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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

 

Biennial Flight Review (BFR)

I became a licensed pilot in 2011, which means 2 years has passed and I needed to prove to a certified flight instructor I can still fly. That’s why I decided to go to Florida in January to get it done, with my best friend and awesome instructor Ryan.

I was actually scheduled to fly the day after I arrived, Monday January 14, but the plane I was scheduled to fly was down for maintenance. Actually, both of the flight school’s 172s were down for maintenance for various reasons. I then had to be checked out in the C152 that the school has and I did that Tuesday and Wednesday with one of the instructors at that school, and then proceed with my BFR.

All the flying was done out of KSFB – Orlando-Sanford International Airport.

Tuesday we did a flight to the local practice area where I practiced some maneuvers. Keep in mind it had been 11 months since I last flew and my skills were a bit rusty. But with some practice, I did the slow flights, stalls, steep turns and emergency procedures to an acceptable, proficient level. It was so good to be back in the air!

Coming back into Sanford can be a bit stressful, especially with Air Traffic Control and the busy airspace around the Orlando area. English, being a foreign language to me, though I feel very proficient, adds to the difficulty for me.

Sanford is a Class C airport, meaning it’s classified as the second busiest type of airport in the US. Class B airports are usually very busy airports such as Orlando-MCO, Newark-EWR and Los Angeles-LAX.
The aircraft operators at SFB have signed a document that makes ATC-clearances easier for both pilots and controllers. Coming in to the airport from the North, I obtained the current weather in Sanford and contacted Orlando Approach on the radio, requesting the Monroe Arrival. The Monroe/Jessup Arrivial are signatory arrival routes (it’s not an official published arrival route, but something you will be familiar with if you fly planes in and out of SFB frequently) So by requesting the Monroe arrival, you let the ATC-controller know that you are familiar with operating in to SFB in this manner, and they will give you a squawk code and (hopefully) clear you for the Monroe Arrival.

After that, Orlando App hands you over to Sanford Tower. Our intentions this afternoon was 3 laps in the traffic pattern, so we got to land at 09R the first two landings, then the final, full stop landing was done at 09L.

Airport Diagram of KSFB

Airport Diagram of KSFB

The first two landings over at 09R were very smooth, and the instructor was happy with them. After those two touch-and-go’s I did a full stop landing at 09L. Due to this runway being significantly wider than 09R, I fell victim of the wider runway illusion, thinking I was lower than actual and started the flare too early. The landing was perfectly safe, but not as smooth as the previous two.

The next day I planned a flight to Kissimmee (KISM) and Leesburg (KLEE) to practice radio communication with other frequencies some more. The C152 is incredibly slow, I cruised down to KISM at about 90 KIAS.

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Wing view

Wing view

The Epcot Center

The Epcot Center

Best office view in the world (well, I don't mean the C152 in particular lol)

Best office view in the world (well, I don’t mean the C152 in particular lol)

The cockpit of the C152

The cockpit of the C152

Me flying! woop woop!

Me flying! woop woop!

Upon completion of this flight, I was officially checked out in the Cessna C152!

The next flight I did some traffic pattern work with Ryan in the C152, which was good practice!
We also flew to New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport one day in the C172. Actually, it was more like a diversion, because the lid where you check the engine oil popped open in flight. Safely on the ground in New Smyrna we did what any pilot would do. Fixed it with duct tape and flew back to Sanford, in the most amazing sunsets!

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We also did two flights up to DeLand which in an uncontrolled airfield with a lot of parachute activity. It is located north of Sanford and Lake Monroe. We went to the FBO to refuel after fighting the crosswinds that prevailed there, that day. With full tanks we headed back to Sanford via the Monroe Arrival, which I filmed and posted HERE

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Oh, the sights you see while pre-flighting aircrafts on the north ramp in Sanford. This is a Thomson 757 departing 09L. In the background is the passenger terminal.

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Thank you so much Ryan for giving me such a thorough flight review. I definitely learned a lot from you. You are a very talented instructor. I’m looking forward to fly with you again soon!

After putting 9,5 hrs in my log book, I was happy with what I got done in that week-and-a-half. Yes, I was supposed to go home Sunday January 20th, but didn’t leave until Wednesday January 23rd. Due to bad weather and the maintenance issues with the C172 which eventually was available for rental towards the end of the period I was there.

So with change of departure for going back to Norway, comes along a whole different route than the original MCO-IAH-AMS-CPH-KRS. Stay tuned and I will tell you about the comfortable ride I had across the Atlantic.

If you have any questions regarding biennial flight reviews (BFR) please refer to CFR 14 ยง61.56 in the FAR/AIM.
I am also open for questions of you have any with regards to aircrafts, rental, or anything in general.

– Cecilie

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