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Malta (and Gozo), Venice Italy & Oktoberfest Munich, via Air France Business Class

Malta (and Gozo), Venice Italy & Oktoberfest Munich, via Air France Business Class

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Old Dec 27, 16, 3:07 pm
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Malta (and Gozo), Venice Italy & Oktoberfest Munich, via Air France Business Class

Malta (and the island of Gozo), Venice, Italy and Oktoberfest in Munich, via Air France Business Class (AF J, LH Y)

YVR-CDG-MUC (paid)
MUC-MLA-FRA-VCE (paid)
VCE-MUC (paid)
MUC-CDG-YVR (paid)





In this report:


Plaza Premium Lounge: Vancouver International Airport (International Gates)
Air France Business Class: Vancouver - Paris
Air France Business Class Lounge - Paris T2F
Air France Business Class: Paris - Munich
Lufthansa Economy Class: Munich - Malta
Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta
Gozo
Valetta, Malta
Lufthansa Economy Class: Malta - Frankfurt
Lufthansa Economy Class: Frankfurt - Venice
Westin Regina Europa Venice
Venice
Air Domolti Economy Class: Venice - Munich
Westin Grand Munich
Oktoberfest, Munich
Munich
Air France Business Lounge: Munich Terminal 1
Air France Business Class: Munich - Paris
Air France Business Class Lounge CDG T2E - L
Air France Business Class: Paris - Vancouver

Links to my previous reports:

South Africa, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Mauritius & the UAE via Emirates First, Qatar Business (QR J, EK F, BA J, SA J, SW Y) April 2016

Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL J / OZ J / KL J / JL J) July 2015
RTW#3 (J): Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle. (AC/OZ/SQ/AI/TK), May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches, (AC J/Y, QF J) November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” (AS F), August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J). August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC. (CX F) May 2014
RTW #2 (J): The Khors of Oman - via Japan, Poland, & the UAE. RTW in Biz (NH J 787, OZ J, TG J, EY J, TK J, LH J). April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius (UA J, SA J, XAK, LX J, AC J) Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica, (UA Y) Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives (UA Y, EY J/Y, Q2 Y), Nov 2012
RTW #1 (F): The Time Share Presentation, Spain, China, Thailand, (AC J, OZ F, TG F, LH J, LH F, AC Y) May 2012.
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile. (AC J, LA Y) Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt. (MS Y) May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar (MI Y) Sept 2010

Background:

One night after dinner on a work night in June 2016, I was searching around the Premium Deals section of Flyertalk and happened open the Air France SkyTeam flash sale targeting Star Alliance cities. The sale was offering $1,700 CAD ($1,400 USD at the time) round trips in full business class from West Coast cities to Germany. I mentioned it to MrsWT73 who was lukewarm about the whole idea on such short notice.

When I returned home from work the next day, after I had finished cleaning up dinner, I happened to check again and the sale was still there. I shouted over to MrsWT73 to ask if we should book it. Turns out she had fallen asleep on the couch by 9 PM. With that implied permission, I clicked through to purchase and held the ticket for 3 days for $15 CAD a person. As luck would have it, the fare returned to $4,300 CAD the next night just 72 hours after I had first seen it. The decision was easily made then and there.

Since it happened to be Oktoberfest during the dates that I had randomly picked, we ended up purchasing a separate ticket nested inside our return ticket to Europe. I happened to see Malta on the Amazing Race a few seasons ago and thought that it looked pretty neat. My wife had never visited Venice, so I had it included in for a romantic trip for our wedding anniversary.

As always, I hope you’ll enjoy the next chapter(s) of our impromptu adventures!

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Jan 30, 17 at 6:00 pm
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Old Dec 27, 16, 3:18 pm
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Plaza Premium Lounge
Vancouver International Airport
International Gates


It was not our best performance today leaving the house. We usually take the car service since we are usually going for more than 2 weeks on bizarre award tickets on double continent adventures, but since we had a shorter trip this time of 10 days, we had decided to self drive.

I had offered to take MrsWT73 out for brunch at the Globe at YVR in the Fairmont Vancouver Airport prior to our two o’clock departure but we had to drop the cat off at the "cat hotel" since it has taken to peeing all over the floor if left unattended. After that whole process, assurances of owner / cat separation anxiety, the fact that MrsWT73 somehow let the cat vaccinations lapse, and the call over to the veterinarian to get the cat medical records, it gobbled up any champagne brunch time we might have had. All in all it got us to the airport quite late at about noon, or about T-120.

On arrival to the Air France queue, it was a bit of a disaster. There were major lines today. Even the business line was backed up by about 6 groups of travelers. I ended up using a kiosk to check us in but the bag drop line was the regular line; no shortcuts here today as there was no dedicated bag drop or bag tagging line that would have allowed any bypass.







Thankfully, things were moving quickly. For the first time ever, we were issued a single boarding card with two flights on it (top and bottom half).

A quick lunch of Wendy’s at the public international food court and a fast clearance through security thanks to Fast Track stickers and Nexus cards and we were through to the security side within ten minutes. The regular lines were ever crowded, with almost TSA like volume.

The Plaza Premium Lounge International is almost immediately after security. It’s on the left past the first duty free shop. It’s accessible via Priority Pass and home to almost every single contract airline that’s flying out of Vancouver. Today, this meant it was home to every single SkyTeam asian bound flight that was leaving at this hour.





We were admitted without a voucher and by showing our boarding cards. We had visited the lounge on our last flight to Sydney, Australia and it was a bit of a different experience this time. At about T-90, the lounge was completely packed full without a double seat to be had. The lounge itself is an average experience, but today it suffered a major over capacity issue.





There was an Air France / KLM area in the back, but it wasn’t of any use anyway as it was all full up. I suspect there must have been complaints of space issues for them to have this sign up as no other carriers had similar arrangements.





With no where to sit, I went and check out the food area. It wasn’t too exciting and I was happy that we had eaten a proper fast food meal outside of the lounge.









Even the indoor patio feature was completely full with the last seat taken right after this photograph.



It was a pretty chaotic environment over all, echoing the check in line experience as well. I ended up taking over someone’s seat who had a stale glass of wine that was covered in condensation that appeared to have been sitting there for quite some time. There were 5 Asian flights that were also departing within 30 minutes and as a result, the place was pretty full.

One of the better features of the lounge is the plane spotting. This one featured Air Transat on its way to Rome, Italy.





Boarding was announced in the lounge with a very loud public address announcement reminiscent of what you’d expect in a bus station. We finished up our discounted wines and headed out. The Vancouver International Terminal is still a nice place, although today it was full of slow walkers and construction scaffolding.

The visit this time was a pretty busy experience. The lounge had no where to sit and people were stuffed on top of each other. The food offerings were pretty picked over and it wasn’t all too relaxing being there. I’d probably feel free to give this one a miss if I was coming through here the next time for the Air France flight.
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Old Dec 27, 16, 3:43 pm
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Air France
Business Class
YVR-CDG (Vancouver International Airport – Paris Charles De Gaulle T2E)
AF0379
Sept 16, 2016
Booked: Boeing 777-200
Flown: Boeing 777-200 ER
Departure: 2:00 PM
Arrival: 08:25 AM + 1

We left the lounge shortly after the boarding announcement since we thought that we’d do better in the terminal. The Vancouver International concourse is always a pleasure to walk through with lots to look at and a fair amount of natural light.





We passed by the new Cathay Pacific Lounge, located across from D51. It must have had a really quiet launch as I hadn’t heard anything about it despite living in Vancouver and subscribing to the Cathay Pacific offers by email. The previous lounge was hidden immediately across from security and up the elevator.



On arrival to the gate, boarding had already started and was a rows 40 and higher at the T-45 mark. We were able to get through thanks to a dedicated Sky Priority Lane, with all lanes merging into a single jet bridge boarding lane today.







While we were boarding an older woman decided to hold up the entire boarding process at the boarding door as her poodle was on a leash walking down the jet bridge. About fifty of us all waited on the jet bridge as she slowly and carefully zipped the cotton ball into a carrier while the flight attendants carefully and patiently looked on. This felt like it must have taken half an hour but instead it was probably more like 5 minutes.

Once we were on through door 2L, we turned left to the old Air France Business Class cabin on their 18 Boeing 777-200 ER’s. The cabin is set up in a 2-3-2 configuration, featuring angled flat seats. This configuration must be about 10+ years old and believe me, it shows. The seats have been outclassed by both styles of angled and reverse angled herringbone seating.









I’d pity the poor people stuck in the middle seats of the plane with no immediate access to the aisle



A bottle of Eska Water, a coat hanger, a pillow and a set of sealed slippers were on the seat on arrival.



The seating had 1 control feature: recline or no recline. There was no ability to adjust the lumbar or seat support. Practically, this meant that you could only lounge in the half way to recline position, and couldn't elevate the legs or adjust the bottom half of the chair separate from the top.

The load today was a full 24 out of 24 seats taken. It took quite a while for the staff to complete the pre-departure beverage. It seemed as though the staff were waiting for everyone to board, instead of bringing beverages out as passengers arrived to the cabin. Today’s PDB choice was orange juice or champagne.



As we headed out to taxi to the runway, the Air New Zealand flight 4x weekly from Auckland was just arriving to the International concourse.



We had a departure out on runway 08R over the suburb of Surrey and north eastward toward Edmonton. As we went airborne, there were some great views of the mountains that surround Vancouver.





After we had climbed to altitude, amenity kits were passed out from a tray. The kits were pretty straight forward, and contained Chapstick, a generous container of red mouthwash and toothbrushes.





Some bright and colorful menus were passed out. Air France has gone a bit cheaper on the menus since most of the pages are printed in black and white. It reminded me of that small town newspaper that could only afford to put color on the front page and had black and white through the rest of the paper. Strangely, a designer is featured on the menu for “design of the plates” and two wine consultants are also featured, but there is no guest or celebrity chef featured for the menu. I found out why later. . .







The wine list and beverage list. Some okay wines there compared to Ken Chases's selections for Air Canada that always feature the Niagara Region of Ontario, but nothing that I'd write home about.









A pre-dinner cocktail was offered. I went with a gin and tonic. This was paired with a Mis en Bouche of smoked tuna over seaweed salad and sesame. The presentation was nice and we were of to a great start. Regretfully, that was the high point of the meal.







The Gourmet Appetizer and Seasonal Salad with oven dried potatoes was served all at once. It contained peppered smoked salmon and salmon marinated with beets served over fennel salad, duck foie gras with Armagnac. I think Air France is likely the only carrier departing YVR that offers foie gras. The salad was pretty tasty, although the foie gras was pretty tasteless and about as cheap as you could ask for – with almost a processed taste. This was paired with the menu Bourgone Blanc Chalbis 2014 Jean – Marc Brocard.





They were out of the halibut by the time that they got to row 4. I went with the pan seared beef tournedos with gorgonzola cheese sauce offering that looked surprisingly like gravy, chateau potatoes and sautéed vegetables that looked like they had been steamed. Unfortunately, the beef was almost inedible; tough, overcooked and chewy, I have had better round steak from Walmart that was smoother than this. The only good part of the meal was the red wine which today was a Bordeaux Rouge by Margaux Brio de Cantenac Brown 2011.





Sadly, a tough and overcooked waste of a cut of steak.



The cheese serving was dropped off midway through the main meal. It was a thin plate of two soft cheeses.



After the main courses, a dessert tray was brought out. Today’s offer was a mini opera cake, lemon tarlet with a raspberry French macaron. Since it was on offer, I went with a second dessert of a sorbet and fresh fruit salad. They were offering digestives with the dessert so I tried a Bas – Armagnac Chateau du Tariquet Folle Blanc 12 ans for the first time. Wow – I hadn’t had anything so horrid in a while. It's certainly an acquired taste as they say. It was similar to a single malt whisky without the malt taste.





Service execution was quite similar to our Thai Airways flights and was pretty much a “laissez faire” attitude. The staff turned up to drop the food and pretty much disappear for the rest of the flight. We didn’t get a single offer of a wine refill unless it was asked for. Pro-active pass through(s) of the cabin were completely non existent. MrsWT73 was even chided for using the front lavatory “That’s a crew lavatory only – you can’t be using it”. Groan. What a great way to spend 9 hours together (laughing).

After the dinner, I browsed through the AVOD entertainment system. The system, like the rest of the plane, was pretty tired and dated. I wish I could say that there were great movies on there, but the system has easily been outclassed by the quantity of movies on the Middle East Three and Asian carriers.







The seat, although a business class seat and better than economy, was pretty hard to get comfortable in. The lack of independent seat controls is like using a microwave- you don’t miss them until it’s gone. It’s uncomfortable for relaxing in and hard for getting work done. Furthermore, there are no compartments by the seats, so there isn’t anywhere to take your watch off. I pretty much left my SLR camera on the floor since there was nowhere else to put it. These are first world problems I know, but worth mentioning if anyone plans on setting up a photo studio in their suite like I was.

I had a glass of champagne while I worked on the trip report.



When I was finished, I tried to get some sleep but it doesn’t didn’t work. I forgot the “relax and sleeps” and trying to snooze between 6 PM and 9 PM in your own time zone just didn’t work for me. It’s perhaps one of the considerations if you happen to be taking a trans-continental flight that departs at 2 PM. The seat was an uncomfortable slope that didn’t take well to a tall person like myself.

At about 90 minutes before landing, a breakfast was served. Today’s choice was between a cheese omelette with turkey sausage or blueberry crepes. Again, the presentation looked pretty tired and uninspiring for a country that is famous for its food.







I managed to get the last omelet by the time they arrived to row 4. The portions were surprisingly small. I had my first drink refill in the last 2 hours of the flight when they came around to offer coffee top ups.

In a bright spot, we had some nice views on the approach to the airport.



[

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We rolled up next to an Etihad A340 in this bizarre airport known as Charles De Gualle.





Wow – if this flight is any representation of Air France, it was pretty disappointing. All in all, I can’t say that I would ever choose Air France again if I had the choice between Lufthansa or even Air Canada. There are much better equipment and service offerings out there- Lufthansa’s newer full flat seats and Air Canada’s reverse herringbone seats are much nicer. The food and service offerings are miles ahead on other carriers as is the service these days. I got the impression that the staff were just going through the motions and didn’t really appear to interested in their jobs. I think that had we paid a regular price business class fare (instead of the smokin’ deal that we got) that we’d have been quite disappointed. Be forewarned if you happen to be flying this equipment type or this route!
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Old Dec 27, 16, 3:56 pm
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Air France
Business Class Lounge
Paris Charles de Gaulle – Terminal 2F


We were off the plane without any major issues. There was an air traffic control strike that was supposed to occur two days before we arrived. When we got off the plane, there were no lingering signs of it – all the flights appeared to be operating normally and without delay.



We took the underground tunnel from CDG Terminal 2E to 2F which is directly across the width of the airport. I had downloaded a connection map from Air France, but it didn’t really make much sense; along with many French things .

When we got to the immigration and customs areas, it was divided by business and economy class. It was clearly marked with separate Sky Priority (business class lines) for security screening and arrival immigration. The hallways were quite thin and congested and more like a mall in a small town near you instead of an airport serving one of the largest cities in Europe.









We headed over to the Air France Salon near gate F25. I had tried to locate the “better” Air France Business Lounge before hand (if there was such a thing), but there weren’t many reviews about them. The mantra “use the one closest to your gate” seemed to be the best advice. The ceiling of the pods by the lounge were interesting and of a modernistic seventies design.







We headed down a level using the escalators though another narrow entry way into the lounge. We were admitted without issue based on class of service on the boarding pass.

This Air France lounge was a the end of the concourse on a double level basis. The bottom level was two levels below the concourse. It was full on the arrival floor. Of course, being all things French, there was no escalator or working elevator to get to the bottom level. We ended up schlepping our carry on bags down the circular stair case and found some loungers to relax in.











The Air France lounge was serving a very light breakfast at this hour. There were mini croissants, pain au chocolat and some hard cheeses (cheddar and comte?). There were also shaved chicken slices.





There were hard liquor available for consumption, but surprisingly no wine or sparkling. There was an espresso machine but straightly all the milk drinks were zeroed out and not available (cappuccino, latte etc..) leaving only American coffee and espresso available. Maybe the strike also affected the milk truck's delivery schedule.

There were interesting views of the air side operations. Air France seemed to have intersecting jet bridges that allowed for flights to be boarded from parallel gates, without having to move the aircraft's to accommodate a gate change.



All in all, a reasonable place to hang out for a little bit with some basic amenities.

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Old Dec 27, 16, 4:08 pm
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Air France
Business Class
CDG-MUC (Paris Charles de Gaulle T2F – Munich Terminal 1)
AF 1722
September 17, 2016
Booked: Airbus 318
Flown: Airbus 318
Departure: 10:15 AM
Arrival: 11:45 AM


Leaving the lounge, we headed back up to the concourse. There wasn't a lot of spare room, based on the way that had designed this finger of the airport. We jammed into the Sky Priority Boarding area. The gate area here was so stuffed full that we pretty much had to line cut to get into our zone. There were lots of Shengen flights leaving at this hour and the place didn’t seem to be designed with a lot of spare space in mind. The photo below actually is the walkway between each gate jammed full of people.





Boarding was by scanning the boarding card into the gate system and a walk down the glass jet bridges. The carry on police was not around today and we were able to sneak on a few extras.





Once we were on board, the Air France business class seating was similar to other European business class seating – an economy seat with a blocked middle. We were in the bulkheads today in 2A and 2C since no other seats were available when we booked (the flight was sold out well in advance). Thumbs up to an attractive cabin color with striking cushions that accented well.



As with most other European cabins, there was no entertainment or television monitors on the bulkhead wall. There was a bassinet holder that was available as well.





There was no pre – departure beverage offered today as the rest of the cabin streamed by for the economy boarding.

As we were getting ready to leave, we had a 15 minute flight delay to remove 9 suitcases. How anyone gets nine suitcases on a flight without turning up is a mystery to me. . .

We had a quick departure past the strange “no right turn” sign on the taxi way, with a nice view of the Air France Concorde on the climb out.





At altitude, a reasonable snack plate followed by a bar and beverage service. The snack was plated all at one, with a printed menu.



Strangely, there was no white wine available on the business class cart, but a bottle of sparkling brut was so I had a little of that followed by a coffee.



We had bumpy ride down and a quick taxi to our gate at Munich. We collected our checked bag at the belt in Terminal 1 and waited for what seemed like forever (probably about 15 minutes).



All in all, it was an okay short hop flight. I can’t see what the advantage of using Air France would be for a short haul intra European flight when so many other competitors offer likely better service (Lufthansa) and connection experience (Munich / Zurich / Austria). The CDG airport is pretty old with crowded boarding areas and the food and beverage (by short haul standards) is pretty much the same as everyone else. Keeping with the theme of the earlier Air France flight, it was a decidedly “average” experience.
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Old Dec 28, 16, 4:54 am
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With you so far ... a good informative TR that has reinforced my view that I'll stick to AA and BA for l/h

Looking forward to your Malta section: one of my favourite European destinations [if not the only one, actually!]. We haven't been for 2 years, and really must get round to returning in 2017. This is my TR from last time.
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Old Dec 28, 16, 10:45 am
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Location: yyz
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I remember this fare...was really tempted, but my travel companion wasn't up for it. Too bad AF still runs this seat on these routes...their cabin refresh is taking such a long time.

What did you credit the flights to? I recall the fare not qualifying for AS, or at least some mention of that on the premium fares thread.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 11:13 am
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Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
With you so far ... a good informative TR that has reinforced my view that I'll stick to AA and BA for l/h

Looking forward to your Malta section: one of my favourite European destinations [if not the only one, actually!]. We haven't been for 2 years, and really must get round to returning in 2017. This is my TR from last time.
Thank you T8191. From reading your report, looks like you had a good trip back in 2014. Of note, our family originally hails from Guernsey so we have something in common. I haven't been back in about 15 years.

Originally Posted by grandgourmand View Post
I remember this fare...was really tempted, but my travel companion wasn't up for it. Too bad AF still runs this seat on these routes...their cabin refresh is taking such a long time.

What did you credit the flights to? I recall the fare not qualifying for AS, or at least some mention of that on the premium fares thread.
Thanks grandgourmand. I agree that the cabin refresh seems to be taking forever.

I ended up crediting the flights to Alaska Mileage Plan. I checked in advance and they did credit without issue, including the class of service bonus. I do recall a decent sale fare on Aero Mexico to EZE from the Americas in business class that did not offer any credit that was around the same time.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 11:25 am
  #9  
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Lufthansa
Economy Class
MUC-MLA (Munich Terminal 2 - Malta)
LH 1976
September 17, 2016
Booked: Airbus 320
Flown:
Departure: 2:50 PM
Arrival: 5:00 PM


Given the fact that the business class seats on Lufthansa short haul are also economy seats with a blocked middle seat, and with tight connections all around with no time for any meaningful lounge use, we opted for economy class tickets all around. We are without Star Alliance Gold status these days having lost my Star Gold status several years back.

We arrived in Munich Terminal One. I had checked in to the Lufthansa flight online back in Vancouver in the event we had to make a run for the gate arriving after any cut off times with the boarding passes added to my Apple Wallet. The bags were a bit slow being dispensed from Air France, probably in part because it was pouring with rain outside.

We walked the long underground tunnel from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2.

We located the Lufthansa Economy Class area and re-printed our boarding cards through the kiosks. Lufthansa has moved towards self tagging and drop of bags and they have a neat dispenser that swallows up the checked bags after they have been weighed and tagged.



We ended up having some extra time with our 3 hour connection on the two separate tickets. We took in a pretzel and a Hell beer in terminal G. It wouldn’t be the Munich airport without an awesome car in the departure hall.



We took the train out to the nice K gates, which is in the second building at Munich T2. It was my first time out there and it’s a nice, bright and new facility.







We were pretty exhausted by this point and MrsWT73 and I found some relaxation on some awesome loungers out by the gates. This was a great idea to whomever thought this up!



LH is not boarding by zone like everyone else in North America so after the priority board was announced, it was a free for all. We were among the first in line since we were hovering around the gates near the building support pillars and were able to easily store the carry on’s once we had gotten on board.



We had row 12 which was an exit row easily booked on line. LH doesn’t permit any storage underneath the seats at all and were checking this space on a repeated basis. It’s also a good reminder that the seats in this row do not recline at all.



We were airborne pretty quickly. I was zonked at this point, not having been able to get any sleep since we left the house. I passed out pretty quickly with the crinkled neck against the fuselage wall.

MrsWT73 had a chicken sandwich and white wine in plastic cup that was delivered during the flight. The food and beverage service was complimentary in economy.



Since I was asleep, I missed most of the flight. I woke up to views of us approaching the island of Malta. We had nice landing approach with a flight path on the east side of the island. Being in seats 12EF we had a great view of the eastern coast of Malta on our way in.





We arrived to a non gate position at the main terminal. There were some Air Malta planes (now a Lufthansa subsidiary) on the apron. They rolled up the stairs and it was a short walk on the apron into the terminal.







There is something about it; I guess I am a Lufthansa fan. The whole deal, even in economy, was much more pleasant that the Air France experience. The bright and classy Munich airport and the friendlier service on board compared to the bizarre Charles De Gaulle dungeons and somewhat surly service on Air France makes LH the winner in my books.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 12:11 pm
  #10  
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The Westin Dragonara Resort
Executive Club Room / Luxury Bay Suites
St Julians, Malta


We picked up our bags and met our driver. The hotel had provided a meet and greet service with a black Mercedes E Class for just 25€. With our bags in the car, we were over to the Westin hotel within 15 minutes.





We arrived at the property after navigating the tight alleys of St Julians. The hotel is a giant pink structure that doesn’t look very appealing from the street side.









Once inside, the lobby bar was spectacular and made for a great first impression. It had nice high ceilings and live piano music on some evenings.







The property was showing completely full on our Saturday night arrival, so I wasn’t expecting too much in terms of upgrades. I had applied SPG Suite Night Awards (to a one bedroom suite, the only room type available in the upgrade pool) and they had failed to clear. I saw that the property seemed to have lots of room availability Sunday night onward and aimed to ask the front desk to see if there were any chances of switching mid stay to a nicer room.

On arrival, they had provided us with a one category upgrade to a deluxe room on the executive floor (interpreted here as a high floor). I asked about the possibility of changing room mid stay and was promptly introduced to Katerina the operations executive. She indicated that she had a nice room available for us on the next day and that she would reach out the next morning around 10 AM.

We were assigned room 742, which was an excellent room with a double queen bed. It was excellent because it had a larger deck, terrific view of the pool and ocean, and was one floor and three rooms away from the Executive Lounge. The room was nicely appointed and had been recently refreshed as everything looked new and inviting.













I had written the hotel in advance and indicated we were staying on the celebration of our wedding anniversary and the hotel was kind enough to offer a complimentary bottle of Italian Prosecco chilled on ice waiting for us in the room.



The view from the large deck was one of my most favorite things about this particular room.





We were pretty knackered from our flight but being young at heart, we headed up to the Executive Club Lounge on the 18th floor. The club lounge access was complimentary due to our SPG Platinum status.







The lounge had a nice outdoor deck with great views over the harbor. It was plenty hot out at 6:30 PM when we made it up there; about 24 degrees according to the iPhone weather app. We were a bit grubby from the overseas flights and two intra-Europe segments but the gin and tonics sure helped calm the nerves and ease us into the European Time Zone. It was a really scenic setting and a great way to relax after a long journey.







There were a reasonable amount of snacks available and an open self pour bar with basic level spirits (Gordon’s Gin). Several kinds of wine were on offer, including domestic Maltese Wine and Italian Sparkling. I’m sad to report that the Maltese Wine was not terrific, but it was a neat experience getting the opportunity to taste it. These are photographs of the breakfast offering the next morning.







We situated ourselves and got to know the resort. The property had one of the largest gyms I had ever seen for a hotel property. It had treadmills that faced the sea.









The day after our arrival, we spent the day around the property taking in the heat. The property offered a nice pool and a pleasant setting to lounge around in.



There was also an area of day loungers, with an adults only area. It’s worth noting that there is no “beach” at this area. There is access to the water via ladders and the shore line right up against the resort is quite rocky; large ones that you can’t easily walk on. You need to be a bit of a swimmer to get out far enough from the shore to avoid any knee scrapes. I doubt that my twelve year old would have done it without assistance, although I could have probably towed him out without any problems.















A photo of the property with the “Bay Suites” (where we were eventually upgraded to) behind the two palm trees in the short two story building.



The shore was great place to sack out with Tom Clancy “Commander in Chief” with nice waterway views.





As promised, the hotel contacted us at around 3 PM and had our new room ready. We were assigned Bay Suite #230. The Bay Suites are in a separate “older” part of the hotel and not in the main towers. The room was quite large – much larger than my wife’s first Vancouver apartment with a direct and immediate view of the ocean. The room bedroom, bathroom, and entrance way had a partial refresh and appeared to have new flooring.









There was a mini bar and a kitchen stocked with pots and pans for those nights in. We didn’t have any.





The room offered a smaller deck than the executive suite. Despite this, it was much closer to the water and much more private. The views were also nice and serene. The deck area was a bit darker than the executive suite due to the trees and the configuration of the building.







The bedroom was close to the sea and had direct windows out to the water.





There was a second full bathroom off the living room that featured a full shower.



After a day of relaxing and adjusting to the new time zone on the resort property, we walked down to the harbor area a few blocks from the hotel. St Julian’s is chock full of restaurants; some looked like legitimate tourist traps, whereas others looked more interesting.

We ended up at the Cuba restaurant on an outside patio with a view over the harbor.









We really enjoyed the Westin Dragonara Resort and Spa. The treatment that we received as SPG Platinum's was terrific. The resort really went out of their way to accommodate us and make a special visit all that more special. The Executive Lounge was one of the nicer ones that I’ve found in the system, made special by the outdoor deck where you can take in a sunset with a nice view. The building or amenities are that extravagant but otherwise the setting is pretty good (save the fact that there is no proper beach). We would easily return.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 12:52 pm
  #11  
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I'm really glad ".. Katerina the operations executive. She indicated that she had a nice room available for us on the next day and that she would reach out the next morning around 10 AM.". Nobody has ever reached out for us!!

Decent accommodation, I will gladly admit, but that part of Malta doesn't tick boxes for us. And sea-bathing really only works on small bays, like St Peter's Pool which we shared once with just the then Prime Minister and his bodyguards!!
Malta is NOT a beach destination, but some of the Resort Hotels do a decent job.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 12:56 pm
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I went for the same deal but made sure to fly on the new Air France business class rather than the old one and the difference appears to be night and day. New AF business might arguably be the best hard product in the Western hemisphere (it certainly beats LH) and I had a friendly crew which altogether made it one of the best experiences I've ever had flying.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 5:36 pm
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Great report so far of your flight with AF in J. The food looks very good!

Malta looks beautiful in your photos!
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Old Dec 30, 16, 7:45 pm
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Enjoying your report. Have to say that Air France looks deplorable. I could probably still sleep on that seat (just flew it on EgyptAir) but my goodness, what an uncompetitive product for a Continental European airline. The retrofits cannot come fast enough!
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Old Dec 30, 16, 9:25 pm
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Great report. I bought the same deal as you did but took KLM instead. Good thing I dodged Air Chance, I mean Air France!
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