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.

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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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Airports: the Best and the Worst

I have been to many, many different airports while traveling. Some are very efficient and easy to get around, and some not so much. Here are some of the airports that I have traveled through and my experiences.

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JFK – Good

Generally I have had good experiences at JFK. It is a huge airport, so sometimes getting from point A to point B can take time, but I think it is pretty efficiently laid out. Of course if it is the first airport you land at when you enter the US, you have to go through customs, before re-checking your luggage and continuing on your journey. They don’t have the most efficient way of doing this at JFK, I had to leave the terminal completely before re-checking my bag, which seemed like a waste of time. Different airports work differently, sometimes there’s a conveyor belt you put your luggage on right after customs and sometimes you have to go to counters and re-check in. Of course, if New York is your final destination, then you don’t have to worry about that.

Paris CDG – Worst

I always have problems at CDG. I always felt like it was a huge, disorganized airport. Switching from one terminal to another usually means having to go through security three times and passport control five. This made me miss my connecting flight at least four times. On top that, they tend to lose my luggage. Three times in a row my suitcase didn’t make it on the same flight as me. Once they had no idea where it went and it probably traveled around half the world, without me (lucky bastard). On top of that, the workers at CDG always seem to be surprised and annoyed at the fact that I don’t speak French. Isn’t CDG an international airport? Shouldn’t they assume I don’t speak French??

Zurich – BEST

I love the Zurich airport! Sure, it’s small and there isn’t much to do, but it’s SMALL and you don’t have to worry about making your connecting flight, because it only takes like 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. And now they even have Starbucks, which is a great addition to the already amazing airport. I never had a problem there (knocks on wood)! Even with a short layover I manage to get to my flight and even get coffee before boarding the flight. Whenever possible, I fly through Zurich because I’m never worried about making it on time.

Munich – OKIMG_7319

The Munich airport has its positives and its negatives. On one hand it’s a little confusing and the signs aren’t all that clear, so I wasn’t too sure of where I was going. On the other hand, though, they have free coffee! And what could possibly be better than free coffee after 10 hours on a plane? It was pretty good coffee too! Other than getting a little lost, I didn’t have any problems. Passport control was a little disorganized and I had to wait for quite some time, but it wasn’t too bad.

Amsterdam – Good

Amsterdam is one of my favorite airports to transfer at. It’s pretty big, but it is manageable and easy to get around. On top of that they have two Starbucks’s (I think you can tell coffee is very important to me :P). Sometimes it can get a little confusing, though, when you are traveling outside of the Schengen. From what I could tell, most of the international flights were directed through passport control and then through an interview process at gate D1. There they would scan your passport and interview you about where you are traveling and why and all the usual questions. Then they would tell you your actual gate number. Then you would go talk to another person, who would also scan your passport, type some things into the computer and then finally let you go to your gate, without telling you what he/she was doing. So, keep that in mind when transferring in Amsterdam.

Frankfurt – OKIMG_6474

Frankfurt Airport is enormous and usually feels like a ghost town, because of how big it is. It is pretty clear where you have to go, so even though it takes you quite a long time to get from one terminal to another, you don’t get lost. Read more about my experiences at the Frankfurt airport here!

 

Hope this is helpful! If you have anything to add, please comment and let us know what you thought about the different airports!

 


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25 flights in One Year – How to survive constant travel

In the year 2015 I flew 25 times. Most of these flights were from Boston to Prague, but there were a couple of awesome new destinations, like Turkey. Spending so much time on airplanes can be difficult, so here are some travel tips that might make traveling a little easier.

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What to bring

  • Travel documents
  • Neck pillow
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Book/magazines
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Extra battery/charger or both
  • Adapter
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Warm sweater
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Pens – for immigrations forms
  • Face cream
  • Hairbrush for airplane hair

 

Pack all this in a carry-on bag that won’t break – purses with broken straps are not fun when you’ve got a 10 hour journey ahead of you.

Bonus tip: if you’re going on vacation or traveling with an airline that’s famous for losing luggage, have one complete outfit ready in your carry on, possibly a bathing suit (again, if you’re going on vacation) so that in case your luggage does get lost, you can still enjoy your first day at your destination.

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Airport

  • Get there early! Don’t get too cocky, you never know what can go wrong
  • Have all of your documents ready for check-in and passport control
  • Have all of your belongings ready for security check, so have all of your liquids in a plastic bag and have your laptop out
  • Don’t wear jewelry, so you don’t have to take everything off at security

On flight

  • Watch movies – great time to catch up on what you have missed
  • Be polite! The flight attendants will be even nicer to you if you ask them politely
  • FLUIDS! HYDRATION!
  • Bring a snack in case the airplane food is less than desirable
  • Every once in a while, stretch (but not so that you annoy your co-travelers)

Jet lag

  • Sleep on the plane
  • Hydrate
  • Try not to nap after you get to your destination, it will just make it more difficult to get used to the local time

I hope these tips are useful! Add more of your own tips in the comments!

 


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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.

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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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