Subscribe RSS

Archive for the Category "Airlines"

The new EuroBonus is here! Feb 24

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) frequent flyer program EuroBonus will be launched in a version 2.0  in April 2014. There has been rumors about what will be new in the program but recently the secret was revealed. First of all: there will be a new Diamond level! The Pandion “level” will not be removed but it is still only by invitation only.  Read all about the new features on

Gard – trip reports and pictures


Category: Airlines, News, Travel  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment
New Scandinavian AIrlines app Apr 14

SasScandinavian Airlines (or SAS) has released a new app for iPhone (and Android if I’m not mistaken). The app allows you to see your upcoming trips, your Eurobonus points, boarding pass, buy tickets etc. I have downloaded it and I think it looks quite good. I was also impressed that all my upcoming flights were in the list – even the ones with Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines. You can read more about the application on this iTunes page. Which other airlines have a good app?

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Category: Airlines, Technology, Travel  | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment
Thai Airways First class–tried & tested Aug 08

IMG_7533I have had the great privilege of trying Thai Airways first class a couple of times and it is no doubt that if you fly a lot, this is a real treat! It all depends on which routing you fly, which plane you get, which crew you have etc but this review is based on experience on first class on an older Boeing 747 and a newer Boeing 777-300ER (leased from Jet Airways). First of all – if you check in at Suvanabhumi airport in Bangkok when flying Thai Airways first class, life could not be any simpler. You just go to the Royal First class check in and they will take your suitcases, your passport and then seat you in HUGE chairs and while you are enjoying a cold drink and a cold cloth, P1000111they will check you in and make sure that you get your boarding pass. After this you get guided through airport priority security check and a separate immigration control and once you are through it leads you straight to the Royal Orchid lounge. But for first class passengers it is not enough with a business lounge – you get picked up by a small “car” and driven through the business lounge and into the first class lounge next door. As a relative young and healthy person I could easily have walked this but I guess this is a part of the special treatment Winking smile

P1000116The First class lounge has been voted the best first class lounge in the world but I’m sorry Thai Airways…I have to object and say that this is not correct. The best first class lounge is in Frankfurt (Lufthansa First Class Terminal) but that is a different story that you can read about here (XXX). But the first class lounge in Bangkok is great –you have lots of good chairs, separate rooms if you are traveling in a group, lots of good free drinks (but only Moet and Chandon champagne) and a good selection of food. You can also take showers, get a PC to get online, the wifi is free etc. But there is also a Royal Orchid Spa where you can get a massage complimentary! There is no better way of starting a long flight than having 1 hour full body massage! Smile

IMG_7534When traveling in June 2012 there was a bit of fuzz as we were supposed to travel through London but when we checked in we got another routing via Frankfurt. Luckily the two flights had take-off at approximately the same time and the advantage was that we got a Boeing 777 leased from Jet Airways instead of an old Boeing 747. Due to this we got a first class with separate compartments like you can find on Emirates first class and Singapore first class. There are only 8 first class seats on the 777 (in a 1+2+1 configuration) and we got first class treatment the moment we got in there. The headset was already in the seat together with the duvet, menus etc. It didn’t take long before we got offered some drinks to start with and it is hard to say no when they ask you if you want a glass of Dom Perignon champagne Winking smile

IMG_7554I was seated in 2A and I got a HUGE seat by the window. It resembles the seat that you find on Swiss airlines first class where you have a big seat and an ottoman in front and when reclining you form one bed. The difference between Swiss and this Thai flight was that the Thai flight included a small compartment where you can close the door to get more privacy around your seat.  Like on Swiss the table is HUGE and it is so large that you can actually invite a guest to come and sit with you so that you can dine together and face each other while you are eating –how great is that? The remote on the Boeing 777 were a bit confusing as there is one large remote just to cover the seat adjustments and then there is one regular remote to control the multimedia. The Thai AVOD system is quite good and it was displayed on a large 17” (or is it 20”?) screen so seeing movies etc was not a problem.

IMG_7548 IMG_7545

IMG_7550It was a bit scary to look behind the seat of the first class seat btw – there was lots of trash there so I’m not sure there are routines in place to handle this – it could have needed a round of vacuuming! The toiletry bag that we got was OK and the TUMI bag included stuff that you normally need: lip balm, mouth freshener, brush, tooth brush etc.  When the service started we started getting hot and wet cloths and I can honestly say that I have never gotten that many in my life before! We got these lovely warm and scented clothes both before and after meals!

IMG_7552 IMG_7536

IMG_7546When the table was set for two it was beautiful with the Thai logo stamped into the butter and fresh bread served. We got real caviar to start with (with garniture), followed but a salmon dish and topped up with a slow cooked beef cheek. One of the pieces of the beef cheeks was quite tough but the rest of the pieces were delicious. We also got an ENORMOUS cheese platter – me and my friend could have easily have shared this and not been able to eat it all but instead we got two large portions of cheese each! The dessert was a bit of a disappointment – I got a small chocolate cream and a pretty dry “muffin” with custard and berries on top.

IMG_7557 IMG_7563

IMG_7564 IMG_7567

IMG_7541The great thing about having a small compartment is that it is easy to get some privacy to be able to slip into the pajama that was handed out. The seat with the huge table in front is also perfect for pulling out the PC and working a bit. The only problem in my seat was that someone had stuck something into the power socket so I wasn’t able to get power to my PC and they didn’t have a plug adapter either. The table was a bit hard to move back and forth – so hard in fact that my friend and I had to really put our muscles into moving it. In the process of moving the table I managed to get my finger sliced but the flight attendant was there to patch me up.

IMG_7577The flight time from Bangkok to Frankfurt is about 10-11 hours so there was time for another food serving before landing. This time I started with breasola served with a mix of mozzarella and tomato and it was delicious. After this we got a tom kha gai (a typical Thai chicken soup which is creamy, a bit spicy and a bit sour) and the main dish was a chicken breast served with garlic mashed potatoes. Having chicken breast on flights is normally not a good idea as it normally becomes quite dry but this chicken was actually quite good. Once again the dessert was nothing special and I was a bit disappointed by that. But you can enjoy some very good cognac if you are into that – they served Otard Extra 1795.

IMG_7581 IMG_7555

The service onboard was great and we were mainly served by two flight attendants and towards the end of the flight they came to say goodbye with a traditional wai. I tried to talk a bit with the one flight attendant to hear what her work schedule was like etc. but she seemed to be very professional and didn’t seem to be interested in getting into personal details which is fine.

IMG_7587All in all this was a great experience. The spa treatment at Bangkok airport is great before going on a long flight and the small suites on board the flight is perfect if you want a bit of privacy for working or for sleeping. As they provide a pajama you can slip into a comfortable outfit while enjoying the great food and drinks served. Thai Airways might not have the same modern layout as you can find on Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa these days but this will change soon when they introduce the new A380 (see presentation here ). I had a great flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt on Royal First Class and I look forward to flying with them again. If you want to read about a previous experience on Thai Airway first class (on a Boeing 747) you can read this blog entry:

Gard – trip reports and pictures

IMG_7569 IMG_7570

IMG_7543 IMG_7553

Very disappointed by Lufthansa long-haul business class Aug 01

The Asiana lounge at IncheonOver the years I have flown quite a lot with Lufthansa in economy class – they have provided great offers to many parts of the world and their onboard service has been quite good (apart from their really bad in flight entertainment system). So when I was going to fly Lufthansa business class long haul from Seoul (ICN) to Frankfurt (FRA) it was something that I looked forward to! In July 2012 my wife and I checked in at Incheon airport in Seoul to fly LH713 to Europe. Check in was fast even if though the The Lufthansa A340-600ground staff looked and behaved as if she had gotten out on the wrong side of the bed that day. Our request to sit together was met with a frown and statement that business class was full and this was not possible. There was no priority security check and no priority immigration and that was a bit disappointing for an airport that is labeled as the best in the world. I guess this is Asiana’s home base so I was also looking forward to checking out their lounge – but let me assure you, there is not much to look forward to. It is a rather dark airport lounge with no view of the runway. Maybe they have tried to make it look like home with all the books in the book shelves.

The amenity packOur flight was scheduled for 14:05 and we boarded at about 13:30. Contrary to grumpy check in lady’s statement, our seats were changed so that we could sit together – in seats 10 G and K. These seats are located in the smallest business class cabin at above the wings of the plane (you can see the setup of the plane on the Lufthansa site ). The Airbus A340-600 has been the longest plane in the world until recently when the new Boeing 747-8 took that title. Anyway, the Lufthansa flight LH713 had a three class configuration with 8 first class, 48 business class in a 2-2-2 configuration and the rest being economy class.

Business class seatWhen we sat down we noticed that a bottle of water had already been handed out together with a blanket, headset were already attached and we had also gotten a small toiletry bag with a toothbrush, socks, eye shades, ear plugs and some lip balm – the toiletry bag and water was “hidden” in a small compartment on the side and behind the seat so I wonder if everyone actually noticed it. After a looong while we were offered a glass of champagne (they had different bottles during the service so I’m not sure it was champagne) but the plane was still parked at the gate. After a while the captain announced that they had to take out some luggage, that there were flight restrictions over China etc. (it was not easy to understand as we could hardly hear what he was saying) and it would cause a delay. Some champagneI pushed down the call button immediately to get some more champagne but I would have died of thirst if I had to wait for that response. I think I had the call button on for 30-40 minutes and no one came to check on me once – at all. You might say that they were busy with flight preparations but as I said we were supposed to take off at 14:05 and we finally left the ground at 17:40! Finally take-offSo in the end I had to just grab a flight attendant that was just walking past or actually go to the galley to ask for service. I walked in once and two flight attendants were casually chatting away. When I asked for some champagne and maybe some peanuts they all of a sudden seemed to think that it was a good idea so they started offering peanuts to all the business class passengers. After a while they did walk around to serve us a small snack while we were waiting but the standard response when asking for a drink was “Just wait a second and my colleague will come past to serve it”.

The menu for the flightAfter takeoff they could finally start with the regular service and a menu was handed out. It was rather grand but my wife was like “I’m not sure I understand the menu” and I had to agree. It was not very clear what we would get, what decisions we had to make etc. But when they started serving the food we got some explanation.My salad starter There were three starters to choose from and I went for the fresh garden greens with Gruyere cheese. The salad was quite good but there was actually not that much salad but more cheese – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But this was served on a tray with salt/pepper, tooth picks etc and before the main course they actually removed this tray and hence they removed the stuff that you might want to use for dinner (or after) e.g. the salt/pepper and toothpicks.

My fish dinner with "risotto"The dinner option was braised chicken, sea bass on asparagus risotto or bibimpap (a traditional Korean rice dish). I went for the chicken and my wife went for the sea bass but when it was served it was easy to see that my lactose intolerant wife could not eat the sea bass dish. I like the Italian cuisine and I love my risotto and to call this dish sea bass on asparagus risotto is an insult to Italian cuisine…no, actually an insult to Italy and everyone that loves Italian food! The sea bass itself was OK but what was supposed to be risotto were just a few rice grains swimming around in a creamy soup.

DessertMy wife was not that that impressed by the chicken on linguine either. It was presented as “Tomato basil olive sauce” but she said the chicken was dry and the sauce was merely a few splatters of tomato puree. So could the dessert make up for this rather bad start? On the menu we had the option of chocolate terrine or cheese or fruit salad – when the FA came to me I asked for the chocolate and she was like “Oh, you got the last one” like I had won a prize. But I can assure you…I did not feel like I had hit the jackpot. I don’t know who came up with the idea of combining chocolate cake with terrine as this was not very good – a chocolate “cake” that seemed to have been overdosed on gelatin and with not a lot of taste.

Seat controlLet us talk about the configuration and seat for a bit. Lufthansa is a big company and they have lots of different planes and they also have different options for seats. I think there is at least three different first class seats at the moment and they have finally came to realize that they have to introduce a proper lie flat business class seat to be able to compete with other major airlines. This plane had a pretty standard Lufthansa business class seat for long-haul flights if I’m not mistaken which means that you have a more or less flat seat but in a 160-170 degrees configuration. TV screenFor me this means that you can get a better sleep than in an economy seat but I keep on sliding down so in my case it is better to turn the seat into a deep reclining seat but this depends on your preference of course. I think what bothers me the most about the seat is that there is nowhere to put “stuff”. There was a narrow compartment behind the seat where the water bottle and toiletry bag was placed but apart from that there is nowhere to place stuff like camera, the holder for my glasses, iPad etc. At least there was a small place for a glass of champagne ;-) There is also a power outlet if you need to top up your iPad or laptop! In addition to this there was a 15”(?) screen that popped up from the seat (we were on the first row before the next section) and the in flight entertainment is not bad but a problem with the StarAlliance deal is that it seems like all the airlines show more or less the same movies.

Drink menuWe were seated in the business class section in the back and there are only 12 seats there and the next section is economy. I’m not sure how this is supposed to work but it seemed like most of the economy passengers were using the toilets in the business class sections – and as the flight attendants didn’t seem to give instructions, the economy passengers were walking around in the business class section. In fact, I had to go back to the economy section to go to the toilet as this was available while people from economy were lining up for the business class toilet! This is not a very impressive setup! Maybe Lufthansa should consider informing people where toilets are located. The toilets in economy on the A340-600 are kinda cool as they are located on the lower floor of the plane. It is not like I mind sharing my toilet with economy passengers but the whole idea of flying business is to get better service, have a better seat, get a quieter environment etc. Having people from economy led to a lot of traffic through our business class section. Even SAS (Scandinavian) are able to handle this issue!

Korean fish dishBefore landing it was time for a new meal and as the previous serving had not been a great success, we were looking forward to tasting the Cajun chicken breast with some caprese salad. But when the flight attendant came she asked me if I would care for some Korean braised sea bream with rice. I asked what the alternatives were and then she said that they didn’t have more of the Cajun chicken. Wouldn’t it be better to just say this to start with? Well, she served the fish with a smile and assured me that it was delicious. The fish was not bad but it was not the meal that I wanted!

As we took off several hours after planned schedule, we arrived late in Frankfurt. We were lucky to get out of the plane early and got to a Lufthansa service center to get information about what would happen next as we just missed our connecting flight. For some reason we had been rebooked to go to Copenhagen the next morning – which is great if you live in Copenhagen but our final destination was Stavanger in Norway. But they fixed this by booking us into a hotel (where we got up at 4 am due to a fire alarm) and sending us to Norway via Aberdeen the next day.

My wife had the chicken for dinnerI know I sound like a spoiled brat when I describe the service on board. I mean…I should be thankful for flying business instead of economy right? But I have had the privilege and pleasure of flying first class on a number of airlines and business class on e.g. Scandinavian (SAS), Turkish, AirCanada, Emirates, Thai Airways so I feel like have something to compare it to.  When flying for work I have looked into flying with Lufthansa several times but the prices has normally be substantially higher compared to  e.g. Scandinavian (and sometimes more or less on par with Singapore Airlines). If I can save 30% by flying Scandinavian compared to Lufthansa I would do so as the seat on Lufthansa is not any better, the service is certainly not any better,Snack we got when waiting for 4 hours in the plane the facilities is not any better etc. And if I had the option of flying Singapore Airlines with their new business class or flying this Lufthansa business class…let there be no doubt about it: I would pick Singapore Airlines any day! While Singapore can offer an amazing seat, perfect service, option of selection food before you flight etc. Lufthansa could only provide a tired business class seat with a crew that didn’t seem too interested in it’s passengers. Maybe the business class is too big for the crew to handle as service was slow, they ran out of food, when I tried to call for service no one checked on me etc. I know that this seems like a harsh conclusion – but I have to admit that I am disappointed by the Lufthansa business class.

If you are flying long haul on business class you are far better off by choosing Singapore airlines, Scandinavian, AirCanada etc. I do look forward to testing out the new Lufthansa business class (currently being installed on the new Boeing 747-8) – so Lufthansa: feel free to invite me back for a test of the new business class and I will make new flight review and hopefully it will be substantially better.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Air Canada Executive First Class– tried & tested Jul 21

IMG_7612In June 2012 I went from Stavanger in Norway to Calgary in Canada. I started on a Sunday morning from Stavanger and there was only 1 row (3 seats) for business class passengers and I was seated by the window. On the way to London I was served a warm lunch of salmon and pasta and the salmon was pretty good. When we were getting closer to Heathrow it was of course very busy and we had to circle for like 15 minutes before we could approach the airport – at one point we got pretty close to another plane!Both SAS and Air Canada are a part of Star Alliance and in London I stopped by the SAS lounge on Terminal 3 while I was waiting for my next flight and I only had a 1 hour wait.

IMG_7613The next flight was the Air Canada flight directly to Calgary on a Boeing 777-300ER. On the business class (or Executive first class as Air Canada chooses to call it) they have a 1-2-1 seat configuration but they are angled. You can see the same configuration on some of the Thai Airway flights these days (on the planes that they have leased from Jet Airways). The seat itself was not bad as you can recline it all the way down and it connects with a small foot stool in the front to form a horizontal bed. But I’m not sure about the angled configuration. If you travel alone it feels a bit weird as you are looking over to what 2-3 other passengers are doing. And if you are traveling as a couple you get a bit too far from each other to really talk without raising the voice. And if you have a window seat it is a bit tricky to look out the window as the seat is facing in towards the aisle.

IMG_7628When I got to my seat 3D the blanket and amenity bag had already been handed out. The amenity bag was not very impressive as it only contained socks, eye shades, ear plugs and a toothbrush – but then again, what more do you need? J There was also a headset in place and it was actually non-detachable IMG_7622and I think it is the first time I see that on a flight. They didn’t look that great and I was glad I was bringing my own BOSE noise reducing headset. But the sound quality was not great and I’m not sure if it was because of a problem with the socket or the quality of the actual movie. The TV folds out from the side of the seat and I would guess it was about 15” – for me it was a bit on the small side as it was not possible to bring it closer. The screen is a touch screen but I still think there is room for improvement as it was very slow to navigate around the system. But the selections of movies were quite good but games were not working. The TV can also be controlled by a small remote and this contains a small joystick that was not very easy to use. And I think it is the first time that I have seen commercials being shown before a movie on a flight!

IMG_7630We had to wait almost two hours onboard the plane before we could finally take off – Heathrow can be really busy! When I first got on board the plane I was offered sparkling wine and not champagne. I’m not sure why they do it like this as flight attendants were very generous with the champagne later on. The meal was served after a while and the starters were a green salad with tomato and parmesan cheese and with the olive oil/balsamic vinegar it was delicious. The IMG_7631smoked salmon was also served at the same time and that was also quite good. While I was enjoying the starter, the main dish was prepared. There was a choice of 4 main courses and I went for the rack of lamb which was simply excellent. I don’t think I have ever tasted so juicy meat on a flight in a long time. After the main meal I got some cheese and it was fun to try some Wensleydale cheese after seeing a Wallace and Gromit movie on a flight home from Asia recently. To round it of an apple pie was served together with coffee – all in all I have to say I’m impressed by the meal. It must have been one of the best meals I have had on a business class flight.

I took the same route back from Calgary and check-in at the airport was uneventful. The Maple leaf lounge at the Calgary airport looked a bit tired to start with but when I walked around it was quite big with various seats and it also had a nice view towards the planes parked on the outside and towards the city center. There were food, fruit, soft drinks, wine etc on offer.

IMG_7684Going back I had once again a Boeing 777-300ER and I had picked seat 1G. Once again amenities were already laid out on the seat when I got there but this time the toiletry bag was different. I guess it makes sense to have a different toiletry bag on a night flight compared to a day flight. Once again the service was good and I enjoyed the salad for starter together with a small dish including scallop and tiger prawn. There were several options for the main meal and I was tempted to go for meat again but as I had eaten a bit of meat during my stay in Calgary, I went for risotto instead. As I love risotto it is always a potential for disaster. The risotto served on this flight was not great in any way but it was lighter than then meat option. The meal was rounded off with a selection of cheese and a toffee apple cranberry cake.

IMG_7688As this was a night flight I got to test out the seat for real and when reclined all the way down it forms a more or less flat bed that provided a good place for a few hours sleep. I did wake up in connection with breakfast and got served an omelet, sausage etc. After we had landed in London, one of the cabin crew asked me if I wanted to see the cabin crew resting area on the second floor and I have never been offered this before so I said yes of course. There was a small staircase leading up to it and on the second floor there were two beds and two comfortable chairs. After a short stop in London I took a SAS flight back to Norway.

Just a few things that I didn’t like about the flights/planes/service on board AirCanada:
First of all it is a bit strange to be seated at an angle. The seat itself was pretty good but if you are traveling with someone this is not an ideal configuration. On the way over the TV that you fold out was a bit loose and the menu system on the inflight entertainment is not very good. Games did not seem to work at all both ways. And when using the BOSE headset instead of the headset that was supplied, there was a constant cracking sound. Going to Calgary there was a toilet in business class where the sink was not working.

But all in all: the service and food on board the flights were quite good and as the seat provides a flat bed for sleeping.

All in all I would rate the Air Canada Executive First Class higher than e.g. Scandinavian business class as they do provide a lay flat seat and the food is a bit better but it still does not compare with the seat and service from Singapore Airlines.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

IMG_7598 IMG_7683


 IMG_7623 IMG_7625

IMG_7682 IMG_7691

IMG_7692 IMG_7687

Turkish Airlines business class–tried & tested Jun 23

IMG_7389I used Turkish Airlines on a trip to Beijing in May 2012. It was actually my first trip with Turkish Airlines and I chose it as the price was quite good compared to the alternatives for going to Beijing. I have used Scandinavian Airlines a lot as they have had good prices to Asia but their prices to Beijing was a lot higher than on Turkish Airlines and it was one of the reasons for choosing this airline. My trip started in Copenhagen and it was a fairly new Boeing 737-800 if I’m not mistaken. The flight from Copenhagen to Istanbul is about 3 hours and I was seated on 4D on business class. I’m not sure why but it seemed like it took forever to get the people on board this flight – Scandinavian Airlines seems to be better to get people on board more efficiently.

IMG_7393The seat was a proper business class seat with a 2+2 configuration. There was of course an offer of having champagne to start with and they also handed out a big menu where the options were sea bass, chicken breast or pasta. When I wanted some red wine together with the food, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted Turkish or French wine. I have not gotten the memo that Turkey is a great wine producing country so I went for French wine and the FA was like “why does everyone want the French wine?” The various starters were great but the chicken breast was dry as it often is on flights.  My colleague ordered a glass of cognac after the food and we asked what kind of cognac it was. The FA replied that it was “VIP cognac”. It is not a brand that we are familiar with and I guess she could say that we were wondering about her answer. So she went to get the bottle and it was a Hennesey VSOP (so VSOP became VIP) – but all in all we got great service and the FA seemed to be enjoying her job.

IMG_3834As I had a bit of time at Istanbul Ataturk airport I had the pleasure of waiting a bit in the Turkish Airlines lounge. It is a huge lounge and I guess it is needed as Istanbul airport has become quite a busy airport and hence there were lots of people in the lounge. Here you can get something to eat, wine and spirits was available, they have recliners, TV screens and with a username and password you can also get online.

IMG_7397The flight to Beijing was at about 11 pm and I think boarding started about 1 hour prior to departure.  We had to take a bus out to the plane so there was no business entrance into the plane like you often see on larger airports. When we checked in my colleague and I got seats behind each other and when we got into the plane we asked if we could change seats and if the flight was full or not. She replied that the flight was full but it later turned out that there were lots of seats available on business class and we did get to sit next to each other. The Turkish Airlines flight TK020 is a Boeing 777-300ER and the configuration in business class is a kind of strange 2+3+2 configuration.
The seat was good and when inclined it links up with the foot stool (or ottoman) in front of it to form a bed that is almost completely flat (I think it is 177 degrees). Blankets, slippers, amenities pack and headphones were already laid out in advance before I came on the plane which is a good solution in my opinion.

IMG_7404In front of each seat there was a 15” screen and the in in-flight entertainment system seemed to be quite good with lots of movies on demand. But it was kinda annoying to have the control docked in a space next to the seat on the right hand side – it was hard to reach when I started reclining the seat!  I was not that impressed with the headphones – I’m not sure it is noise cancelling or not but they didn’t feel like it at least. After takeoff I got the menu and it was quite extensive. I had a choice of two starters and I chose the potpourri of Mediterranean meze and it also came with a small salad, some yogurt and cucumber etc. It was also possible to get a soup before going to the main meal where I went for the mushroom ravioli.

IMG_7405When they brought in the meal it was served on a tray of course but the various dishes was served on glass plates and I got real cutlery. Each tray also had a small salt and pepper shaker – the only “problem” was that the butter was brick hard! I tried chicken as a starter, I tried the leak soup and finally the mushroom ravioli. At the time I was getting hungry so I found the meal to be very good. After dinner they walk past with a dessert trolley and I asked for the chocolate “fondant” and tiramisu. This was not very good in my opinion – it did not resemble real tiramisu.
The amenity kit was contained in a rather big bag and it contained some lip balm, toothbrush, eye shade, comb/brush, ear plugs, socks etc. The toothbrush was horrible as it was built up by two parts and it kept on falling apart when I used it. The toilet on board the 777 was a bit larger than what I’m used to on the SAS Airbus A340 which means that it is easier if you want to slip into a pajama before you try to get some sleep.

IMG_7407The seat is quite good and when you recline it, it connects to the foot stool in front to give you a long and almost flat bed. It is also great that there is room under the stool as you can store e.g. shoes there. I had a pretty good sleep when flying to Beijing and I actually did not wake up until they announced that we were descending and seats had to be in an upright position. I shouldn’t complain about that of course but when I got the menu at takeoff I did fill out my breakfast menu and handed this over to the FA and indicated that I wanted breakfast but no one woke me up and by the time I did wake up it was too late for breakfast. The 2+3+2 configurations seems a bit strange but it seemed to work out pretty good – there is a small gap between the seats so you can get out without having to step on the passenger next to you – and there is also a small wall that you can raise if you want a bit more privacy. But it can’t compete with the amazing configuration of the business class on Singapore Airlines.

IMG_7410On the way back I flew the same route – Beijing-Istanbul-Copenhagen on business class. The plane on the way back to Europe was also a Boeing 777 so it was very similar to the one that I had when flying to China. Again the amenities were laid out prior to passengers coming onboard – everything was pretty much the same but the toiletry bag was a smaller version with different brand of lip balm and moisturizing cream. It is a bit weird that this has not been standardized.  This time I got a menu with my name on it and the food was once again quite good. IMG_7447The business class was completely full on this flight and it seemed like they were struggling a bit to serve all the business class passengers at more or less the same time so the FA seemed a bit stressed out. One asked me if I wanted some more red wine and I said “yes please” but I never saw the wine. When she was serving dessert I asked for port wine and I think she remembered as she first gave me some dessert and then she ran off and brought me a huge glass of port. Once again I slept pretty well in the seat but again I was not woken up for breakfast even if I had put the sticker on the seat indicating that I wanted breakfast service and once again the breakfast menu that I filled out was ignored. In the end I had to call the FA and ask for breakfast and what I got was not what I had ordered but at least I got something to eat.

IMG_7445From Istanbul to Copenhagen the rather new Boeing 737 was replaced by an older Airbus A321 and it contained seats in a horrible cyan/ turquoise color. Instead of having a proper business class seat and a 2+2 configuration, this plane had standard seats with a 3+3 configuration with the middle seat blocked to give each passengers a bit more space. But once again the service was very good and I got a very good breakfast including one of the best omelets that I have had on a plane.

I think Turkish Airlines long haul business class is quite good. The seat is almost horizontal and provides the possibility to sleep well when traveling for many hours and the service is quite good with a decent menu with various options and several options when it comes to the wine. But it seems like they are struggling a bit with the breakfast menu setup or at least it failed both ways when I used them. The on board entertainment is quite good as you can start watching a movie right away and you can watch it until you land basically – not like SAS where it takes forever to start it and they terminate it like 30 minutes prior to landing.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

SeatGuru by TripAdvisor–now on iPhone Mar 20

If you have travelled a bit, I’m sure you have heard about Seatguru or maybe you have even used it online on . This tool gives you an idea about the seats onboard the planes of various airlines and it gives you the opportunity to pick what can seem like the best seat at least. Now this tool is finally available on iPhone and you can download it from iTunes (see this page for more information). I do use SeatGuru all the time when I travel to get an idea where I will be seated and it can be great to find the right seat at least when you are traveling in economy and you want to avoid the worst seats! With this app you can have a great tool with you all the time to make sure you pick the right seat Winking smile

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Experience on Lufthansa A380 Nov 28

I just had the pleasure of going on a short vacation to Singapore. The trip came about when Lufthansa had a great offer from Norway to Singapore in connection with starting the use of the Airbus A380 on this route. Here are some of my observations after flying a 12 hour flight in economy class.

IMG_6603As I have a SAS Eurobonus Gold card we had access to the Lufthansa lounges in Frankfurt. There is actually a lounge by the gate (E5?) for this flight but the lounge was quite small and was not very cozy. Anyway, boarding was fast and we had seats in the front cabin both ways (rows 55 and 56). Upon entering the plane the blankets and headset was already placed on the seats which I think works out pretty good.

IMG_6610I have had to joy of flying A380’s before (both with Singapore airlines and Emirates) but never on economy class so I was kinda excited to see how it would be. The seat itself was OK and as usual you just have enough space – the cabin is in a 3-4-3 configuration. On long flights on economy class I think the entertainment system is one of the key factors and the Lufthansa A380 has of course a screen for each passenger. The size is not bad but I was kinds disappointed by the selection of movies – on Emirates it seemed like they had an endless list of movies but I found it rather limited on the Lufthansa flight. And the screen itself is touch screen but I had a bit of problems of maneuvering around. Maybe I was not aiming correctly but I felt like I had to press several times to choose the things I wanted.  The headsets are collected before touch down but they keep on running the movies all the way until the wheels hit the ground so bring your own headset if you want to catch the last part of the movie.

IMG_6614There are also games to be played but there is not game control that comes with the seat – you have to ask for this from the crew. I asked for it and got a small cube that folded out to be a game controller. This had to be plugged into the USB connection under the arm rest (kinda awkward position) and after that it was game time. But the game controller feels a bit flimsy and it was not very easy to play with it. The control for light, calling the crew, volume etc is placed on top of the armrest. The placement doesn’t seem to be ideal as it looked like people where leaning on top of it and with their elbow they would press the buttons and hence you could see the lighting go on and off in some seats.
Sleeping comfort. Well, as a friend said “economy class is economy class…it doesn’t really matter if it is in a new plane“. Sleeping on economy class will never be easy as it is hard to find a good sleeping position when sitting upright. One nice feature on the seat is the head rest where you can fold in support on the sides so that you have something to lean your head on.
Service on board was pretty good – we got a drink to start with together with some nuts and after that a meal was served along with more to drink. They also came around later on with more wine and even cognac and Baileys. 

So all in all: I would have enjoyed seeing a better movie selection and I would like to have a better game controller. But it is a huge step forward compared to long haul with Lufthansa 747 where they used to only have a screen hanging from the ceiling ;-)

IMG_6608 IMG_6612

IMG_6611 IMG_6616


British Midland opens London-Stavanger route Apr 02

Another airline will start operating on the London-Stavanger route. This time it is British Midland (BMI)that opens a new route from Heathrow to Stavanger airport at Sola and according to their press release you can get an economy ticket from 120£ for a return ticket. Flights started on April 1st 2011 and it looks like it will be daily flights. BMI is also a member of the StarAlliance.

At the moment there are also routes from Stavanger to London being served by SAS (to Heathrow) and Norwegian (Gatwick). At least this is making it even simpler for Londoners to come over to see our fjords (e.g. the Pulpit rock) and it makes it even simpler for Stavanger people to go shopping in London Smile. You can find some information about British Midland’s flights to Norway on this page.

Category: Airlines, News  | Tags: ,  | One Comment
All seats available for points on SAS? Mar 08

SAS_addMy feelings when it comes to SAS has gone  up and down over the years – I have been furious with them (like when I had to fly on economy from Asia to Europe even if I had a business class ticket – and I had to pay business class price as well) and I have been very happy with them when flying business class to Asia. I’m a pretty loyal StarAlliance and Eurobonus member and in 2010 I flew 43 SAS flights and in total I flew about 150.000 km (with various airlines) so I think I fly a bit more than the average passenger. The following is not meant as a whining note – just a feedback from a loyal StarAlliance member to SAS as I have mixed feelings with them.

I have been fortunate to fly to Asia on business with SAS a few times and for the price they are…well, not maybe a bargain but at least an affordable alternative when looking at companies like Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. The business class service is quite good, the food is not bad at all at least you get a sort of flat bed (even if I can’t understand why it is not possible to get the bed completely horizontal). But their product is getting a bit outdated…the entertainment system is a bit of a joke these days compared to what you find on e.g. Singapore Airlines and Emirates both in terms of size of screen and selection of movies, games and music and the StarAlliance business lounges are not amazing. But I guess it is the lack of some sort of recognition that annoys me a bit. I’m not expecting to be carried on board the plane just because I I have been a Eurobonus gold card member for several years but it would be great to see that they appreciate that I’m loyal to them and StarAlliance.

When going from Stavanger to Geneva on vacation I asked at Stavanger airport if it was possible to upgrade from economy to business and how many points it would cost – after all the add says “All seats available for points”. The lady at the check in counter had no clue and she called the ticket office and they had no clue either. But she told me that she had put me on standby upgrade and I could check at the gate and they would provide me with all the info. When boarding from Stavanger to Copenhagen I asked at the gate and the guy was like “No, I don’t think that is possible and why would you?…you don’t get more legroom” So this is how the ground staff promotes one of the advantages of being a Eurobonus member (upgrading with points)? But he told me to check at the gate in Copenhagen when boarding for Geneva. When boarding in Geneva I asked again if it was possible with an upgrade and how much it would cost and finally I got a clear answer “No, it is not possible to upgrade from Economy to business”. I’m fine with that but wouldn’t it be great if the ground staff at Stavanger airport had this information and could have informed me from the very start? So I got onboard the flight to Geneva and was seated almost at the very back of the Airbus A321 and as far as I could tell there were still seats available on Economy Extra and business. There are more and more ways of earning Eurobonus points (SAS Mastercard, Trumf points etc) and yet it seems like there are more and more restrictions on how to use them.

On a two hours flight it is not a big deal where you sit in the plane and what kind of service that you get – but I just find it strange that SAS doesn’t do anything to reward loyal members. Wouldn’t it be great if they tried to put in a bit of extra effort for Eurobonus goldcard members? I would have been thrilled if they said “As you are a loyal member, have a gold card etc of course you can upgrade with the following amount of points” Today it just seems very random – like when I was upgraded without warning or asking on a short flight from Berlin to Copenhagen.
Over the last couple of years I have had a couple of long flights with Emirates and on my second trip I reached Silver status. On my next flight the flight attendant came to me and carefully tried to pronounce my name. I confirmed that it was me and I was wondering what I had done wrong but then he greeted me and said welcome back on Emirates….and that is “just” as a Silver member.

Well, maybe this just makes me sound like a spoiled brat and maybe I’m just expecting too much out of SAS these days. I’m honestly really happy with the perks of the Eurobonus gold card (the lounge access, the extra baggage etc) but sometimes I just get a bit frustrated as I feel like SAS is not really going out of their way to take good care of their loyal customers and the information that I get from SAS employees can be vague or even wrong. But rumor has it that even with a SAS Pandion card you don’t get that much recognition – maybe that kind of service is not a part of the Scandinavian culture. But the conclusion after this trip is…all seats are not available for points.

at the very back of SK617 bound for Geneva

Category: Airlines, Travel  | Tags: ,  | 3 Comments