Round trip to San Diego on Delta Airlines: nice seats

I was recently in the USA for business and due to the past experience with BA’s delays (3 trips to San Diego in 2012), lack of comfort on the economy cabin of the 777 from London and significantly better price I’ve changed habit and went for Delta with connection in ATL when going to the US and in JFK when coming back.

Web checking was problematic in both direction: it wasn’t possible to book the seat for the domestic flight and I had to check-in at the airport and get the actual seat at the gate.
This was nicely compensated by the fact that both times I was assigned a seat in the comfort economy and I was able to sleep fairly well.

The in-flight entertainment was a bit problematic in both intercontinental flights: audio was missing in my seat row (not only my seat) on the flight to ATL (overhead monitors) while in the flight from JFK the system had to be hard reset to deal with major problems in playback (individual screens, system running on RedHat Linux dating from the 2002-2003 period) and the resistive touch control on the screen was not working in the lower left part.

I think that in the future cabin refreshes all that will be needed from the entertainment point of view is power outlets (CA and USB) and a simple retain system for the tablets that are becoming more and more ubiquitous.
If differentiation is desired an app (android and iOS) to stream content from the USB link should complete the needed package.

The quality of the seats, or to be more precise the fit of the seats to my body, were more than compensating the issue with the entertainment system.
The overall balance was good: Delta will be high in my preference list for future trips to SAN.

2012 flight summary

This year I was on an airplane fairly often:

San Diego (3 times, via Heatrow)
Tel Aviv (via Istanbul, Turkish airlines)
Berlin (3 times, AirBerlin)
Istanbul (7 times, Turkish airlines)
Dublin (2 times, KLM and Aer Lingus)
Prague (EasyJet)
Bruxelles (FlyBe)
Rome (Alitalia)
Munich (Lufthansa)
London (EasyJet)
Copenhagen (SAS)
Düsseldorf (3 times, AirBerlin)
Frankfurt (Lufthansa)

Millemiglia frequent flyer miles program about to restart

Starting January 2013 the miles of the Alitalia frequent flyer program will be accumulated in a new program and will not add to the previous ones.
There it is still time to spend them until June 2013 according to the email I received.

I’ve decided to donate them to my preferred charity the Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus.
It’s as simple as sending an email to (as long as you have at least 10.000 miles in your account) with the following data:
Your Millemiglia code
Your first name and last name
The amount of miles that you want to donate
The desired charity from the list available on the Alitalia site: Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus in my case.

If you live in Italy don’t forget Saturday November 24th to participate in the Colletta Alimentare Nazionale. I’ll be volunteering here most of the day if you are in the area just drop by.

Italians should learn to complain less about their country

I’m working on a project in Germany for two weeks now and I’ll be here also next week.
I’ve found out that while Italians make a very good marketing of their products they make a fairly bad one of their own country.

A few examples from recent hands on experience.

3G coverage
I have a German 3G stick and on the train as soon as I’m 2km from the station the 3G signal is over and the 2G signal is not able to provide enough bandwidth for Skype chat.
In Italy it’s better even at my parent’s in law place and I consider that spot one of the worse.
Even with good 3G coverage at peak time it’s not better than a V.90 modem.
The colleagues told me this is normal.

Delay in the morning was the norm last week when I was getting in Hanover the high-speed train to Berlin.
On par or worse than the local train my wife takes to go to work.
A colleague confirmed that it was not a bad week. Today the same train was late too.

Traffic jams are there even in perfect weather condition and without road works: Italy has not an exclusive access to them.
Getting routed through 30 km of countryside roads to reach the highway to a major city happens here too.

Building standards
A colleague is having an experience very close to mine with a window not working well and water getting into the room on a recently built apartment.
Attorney and court fight is needed to get it right also in Germany.

Some colleagues had to commute 220 km (one way) each day this week as local hotels were not available and it was the most efficient way.
Like if for a project in Bologna a person had the hotel in Milano…

Berlin Tegel airport is connected only by a bus without a dedicated lane.
Traffic was heavy today: I was lucky taking an earlier train (that was late) that compensated the bus 🙂

Turkish Airlines: great in-flight food, not-so-great customer care

In the last 12 month I’ve had 20 flights with Turkish Airlines.
The food was always nice and I’d say that it’s the best available in any airline at least as far as economy class is concerned.

It’s more than 15 years that I don’t fly business hence I can’t comment on the current food level: in the past Iberia was great while Alitalia and Lufthansa were nothing to write home about.

Too bad that the customer care for the frequent flyer program is not at the level of the food.
I’ve compiled the module in the in-flight magazine several months ago, taken the tear off card and started to register the related number at check-in time.
Given the long time without news from the program I tried to register the card on the website, but it’s not possible: I only can get a new card number when registering.
I wrote an email to asking for support 1 month ago: no answer at all.

Today I’ve tried dialing the customer care: there it is no way to register the card I’ve used so far.
Nor to get the flight moved to the number I already got from the web.
A new account was created and the flights have to be added one at a time; and some of them appears to be already registered but it’s not clear if this is referring to the paper-only number or to the Miles&More account that I also have.

After 35 minutes we were only at flight #2 and the rep asked me to send in the boarding cards.
Guess what? I have not kept them after the flights.
Line dropped.
Morale dropped.
No smiles.

Airline looking for a ticket price integration 4 months after the flight

I don’t know if it’s because I fly very often, but I’m surprised by some of the strange things that happen to me with airlines.

This time is the request for an integration for the ticket of a flight that I did more than 4 months ago.

Due to change in plans I had the travel agency adding an intermediate stop to my roundtrip.
It looks like some confusion was made by the agency at the time and that I paid less than I should have.
Now the airline wants the integration and the agency says that this is normal and right.

It really sound absurd to me, like if my car dealer was asking me additional money months after I paid the amount indicated in the signed contract.
Is this really normal?

Crazy waiting time to get an airport tax reimbursed

In january I had one of my frequent trips across Europe and when I arrived at the checkin desk to fly back home it turned out that the travel agency had my ticket wrong.
I paid for a new one.

Once home I checked my written request to the travel agency and it was for the correct day.
I started asking back to the travel agency the extra money I paid.

After 8 months I finally got reimbursed, but only the airport taxes from the airline: 34.95€
No surcharges, no actual ticket reimbursed.
I wonder if this is common practice.