the time, either the radio is broken, or they are on a lunch break, we just go in and land this thing. All of sudden we heard ATC talking to an incoming aircraft and clearing them to land, whilst we were still flying over the runway. We heard the other pilot screaming on the radio: 'get that <expletive> helicopter out of my way'. My vet pilot pushed the collective down all the way into the floor and we fell like a brick. Literally only feet above the ground did he recover. But it was to get worse.

Had to stay in Mogadishu for about a week before we got a flight home. Somalia Airlines to Frankfurt via Rome and then KLM home. At the time Somalia Airlines had a couple of Boeing 707s. One was supposed to be airworthy, the other ones was used for spare parts. It just sat out there on the field for everybody to see. They way it looked I would not trust any spares.

But in those days, it was the only way out of Mogadishu. So we get on the plane, total chaos during boarding. The cabin was a mess, seats ripped apart, seatbelt missing, overhead lockers not closing etc.

Eventually we get airborne. So we land at Rome with an enormous bang. I have never ever in all my flying encountered anything like it. Some of the overhead bins came falling down etc. It was a real mess. Did not seem to surprise the flight attendants. The sort of lifted the bins up again and gave it a few whacks and that was it.

We were to wait in the cabin, nobody got out, a few new passenger climbed the stairs. After an hour or so, nothing was happening, I decided to take a little stroll through the aircraft. I found myself standing on the top of aircraft stairs. I could see the cockpit crew with a few ground crew members changing several wheels/tires. Two tires had burst on touch down. I never forget that sight of that captain, sleeves rolled up, sweating away. I just went back to my seat, asked for another drink. Made it to Frankfurt eventually. The landing was not much better. bins falling down, another tire burst!!

One of my most memorable flights was on the Concorde. This was a promotion by British Airways. You got to fly in a BA Sikorsky helicopter from Heathrow to Gatwick (or vv, can’t remember anymore) and then you would board Concorde who would fly you back to Heathrow again. Only 20-30 minutes flying or so, and of course not supersonic.

The most luxurious flight I ever had was with Lufthansa. We were living in Delhi at the time. I had to go to the USA for a course at Stanford. Which meant flying to San Fransisco. There are different connection from Delhi to San Francisco.

I choose to go Lufthansa Delhi-Frankfurt-SanFrancisco. Because that worked out better time wise and I also wanted to fly on their A380. Flight to Frankfurt was uneventful. Ze Germans have a great system for business class passengers in Frankfurt. You don’t even have to mingle with the rest of the plebs. Own lounge, own jetty and own boarding into the Airbus 380. Well, that was not the case this time. I found myself boarding a very crappy old United 747. Dont get me wrong, I love the 747, but this one, the cabin was completely rundown. I was sitting in business class four abreast facing backwards.

When I arrived in the USA I complained to Lufthansa. I had specifically chosen Lufthansa for their planes and staff and I don’t appreciate it being shoved into one of their partners crappy old planes. Absolute terrible service too. I put some photographs on Facebook. Lufthansa was quick to contact me and apologise profusely.

Anyway, the next week I was flying back to Delhi. I arrive at San Francisco airport and it is absolute mayhem. It is so busy you would not believe it. Eventually I make it through the security and end up sitting at the gate, waiting for boarding. It was very clear the flight was overbooked. All of a sudden they make an announcement. “will passenger D please report to the podium”. You know it is bad, if you are flying by yourself and the flight is overbooked. You are the first one to get bumped. Given my earlier experience with Lufthansa I was in a foul mood. So I walk up to the podium and tell the lady: I am Mr. D and you better not bump me of this flight! She smiled and said. You will be pleased to hear we are bumping you up! You are going first class to Frankfurt!!

Flying first class on a Lufthansa 380 is something out of this world. There are only 8 or 10 passengers in first class. It has two bathrooms. Both considerably larger than the bathroom in my own home. Of course, you sit directly behind the cockpit , during boarding the door was open, stuck my head in, started chatting with the crew. One of them had learned to fly with the same flying school as I had in Kansas City.

The service, the food, the drinks were all excellent. I think we had more flight attendants looking after this handful of first class passengers than in all the other classes combined!

Best long haul flight ever!

Jeroen

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 2nd January 2023 at 14:15. Reason: Easy on the fruity language, good sir! :)
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Old 29th December 2022, 15:01   #11
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Re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

@Jeroen, your post reminded me of the flights I took between Kathmandu and Lukla in Nepal. I was just another piece of cargo. Reminded me of busy small town bus terminals in India, except these things fly.

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-lukla.jpeg
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Old 29th December 2022, 15:47   #12
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Re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
@Jeroen, your post reminded me of the flights I took between Kathmandu and Lukla in Nepal. I was just another piece of cargo. Reminded me of busy small town bus terminals in India, except these things fly.

Attachment 2396367
Haha - Nepal domestic flights (and airports) feel as if they were in a different world entirely. I once had to take flights from (& back) Kathmandu to Biratnagar; a dusty old city in east Nepal; and while the flights were pretty okay (similar to Deccan I remembered back then), the airport was a completely different matter. It felt more like a small town railway station than an airport; security was non-existent and baggage claim was basically a tempo plying between the plane on the tarmac and the small arrival lounge, with all bags plonked in a corner for the passengers to identify and pick it up. Good to know others have had "interesting" experiences in that part of the world.

Edit: while the airports in Nepal aren't that great to talk about in Nepal, the location of the Himalayas being just a stone's throw away from the airport made it for great sights when taking off and landing

International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions-img_4487.jpg
view from the tarmac at Kathmandu domestic terminal

Last edited by ninjatalli : 29th December 2022 at 16:00.
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Old 29th December 2022, 21:00   #13
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Re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

As most would know, when travelling in Business in Emirates you get a limousine pick up and drop from and to the airport.

On one of my trips to Malta (a lovely island in the Mediterranean) I was supposed to be picked up at a particular time from the hotel. Now Emirates limousines are usually on time but this one was way off and was almost 45 minutes late creating a lot of confusion, stress and the need for several calls.

When i finally arrived at the airport I informed the Emirates station manager of the unfortunate incident. He offered to upgrade me to first class as I was already travelling in Business.

The flight from Malta stops at Dubai where there is a change of equipment. On the second leg I didnt get the promised upgrade.

On my next flight to Malta, I informed the station manager of what had happened and he upgraded me to first class again. This time he made sure it was for the whole distance.

Have had quite a few upgrades to first class in Emirates either because I was plain lucky or because I was using them often.
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Old 30th December 2022, 11:05   #14
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Re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Hate it: United. I avoid them like the plague. Every single time I had the misfortune of travelling United I have had nothing but horrible experience ranging from museum worthy equipment to racial profiling by their ground staff.

Loyal to: Singapore. I have had excellent experience every single time I flew them, be it Economy or Business. Krisflyer has served me well all these years.

Newfound love: Qatar. Recently shifted loyalty to Oneworld to suit my new travel patterns and have had excellent experience in Qatar, the last 2 times I flew her.

Best flight: Flew Etihad A380 from JFK with exactly 11 passengers on board. Need I say more :-). I still wonder to this day why they did not cancel it.

Most rewarding flight: Volunteered to be bumped off a Lufthansa once at Frankfurt for 850 Euros and a business class upgrade in Air India 8 hours later. Served me well as my family was travelling back next day and there was no one to go home to.

Scariest flight: Thai from Narita, hit severe turbulence during food service which resulted in injury to a few cabin crew and passengers. I thought pilots never green light food service if the weather was going to play spoil sport

Longest time at an airport: Incheon, was shut down for better part of the day due to a storm, throwing all flight plans into disarray. I had to wait for 20+ hours before Singapore made alternative arrangements. However, I had access to sleeping pods, shower area, good meal and a super high-speed public wifi, making the stay bearable!

Last edited by SR-71 : 30th December 2022 at 11:15.
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Old 30th December 2022, 11:20   #15
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Re: International Air Travel & Airlines | Reviews, Anecdotes, Advice, Cautions

Lufthansa/United: For international (BLR-FRA-SFO) - Cattle class - In general decent. But I find the food to be the problem. I mean the amount of food served is really less to keep us filled for 30 hours of the fight + transit. I mostly find myself hurrying to some sandwich at Franfurt transit and that too with a really short connection.

Air France - Have the thinnest seats among all the flights I have flown. I feel even the domestic India flights have better seats. Absolutely no cushioning.

Emirates - These are the best. And ofcourse the A 380s - just awesome. But the crew behavior could be better. On one of the flights, the lights were dim, and the crew was serving soft drinks. The air hostess (some European I believe) had a tray of water + orange juice on her hand, the old Indian gentleman next to me asked her what the orange one was and the answer came - "It is what it looks like"!!! I was honestly taken aback.
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