Tuesday, November 2, 2010

BCers Visit Italy, Switzerland & France; Pt 2: The Lufthansa Plane That Wasn't

P IS FOR THE LUFTHANSA PLANE that didn’t materialize even though it was the deciding factor for my husband and I when choosing a European trip and bus tour with Insight Vacations. What you see online is not always what you get when it comes to seating. Lufthansa does not guarantee that the model shown in conjunction with a flight will be the plane used. But why they would show a model rarely, if ever, used from Frankfurt to Vancouver is a mystery. According to flight attendants the two rear standalone aisle seats we booked for our return flight are in an airbus they had not seen in any of their travels.

Seat Guru is worth reviewing. But even they can’t know when airlines switch airplanes. Although we were given the same seat numbers upon boarding that we reserved, they were not the standalone seats shown in a picture at the time of booking. We had also been told we would have the bulkhead option due to my husband wearing a leg brace. But that didn't materialize either because the space was occupied. Consequently, our amazing European journey ended with a cramped ten-hour flight home near a sick child who probably gifted me with his illness that materialized when I got back to BC.

The prospect of a long flight to Europe kept us from taking the journey. But now we were on our way, the potential for blood clots when sitting for hours was something we needed to consider. Thanks to my friend at An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel I became aware of TherapyPlus socks. I'm not sure they would appeal to everyone. However, they were not only more reasonably priced than other recommended travel socks, they were less constricting ... resulting in much happier feet.

I am glad to say the flight attendants were efficient and friendly no matter what the discomforts. My appetite could not be squelched and I found the food surprisingly tasty. Clever spacing of meals also helped to break up the hours. And multiple bathrooms on a floor below minimized the lineups.

Even though things don't always work out as expected, it is worth getting informed before the journey. Personal blogs and sites such as Wiki’s How To Be Comfortable On A Long Airplane Trip share tips. Curious Dad is a blog I follow that covered How to find the best seat on an airplane and Best airplane seat: Why which side of the plane you choose matters. Curious Dad also wrote Flying Lufthansa with children: great airline, awful airports. Interestingly, we noticed a new airport is currently being built in Frankfurt so perhaps this will address some problems.

P also stands for the plans we make to have the best possible travel experience and the unexpected "pitfalls" and "pleasures" along the way. We experienced both with Insight Vacations, the topic of my upcoming post.

The words plane and plans showcase the letter "P" for ABC Wednesday.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this and your previous post about travelling from BC. It's true that when we fly from here to Europe we have to make very detailed arrangements, also considering the length of time in flight. Wherever we go from here, it will be a long travel time and most people don't realize how far we've come. I hope you truly enjoyed your time in Europe and will consider taking another trip there - I've been to the UK, France, and Italy and love it over there. Can hardly wait to return! :D

  2. Great travel tips/sites that I never knew about! I guess it would be wise to wear those socks on the long trips.
    Perhaps our next trip will be on a lane that is!

  3. I don't fly that often and when I do it's only for about an hour or so. I drive a coach for a living and that's my way of seeing Europe! It still needs planning though. How to best survive seasickness for example...

  4. I'm glad the socks worked out. With such a long flight, I was worried you might have needed the more expensive ones instead. But you both got home safely, if not both well. Dreadful that you picked up the little kid's germs. I hate that about planes. Maybe you weren't able to get flu shots before you left?
    Anyway, Plane was a good choice for the letter P. And P stands for Penelope, too.
    Luv, K
    (my verification word here is "plessons" how apt!)

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  5. Great advice here. You certainly had many surprises in your travels!

  6. You might be right about those flu shots, Kay. Bill gets them every year and he was fine. I've not gotten them for a few years now as a matter of choice. Maybe not a great idea, though. The "plessons" word is, indeed, strange. :)

  7. I wore the hose similar to the ones you showed when we flew to Africa. They were my saving factor.
    With layovers et all we flew for 28 hours. Far too long to have anything make sense. Great tips and I'm sure your trip was truly wonderful.

  8. Have the airlines, the security people, etc, made it so flying it's just undesirable way too often?

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  9. Has anyone else found Lufthansa flights to be bitterly cold? Me and everyone else in the cabin on my last flight were wearing layers and blankets and it stayed cold for the 11 hour flight. Ugh!

  10. very interesting read, great tips for traveling. I wear those stockings all the time.

  11. Don't you just love unexpected "pleasures" while you travel?
    P is for private perception

  12. Almost makes you long for a leisurely liner crossing of the Atlantic.

  13. I agree with you! It is so important to research before you do something now. So much weight and demand on ourselves, but it is worth it. When I don't, I usually regret it.

  14. Thanks for all the great tips! I've never use the sock before, it's a good time to get one now.

  15. To answer Oakland’s question, the plane was chilly going to Europe and I kept my light jacket on the entire time. On the way back, however, it felt uncomfortably hot, probably because of the claustrophobic seating.

  16. I'm not only enjoying these posts, but making a mental note to come back and read them again, if overseas travel becomes a possibility in the future. (I hope it does.) I did one trip to England/Scotland in 1987 with a group of New Brunswick school teachers, and that is the sum total of my experience with long air flights. At that time, there was actually leg room! Now, a five-hour flight from Vancouver to Ottawa has me squirming in my seat. Wish I could ride my bike:)

    The pitfalls on your trip seem to me to be more than one might reasonably have expected to encounter. Would it be too strong to state that Insight Vacations was guilty of false advertising?

  17. Is there any truth in advertising nowadays? With the long flight your hubby could have been given a special seat location.

    Thanks for writing about your travel experiences, though I have not traveled to Europe, I did a yearly transpacific flight (16 hours) and I am fortunate enough to get the seat what I have reserved for.

    Will come back to read about adventures or misadventures.

  18. Carol and Ebie, I think Insight dropped the ball booking our plane seats and I have yet to have a satisfactory explanation as to why the mistakes happened. Lesson for me is to personally check that all is in order early and often with all parties prior to the trip. Also, I should have seen the itinerary that was sent to the travel agent sooner.

    As for the tour itself, I’ve never been on an extended bus tour previously so I can’t compare. We found the bus legroom spacious. The capabilities and style of the tour director, driver and local guides are probably luck of the draw. As advertised, the group was smaller than most. If we had not chosen so many sightseeing options, the trip might have seemed slower paced but we would have seen less. Because it was our first visit, our goal was to see typical tourist attractions.

    Interestingly, at all the tourist hotspots in three countries we saw only two people in wheelchairs. These folks would be excluded from areas within historical buildings because many are poorly equipped to handle people with disabilities. The nature of ancient sights requires that one be fit as possible. So it’s a good idea to visit while still in good health. And although the wheels on your bike would be hindered by the many steps at most museums, Carol, biking through Europe sounds like total fun!


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