Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Best and worst airports in Europe

I try to avoid Amsterdam airport because it is always hot and crowded, with long wait lines. Even when they have the “Self serve” Passport control open, it is a long queue.

2017-06-25 10.58.51 (2)It’s frightening to be enclosed in a small space with a low ceiling. I was afraid of someone so close to me that they could take something out of or put something in my bag.

I used to like @Schiphol AMS airport, but the last 8 years it has always  been long lines and lots of passengers cramped in a small space

One thing that I do like about Schiphol Airport, is that they have the Massage pods near the gates. I like to sit in the massage chair costing two Euros

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It ‘s nice to find small treats like the free water at Heathrow water after security and the free coffee at Frankfurt airport.

Take an empty bottle to fill with purified water at LHR airport.

Luton Airport is on the list of worst European airports, coming in eighth place for high Wi-Fi charges. Sleepinginairports.net annual list of the world's worst airports, has Paris' Beauvais-Tille International Airportvoted in sixth place, and described as 'cramped, rundown, debatably clean, and not particularly friendly.Frankfurt Hahn International Airport, Germany and Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport, Italy were in the top worst European spaces. But I like Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), known in German as Rhein-Main-Flughafen, because they have free self-serve coffee.The Elite access lounges at Frankfurt are superb. The SKY LOUNGE at Frankfurt Airport is located outside of the security area and the Lufthansa lounges passed security are the best I have been to. The First class lounge has a sleeping pod and a spa with top restaurant food served at tables. Free breakfast buffet and Hot/cold buffet with Drinks at a complimentary full bar. The LuxxLounge at FRA- Main Terminal 1, landside, between concourses B and C, above checkin counter 680 on the mezzanine next to the market (accross the skybridge to the Sheraton Hotel.) is also good and open to Elite travelers in several airlines.

I really like that Boston airport has a special, glass encased area for smokers, away from those of us that like to breath. I had to inhale smoke at Brussels Airport the day before arriving in Boston, so I  was suffering from Asthma. At Brussels, even the Police stand at the door, smoking in groups, so you cant pass through the exit without a lack of oxygen. Then I had to wait 2  hours for the Holiday Inn bus. The bus stop is in the covered garage, where everyone smokes.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Flying BA Business Class to Ireland?

British Airways  from Heathrow to Dublin, or Belfast in Club Europe is a pleasant, short flight. (The BA business class equivalent, is called Club Europe). On long hall flights, you get a wider seat but within Europe you get a seat the same as economy, but the middle seat is kept empty by a plank put there to block seating, so you really get half a seat to stretch on the Dub -LHR Airbus 318. It's a short flight of 55 minutes and the benefits are food and that you get Fast track security. Yes, unfortunately, you have to go through security again even if you are in transit from another flight.
They usually bus Passengers to their plane, like they do for countries at war. The troubles are long over in Ireland, so they should be able to provide a gate attached to the Terminal. Unfortunately Irish flights don't, usually get a gate, so there is often stairs involved.
A hot towel provided by a smiling flight attendant looks promising on embarking the aircraft. The Royal Dolton China makes cup for tea taste so much better than the tea I had in the departure lounge.

BA club class

The thing that most impresses me about British Airways is that they are the only airline that always manages to server fresh bread rolls. I wish they would let United Airlines in on the secret of their catering supply methods. Perhaps they have Leprechauns baking on the wings.WP_20170119_07_25_33_Pro

It is a slightly shorter flight from the USA to Ireland than to Europe. The newer planes fly faster. I prefer to fly direct from New York to Ireland and not go via London, but I enjoy British Airways. Among the biggest 4  US airlines, American now boasts the youngest aircraft fleet. AA fly directly from the USA to Dublin, as do United. I wish that United had not stopped flying to Belfast, because it is a 2 hour drive from Dublin to Belfast, and renting a car to drive on the left side of the road when I’m jet lagged is not the best scenario.

BA BUSINESS CLASS is called Club Europe – on flights within the UK and Europe & Club World - on longer international flights. It’s called Club World London City – between London City and New York JFK European flights are with contoured leather seats with 76.2cm (30") legroom.

BA tier Executiv Club membership begins as a Blue Member, thenBronze silver gld.To reach Gold, you will need to fly BA at least four times and earn 1500 Tier Points

Monday, May 22, 2017

Boston airport

I really like that Boston airport has a special, glass encased area for smokers, away from those of us that like to breath. I had to inhale smoke at Brussels Airport the day before arriving in Boston, so I  was suffering from Asthma. At Brussels, even the Police stand at the door, smoking in groups, so you cant pass through the exit without a lack of oxygen. Then I had to wait 2  hours for the Holiday Inn bus. The bus stop is in the covered garage, where everyone smokes.

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The other thing that I like about BOS airport is the rocking chairs! You can also de-stress in the relaxing Airline Club lounge. You can buy a lounge membership or can get in for free if you have Elite United Platinum Premier 1K status. Lounge access when traveling internationally is for Gold Platinum and 1K United and Star Alliance members. Perhaps the chairs are used most for rocking babies to sleep, so on slightly related news: … The USA has too many laws, but they keep adding more. One of the 2015  laws is that there must be mandatory breast pumping stations at airports. Bizarre but you know that they include this in their fees to cover this. The fuel sur-charge went up when oil prices were high but never came down when prices did. Fees and laws never disappear.

Boston Logan Airport

One thing that I don’t like about Boston Logan International Airport is that the Airport staff, (not TSA) stand at the beginning of the line for passengers to go through the scanners and tell people that they are not allowed to take cabin bags. This slows down the line because I had to re-pack my hand luggage to combine all my stuff. I had my computer out and my thick jacket in my bag so I could go through the TSA pre, fast. I was flying first class so she did not consider that I was allowed a bit more. She was just inventing her own rules.

It is good to get Elite Status because you can board in group one so you have first go at the overhead luggage space.

Happy travels!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Houston, Y’all R out of luck

Sometimes I wonder if it is worth being a Premier Platinum member of United Airlines. They decided to change the flight I booked several months ago and re-routed me via Chicago. I do not want to fly via Chicago but since United treats Houstonians badly, they just sent me an email telling me that I had to take an extra flight to Chicago. They stopped flying at 1pm to Houston, from New York. I told them that I would suffer waiting an extra 3 hours at EWR rather than fly to Chicago and asked them why they removed my wait list for first class, without re-instating it in my account. You should watch out for their hand slight tricks. I would have preferred to fly via Washington, not Chicago, but they refused to let me, without paying a few hundred dollars extra. As usual, it’s a one way relationship. They can change my flight after I paid for it but they won’t accommodate my preference.

They sold me a flight taking up 3 hours less of my time, then a week before departure, they changed it and told me that I would have to pay hundreds of dollars more to fly a similar time schedule via IAD.

They say that Houston is a HUB, but it is really, just a gateway to South American flights, and if you don’t fly to S. America, you pay some of the highest airfares to other destinations. The City of Houston taxpayers paid for the fancy Airport dominated by United but now Houstonians don’t have much competition at the airport. Even the Latin America flights are going to be directly from Newark like the new flights to Argentina. 

United Tweeted that they are increasing the flights from several cities, but not from Houston.

united tweet

On May 1st United tweeted “We’re providing agents with creative solutions to get our customers where they need to go” Yes, their creative solutions are not overbooking but now they are removing whole flights that passengers have paid for and squashing those passengers on other, longer, more inconvenient flights.

United are no longer in the classy Airlines category. Continental Air was a cut above other airlines but now that they have merged, United has decided to downgrade to provide similar service to the low cost airlines (without the low cost). They have what they call “Basic Economy” tickets which are subject to loads of  restrictions including,: NO seat selection or upgrades, no group or family seating, no normal sized carry-on bags and no flight changes or refunds. Certain MileagePlus and MileagePlus Premier® member benefits are not available. So is it worth getting elite Status if you don’t get benefits and have to pay more than the average price?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't forget the Alamo & the Riverwalk

Once you have seen the Alamo, it will be engraved in your memory, because it is an impressive structure. 

I’ve been invited to the Grand Opening of the Bowie Exhibit at The Alamo. It’s a new exhibit exploring the life of legendary Alamo defender James Bowie and his famous knife. I’m excited about celebrating the Ribbon Cutting and seeing the “Living History Demonstrations”. The courageous frontiersmen Crocket, Bowie and Travis are captivating and riveting tales of brave Patriot Pioneers

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I find the IMG_0391Alamo an alluring historical site and have often visited the grounds or just stood outside the spellbinding Fort Building fa├žade. I think of these founding Texans as I drive down Travis Street In Houston. It is in the center of the city, so you can’t visit the city without seeing all the down-town streets named after the 19th-century heroes.

One of Davys quotes on Government Welfare, comes to mind: Col. Davy Crockett wisely warned that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away what you have". In n 1836 The Texas Revolution was fought, following a 13-day siege by Mexican troops under the brutal, President General Santa Anna.

I enjoy visiting the Missions near San Antonio. Mission San Jose is about 4 miles from the Alamo, where the National Park Service Rangers set the stage for you to visit the other mission sites on the trail. The stone buildings at Mission Concepcion give a picture of what life was like when the Pioneers arrived from Europe to find the farm land promised to them was in hot, rugged terrain, with the only shelter and protection from the Indians, was within the walls of the Missions. Spain had promised Swedes, Scotts and other Europeans land to form a buffer from the Navajo, Cherokee and Shawnee Indian tribes that the Catholic Missions were trying to Christianize.

The Marriott Riverwalk, Hyatt and the Westin Hotel are close to the Alamo but the The Menger Hotel & Valencia are right next to it. The Alamo provides photo ops in both day light and is illuminated beautifully at night.

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I’m certainly glad that I can stay in one of those comfortable hotels when I visit San Antonio. In 1840 the folk did not have much comfort, The least of their concerns, was a lack of air-conditioning and in my book, it is a basic necessity in Texas.