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Topic: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-08-08 02:54:45 and read 8463 times.

Hopping over the Alps to Nice on LX

Hello all. Thanks for navigating to my 5th A.net report, featuring a trip to the wonderful French city of Nice with Swiss. Nice had been on my to visit list for quite a while. As a young kid, my family would often spent the summer holiday in the Nice region, and I had been meaning to return there for a weekend trip. Flying wise, I had flown trough the Nice airport a few years ago on a daytrip from Geneva, which turned out to be a very scenic flight across the French Alps.

So for this trip I was again looking at choosing a carrier and route that would involve a flight path over the Alps. Since I was a few miles short of the number of Miles&More miles I wanted to have, choosing either Lufthansa via Munich or Swiss via Zurich made sense. I considered a combination of both – flying in with LH, out with LX, or the other way round – but prices for those combinations were quite unattractive for the weekends I was looking at. So in the end I settled for a roundtrip via Zurich. Just when I was about to book that, Expedia produced a cheaper two-stop alternative for the outbound trip, flying AMS-ZRH-GVA-NCE. So a flight extra, and as a nice bonus the short Swiss domestic hop between Zurich and Geneva. With an afternoon arrival in Nice on Saturday and a Sunday evening departure this would also give me ample time to enjoy Nice. From an equipment point-of-views this itinerary would not be so interesting, as 4 out of 5 flights would be operated by an Airbus A320. But hey, this trip would be about some (hopefully) scenic flights, and a Nice destination (you are allowed one lame nice/Nice joke in a Trip Report about Nice, right?).

After booking, I received what is probably the fastest schedule-change-after-booking known to mankind. I booked this flight at around 10pm on a Thursday evening, and a few hours later I received an email with a schedule change. It turns out that my GVA-NCE flight was now scheduled to depart over an hour earlier, which reduced my connection time to about 30 minutes. This seemed pretty tight. In the LX online timetable I noticed that there was an earlier ZRH-GVA I could make after arriving from AMS and then have about 2,5 hours in GVA. So I give Swiss a call to be rebooked a few days later. Of course, the first option I was given was a direct NCE flight from ZRH. I was even offered a later flight from AMS to avoid a long layover in ZRH (this connection was about E150,- more expensive at the time of booking, you gotta love schedule changes sometimes), but since I had gotten used to the idea of flying through GVA I insisted on the two-stop option and suggested the earlier ZRH-GVA flight. This was done without question, and I received a revised e-ticket a few hours later. In conclusion, please allow the wonderful Great Circle Mapper to illustrate the flights covered in this report:

FOTO
Saturday July 21st 2012
Swiss Flight 737
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) – Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Airbus A320
Seat 11F


164th overall flight
6th flight on Swiss
16th flight on an Airbus A320 (41th flight on an Airbus A320 series)
55th visit to AMS, and 9th visit to ZRH
4th time flying the AMS-ZRH route, 3rd time in this direction

Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 07.00 / 07.07
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 08.25 / 08.38
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.25/ 1.29
Flight duration: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Mileage: 375 nm

I have a rule. It says not to depart on flights that leave before 09.00 in the morning. However, circumstance dictate that everyone now and then that rule has to be bend. In this case, the nice routing via Zurich and Geneva. When I booked the flight 07.00 am didn’t really sound all that early, but when the trip came closer you start realizing you have to be at the airport at 06.00, which meant you have to leave your house at 05.00, which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.30, which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.15. That’s early. Too darn early.

Since the holiday period was already well under way, and AMS has quite a bit of early morning charter flights, I decided to give myself 15 minutes extra and arrive at 05.45. I elected to travel with hand luggage only, to avoid any possible check in crowds. Check-in was done only via cellphone, and I received my boarding pass (for seat 11A, figured an exit row with some extra legroom might be nice at this early hour) via text message. Of course, when I arrived at the airport, it wasn’t all that busy at all. A quick peak at the FIDS told me that I seemed to have arrived just between the early morning charters, and before the first scheduled flights of the day. Only 1 person ahead of me in security, so I was trough in a breeze.

Walking towards the B-Pier, where most non-Skyteam airlines depart from. Multiple Star Alliance birds had a sleep-over party at AMS, together with VY and IB. The A320 that would take me to Zurich today can also be seen.

Looking back towads the C-Pier, mainly occupied by KLM aircraft.

The end of the B-pier has a large glass wall with terrific views over runway 06-24. China Southern has just landed.

And it offers an even better view of aircraft taxiing out.

Today’s A320 with a stunning sunrise in the back of the picture



When I arrived at the gate boarding was already well under way. When I did OLCI I already noticed that quite a lot of seats were taken, so I expected a high load factor. The gentleman ahead of me in the queue was actually upgraded, so that must mean a pretty full flight in the back. I took my seat at around 06.45 and boarding was completed a little before 7. All announcements by the purser were made in English, German and Dutch which is of course a great touch. We pushed back a few minutes too late, and since we would be departing from the remote ‘Polderbaan’ (36L) we had to taxi for quite a while. Safety demo was showed during taxi from the drop down screens.

More than enough legroom in this emergency exit

Spanish neighbor

Crossing the A4 motorway on our way to the take-off runway

As runway 36C was not in use at that time, we could cross that runway on our way to 36L. This saves about 5-10 minutes in taxi time. An Lufthansa Airbus was leading the way.

During the initial climb-out a spectacular view over Amsterdam was offered

Turning towards the Southeast. The airport can be seen in the top center of the picture

And heading into the clouds

A moving map was seen for a few minutes, but was then replaces by some short films with some rather annoying practical jokes.

Cruising altitude

In-flight service was a bit disappointing, catering-wise. I expected a sandwich to be honest, similar to what I had received a few years ago on the AMS-ZRH sector. Instead it was pre-packed muffin. Although it tasted pretty good, something a bit more substantial would have been nice on a breakfast flight like this. Later on inflight the famous chocolates were distributed.

initial descent began over a eastern part of France

And the clouds were even more dense during our final descent. We cruised through this dense layer of clouds for at least ten to fifteen minutes

Finally some land in sight

Final approach

And about to touchdown! Not in the picture here – I was just to late – was a Qatar Airways Boeing 777, that was later joined by an Airbus A330 from Qatar. Anyone have a clue to what they were doing there?

And rolling out, with a good view of the apron between piers A and (the rebuilt) pier B. Fellow A.netter Infodesk was ‘on duty’ at the observation deck at this time. Unfortunately my lay-over in Zurich was too short to drop by and say ‘hi’.

A United 767 in Star Alliance livery arrived just before us. Also pictured is the E Dock, with the SQ A380.

After a short taxi we arrived at the A gates. View towards the E Dock after disembarking

Saturday July 21st 2012
Swiss Flight 2804
Zurich Airport (ZRH) – Geneva Airport (GVA)
Airbus A320
Seat 30A


165th overall flight
7th flight on Swiss
17th flight on an Airbus A320 (42nd flight on an Airbus A320 series)
10th visit to ZRH, and 5th visit to GVA
1st time flying the ZRH-GVA route

Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 09.40 / 09.42
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 10.25 / 10.31
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 0.45 / 0.49
Flight duration: 35 minutes
Mileage: 143 nm

I hadn’t been airside at Zurich since the rebuilt B Pier was open. I did visit ZRH in December last year on my way to catch – and miss – the Dornier 328 at Bern (an adventure that can be read here: To Dornier Or Not To Dornier (AMS-ZRH, BRN-AMS) (by roberts87 Dec 26 2011 in Trip Reports)). Coincidentally, that flight to Zurich – operated by KLM – also departed at the dreadful 7 o’clock hour – which means KL and LX fly the route at around the same time. Anyway, during that trip I arrived at a remote stand and was bussed directly to the arrivals hall. I noticed that the KL flight did got a finger position this time. Anyway, I was pleased to see that the multiple separate security checks at the A pier are now gone, which means one can now connect at ZRH without having to pass through security again. The new B pier also looked very nice, very open and still looking brand new off course. I did some exploring around ZRH and the new pier, and then made my way to the departure gate for my GVA flight, which was at the new B Pier.

The new B pier, all gates occupied. I would continue my journey on the second bird seen from the terminal.

Photo taken from the end of the B Pier. Rather quiet now, as the aircraft in the before had pushed back now, except for the KLM 737. Multiple final boarding calls for a last passenger were made for this flight, and when I walked past the gate I was jokingly asked by the two gate agents “Amsterdam? No, do you want to go? We just need one more passenger!” My reply that I just came from Amsterdam made them chuckle.



When I arrived at the gate at boarding time, boarding hadn’t commenced yet. Judging by the people in the gate area it would once again be a full flight. Boarding then started about 5 minutes late, with the help of self-boarding-gates. The first time I saw that at ZRH, a new feature of the B pier I assume? It was pretty warm and humid inside the aircraft when I entered, and I made my past 6 rows of Business Class. I wonder what they get served at this short flight? Also on board was a deadheading Swiss crew. The captain came on the PA during boarding, and announced a flight time of about 35 minutes, only 10 minutes shorter than the scheduled 45 minutes block time. Weather in Geneva would be the same as Zurich, which would of course mean limited views of the Alps on this flight.

View from my seat. The A320 I was on would be departing for one of the shortest narrow body flights in the LX network, whereas the A320 next to us would depart for one of the longest narrow body flights in the network, Istanbul.

Pushing back. A good view of the B pier. The KLM flight had now left as well.

A short taxi towards the Western runway. Just like in Amsterdam, an Lufthansa Airbus A319 ahead of us.

Followed by a CRJ from Eurowings and the LX flight to Istanbul behind us.

And take-off! Low cloud ceiling is still present as you can see

Already flying through the clouds a mere minutes after take-off

And leveling of just above the clouds. No info was given en route, but flightradar24 shows most ZRH-GVA flights at a max flight level of 12.500 feet for this short hop



Obviously there was not much time for a meal or drink service on the flight. Chocolates were handed out first, followed by a small bottle of water. Strangely enough it seemed the crew ran out of water bottles halfway through the cabin. And then continued serving cups of water from large bottles. Perhaps too little small bottles were loaded? This catering was of course sufficient for a flight of this length, and I guess it proves to American (regional) carriers that is possible to provide services on flights shorter than 200 miles or 40 minutes.

Water and chocolate!

Cruising somewhere near Bern I think. If you closely above the wing you can some mountain peaks. I can only imagine what the view would have been like on a clear day

The mountain peaks could be seen a bit better as we made some turns

As we continued our descent, and then leveled off but continued to fly towards the West, I began to suspect that we would me making a downwind approach and land towards the East. This would of course we would have to overly Geneva, which would explain the relatively long flight time announce by the captain. It would also mean no views of Lake Geneva today.

Breaking through the clouds. This is most likely already French territory.

Starting our 90 degree turn

Already pretty low compared to the mountain range

Descending through a valley. I believe the Geneva-Lyon railway line is somewhere down there, a line I rode twice back in 2007 and 2009.

Final approach

Taxing towards the terminal building. International mix of visitors here: United, Uzbekistan and Eithad.

Arriving at the stand, next to Lufthansa 737-500

Saturday July 21st 2012
Swiss Flight 526 (operated by Swiss European)
Geneva Airport (GVA) – Nice Cote D’Azur Airport (NCE)
AVRO RJ100
Seat 20A


166th overall flight
8th flight on Swiss
2nd flight on an AVRO RJ100 (6th flight on a AVRO RJ 85/100)
6th visit to GVA, and 3rd visit to NCE
3rd time flying the GVA-NCE route, 2nd time in this direction

Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 13.25 / 14.27
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 14.25 / 15.25
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.00 / 0.58
Flight duration: 48 minutes
Mileage: 186 nm

My game plan for the Geneva layover was simple: head landside after arrival, do some exploring over there and then head airside again to enjoy some airport apron action. But that’s where I made an error in judgment. Although GVA is obviously located in Switzerland, it also has a ‘French sector’ which can be reached by road from France, and on foot from the rest of the airport, which is considered Swiss territory. All flights to and from French destinations leave from the French sector. This is a left-over from the time when Switzerland was not participating in the Schengen treaty, and allowed French residents to fly from Geneva to French destinations without having to cross the border. Quite convenient back then, but annoying for me now, as this French sector is a small, cramped area with limited views. As I was not really looking forward to spending a few hours there, I decided to leave the airports grounds, and walk towards the Exhibition center that is located next to the airport. I actually found a nice little park next to the center, where I sat in the occasional appearing sun reading my newspaper.

View of the crowded terminal. It’s even worse in winter, when there are a large number of ski charters.

View from the park. Departing aircraft were visible from the park. This LX A320 might very well be the aircraft I arrived on.



I was back at the at the terminal about an hour before departure. I made my way through the former passport control area and then proceeded through customs. Since you really enter France when you depart from the French sector, one clears customs here in Geneva. Of course nothing to declare, so I could just walk through. Security was quick too, with only an Air France flight to Paris and my own flight leaving in the next 1,5 hours.

The French sector basically consists of two of these gate areas upstairs, mainly used by the Air France flights to Paris… [i]



[i]…and a busgate area downstairs. And also a small souvenir shop and a café where I bought an overpriced airport coffee for 3 EUR something[i]



[i]As with the entire GVA airport, photo possibilities are extremely limited due to the tinted glass. [i]



And that’s when the troubles began. At around the time the boarding should have commenced I noticed a number of people queuing up to the desk at the boarding busgate all looking in a bit worried. Indeed, there was a delay. After the flight number was now a “next info” at 13.15 announcement, which was about 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time. This was eventually changed into a one hour delay due to a “late inbound arrival”. Oh well. This would mean less time in Nice, but of course no worries about connections to catch.

Geneva Airport one hour of free wifi, so during the wait I made use of that to do some surfing on my smartphone, as well as check out the arriving flights boards to see what LX flight might be delayed on into GVA. It turned out there was only one LX flight arriving into GVA around that time, which was actually the flight from Zurich I was originally booked on! I guess the rebooking to an earlier flight because of the fear of missing my connection hadn’t been necessary after all.

Meanwhile, an announcement was made that the flight was fully booked and that all rollaboards and large backs would have to be checked in. Not a gate check where one receives the bag again when disembarking, but checking in as in hold luggage. Everyone, including me, received a baggage tag, but we did have to deliver our bags to the aircraft ourselves. At first I thought we would maybe use a jetbridge in Nice, which makes collecting our bags at the aircraft difficult, but we parked at a remote stand. So I wonder why we had to check our bags into the hold, instead of the more common “deliver at aircraft” tags?

Anyway, boarding began a little before two o’clock, and everybody made his way into the waiting bus quite quickly. A nice busride took us over the apron towards the very last satellite where the expected AVRO RJ100 was waiting. It was indeed a very full flight, and boarding seemed to take forever with lots of people waiting outside on the apron. I wasn’t complaining, as the sun was shining now and there was some nice aircraft movements around us. I was eventually on board as one of the last passengers, and made my way to my seat all the way in the very back. Two flight attendants were working this flight, a young and cheery one and an older female FA who looked like she really didn’t want to be there. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a disinterested cabin crew member.

[i]Queuing up to board the aircraft. I really like the Swiss logo on the small engines


Under the wing shot, sort-off

Something Russian at a remote stand in the distance

Easyjet on opposite stand

Air France to Paris Charles de Gaulle taximg out

Legroom, slightly more tight then in the earlier Airbus. Note my BYO water and sandwich



When boarding was completed the captain introduced himself over the PA and apologized for the delay. It was caused by “traffic at Zurich” earlier that day. Although there weren’t much delays at Zurich when I was there, I guess the fog/clouds/storm was worse before or after my visit. Flight time was announced as 50 minutes with mostly overcast weather along the (there goes the view of the Alps) but clear and sunny skies in Nice. We eventually pushed back – which is actually just taxing out, as no push back truck is required at these satellites - a little over an hour late.

Taxing towards the runway for a departure to the East. Some interesting bizz jets here

Rotate! Lake Geneva and the city center were on the other side of the aircraft

A steep climb out, as usual on the AVRO

Lake Geneva shoreline

Once more

Turning towards the South

Southbound now, leaving the lake behind us

And then we unfortunately headed into the clouds

Every now and then, some peaks were visible




Now this was an interesting phenomenon. As soon as we reached the Mediterranean, the clouds disappeared

Which is also very visible in this picture

The approach into Nice is rather unusual. To avoid flying over the very expensive real estate near the airport, all flights from the North continue their journey South over the Mediterranean and descent there, before turning 180 degrees heading back towards the coast

Approaching the shoreline

Lovely views here




Final approach, almost as if you are landing on the water

Touchdown and taxi towards the terminal. The number of executive jets at Nice is remarkable

And we parked next to this USA-registered aircraft

Disembarking was also possible through the rear doors

||| Destination pictures from Nice |||







Sunday July 22nd 2012
Swiss Flight 561
Nice Cote D’Azur Airport (NCE) – Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Airbus A320
Seat 28F

167th overall flight

9th flight on Swiss
18th flight on an Airbus A320 (43rd flight on an Airbus A320 series)
4th visit to NCE, and 11th visit to ZRH
1st time flying the NCE-ZRH route

Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 18.45 / 19.10
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 19.55 / 20.16
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.10 / 1.06
Flight duration: 50 minutes
Mileage: 270

As I left my hostel the next morning and walked towards the boulevard and the beach a Boeing 717 suddenly roared over my head. This meant that the runway direction had now changed, and that incoming flight were now on the famous ‘Seleya’ approach, which basically means that flights head towards the beach, and then a make steep turn to line up with the runway. It was quite a sight to see. Please allow me to illustrate:






I arrived back at Nice airport at around 16.30 for what turned out to be a memorable flight. It all started at check in. Three desks open here, a bag drop, economy check in and business class check in. Each desk had one person/group currently being served. As I had checked in online, but didn’t have boarding passes yet, I queued up for the economy check in desk. Now this is where it got interesting. The lady ahead of me wanted to check in a incredibly large object: a 4-5 meter long pole with a diameter of about 50 cm. And she was absolutely furious that the airline didn’t accept it as hold luggage. A supervisor was called, and a enormous discussion followed that this object couldn’t be accepted as hold luggage, she had to have announced it before, she could maybe transport it as cargo. It went on and on. Meanwhile, the business class counter was free, and the agent there called me over, and printed my boarding efficiently. I headed towards the security checkpoint, but couldn’t resist taking a picture of the argument and the large object.

The object and the argument. I did see later however see two baggage handlers carrying the object around the apron, so I assumed she was able to transport it as cargo.

Escalators towards the security check. Security took about 10 minutes

Terminal 1 at NCE is not very spacious. Some shops to the right, and gates to the left. There were also a number of bus gates downstairs

But, at the end of the terminal is a large glass walls, with excellent views of the apron. That’s obviously where I spent the time waiting for boarding to commence

The large object being transported towards the gate. They weren’t handling it very carefully though, in spite of the “fragile” sticker on it

My aircraft at the stand. As you can see, the weather had changed drastically by now. Quite some rain and some thunderstorms.



The inbound plane had arrived about 5 to 10 minutes late, and therefore boarding also commenced with a slight delay of 5 minutes. At 18.20 boarding started, but once the other passengers and I reached the actual finger gate we had to wait for another 5 minutes in the finger itself; during this wait I also took the picture above. Meanwhile the captain left the aircraft and walked past the waiting passengers, only to re-enter the plane a few minutes later. After about 10 minutes we could continue our way into the aircraft. Most passenger seemed to be on board at around 18.45, when we should have pushed back. Unfortunately the captain came on the PA around that time, announcing that a passenger hadn’t shown up and his bag had to be offloaded. This would take about 10 minutes, he said. This got me slightly worried, as I only had a 40 minute connection at Zurich, and I would be connecting to the last flight of the day to AMS. Of course I knew that LX would take care of me, but obviously I preferred to get home. At 18.55, the captain was on the PA once again, announcing that it took longer than expected. At 19.10, 25 minutes late, we finally pushed back. Now I was seriously worried. With gates closing 10 minutes to departure, this would mean I would have about 5 minutes to get to the gate. Traffic at the tarmac was pretty busy as well, with about 4 flights taking of before us, so no ‘shortcuts’ or a bit of help from ATC either.

Heading towards the departure runway. That’s actually a Lufthansa Airbus ahead of us, the 3rd flight of the weekend with a Lufty Airbus taking off ahead of my flight

Looking back towards the terminal. Again quite some interesting executive jets. Meanwhile also another LX flight had arrived, from and to Geneva. Also visible a Scandinavian Airlines flight to Stavanger, that landed around the same time as my aircraft, and should have left at 18.45 too. Their delay was even worse than mine. Also note the terrible weather

Taking off. The same coastline that was visible on descent yesterday could again be seen



Climbing and then turning towards the North. The airport can be seen in the top right corner of the picture

And into the clouds, but better views of the Alps this time



Remember that I was complaining about the onboard service on my morning flight from Amsterdam to Zurich? Well strangely enough, on this flight – which is 35 minutes shorter then AMS-ZRH - we were served a sandwich. A pretty tasty cheese sandwich actually, although it was the same one I had 18 months ago on a ZRH-LHR flight. Meanwhile I was able to track the flights progress on the drop down screens with the moving map. We were about hallway the flight, with Geneva just west of us. Expected arrival was 20.21 hours. With my flight departing at 20.35 things were not looking good for my connection.



And that’s when things started get interesting. I was seated in row 28, and the two FA’s doing the service run in the Economy section had reached row 30-something. A gentleman in his late fifties – early sixties seated in row 25 got up, clearly looking agitated and somewhat in pain. He walked towards the FA’s with his hand on chest. One of the FA’s approached him. “You have trouble breathing?” I heard her ask the gentleman. Meanwhile the other FA had walked towards the back galley and – I assume – called for the purser who appeared in no time and also attended to the gentleman. Oxygen was brought to his row and administered by the purser for a few minutes. She then walked by towards the front of the cabin and then come on the PA “We would like to ask if there is a doctor on board? If so please make yourself know to a member of the cabin crew.” Every time you hear a story like this, a doctor is on board. This flight was no less, and a little while later the gentleman was being attended by a doctor. During these events the captain had made the usual announcement about the weather and expected arrivals: we would have 25 minutes remaining flight time, landing was expected at 20.20 and arrival at the gate at 20.25. Not so good for me.

Meanwhile, there was some great Swiss scenery down below






In the meantime, the gentleman was still being attended to by the doctor and the purser, and the moving map told me a remaining flight time of about 20 minutes. This is around 5 minutes after the captain made his original announcement; when there was a suddenly a “Cabin crew, 10 minutes to landing” announcement. I can only speculate of course, but I assume we were given some priority clearance or a direct approach into the airport. The remaining service items were quickly collected and the cabin was prepared for landing. This was definitely not a regular approach into a large airport, the descent was a lot steeper than usual.

Descending. Note the use of the spoilers.






In the meantime, connecting flights information was now shown on the screens. Fortunately, we would be arriving at the A Pier, and my connecting flight would also leave from an A gate. No such luck for the passengers to Neurenberg and Bucharest, they had already been rebooked – to a flight the next day I would assume.

Descent continues



We eventually touched down at around 20.10 hours. An announcement was made requesting all passengers to “please be seated until we are able to disembark our patient”. Also connecting flights information again, passengers for OTP and NUE should contact the transfer desk, while all other passengers should proceed to their connecting flight immediately. When we arrived at our stand everybody remained seated. But nothing happened. Finally some passengers hesitantly got up; probably folks who also had tights connections. Soon more passengers – including myself – got up and left the aircraft quickly. I exited the aircraft, looked at the FIDS and saw my flight was departing… from the adjacent gate. And was running 5 minutes late… I made the small walk there, joined the queue for boarding – which was about halfway through – and before I knew I was on my connecting flight, where I just saw an ambulance arrive at the aircraft I just left.

The plane I just arrived on

Ambulance now at the aircraft. Not visible because of the backlight, but the patient was actually being lifted of the aircraft at this time. I hope he turned out okay.

Sunday July 22nd 2012
Swiss Flight 736
Zurich Airport (ZRH) – Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (ZRH)
Airbus A320
Seat 11F


167th overall flight
10th flight on Swiss
19th flight on an Airbus A320 (44th flight on an Airbus A320 series)
12th visit to ZRH, and 56th visit to AMS
5th time flying the ZRH-AMS route, 2nd time in this direction

Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 20.35 / 20.41
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 22.10 / 22.13
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.35 / 1.32
Flight duration: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Mileage: 375 nm

And so I was on board my fifth and last flight for the weekend. A flight I wasn’t sure I was going to make, and I wonder if I would have made it wasn’t for the medical emergency. Or if the gentleman had gone ill earlier in the flight which might had caused a diversion to GVA, or even back to NCE.

Anyway, I had once again selected the emergency exit row. Figured some extra leg room in the evening wouldn’t hurt. I was seated in 11F, when someone suddenly asked me “I’m afraid you’re in my seat, I’m in 11F”. But so am I! “Oh wait, I’m 11A”, he embarrassedly apologized. Well nothing to be embarrassed about, it happened to me twice as well   We had the quite the cheery purser on this flight, a gentleman in his mid-thirties how welcome everyone on board with a happy ‘Helloooo’ and was also very cheerfully during his announcemenst. Perhaps he was looking forward to the night stop in Amsterdam. The captain was also on the PA before pushback, announcing a short flight time this evening (tailwind?) and he predicted an on time or even early arrival despite the 5 minute delay in pushback. No live Dutch announcements this time, but the most important ones came from a recording, better than nothing.

Taxing out. Beautiful weather in Zurich this evening, quite the difference compared to the morning before

Rotate! The clear skies continued for most of the journey

Well, what do you know? A sandwich on this flight too? Then why not on the early AMS-ZRH flight? Does anyone know the meal times or the meals per flight time for LX? I decided to go for a beer next to it, to relieveate some of the tight connection stress

Somewhere near the French-Luxemburg-Belgium border

And descent has begun here, the entire Dutch province of Zeeland with it’s different islands can be seen

Nice view over the Rotterdam harbor

And then the coastline. This would mean we would most likely be landing on the remote runway. This is a pretty nice approach if you are seated on the right side actually, as you fly over the North sea parallel to the coastline for about 10 minutes with a splendid view of the coastline. It was unfortunately getting too dark to get a picture of this

So I’ll borrow one from my archive to illustrate the view. Also taken from an LX ZRH-AMS flight, also from seat 11F, so it only seems appropriate to use this picture

Back to the pictures that were actually taken on this flight, turning back towards the coastline

By now a 180 degree turn was made. Crossing the North sea channel here, with a gorgeous sunset also visible

Crossing the highway between Haarlem and Amsterdam, just before touchdown



And then it really got too dark to take any worthwhile pictures. Touchdown was a little before ten o’clock, making the flight time almost the same as the AMS-ZRH flight the down before. The usual long taxi to the terminal followed, and we arrived on stand at 22.13. I knew there was a train leaving for home at 22.23, so I fast walked to the arrivals and the train station and made my home after an enjoyable weekend of flying!

Thanks for reading. Comments are appreciated! Stay tuned for my next report from a trip I’ll be embarking on this coming weekend. If thing go as planned, I will be reporting from the rare airports of LIL (Lille) and BIQ (Biarritz) in France, an Air Corsica flight and more!

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-08-08 05:02:19 and read 8236 times.

Very nice report Robert...looks like you had a good weekend in Nice. Looks like the crew handeled the emergency well. There was an emergency a few monutes before landing on a FR BHX-DUB flight last year, and the crew handeled it very well too, with O2 and water flowing freely.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Now this was an interesting phenomenon. As soon as we reached the Mediterranean, the clouds disappeared

You often see that crossing the Channel - on one side or the other there'll be a bank of clouds, the opther nice and sunny

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
The lady ahead of me wanted to check in a incredibly large object: a 4-5 meter long pole with a diameter of about 50 cm. And she was absolutely furious that the airline didn’t accept it as hold luggage.

That's giant! How can you turn up expecting to be able to check that in?!

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: OA260
Posted 2012-08-08 05:31:27 and read 8182 times.

Hey Robert  

Lovely read as usual.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
I have a rule. It says not to depart on flights that leave before 09.00 in the morning.

Im with you there but not always possible and usually I give in getting up at a crazy hour and being wrecked tired the whole day .

The check in was weird . How on earth did they get it to the Airport  

Glad you made your connection . I hate those tight connections .

Looking forward to the next TR .

Regards

Philip  

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: deltamartin
Posted 2012-08-08 06:58:22 and read 8066 times.

Hi Robert!

Nice report as usual!
Also nice to hear Swiss treated you nicely and that you had a nice weekend in Nice!  
Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Not in the picture here – I was just to late – was a Qatar Airways Boeing 777, that was later joined by an Airbus A330 from Qatar

Was the Triple Seven a cargo plane? I know we had the standard QR A330 taking off right before a QR Cargo 777 here at ARN once.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
I really like the Swiss logo on the small engines

Me too, shame they changed the logo and livery.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
That’s actually a Lufthansa Airbus ahead of us, the 3rd flight of the weekend with a Lufty Airbus taking off ahead of my flight

Well, shows that LH sure is a mega carrier!

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Perhaps he was looking forward to the night stop in Amsterdam.

Well, there's plenty of things to do on a night stop in Amsterdam!  

Martin

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: The777Man
Posted 2012-08-08 10:57:51 and read 7688 times.

Hi Robert !

Nice report with nice pictures on a great weekend to Nice!  

I have been to Nice about ten times or so and it's my favorite part of France! Very nice to see someone else going there as well.

Flights look good as always and good to see you made the connection on the return.

You should really write down the registrations of the aircraft you fly on; ypu'll regret it later......

Looking forward to your next report!

The777Man

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: saleya22r
Posted 2012-08-08 11:01:35 and read 7687 times.

Great report, thanks for sharing!
I'm a bit biased as my user name suggests!
The approach used on your flight is the Riviera circle to land procedure. Very good views of Cap d'Antibes. Yes, they avoid inhabited areas. According to Jeppesen, the base leg (sort of) is defined by the 176 radial of the CGS VOR/DME located near the beach at Cagnes sur Mer.
You were lucky enough to see the Saleya approach as well. Incidentally, I flew NCE-ZRH-OSL with LX on that same day (22/7) but on an earlier flight. Haven't used this connection earlier. I think I booked it some months ago because of the high season, this alternative was cheaper than NCE-FRA-OSL. In addition you avoid the FRA hassle..
Saleya22R

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: Knightsofmalta
Posted 2012-08-08 11:50:50 and read 7623 times.

Hi Robert

Good report. Looks like you had four good flights with Swiss. Fortunately the sandwiches do not appear to have fallen victim to their latest cost-cutting measures.

I greatly enjoyed the pictures you took of Nice. Perhaps I should visit one day...

Looking forward to your next adventure.

Cheers,
William

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: debonair
Posted 2012-08-08 12:46:30 and read 7533 times.

Nice TR...

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
So in the end I settled for a roundtrip via Zurich. Just when I was about to book that, Expedia produced a cheaper two-stop alternative for the outbound trip, flying AMS-ZRH-GVA-NCE.

Oh yes! Why can't more European airlines and travel agencies offer such fantastic multi-stop flights? Maybe this would be a perfect (spotter friendly) business model... Any idea which other travel agencies offer multi-stop flights?

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-08-08 15:09:36 and read 7393 times.

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
There was an emergency a few monutes before landing on a FR BHX-DUB flight last year, and the crew handeled it very well too, with O2 and water flowing freely.

Yes, the crew handled it very well. Very professional, almost as it happened to them everyday.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
You often see that crossing the Channel - on one side or the other there'll be a bank of clouds, the opther nice and sunny

I'll remember to check that out when I cross the Channel next month!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
That's giant! How can you turn up expecting to be able to check that in?!
Quoting OA260 (Reply 2):
The check in was weird .

Indeed it was. And the lady just couldn't understand it wasn't possible.

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 3):
Was the Triple Seven a cargo plane? I know we had the standard QR A330 taking off right before a QR Cargo 777 here at ARN once.

Could very well be!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 3):
Well, there's plenty of things to do on a night stop in Amsterdam!

That's true!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 4):
Nice report with nice pictures on a great weekend to Nice!

Nice was nice indeed  
Quoting saleya22r (Reply 5):
The approach used on your flight is the Riviera circle to land procedure. Very good views of Cap d'Antibes. Yes, they avoid inhabited areas. According to Jeppesen, the base leg (sort of) is defined by the 176 radial of the CGS VOR/DME located near the beach at Cagnes sur Mer.
You were lucky enough to see the Saleya approach as well

Thanks for the explanation! And I only knew it was called the Selaya approach and that it was pretty rare because you posted a topic about a few days before my trip!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 6):
Good report. Looks like you had four good flights with Swiss. Fortunately the sandwiches do not appear to have fallen victim to their latest cost-cutting measures.

Except on the AMS-ZRH flight  
Quoting debonair (Reply 7):
Any idea which other travel agencies offer multi-stop flights?

Actually LH and LX often throw in an extra connection for a similar or even cheaper price. Play around with http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ and you'll be amazed what you can find!

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: PlaneHunter
Posted 2012-08-08 23:47:34 and read 7190 times.

Hi Robert,

nice report about your trip to Nice!   Good to hear you made it on the last flight.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
In-flight service was a bit disappointing, catering-wise. I expected a sandwich to be honest, similar to what I had received a few years ago on the AMS-ZRH sector. Instead it was pre-packed muffin. Although it tasted pretty good, something a bit more substantial would have been nice on a breakfast flight like this.

I can only agree, a muffin for breakfast is simply not enough.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Not in the picture here – I was just to late – was a Qatar Airways Boeing 777, that was later joined by an Airbus A330 from Qatar.

Probably a diversion?

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
This catering was of course sufficient for a flight of this length, and I guess it proves to American (regional) carriers that is possible to provide services on flights shorter than 200 miles or 40 minutes.

Well, everything's possible, it's just a matter of costs.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Arriving at the stand, next to Lufthansa 737-500

D-ABXX is a -300.


PH

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: sultanils
Posted 2012-08-09 01:42:08 and read 7137 times.

Hello Robert,

Nice report of your weekend in Nice. Good flights provided by Swiss and some excitement thrown in with the medical emergency - well, excitement for you that is, not for that unfortunate passenger - and a tight connection at ZRH.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
In conclusion, please allow the wonderful Great Circle Mapper to illustrate the flights covered in this report

Err... where?  

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.30, which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.15.

Now you have me a little bit confused here  

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
whereas the A320 next to us would depart for one of the longest narrow body flights in the network, Istanbul.

Hey, I’ve taken that very same flight some years ago. It was an A321 back then, packed to the brim.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
as this French sector is a small, cramped area with limited views

GVA is not the best airport for spotting 

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
The number of executive jets at Nice is remarkable

It’s a posh destination.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
and the large object.

That looks like a pole used on a windsurf board or so?

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
I will be reporting from the rare airports of LIL (Lille) and BIQ (Biarritz) in France, an Air Corsica flight and more!

Looking forward to that one!

Sultanils

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: jwhite9185
Posted 2012-08-09 02:09:19 and read 7114 times.

Nice report there Robert. I was looking at going with Swiss to Nice earlier in the year but the chance to fly with BMI for the final time for a reasonable business fare was too good to resist!

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: Parton87
Posted 2012-08-09 05:25:32 and read 6989 times.

Hello Robert

Thanks for nice story! LX looks good as always. Strange though with such a more generous service on your inbound flights! Lovely pictures from Nice as well! It looks like a great place!

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Just when I was about to book that, Expedia produced a cheaper two-stop alternative for the outbound trip, flying AMS-ZRH-GVA-NCE

Great! I wish more airlines had these!

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
that leave before 09.00 in the morning

I´ve the same rule! Never fun to get up 4am and I always very afraid that I will over sleep so in the end I don´t sleep at all:D

Greetings
Robert

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-08-10 02:07:21 and read 6705 times.

Thanks for the replies!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 9):
nice report about your trip to Nice

Thank you!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 9):
Probably a diversion?

My thought as well.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 9):
D-ABXX is a -300.

Thanks for the correction, I'm usually able to tell both types apart  
Quoting sultanils (Reply 10):
Nice report of your weekend in Nice.

Thanks!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 10):
Err... where?

Argh, forget to put it in!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 10):
Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.30, which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.15.

Now you have me a little bit confused here

LOL. I meant the alarm would ring at 04.15 to get out of bed at 04.30  
Quoting sultanils (Reply 10):
GVA is not the best airport for spotting

Unfortuantely it is!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 10):
It’s a posh destination.

Indeed! There's even a helicopter service to Monaco.

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 11):
I was looking at going with Swiss to Nice earlier in the year but the chance to fly with BMI for the final time for a reasonable business fare was too good to resist

Considered that back then; but it didn't fit in the schedule and budget unfortunately.

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 12):
Strange though with such a more generous service on your inbound flights!

Yes, that was my thought as well.

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 12):
Never fun to get up 4am and I always very afraid that I will over sleep so in the end I don´t sleep at all:D

Very true!

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: infodesk
Posted 2012-08-10 23:33:00 and read 6520 times.

Hi Robert,

Good to read your account of your weekend in Nice and sorry that it didn't work out with a meeting this time. I was actually above you when you were in Dock B, should have stamped my feet a bit and then you might have heard me  
Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
A moving map was seen for a few minutes, but was then replaces by some short films with some rather annoying practical jokes.

This is really annoying. Especially when you've taken a few flights with LX in one month, then you know all the jokes off by heart.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
I expected a sandwich to be honest, similar to what I had received a few years ago on the AMS-ZRH sector. Instead it was pre-packed muffin. Although it tasted pretty good, something a bit more substantial would have been nice on a breakfast flight like this. Later on inflight the famous chocolates were distributed.

My experience has shown that on flights before lunchtime, you get a muffin or croissant, on later flights it's usually a sandwich. Having said that, on my mid-afternoon flight back from the Berlin meeting I was given an ice cream, which I really wasn't especting! Only on the very short ones, do you only get drinks/chocolate.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
I was just to late – was a Qatar Airways Boeing 777, that was later joined by an Airbus A330 from Qatar. Anyone have a clue to what they were doing there?

No idea why there was a second plane there. Maybe the previous day's flight had gone tech?

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Anyway, I was pleased to see that the multiple separate security checks at the A pier are now gone, which means one can now connect at ZRH without having to pass through security again

One huge advantage of the new centralised security.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
The first time I saw that at ZRH, a new feature of the B pier I assume?

Yeah, the gates at Dock B have this feature. They tested it at one of the A gates before the new pier opened.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Queuing up to board the aircraft. I really like the Swiss logo on the small engines

So do I, but as part of the new livery the logo on the engine is sadly being removed. I guess they won't bother on the Avros through, as they'll be phased out in a couple of years.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
I did see later however see two baggage handlers carrying the object around the apron, so I assumed she was able to transport it as cargo

Unbelievable the size of it! You'd think she'd enquire before the flight whether something of that size is ok to take.

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
If thing go as planned, I will be reporting from the rare airports of LIL (Lille) and BIQ (Biarritz) in France, an Air Corsica flight and more!

Great, BIQ is on schedule here for next month.

Happy flying
Infodesk   

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-08-12 00:36:58 and read 6341 times.

Hi Robert

Great report as usual. Nice to see the NCE approach pics. They are wonderfull.
I flew LX in 2006 to NCE as well with the AR1 and A319. Great flight btw. LX is a great airline to fly.

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-08-21 01:52:21 and read 5900 times.

Thanks for the aditional comments, and I apologize for the delay in replying. I was 'on the fly' again so to speak.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 14):
This is really annoying. Especially when you've taken a few flights with LX in one month, then you know all the jokes off by heart.

I can imigane!

Quoting infodesk (Reply 14):
My experience has shown that on flights before lunchtime, you get a muffin or croissant, on later flights it's usually a sandwich.

I see, thanks!

Quoting infodesk (Reply 14):
One huge advantage of the new centralised security.

Indeed!

Quoting infodesk (Reply 14):
I guess they won't bother on the Avros through, as they'll be phased out in a couple of years.

We better fly those nice little Avro's while we stil can!

Quoting infodesk (Reply 14):
Great, BIQ is on schedule here for next month.

Great, enjoy! I love Biarritz.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 15):
Great report as usual. Nice to see the NCE approach pics. They are wonderfull.

Thanks! The approach into NCE is quite wonderfull indeed.

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: adamspotter
Posted 2012-08-25 16:18:21 and read 5612 times.

Hi Robert,

Nice report on your weekend away to Nice. Turns out you were at the airport the same day I went off to the USA, I arrived at 09:00 though.
Looks like you had the nice and mostly usual flights with SWISS, quite an eventful NCE-ZRH leg I must say. Too bad the clouds blocked your 2 scenic flights over the alps. Always nice to catch a tight connection!
Love your pictures of Nice too, thanks for sharing

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
When I booked the flight 07.00 am didn’t really sound all that early, but when the trip came closer you start realizing you have to be at the airport at 06.00, which meant you have to leave your house at 05.00, which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.30, which meant I had to get out of bed at 04.15. That’s early. Too darn early.

hehe I know how you feel, I take early flights quite often myself

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
The A320 that would take me to Zurich today can also be seen.

Too bad you didn't get the nice Edelweiss scheme which runs this route regurarly

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Today’s A320 with a stunning sunrise in the back of the picture

Nice picture

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
The A320 I was on would be departing for one of the shortest narrow body flights in the LX network, whereas the A320 next to us would depart for one of the longest narrow body flights in the network, Istanbul.

There are some interesting facts

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
The mountain peaks

Beautiful, too bad about the clouds

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
View of the crowded terminal.

wow, that is cowded

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
Now this was an interesting phenomenon. As soon as we reached the Mediterranean, the clouds disappeared

very interesting to see indeed

Quoting roberts87 (Thread starter):
but couldn’t resist taking a picture of the argument and the large object.

haha wow how the hell did she want to carry that onto the aircraft??

cheers,
Brendan

Topic: RE: Hopping Over The Alps To Nice On LX Via ZRH & GVA
Username: roberts87
Posted 2012-08-29 11:54:49 and read 5404 times.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 17):
Love your pictures of Nice too, thanks for sharing

You're welcome, thanks for commenting!

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 17):
Too bad you didn't get the nice Edelweiss scheme which runs this route regurarly

Indeed, that would have been some variation instead of 4 LX Airbus A320's. Come to think of it, I have now flown 20 Airbus A320's, of which half of them were on LX   If I would have taken the 09.45 flight that was offered to me I would have flown on Edelweiss, but then I would not have gotten the extra flight via Geneva.

[Edited 2012-08-29 11:55:32]


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