Go Back   > >
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Sep 2, 12, 3:49 pm   #1
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
LHR-FRA-YYZ, YYZ-YUL-LHR (LH And AC Business) Or From Home to Home and Back Again

Part One - Home (SW11) to Heathrow (LHR), August 18, 2012

One should be well rested before a long haul flight, I believe. To bed early was my mantra coming up to my flight on an early Saturday morn.

Then work got in the way. Early morning appointments at the doctors followed by late nights with (oft failed) software deployments meant I was anything but rested coming up to the Saturday morning of my flight.

The Friday before my flight I got up after 4 hours sleep in daze. It was one of those mornings where I was so tired, decided not to shave. Then, it turned out I was so tired I just did my morning routine by rote so I wouldn't use any brain power, and wound up shaving without realising it.

It would be a long day ahead...

Friday was the long day it promised to be. Finally at midnight I gave up, officially passing over my responsibility for a long delayed (and yet again delayed) project to my holiday cover, and crawled into bed, setting the alarm for six hours ahead.

It came much too quick.

Awake, First thing I did was check my work email, as old habits die hard. The implementation which had already choked and been rolled back 3 times was again, at four in the morning, pulled back again. I sighed, and recalled the good ol’ days, when one could go away on holidays for a week and have no idea what was happening back in the office. I knew that I would be watching my Blackberry all week now and dealing with the fallout from the latest deployment failure.

It was Saturday, however, and I could at least put it behind me until Monday. I showered, and wandered out my front door to look for the minicab to take me to Heathrow.

6:45 AM, 15 minutes before he was due to be there, the minicab was out front of my flat. It certainly beats the last two times I called minicabs, when they didn’t show up at all or showed up 30 minutes late. Thus this specific minicab company has earned the honour of keeping their flyer attached by magnet to my fridge for future trips.

The ride to Heathrow was not without its issues. The M4 was closed due to an accident, but luckily as this was a weekend and the driver had showed up early, the ride along the side roads was quick and painless, and I was at the airport at 7:25 AM on Saturday morning, 18 August 2012.

Back in 2008, I left the consulting industry and thus the primary avenue for earning airline points. Slowly over the last four years I have dug into the vault which was my Aeroplan miles, and with this trip I was taking close to the last of my consulting-life points. I have a few tens-of-thousands points outstanding, but as I have turned my points earning to European programs, this redemption of Aeroplan would be the last of my business class trips on Aeroplan points earned as a roving consultant.

So I turned up to Heathrow terminal 1 with the swagger of a business class traveller, secretly knowing this could be the last time I pull this swagger off.

GregWTravels moves like Jagger.


As (via very permutations and combinations meant no direct flights) I was transferring in Germany, I had decided to check a bag so I wasn’t dragging a rolly behind me the entire trip. I arrived in T1 at Heathrow and found the Lufthansa check-in.

Oh, the horror.

The line up was similar to what German author Michael Andreas Helmuth Ende wrote, an Neverending Queue.

I, already checked in with my printed off boarding pass and just a bag to check, asked one of the Lufthansa agents, “Is this the lineup for Frankfurt?”

Sensing no doubt my swagger like Jagger, she asked, “are you a business class passenger?”

“But of course,” I replied. “Do I look like regular, unscrubbed travelling scum?” (Okay, perhaps I didn’t say that last bit).

“Oh, yes, then you can check in at the special check in area,” she said.

Lufthansa has an oval shaped first and business class check-in area. I walked into it, and felt that it would not be unlike walking into an enclosed Stonehenge. Perhaps, I thought, that is what Stonehenge was, a giant 1st class check-in area for the out of town horse-coaches. I dropped my bag at business class check in, and boarding pass in hand headed to the gates.

The travel gods smiled on me, as I caught a security line just as it was opening. There were two people ahead of me. The first was through quickly. The second, a middle-aged lady, was in the process of pulling out all her liquids and electronics and such as I stood behind her, metals in my bag and laptop in my hand, ready to go.

“Oh, you seem ready to go,” she said. “Please, go ahead.”

This was truly travel karma paying me back for all those mis-adventures in Newark, New Jersey. Minicab early, easy check-in and bag drop and a wave through security.

After a quick stop at the London 2012 shop to pick up a nice souvenir for my Dad, I was into the Star Alliance lounge.

It’s not a bad lounge, and I do really like the inspirational wording on the walls related to travel.



On check-in, I was given a booklet detailing things that were (similar to Star Alliance status) gold. What a waste of paper that "gold" booklet was. Things that are gold, ending with advert for gold status.. Surely people in the lounge would already know gold status?. I am already destroying the environment with my flying. Do we need to kill more trees so that Star Alliance can publish details of a benefit that most frequent fliers already know about?

For food, at this hour, there was a hot breakfast.. The scrambled eggs looked gross, but sausage, bacon and mushrooms were typical English breakfast. I loaded a plate with bacon, sausage and mushrooms. I skipped the beans, for the benefit of my co-passengers.

The lounge itself was not too busy.. There was a lot of seating, with staff picking up dishes and cleaning tables regularly.

To eat breakfast, I sat at a table along the high-bar overlooking the food area, with a nice view of the TV, which was tuned to Sky TV News.

After breakfast, I took a tour of the lounge.

The decor was average for a lounge. It felt like it was probably a few years since an update, but was generally comfortable. The toilets were clean but unremarkable. Better than you would find in the airport proper, but nothing to write home about.





They had an excellent selection of papers and magazine on offer, and the seating was comfortable.

The lounge had a good selection of drinks, but as it was early morning I refrained. I grabbed myself a Diet Pepsi (actually, four Diet Pepsis. When you serve them at 150 ml each can, and the drinker was up on a late night Skype chat regarding software implementations, more than 150 ml is probably needed to get going).



I found a seat, and settled in, connecting my phone to the free Wifi to check Facebook, Gmail, Google Reader and BBC News.

Eventually, I grew bored of staring at my phone, and looked up. Ahead of me was a flight departures board. The flight board always puts me to mind of other places I could be heading that might be more adventurous or glamorous than where I am going.



On offer today:

  • Khartoum via Beruit

  • Amristar via Almaty

  • Bishek via Baku

  • Johannesburg
  • 
Auckland
  • 
Larnaca
  • 
Vienna
  • 
Dammam via Riyadh
  • 
Zagreb
  • 
Tehran via Yerevan

But not today. Instead, I wandered down to the gate where there were boarding the flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt, and boarded that. Yerevan, Auckland, Baku and Almaty will have to wait for another time.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 2, 12, 4:42 pm   #2
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
LH 903 LHR - FRA, 18 August 2012, Seat 3A

The inbound aircraft was late, so the flight got off later than expected. We pulled off the gate at 10:00 (15 minutes behind schedule), but then had a long wait to get to a runway, and weren’t in the air until 10:30.

Business class on this Airbus A321 was provided by keeping the middle seat free in business class, kept open by putting a table between the arm-rests in the middle seat.

Breakfast was served on this very short flight. Muesli, a fruit/veggie salad, choice of croissant or muffin and choice of beverage.



I liked that the flight attendants addressed me as Mr. “WTravels” rather than “Greg” or the generic “Sir.” Perhaps I am just old fashioned, but I do appreciate a bit of cow-towing now and again.

The flight provided a copy of the weekend Financial Times to read. After breakfast, I dove into the paper. I usually only get to skim the paper in the morning on the tube - either the Metro or the City AM - and sometimes just get the BBC news App to provide the latest in world events. I rarely get to slip into the paper like a warm bath, as Marshall McLuhan said we did of the morning papers. While the short flight from London to Frankfurt wasn’t exactly a full bath, I got a good read through the paper.

I smiled when first looking at the paper. Why? Because we now live in a world where the most conservative of newspapers like the Financial Times can run a headline story on the front page that includes the words “Pussy Riot.”

There is no better indication we are in the future now than that, is there?

We land at 12:20 local time, surprisingly 10 minutes early despite the late getaway. That advantage is quickly eroded away when we pull into a gate only to find that the bridge isn’t working. Instead, they roll up a set of stairs to the back door, which means those of us in Business Class are the last off the plane.



We have a long bus ride to the Terminal B customs and immigration desk, but luckily we are quickly through and I am deposited into Frankfurt Airport.

GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 2, 12, 5:02 pm   #3
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
Frankfurt Airport, 18 August 2012

After clearing security, I check the monitors. My flight is leaving on time at 14:10 from gate B 23.

I follow the signs to the business class lounge, which based on all the signs seems to be the opposite direction of my gate. However, it is coming up to noon UK time, and frankly I have a long fight ahead of me and could use a free drink.

Finally I arrive at the business lounge near gate B44. I present my boarding pass.

“Oh no,” says the gate agent. “You should be at the other lounge. It is near gate B24.”

One gate from my departure. So I trudge across the airport to gate B24 and the Lufthansa Business Lounge.



The lounge is modern and airy. There is lots of light from the windows, though there is only limited views of the apron or runways for spotters.

There is lots of TVs, though, showing CNN, BBC, plus lots of German and French options.

There is a good selection of alcohol, with Beck and a Weissbeir on tap.

I choose the Becks, and a selection of nuts.



I skip most of the food, only because I know I am about to be fed on the flight to Toronto. What do I pass up? There is a selection of salads, along with turkey sausage (looks like hot dog to me) and various nibbles.

There are a number of mouse options available, and I can’t pass up trying the smoke trout with cucumber cream mouse. It is an interesting taste, though I think it has been a bit too long on the ice, as the mouse had many sharp ice crystals that took away from the taste.



The lounge was very busy, with lots of family travelling.. This was August, summer holidays in Europe, so that time of year, I guess.

Checked out the toilets. Not impressive. Very industrial, like you would see in an office block or shopping mall. Untidy but functional.

After an hour or so, I was off to gate. Enjoying the last (perhaps) vestiges of status, I was quick through the Star Alliance Gold, Business and First queue and onto the flight from FRA to YYZ.

I turn left at the boarding, and walk into the business class cabin.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 2, 12, 6:02 pm   #4
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
LH 470 FRA - YYZ 14:10 - 16:17, 18 August 2012

I take my seat in 4K, a nice window seat (always my preference).

The A340-600 Lufthansa has a 2-2-2 seating plan in business (with a 1-2-1 up in first). The seats are angled (very close to lie-flat beds).

I didn’t much like the seats. While I like a good lie down when sleeping, I like a nice straight backed chair most other times, and the seats on the Lufthansa flight felt like I was leaning back a little too far.

The whole start of the flight was a bit off-putting. A woman sat beside me, and promptly started crying while speaking to someone on her mobile phone. Numerous mobile phone conversations ensued, with more crying.

The purser came around, asking for a drink order. With a woman weeping beside me, I felt sparkling wine not be to tone of the occasion, so instead I got a water.

Once we were in the air, however, the crying girl decide to sleep, and I was able to return to my holiday and decadence.

As a snack, I had an order of almonds and a Warsteiner, the more unique beer on offer in Lufthansa trans-atlantic flight.

Lunch was next. First up was a medley of items, with aniseed flavoured salmon, mariented soy tomato, potato and cucumber salad, tandoori chicken with coucous, almond and bell pepper cream, mint yoghurt and raz-el-hanout.



After apps, I choose the fried pike-perch with a hazelnut amaranth, romanesco and carrots. It was very tasty, much more than I would have expected for a fish dish on a plane. Drinks accompanying were a white sauvignon blanc called Der Mit Dem Wolf (In English, dances with wolves).



After dinner, a cheese plate. I love cheese, so I never say no to a cheese plate.



Each seat had an individual IFE. On flights west-bound from the UK to North America, I figure the best plan is to stay awake and adjust by making the travel day a really, really long day. To implement that, I watched movies.

The Avengers is a decent superhero flick. I was never quite sure what it was about, but the action kept coming, and in a low oxygen environment, it seemed a good film.

Next up, “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” A depressing comedy about a man who is waiting for his destiny to drop in his lap. So much so, that when a random wrong-number caller to his house mentions a Kevin, Jeff sets out to find Kevin, sure that Kevin is the answer to his dreams. As what often happens in films, of course there is a Kevin and a destiny to fulfil. Life, sadly, is not much like that.

Finally, Wanderlust, a silly (and only occasionally funny) comedy staring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.

Enough of stupid films, I go back to the Financial Times. I finish the paper with Tyler Brule’s column. His column, which touches upon airlines and airline loyalty programs, is a arrow close to the heart. Frequent flier or not, I am still a traveller and points whore at heart, so I read with interest.

And, of course, reading an article in an international newspaper focused on financial services whilst sipping sparkling wine and flying over the Atlantic made if all feel the more decadent.

Close to landing, the second meal was served. German Westphalian sausage salad with chives. Obatzter Bavarian cheese spread with selection of bread and biscuits. For desert, a spiced cream cake with cashew nuts.



After everything was cleared, the flight started its descent into Toronto. We flew over cottage country north of Toronto. The sun gleamed off of lake Simcoe, one hour north of Toronto. Blinding as I stared out at her, but it made me smile anyway as I picked out the possible bays on which my Uncle’s cottage was situated.

I was flying home. Or, at least, some place I had once called home. A place that I should recognise.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 2, 12, 6:38 pm   #5
formerly known as DeltaNYC
  
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: YYZ, mostly...
Programs: AC*E50K, BA Gold, SPG Plat, IHG Plat, Marriott Plat, Hilton Diamond, FoundersCard, Nexus etc etc
Posts: 1,376
Nice report.

Last time I flew LH in J (about 10 months ago), you still had to choose between 3 appetizers. I guess they now have various appetizers presented together in tapas style. Looks like an improvement.
Far Siren is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 2, 12, 10:36 pm   #6
  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: YUL
Programs: AC SE, NEXUS
Posts: 670
Nice report, I like your writing style!
gabdusch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 3, 12, 1:30 am   #7
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Far Siren View Post
Last time I flew LH in J (about 10 months ago), you still had to choose between 3 appetizers. I guess they now have various appetizers presented together in tapas style. Looks like an improvement.
Yes, tapas-like appetisers. I thought you had to choose, but they just brought the whole lot. Some were good, some were so-so, but overall it was a nice starter.

More to come...
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 3, 12, 1:32 am   #8
  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Agoura Hills, CA USA
Posts: 2,524
Excellent.. report . I thank you so much
RTW4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 3, 12, 12:15 pm   #9
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
The Stranger in the Familiar Land

Overlooking the tree-lined streets and calm, blue waters of my childhood.



Despite only having left Canada 4 years ago and having been back a few times since, I hadn’t spent much time in Burlington since I moved away 15 years ago (originally to Toronto, and then to London). I had spent a few days, and the occasional overnight, but mostly had focused my Canada life on Toronto.

On this trip I spent 7 days and nights in Burlington, the longest I had been there in a very long time.

It was all so familiar, but at the same time, very different.

I ended up feeling like a tourist in the town I grew up in. A stranger in a familiar land.

Not just familiar because I knew it from my past, but also familiar in the sense "of my family." In the place where my family lives, but much changed since I lived here. New places, new configurations, new structures. All change. Same place, but different. I am local, and I am the foreigner.

“You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” - Heraclitus of Ephesus, c. 535.– c. 475 BCE.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 3, 12, 12:37 pm   #10
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ), 25 August and AC 414 YYZ - YUL, Seat 2A

After returning my rental car and dropping my bag, I headed through security and up to the domestic departures Maple Leaf Lounge. Up on the top floor of terminal 1, it is a place I had been many times before. Unlike my home town, little had changed since my last time in the lounge more than four years ago. Comfortingly familiar.



I settled into the lounge with a vodka and soda and the Globe and Mail. I didn’t partake in any of the food, for I had just had a large brunch with friends.



The bathroom is clean and spacious. I love the bathrooms in Maple Leaf Lounges. There is something about the lighting in them that make one’s eyes sparkle.



AC 414 YYZ - YUL, Seat 2A

The day was very hot, and the plane’s air conditioning had just been turned on and it hadn’t cooled down the plane. After about 10 minutes the air finally cooled the plane down.

The plane was a 767-300. Business class had full lie flat beds, though not of much use on flight as short as Toronto to Montreal.

We were treated to water or juice to start



The plane got off on time and up into the air. I kept the IFE stowed and read the Globe and Mail.

Lunch was served quickly after take-off. It was a chicken wrap with bean salad, and a small bag of almonds. I had a Coors Light, knowing I had a long day ahead and didn’t want a heavier beer.



The plane landed on time, and pulled up to a gate in the domestic area.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 3, 12, 1:01 pm   #11
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (YUL), 25 August

We disembark into the domestic area. I used to fly into Trudeau often when I was in consulting, and it was strange how familiar it still felt. I walked past the “Rapidair” gate area, and recalled all the times I used to wait by those gates to hop a flight back to Toronto. That was years ago now, but it didn’t feel very long ago.

I stop to check the monitors on my flight. I had originally had a 4 and a half hour layover in Montreal, and now see my flight is delayed an hour, meaning I now have over 5 hours to kill here in Montreal. I flirt briefly with the idea of heading into Montreal to grab a smoked meat sandwich, but decide instead to take it easy in the lounge.

I walk to the international departures area.. The last time I flew into Montreal, this area was still under construction. The international area is very nice. It is small, but hip feel and some unusual stores. It can feel quite crowded, though.



The Maple Leaf Lounge for international departures is by gate 52. It is quite small, and was very crowded when I arrived. The lounge is long and thin, but has good views of the airfield to watch planes landing. There is a small children's play area on one end, the bar / food area in the middle, and a business centre with computers, printers and fax at the other.





I grab myself a vodka and soda, and settle into the rest of the Globe and Mail. Snacks are out, with soup, nachos, veggies and dip and cookies.

Later in the afternoon, I’ve finished the paper and am amusing myself with surfing the internet on my mobile. The lounge attendant brings out dinner. On offer is salad and ravioli with meat or sausage with white or red sauce.

I had the sausage ravioli. It was nice, the sausage was spicy, but it was offset well by the white sauce.



Finally, getting onto eight o’clock in the evening, the lounge has mostly empty out, and the flight is called. Off to the plane and my overnight flight to London.


(Air France A380 in the background)
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 3, 12, 1:42 pm   #12
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
AC 864 YUL - YYZ, August 25 / August 26, Seat 2A and London LHR Air Canada Arrivals Lounge

The plane was an Airbus A330-300.

Taking my seat, I was served a choice of sparkling wine, water or juice. I have a sparkling wine.



We take off, and pre-dinner drinks and snacks (i.e. assorted nuts). A final vodka and soda for me.



The dinner order is taken, with choice of main and desert. Soon after, dinner is served.

I started with pan seared scallops and tiger prawns, with a glass of Ruka Estates Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.



Next up, the main course, for me a salmon dish with rice and roasted veggies. The sauce was a little thick and gelatinous, but otherwise a good dish.



For desert, I took a cheese plate and some fruit.





Seating was lie flat beds, and this time I was definitely planning on taking advantage. I don’t have a recent picture of the lie-flat beds, but here’s what it looks like (pictured from 2008).





IFE in seat, with decent headphones. I watch the Five Year Engagement before deciding to put the bed flat and sleeping. I was provided with a toiletries and sleep kit, from which I take ear plugs and eye mask. We got a nice fluffy pillow and thick blanket as well.

The flight from Montreal to London is very short, though, and while I sleep well for a few hours, a few hours is all I get before the lights come back on and they are getting ready to serve breakfast.

Breakfast was fruit, yoghurt and choice of carb (croissant or muffin).



I fill out my landing card for London (still not a UK citizen, so have to fill out a card when coming into London), and slip it, along with my passport and invitation to the fast track immigration lane into my pocket.

I catch up on a couple episodes of Suburgatory. While the first season has ended in North America, it is currently being shown for the first time on channel E4 here in the UK, and I am able to catch up on the episode I missed while being in Canada as well as jumping ahead an episode.

We land, and I am quickly through immigration. The wait for my bag is longer than hoped for, coming out after some regular bags even though mine had the bright orange “Priority” tag on it. Sigh.

Bag finally retrieved, I head into the Air Canada arrivals lounge for a quick use of the facilities and a quick Diet Pepsi to wake me up. I sit for a few minutes, surfing the latest news on the BBC news app. But I can’t while away the entire day in the arrivals lounge, and so I head out into a sunny London morning, catching my taxi back to my flat for a great afternoon nap.

Back home, after flying from home.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 4, 12, 5:48 am   #13
  
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: TXL/SXF
Programs: Hilton Gold, Marriott Platinum, SPG Gold, US/UA Gold, National Executive, Avis First, Accor Platinum
Posts: 130
Hi Greg--

I enjoyed reading your report.

Furthermore, I was in the same lounge as you (FRA) for a good three hours the same day; I had just come in from JFK.

Regards
PurduExpat37 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 4, 12, 9:09 am   #14
  
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: MUC
Programs: BA Gold; FB Plt; LH Sen // HH Dia; HYG Dia; IC RoyAm; SPG Plt
Posts: 3,184
Entertaining report.
LH738 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 5, 12, 1:04 pm   #15
Original Poster
  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 1,318
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurduExpat37 View Post
Furthermore, I was in the same lounge as you (FRA) for a good three hours the same day; I had just come in from JFK.
As long as you weren't one of the ones with the screaming kids, it was nice sharing a lounge with you.
GregWTravels is offline   Reply With Quote
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Thread Tools
Search Thread
Go to Top
Forum Jump
Contact Us - FlyerTalk - Archive - Top