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 being 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!!!
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.
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 🙂
A photo I snapped of the leg room in 08D before I switched seats
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.
Once in 08A, this was my view of the forward business cabin,
On our way to lining up on 35L, ready for take off!
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.
I was handed the menu for tonight’s flight.
I went with the seafood salad as a starter, cod filet as main course and the chocolate for dessert.
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.
Seafood salad, probably the best dish in the entire meal. Crisp salad, hot roll and the prawns tasted fresh and delicious.
Nothing left of the seafood salad 😀
The cod tasted OK but the presentation lacked some I thought. Kind of sloppy.
“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!
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.
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.
Being greeted the best way possible by Europe: With an amazing sunrise
Short final for 07L (new runway) in Frankfurt where we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
D-AIHH parked by the gate after the flight. I disembarked through door 1L and headed straight for the lounge.
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 🙂
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.
On board we were served sea bass. The chocolate for dessert was very sweet, but rounded the meal off nicely.
Flying next to Denmark.
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.
This is the gate for my flight, SK221 to Kristiansand. You’d think it was the last helicopter out of Vietnam.
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 🙂 Hope you enjoyed following along my trip home from Florida!
Florida – getting there
Getting to Florida is kind of a long haul for me. My trip started Saturday, January 12 with a train ride from Arendal to Oslo, where I checked in to the Radisson Blu Oslo Airport Hotel which is literally as close to the airport terminal as you can get. Very conveniently located hotel. Grabbed a pizza from the airport and headed to bed.
Next morning, Sunday January 13, started early in the A.M. People next door were playing music very loudly. At 4am I could not sleep anymore and decided to start to get ready, though my flight wasn’t until 11 am and I didn’t plan to go over to the airport until 9. Well, no rush, and after getting ready, I went down to grab some breakfast. A lot of flight crews stay at this hotel, and I saw many first officers and captains eating breakfast before a long day at work. One day….
I headed over to the airport terminal to check in. United had representatives checking passports and ESTAs separately from check-in/ bag drop. United Premier Access Priority tags were put on the two bags I checked in, and I was handed boarding passes for both my flight to Newark and my connecting flight to Orlando. Security was a breeze, as I had access to the dedicated Fast Track security lane.
A funny thing I have to mentioned, it really wasn’t too funny until I returned to Norway, but I met a girl I went to high school with at the airport in Oslo. She was headed to Tenerife with some friends. More on that later, though 😉
After passing through security, I walked through the duty free shop, took the stairs up one level and entered the SAS Scandinavian/Business lounge. In my humble opinion, it is a good lounge with a decent selection of food, drinks and after 0100 pm also liquors (stupid Norwegian laws lol)
Scheduled departure time was set to 11.15a and boarding started around 10.30a. Today’s flight to Newark, United flight 39, would be operated by the Boeing 757-200 (ex-CO) registration N57111 (Ship #3111) – a fifty-seven first delivered to Continental in 1994. I quickly located my seat on row 22, which really isn’t the 22nd row, because United is trying to standardize exit rows as 20 and 21. So my row was the first row after the exit row, and also the first row in economy class. The seats in front are 45 Economy Plus seats and 16 international BusinessFirst lie flat seats.There are a total of 108 seats in (wh)Y.
Being Star Gold and flying United, I’m in boarding group 2. Group 1 is people with special assistance, military and Global Services (the top tier within United’s Mileage Plus program, by invitation only) , as well as First class. Group 2 is business class passengers, United Plat’s and Gold and Star Alliance Gold. I was one of the first ones onboard in the economy cabin and I found my aisle seat and got seated. I figured the flight would be very full, judged by the quick glance I got of the boarding waiting area, and the seats surely filled up. Eventually a guy approached my row and told me he had the window seat. I got up and let him get to his seat. When “boarding completed” was announced, the middle seat between us was not taken. I think it was the only seat not taken in the economy cabin. Intentional or not from the gate agent, it is certainly something I value a lot when flying long international flights in economy/whY.
Well, once comfortably seated, the International Service Manager (a really funny guy) announced that he hoped Newark was in our travel plans, as this flight was a non-stop service to Newark Liberty International Airport. He said we would push back from the gate early, after the fan blades in the engines had been defrosted (freezing fog in Oslo this morning) and we then would head over to de-ice before take off.
Uh. Or not. Approaching the scheduled departure time, we were still at the gate. Turned out the cargo had been loaded too far aft in the cargo compartment, and that they had to move some of it to the front. An operation that took close to 25 minutes. Alright, once the cargo was in the right place, we were ready to go. We pushed back, stopped, then the Engine #2 started. I was anticipating the start of Engine #1.. Which never came. Then #2 spooled down and the Captain announced they couldn’t start #1. Sort of an issue when you want to cross the Atlantic.
Back to the gate, a mechanic got on board, did his magic, left, and we pushed again. This time both engines started and we could set off to the west!
Take off was interesting. I noticed they spooled the engines, with brakes applied, a lot more than usual. I’m sure it had something to do with the engine #1 not starting properly and the Captain would make sure that everything was running smoothly.
Once in the air, 90 minutes late, we were served meal number one. I got the chicken. I don’t trust the beef option on board airplanes.
I watched “The Campaign”, listened to music and read a little. When we approached the Labrador Strait, we encountered some mild turbulence that pretty much lasted for the remainder of the flight. It was so bumpy at times I had a hard time holding my book straight so I could read lol.
We landed 50 minutes late in EWR, I hurried out of the airplane and ran towards the immigration hall in Terminal C. To my big surprise, it was EMPTY, making the process a lot better. And I still had a chance to catch my connecting flight down to Orlando in.. Well, 1 hour. After a few questions, my passport got its stamp and I could head down stairs for the baggage claim. The bags took forever, I must have waited close to 20 minutes before any bags showed up on the belt. Luckily my two bags were among the first bags (Note to self: priority tags in EWR have worked 3/3 times) and I got through customs and to the baggage re-check area. I literally just dropped my bags on the floor by a United employee and ran to the nearest security check point. Having Premier Access with United this Sunday afternoon was not really a benefit, as the P.A lane in security was sooo long. I think only Star Golds flew out of EWR that day lol.
Well, I got through, got scanned by the TSA and started the looong stroll to my gate. In the other end of the terminal. Great.
I made it to the gate just as they announced the gate was closing. The gate agent asked me if I was the passenger connecting from Oslo, which I confirmed. I asked her if my bags would make it on the flight, which she assured me they would. I thanked her, scanned my boarding pass and got on the plane.
The flight to Orlando, UA1262, was operated by the Boeing 737-900 N37408 (Ship #3708)
It was delivered to Continental back in 2001.
The plane was almost empty back in whY and the flight attendant said I could just pick any seat. I originally had 22F, but there was a guy in 22D so I decided not to bother him and took 23F and had the entire row for my self.
After departure I snapped some photos of an awesome sunset and fell asleep.
We landed on RWY18L and taxiied to the gate. Once off the airplane and inside the terminal I got on the free Wifi to check emails, and then headed to baggage claim where my bags were not the first to get on the baggage belt. Business as usual in MCO with the priority tags.
The SIXT shuttle picked me up from the terminal and drove me to the off-airport location SIXT has in Orlando. It’s only a 5 minute ride but still. There was a family onboard the shuttle as well. They were Danish 😛 and arrived with Lufthansa from Frankfurt. I thought that was a long wait at MCO before they got to the car rental shuttle. Lufthansa lands around 0500p and this shuttle ride was around 0800p. Hm..
Once at the car rental place, I got the keys for my rental car for the week, a Hyundai Elantra. Not as powerful as the Sonata I rented in November, but still a good, little car for me.
I decided to stay off the Interstate this late at night (I had been up for almost 24 hours, with minimal sleep on the flight down to MCO) and drove the backroads up to Lake Mary and my hotel there. The Homewood Suites by Hilton.
Home, sweet home 🙂
I got a take-out burger from a nearby restaurant and headed to bed. A long journey was over. A good one, but a little stressful in EWR with short connection due to the delay out of Oslo.
More to come on my biennial flight review and time building later!
Why am I not surprised?
So this video of a Russian airliner has surfaced, making me appreciate the western culture for safety even more.
The airliner appears to have not been de-iced at all, violating all procedures (or?) and takes off with snow/sleet on its wings and flaps.
But this doesn’t really surprise me anymore. Back in 2010, the same airline took off from taxiway Mike, intersection Alpha 3 (pink arrow) at OSL (Oslo Airport Gardermoen, ENGK)
An Aeroflot Airbus A320-200, registration VP-BWM performing flight SU-212 from Oslo Gardermoen (Norway) to Moscow Sheremetyevo (Russia) with 60 passengers and 7 crew, was cleared for takeoff from runway 01L at about 15:20L (14:20Z), but took off a parallel taxiway. The airplane climbed out safely and continued to Moscow, where the airplane landed safely.
Frisk som en fisk
Oj, mye som har skjedd siden sist jeg skrev her. Søndag dro jeg til Oslo på formiddagen. Jeg dro til min venninne på Majorstua, la fra meg tingene og kom meg ned til Jernbanestasjonen for å hilse på Maria og Maren som egentlig var på vei tilbake til Hamar igjen etter ei helg i hovedstaden. Da Marens tog dro, gikk Maria og jeg på Fridays på Aker Brygge.
På mandagen hadde jeg flymedisinsk undersøkelse klokken 08.00 på Flymedisinsk Institutt på Blindern. Tok t-banen fra Majorstua til Blindern, og var ferdig circa klokken 10. De testet hemoglobin, tok elektrokardiogram, audiogram, bilde av øyeeplet mitt, netthinna mi, samt sjekket dybdesyn, fargesyn, blodtrykk, balanse, hvordan øret mitt klarer trykkforskjeller, spirometri (lungekapasitet) og mye annet jeg ikke aner hva er. Nå skulle det ikke være mye galt med meg! I dag dumpet legeattesten ned i postkassen min, så nå gjenstår bare en FAA (amerikansk standard) legetest når jeg kommer til Florida, men det skulle gå greit etter som den europeiske er mye mer omfattende. Det merker man på prisen for å si det slik. Den europeiske kostet meg 6325,- mens den amerikanske koster $65.
På tirsdagen var jeg på ambassadeintervju. Det gikk veldig greit, og det var jammen godt jeg ikke måtte vente lenge ute, fordi det regnet horisontalt – minst. Intervjuet gikk greit, så jeg regner med passet er meg i hende i løpet av neste uke.
På tirsdag formiddag satt jeg meg på Sørlandsekspressen tilbake til Arendal, etter et stressende og innholdsrik opphold i Oslo. På onsdag ettermiddag dro jeg til Kjevik og boardet flyet til Gardermoen med SAS. Jeg tilbragte hele onsdagen på landets hovedflyplass, i ens ærend for å se dette flyet:
Lufthansas A380-841, registrering D-AIMB og døpt “München”
Det var veldig stas. Den landet 1700 og tok av ca 1920. Mellomtiden tilbragte jeg på SAS museet, hvor jeg så på utstillingen, spilte flight simulator, kjøpte meg en SAS retro veske og fikk en kokebok inspirert av SAS sin eksklusive meny på tidligere flyturer, med tips fra flere anerkjente kokker, blant annet Eivind Hellstrøm. Kokeboka fikk jeg av sjefen ved SAS museet, Karl. Tusen takk!
Hjemigjen bar det med SAS kl 21.50, og en meget effektiv flytur tilbake til Kjevik (35 minutter)
I går fikk jeg fikset noe med nettbanken min, og bestilt nytt kredittkort. 🙂 Snart klar til avreise nå! Bare 18 dager igjen, nå 🙂
Jeg føler det er på tide med en liten oppdatering, hva Florida angår. Jeg har fått scoren på TOEFL, og jeg fikk 105 poeng, hvor 120 er maksimum poengscore. Jeg trengte “bare” 80 for å bli akseptert ved Aerosim, så da var det betryggende at jeg var godt innenfor grensen. Jeg har lest litt på hva andre universitet har som inntakskrav på TOEFL, og da fant jeg ut at eksempelvis Colombia og Harvard har 100 poeng som TOEFL-krav. Det er jo litt artig, da.
Neida, så tiden går nå frem mot avreise. I dag kjøpte jeg en duffle bag på 135 liter som jeg skal pakke det meste av klær og slikt i. Resten av tingene mine skal jeg ha i en koffert, har jeg tenkt. Jeg tracker pakken med I-20 papirene på ups.com og pr. 07.08 am i dag, var pakken “out for delivery” fra Gardermoen, så da har jeg nok den her før helgen, i alle fall. Det blir koselig å tilbringe helgen med å book intervju på ambassaden og fylle ut papirene hehe 🙂
Til søndag drar jeg til Oslo for å gjennomføre JAA class 1 medical, som jeg trodde jeg gjennomførte hos en lege i Vennesla, men som visstnok må gjennomføres på Flymedisinsk på Blindern første gangen. Jaja, skulle gå greit, legen i Vennesla mener jeg klarer med1 uten større problemer, så da satser vi på det. Har time klokken 8.00 på mandagen, så det er derfor jeg drar til hovedstaden dagen i forveien. Reiser hjem fra Oslo på mandags ettermiddag. På onsdag bærer det til Oslo igjen, men ikke Oslo by. Da skal jeg tilbringe en dag på Gardermoen, for da kommer Lufthansas A380 på besøk. Flyr med SAS t/r KRS-OSL og ser frem til det. Har ikke flydd med SAS siden februar, så da følte jeg det var på tide. 😛
Uken etter blir det sannsynligvis nok et Oslo besøk, men da for å bli intervjuet på US Embassy om F-1 visumet mitt. Regner ikke med at det skal by på noen problemer. Har allerede begynt å forberede meg litt til det intervjuet, hva jeg skal si, ikke si og så videre.
Dessuten har jeg begynt å pakke! Eller, jeg har skrevet en liste over ting jeg må ha med meg, og hva jeg ikke må ha med meg. Boblejakka skal få lov til å bli igjen i Norge, men det meste av sommerklærene skal bli med, selv om det naturligvis blir litt shopping i begynnelsen. Leiligheten jeg skal bo i er ferdig innredet, så trenger for såvidt ingen husholdningsartikler, utover det jeg kan få kjøpt på WallieWorld.
Nej, nå må jeg kanskje avslutte. xoxo.