Scandinavian Airline Review: ethernet cables, iPads and more

Scandinavian Airline Review: ethernet cables, iPads and more

img_1657I had two very different experiences with Scandinavian Airlines the two times I flew with them at the end of October. My flight from Boston to Europe was…ok. My flight back to the US, was actually pretty good. The first trip was from Boston to Copenhagen and on to Prague and my flight back was from Prague to Copenhagen to Chicago and ended in Boston. So, here’s why my flights were ok:

Pre-flight

I got my tickets very last minute, but everything still went pretty smoothly on the way there. I checked-in online 24 hours before the flight and printed my boarding pass without an issue. One thing I did have an issue with was ordering a special meal. It wasn’t really an issue, so much as a hassle, because you couldn’t order online while buying the ticket, you had to call and order it. Again, not an issue, just another step.

Pre-flight before my flight back to the US was worse. I couldn’t check-in online, which is something that has become the norm in the past couple of years, but I also didn’t get my boarding pass for the flights to Chicago and to Boston. So I knew I had a one hour layover and I had to stop by the transfer desk on my run across the airport. I wasn’t thrilled, but what could I do, just hope for the best and run fast.

Flight

The flight to Europe was on a very small plane with very small seats. There was only about 17 rows and 6 seats in each row. At least it was a very short flight, just somewhere between 6 and 6.5 hours, which isn’t that bad. It was a very full flight so there wasn’t room to spread out. In Copenhagen I had 5 hour layover, which is long, especially when most stores are closed for a solid amount of time.

My flight back to the US was better. It was a bigger, upgraded airplane which meant more comfort. I was also lucky because I had a free seat next to me, so I had enough space to lie down and just watch a movie. The flight from Copenhagen to Chicago was 9 hours, which is long, but since I had space, it was doable.

Food

Gluten-free meals are the same on all flights and all airlines. It’s usually some chicken or white fish with some vegetables. Not much to it. The snacks vary, and I didn’t have a good experience with the small meal on either of my long flights. On the first one I got just bread with a slice of tomato on it. Definitely not a filling or enjoyable snack, it was too dry and didn’t really have a taste to it. On the second flight they gave me the wrong snack at first, instead of gluten-free they gave me a special fish meal. That is an honest mistake, but it did make things more complicated.

One thing that I didn’t like about Scandinavian Airlines, is that not all beverages were for free. And at least to me, it wasn’t quite clear what was included in the price of the ticket, because sometimes it changed with what meal was being served. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but it wasn’t clear what I could order. I did figure out that apple juice and coffee is always free though, so that’s a plus.

Iimg_1703n-flight Entertainment

On the first flight the entertainment system wasn’t working or they were upgrading. Either way, iPads were given out instead of us using the screens at the back of the seats. This sounds like a good idea in theory, but I really do prefer the screens, for two reasons: a) there is a limited selection of movies and TV shows on iPads and b) you have to hold the iPad to watch things. Really, it was having to hold it that annoyed me. There’s no way to sit the iPad up in a way so it doesn’t slide down or a way to hang it from something. Again, don’t know why the screens weren’t used but I definitely prefer not holding on to the iPad for 6 hours. Fun fact: there was an ethernet plug at each seat, so if you bring an ethernet cable you can have internet access during the flight.

On the second flight, they had the normal screens with more movie choices. There were some new movies and some older classics. There were some TV shows too, but alway only one random episode of each show, which for someone who really likes binge watching is quite little. But I found enough movies to entertain me throughout the whole flight.

Overall my experience with Scandinavian Airlines wasn’t bad, it was quite pleasant and it helped that service was really nice. I would definitely fly with them again, because none of the issues I had with them were serious. I suggest you look into them if you are looking for tickets.  


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Air Canada: the long, long flight

img_0997When I was looking for tickets to get back to Boston I looked at the price and dates, and Air Canada turned out fit my criteria the best. I have never traveled with them before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I was certainly surprised. 

Pre-flight

One thing that surprised me was that I could not check-in online before the flight. I understand that it is probably because of increased security, and even though you usually can’t check into flights to America, it still surprised me. That’s because you couldn’t even choose your seat online. It was a little like stepping back about 10 years, before online check-in and seat selection was an option. At the airport everything was fine. Of course lines were longer at check-in, because everyone had to check-in at the counter, instead of just dropping off their luggage.

At the Prague airport I had my very first experience with the e-gate passport control. I heard horror stories about people getting stuck between the gates, the camera not recognizing their faces and all sorts of other great anecdotes. So, as I was nearing the e-gate, Alena told me she would stand right there and watch as I embarrass myself. So much faith in me… 😀 I managed, without getting stuck and on my first try!   

Flight

The flight itself was fine. It was a 9 hour long day flight, so boredom comes naturally with this. However, boredom hit earlier, faster and harder than usual, but I will talk about that later. There were a couple of turbulences, but nothing the airline can affect. Somehow, I became the translator and the short-flight-connection coordinator/expert, when Czechs all around me started asking me to either translate the safety briefing or customs forms.

The service was nice. Only one flight attendant made me feel like I was bothering her when I asked for the English version of the customs form instead of the French. Other than that, the flight attendants were very nice!

Foodimg_0993

Gluten-free food is always a bit of a problem. However, I actually had really good chicken on this flight, it wasn’t completely dry and tasteless! Shocking, I know! One thing I don’t understand is why I always get pretzels as a snack at the beginning of the flight. I wish I could get something else to nibble on. Oh well.

In-flight entertainment

Where do I begin. There were no screens. You could rent an iPad from the airline for $10 or download the app. However, if you are going to do something like this, there should be a sufficient amount of warning! Shoot us an email, saying something like “hey, there won’t be any in-flight entertainment, so bring a book or a magazine. Make sure you download the Air Canada app, so you can enjoy some in-flight entertainment. Thank you and goodbye.” But no, instead, halfway through boarding, they announce over the intercoms, hey so if you have internet on your phone or your tablet, download the app for in-flight entertainment. Except guess what, not everyone has internet in their phone, a lot of people are traveling internationally, so naturally they don’t want to pay the extra money on data. And if you are leaving the country, chances are you are out of data! So please, Air Canada, don’t assume, and warn your passengers that the flight isn’t flying in this century and that for the 9 hour flight you will only have your thoughts to distract you.

I wrote half of this article on the plane ride, when I was very bored and a little mad. I was quite happy with Air Canada, but I do wish that for the price of that ticket, I could have had free in-flight entertainment. That might just be me. It is a good airline and I did like this connection! Just make sure you bring things to do!


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Air France/Delta Review

I’ve always had an up and down relationship with Air France. They have reasonable prices and their flight times usually work for me really well, but there are many issues with them otherwise. I just flew from Boston to Prague with Air France and the flight was operated by Delta. I always consider that the worst case scenario, because it usually means old planes, ok food, and ok in-flight entertainment. And, sadly enough,  they did not fail to meet my expectations this time either.

IMG_8861

Pre-Flight

The pre-flight procedures go pretty well with Air France. You get an email that reminds to you to check in, which is very useful. However, one thing that anyone who has an allergy has to keep in mind, is that you have to order a special meal before you check in (more than 30 hours ahead of time) but you can’t order a special meal when buying the tickets. So please keep that in mind, because they cannot help you! Other than that, check in and baggage drop off is straight-forward and quick. At the gate, the staff ran into a slight issue, because their announcement was not clear, so, many people lined up to talk to them at the desk. Since the staff had to deal with so many people, you could tell they were getting frustrated with all the customers.

 

Flight

IMG_8886The flight itself was ok. The airplane had pretty decent legroom, so at even when the person in front of me put their seat down, I still had room. One issue several people had, including me, was that the individual lights were not pointed at the correct seats. I saw three people get up and try to fix it. They all gave up rather quickly and sat back down in the darkness. So much for “the lights in the cabin will be dimmed during take off, but feel free to turn on your individual lights”.

The rest of the flight went pretty well, some turbulences, but nothing too bad. The flight attendants were really nice and helpful and for the first time on Air France, they were not completely shocked that I didn’t speak French, and even remembered I spoke English the next time they came around.

 

Food

Food was kind of sad. That usually happens with my gluten-free meal though. The best part of my meal was applesauce, although the applesauce was a great surprise addition to the meal! One thing that Air France really has going for it, is wine. They have really good wine, which I definitely enjoyed!

One more quick reminder! If you have an allergy, make sure you order the meal ahead of time! The woman next to me didn’t and then she was struggling to find something to eat, because of her fish allergy.

 

In-flight EntertainmentIMG_8883

In-flight entertainment was kind of sad. The screens were tiny, smaller than an iPad mini, if you want a visual reference. I may have been spoiled by Emirates and Swiss Air, but I also felt like Air France does not have a large selection of movies and TV shows. Even though they had some new movies, recent movies and even some old movies, in general the choices were not great. On top of that, the sound seemed to be a little messed up. The soundtrack is overpowering and loud, to the point where you can’t hear the dialogue, so even though I tried to watch a movie, half the time I did not understand what any of the characters said.

 

Overall Air France was pretty decent this time. I was just glad they did not lose my luggage this time, because out of the past four trips I took with them, they lost my stuff three times. Let us know what you think about Air France and if you had better experiences.


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5 things I never leave at home

IMG_5758I am usually the person who has everything in their purse – need contact solution? check. Nailpolish? Check. Tissues? Pens of various colors? Extra 50 hair ties? Check, check and check. I’m the person who goes away for a weekend with a suitcase (bigger than those tiny carry-on little things), a giant purse and possibly a laptop bag (due to the large amount of things I have in my purse, the laptop sometimes doesn’t fit). And if I’m flying on a long haul flight, add a travel pillow and refillable water bottle. But what are the five items it all boils down to that I can’t live without? Important documents aside, here’s what I never leave at home:

  1. iPhone and charger. This goes without saying. I make sure to update my apps to include a dictionary from English to the local language of where I’m going, possibly a tour guide or map. I try to have a lot of things prepared on my phone, just in case. There are also times when I don’t bring my laptop, so iPhone has to do all the work.
  2. Extra battery pack. Especially with my iPhone getting older and it’s battery life decreasing all the time, you never know when you’ll need to recharge and won’t have access to an outlet. I originally bought mine when going to a music festival, but bring it everywhere now.FullSizeRender
  3. A book (or two…or three). Ok, I’m not the best at judging the correct amount of reading material. On beach vacations, I read a book a day. If I’m traveling for the sake of exploring, I barely read. So it depends on what you’re doing, but I always have a few books of different genres with me in physical copies. And the rest I have as e-books, but I don’t like to rely on having a power source to read (also, electronics and beaches, pools, rain, sand etc. don’t mix well).
  4. Fluffy/warm socks. These are an essential for flights. I basically use them as in-flight shoes. I don’t want to wear my shoes for long haul flights, but I also don’t want to walk around the cabin barefoot or annoy my fellow passengers. So I opt for fluffy socks, which keep my feet warm and safe from whatever may be on the airplane floor. Tip: a plastic bag to put them in after use is always a great idea.
  5. Notebook and pens. You never know when inspiration will strike. I also like to jot down notes about interesting events or things we encounter. Everytime I forgot to bring a notebook, I ended up buying one at the airport (or train/bus station) on my way to my destination.

And, as we’ve said many times before, do not, under any circumstances, forget earphones. Personally, I use them only for the plane/train/bus parts of my travels because babies cry, people talk loud and it’s nice to be able to drown that out. Once I hit the ground at my destination, though, I rarely wear them so that I can enjoy the sounds of the place I’m visiting as well.

I hope that my tips helped you and let me know in the comments what you can’t leave for a trip without!


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Swiss Air: Thoughts and Experiences

IMG_7096I fly between Boston and Prague quite a lot and personally I love taking Swiss Air for this trip. Part of the reason is that I am a loyal customer, so I collect as many miles as I can, but really I am very happy with their service. On top of their great service and actually decent food, layovers in Zurich are very calm and I never have to stress about making my second flight. My most recent flight with Swiss Air was at the end of November, so here’s my experience:

 

 

Pre-flight

The pre-flight process with Swiss Air is very simple. You can check-in online 24 hours before your flight, or you can even select automatic check-in, when they will automatically send you your boarding pass about 25 hours before the flight. This makes things so nice and easy, because you don’t have to stress about having to log in online exactly 24 hours before the flight or you won’t get good seats! That’s the only bad thing about Swiss Air, you can’t select a seat before you do online check-in, all you can do is select what type of seat you prefer: aisle, window or middle (no one ever wants the middle!). Even so, Swiss Air likes to make everything simple for their customers.

 

Flight

During the actual flight the service is great! The flight attendants are very friendly and unlike with Air France, they are NOT surprised when you speak English to them. They are helpful and try to accommodate the passengers with whatever needs they may have. True, when a woman got out of her seat during a particularly strong turbulence, the attendant yelled at her through the PA system, but she kind of deserved it, otherwise they are super polite.

 

In-flight Entertainment

I love the in-flight entertainment Swiss Air has. Yes, sometimes the screens/technology is dated and the screens aren’t as pretty because some of the airplanes are older, but they have an amazing selection of movies and tv shows on each flight. Not only do they offer recently released movies, like Inside Out (I may or may not have watched that twice), but they also offer classics. Last week they offered all of the 007 movies and all of the Fast & Furious movies. They also had multiple episodes of the Big Bang Theory, Jane the Virgin and even episodes of The Flash and The Walking Dead. Needless to say, I was not bored on this flight :)

 

Food

Food is always a big question mark when it comes to eating on a plane. I have an added disadvantage of being a celiac, so I cannot have any gluten whatsoever. Luckily, airlines now offer special meals for celiacs, however, they usually suck. With Swiss Air it really depends on where you are flying from. Flying from the US to Europe, the food is ok. It’s better than what gluten-free plane food used to be, but it’s not best. Flying from Switzerland, however, is absolutely amazing. True, the warm meal still lacks in flavor sometimes, but I do get a warm gluten-free bun and lemon cake AND chocolate marble cake! I do love Swiss Air when they give me cake <3 As far as drinks go, the flight attendants make sure you get enough to drink throughout the flight and walk down the aisle frequently offering water.

FullSizeRender

Swiss Air is great! I definitely recommend them. I never had an issue with them or at the Zurich airport during transfers.They may not be the cheapest option out there, but I personally think it’s worth it!

 

Want to compare Swiss Air to another airline? Read our review of the Emirates Airline!

 


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