Tag Archives: airlines

Korea to Switzerland on Turkish.

Quite a flight the other day night for us – 11 hours up in the air!

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Looking at the flightpath got me thinking… I wonder why our trajectory was so straight. If we were to fly via southern Siberia it would have been shorter, thus quicker – probably by around two hours. Is it that Turkish Airlines don’t want to pay the Russian overflight fees? Or is it geopolitical? These musings led to further questions on this topic:

  1. On the Seoul–Istanbul route how many kilometers would you save if you were to fly in a northerly arc, and how many minutes or hours would you save?
  2. How much would the fee be for a Boeing 777 to cross Russia from the border with northeastern Mongolia and Novorossiysk (on the opposite side of the Black Sea to Turkey)?
  3. Or is it all geopolitical based on ‘principle’?

Anyone know the answers?

Read on: Anyway, what does it matter really?…

LHR – TLV on BA: Not OK.

All right, here we go again…

Alarm clock; where am I?; hotel; shower; suitcase; taxi; airport; check-in; x-ray; ‘breakfast’ (sandwich and tomato juice); gate; window-seat. Here comes the first petty torture of this sunny day…: I find myself sat right above the wing – a filthy one at that; a really wide one at that too (we were on a Boeing 777). It was gonna be one of those days. It was indeed…

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Oh well. No view? I’ll just have to get some more shut-eye then. It was an early flight – around 8am – so catching up on the ZZZs would be just the (air) ticket…

I’d just dropped off when I was abruptly awoken by the pilot. He was announcing that due to a technical issue we weren’t able to take off. Boo! Still, better safe than sorry. So we taxied back to our departure gate and all had to pile off and back into the airport until they sorted the problem.

We were sat there for two hours while they pulled out the defective part from the aircraft and replaced it with a new one. At least they had the spare part to hand, I thought.

We piled back onto the Boeing, ushered by the somewhat curt ‘British‘ BA flight attendants with strange accents.

Read on: Every cloud has a silver lining…

What Do Falling Petunias Say to Themselves?…

…”Oh no, not again?!

Oh yes. I know because it’s in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I quote:

“Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was ‘Oh no, not again?!’. Many people have speculated that, if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that, we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”

I was reminded of that paragraph earlier today. I was on an airplane yet again and looking out of the left-side window down at the passing paysages below. ‘Oh no, not again?!’ I thought as I glanced at the map on the screen in front of me showing the plane’s trajectory: passing over Amsterdam on my way from Moscow over to London. Just the other day I flew the exact same route, only the other way round!

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“Hmmm, a bit like the petunia, only the other way round,” I thought. I’m not sure if that’s self-criticism or an overestimation; physicists and botanists have different views on this topic, so I won’t comment. I’ll just say that coming in to land at Heathrow was just as it should be: with London fully in view through the window!

Over there is where my travel companion A.B. and I walked a half-marathon along the banks of the Thames last week…

Read on: back in Blighty…

S. America to S.E. Asia Air-Route Question.

Getting from Cancun in Mexico to Sanya in China, will never be one of the simplest routes – even given the most favorable of weather conditions. All the same, it will never be one of the longest. Still, that route does belong to the category of the ‘trickiest air routes in the world’, i.e., between South America and Southeast Asia (flying in either direction) : the distances are always big, and the air routes are rarely straightforward.

For example, flying from Hong Kong, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur to Santiago or Buenos Aires will always be an avia-endurance test both in terms of total journey time and the number of connections. I say always, since all available routes – all four of them – all take approximately the same number of hours to complete.

My question:

What are these four (very different) ways of flying (on a commercial flight) from Southeast Asia to South America? (incidentally, one of them I’ve yet to fly myself). Let’s say, from Hong Kong to Santiago and from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires?

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Read on: … and the answer is…

From Mexico to China.

Your attention please! This is Tijuana Airport broadcasting! I’m now now starting a reality show about the adventures of a traveler trying to fly from Mexico to China. Welcome aboard!

So, the most convenient way of getting from Cancun to China is to fly Cancun -> Mexico City -> Shanghai (with a stop to refuel). This time, the attempt to follow this route was a total failure. Shanghai Pudong Airport closed for technical reasons – that is, due to some dense dog fog. So I’m sitting in Mexico’s most northeasterly city, Tijuana, waiting to depart.

This is a very remote part of Mexico, most people will never make it here and you’ve probably never even heard of it. Which only makes it all the more interesting! It’s known as the third most prosperous city in the country (after Cancun and Mexico City). Perhaps, that’s thanks to the United States, right across the border, which has set up all sorts of manufacturing plants here, uses the local inexpensive (but decent) medical facilities, etc. It’s also one of the most criminalized places in Mexico, supplying drugs and illegal immigrants to the States. Bad stuff…But it looks (downtown, as seen from my hotel) pretty decent – could be somewhere in California or Florida or suchlike.

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Read on: But the weather is nothing like Florida…

Crossing the Alps in a helicopter.

In a follow-up to my plane trip, this post is about my recent jaunt in a helicopter.

I had really hoped our plane could land closer to our destination, which was deep in the mountains, but, unfortunately, the Alps were covered in clouds, and we weren’t allowed to fly to Samedan (am I the only one who hadn’t heard of this place before?) So we were diverted to Malpensa airport, Milan. This white helicopter came to Malpensa to collect us.

Which came as a huge surprise to me. Usually, helipads are either located outside international airports, or miles from the terminals, runways and taxi tracks. However, this time the helicopter landed close to the civil air terminal – in the photos above you can just make out the plane tails with the logos of Emirates (A-380), Lufthansa, Alitalia, Swiss Air, etc.

Then there was the most curious part of all – takeoff.

Read on: taxi like a regular plane…

To lose a suitcase once may be regarded as a misfortune…

…To lose it twice on two flights in as many days looks like carelessness!

My black suitcase gets around a bit. In fact – right around the globe several times a year. So you can imagine my… incredulousness, when it goes astray – TWICE – on a quick dash over to Western Europe!…

Ok, maybe I’m at least partly to blame. I should have listened. More experienced Europe-hoppers told me how, if you need to get from Moscow to Luxembourg and back quick, it’s best to fly to Dusseldorf in neighboring Germany and then drive a rental car 2+ hours (200 kilometers; untypically autobahny roads) to Lux; and coming back – the same route in reverse.

I just didn’t fancy two hours behind the wheel. So in the end we flew out Moscow-Milan-Luxembourg (Aeroflot + Luxair), and back – Luxembourg-Frankfurt-Moscow (Lufthansa + Aeroflot). In the end this route worked out longer, since we were waiting in Milan more than the 2+ hours it would have taken to drive Duss-Lux. But that was nothing…

See, when you fly with different airlines of different alliances – with transfers involving more than one terminal – there’s always a risk that your luggage won’t keep up with you. Which is what happened with me last week. But, like I say, my case managed to go astray both on the way there and on the way back! I might as well have not taken my case, since I never got round to using the bits and pieces inside it that would have made my trip to Luxembourg… comfortable!

On the way there things weren’t so bad: I was swiftly informed my “suitcase is still in Milan”, and that evening it was delivered to my hotel room. Phew.

It was on the way back when things got unacceptably… boycottable. Customs forms to fill out, having to list what was in the case (why?), a line for lost-and-found… All that meant I left the airport about an hour after landing.

My case did eventually arrive – but only two days later! What would have happened if I’d flown onward, say, to South-East Asia? A friend had that problem once – he was on a multi-city business trip to the US, and his case never caught him up after being mislaid still in Europe (though it did try – following him from hotel to hotel all around the States!!).

Here she is, sat outside my office @ HQ. ‘Rush’? RUSH???!!! :)

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Oh well, at least something positive has come out of this incident: I will now try my best to forgo a large suitcase to be checked in for short trips. Hand luggage only – it’s the only way forward upward.

Back soon folks; don’t go away!…

JFK Reloaded.

Most US airports are catastrophically crummy when it comes to connections. So, when planning multi-leg air journeys, if you ever get the opportunity to not have a connection in the country – take it; even if that means using the in-flight services of your most hateful airline!

But out of all American airports, one in particular is so awful… well, you just feel embarrassed for the country for accommodating such an abomination. Yes folks, this airport is so appallingly atrocious that it needs to be avoided at all costs. As a frequent business traveler I established a strict embargo on using it several years ago already, and if you too travel the world up in the air quite a lot, I recommend you do the same.

At least, that’s the situation as I know (knew?) it. But then along comes D.Z. singing its praises after a recent positive experience there (why he was embargo-busting in the first place I’ve yet to find out:). Must say, his arguments seem convincing. So I’ll now pass the reins over to him, and let you decide for yourself…:

—8<—

Location: On board the Moscow to New York Delta flight (DL467), September, 2015. 

News: From December 1, 2015 Delta Airlines will be stopping its flights to Russia, for reasons known only to itself. However, I think Aeroflot and other airlines will be fully aware of the reasons, and understand, share and support them.

‘Delta’… the airline with traditionally unobtrusive air service. But this time… 

…One of the toilets at the front is ‘reserved for pilots only’. To one side of it there’s a trolley blocking the aisle; to the other there’s a flight attendant installed telling all-comers not to go further – ‘it’s for the pilots, and there are some safety rules’ or some such. When pressed, she remarks: ‘Use the other toilet!’. Ok! So the whole of business class gets in the endless line for the loo on the other side!

So what shall I do now? 

Terminator Genisys – watched! Mad Max 4 – watched a month earlier. Emails all sorted, Kaspersky Daily blogpost ready for publication.

But then, suddenly, somewhere between Norway and Iceland I notice the onboard Wi-Fi! $14.95 for an hour, $27.95 for the flight, $45.95 for the day. Ok. Credit card inserted, PIN entered, logged in. Let’s see how fast this baby goes…

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Woh! No sooner do I press ‘enter’ – I’m fully connected to the WWW! EH??!!

Read on: Will Eugene drop his embargo already?…

The Santiago–Sydney Antarctic ‘Smile’: QF28

Hola amigos!

Not long ago I flew one of the most unusual commercial air routes I’ve ever taken.

It was the Santiago–Sydney-route on Qantas QF28 in a Boeing 747. The route forms a smile shape as it curves downwards and flies past… Antarctica! It felt a bit eerie flying – for 14 hours! – over a part of the world where there happens to be absolutely nothing at all! No islands, no ships, no folks, no hamburger stands… the very definition of ‘godforsaken’! Even submarines don’t bother with these remote southern reaches. Curiously, there’s one thing that features relatively prominently here: deceased satellites! They have them fall out of orbit and give them a marine burial here, well out of the way so they do no harm to Homo sapiens.

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“Cheese!”

Read on: Antarctica!!…

Dream airliner = Dreamliner.

It had to happen sooner or later.

What with the hundreds of flights I make in a year, with all sorts of different airlines, to and from all sorts of random cities, my getting aboard such a plane was sure to be sooner rather than later.

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A dream flight. On a dream airliner – the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Packed with the very latest technologies, a curvaceous ‘designer’ form, and improved comfort. I’d been patiently waiting for this moment quite a while. And then suddenly, unexpectedly, and totally by chance… it finally came to pass…

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Read on: Here she is, the beauty…