2005 Netletter #909 - Dec 17, 2005

#909 - Dec 17, 2005

The NetLetter #909
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The NetLetter
Since Oct/95 Dec 18, 2005

 

Number 909

About us!

Need to know...

Nice to Know

Air Canada News

Star Alliance News

Reader Feedback

Where are they now?

European trip continued

Terry's Travel Tips

Smilie

Sponsors

NetLetter Archives



About us!

Since October 1995, Vesta Stevenson and Terry Baker have been issuing an email newsletter for those ex Air Canada types who have provided us with their email addresses. The Newsletter was created by Vesta, who gave the name 'NetLetter' and added 'Between Ourselves' - a TCA periodical with which you are probably familiar with from the 50's and 60's. It was then changed to "Between Yourselves" to avoid confusion when "Horizons" resurrected the name. Then finally simplified to just "The NetLetter".

We believe that our NetLetter, which originates from Vancouver Island, was the FIRST to use this medium to disperse information for retirees of Air Canada.

The NetLetter contains airline related information such as anecdotes or stories supplied by some of the recipients, Internet tips, travel news, cheap... excuse me, "inexpensive" accommodations, tours, interline travel, and, in some small way, we help keep our Air Canada family together and in touch.

Our 'NetLetter' is NOT sponsored by any Pionair group, nor are we seeking any financial support, only the Internet email addresses of those who would like to receive our 'NetLetter'. Please forward this to other retirees who can then subscribe right from the forwarded link at the bottom of this email.



 


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Dear NetLetter,

For our new readers

We now estimate that the NetLetter is read by over 2704 retirees when counting our email distribution and those that print the NetLetter and give them out to their friends.

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Thank you

Alan Rust - ACFamily Administrator


  • Need to know...
  • Vesta

    Busy airport necessitates new check-in time for Montego Bay. Effective Dec. 14, the new cut- off time for check-in at Montego Bay, Jamaica, will be 60 minutes prior to the flight (instead of 45 minutes). This extended cut-off time is a result of increased airport activity which has created lengthy line-ups at the Security checkpoint and outgoing Immigration.

    Happy new travel pass allotment year. The New Year not only begins with festivities, but it also marks the time when your annual pass allotments are refreshed. On Jan. 7, 2006, the system will clear out any outstanding passes from last year and begin the new year with a fresh new complement of your designated annual pass allotment ­ this includes four C1/J10 passes as well as 10 partner passes (remember, pass allotments differ according to each individual’s pass holder eligibility).
    Please keep this in mind when travelling around this date ­ any travel completed and billed prior to Jan. 7, 2006 will come out of your 2005 allotment, however, any travel that occurs on and is billed on or after Jan. 7, 2006, will come out of your 2006 pass allotment even if it is only the return portion of your trip.
    Here are some examples:
    - Departure Dec. 22, 2005; return Jan. 3, 2006 ­ trip is billed on Jan. 4, 2005 and deducted from your 2005 pass allotment.
    - Departure Jan. 2, 2006; return Jan. 4, 2006 ­ trip is billed on Jan. 5, 2006 and deducted from your 2005 pass allotment.
    - Departure Dec. 19, 2005; return Jan. 7, 2006 ­ trip is billed Jan. 8, 2006 and deducted from your 2006 pass allotment.

    Leisure online hotel booking site coming in 2006. Many employees have asked for a hotel online booking site for personal travel. In early 2006, a new leisure hotel booking site will be launched specifically for Air Canada employees and retirees.

    Holiday employee travel tip, carry-on baggage has its limits. - We’re all aware that this time of year is one of our busiest with families travelling home for the holidays laden down with winter clothing, luggage, gifts and sports gear. As the cargo holds and cabins of our aircraft will be full to capacity, all airport and In-flight staff will be strictly enforcing our carry-on baggage policy for size, weight and quantity ­ keep in mind our maximum carry- on allowance: one standard article (23cm x 40cm x 55cm) and one personal item (16cm x 33cm x 43cm) with a weight limit of 10kg per bag.
    Oversize or excess carry-on baggage can cause flight delays so customers and employees who exceed the limit, can expect to be turned away at security and asked to return to Check-in to check their bags, or have their bags gate-checked at time of boarding. A good rule of thumb is, if you’re unsure if you’ve gone over the allowed carry-on limit check it in before proceeding through security.

    For more details about how to take some of the stress out of leisure travel, check the Employee Travel Site at www.travel.aircanada.ca under “What’s New.”

  • Nice to Know
  • Diane Carignan sends this information -
    Aeroplan® partner Hilton Hotels offers exclusive discounts in the Caribbean. Wouldn’t some time in the sun be lovely? With hotels and resorts worldwide, Hilton Hotels invites active and retired ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. employees to take advantage of special rates at their properties in the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Tobago and Trinidad. To benefit from this offer, you must book on-line at http://www.hiltoncaribbean.com/travelindustry .shtm. You’ll be asked to present your ID/travel card at time of check-in. Bon voyage!

  • Air Canada News
  • On Dec 12th., Air Canada took delivery of its first of 45 EMBRAER 190s, becoming the first airline in North America to receive two different E-Jet models. Air Canada currently operates 13 EMBRAER 175s, fully benefiting from the advantages of E-Jet family commonality.

  • Star Alliance News
  • Star Alliance

    Restructured United May Be Merger Target - United Airlines is poised to start life after bankruptcy as a leaner, possibly meaner flying machine that may look like a tempting merger partner for another major airline seeking a mate.

  • Reader Feedback
  • News from the districts - The final Nanaimo coffee klatch for 2005 was held on December 14th with the following attendees -
    Terry Baker (AC), Jack & Doreen Hilderbrand (AirBC) Hans & Eppie Brouwer (AC), Lyle & Betty Robinson (AC) Pat & Brian MacCourt (AC), Carol & Bryan Humpohrey (AC) Terry Charles (CP)
    Terry Baker screened the first half hour of the dvd "Air Canada Story" on a laptop.

    Bernie McCormack sends this information -. I checked the Avis website regarding car rental out of LAX. The selections led me through a contract for a mid size vehicle and totalled $ 247 for three days. On reflecting I phoned them and pointed out the lack of info regarding discounts i.e. Aeroplan. They then quoted me a cost of $143! Curious, I checked another website that listed all of the various companies at LAX and reserved the same size car with Fox which cost me $55 plus $9 a day "loss damage waver" which I could have declined. Total cost with tax $87 Shuttle every 15 minutes, 5 minutes from Airport, very courteous handling. All over US,Canada and Europe. 1-800 225 4369.

    In Vancouver the Capilano canyon suspension bridge and museum in North Vancouver is free to Air Canada employees/retirees and spouse upon presentation of our ID card. Normally about $18 each.

  • Where are they now?
  • Jay sends this information following the article in NetLetter nr 908 re the CP B737 - Your articles and information are always a pleasure to read and keep me connected to the Air Canada family while on leave and working in Japan. In reference to your article on the artificial reef being created by the hull of a former workhorse, the B-737, this may not be the first airframe used as an artificial reef. While on a trip to Fantasy Island resort in Roatan, my wife and I were SCUBA diving on an ex Tan-Sasha airline DC-3 which was submerged about 1990. The following link mentions the aircraft as part of the dive site. h ttp://www.fantasyislandresort.com/us/index.html Many fish and crustaceans have made this venerable airliner their home. Accessible from the soft white sands of the resort s beach, it is thrilling to swim in the passenger entrance and exit through the hatch in the top of the fuselage in the cockpit. It is great to see such a unique object place on the bottom is such a spectacular dive area. Just as the HMCS MacKenzie near to Sidney, BC has attracted international attention as a prime dive site, this artefact will make Vancouver Island even more of a draw for SCUBA enthusiasts.

    Jay in Japan This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • European trip continued
  • Here is the next stage of our European trip continued from NetLetter nr 908 -

    Sunday Sept 18th
    Today we head for Rome. We departed the hotel at 8:00 after a 6:30 wake up. Since leaving Holland, we noticed a lot of maintenance on the infrastructure throughout Europe, which did not seem to hinder the flow of traffic. As trucks are not allowed on the auto routes on a Sunday, there was little traffic. However, the road signs on this part informed us that the auto route was being closed for 2 hours at 10:00, so we forgo the usual pit stop to ensure we got through before the closure. Unfortunately, most of the other tour buses had the same idea, consequently, when did make a pit stop, it was like a zoo, tourists everywhere. There are several tolls which we passed through and, today, we hit an automatic one that was malfunctioning and we had to back out of two slots before getting through successfully. On the other side of this toll, there was a huge police and SWAT force screening cars for some reason which we never found out about.
    On this day, we drove over many viaducts and through at least 25 tunnels of varying length, one being 17 miles long. We stopped for lunch at Graz, birthplace of Arnold Swartznegger - our tour director referred to him as the groping fuhrer ( a play on the word gruppen fuhrer a German military title).
    We bypassed Florence as we are due to visit there on our way to Lucerne on Tuesday.
    Our drive is through the flat Po valley and the mountain ranges which did provided us with some spectacular vistas. After checking into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Rome West which is for two nights, we had time for the group to do an evening tour of Rome and a visit to the Trevi fountain, scene from the movie 'Three coins in the fountain'. Our director pointed out the balcony where Mussolini reviewed his troops and the roadway which was built on top of some roman ruins.
    Supper was at a restaurant, the meal excellent, a choice of fish or chicken. One of the waiters was quite a comedian. He held several main courses back and then ceremoniously presented them to various ladies. My wife Dawn was the first, and she got a rose and a buss on the cheek, as all the ladies did. The final dish was reserved for one of the guys, who was adorned by a serviette on his head, before getting the 'treatment' - all good fun.

    Monday Sept 19th

    We left the hotel at 6.55 for the Vatican. Bus tours were allowed in two hours ahead of the general public. Freddie - our great bus driver - bypassed most of the tour buses who were parked in the assigned bus area, several blocks away, so that we could 'jump' a few of the tour groups, which we did. Our group were fourth in line. It started to sprinkle rain just as we were beginning to move into the Vatican Museum. Our guide, very knowledgeable, guided us though the various rooms. At a comfortable pace viewing the magnificent paintings and décor. We went into the catacombs and saw various graves of the Pope's, even the popular Pope John Paul, recently deceased. Then into the Sistine chapel and saw the awesome ceiling paintings by Michelangelo. Our guide told us about how Michelangelo left before completing the ceiling because he was not getting paid for his efforts, but returned several years later to complete the job.
    The Swiss guards are the only guards who guard the Vatican and Pope.
    We visited the Vatican book shop and watched a young girl making a artistic scene using minute squares of coloured mosaic, such exquisite work The end result was the size of a post card.
    When we came out of the Vatican, there were huge crowds waiting to get into the area, so our early rise was well worth the effort. Several thousands visit each day, except Sunday when the Vatican is closed to the public. The Pope celebrates mass usually on a Wednesday.
    After lunch, we wandered around the city, with our guide, and saw the Coliseum, Parthenon, Piazza Navora, Circus Maximus scene of the 'Ben Hur' movie and the Spanish steps. Quite an exhausting day, and supper still to come.

    Tuesday Sept 20th
    Today we leave Rome and drive through the Chianti wine region of Tuscany en route to Florence. Our guided sightseeing tour in Florence took us to the Cathedral, Bapistry. Signoria Square and a visit to the Santa Croce Basilica, - our tour is now becoming bewildering. At leisure, we visited Peruzzi, an Italian leather goods store, and saw some beautiful leather jackets. Several of our group purchased jackets which, even after conversion of the euro made them an excellent investment. Also, there is a 12% discount making them tax free, the obligation being to get some papers stamped when exiting Europe to prove export. The documents are then sent back to the store by the customs officials.
    Then we walked along the river bank to the Ponte Vacchio, a covered bridge with stores most of them selling jewelry. It was very crowded on both the bridge and the street leading up to it. The traffic was rather heavy and fast, so we returned via the back streets. We located the Piazza di Santa Croce square where the group had assembled for our supper. We sat and had a beer before going into the restaurant. The supper consisted of Pasta, shish kebab and tiramisu - and was not the best of meals as the shish kebab was over cooked and very dry.
    One of the gas stations we saw, is owned by the middle east country of Kuwait, and their emblem is Q8 - cute!
    Our hotel is the Grand Hotel Mediterranean. Room posted rate is euro 260

    Wednesday Sept 21st
    Today we left Florence at 7:45 in cloudy weather, for our drive to Lucerne, bypassing Bologna and Milan towards the Italian and Swiss lake district through the St. Gotthard tunnel in the Alps. This is the tunnel which had a fiery accident last year and now the traffic is policed to ensure there is adequate distance between vehicles. In fact, on some of the auro routes, there are painted lines to indicate the separation recommended whilst traveling. We noticed road signs which gave the speed limit of 130kms when dry and 110kms when wet.
    We saw several villages perched on rock bluffs, this was intended as a defensive measure to protect from marauding tribes years ago.
    Tolls on the road are, generally, euro 2
    For lunch we stopped at the Autogrill, a service centre. Here you get a ticket and, upon making your selection, the server will mark your card. You then have your meal but, when you exit, you MUST present your card, which is then tallied and your pay the bill. Even if you have not bought anything, you must present your blank ticket to exit.
    Lucerne is, by far, the cleanest and nicest city on the tour. Our hotel was the Hotel Central, with the posted room rate of sfr 260. After we had booked in, we had a drive around the town and had several highlights pointed out, including an ancient wooden covered bridge.
    In the afternoon we walked around the town and visited the Bucherer store where every tourist receives a silver spoon and, Switzerland being the home of the Swiss Army knife, we saw a display of the numerous types for sale, at an excellent price too.
    We walked across a covered bridge and then the next bridge, where we watched the fishermen catch quite large fish, before returning to our hotel.
    Supper was taken at the hotel.

    Thursday Sept 22nd
    Our guided tour included highlights of the town and a visit to the Lion Monument which is dedicated to those Swiss guards who lost their lives while protecting King Louis XV1 and Queen Marie Antoinette during the revolution. The Swiss guards were the only ones to stay and protect the royal family and, because of their steadfastness and neutrality, they are the only guards used to protect the Vatican city.
    Then off to catch the historic 1893 vintage Funicular train which took us up the first 1,000 foot of the Standserhorn where we got the gondola for the next 7,000 foot to reach the revolving restaurant. The summit was an additional 500 foot climb to give a panoramic view all around. The weather was excellent, fortunately the early morning fog had burnt off. To the north, we could see the Alps and the Eiger mountain clearly, over a 100 miles away, to the east the Black Forest in Germany and Interlaken, and, of course, the city of Lucerne and its lake. .
    There was a marmot enclosure and we saw several marmot's peering out of their holes.
    Several of the group tried out the horn which was available and one could hear the cow bells on the cattle in the valley below.
    After our descent, our group had an hours boat cruise around Lake Lucerne which included a commentary by the captain. Then back to our hotel before being taken for lunch which was in a near by Stadtkeller restaurant. The restaurant held about 250 people and was full. The meal was a cheese fondue, weiner schnitzel and potatoes and a dessert, glass of wine or beer. There was a stage show which included three horn players, a small combo, someone playing a vibe type instrument, bell ringing, yodeling and a flag waver. The show culminating in a "cow" mincing around the tables snuffling the girls. Good fun and the show included some audience participation.
    (Well, the final piece with be in the Next NetLetter - eds)

  • Terry's Travel Tips
  • Is this familiar to standby travelling -?
    Every day, in every major and many minor airports around the country, micro-dramas play out. I have seen normally gruff individuals charm, beseech, dramatize, and yes, even plead for mercy when trying to beguile a gate agent into accommodating his or her request. As Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..."
    The whole contingent travel experience is a dynamic process of different procedures for each airline and a myriad of uncomfortable interpersonal interactions. Do I wait my turn in line with passengers seeking seat assignment? Will the gate agent be irritated if I ask for a form while he or she is seemingly overwhelmed?

    Does this gate agent look nice, angry, disgruntled, disheveled, happy, or courteous? Having decided on a particular approach, we assume our character and step up to the podium. The power is held by the gate agent - a fact that does not escape some of the more uncooperative ones. And the pilot, who is used to being in control, has to accept that in this situation, the decision of whether or not he or she will get the seat will be made by someone else. Someone who has two million things to do in too little time and under constant duress. Approach the podium in the wrong manner; display the wrong attitude, demand too much attention and you are going to find that it's not such a good idea to be pushy.

    Ah, yes ... the gate agent.

    I find that courtesy and manners work better than charm and brevity. The working life of a gate agent is arduous and most often unappreciated; the least I can do is to take as little of his or her precious time as possible and say, "please" and "thank you." Believe me, those two words are too seldom heard by everybody, but especially by gate agents.

    ...Two Steps Forward, One Step Back...

    For most airlines, it is preferred that you wait until most, if not all, paying passengers have boarded. Therefore, we linger a while longer around the departure lounge. People watch. The drama continues.

    Uh-oh! Who's that running to the gate with a look of desperation on his face? Is that a pilot of this airline going to bump me out of the seat?
    Unconsciously, you are holding your breath while waiting for the axe to fall. Whew! He was a passenger whose connecting flight had arrived late. Exhale.
    As you pass the gate agent and pass onto the airplane, you relax. At last, familiar territory. People, not only of the same profession, but of the same mindset. Most cabin crewmembers and pilots have traveled this same road. We are the dislocated - well, from work at least - and the fellowship of commuters embraces members with help and empathy.
    So ends Act I. Well, not really. It ain't over yet. (Let you know more another time - eds)

  • Smilie
  • Smiley

    All together now!
    Boeing's 'Phanton Works' is testing a nose gear electric motor so that an airplane would push back without a tug and even taxi without engine power. Here is a better idea - based on the ancient human- propelled galleys. Beneath each seat would be a pair of pedals, all connected to the landing gear . The lead flight attendant, acting as galley master,would command the passengers to pedal backwards for pushback and forward for taxiing. The system would help pax exercise , thus avoiding the DVT aka Hospitality class syndrome. It would make the pax earn their internet-based fare bargains.

  • Sponsors
  • The mailing and formating of the NetLetter for HTML format is provided compliments of the ACFamily Network and Nerds On Site. Content is researched and submitted by Vesta Stevenson and Terry Baker. Thank you for letting us into your homes!

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