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.


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,


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


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