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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Student Agency Review

Student Agency Review

This weekend we planned a very impromptu trip to Moravia, eastern Czech Republic. After looking at trains, we decided a bus to Brno was going to be the easiest way to get to our final destination: Breclav. Once we decided to take the bus, we knew we would take Student Agency. We have traveled with them in the past and we were always happy with the service. So here’s what we think of the agency.

imageThe buses are clean and comfortable. The seats are really nice and when you put them back a bit, you might even sleep well. Even though there isn’t a whole lot of space for your legs, there is a leg rest, which makes things a little more comfortable.

There is an entertainment system, that has games, some tv shows, like Big Bang Theory and Friends, and even several movies. They give out headphones, that are actually decent, so I recommend you take them. Also, there is wifi, so you can even browse the Internet, go on social media or even stream Netflix. It’s not the fastest wifi, but the connection is fairly strong the whole time. For free, you also get a choice of magazines and newspapers.

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When it comes to snacks and drinks, I recommend buying snacks beforehand, because those aren’t offered. They do have free hot beverages, which I suggest you take the hot chocolate, in the past the coffee hasn’t been the best, whereas the chocolate is pretty good. Cold drinks are sold on board, but it’s cheaper to buy drinks before getting on the bus.image

I have always been happy with Student Agency and I always recommend it when people are looking for an easy and cheap way to travel around Europe.


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Flying with Finnair

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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!

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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