June 10, 2011

Turkish Airlines, Istanbul…C+

I used THY for the first time from Casablanca to Istanbul.

No boarding priority for premium passengers. Legroom on business class was limited and is a bit too small for comfort. If the seat next to me had not been empty I would have been really uncomfortable. In-flight entertainment was poor. Food was surprisingly average. In fact, it was bus-like and a bit rowdy but considering where I departed from, perhaps it is to be expected.

The cabin crew seemed friendly. Yes They were informative. Not. When you ask three of them separately as to the flight time and receive three different answers, then there is something wrong. The funny part is they allow passengers from economy class to walk around in business class so we get to share the toilet with them.

I know it was in Business Class, I can not even imagine what it was like in Economy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

May 15, 2011

Lufthansa, Frankfurt…cabin crew always had a smile on their faces. They got me to my destination in a good mood.

Having the luxury to fly to different parts of the world means that I get to experience different airlines and their respective services and this particular flight on Lufthansa LH1426 from Frankfurt to Sofia on 3rd March is definitely on my top 3 list!  

I stepped inside a half-empty plane greeted by  smiling, impeccably groomed flight assistants. One thing that really stood out for me was that the flights attendants were extemely friendly, very attentive to getting you whatever you need throughout the flight.  They were a pleasure to have around, they were very helpful and kind and always had a smile on their faces. And, oh yes, they were nice to look at too.

They got me to my destination in a good mood. Danke Schon, Lufthansa!!! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

April 2, 2011

Royal Air Maroc, Casablanca…a flight not worth remembering

Filed under: Airline, Morocco, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , — PEr @ 11:25 pm

I flew on Royal Air Maroc from Barcelona to Casablanca. It was one of my most uncomfortable flight ever.

To start, there was a delay for no reason whatsoever. There was no explanation given. They seem to run at their own time.

The cabin was full. It was like a refugee camp on board. Legroom space was almost non-existent. Simply awful. The seat is cramped and  has very little recline and is worse than many airlines’ economy that I have flown. The flight was unremarkable except for being treated as cattle.

Royal Air maroc gets you there, and that’s about it. The hardware and product leaves an unfortunate impression. That’s the true truth as I say it as it is…



November 7, 2010

Russian visa…have someone who reads Russian check your visa. Will save you money, stress and time.

I now have something in common with William Browder (CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in the Russian stock market and the adviser to the award-winning Hermitage Fund), Michel Jean Legrand (French Oscar-winning composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist, famous for conducting the music for Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and the Dalai Lama (Tibet’s spiritual leader). We have all been refused entry into Russia.

If you’re traveling to Russia, you will most likely need a Russian visa. Many people think that it’s super complicated but it’s not true. However, when you get your visa it is necessary to check all information….even though everything is in Russian. You can’t imagine how much money, stress and time you can save by doing just that.

I got my Russian visa in the Russian consulate in Singapore. The error they made was they indicated my nationality as “Singaporean” on my Malaysian passport though I had completed the application form correctly.

I was denied entry when I arrived at passport control in Domodedovo airport in Moscow. They brought me to the consular office where the officer cancelled my visa and re-issued me a new one for US$10. The error he made was that he issued me a single-entry visa instead of a double-entry one which I had originally paid for and obtained in Singapore. Double-whammy. Once again, everything was written in  Russian and I couldn’t understand even if I checked.

A week later, when I boarded a  train in Helsinki at 6.30pm heading to Moscow. Four hours into the journey, when we’d passed the Russian border, customs and immigration officials came on board the train and found that my visa was not valid. Being a single-entry visa, meant that my visa had been used up when I left Moscow the week before. I was asked to disembark from the train at Vyborg, a Russian town, 38 kilometers south from the Russian border with Finland at 11.45pm near midnight. There I was instructed to wait for a taxi on the roadside and leave Russia.

I got into a taxi after almost an hour’s wait and was driven to the checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish frontier. I’ve got to be honest…the movie “Hostel” did flashed through my mind at this point as we shuttled down gravely silent, dark and deserted countryside road for over 40 minutes. The Russian officials at the checkpoint stopped a passing car and instructed the lone driver to fetch me to wherever he was going. I climbed into his car and went with him to Lappeenranta – a Finnish city some 25km from the checkpoint. The driver, Vesa is a big blond Finn who drives a Mercedes Benz ASF959, has a heart of gold. He dropped me at a hotel called Cumulus at 3.00am  and offered to pick me up the next day to Helsinki if I needed a ride.

However, I managed to get a flight on Air Baltic flight BT1384 from Lappenranta to Riga, Latvia at 0745hours and then onwards to Frankfurt on Air Baltic flight BT241 at 1305hours.

Those couple of errors on my visa, resulted in denial of my entry and totally screwed up my  plans. Therefore it is helpful to have someone who reads Russian check your visa prior to your departure from your home country.

Oh by the way, there apart from the visa lesson, a few other things I learned from this adventure:

1. Never again shall I train in this Orient Express (not. More like Ordeal Express)  from Helsinki to Moscow. The food is pathetic and the sleeping cabins are fully remote control….that is I can do everything from my bed (see photo)

2. I now know that Lappeenranta’s airport is the oldest airport in Finland.

This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

May 20, 2010

Saudi Arabian Airlines….never again. Ever!

My strong recommendation: avoid this airline like the plague. Saudi Arabian Airlines is to be avoided at all costs. Do not fly on this airline. Otherwise, this may happen to you…

BeRt and I transited in Riyadh from Jeddah on our way to Doha. Our luggages have been checked through to Doha but we had to obtain our RUH-DOH boarding pass while in transit. The staff refused to check us onto the SV542 because we did not have an electronic visa, even though we vehemently pointed out to him that the Qatar Embassy website states that Malaysian and American passport holders will have VOA (Visa on Arrival) in Doha. He then proceeded to offload one luggage while the other luggage was flown to Doha….without the passenger! We had to purchase two extremely expensive tickets to fly out of Riyadh to Dubai (on SV554) on the spot. Surprise, surprise…it was cash only sale…no credit cards accepted.We had to sprint like an Olympic gold medallist to the ATM downstairs to withdraw the SAR2,300 to pay for the tickets. It took a lot of phone calls, persuasion, cajoling, begging to get those airport staff with a major indifferent attitude to get the luggage out of Doha and re-routed to Dubai. The luggage finally arrived in Dubai 30 hours later…and in a trashed up condition as well. (Why are we not surprised anymore at this stage?)

Oh yes, that same airport staff who denied us to board the plane subsequently told us to try to fly on Qatar Airways to Doha. If he was sure that we couldn’t gain entry into the country because we did not have an electronic visa, how could we get in if we’d flown a different airline? The bloke obviously realised by then that he’d made a mistake. A few other colleagues of mine got into Doha on VOA the next day without any problems. We are of the same nationalities.

Cabin crew are rated poor for appearance, atrocious for service, poor for comprehension, equally poor for assistance during flight. The service isn’t the best in the business, but it might qualify as the worst.

Had the worst travelling experience by Saudi Arabian Airline. My review may be harsh and somewhat silly to some, but here are the ratings I will give you:

On a scale of 1-10

Value for Money : 3
Service: 2 (if you don’t mind getting burned from a flight attendant pouring tea on you then go ahead and risk it)
Seats: 4 (the plane SV1026 from Jeddah to Riyadh must be at least 30 years old)
Ground: 0 (The staff basically do not care)
Ticketing: 1 (You can’t even purchase a ticket and make payment online)

Do not consider Saudi Arabian Airlines for any travels unless you are prepared to tolerate the service, the airport and more so – if you must transit via the Kingdom. This is the absolute true truth and I am saying it as it is.

March 27, 2010

Malev Hungarian Airline…pleasantly surprisingly delightful

Filed under: Airline, Hungary, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , — PEr @ 10:56 pm

It was only a 1hr 5min flight from Warsaw to Budapest, but what a pleasantly surprisingly delightful 65 minutes that was! It certainly didn’t start that way.

We had to board through buses and the flight was (forgiveably) slightly late. You know what they say about 1st impressions?!

Service onboard was polite, professional and flawless. We got a (tasty) muffin, a juice and a cup of coffee and efficient service. The cabin crew even smiled!

It was comfortable in cattle-class. The plane was clean, comfortable seats with plenty of space – legroom was generous and seat widths were OK. Budapest airport clean and not congested. All in all, it was a good expereince and I’d have to conclude that Malev offers good value for money. That’s the true truth and I still say it as it is.

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