knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Posted (2 years 8 months 18 hours ago) and read 7387 times:
Part I - Zurich to Düsseldorf
I recently had to go to Malta on business at rather short notice. Air Malta has a daily nonstop flight from Zurich to Malta, however the only fares they had left available were astronomically high. I did not want to travel via Rome either, which would have been the logical alternative, because basically that’s what I did last time. And if I’m perfectly frank, I think Rome Fiumicino is a real rat hole. Going to the loo in that airport for example is a traumatic experience and surely not for the faint of heart.
So eventually I booked on the following routing on Lufthansa’s website:
Date: 14. April 2011
Aircraft: B. 737-300
I was unable to check-in online for the outbound part of the flight, I guess it must have something to do with the fact that I was travelling on a Lufthansa ticket but with a segment operated as a code-share by Air Malta. On the day of departure I arrived at Zurich with enough time to spare for me to get a haircut first. After all, one should look decent on business. After that I went up to the departure area and tried to check-in at the self-service device, which also did not work. I then went over to the Senator counter where the check-in agent very sweetly informed me that my flight from Zurich to Düsseldorf had been cancelled. At least the Düsseldorf-Malta segment had not been changed. In any case, eventually she reinstated the flight and checked me in on the pre assigned seats I was given when I made the booking online. You would think that Lufthansa would try to make sure the Senators get decent seats. However, when I got on the plane, I found that 7F is right by the engine and only has half a window, which requires you to make the most fantastic contortions if you want to attempt to get a look outside. I took a few shots and then gave up. What also struck me was that the entire cabin of the B. 737-300 looked really dark and bleak. Catering on the flight consisted of a drink and a piece of cake, which I declined.
Good, I got off at the right stop...
Escalator leading up from the tracks
This next shot shows one of the last remnants of the Swissair era. The shot was taken by the escalator leading up to the departure level of Check-in 1, what used to be Terminal A. Swissair had installed its first self-service devices here.
Any questions about who runs the show in Zurich?
A few airside shots: a very big, very nice and very empty terminal
Entrance to Heaven
My plane to Düsseldorf
Our neighbour at the gate
And another Lufthansa, after all Swiss may run the show in Zurich but Lufthansa runs the show at Swiss
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 1, posted (2 years 8 months 18 hours ago) and read 7361 times:
Part II - Düsseldorf to Malta
Terminal A in Düsseldorf is exclusively reserved for Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners. When I arrived the terminal was very busy. I made my way to the lounge, which was absolutely packed. It stayed busy for about an hour, with standing room only.
After about two hours in the lounge I realised the Air Malta flight was not showing on the FIDS. At a closer glance I realised that the display only showed departures from Terminal A. I took this to mean that Air Malta would be leaving from Terminal B and slowly started to make my way there. Not having transited through Düsseldorf before, I was not quite sure how long it would take me to get there.
Date: 14. April 2011
Arrival: 22: 55
When I arrived at the gate, my plane was already in the process of being turned around. Boarding started more or less on time. When I checked in in Zurich earlier in the afternoon, I had requested the exit row. So I was not really too worried about the 2.5 hour flight to Malta in Air Malta’s notoriously tight Economy Class. As it turned out though, the check-in agent in Zurich must have made some mistake as I ended up on 9A, which is not an emergency exit. And lord it was tight. This was going to be a long flight, this was going to be agony.
I was rather surprised to see that the flight was nearly full, with only a few empty seats here and there. Fortunately I was one of the few lucky ones and the middle seat stayed empty. I was also surprised to find that, contrary to my expectations, most of the passengers were not Germans but transfer passengers from Eastern Europe, Spain and England. Well, considering the bad financial state Air Malta is in right now, it’s good to see they can still manage to pack ‘em in, even during the low season.
Düsseldorf is both Lufthansa and Air Berlin country
My plane being turned around
A few shots from the window
Cabin and crew. The curtain was lowered/closed after take-off
Information on the screens
The next surprise came once we got airborne: I was reading and trying to get comfortable (no easy feat I can tell you), when suddenly the smell of warm food came wafting through the cabin. There was no business class on this flight, so I figured it had to be the crew meals they were heating up. Or rather, I didn’t dare to hope: surely it couldn’t possibly be the passengers’ food they were heating. After all, what airline still serves hot meals in Europe these days? Eventually though, it turned out the hot meals were for the passengers and not for the crew. I was honestly impressed, well at least a bit. I can’t really remember the last time I got a hot meal in Economy Class on a short-haul sector.
Passengers had a choice between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian option. I opted for the non-vegetarian. It consisted of spinach with red pepper and onion, a slice of veal and gratin dauphinois (potatoes in a cream and cheese sauce). The tray also contained a bread roll, butter and a sweet biscuit type thing filled with dates. To drink I had, of course, Kinnie, Malta’s national soft drink – very refreshing indeed. The rest of the flight was uneventful. It was gone 23h by the time I got to the hotel.
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 17 hours ago) and read 7303 times:
Part III - Malta to Frankfurt
After a whole day of meetings on the 15th, it was time for me to return home to Switzerland on the 16th. My driver came to pick me up at the hotel at 10:30. Throughout my stay in Malta, it had rained constantly, and on the 16th it was quite heavy. In Malta rain usually causes a whole series of road accidents. Malta is a very windy and thus also dusty place. When it rains, the dust turn into a very slippery muck. Add to that the fact that the Maltese are not exactly good drivers at the best of times…
The Maltese are funny, sometimes I forget just how important religion still is to them. I guess I’ve been gone from the island for too long. I had three meetings on 15 April, which is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, or Id-Duluri, in Malta. In every meeting I attended, my hosts apologised for the bad weather, usually adding “…but after all, it is id-Duluri today…” in a matter of fact tone of voice, as though the blessed virgin’s sorrows were some kind of explanation for the shitty weather.
Check in for Lufthansa at Malta airport is conducted by Air Malta at dedicated counters. There is a separate row for Business Class and Senator passengers. When I got to the counter, my invitation to the La Valette lounge had already been prepared with my name on the invitation. There were two Easyjet flights, two Ryanair flights and one Jettime (never heard of them) to Billund and something Bulgarian (my Cyrillic is non-existent) leaving around the same time as my flight to Frankfurt. There was also an RAF Hercules on the ground, presumably in connection with the NATO fiasco…I mean mission…in Libya.
The lounge was busy but not full. By the looks of it there were a few passengers on the Frankfurt flight who had arrived in Malta on a cruise ship and were returning home. The lounge has wifi, which is much better and faster than using the computers they have available in the lounge. They’re really slow.
Date: 16. April 2011
Aircraft: A 321
I'm trying to be creative here...
The lounge is for premium passengers and fish
Typically Maltese offerings in the lounge. The bread is know as a Ftira. the plate in the middle with the veg has a Maltese speciality on it called Bigilla. It's like Hummus but with Broad Beans. Alas I am allergic to them, so I can't tell you if it's any good.
Ladies and Gentlemen may I introduce the lovely, the delectable, the most refreshing Kinnie.
A few shots from inside the terminal.
Boarding started on time. We were bussed to the aircraft. I didn’t take any pictures though because it was raining and I did not want to get wet. The appearance of the cabin of the Lufthansa A321 was rather striking I though. The first four rows were Business Class. Then came rows 5 to 8. Behind that there is the emergency Exit with a toilet on the left side of the aircraft, and a closet to hang coats on the other side. I was seated in 7A. I rather liked this configuration, it gave the small Economy Class section a nice cosy feel. I got chatting with the flight attendant as she hung up my jacket and she told me to enjoy it while it lasted. Apparently Lufthansa will be doing away with the loo and the closet to make way for more seats on the A321.
The service, if you can call it that, started pretty soon after take-off once the fasten seatbelt sign had been turned of. I honestly have to that say this meal was a huge disappointment. What we got was allegedly a Quiche Lorraine with bacon, onions and cheese. I’ll grant them this, the thing was warm but first of all it was really very small, secondly it was very greasy and thirdly, it tasted like…well…not Quiche Lorraine for sure. I only tried a small bit and then decided to just leave it. Also, they didn’t come round with the drinks trolley until they had distributed all the quiches, which took quite a while. The A321 is a long plane. The guy next to me waited to eat until he got a drink, by which time I’m sure the thing was cold. Apart from that, there was only the only drink service. You had to order your coffee/tea with your cold drink. No second rounds at all. All in all, I have to say the experience on Lufthansa was a bit disappointing. I wasn’t expecting the red carpet, but I was expecting at least something! But the crew were really very nice, I’ll hand them that.
You see, it really was raining, honest!
This is the little church Ryanair wanted the Maltese authorities to demolish to make way for a taxiway all the way to the beginning of runway 31. As it is aircraft have to backtrack.
The marshaller getting soaked. Poor guy.
Making our way to the active runway.
This is the first runway built at the airport. It is still used today, but only very rarely. The B. 720 is not likely to fly again I guess.
The Lufthansa Technik facility.
A lime stone quarry just after departure.
A few enroute shots.
More enroute shots, including some spectacular vistas of the Austrian alps. This first shot show Rome Fiumicino in the distance.
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 3, posted (2 years 8 months 17 hours ago) and read 7286 times:
Part IV - Frankfurt to Zurich
Arrival in Frankfurt was on time. As far as spotting exotic airlines are concerned, Frankfurt really is a cool place I have to say. Other than that though, as a passenger I think it’s a right mess. There are too many people all over the place bumping into each other, there’s not enough places to sit for all the people and the distances you have to walk to get from one place to another are simply ridiculous.
Regrettably, the same thing also holds true for the Senator lounge in the Schengen area. But at least the food is good. When I finally found a place to sit in the lounge I was famished. So I got myself a pair of Frankfurters with mustard and potato salad and then some made-to-order open sandwiches with cream cheese and vegetables. Eventually though I got bored and decided to go for a walk about. I needed to do that anyway, seeing as I had absolutely no idea where my gate was.
Date: 16. April 2011
Aircraft: Avro RJ 100
Nothing much to report really and not that many pictures on this last segment. Most of the passengers on the plane appeared to be Greeks transiting form Frankfurt to Greece via Zurich. From what I could understand they had attended some international beauty fare in Germany and some looked as though they had won some price or other. In any case they were loud and irritating. When I got to my seat 11A, there was already some guy sitting there. I stopped to let him out while he figured out where his seat was. In the meantime, the Greeks behind me kept pushing and showing, as though the idea of stopping and waiting hadn’t occurred to them. Eventually I turned round and barked at the guy right behind me. And then they stopped. Fortunately the Senator status worked its magic and at least I had the row of two to myself. Thank God for that!
The hair dryers hard at work
Approaching runway 16 in Zurich
Anyway, I wrote this report on the train from Zurich airport back to Basel where I live. It was an interesting and promising trip. But lord it was also exhausting!
The Swiss tilting train. It has been known to make people feel seasick
Next report will be another trip to Malta, via London with BA in Economy and Air Malta in Business. Stay tuned…
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 7, posted (2 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5902 times:
Actually I rather like the RJ100 too. Swiss flies them in a 5-abreast configuration which is quite roomy. And since they installed the Recaro slimline seats there's even more space. The only thing I don't like is that there really are not that many seat rows that provide good views of what's going on outside while the aircraft is still on the ground.
abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 4999 posts, RR: 55 Reply 8, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5059 times:
Thanks for the report on Malta. I'm headed there in a month and now know what to expect/avoid. The food in the KM lounge in MLA looks awesome - too bad for your allergies. I did smile at a few observations:
Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 1): Terminal A in Düsseldorf is exclusively reserved for Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners. When I arrived the terminal was very busy. I made my way to the lounge, which was absolutely packed. It stayed busy for about an hour, with standing room only.
Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 3): Regrettably, the same thing also holds true for the Senator lounge in the Schengen area.
Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 3): Arrival in Frankfurt was on time. As far as spotting exotic airlines are concerned, Frankfurt really is a cool place I have to say. Other than that though, as a passenger I think it’s a right mess. There are too many people all over the place bumping into each other, there’s not enough places to sit for all the people and the distances you have to walk to get from one place to another are simply ridiculous.
= Isn't it amazing that irrespective of which home base you are at, LH senators lounges are so disgusting and busy. And Frankfurt itself is a nightmare - it sort of reminds me of the dinginess of Nairobi and Sao Paulo put together, without the character! Next time, just go through Munich - a MUCH nicer airport.
Thanks so much for sharing. Any nice quiet beach you recommend in the north Coast of Malta? All I hear of is the Radisson Blu?
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 9, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4866 times:
The Senator lounges are a never ending saga. The only one I've ever been to that was not a complete mess is the one in Hamburg, but that was on a Sunday evening. The Hamburg Senator lounge is also very nice in that they have an open air viewing area. You can sit there with a drink and some nibbles watching the planes taking off right in front of you.
As for where to stay and what beach to visit, it really depends. First of all, as far as the hotel is concerned, the Radisson Blu is nice but it's a bit out of the way. You definitely need a car for that. The hotel overlooks Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, which is nice but beware:
1. the currents can be quite strong, so carful if you're not a strong swimmer
2. if the sea is coming in, there's a risk of jelly fish.
I always stay at the Phoenicia, which is right in front of the city gate in Valletta. If you have a car, you can be at any beach up north withing 30 mins. The Phoenicia has an old world colonial charm that I rather like actually. In any case, hope you have a good trip. Let me know how it went.