Never ever have I (what a great show btw) posted about what I learned before finishing blogging about the trip itself. But this rather interesting travel with Air Canada to Costa Rica warrants a post in itself. To better understand what I am ranting about, here is my travel itinerary:
Vienna – Munich – Montreal (with an overnight stay) – San José
San José – Toronto (with a 22hours layover)-Vienna
If it sounds like a long trip, it was. But I chose the two layovers deliberately as to see friends in Canada. But sometimes life has different plans and takes another direction. So here is what I learned on the way to Costa Rica. Yours, Pollybert
1.) Air travel is not the same any more after more than two years of the pandemic. Lufthansa only serves in coach only one choice of meal on its transatlantic flights. And it’s of course the vegetarian option, which in my case was a disgusting pesto pasta. I can’t remember the last time I had such an awful meal. Lufthansa therefore is definitely not an option anymore for flying long distance. When I asked the flight attendant about the new meal plan, she gave me the tip to order one of the special meal options beforehand.
2.) I need jogging pants for traveling. The leggings just won’t do, especially for the airport. Not sure why, but I feel rather exposed in them. Other travelers definitely don’t have the same issue.
3.) Always check in advance if an airport hotel has a shuttle service. While going to the airport is usually not a problem, arriving at the at the hotel can be. Although my hotel in Montreal was an airport hotel and looked very close on the map, it was quite far. Especially in a land where everyone drives and the middle of winter (April is in the middle of winter in Canada since it snows until May). It would have been a 20 minutes walk, were it not for a lift which I got from a stranger. One has to love the Canadians, but hitchhiking is something I usually don’t do anymore (disclaimer: of course I used my thumb again in Costa Rica).
4.) Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. I was supposed to meet two friends on my overlay in Montreal. But one got Covid and the other had a frozen entrance lock and could therefore not leave the house. So I ended up drinking G&T by myself and watching hockey. What’s more Canadian than that?
5.) I am glad I forgot about Canadian public toilets.This very intimate experience becomes in Canada something you share with the world. Basically you sit with all the other women in an open room only separated by your stall panels. These flimsy panels leave a lot a of space on top and below and quite a size able gap at the fixtures. The could just save money provide toilets like in China. Privacy is definitely a foreign word in this country.
6.) Canadian French is different from the French spoken in France. But it is the one I learned while living in Montreal and it felt good to hear it all around me.
7.) When you have an overlay of more than 12 hours, don’t check your luggage through to your final destination. As convenient as it is, not getting your luggage on arrival is worse. Especially when you have to wait for more than 48h to eventually be reunited with it. Also, always check how much time you have to put your claim in for lost luggage. Apparently with Air Canada doing so after a three weeks holiday is too late.
8.) The departure area of the airport in San Jose is one big shopping mall. So the only reason the airport recommends for you to be there three hours before your flight is, so that you can spend all your money. Passport and security check are really quick and efficient, which leaves you with ample time to shop. Please note though that everything is at least twice the price of what you would pay at a local supermarket.
9.) The bathroom of the Boeing 787 in premium economy has a window. Using it was a totally different experience!
11.) Toronto Pearson International Airport is managed like a third rate local airport in an undeveloped country which sees no tourists. The amount of time I spent waiting in lines at this airport, both at arrival as well at departure is unheard of. Never before have I been to such a mismanaged airport, and trust me, I have seen some airports in my life so far.
10.) The Toronto airport managed as well, despite my Air Canada flight from San José being already 45 minutes late, not to have a gate ready upon arrival. We wasted another ten minutes on the tarmac until we could dock at the gate. Even the captain couldn’t understand what was happening. Punctuality is another foreign word here, at least for Pearson airport.
11) The best part of this travel route though was meeting friends. Some of them I haven’t seen for 20 years. Unbelievable how quickly time passes and so good to see that it was as if no time had passed at all.
12.) The airport surprised me even more when it managed to delay, not just one flight, but two flights at the same time just because of lack of personnel. The departure gate for the flight to Vienna and to Tel Aviv were in the same lounge area. That latter flight was already late because passengers needed a second security check. So the airport roped of the departure lounge area, therefore robbing passengers of both flights of a seating area. When the Tel Aviv flight managed to take of with a delay of more than two hours, the lounge area stayed roped off for another hour. By then my flight also had over an hour delay. Maybe they just wanted to be fair to give everyone the same delay.
13.) But maybe Pearson airport and Air Canada work hand in hand. After we had boarded the plane the engine switched off and needed to be restarted. Unfortunately the air condition malfunctioned and an engineer had to be called on board. So we raked in another hour of delay. Air Canada made up for this with a sloppy apology and an even sloppier board service. Eventually we landed with more than three hours of delay. A big hurrah to that!
14.) Toronto Airport also closed all water fountains for the security of the passengers and maybe help the shops to sell more water for a minimum of 3$.
15.) The highlight of the Air Canada transatlantic flight was the breakfast. A packaged croissant and tiny, tiny yogurt. What happened to a warm meal in the morning?
16.) Toronto by night suddenly looks like any American city. But the skyline is amazing for someone from a European city.
17.) You need to claim your refund for lost/delayed luggage within three weeks of being reunited with it. Air Canada doesn’t care if you were on vacation for three weeks or that they ruined already the first week of it. If you don’t file your complaint on time, there is no refund for you.