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New York to Geneva in Y with just a little bit of C

New York to Geneva in Y with just a little bit of C

Old Feb 17, 10, 1:35 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,132
New York to Geneva with Air Canada in Y with just a little bit of C

I received the dreaded phone call from an elderly parent living alone 4,000 miles away at 3 AM; my mother telling me that she had fallen, was in pain and heading to the hospital. She asked that I try to come as soon as possible. Having just returned 3 months before I was not too excited with the prospect but duty calls.

Because the fares seemed reasonable. I did not want to use up an Award ticket.

I looked on Expedia for the best fares. I needed a ticket valid at least 3 months in the event I had to stay a long time. The cheapest at $600 was JET Airways connecting to SN Brussels via Brussels. I love Indian food and JET looks great. But JET only give 50% mileage credit to American Airlines frequent flyer accounts for Y class travel and zilch on United. The return flight left at 6 AM, too early for a night owl.

I needed 6,000 miles on my Delta Airlines account for a free European award ticket and saw that Alitalia were offering a fare of $680 via Rome. However the flight to Rome was on Delta and when someone told me Delta serve OREO cookies as desert on their flights to Europe I decided I did not want to risk an attack of Air Rage in mid - air, followed with some jail time in an Italian prison.

Air Canada also offered a fare of $600 via Montreal or Toronto. The flight to Geneva originates in Toronto with a stop in Montreal so I picked the Montreal connection. I would get United miles and could change dates for a fee of $150. My father had lived in Montreal in the late 1950s for 6 months; he had applied for Political Asylum but they turned him down and told him to leave ASAP. This trip would at least give me the chance to get a quick glimpse of Montreal, where I nearly grew up. My father always told me how cold it was up there.

I had 3 hours to connect in Montreal; ample time for a relaxing and stressless connection. I arrived calmly at the gate and saw my plane. As I approached the gate I saw that no, this plane was 1 hour late and heading to Toronto. We were told that the flight to Montreal would also be delayed due to bad weather between Newark and Montreal.

Here is the small commuter flight operated by JAZZ. It's a Canadair 100. There were only about 20 passengers boarding.



The weather at Newark was really nice. Here is the baby plane leaving for Toronto.



Our flight finally arrived 2 1/2 hours late. By now it was obvious that I would miss my connection to Geneva and I was hoping they would put me on Lufthansa to Munich as they are in the same family. The Agent told me that there was a chance I would make my connection but I did not believe him. All passengers connecting to Frankurt were put on to the Geneva flight as it was clear they would miss their connections.

I was upgraded to C to Montreal. The aircraft was a Canadair 705. Instead of 2 / 2 seating C class seating is 1 / 2. I had a seat all to myself.

Here is the baby plane arriving from Montreal. However it was a giant compared to the plane to Toronto. When I saw it I started to jump up and down. I was really excited. The flight was full.



Most people in C were Swedish executives heading to a pharmaceutical conference in Montreal. I was served apple juice in a real glass (wow) and peanuts. Here is a picture of C class, with the peanuts and the nice glass. Now I know how the "other half lives." Life can be so beautiful. In the meantime I was biting my nails, fearing that I was about to spend the night in bitter, ice cold freezing Montreal.



The 2 crew members, a young lady and young guy were fluent in French Canadian and English. The way they speak French to me is quite exotic and I was at least entertained listening. The entertainment video system is very good. For Y class it's free if they have their own ear phones. Otherwise they pay $3. I was too nervous to bother. The 50 minute flight was noisy and bumpy. The steward warned us that we may not make the Geneva flight. However those heading to Newfoundland had nothing to worry about. Whooppee.

We landed in Montreal at 8.30 PM. The GVA flight was leaving at 8.45 PM. We had to first go through Canadian Customs. A trolley car was waiting for us. The Customs guy let me through at 8.50 PM. The door to the international gates was shut. I looked at the departure board and to my shock saw that the flight to GVA had "departed on time." There were no more AC flights to Europe. Only 1 AF to Paris (not in the AC alliance), 1 RJ to Amman and 1 Transat charter to Vienna.

I felt sick. What an idiot I am, I said to myself. I should have taken SWISS nonstop for $700 but because I wanted some excitement in my life I chose Air Canada. In the end, I got more excitement than I had bargained for. And this was only the beginning.

Continental was $2,000 because their tickets are only valid 1 month. I E mailed them that they were not competitive and when I checked they were extending their tickets to GVA, now to 3 month validity from 1 month.

The others were also depressed. There were about 10 of us. No one told us what to do. We were like little lost school kids. "So what do we do now?" We decided that we would have to pass passport control and pick up our luggage.

The lines were long. An AF 747, a KLM MD-11, a Transat flight from Cuba and us had just landed. There was a big sign welcoming us to Montreal for the "Pharmaceutical Conference." How cute. During the 45 minute wait to pass through Passport Control, a Swedish guy asked me "you were in Business Class. Don't you think it's disgraceful that there is no express line for business class passengers?' I was completely numb from this question. Being a peasant, I had no idea that F or C passengers have special Express lines through customs. I did not want him to know that I was a "fake C class passenger who had been upgraded." Well I responded ...."I should not even be here. I missed my connection." He then gave me a funny look as if he knew I was fishy.

I picked up my luggage and was told to go to the Air Canada ticket office. There was a Swiss couple with their teenage son. All they did from Newark all the way to GVA was read books; they never uttered one word to each other. They were sent to the Travel Lodge, an old dingy looking motel. A middle aged couple from New Jersey traveling to Frankfurt, a German father and son and I were sent to the Hilton Gardens. We were very lucky.

Here is a picture of the nice hotel. I was scared to go outside to take a picture as I thought it would be freezing cold. But it seemed warmer than New York.



I was given a $15 voucher for dinner, $7 for breakfast and $10 for lunch. I was routed the next evening through Frankfurt on AC / LH. I asked if it would be faster through Zurich? Why responded the Agent. OK I got the hint. Shutup. Had I insisted she probably would have had me shipped off to the dingy looking Travel Lodge Motel.

The hotel dining room was closed but I was able to buy a delicious tuna red pepper sandwich. I got to my room at 11.15 PM. I put on the tele and woke up the next morning at 9.45 AM with my clothes and shoes still on, the television and lights on. My mouth still tasted fishy as I had not brushed or flossed my teeth. Breakfast was served till 10AM so I ran downstairs as fast as I could.

I had a beautiful view of Montreal from my room. It made me want to extend my stay at least another day.



I was really happy as I could now show off to all my friends that I had visited Montreal. I don't know why but miraculously I had taken my swimming trunks with me. The hotel had a beautiful heated pool and jacuzzi so I went for a swim. In the internet room I met the German boy who was busy doing his homework. His dad went into town to visit the city. The 3 of us bonded and we became pals. I was able to practise my rusty German. They were a riot.

At lunch I met up with the slightly distant couple from New Jersey. I was pretty impressed when I saw that they each had their own laptop computers. But what really impressed me was that they had bright red plastic EMIRATES luggage tags. These two were clearly world travelers. All I had was a paper Air Canada tag.

I then decided to go to the airport early to visit the beautiful Marriot hotel. I was told that Air Canada do not send their stranded passengers to this hotel as it is a bit too fancy / expensive. If I ever win the lottery I plan to return and spend the night at this hotel. Here is a picture.



From upstairs I had a nice view of the airport. Suddenly I started shaking and crying uncontrolably, banging on the window, when I saw SWISS leaving for Zurich without me. It's a code share with AC so I don't see why they did not put me on this flight. I would have arrived in GVA 6 hours earlier. You can see a tiny red and white blob in the picture. That's the SWISS plane.



The flight to Frankfurt. a 777 was full. There were many members of an Indian tribe on the flight; they told me which tribe but I forgot. They insisted that I take note that they were not from India but from Quebec; as if I did not know. I think they said the Iroquis tribe. It was interesting listening to their language. I started thinking of the John Wayne western movies.

The seats were comfortable with good legroom. The only thing I did not like was the "mood lighting." It's OK to put it on after dinner but the darkness depressed me. The choice of entertainment was good. We got a newspaper which was a nice touch but I read it in 10 minutes.

The French lady next to me who has lived in Quebec since 40 years started a phone conversation on her cell phone. She complained that she had a Lufthansa ticket and yet mysteriously she had suddenly found herself on an Air Canada plane. The conversation went like this ,,,,"I hate Air Canada... I expected I would be on Lufthansa; my ticket says Lufthansa. I cannot escape from them. I also like Swissair (they went out of business years ago). " Anyway she told me all about the political situation in Quebec and that many people had fled to Toronto. That possibly explains the lack of flights to Europe from Montreal. Shucks. Had I known that everyone had fled to Toronto, I would have connected in Toronto for more Europe bound back-up departures. Well too late now. Never look at the past as my father always used to lecture me. You must look at the future.

I was unable to see much of the food as the cabin was pitch dark with a slight bluish tint. But from the taste I could tell that the meal was mediocre. Here is a picture.



The starter was better than the lettuce one gets on the US airlines and on Swiss. The chicken was good. But the desert, a cheap wrapped chocolate brownie was not in the slightest bit enjoyable. I ate it all and I hated every single bite. I was very distressed that there was no cheese. I thought that a flight from French Quebec would at least offer some cheese. Even the US airlines like AA, Delta now serve cheese.

What bothered me somewhat was having to eat dinner (somewhere over Newfoundland) in the dark. I like a well lit cabin. I also noticed that the paper cups were so tiny, that I had to ask 3 times for more orange juice.

Here is a picture of the dark bluish cabin. It looks brighter than it really was because of the flash bulb in my camera. Next time I will travel with a torch, just in case.



The crew were mostly Quebecers; very well groomed and friendly. Breakfast was great. A delicious banana muffin. And the coffee was great. When I asked for a second cup the hostess told me "that's very funny. The coffee is called Second Cup." It's the Canadian version of Starbucks. They issue shares which pay an annual dividend of 15%. Not bad. I invested $1,000 bucks as a joke. The company is very small. As it was now morning it was easier to see what I was eating.



In Frankfurt I had 2 hours to connect. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get to the gate. First I got lost as the signeage was not easy to follow for a simple person like me.

The people at security in Frankfurt seem to work in "slow motion" and there are not enough of them. It is not a pleasant airport to connect. Last time I was in a terminal with hardly any toilets. This seemed a new terminal which was more pleasant.

The Lufthansa 737 was empty. The crew were very nice. We were served a delicious cream cheese fish sandwich on a cheese roll. However I was devastated that Lufthansa have now eliminated the traditional mini chocolate caramel TWIX bar. Here is a picture. I placed it down on the tray table between bites which is not too hygenic. But my doctor always tells me that a few germs are good for you.



THE RETURN

Air Canada only fly to GVA in the winter 4 times a week. I had to stay longer and paid $150 to change the date. Then I got a call that my 96 year old aunt had to go to the hospital as she caught the Shingles. Again I had to change the return for another $150. Some airlines now charge $250 so I was happy about the fee and the ability to change the dates twice. However the air ticket ended up costing me $900. I was a fool not to have used an Award.

I had 2 suitcases. Air Canada do not charge for the 2nd suitcase. BA, Virgin charge about $50 and CO now I believe charge $30. Before leaving I went to the airport restaurant from where one can get great views.



I was able to watch the suitcases being loaded on to the plane. Little did I know what surprise would be waiting for me in 12 hours time.



The flight was about 60% full. Just as we were about to depart a large crowd of about 30 Lebanese suddenly popped up from nowhere. They were connecting from an MEA flight from Beirut. They somewhat livened up the previously sleepy atmosphere on board the Y class cabin. Boarding was very relaxed, low key and civilised unlike my previous experience on Continental where the purser yelled at us at 9 AM (too early for me) to hurry up and sit down so that we can leave on time for Newark, New Jersey. It reminded me of the subway at the 42nd street Times Square station.

I had 3 seats to myself. On Expedia I noticed that some seats have 31" , 32" and even 33" legroom. I picked 32" as 33" were booked. When I boarded I noticed that the seat pockets had not been cleaned. I found a dirty napkin and plastic hidden inside my seat pocket. In the seat pocket next to me I found a stirer. Here is a picture of the goodies I discovered. I reported it to the Purser who took note. What a sneak.



I regretted not picking the window seats next to me. The view was spectacular as the Mont Blanc today was not covered by clouds. We could also see SWISS leaving for New York NONSTOP. The 2 ladies had 2 seats to themselves which made me somewhat jealous. I could tell they were happy and relaxed. However when one of them later on tried with some difficulty to lie down on the 2 seats, she must have been jealous of me as I with my 3 seats had made myself a very nice 180 degree flat bed just like in First Class. I made sure she noticed. Now it was my turn to take revenge.



Again the meal was mediocre.



The starter was OK and so was the chicken. But the desert was a disaster. A milky creamy sickening liquid. However the peach was edible. Whoever chooses the deserts at Air Canada should be jailed. I wonder if it's one person or a committee of 10 tasters.

I started reading the magazine. After 5 minutes the articles and pictures looked familiar. Even though we were in November the magazine in my seat pocket was still from October. I was able to find the November issue 3 seats down.

The snack for an 8 + hour flight; a small spinach cheese wrap was measly and lacked much spinach nor cheese. I started dreaming of the deep dish Pizza they serve on American with the Scottish shortbread biscuits.



We arrived in Montreal in a depressing rainfall.
The plane was continuing on to Toronto. I wanted to stay in Canada. Unlike us, Canadians get free healthcare.



I had to pass US Customs in Montreal which was a pain. You do not see your suitcases but they take a picture o them. I had to wait to have a picture taken of my 2 suitcases. Then I was allowed to go.

By this time I was starving. The food options are very disappointing. I expected that in Quebec I would see delicious French pastry and French style sandwiches. The food looked so awful that I ended up having a Burger King hamburger.

I was surprised that the plane to New York, La Guardia would be a baby Embraer 175. The 1 hour flight was noisy and bumpy; only about 1/4 full. There was 1 steward. They gave us a newspaper which was nice. It kept me busy during the bumpy, noisy 1 hourflight.



Flights to Newark were 2 hours late due to weather. It seems that Newark is more affected by weather delays than La Guardia.

I arrived at La Guardia and freaked out when only 1 of my suitcases arrived. The next day I had to call Air Canada in India as they handle the lost baggage. After 5 days I was told that there was only a tiny chance of ever finding my suitcase ever again. It had wondered off onto the horizon forever. I was devastated. I don't know anyone who has ever lost a suitcase "forever." Especially as the suitcase had 4 address labels on 2 handles.

After speaking to AC in India every day for 2 months I finally was contacted by a human being in Montreal who told me they had found a suitcase with Davidoff Cigars. I told them that it was not mine. Shortly after I received a letter telling me that because I had not kept many receipts I would receive compensation of $1,167.44 though to replace all my stuff will cost me 4 times more. I won't discuss the issue further here.

The lesson: buy baggage insurance and try to fly NONSTOP. I saved about $100 but in the end I will be out of pocket in the thousands. It makes good conversation at the next cocktail party but it's not worth it.

Last edited by Bretteee; Feb 18, 10 at 1:52 pm Reason: Added Air Canada to Title
Bretteee is offline  
Old Feb 19, 10, 3:08 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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Very entertaining! Nice TR -- thanks for posting.
-C
CarlTheWebmaster is offline  
Old Feb 19, 10, 4:56 pm
  #3  
 
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Thanks for taking the time to write up your trip, it certainly was an interesting read.
UCBeau is offline  
Old Feb 19, 10, 5:07 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Nice TR very entertaining, you should be poor like me, if they lost my suitcase, I'd be $86.68 down, probably.

Cheers Larry.
larrywilmot747 is offline  
Old Feb 19, 10, 9:25 pm
  #5  
 
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Good report and pics. Thanks!
chanp is offline  
Old Feb 20, 10, 3:46 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Great report - thanks!

Your luggage experience reminds me of my flights to/from Canada flying LH/AC during Christmas - luggage was two days late both directions...
vulle is offline  
Old Feb 20, 10, 12:19 pm
  #7  
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Join Date: Dec 2001
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1. Thank you all for your kind comments / feedback.

2.Hi Larrywilmot747: Everything I own in the world was in that suitcase. When I left my total global assets / equity / net worth amounted to $4,551. After the generosity of AC I am "under water" with a "negative net worth" / shareholders equity of ($3,383.56).

3. Hi Vulle: A 2 day delay in "both directions" is clear evidence that they must be screwed up. I think that having to pass US Customs raises the risks.

However I would much prefer a "delay' over a loss. No way will I ever risk connecting in Canada ever again, even if it's a free ticket.

Thanks again.
Bretteee is offline  
Old Feb 21, 10, 4:32 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
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I hope your relatives are feeling better again, and your trip has contributed to them making a speedy recovery.

Thank you for writing this, it was an interesting read and I had to chuckle quite a number of times at your remarks, although I feel sorry for your hassles.

There is something wrong with the way your EWR-GVA transfer in YUL works. If you arrive at YUL from the US, and connect internationally, you would not be required to go through Canadian customs I believe.

But yes, once it became clear that you would have to spend the night in Montréal, you obviously had to immigrate into Canada, THEN pass Canadian customs with your bags before exiting the airport.

Too bad you did not use your forced one-day stop in Montréal to go downtown and discover this beautiful city!
airoli is offline  
Old Feb 21, 10, 5:32 pm
  #9  
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Hi Airoli:

Actually even if you connect from the USA to Europe in YUL they give you a Canadian Customs Card to fill out. You have to complete it which surprised me.

Then when you arrive you cannot go to the Gate, until you have given the form to the Canadian Customs. As you can imagine this wastes time.

Yes I regret that I did not go into town but I had such a nice relaxing time at the hotel that it was already 1 PM when I was ready to go and I thought it would be too stressful time wise.

The airfare from New York to Montreal is about $250 and the train takes about 10 hours so nobody I know even goes there. Shame that JetBlue does not offer low fares. In fact as you can see the equipment on the NYC to Montreal route are small commuter planes.

Thanks for reading.
Bretteee is offline  

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