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A comfortable ride across the Atlantic

So, as I have mentioned earlier, I was supposed to go back to Norway January 20, but due to bad weather and maintenance issues with the aircraft, my flying got delayed so I had to postpone my return flight to Norway.

I first called United to see if I could change the return date to January 23, but that wasn’t possible due to my fare beingย  non-refundable (bought off a sale in October) I then tried to look up one-way tickets to Europe, which are not cheap. Not at all. United wanted over $2000 for a one-way ticket MCO-KRS – in ECONOMY!!! A definite no-no. So after being on the phone with United for 30 minutes, I hung up and called my lovely airline Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) who could give me an award ticket, booked with my miles. The agent was very friendly and found a route that suited me perfectly, with short layovers (at this point I just wanted to get home as quick and efficient as possible) At first he thought I needed a round trip (I didn’t specify I would only need a one-way ticket this time) so he gave me an offer, 40000 miles for a round trip in economy. I then said I only need the one-way, and he figured out I had enough points for a one-way in business. I wasn’t hard to convince, and soon I was booked in business all the way from Orlando, via Frankfurt and Oslo, to Kristiansand. 66000 miles and 256 NOK later, I got my ticket by e-mail. A smooth experience, and actually the first time I have redeeemed any of my frequent flyer points.

I returned my rental car at Sixt, was expedited quickly and took the shuttle to the terminal. I checked in using the First Class / Star Alliance Gold check in counter which had no line what so ever. Checked my two bags and headed for security where Lufthansa apparently doesn’t have a priority lane, which I found kind of weird. I got through it with about 10 minutes of waiting, and took the train over to the concourse where my plane would depart in about 2 hours.

Lufthansa doesn’t have their own lounge in MCO, but uses Delta’s Sky Club. Not a very big selection of snacks, but I guess it was late in the afternoon and not many flights departing. Plenty of seating areas, I had no trouble finding a place to relax before my flight. The bathrooms were very nicely decorated and furnished. I had some snacks, changed into my “I’m crossing the Atlantic at night”-attire (sports bra and a sweat shirt. On board the plane I changed into sweat pants) before the Lounge Dragons announced Lufthansa flight 465 to Frankfurt was ready for boarding, and that a Lufthansa representative would meet us in the lounge and escort us to the gate.

WARNING: Text is below the picture!!!

Delta Sky Club in MCO

Delta Sky Club in MCO

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We were then escorted over to the gate where boarding was about to start, but we were the first ones on board the Airbus 340-600 (registration D-AIHH) bound for Frankfurt. They used 2L for boarding and after I entered the cabin I took an immidiate left and found my seat, 8D.

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When boarding was announced completed, no one had claimed 08A/C so I moved over to the window seat and got the two-seater all by my self. I like to have direct aisle access on long haul flights, especially at night, but with no one in the C seat I was good to go with my window seat ๐Ÿ™‚

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A photo I snapped of the leg room in 08D before I switched seats

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Once in 08A, I was greeted by the purser with my last name (at first she thought Ms Larsen didn’t board since it was stated in her manifest that I would be sitting in 08D) but I gave her a hint that I just moved seats. She was very polite, and sort of apologetic. She hoped I had a good ground experience in MCO, which I confirmed, but my only complain would be no priority security. I was served a glass of champagne before take off.

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Once in 08A, this was my view of the forward business cabin,

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On our way to lining up on 35L, ready for take off!

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MLB VOR was in our flight plan, but I thought we’d be cleared more direct. But no, we headed south to Melbourne after departure, then started our oceanic crossing from there.

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I was handed the menu for tonight’s flight.

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I went with the seafood salad as a starter, cod filet as main course and the chocolate for dessert.

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But first, time for some beer and nuts. Warsteiner glass bottled beer is a classic onboard Lufthansa in business and first class. Back in economy they serve it on a can.

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Seafood salad, probably the best dish in the entire meal. Crisp salad, hot roll and the prawns tasted fresh and delicious.

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Nothing left of the seafood salad ๐Ÿ˜€

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The cod tasted OK but the presentation lacked some I thought. Kind of sloppy.

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“Would you care for some chocolate, Ms Larsen?” How awesome, they said Ms Larsen to me throughout the meal service. Nice touch! The chocolate was heavenly!

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Time to get some rest! The old business class seats on board Lufthansa doesn’t recline 180 degrees. My biggest complaint with the seat, however, is the area around your feet when the seat is fully reclined. It reclines under the seat in front of you, and the space around your feet is very limited.

Never the less, I got 4 hours of sleep and woke up feeling pretty fresh and awake as we crossed in to European airspace. Breakfast service started 1,5 hours before landing.

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The breakfast platter consisted of some fresh cold cuts as well as an egg omelet and some potatoes. Fresh fruit, tea and OJ complimented the meal.

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Being greeted the best way possible by Europe: With an amazing sunrise

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Short final for 07L (new runway) in Frankfurt where we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule. IMG_0804

D-AIHH parked by the gate after the flight. I disembarked through door 1L and headed straight for the lounge.

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Since I had some time until my flight to Oslo, I decided to go to the Welcome Lounge (outside of security) knowing that lounge has more showers than the business/senator lounges airside. Even thought it was kind of a long stroll from Terminal A, it was well worth it. Sophie the Frequent Flyer Bear liked it a lot too ๐Ÿ™‚

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Feeling refreshed after the shower, I headed to Terminal B where a bus gate awaited my next flight, SK4756 to Oslo. The flight was operated by LN-TUF, a Boeing 737-700.

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On board we were served sea bass. The chocolate for dessert was very sweet, but rounded the meal off nicely.

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Flying next to Denmark.

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North Jylland, Denmark.

I hate transferring international-domestic in Oslo, because I have to go through customs, recheck my bags and go through security again. But it was the only option available on award tickets that day so I just had to suck it up. My bags actually appeared early on the baggage belt with their priority tags, so I headed through customs, up to the departure level and got through security.

Now, remember the girl I met when I departed Oslo 1,5 weeks earlier? Well, guess who I met in the domestic terminal this Thursday afternoon? The same girl! What are the odds?!? We just accidentally bumped in to each other. She was headed to Bergen for the weekend. Our flights departed from the same area of the terminal so we found a place to sit until boarding started.

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This is the gate for my flight, SK221 to Kristiansand. You’d think it was the last helicopter out of Vietnam.

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I was one of the last to board and found my seat, 11F. Full flight, and all the overhead bins were full. I ended up with my carry on Rimowa under the seat in front of me, with my backpack on my lap and feet on the Rimowa (Sorry, my dear little suitcase)

We took of late, but at that point I didn’t care. To be honest, I fell asleep before pushback and didn’t wake up until we had started our descent into Kristiansand.

It was a very comfortable trip, though it cost me some miles, it was definitely worth it.

The service I received with Lufthansa was very good. They are upgrading their business class seats to something similar to what Swiss offers. I’m eager to try that product out, but for now it’s hit-or-miss if you get an aircraft with the new business class seats.

The meals were consistenly very good.

My only complaint is, as mentioned before, the lack of priority security in MCO for business class/ Star Gold passengers.

That’s all I have for now ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you enjoyed following along my trip home from Florida!

C

 

Confessions of a Frequent Flyer

At the end of the year, I feel it is appropriate to sum up my year, with regards to travels and flying.

Near the end of 2011, I set a goal for myself “I will fly each month of the year” – a goal that seemed impossible at first, but as the year progressed, it turned out I wasn’t far from my goal at all.

Well, the goal was actually spoiled in January already, when I didn’t fly at all. But how did the rest of the year turn out for me?

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Preflighting N96557 (C172)

As a grand total, I had 40 flights (+ 1 General Aviation (GA) flight in a Cessna Skyhawk 172SP), flying more than 79 000 km (49 000 mi.) A total “air time” of 122 hours (or more than 5 days straight) on board an airplane, I’m happy with what I got to see and do.

February

I had to go to Florida to keep my Instrument Rating current, and my mom decided to come with me. Or rather, it is impossible to rent a car or get a hotel room unless you’re 21 or older. So my mom was my chauffeur and buddy for this trip.

Our itinerary was Kristiansand (KRS) – Oslo (OSL) – Munich (MUC) – New York (JFK) – Tampa (TPA) – Boston (BOS) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Oslo (OSL) – Kristiansand (KRS) and was flown with a mix of Scandinavian Airlines, Lufthansa and jetBlue.

With regards to frequent flyer miles for my SAS Eurobonus card, this trip was a disaster. Economy class (booking class K) with Lufthansa only gave me 25% of the flown miles, you don’t earn miles on domestic flights in Norway and jetBlue was definitely out of the equation, even though they have an interline agreement with Lufthansa. So I ended up with a total of 2500 points/miles for the entire trip. But I won’t complain too much, it was a cheap fare.

That being said, Lufthansa was “as expected” on the transatlantic legs, and intra-european they were decent. We were lucky to get a refurbished A321 from OSL to MUC, the “NEK” (die Neue Europa Kabine = the new Europe Cabin)

The A321 NEK The seats are VERY slim, but for a 2 hour flight it worked out OK.

The A321 NEK
The seats are VERY slim, but for a 2 hour flight it worked out OK.
The colors used are a bit boring, if you ask me though. Throw in some blue or yellow!

A 3-class (First, Business and Economy) A340-300 brought us from MUC to JFK, where we exited the airplane extremely early, thanks to our seats being on the first row of economy, right behind business class. That only means one thing when arriving in America – NO line in immigration. We were through in a split second.

An Airbus 320 from jetBlue awaited us in JFK, and took us down to Tampa, and back to Boston 2 weeks later. I was happy with the on board product that jetBlue offers, especially the Direct TV. It was free, from what I remember, which is better than what you get on United where it’s only free for a little while.

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The jetBlue A320 parked in Tampa, getting ready for the flight up to Boston

In Boston, we boarded the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400, this individual being built in 1989! Old lady.

GVIIY meets DABTB

Cecilie 747

Smart-me: During check-in, I asked for a window seat for me and an aisle seat for my mom. Turned out no one wanted the middle seat between us, so we had plenty of space to actually get some sleep.

No personal entertainment system on this old lady. Which I really didn't care about, the scheduled BLOCK time (brakes off to brakes on) was an amazing 5hrs55min - I don't think I have ever crossed the Atlantic THAT fast before!

No personal entertainment system on this old lady. Which I really didn’t care about, the scheduled BLOCK time (brakes off to brakes on) was an amazing 5hrs55min – I don’t think I have ever crossed the Atlantic THAT fast before!

March

Well, technically, the return trip from Florida was in March too, but it was part of a trip that started in February so I’ll leave it like that.

The week after I came home from Florida, it was time to get going again. This time to Seattle!

My itinerary was like this: Oslo (OSL) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Seattle (SEA) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Oslo (OSL) – Kristiansand (KRS)

The flights OSL-FRA-OSL-KRS were all operated by SAS, and the flights to and from Frankfurt were in business class. Now, intra-european business class is nothing fancy, you get a blocked middle seat, giving you more space, and a hot meal. That’s really it. But it was a fun experience nonetheless. From Frankfurt to Seattle and back, I had the pleasure of flying in business class with Lufthansa on their A330-300.
I had a great seat, I was served good food and got plenty of rest in the comfortable seat (though it doesn’t recline 180 degrees)

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White table cloth before meal service began! I definitely approve this way of traveling ๐Ÿ™‚

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My longest, to date, flight. 5100 miles one way. Block time of close to 11 hours. But it was worth it!

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I had 26 hours in Seattle.. The first thing I wanted to see was the first location of Starbucks. This is where it all began!

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I went to the top of the Space Needle, too! Breathtaking views from up there.

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Aaaand, I got to meet the Dreamliner! What an awesome experience!

Upon returning to Frankfurt from Seattle, I had access to the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge, for a well-needed shower!

Upon returning to Frankfurt from Seattle, I had access to the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge, for a well-needed shower!

Frequent flyer-wise, this trip was a bargain! For 10 000 NOK (approx 1800 USD) I got a round trip in business class, 11 000 miles traveled. Since the fare was booked in the booking class Z with Lufthansa, they give you 200% of the miles flown, leaving me with 22 000 frequent flyer miles and hitting the SAS Eurobonus (and Star Alliance) Silver tier. My frequent flyer card changed its color for the first time in my life. But this was just the beginning…

April

No travels in April, unfortunately ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

May

Washington D.C!

Scandinavian Airlines all the way! Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Washington DC (IAD) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS) for a weekend was the perfect get-away.

A mix of the Dash 8 Q400 and the A340-300 took me to the American capital and back. The weekend in DC was incredibly warm, and I tried my best to fill it with interesting stuff to see. Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, a tour of the US Capitol, the US Holocaust museum, the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, the Museum of Natural History, eating sushi at the best sushi restaurant in DC (supposedly, and it really was amazing), Washington Memorial, WWII memorial, eating strawberries on a bench on Lafayette Square.. It was just perfect, in every way ๐Ÿ™‚

Some photos of my trip to D.C can be found HERE

On the return leg of my trip, I decided to spend some miles on an upgrade from economy to economy extra, which was well worth the price of 10000 miles. I got a better seat and a better meal.

I cashed in 10000 miles on this trip, including the Silver status bonus of an extra 15% on flights operated by SAS (or Blue1 or Widerรธe)

June

June was a good month when it came to flying. It started with a mileage run to Madrid. A mileage run is a set of flights you take, and the sole purpose is to collect miles. My route was Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Madrid (MAD) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS)

Madrid

Yes, I did a day trip to Madrid.

In security in Kristiansand, I handed my boarding card to the security agent who said “Wow, that’s a lot of flights” – without further questions I headed to Madrid via Copenhagen on the Dash 8 Q400 and then the MD82.

Upon disembarking the MD82 in Madrid, I said good bye to the flight and cabin crew, like any other civilized passenger would do. Little did they know that I would board the same aircraft with the same crew in about 30 minutes.

More on the Madrid-trip can be found HERE

This itinerary left me with 5750 frequent flyer miles, a good pay for a day’s work if you ask me ๐Ÿ™‚

But June isn’t over yet. Later in the month I visited my friend Ryan in England. My flights were:
Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Manchester (MAN) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS) on the Dash 8 Q400, MD82, A319 and Dash 8 Q400 respectively.

I had a wonderful few days in Yorkshire filled with airplane spotting at MAN, eating breakfast next to the Concorde, visiting many historical sites, drinking multiple (I think I stopped counting after the 4th….) Jรคger bombs with my buddy Ricky and just having a great time!

A few words on my England trip and some photos as well, can be found in THIS blog from June.

Upon landing back in KRS, I had earned 2300 frequent flyer miles, which was enough to get SAS Eurobonus (Star Alliance) Gold status!

July

It was time to travel again! This time to one of my favorite cities, Berlin. I have a friend who lives there so visiting her is something I really enjoy as well.

This was the first time I would travel as a SAS Gold member, and therefore I booked long connections in Copenhagen, just to enjoy the airport lounges a little more.

My itinerary was like this: Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Berlin-Tegel (TXL) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS)

As usual, the flights between KRS and CPH were operated by the Dash 8 Q400.

Dash 8 Q400

Dash 8 Q400

On the flight from Copenhagen to Berlin I was upgraded from economy to business class. My first trip with SAS after I became gold, and I get an upgrade! How awesome is that!? Seated in row 4 on the MD82, I could barely hear the engines spool up during take off or during climb out. So quite up front. I’ve heard MD80-pilots say they are honestly concerned if the engines are really running during flight. There is no way they can tell by just listening. I don’t blame them, those aircrafts are so comfortable to travel with.

Berlin was wonderful as always, and it was great to spend some time there with my friend.

The trip gave me 3750 frequent flyer miles.

August

As a treat for my self for my birthday, I booked a trip to Frankfurt (FRA) airport, with a night’s stay at the Hilton Frankfurt Airport. You can read more about my trip to Frankfurt HERE , HERE and HERE

My itinerary for this trip was Kristiansand (KRS) – Oslo (OSL) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS)

I was actually upgraded to economy extra on the return from FRA to CPH, which was a nice touch from SAS. ๐Ÿ™‚

3125 miles for this trip.

September

Nothing….

October

Nada…

November

NEW YORK AND FLORIDA!

I have written about this trip HERE but I will give you a summary of my trip here:

KRS-OSL 737 Economy class
OSL-EWR A330 Economy class

EWR-CLT A320 Economy class

CLT-MCO B762 First Class

MCO-EWR B737 Economy class

EWR-CPH A330 Economy class

CPH-KRS Dash 8 Q400 Economy class

12325 points for this trip which puts me in a good position for renewing my gold status with SAS in 2013.

December

Nothing…

So, there you go, my flying year 2012. It has been a remarkable year and I can’t wait to get started on my travels for 2013.

Wishing you all a prosperous, healthy and aviation-filled New Year!

Best wishes
Cecilie

New York, New York

This coming Saturday, November 3, me and my brother will embark on an adventure of our life time. Travelling together, brother and sister, to the city where our family holds strong bonds is special and we feel very privileged to be able to do this together. I have never travelled with him alone before, so that’ll be exciting as well.

Our flight departs early in the morning, Nov 3, 07.20 am local time. 737-800 is the first plane of the trip. We have a 2 hour layover in Oslo. I will introduce my brother to the peaceful area of the airport called “lounge” ๐Ÿ˜› Enjoy some wine, eat lunch and relax. Around 09.45 am it will be time to board our next flight. SK 907 to Newark onboard an Airbus 330-300. My brother has a seat in the business class cabin while I will be stuck back in economy. I’m glad my brother gets to experience the business class, it is truly something special!

Our first few days in the US will be filled with family visits, shopping, concerts ++ We will do some travelling around the area, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Friday November 9 we are going over to some family on Long Island and the next day it is time for Flight For Celebration in NYC with Jeremy and Karlene!

I am so excited and I will try to do a blog post while “over there”
For now,

Cecilie

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