Monday, December 05, 2005

HKG-DXB-HKG

Well after a night in the market, I awake to find a slip of paper detailing a flight from Hong Kong to Dubai the company would like me to work today. Although my roster shows me off, I had a feeling it was coming as I was the only available First Officer. They just hadn't told me yet.

We make our way out to the airport (we have a car pick us up) and I find out it is my Captains very last flight. He is turning 65 the next day and is no longer legal to fly airliners. Of course that means its his leg to "fly" (take off and land) the aircraft and I was relegated to secondary duties, (paperwork, radio, ect...)

It was a great flight, we left on time to the minute and arrived 7 minutes early in Dubai.

Below is a picture I took. Congratulations Bob!!








The next afternoon there was a retirement party for Bob at the Hyatt in Dubai. I wanted to get the above pic printed and framed as a gift, but it was Friday AND the national holiday of UAE. It took almost 2 hrs just to find a place to print it. Eventually I was set with a frame and off to the party.

I was only able to attend for a couple of hours with my drinking limited to Diet Coke, but it was a great experience to get together with other pilots I flew with on occasion in a social setting.

A few hrs later it was back in the plane to Hong Kong. New Captain (but an old friend) and same Flight Engineer. We also had a dead heading FO travelling to HKG. He was new to the aircraft and super keen. When he inquired if it was ok if he flew and I sat (or slept in the bunk...........) I jumped at it!!!!! SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET. Love new eager people!!!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

DAYs #2-#3 -#4-#5

After my short 9 and a half hour flight (come on, its not like going to Toronto and back, its not that far). I arrive in FRA.

My bag was on the belt within 10 minutes of the plane landing and I was at my hotel with study material 15 minutes after that. I had a lot of material to cover, so I got right to it and 3 hrs later went to bed for the night.

Day #3
The next day I had a class room session, followed by a 4 hr Sim block. As is usually the case, I had not met either other crew member (the Captain or Flight Engineer), nor the examiners. I actually prefer it this was as everyone tends to stick the S.O.P's.

I emerged 4 hrs later with a sweat soaked shirt and and signature and check next to the little box that says PASS.

Glad that's done. Feeling exhausted (and a little jetlagged) I go back to bed.
(Exciting stuff isn't ;)

Day #4

I manage to sleep till 9am FRA time, then have to gather my wordly good together back in the suitcase. I have a noon flight to Brussels on Lufthansa. Breaky of chocolate covered everything (this is Germany remember) , and off to the airport.

Check-in in was quick and painless, 1A in Business assigned and I am off to the LH Senator Lounge. The lounge itself is nice, but filled with Germans who are all smoking. I found it difficult to be in there even 2 minutes. I left and sought out the United Red Carpet Club. Non-smoking, quiet, nice..

The flight to BRU was on one of my favorite aircraft a BAE146. Air Canada stopped using them a few years back, so I am always pleased to find one overseas to travel on. Drinks, lunch, more drinks, and chocolate were all served during the 40 minute flight.

In BRU, I met up with the crew who would fly me to Dubai. My schedule has me dead heading on a company aircraft to HKG via Dubai.

Upfront the boys got the preflight of the aircraft done, while I preflighted the bunk. All our aircraft have 2 or 3 beds to sleep in. I was asleep before we took off and didn't wake up till the guys landed us in Dubai. My sleep was SOLID.

That crew got out in Dubai, while a new crew joined to take me the rest of the way. I was fairly well rested so I watched movies, read and served coffee to the guys up front.

Not too much longer the green waters of the South China Sea surrounded us and we descended once again in Fragrant Harbour (Hong Kong means fragrant harbour in Cantonese). I missed this place.


Quickly to my apartment, a quick shower and email check and I am off to the Temple Street Night Market and dinner at Wing Fat..

Dinner on the street sitting on buckets. Only in HKG!

Saturday night in Hong Kong. A week long retrospective Day #1


Ok. Its 610pm here. If I want to go out tonight I promised myself I would do this.

Too bad for you, as had I done this it would have been a very different read.."and thennnnssss I sayed toooo the cop go to............"

So lets avoid that!

So this is what a B747 pilot did this week since ending the mileage run.

Day #1: Last day of the mileage run (or at least the flight pass portion of it).
The only flight pass trip I have is from Vancouver to Calgary where my itinerary continues to Frankfurt on a separate ticket. I was required in FRA for recurrent Simulator (something we do ever 6 months)

4 days out I was able to confirm myself into 1A on the B767 to Calgary. Its a single seat in Business class (seating configuration 1-2-2). Sweet. The next leg to FRA was another story. My company only booked that ticket 2 days before. There was one Business Class seat showing available that won't be released till the day of departure at the gate.

Not looking good!!

The first flight is fine, the in charge FA is a Commercial pilot and we chatted a bit about his past job dropping parachutists in Southern Ontario. Arriving into Calgary, I make my way to the Maple Leaf Lounge and find a Concierge to harass about my upgrade.
Good News, there are now 2 seats open in Business and 1.5 hrs till flight time. Settling my self with a beverage (Jack and Diet Coke IIRC) I surf the net and fax Boarding passes into Aeroplan :)

I departed the lounge hopefully and made my way to the gate.
The crowds were lessening and I station my strategically so as to be able to access the agent at the podium when my name is called.....

Waiting.


Waiting.....

Ok Already...Finally I am the only guy in the boarding lounge and I began to sense something was asckew. I gathered up my things to enquire with the agent. "Ohhh Yes Mr.Tacchi, I saw your name on the top of the list, one second please."

Wait ... wait... "Hmm Sir, it seems Business is now full. The must have been some last minute passengers......"

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....F*ck F*ck F*ck...

"What I can do" she proffers "is give you all of row 15 (3 seats) to yourself."

Resigning myself to Economy (really not that bad on Air Canada), I thank her for the effort and board the plane.

As I approached my row, I could see some German was trying to poach my seat. I figured if I challenged him for a BP he would feign ignorance and move. He did. I had my row.

Unpacking my friends pillow , Ipod and book I settle myself in for the duration. Just then, the Gate agent approaches..."Mr Tacchi, good news those last two passengers in business cancelled their flight. Please move to row 2.

Speechless I gather my possessions, attempt to express my gratitude, and move. (I think I was out of there in about 1.5 seconds)


Rest of the flight was uneventful I watched Midnight Cowboy and Lawerence of Arabia on the DVD.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

For those who are interested,

Check back on Saturday Night. I will do a post on my Trip from Canada to Frankfurt to Dubai to Hong Kong to Dubai to Hong Kong. The life of a B747 pilot...

Marc

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

1 Million Miles



  • News Article #1



  • News Article#2

  • Ok.. so I actually got to a Million a few days ago.

    Work commitments and work travel (another 11,000 miles) have kept me from updating the blog.

    So some totals -
    Mileage earned: 1,003,625
    Current Flight Segments in Aeroplan account: 276
    Days I have been in an airplane: 56 out of the last 61.
    Favorite Air Canada aircraft: B767-300
    Times I have seen March of the Penguins: 0
    I never actually got thru it without falling asleep.

    and finally..weight change: +8lbs.

    I attribute it to the lack of on board fruit plates in November led to increased consumption of cookies in the Maple Leaf Lounges..and what's a cookie without a glass of Baileys????

    What's next? Well I have travelled 3/4 a way around the world in the last 3.5 days and completed my bi annual simulator session in Frankfurt (Calgary Frankfurt on Air Canada :) )

    I am now in Hong Kong. Within 4 hrs of moving into my apartment I had a house guest. Fellow mileage runner Sean, in the middle of 6 back to back transpacific segments, rang me up and took advantage of my fresh digs to shower and sleep the 8 short hrs between his flights to from Chicago - to Chicago. Then back to Bangkok!

    --------------

    What's next?

    Well I can recommend the following blog or a very good friend who is the IT Manager on the MV Constellation Celebrity Cruise ship:

  • Carrie's Cruise Ship Blog


  • Those who have not checked out Flyertalk really need to

  • FLYERTALK


  • The information is as current as you will find anywhere, the people friendly, and the chance you will score some $20 Business Class tickets to Shanghai very high :)


    I myself need to get to bed in a prone position for some serious rest,

    Thank you to everyone at Air Canada, Aeroplan, and Flyertalk. This past two months has been a fantastic experience, and I met some truly exceptional people.

    Thank you all, and good night.

    Marc

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    875,000+


    For those keeping score I have earned 875,000K (+/-500) as of this very moment.

    I have 9 flying days to complete another 45,000 or so actual miles that will equate to the remaining 125K I need.

    I think I have managed to change work dates as well... fingers crossed. We are getting there!!!

    Marc

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Golf Carts

    Next time you are passing thru YVR keep a lookout for Air Canada's fancy painted golf carts. The come in various sizes for twosomes or foursomes, and are done in 13 different painted styles. (I have been led to believe there are 13 - I have seen 11 so far..but YVR is a big place.

    UPDATE: I have now met Wayne D who works for Air Canada with these carts. There are 20 of them! Keep an eye out.


















    Pictured are the TCA 60th Anniversary Cart, the Beautiful British Columbia Cart, The Australia Cart, and the Dreams Take Flight 10th Anniversary Cart

    Karma



    Having managed a free opup on AC137 (way oversold in economy) I was presented with a means to repay fate.

    Leaving the MLL (Maple Leaf Lounge), I noticed a small piece of plastic on the floor. When I went to pick it up, I found it to be a Sony Memory card for a digital camera. Closer examination revealed the owners name written in small letters on the stick.

    Being the creative problem solver I am, I nipped back into the MLL and asked the agent to run the name in the computer for this evenings departure to Toronto. Sure enough I found out they were on the same flight I was and sitting in 37E.

    I wandered down to the gate and upon boarding presented the item to the onboard Purser with the passenger’s details. He ensured it got to her and relayed her thanks to me back up front after the “delivery”.

    All in a days “work”.

    Just think, if I never purchased this pass, I would never be on this redeye to Toronto and never found the item on my way to the flight…Perhaps I should bill her $7000 for the Memory stick??

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    So…whats been going on.


    I realize that the blog isn’t as current as most would like. Its just the keeping on doing this requires a lot of time and the time I am not flying I do have to devote to family and work.

    Lots is happening on both those fronts. However, we will soldier on.

    As far as my travels with Air Canada have gone, 99% of them have been without incident. Occasionally there is a weather delay (who knew Winnipeg was going to receive 33cm of snow yesterday..) or fog out here on the coast, but all in its been positive.



    Mileage total.

    I am now closing in on a million. To date I have earned 416,000 (actually in account) 270,000 Threshold bonus (yet to post – First week of December Aeroplan tells me)
    And 81 boarding passes totaling 65,000 (+ 32,500 and 16,250 bonus’) and 1500ish from the second payment to flight pass (online booking points)

    Total actually earned and flown is 801,250

    I have another 40 K of travel planned by the 20th (which will give me 70K in my account)
    So going into the home stretch of the last 10 days I will need to earn 129,000 points OR
    75,000 actual miles ( 7500 a day (which was the original daily requirement – so I am on track )

    Unfortunately, my work schedule is now threatening to take me to Frankfurt for the last week of the month. This will entirely undermine my attempts and leave me rather short!! (depending on whether they fly me on Air Canada to Europe or not J)

    I will update this in the coming days to reflect my progress

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Countdown to a million....

    Although actual "in the account" miles are lacking, miles earned and not yet credited are now over 760,000 miles. I have 65 boarding passes that have yet to credit (plus their associated bonuses) and the threshold gifts have yet to post.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    From The Ground - Week Five Date Night

    This week's date night took place in Anaheim. I was on business in the LA area and Marc's pass allowed him to join me for the Friday evening. I had been to the Disney resort in California about 18 months ago and was eager to go again.

    Marc was not impressed with the drive from LAX to Anaheim for two reasons; firstly, it's Los Angeles, so a 30 mile drive takes an hour and a half at 5pm on a friday, and second, my rental car, a Chevy Aveo, did not impress him...at all.

    I must first explain that I am a travel snob. I want to sit in 1A on every flight I take. The only airline I will make an exception for is Singapore Airlines as I find their Raffles Class product fantastic. In terms of hotels, if my room number is not preceded with the word "suite", I am not happy. But with rental cars...I just don't care. You can rent me a 25 year old Le Car and it doesn't matter to me. I only love one car - and that's the one I own. I wouldn't trade it for the world, so when it comes to renting a compact or an intermediate - whatever - doesn't matter. Marc wasn't impressed with the ride - even when I pushed it to 145kph on the freeway. Even I was worried that some of the Aveo's plastic bits were going melt from the speed.

    We went to Downtown Disney for dinner at Tortilla Joe's, and walk around the shops. My big purchase was a candy apple which later that evening I decided to consume before I went to bed. Now, for those of you that do not regularly consume the equivalent of a ten pound bag of sugar before you go to sleep, you will understand the tummy ache I had all night. Even the next morning, I showered, dressed and was out of the room in search of toast and tea, even before Marc knew what day it was. The sugar hangover I had was unbelievable. It lasted all the way to the airport, and I must have looked like hell because as I entered the Alaska Boardroom they just looked at me and asked, "Advil or Tylenol?".

    Yup - you didn't read incorrectly. Alaska Airlines MVP Gold. That's right! I have NO status on Air Canada...would've been Prestige this year, but they changed the rules on me. So I give my money to Alaska..correction - I give my employers money to Alaska.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Back in Business

    Well, that was quick. Air Canada has outdone themselves. I posted the below comment while I was in Toronto, just prior to boarding AC137 . On landing in Vancouver, I had am email that it was fixed. All is working now!

    Tommorow.

    Vancouver to Victoria
    Victoria to Vancouver

    massage, rinse, and repeat.

    Grounded....












    An IT issue with between Air Canada and IBM seems to have caused my flight pass to disappear. :)

    I am still flying on some previously booked flights, but come Monday I am not booked.
    AC is working very hard to fix the problem.
    Just one more hiccup on the way to my Million.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    In the event of rapid depressurization, oxygen masks will fall..


    So there I was, watching "Supercross" the movie, praying that Supercross 2 is never made and totally not understanding how Air Canada picked this as a movie for all the month of November..When all the sudden Pop..flop.. there are 3 emergency oxygen masks hanging in front of me. Just me.

    Being me, I think 2 thoughts, 1."OK..so I am the only one that gets to breath, I better get ready to defend my oxygen." and 2. "Obviously this is a mistake, I would look really stupid if I put it on and activated the O2" (and cost AC some $$ and a delay to fix the system.)

    I flag a passing FA, she is as bewildered as me. In the end the system was stuffed back into the overhead area. The Captain later decided that it might not deploy should I actually need to use it, so it was pried open by my seat mate with a credit card and left hanging for the duration of the flight.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Musing...more to come.


    Apologies for the lack of updates- things are getting hectic.

    Updates on my totals:

    Boarding passes in my possession = 213

    Miles flown = 169,000+ Status miles

    Bonuses = 295,000+

    Total Miles Earned = 464,000+










    Oy! My Ass

    The A321 seat is getting to me. The only piece of leather in the plane is the piece that holds up the safety briefing cards in front me..…why isn’t this soft, supple leather under my butt?

    Half a burger.

    My snack delivery service failed me Monday night – my order of a Harvey’s hamburger was – half a burger. I had ordered a full burger, but Harveys was closed. Instead Beth went to Burger King and got a double cheese burger. Since I had only ordered a “burger” she thought it was ok to eat half first…I arrived to find a half eaten double burger… When the subject was broached, she looked me in the eye and said.. “if you don’t want it, I will finish it.”

    From The Ground - A girlfriend's perspective...part II

    The gas fumes from constantly filling up the gas tank due to trips to the airport must be getting to me. I’m starting to unravel…here’s the evidence.

    The other day I’m standing in the kitchen and yell into the bedroom – “Would you like anything to drink?”

    “Uh ya, grab me an apple juice!” he replies. I lean further into the fridge thinking…apple juice... apple juice…I don’t remember buying apple juice anytime in the past five years. I shake my head, pour him a glass of Crystal Light, walk into the bedroom and hand it to him. He thanked me, looked at it oddly, and started to open his mouth to say something. I left the room.

    Two days later – same kitchen, same question. “Would you like a drink?” I ask.

    “I’ll have a Guinness please!” he says. That’s when I lose it.

    “Look Dude – this isn’t the freaking Maple Leaf Lounge! We don’t have a fridge full of 50 varieties of soft drinks and 25 beers to choose from. Right now you can have Crystal Light, Diet Coke, skim milk or tap water.” I embellish this statement with arms flailing, even though he can’t see me. “And while we are on this topic, there is no choice of entrée at dinner. EVER. And I’m gonna be straight with you buddy, if you don’t like tacos and bagels you’re in the wrong house.”

    And just because I was annoyed – I shot this out of my mouth also; “One more thing, I realize you don’t have time to do as much laundry as usual, and lord knows I won’t do it – but, those jeans you found from a few years ago that are tapered at the bottom? They aren’t a good look for you or anyone that isn’t wearing cowboy boots and riding a bucking bronco. These jeans are banned from being seen anywhere but the Calgary Stampede, and from now on we will refer to them as the “Stampede Jeans”. If you wear them outside of Calgary you will be openly mocked.”

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m usually a polite, shy creature who couldn’t be sweeter if you added sugar…it’s gotta be those gas fumes.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Fogged in...kind of...



    During Sunday’s radio interview with 2UE in Australia, I was asked about any problems that I have encountered. I thought for a minute, and replied that everything in the first 3 weeks has gone mostly according to plan. I am at my mileage targets (closing in on 400,000 now), meeting some incredible people, and as far as the actual flying goes, everything has been on time with no missed flights. (OK…one day I chickened out and cancelled a short round trip across the water, but it was more my poor initial decision to have a 15 minute space between the two and some possible weather issues that had me reconsider that one.)

    After five flights today I almost got nailed. We landed in Victoria at 8pm. An hour earlier it was clear and warm and now, getting off the Dash 8, I had trouble seeing the terminal building for the fog. Yikes! A few seconds later, I was deafened by the sound of an aircraft executing a missed approach. Oh boy, this is NOT looking good!

    An attempt was made to board the plane quickly in hopes that we could take off prior to the fog closing the airport. We taxied back out and waited…the first officer came on the PA and announced that the visibility was fluctuating, but not quit up to minimums. We would wait thirty minutes and then head back to the terminal. Well, sooner than later – we were taxing back in (needed more gas), and though the fog was lifting, my blood pressure was going with it - I have a flight to Montreal to catch! After a 90 minute delay – we were on our way.

    I arrived in Vancouver at 2240 for my 2320 flight. Plenty of time, but I needed to wash the stress of the evening down with a glass of red from the Maple Leaf Lounge prior to boarding.


    Good call on my part (picking the Montreal flight), as we saw the return of the POT ROAST!



    It’s Back!!! I had to skip the fruit plate. My long gone friend has returned! And mmm mmm mmm was it good.

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    From The Ground - a girlfriend’s perspective.



    I admit, I was a skeptic when the idea for the GCMR 2005 was initially put on the table. I laughed, I mocked, and then I got down to business. I needed many things to approve this; an ROI document outlining the break-even point and maximum thresholds, a “no complaining” clause, and an agreement on “date night”. Once a week we must have a date. We settled on Friday nights, as it just made sense for both of us. Now being a flexible woman (everyone who knows me better stop laughing right now!), I knew there would be times when I would have to adjust my schedule to accommodate a Friday night that was not going to work for Marc.



    Last Friday night was one of those times. I went to work early that morning, with the intention of coming home in the afternoon briefly and taking Marc back to the airport. He had flown in from work earlier in the day, did some errands and was getting ready for his overnight to Winnipeg. He had made plans to have dinner with a group of people at one of his favorite restaurants, spending some time socializing. No problem with that, I was adjusting my schedule to have a Saturday night “date night”.



    Dropping Marc off at the airport, he made an excuse to get me into the terminal with him. Nothing much surprises me anymore, so I didn’t find it odd that we were heading to security to meet some people. I was hanging behind a little and following him as he walked up to security and handed over two boarding passes! WHAT?!? Where was I going? There is no dinner is there? Where are you taking me? I was confused, excited, back again to confused…”where am I going?”



    “Winnipeg. It’s “date night.” he says.



    I started laughing and realized that he had taken my mini-meltdown a few days earlier to heart. He wanted me to experience my own little part of the GCMR, and didn’t want to neglect “date night”. What a guy.



    Hopped into the lounge for a quick drink and then on the plane. A quiet three hours for me to read my book, and for Marc to…well, sleep. From the moment the plane pushes back to the wheels hitting the ground on the landing – he’s sleeping. No wonder he keeps saying this is easy, and this is the most rested he’s ever been.



    We are picked up at the airport by Bob and take the scenic route to Paradise restaurant on Portage. We had a wonderful dinner with lots of wine and great conversation. Sally and Stewart were gracious enough to give us a tour of Winnipeg (my first time there), and drop us at our hotel.





    Up early the next morning as Marc needs to continue racking up those miles! Into the MLL in Winnipeg, and I thought to myself – well, this is probably the only time I’m going to fly with him during this, and I’m curious as to how many people actually know about his mileage run… I walk up to the desk where he is standing and say to one of the ladies, “Have you heard about that guy who is doing all the flying to get the million miles?”



    “Oh yes, we have actually – there was something written about him.”



    “That’s the guy.” I point to Marc and start to giggle. I left him to tell them about it and gathered our bags, as the GCMR must go on. He is starting his fourth week tomorrow, and closing in on 500,000 miles. That’s quite a milestone. Am I supposed to get a gift or something? What does one get for someone’s 500,000th mile anniversary? Hmmm…something to think about.



    And WOW, was “date night” ever fun!

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    13hr Delay of my "job"..stuck in LA what to do

    After arriving in LAX to pick the aircraft for my job, I was told that it had been delayed to maintenance...13hrs.

    What to do what to do..

    A quick log in to Air Canada's flight pass system and I am on my way from LAX to Toronto on the red eye. With a 55 minute connection in Toronto on my way back to LAX.

    4500 flight miles( X 2.75 = 12,375 actual) and a savings of hotel cost for me :)

    I arrived back in LA with 3 hrs to spare before going to work!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    How many Dash-8's can you see?


    Poor weather this am in Vancouver caused many delays. Parking was at a premium. Fortunately, I was on my way to LAX.

    The “Baby Barbie” jet grows up into a confused teen


    The most hated of all Air Canada aircraft has been the Canadair CL65 RJ. Even more than the medieval A321 torture seat, this aircraft as a whole caused ones back to hunch (assuming you are over 3 and half feet tall), neck to twist (the windows are 1 foot below your eye line) and encouraged a relationship with your seatmate that mimics a Broadway-worthy performance as Siamese twins. After years of complaints, Bombardier has come up with their “Mark II” version, the Canadair 705 RJ. Today I had the opportunity to experience the “improved” product.

    Walking down the jet way my first thoughts were; “Dear God, three hours in this thing…it looks the same…ackkk!” Stepping aboard, I instinctively assumed the “RJ Crouch” and I was surprised to be able to stand straight. The floor on this model has been lowered allowing one to stand up straight , and at the same time “raising” the window height so anyone older than three can see out the window. Very positive.

    The plane has an Executive Class section (another positive) and I was seated in 1A. Immediately this proved to be a very poor seat choice. Directly across the aisle (I could reach my arm and touch it) is the Business Class lavatory. I suppose this is Canadair’s idea of in-flight entertainment, complete with “smell-o-vison”. Fun games you can play include; “What did that guy have for dinner last night?” and “What the hell is she doing in there for 15 minutes?”. Fortunately, the Executive Class Cabin only had 3 out of 9 seats filled, so after one round of the toilet game, I was able to relocate myself to 3A.


    For a three hour flight from Regina to Toronto, the lack of an oven for warm food is a big disappointment. It did not affect my fruit plate meal, but the other passengers noticed and commented on the lack of a hot meal service. I understand the business jet version of the aircraft has hot galleys, so I can only assume that the lack of them here is Air Canada’s doing, not the manufacturer.

    Other disappoints include; lack of audio-visual entertainment (Coming Soon – or so says the sticker plastered to the seat in front of me), lack of in-seat power (for a brand new airplane it should be standard) and the “plasticy-ness” of everything. It feels like the Kia of airplanes. While it is a substantial improvement over its predecessor, it still seems like a small airplane trying to act like a big one. Like a confused teen trying to look older with Mommy’s makeup.

    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    Look Mom ...No Wallet


    Just to mix it up a bit, I forgot my wallet, cash, credit cards etc... So for the past 2 flights and next 24hrs hrs I will be relying on Air Canada exclusively to feed, water, and wash me :)Fortunately, my passport was with my work stuff, so I have the required photo ID.

    This was too easy, I had to make it harder somehow :)

    Again apologies for the tardiness of the update. Work ran long, then it was straight into racking up the miles. Hopefully Sunday Night I can update more.

    Today is 1/4 way done. 45 days to go. So far I am on track in accumulating. Total miles flown is in the neighbourhood of 85,000+ which is 234,000 actual + 10K one time bonus, purchase bonus 1,250, check in 250 and a few hotel points has me in the 250,000 Aeroplan miles range.

    There is a problem getting most to post, so hard numbers will not be available till a week or two after this is over I would think.

    Boarding pass in hand, I am dashing to my next flight AC 156 YVR-YYZ. Cya.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    At work.

    Take off in Dubai

    OK. I am at work now and will be unable to Blog till Friday night. So don't check back till then. For those interested I have added some shots of the B747 Freighter I fly.

    M.



    Ready to Fly in Anchorage



    A view of the main deck empty of all pallets and freight

    The Photo Shoot


    You should have seen it...it was like the Red Carpet at the Oscars.
    People yelling my name so I would turn their way to get a good shot,girls screaming as I walked by...oh wait! That was my dream last night......oh well, maybe soon.

    Met Chris, the photog, minutes after I stepped off a Victoria to Vancouver flight.We were ushered by Kate the YVR PR associate through security and into the terminal.Pictures taken in front of a window with an AC plane in the background, and others by the gate. I hope people realize I don't actually sit at the gate waiting for flights...I do have lounge access...geesh!

    It seemed like 500 photos later, and I had to run to catch another flight. I was asked by Kate what the hardest part of this whole thing was, and I mentioned the media was the most difficult to deal with. I barely have time to answer emails,make phone calls, eat, and do all the other regular things in life. And now I am coordinating interviews and photo shoots to fit in between. I'm sure the likes of Mel Gibson and John Travolta feel this way too...but Travolta, wow...he's got his own plane - how do I get one of my own?

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Mileage Update


    OK. Finally a break to update my blog. Half-way thru Week Two and things are getting crazy! I can barely manage the time to book more flights on Air Canada's website. The press interviews and actual flying are taking too much time. Thank goodness I get to go to work tommorow...some much needed solitude in the cockpit.

    To date I have now flown 72 flights equalling over 75,000 actual miles, netting some 206,000+ miles in my account, including bonuses, as of October 11th. A highlight for me came when I picked my first threshold bonus for 150,000 Annual Status miles (already had 100K before I started this venture). Yes, it was exciting, and yes ...I am a virgin, it was my first time. Choices I had were;
    a) Upgrades and Lounge Passes - uh...no thanks, don't need any lounge passes. I'm seeing so much of the lounge at YVR that yesterday I stopped myself right before I said to one of the friendly lounge staff, "OK honey, see you in an hour!"

    b) A $200 voucher to a bath products store - again, no. It's already a challenge to navigate the bathroom which is littered with assorted creams, balms, and lotions. Why would I do that to myself?

    c) 35,000 bonus miles - oh ya baby! Isn't that the whole point of this?


    More soon, sorry for the delay,

    Marc

    Sunday, October 09, 2005

    Hungarian Madness

    Sitting down on my 2nd of 4 Vancouver Toronto flights I knew I was in trouble.
    Whether I was tipped off by the early 80's lime green pants suit she was wearing or the MALEV sticker ( MALEV is the national airline of Hungary)plastered to her chest, I am not sure.

    No I think it was the Odour. If Chanel bottled it, it would likely be called Farm Animal, or perhaps Backed Up Toilet. (FYI CHANEL I HAVE RIGHTS TO THOSE 2 NAMES :) )

    We have all been seated next to someone on the plane that immediately made us wish we were somewhere else. Like at the Dentists Office. Getting our teeth drilled. With no anesthetic.... This individual chose to tell me her life story. I know, I know...I should be nice and helpful to the Eastern European Granny...but honestly..
    4 hrs of non stop chatter is too much.

    Oh did I mention she didn't speak a word of English?

    On Time. Every Time

    Air Canada's On Time Performance is Exceptional

    I need to take a moment and acknowledge this. Without this consistency, I would be in a world of trouble. Today I flew 4 Vancouver - Toronto segments. They average 4.20 minutes each way in the AIR. Throw in 15 minutes on either end for boarding and you'll see that in a 19hr period, I spent 18+ on board an Air Canada aircraft. My ground times have been averaging in the 30 minute range between flights.

    Thumbs Up AC!!

    Special Thanks to my Chauffeur




    One of the funniest moments this week came when Carrie (my chauffeur) received an email forwarded from one of her friends. It was the news story about my trip. Her friend had no idea she was involved in the campaign

    THANK YOU CARRIE and MAGGIE the MIATA.

    Fabulous Fruit Plate Fiesta






    I have received many emails asking me about the fruit plates. I have received even more coveting glances from seatmates. The gentleman next to me last night offered to buy it from me!! Here are some pics.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    In the papers....All of them




    Too many to post. As of this morning I am famous as far as South Africa! Macleans Magazine has contacted me for an interview (a Canadian version of Time Magazine for those from outside Canada.

    Pics from the road - or air as it were.

    Week One Math

    First week is done. I am typing this from the prone position in bed.

    Week One Totals

    32 Flights X 500 miles (min) = 16,000
    5 Flights X 2288 (YVR-YUL) = 11,440
    2 Flights X 1320 (YYZ/YUL-MIA)= 2640
    7 Flights X 2078 (YVR-YYZ) = 14,560
    = 44,640 total over 46 Flights



    250 Check-In Bonus (one time only)
    2333 Online purchase bonus (one time only)
    10,000 Bonus for 100K Miles flown (one time only)
    44,640 Mileage flown
    44,640 100% Threshold Bonus %
    22,320 50% Elite bonus
    11,160 25 % Rise in Shine bonus

    135, 343 total miles earned./ 864,657 to earn.


    For those thinking whats the point? It's impossible to redeem Air miles, Air Canada allows its Super Elite Status members to book any seat on any flight so long as it's open. Even if it is a revenue seat, they will make it an award seat. It is the best program of its kind.

    Meal Reviews.

    Asian Vegetarian = Bangkok Whore.

    Not pretty Thai food I longed, the food arrived in the dark of night at 0130 on my way to Montreal. While it was tempting, fear of the odd smell and morning remorse got the better of me. I didn’t dare do the deed.

    4 0ut 10 forks.. intriguing, but not

    Childs Meal = well not for my child. Or dog.

    Pea’s and Alphagetti . I opened it and almost lost the contents on my stomach. I was figuring on grill cheese or chicken fingers. Not this. Totally 100% inedible.

    0 out 10 forks... Just plain bad.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    The First News Article

    See story here;

  • News Story #1

  • and here

  • News Story #2

  • and here

  • News Story #3



  • Mostly true, except I fly B747, not B767 :)

    My Day Job

    6 Days in. An Accounting of sorts.

    I am home for a few hours before I fly to Montreal on AC 182.
    While I can't do full post (come back tommorow) I will give everyone a brief rundown on how things are progressing.

    1) Since the 1st of Oct I have flown on 41 flights.
    2) Roughly translated into 40,000 miles flown.
    3) 40,000 miles translates into 120,000 including all bonus/promotions.

    4) I have lost 3.5 lbs since starting. AC's breakfast is doing me in! Ack...

    5) I gave a 15 minute phone interview to the Canadian Press this afternoon.

    6) I now know many of the Maple Leaf Lounge Agents names by heart.
    Some of their kids and grandkids too. :)

    When is a delay not a delay?

    When you confine your travel to all one aircraft. Despite poor weather on the West Coast, yesterday was a success. I had to cancel my first flight due to on going delays. I decided the only way to salvage the day was to find out what a particular crew and aircraft were scheduled to fly, then stick with them. My flights were "delayed - with respect to scheduled times", but as I stuck with the plane I was laughing all the way to the (mileage) bank :)

    Special thanks to Jazz FA Linda.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Where's the pot roast?


    After 10 transcons (Vancouver to Toronto/Vancouver to Montreal) in 4 days I have become addicted to the pot roast. What is this? “No Pot Roast Tuesday”? There was salmon, chicken and some sort of beef, along with crappy breakfast omelets, that have been on the menu for 3 years (and hey Air Canada, everyone hates them – why do you think you have problems with the lav every morning?)…but no pot roast.
    In lieu of pot roast, I have now decided I am going to try all the special meals in the AC inventory and rate them in my blog.

    I will start with the fruit platter…depending on the time of day this can range from a slice of orange and two grapes, to a full-on Carmen Miranda hat. So, for this meal – I really cannot give it a general rating…but the last one I had was full of melon (cheapest fruit around I guess…) and I give it 6/10 forks.

    I have discovered the most valuable item you can take on this odyssey is a pillow…the pillow is useful for sleeping and for protection against those medieval torture devices – A321 seats. More than one flight attendant gazed longingly at my nice fluffy pillow.

    I went to Miami for 2 hours with a leather satchel – I thought there might be some indecent probing going on due to the irregularity of this type of itinerary. But NO – after seeing my mitt full of boarding passes both ladies at US and Canada customs thought it was hilarious. From the airplane to customs to my next flight was only 12 minutes – unheard of! Two thumbs up for the border agents with a sense of adventure!

    Wednesday morning brings the start of a two-night adventure – and a straight 60 hours in transit. Check back regularly to hear about my next dining experience…Air Canada’s Asian Vegetarian…do I actually get an Asian vegetarian? If so – I prefer Thai girls.

    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    End of the first shift, tomorrow's a new day!!!

    First of all, I'd like to thank Air Canada for hosting me for the past 36 hours. In this time I have been provided with transport, meals, beverages, showers, movies, and an opportunity to mingle with my fellow flyers. The experience has been relatively painless, and this further motivates me to complete my goal.

    A few anecdotes from the past two days;
    A big thumbs up to Gillette Invisible Solid Cool Wave Deodorant. This stuff lasts a long time, I mean a really long time. After 1 application on Saturday morning, 14 flights, a shower and a change of clothes (didn't have it to re-apply) I returned home 36 hours later, just as fresh as I left.

    Thumbs down to the A321 Executive Class Seats - the only people who could find these things comfortable, are those crazy guys who sleep on a bed of nails with concrete blocks on top of them. While I would have liked to sleep through both red eyes, I was kept awake watching all the other passengers writhe in pain in their unsuccessful attempts to doze. The individual who designed these seats, and certainly the one who approved them, needs to be kicked in the teeth - NO - they need to be forced to sleep in one of these on an all-night flight. It's ridiculous. One lucky fellow fell asleep, good for him! I suppose this is a compliment to the Airbus noise levels, but he was snoring so loud, if it wasn't the seats keeping us from sleep, it would have been him. At one point, a few of us were getting concerned that no human could snore that loud - he must be choking to death on his tongue. A special thank you to my friend Jeff who met me at the gate on sunday morning - good surprise.

    YVR - YYJ/ YYJ - YVR/ YVR - YYJ....you get it, right? 8-14 minutes flying - 500 miles credit each leg- no problem, I could do this all day. I thought Executive First across the country was easy? Having done a few of these, this has got to be the easiest way to reach my goal. Just a quick 300+ round trips to Victoria and I've achieved my goal. :)

    Lastly - I'd like to thank the Air Canada crew and staff who are so interested in this experience and have been so helpful today in assisting with the minutia this trip entails. FYI to all - saving the Executive Class chocolates, to give to the check-in agent in exchange for printing all 10 of your day's boarding passes - priceless.


    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    AC142 - The Inaugural flight

    Day 1 : Flight One

    Air Canada 142 Vancouver to Toronto.

    Air Canada has decided to reward me for checking in online this am with 250 Bonus Miles.

    A nice start, Only 999,750 to go .

    Unfortunately the bonus is only available once.

    The inaugural flight is on an Airbus 330, widely considered the premier aircraft in the fleet due to its international Executive First seating and Audio/Video on demand (AVOD).

    On arrival at the Vancouver Airport, my Super Elite status (for having already flown Air Canada over 100,000 miles this year) assured my upgrade to 5K in Executive First Class.

    The flight load itself was extremely full in economy. This resulted in a great number (20+) Air Canada Employees also getting upgraded. Regardless the service level was maintained by Rob (Purser) and his crew.

    Prior to the flight I had preordered a fruit plate as a special meal. Seeing as I will be eating a lot of meals on Air Canada, I figure maybe I can eat healthily. To that end I weighed myself this morning. I won’t do it again till the end of this adventure. Hopefully we will be down ;)

    On board, I had a selection of 15+ movies or Tv shows. I watched one called Crash.
    It very well could be the best film I have seen this year. A very rare and honest glimpse of 21st century life. I highly recommend it.

    Flight departed on time, and arrived early.

    2078- miles flown
    2078- % of Total threshold bonus
    1039- Super Elite bonus
    519 - Rise and Shine Miles promotion
    250 – Online check in bonus

    AC 142: 5964 miles earned/ 5964 miles total/ 994,836 to fly.

    Day One starts...up at 4am!


    Why 4am you ask? Well, after 2 solid hours of sleep, my little "worry-wart" comes to bed and dreams about gate agents and boarding passes without Aeroplan numbers written on them. I gave up attempting to sleep at 4am, and figured I'd catch some zzzz's on my first leg of the day.

    An easy 21 minute drive to YVR, and I was boarding the flight in seat 5G at 7:45am. Mmmm...looking forward to my fruit plate.

    posted by ghostwriter

    Friday, September 30, 2005



    There it is, the first Boading Pass. Oddly, Aeroplan Super Elite # is not shown. I am waitlisted for Business ;)

    T - 13hrs Air Canada's Running scared!

    Just got home and checked my email and phone messages.

    1) Multiple phone messages about Air Canada's concern about the amount of trips booked.
    Apparently I can be significantly contributing to Air Canada's overbooking problem.

    FYI AC. I am showing up. Don't overbook.

    2) Email warning about missing flights costing me $125 charged to my CC.

    Let the games begin!!

    "People say I'm crazy...

    ...doing what I'm doing."

    John Lennon wrote that, and I'm living it right now.

    This blog is to chronicle my travel and adventures over the next 60 days, in my quest to attain 1 million aeroplan miles using the Air Canada Flight Pass which provides me with "unlimited" (ya, we'll see) travel in North America.

    Why do this? Why subject myself to overnights in cramped seats, bad food in cold dishes, and movies without nudity? I guess you'll have to tune in every few days to read all about it. :)

    posted by ghostwriter