Tag Archives: airlines

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…:


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…


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.




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.


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…


Read on: Here she is, the beauty…

Internet on a jet.

Back on the road again… Rather – up in the air. So I continue one of my fave, recurring themes – flying and planes and all that.

2015 kicked off with some serious avia action for me: I’m already on my 30th flight, having been up in the skies 130+ hours. Not that I’m complaining – I like flying. It’s my version of time-out… It’s the only time I’m able to actually relax! The main reasons are that my phone’s turned off and there’s no Internet. So at last I’m able to wade through the ton of business emails that’s piled up over the previous few days, to read a book, and watch a movie (all of which I hardly ever do on the ground).

But as time passes of late, more and more airlines are pushing their inflight Internet connections. /* BUT!: ‘In the interests of safety all portable electronic devices must be switched off for the duration of the flight; however, our Internet – for a fee: no worries at all!’ I’ll refrain from commenting on these obvious contradictions… */

Anyway, despite normally turning down airlines’ Internet connectivity overtures, this time, just for a change, I thought I’d give it a try…

My experiment took place on a recent Shanghai-Moscow flight on Aeroflot. Everything was fine as usual (besides unexpected and unreasonable slow lines for registration – more than an hour!). Not so usual  – but perfectly fine – was the fact that onboard weren’t just the usual suspects – Russians and Chinese – but also plenty of folks speaking Italian and Spanish. ‘Paying ruble prices on Aeroflot via Moscow’, I thought! However, our friendly fellow passengers explained things differently: ‘Never – EVER! – fly Alitalia or Iberia! Much better Aeroflot via MOW.’ Well, well, I thought. Incidentally, more on different airlines and flights and routes, etc. – here.

Hmmm. Sidetracked.

So. We boarded the plane and off we flew. I agreed to the terms and conditions and finally I connected to plane’s Wi-Fi!

Inet 1st page

Inet 2nd page

Read on: The quality… so-so…

Suitcase astray – not ok.

There’s an unusual feeling you get… when you sit by the window on a plane waiting for the end of boarding and your flight to begin, observing the workers shoving the luggage into the hold of the plane… when suddenly you see that they’re all done and walk off… but a single suitcase remains of the ground – all on its lonesome. Big and black. And it’s YOUR suitcase!

Washington-Zurich-BudapestHold on… that looks familiar…

This is, indeed, not ok…

Like sardines… ‘United’ in a can.

At first I was going to call this post something like ‘cattle wagon’. Then I had a think, and figured that’d be too malicious. Kinda like, ‘Shock, horror! The beluga caviar isn’t spread evenly here’; i.e., hardly appropriate outside my little world, really :).

Basically, this is just a bit of a whinge. One of those petty peeves we all have from time to time due to perceived poor levels of service…

So, there I was, sat on one of eight (8) seats in a row – in business class – on United Airlines’ UA988 flight from Frankfurt to Washington, and I was thinking back to a wholly different avia experience – flying from Singapore to New York on Singapore Airlines. That flight took 18 hours – non-stop (!), and there were just four seats to a row (but of course those seats were priced somewhat differently).

But on United the seats were arranged 2-4-2, to make up eight-to-a-row. What made things worse was that half the passengers in the row were faced forward, the other half – backward. I was lucky enough to be faced backwards, and, well, sitting backwards on a plane is one of the few things in this world that really irritate me. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was because they drummed it into me when younger that sitting like that on a train is somehow not right… I dunno.

United Arilines

Read on: Singapore Airlines vs United Airlines…

How I missed my plane.

I’m a mathematician.

So, based on the numbers alone – with my constant frequent flying – I’m hardly surprised: sooner or later it had to happen – I missed my plane!

It’s happened just once before – back in May 2010, towards the end of one of my customarily lengthy round-the-world tours. I’d… let my hair down a wee bit too low at a conference in Cyprus, got ’20:00′ and ’02:00′ – or something like that – mixed up, and that was that – late. Flight missed. That was in Limassol, heading for Tokyo. In the end I managed to get a flight the next day.

So, now I’ve notched up two missed flights. Still, that’s pretty good considering I fly hundreds of times a year!

This time I was late for my plane leaving London for Nice in France. So how did I manage it?

Well, due to some bizarre oversight, I looked at the wrong place on the piece of paper that had my flight details on it, and instead of having my taxi take me to Terminal 5, I asked the cockney driver to head for Terminal 4! Once I realized the mix-up upon arrival, I got onto the Heathrow Express to get to T5 – but then that took 40 (!) minutes (I’d have been better taking a taxi, darn it!).

This was after the journey from downtown to the airport, which took 80 minutes (London + Saturday = traffic jams). Should have taken the Tube! The following Monday was a bank holiday (national day-off), so maybe that was why there was even more traffic than usual. And we’d left the hotel with loads of time to spare! All the same, the terminal mix-up decided my fate that day. Late. Flight missed. :-/.

But – oh what joy! Turned out that an hour later a second plane would be taking off to Nice “for those who’d missed the first one” ( :%) ). I really needed to race to make that one – and I don’t mean a steady jog but a sprint. But I rushed in vain. The plane stood for another hour on the ground since Heathrow too was suffering from bad traffic (also due to the bank holiday?). An airport traffic jam. In short, it wasn’t my day. The following day thankfully made up for that…

Heathrow traffic jams

Heathrow traffic jams

See you tomorrow… Au revoir!