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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Flying with Finnair

When I decided to go to Japan, the biggest concern was getting tickets for the correct dates, price and availability. Seeing as I was buying these tickets less than two days before my intended departure, availability was key and we chose Finnair. It’s also the shortest route from Prague to Osaka, with 2 hours or so from Prague to Helsinki and then 9 hours from Helsinki to Osaka with a brief 3 hour layover.

IMG_6949Pre-Flight

Pre-flight procedures here are pretty standard. You get a reminder e-mail 24 hours ahead of time and you can check in, nothing to remark on. Everything worked as it should have and I was on my way!

Flight

To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favorite flights, the seats are rather small and the place has a cramped feel to it. My return flight was significantly better, as I had two seats to myself and was able to be a little more comfortable. The best part was that the cabin temperature was pretty near perfect and I wasn’t freezing, as is sometimes the case.

Food

Food was decent, although on the way to Japan I didn’t eat much. On the way back, it was significantly better and we even got ice cream half way through the flight! You get a small bottle of water when you walk on the plane, so bonus points for that, even though it’s not enough for the long haul flight. On the short flight, you have a selection of food and drinks that you can purchase. On the other hand, service was great and always helpful.IMG_1193

TIP! Once you’re past security, bring a bottle of water for your long haul flight. I was pretty dehydrated on the way there so I did this when coming back and felt a lot better.

In-flight Entertainment

I was lucky because I travelled there and back in different months, so the movies and tv shows were slightly different. Overall, there’s a decent selection of movies and shows and I wasn’t bored, even though I hardly slept. One tip for you – you get free earphones, but I recommend that you bring your own, along with a converter to the two prong outlet for sound that airplanes have.

Overall, this was a very convenient way to get from A to B with the shortest possible travel time and best departure and arrival times. And for that alone, I would fly with them again. On the way there I was a little surprised, but on the way back I figured out what I need to do to make my flight more comfortable and it definitely was!

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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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.

IMG_7318

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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