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The Sabbatical - Olafman’s solo journey of enlightenment and improvement

The Sabbatical - Olafman’s solo journey of enlightenment and improvement

Old Jun 26, 22, 1:57 pm
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The Sabbatical - Olafman’s solo journey of enlightenment and improvement

My husband Terry and I recently read in The Big Gay Relationship Handbook that after 32 years together, we have the option of taking a one year “sabbatical” from our relationship. We aren’t breaking up. We aren’t separating. But instead we are each going to be working individually on all the stuff about ourselves that will make us a better person overall and a better partner for each other.

I am a huge travel dork. I’m very proud of it. I’ve been a member of the Flyertalk community for over 20 years. Because of Flyertalk, I have done lots of crazy things to feed my travel addiction. Around the year 2000, we ended up with a garage of Nutrigrain bars which yielded about 1,200,000 miles. At one point, Terry entered our garage and told me, “Lucy, you’ve got some splaining to do.”

That same year, through Flyertalk, I learned how to get another million miles from our dear friends at ValueMags. It was a great way to start off the Millenium. This enabled me to do lots of First Class flights on Cathay Pacific and British Airways. The best use of those miles was getting to experience Concorde just weeks before they grounded those birds forever.

The next big travel milestone was when we decided to spend an entire year traveling around when our son was 10 years old. After living in Munich, we spent an entire year traveling as a family. We called the year Fifth Grade Around The World. It was an amazing journey spending a month in twelve different countries across six continents. The experience definitely sculpted our growing son’s life and gave him a broad perspective of how others around the world live. I chronicled the journey on Flyertalk with monthly installments: My son’s fifth grade year: 97,737 miles, 40 flights, 6 continents and 16 countries.

So a few years later, I was at work in an edtech company in Silicon Valley, I had the door shut. I was just sitting there in my little office. I wasn’t happy. I was commuting a total of three hours every day to work. But I was often away from the office, out in the world, as part of my Head of Outreach position. So instead of the three hour commute, I was jet-lagged and sleeping poorly.

I was tired.

A few years earlier, I had read an article in the NY Times which left a lasting impact on me. It explored ten places a retired couple could live around the world for $2000 a month including healthcare! There were a number of places as expected in Asia and Central America. But Portugal made the list and was the only place in Europe among the options.

Was it possible to live on $2000 a month ANYWHERE? This number is a small fraction of what my family spends to live in the Bay Area. As a world citizen, what could justify a California lifestyle where we spend many times that amount each month?!

So now I am at another important moment of my life. This month we sold our house here in the Bay Area and I also I retired. And we decided that it is the right time to take a sabbatical. Become a better person. Become a better partner.

I am choosing to spend the year traveling around the world experiencing possible places we might live after our sabbatical years. Sort of “Eat, Pray, Love” meets “Punch-Drunk Love” meets “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

I have purchased 28 flights, all using miles traveling to five continents. Some of the travel highlights I am looking forward in the next 12 months include five days of eating in Taipei this December, two flights on Singapore on their A380s with their newest First Suites, and two flights on Emirates in First (and one of those is on their A380 which means another shower at 39,000 ft.)

Terry and I will meet up a year from now and share what we each learned on our sabbatical journeys. We will spend two months reintegrating with each other and planning our next chapter.

The Guardian recently wrote about couples taking a “gap year” after decades together. So we aren’t the first to give this a try. We are both excited to walk down our own pathways for the next year and see the rewards it will bring.

And The Sabbatical begins in a few days.


P.S. Well. Well. Well. So my husband has decided to share here on Flyertalk HIS journey of the next sabbatical year. We've both agreed that we would only read the first post and then not read anything further until we meet in a year. So as he points out, only you, the reader, will know how it is going for each of us. Here is a link to his sabbatical thread: A marriage sabbatical is two journeys

Last edited by olafman; Nov 17, 22 at 5:17 am
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Old Jun 26, 22, 3:00 pm
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Congratulations on the retirement and even more congrats on having a marriage so healthy that you and Terry can take this sabbatical separately. Introspection is sometimes painful and almost always ultimately rewarding.

More than 20 years ago after 24 years in a committed relationship, my same-gender husband and I did a sabbatical somewhat involuntarily when his executive position with a major international company took him to another continent for 2 ½ years. Though we were able to be “in person” several times a year and have phone calls weekly, it was a time when each of us could do what you are doing. At the end of it, we were stronger individually and as a couple. Later this week we’ll celebrate our 46th anniversary.

Good luck on your travels and time away; I look forward to your reports.

Last edited by Glensea; Jun 26, 22 at 3:10 pm
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Old Jun 26, 22, 4:57 pm
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Wow, interesting. My friends are in the process of retiring at age 50 to the coast of Ecuador after considering Florida, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Costa Rica.

I think life is about growth.
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Old Jun 26, 22, 7:13 pm
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Mega kudos and this will be great to read
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Old Jun 26, 22, 9:02 pm
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This is wonderful olafman , I look forward to reading of your adventures.
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Old Jun 26, 22, 9:23 pm
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I don’t recall reading your previous reports, but it sounds like you’ll be having fun! I loved redeeming a RTW Biz award in 2005, where I did it over 11 months, and hit 6 continents. Flying back on cheap tickets every now and again to work. I wrote about it on Inside Flyer many years ago.
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Old Jun 27, 22, 8:43 am
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Congratulations on the beginning of a journey of a lifetime!

If you make it to the Pacific coast of Mexico, may I recommend taking a look at two interesting places to eventually retire for an adventurous soul like yours:
- Zihuatanejo, with a diverse community of Mexican and American retirees, welcoming and left-leaning
- Zipolite, which is fantastic queer fun

Will be reading your thread with interest in the first year of my same-sex marriage
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Old Jun 27, 22, 8:48 am
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Wow, what an opening to your TR!!!

Looking forward to reading about your travels and experiences.
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Old Jun 27, 22, 9:30 am
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Can't wait to follow along with your reports of how the next year plays out. You 12 month around the world journey with your son is my favorite trip report that I've ever read on FT. I can recall eagerly checking every day for your latest installment. I think we are never to old to examine our lives and grow in new directions.
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Old Jun 27, 22, 2:07 pm
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My sabbatical journey this year is about giving myself the opportunity to learn and grow. I also want to experience various places that I think we might live during our retirement. Finally I want to have a lot of fun and eat lots of great food along the way.

At this point I think Spain and Portugal are frontrunners in the long term retirement plan. Many moons ago, I attended the University of Madrid, Complutense. Then I came back to the US and got a double major including Spanish. Because of this, I am definitely leaning toward Spain. Hubby doesn’t speak either Spanish or Portuguese so he’s not convinced yet that either of these two countries could work.

I’ve been talking about this plan to sell the house, retire early, and move to Portugal for a number of years now. In fact my brother and sister-in-law listened. So last year, they actually beat us to the punch! They sold their house in the Bay Area and moved to northern Portugal! They have been there a year now and loving it. They have a great four bedroom house that they pay $700 a month for! Their plan is to buy a place but they are loving the rental house that happens. It was nice to have them pave the way for us following their footsteps.

They got the retirement visa for Portugal. They can only spend money, they can’t work. They had to show steady income and jump through a couple of other hoops and they got the visa. My brother has learned a lot about passive income in the past year and is now sharing his wisdom with us. Covered Call ETFs seem like they are a good way to help make this happen.

Part of me could only justify retiring early by promising not to touch any current investments and retirement. Instead my idea works only by living on the interest/dividends on the equity from our house sale. If I could achieve this, early retirement makes sense. BYE BYE long commute to Silicon Valley forever.

I started looking into getting the retirement visa that Spain offers. And it has a few more hoops than Portugal. It’s a doable process but I was getting the feeling that I wasn’t ready to commit to just living in Spain. What if Portugal was my true calling? I spent a couple of weeks in both countries last summer. But I was uneasy to make the big decision especially when hubby hasn’t been to either.

I so decided I would stick to tourist visas this year. For Europe that means that I am limited to 90 days out of any 180 days in the EU. So for my sabbatical year, that meant I could spend half the year in Europe.

In the back of my mind, I was interested in trying out retiring in Thailand and also in Costa Rica. Thus the plan evolved that I would spend the first three months, July, August, and September, in Europe. Then the next three through December in Asia. Next two weeks over the holidays back in the Bay Area to see family and friends. Then January, February, March in Costa Rica. Finally head back to Europe for April, May, June. Hopefully by the spring, I will have narrowed down my options and spend those three months in the place that I want to retire in.

Of course, as I was planning the actual flights, the traveler in me started getting excited about visiting OTHER places too along the way. Since I was going around the world, I should use miles to get a RTW ticket. The problem is that using one alliance’s RTW ticket limits where you can go and how many segments you can do it in. Lots of rules. No backtracking. Only limited partners.

Instead, I had a large chunk of miles on various programs and through the bank credit cards. I could use them to piece together exactly the routes I wanted on the airlines that I wanted. I could get miles tickets getting me from point to point rather than worrying about getting me all the way around the world.

I already had my ticket from SFO to Europe that I booked speculatively last year when I got home from my 8 week summer trip to South Africa and Europe. So the RTW would need to start and end in Europe.

I love me some Qatar Qsuites and AA has some great redemption rates. So quickly I started thinking about popping over to Egypt and also spending some time with my family in South Africa as I end my three months in Europe and then move on to Thailand for the next three months. Egypt has been on my travel bucket list for a while but their hideous prosecution of homosexuals has kept me away. But I have arrived at the “it’s now or never” place in my mind and decided to give Egypt a try. One of my friends from Madrid is joining me for the Egypt adventure and we’ll do our best to not get arrested. Stay tuned.

Leaving South Africa, Singapore Airlines has a great bargain of 45K miles to get to Phuket in Business. Unfortunately, Singapore and Cathay both no longer offer First Class to South Africa. And Singapore Biz is one of the best. BUT, I happen to notice my friends at Emirates had some First Class seats available through Dubai. Granted this ticket cost 141K miles to fly in their first class on their A380 and 777, both with the old suites. But I love Emirates First. I’ll get another mid-flight shower, a 23 hour layover in Dubai with a free hotel, and a stunning lounge experience. Yes, it’s an additional 100K miles over the wonderful Singapore Biz. But I reminded myself that “I deserve nice things” and decided to splurge on EK FC.

I love Asia. As a person who loves food, it is paradise. I have traveled extensively there and am drawn back time and time again. So I worked backwards and booked a lovely Japan Airlines First Class flight to get me back to California for Christmas. Our son will have just graduated from college then so it will be great to see him and others. I have been lucky enough to enjoy JAL First Class many times. It’s definitely one of my favorites.
I next decided that after I left Thailand, I would spend two and half weeks eating my way through Asia. So this means stops in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Osaka/Kyoto, and finally Tokyo. I have never been to Taiwan so I have scheduled five days to explore their culinary delights for the first time.

The problem is that the time experiencing retirement in Thailand had been reduced by Egypt and South Africa visits on the front end and then eating my way through Asia on the back end. This meant only 5 weeks in Thailand down from THREE MONTHS! These are all good problems to have but it felt a little short.

Along the way I managed to snag a SIN-HKG flight on Singapore’s new First Class Suite on their A380. I was originally booked in September 2020 to experience it but thanks to COVID, I was home on my couch. I am also excited about visiting the newly refurbished Private Room in Changi. It is one of my favorite FC lounges and I look forward to seeing the improvements.

After a quick visit to California, I am flying to Costa Rica. IN ECONOMY!!! WHAT?!?!? Most airlines fly less than glamorous 737s to San Jose, Costa Rica so grabbing a 10K mile web special ticket on AA seemed the logical choice over 50K in a domestic FC slightly bigger seat and a hockey puck piece of beef. The occasional economy class flight is humbling for all of us. And thanks to Lifetime Platinum status, I get some extra leg room.

Leaving Costa Rica, I am scheduled on Avianca through Bogota which I know has gotten some horrible business class reviews. But I love Colombia and look forward to a nice stopover. Since I booked, Avianca has announced that they are killing their regional business class so I have to figure something else out. Flexibility is key to having my year go smoothly.

After spending a week with friends in NYC in March, I will take Singapore New First Class Suites from JFK to Frankfurt. I really look forward to this flight as I end my round the world trip. Nothing beats it across the Pond.

So I have booked 24 of my expected 28 flights for the next year. I have a couple of short hops left to book. These 24 flights have cost about 750,000 miles which is a lot more than any one alliance’s RTW miles ticket. But I got to book exactly the airline I wanted and in First when it was offered. Even as free tickets, I ended up paying $1528 in taxes! And the two flights on Emirates First were the worst costing $659. Ouch! That’s almost as bad as BA in First through Heathrow.

The frequent flyer dork in me has had so much fun planning and booking all the flights. The availability tool www.point.me has been invaluable to help me figure out the best booking options for the fewest points. Finding the partner sweet spots is what it does best. I am not affiliated in any way with point.me but definitely recommend them. Worth the $120 a year to me.

So this is the nuts and bolts explanation behind the trip. Not much enlightenment or improvement so far. But my brain has really enjoyed piecing it all together to help make my Sabbatical a success.

So the countdown timer is telling me that my departure is soon. My bags are mostly packed. I have been on a multiple week Farewell Tour of family and friends filling me with lots of love and support that I will draw upon as I journey forward alone for the next twelve months.

The Sabbatical is about to begin.
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Old Jun 27, 22, 2:34 pm
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2 1/2 weeks to eat your way through 5-6 Asian cities? Shorts stops wear me out, so I’d do 5-7 days myself each stop. 3 months in Thailand was definitely too much. I’d say the same for Costa Rica. I love CR, and own some property there, but I’d be hesitant to retire there these days.

I’d go to Brazil and Argentina too if I were going to South America. I liked Medellin much more than Bogota, in Colombia. I’d also go to more Asian countries. I have lifetime residency in Indonesia, which I love, but it’s not for everyone.

I just finished 25 nights at hotels in Jakarta after arriving last month, and the level of service was so much better, and of course cheaper, than the “limited” service you get in the US today at very pricey hotels.

I hope all your flights go well!

Last edited by Jaimito Cartero; Jun 27, 22 at 2:39 pm
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Old Jun 28, 22, 12:05 am
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Awesome to read about your sabbatical. My husband and I are also planning to retire early in a few years and Portugal is on the top of our list mainly because of the lower taxes. My husband is French so we can stay anywhere we want to in the EU so the visa would not be a problem. We are looking into countries that have no wealth tax or low wealth tax. He also wants to be near his family since he moved to the US over 25 years ago. We follow a couple on YouTube that retired early in Portugal a couple of years ago. Their channel's name is called "Our Rich Journey" . They have tons of information on life in Portugal and they bought a couple of houses there. They said getting the visa for Portugal is easier than in Spain.
I was thinking if for your stopover in Egypt, if it may be safer to just join a tour. I know a lot of people don't like tours but as a woman who traveled a lot prior to meeting her husband, I found them to be useful in countries where there was a big language barrier and where cultural norms are different which can lead to safety issues.
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Old Jul 1, 22, 3:00 am
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Wow, that is a big trip coming along! Looking forward to follow it, having read your previous trip report.

As a foreigner living (albeit working, not retired) in Thailand, I think you should definitely spend more time here if you are considering retiring in Thailand. I would be happy to provide ideas for places to go, etc on DM if you like. And of course, let me know if you want to grab a beer when in BKK

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jul 2, 22, 3:07 pm
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SWISS SFO-ZRH, Business Class 777-300 and ZRH-ADP (Malaga) Business Class A220

This past month has been a whirlwind. We sold our house. I retired. And I completed a Farewell Tour to bid goodbye to family and friends as our eleven year chapter in the the Bay Area quickly came to a close. It’s been an emotional month full of love and tears.

On Monday night we had dinner with an old friend who is 82. We have known each other 32 years and he has witnessed a large part of my life. He pointed out as we ate that I have a habit of “taking leaps” in my life. My first was soon after I graduated high school when I boarded a flight to Paris and spent the summer visiting relatives across France before attending the University of Madrid, Complutense. My second leap was after university when I joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer teaching secondary school math in Malawi, Africa for two years. The third was when I followed my boyfriend of three years to Los Angeles to be together as he began his TV comedy writing career. Then next leap was when we decided to adopt our son in spite of not knowing of any other gay couples that had done it. One of the bigger leaps was packing up our wonderful life in LA and moving to Munich for two years followed by our year of travel, Fifth Grade Around the World.

And this brings us to our current leap. The Sabbatical. At dinner, our friend told us, “Congratulations!” He loved how we were thinking outside of the box and once again attempting to forge a new pathway in a totally different direction.

This leap is scary and exciting. It’s a bit risky and it’s selfish. All those emotions came crashing together as I stood next to my suitcases at the curb at SFO as Terry and I said goodbye. The tears came quickly. And the only thing I could do was hug him. For a long time. I knew when the hug ended, it meant that The Sabbatical would officially begin and I would be journeying alone for the next year.

A moment before it all begins

CHECK IN: (2/5)
At the 48 hour mark before departure SWISS stops charging for their coveted and very private “throne” seats in business class. I had been watching the seat map and there were two left just the day prior so I decided I would try my luck at snagging one instead of paying the $300 charge. Our dinner with our friend was interrupted when I had to go online to see if I could get one of these prized seats. I was delighted when I had a choice of two throne seats in the smaller cabin at the back of business. I chose 16A and clicked “Next”. ERROR. It wouldn’t let me change it. In fact it said I didn’t even have the previous seat I had selected months ago. I couldn’t resolve it so on our drive home, I called SWISS.

After about 10 minutes on hold a nice agent came on and worked to get me the seat. She brought in her supervisor for help. In the end after twenty minutes, “The computer said, no” as they say on “Little Britain.” She told me the dreaded news that I will be able to change my seat at check-in. Ugh. I was hopeful that when I did my online check-in 23 hours prior to departure, the seats would still be there.

I was delighted to see they both were still available as I checked in through the app, but then it wouldn’t let me past the passenger details page. I displayed a red error box with an exclamation point but the box didn’t have any text! I looked over all my details to no avail. I couldn’t do online check-in. Boo.

So I got to the airport 2.5 hours early to allow plenty of time to sort things out. I also had a long list of people I wanted to call before wheels up so I didn’t mind. The First Class/Star Alliance Gold desks were both full but soon I was being served. Unfortunately, the only seat available was 11D, a non-throne. I asked if she knew why I couldn’t select my seat online or check-in there but she only said everything was fine with my reservation. The Swiss gremlins must have been the problem.

Since I am traveling for a year, I had two laden bags to check-in. I pulled the rookie movie and my first bag was 35kgs, three kgs over the maximum. The other was only 30 so I had to do the awkward repacking in front of the desk. I had definitely over packed. My goal is to leave one of the bags at my brother’s house in Portugal so I had lots of optional things that I should have left behind. Repacking at check-in is not something that indicates “seasoned traveler”.

I managed to get it down to 32.8 kgs and she said that was good enough! Amen. The agent was delightful throughout and worked efficiently. A nice in-person experience was a huge improvements after the fails on the app. The queue for Economy was dreadfully long and I felt for all those souls.

With CLEAR and TSA Pre-check, I was sitting in the United Polaris Lounge only about 15 minutes after arriving at the airport. I love when a system works well!

All the Star Alliance carriers use the United Polaris Lounge. It is an EXCELLENT offering. I really hadn’t had lunch so I headed directly to their Dining Room in the back of the lounge. It was currently full but he gave me a buzzy thing and said it should be about 10 minutes.

I headed back to the bar and was pleased to see they had a nice proper Champagne along with two other sparkling wines. The beverage selection was top-notch. Flute in hand, I made my way to one of the many available tables and said a toast to the year ahead.

I made a couple of my goodbye calls and got emotional with each. It is always a bit strange tearing up in public places LIKE AN AIRLINE LOUNGE! But I embraced the moment. This chapter of my life was one of the most significant so I just let it happen. Soon enough I was alerted that they were ready for me and I was soon seated at a nice table next to the window.

The menu had a number of appealing items and I chose a corn chowder followed by the seafood cioppino. Paired with another glass of champers and I was a very happy camper. It was my first time in a Polaris lounge and it was all very impressive.

After I ate, it was time for the final phone calls and more tears. This transitional moment was a big one. I am truly blessed to have an amazing network of good friends. We all work hard to maintain our friendships and the rewards are huge.

Just as I was finishing up the last call, it was time to head toward my gate G10 at the end of the pier.

My bird waiting to fly me away

I arrived at the gate at exactly the boarding time to find they were on group 4! Those Swiss were pushing things along. I didn’t mind at all since I only have a short 50 minute layover in Zurich. Heading out a few minutes early would be helpful. The right gates for premium passengers was empty and soon I was on our beautiful 777.

Last summer I spent eight weeks traveling and navigating the crazy and constantly changing COVID rules. I spent four weeks in South Africa and four weeks in Spain and Portugal. It was chaos including booking a last minute ticket trying to get into Europe after most countries stopped accepting passengers from South Africa. I ended up calling the embassies of Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal trying to figure out a way. The Swiss would accept me! So I canceled my Turkish flight and flew to Switzerland!

The funniest thing happened when I approached the check-in desk at OR Tambo in Joburg. The person checking docs prior to the check-in desk was confused by my documents. They were uncertain when I was leaving Switzerland. In fact I had a separate ticket down to Madrid but there was a chance Spain wouldn’t accept me. So I had some back up plans of going to Serbia or scuba diving in Egypt. Both of those places would accept passengers from SA.

At one point I was handed a mobile phone and told it was someone at the Swiss embassy who wanted to talk to me!! This was a first! He asked me if I was vaccinated which I was. Then he tried to understand how long I might stay in his country. I shared most likely it was less than 24 hours until I figured out who was going to let me in. He gave his approval and I was allowed to approach the check-in desks! Ironically, the gentleman I spoke with was probably the same person that I had spoken with when I called the day before!

It was a great flight and I snagged a throne seat!

I was skeptical that I would be able to enter Spain from South Africa but I was going to give it a try. I was honest on my health questionnaire stating that I had been in South Africa, but I got the welcoming green screen when I flashed my QR code. It was one of my most nerve racking travel days of my life. My friends in Madrid all said I would be let in because people just didn’t care in spite of what the woman at their embassy said! In the end it all worked out. I think it helped that I entered via Switzerland and did customs there instead of taking my original flights via Turkey and doing customs in Madrid.

So enough of the flashback sequence. Soon I had a glass of champers in hand and I was ready to go. We pushed back about ten minutes early and I left the US for the next six months until I come back for a short Xmas visit before finishing out my sabbatical year in Costa Rica and back in Europe.

SEAT: (3/5)
The Swiss business seat is small. It feels much smaller than Qatar or Singapore. Pair that with the non-throne seats which put you very close to a stranger, it needs some updating. The screen is fine and feels even bigger because the seat is so small and the screen is physically very close! One pillow. A basic blanket. No mattress pad. Nothing special here.

DINING: (3/5)

SWISS has changed the way they do meals in the past year. I’ve read mixed reviews from other passengers. After a pass of the drink cart, you meal arrives all on one tray carried from the galley. I understand on a shorter flight from the east coast to Europe that a speedy meal makes sense. But from the west coast our flights are over 10 hours and thus a slightly less rushed meal can be more pleasurable. The starter was a smoked salmon over a really small salad. My main was a good beef filet with veggies and potatoes. And the cheese course was two tiny pieces of cheese. All in all, it was underwhelming especially for an international business class meal.

Oddly, the service during the meal was fairly bad. The FA barely filled my tiny wine glass half way the first time. Then on his second pass, he came by and finished the bottle as he was pouring. I assumed he would get another bottle and finish pouring. Instead he simply moved on! My water glass was empty and my wine glass was a quarter full.

Next they came by to take the meal tray and offer a small dessert. The same flight attendant simply skipped me. Then when another FA came through to pick up the dessert plates, I asked for a dessert saying I had been forgotten. I also asked for a digestif of Chivas but that was forgotten too. Had I done something to piss the crew off? I am usually a very nice passenger.

I did like that they served breakfast individually as passengers woke up. It was a perfectly fine one tray meal and the croissants were quite good.

OVERALL: (3/5)
In the past year I flew with SWISS four times: twice in Business and twice in First. This flight was the worst of all of them mostly because of the service. I took the family back to South Africa for Christmas in First and those flights were flawless. But it was First. But my two other long haul Business flights seemed more polished and special compared to this flight.

Given that the seat isn’t my favorite either, I am not sure I will be booking more SWISS flights anytime soon. Did I still enjoy it? Sure. I’m a travel dork! I love all travel. But things could have been a bit better.

I travel with a LOT of electronics. Switzerland is definitely one of those countries where it’s good not only to take out all electronics but also to preemptively take out all cables and anything that looks like it might have a wire in it. Unpacking all my things was like a comedy sketch. Even the screener laughed a bit.

I made it through a screening and Passport Control, I made my way to the SWISS Lounge in the A gates. It was heaving in both the Senator and Business Class lounges. People have long complained about the overcrowding but I had a refreshing glass of water and used the top of a trash can as my table as I sampled some meatballs. CLASSY! It was hot and loud. So I lasted about five minutes until I gave up. I just made my way to Gate A71 and found a quiet corner.

The flight down was a typical European business class flight. On the A220, the seat configuration is 2-3 and they block an adjacent seat on both sides. So that meant I got two seats to myself. Overall I like the A220 planes. Clean. Good enough for smaller flights.

The flight attendant was lovely and kept my sparkling water glass full the entire flight. The meal was a cold salad with a pot of creamy something for dessert. I ate what I could since I knew my next meal wasn’t for a while.

When we landed in Malaga, I was thrilled to see one of the vintage Lufthansa liveries. I love these! Nostalgia for a time long ago.

Things broke down at baggage claim. Our bags were scheduled for carousel 37 in Malaga and they didn’t come. All of us stood around and then finally we all took our seats as we waiting all the screens that clearly indicated our bags would be coming there. After 40 minutes, there was some commotion and we had to go into the international arrival carousels and are bags had been sent there instead. It looked like they had been there a LONG time. It was frustrating that no SWISS representative was there helping us all figure it out sooner. Huge waste of time.

Overall, I would give SWISS a score of “good enough”. In times of COVID, I find myself wishing that service was better at restaurants and also hotels. Last summer I had great long haul lights on SWISS and QATAR. But this journey at the start of The Sabbitical was simple average. I hope this was an exception and that it isn’t the trend.

The good news is that I arrived in Malaga, Spain and my first stop of Torremolinos for the month was just a short 15 minute Uber ride away. It was 8:30pm as we drove away from the airport and I was filled with excitement and expectations. My year of journeying had begun. It was mine to make the most of it.

Last edited by olafman; Jul 2, 22 at 11:56 pm
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Old Jul 2, 22, 3:13 pm
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Love your writing style and look forward to traveling vicariously with you.
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