knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 9512 times:
Hello and welcome to my latest trip report. This report is on the first in a series of nine flights I undertook at the end of July over a period of ten days. Here’s the itinerary of the entire journey:
ZRH-LHR, SWISS, Business Class
LHR-ATH, Aegean Airlines, Business Class
ATH-ZRH, SWISS, Business Class
ZRH-BKK, SWISS, First Class
BKK-KUL, Malaysia Airlines, Business Class
KUL-LGK, Malaysia Airlines, Business Class
LGK-KUL, Malaysia Airlines, Business Class
KUL-BKK, Malaysia Airlines, Business Class
BKK-ZRH, SWISS, First Class
Date: 21 July 2011
Airline: Swiss International Air Lines
Aircraft: A 320
My journey begins, as usual, with a train ride from Basel to Zurich Airport on the ‘Flugzug’, the airport train. What is special about this train is that it does not go via Zurich main station and bypasses it, going straight to Zurich Airport. All of the direct trains between Zurich Airport and Basel have an LX flight number and can be booked on the airlines’ website as a feeder in connection with a flight to or from Zurich. In theory when you book the air train on SWISS.COM, you’re booking a particular train. In practice however, the Swiss Federal Railways are very lenient and in fact you can take any train on the date of travel. You may even take a train that goes via the main station in Zurich.
My pet peeve with the Flugzug is the duration of the journey. The distance between Basel and Zurich is roughly 80kms. The direct nonstop trains to the main station in Zurich usually make the journey in 49 minutes. The Flugzug however takes 1hour and 14 minutes to make the journey. For one because it takes another route that is shorter but has speed restrictions, for another because it stops no less than seven times en route. But never mind. On this trip I would not let this bother me, I would just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
But let us now move on the trip report proper: as we pulled out of Basel’s main, Swiss railway station the weather was still more or less fine. We haven’t really had much of a summer in Switzerland so far. After a promising start to summer, July was rather unsettled and also unusually cool and with lots of rain. Within just a few minutes the weather situation started to deteriorate, and by the time the train reached Frick, the second of the seven stops between Basel and Zurich Airport, it was raining heavily. Alas, the situation did not improve any until I reached the airport. It was only a short while before boarding that the rain stopped.
I had checked in online, so once I arrived I decided to go airside immediately. On my way to the Senator lounge I spotted the daily Air Malta flight to Malta. Yearning for the warmer climes the aircraft would be heading for and overcome by a sudden bout of patriotism, I decided to sacrifice the comfort of the lounge to watch the Air Malta flight push back. As it happened though, the flight appears to have had some slot issue and although it showed as departed, it was still parked at the gate at the time boarding for my flight to Heathrow started.
My flight left from the non-Schengen area in Terminal B. The new B dock is rapidly nearing completion. Until it opens at the end of 2011 only the old bus gates on the ground level are in operation. Once the new building become fully operational these old gates will be shut down.
Fortunately it had stopped raining and the sun was trying to make a come back by the time our bus reached the aircraft. There was a bit of a hold up for departure. There was some woman travelling with her cello, for which she apparently had made a correct booking for an extra seat to have the delicate instrument transported in the cabin. As it happened though, nobody on the aircraft or from Swissport knew about the cello. As a result there was a bit of a commotion and a substantial delay as the ground crew attempted, and finally managed, to secure the cello in the cabin. What I thought was particularly funny though, was that while all this was going on the captain suddenly came on the PA and made an announcement that there would be a delay due to a passenger ‘and her cello which we did not know about’. The poor woman looked as though she wanted to go through the floor with embarrassment.
Note how you can still see the old Swissair logo, even after all these years.
And here a few cabin shots
Once we took off, the flight was pretty much average. Service was nothing special, although the meal offered on this short sector was rather tasty. It consisted of a chicken breast on rice salad with grilled artichokes. The meal was served with lovely, crisp warm bread and cheese and a dessert. Generally though, I find desserts are rarely any good in SWISS European Business Class and usually consist of something bland and overly sweet made with load of gelatine. So I gave this one a miss as I usually do.
Very soon we started our descent into Heathrow, where the weather looked as crappy as it had been in Zurich. I realised we were coming in on runway 9L but unfortunately I remembered only at the last moment that this would mean flying straight over Windsor Castle. Hence the somewhat botched picture of the estate.
Once we landed there was a further delay because our gate was still occupied by a South African Airways A 340. After about 20 minutes the aircraft finally moved off stand and we were able to make our way to the gate.
A last glimpse of my chariot to Heathrow
In Heathrow I stayed at the Sofitel in Terminal 5, which meant taking the Heathrow Express to get there from Terminal 2, which is home to many of the Star Alliance carriers in Heathrow, including SWISS. The Heathrow Express is free of charge for passengers only travelling between Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5.
I'm so creative...
This concludes the first part of my journey. The next report will be on the leg from Heathrow to Athens in Business Class with Aegean Airlines. So stay tuned. As ever, comments are highly appreciated.
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 3, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 8678 times:
Thanks, glad you like the report so far. I think the quality of the food on SWISS was the biggest eye opener for me on this trip. I admit I tend to go on quite a bit about SWISS, mainly because I have such high and perhaps unfair expectations. But when you compare the quality of the meals they serve to others, then that's when you realise just how good they actually are!
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 2): Interesting that you sacrificed the lounge for the Air Malta plane.
Well it should have left at 17h40 . And I was there around 17h15. At 18h00 I needed to board my flight so I had to leave. The aircraft hadn't moved by then.
But not visiting the lounge isn't such a big deal. It's always the same same anyway.
Sultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1403 posts, RR: 31 Reply 4, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 8112 times:
A nice start of your trilogy
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter): Yearning for the warmer climes the aircraft would be heading for and overcome by a sudden bout of patriotism, I decided to sacrifice the comfort of the lounge to watch the Air Malta flight push back.
Feeling a bit homesick, are you?
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter): What I thought was particularly funny though, was that while all this was going on the captain suddenly came on the PA and made an announcement that there would be a delay due to a passenger ‘and her cello which we did not know about’. The poor woman looked as though she wanted to go through the floor with embarrassment.
Very embarassing for the woman, I think the cello must've been clearly visible in the cabin. And if she indeed booked an extra seat for that, she's reaaly not to blame for the delay.
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 5, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 8063 times:
Thanks, glad you liked the start, let's hope for the best for the rest!
Quoting Sultanils (Reply 4): Very embarassing for the woman, I think the cello must've been clearly visible in the cabin. And if she indeed booked an extra seat for that, she's reaaly not to blame for the delay.
The thing is, when he made the announcement the cello was no longer visible as there were three Swissport employees and a flight attendant working on it. But the poor woman was left standing in the aisle like a lemon by herself for all the passengers to see. Not very nice.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6503 posts, RR: 79 Reply 6, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 7972 times:
nice first part of this series!
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter): . Service was nothing special, although the meal offered on this short sector was rather tasty. It consisted of a chicken breast on rice salad with grilled artichokes.
The main course looks very good - bad to hear that the dessert wasn't to your taste. Have you ever got a chocolate mousse? I got that on a ZRH-MUC flight in February. It was excellent. Here's a picture:
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 7, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 7952 times:
But you see, that's precisely what I mean. The taste of the chocolate mouse may be okay, but even that is made with gelatine. It's the only way to keep the cream airy and fluffy at higher altitudes. And I just find the whole idea of gelatine rather vile. Why can't they have a brownie or a piece of cake for desert for a change? That's what many other airlines do. Just something without gelatine.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 10): Shame you do not fancy the dessert. I tend to like the combination of bland, overly sweet and gelatine stuffs.
Well, the place would be an incredibly boring place if we were all the same and had the same tastes and opinion I guess...
Quoting akhmad (Reply 10): I wonder why no one had any idea about the separate seat booking for the cello.
According to the woman she had made a booking and as far as I know the booking for the extra seat has to be made in the same PNR, so it wasn't quite fair, and quite true either, when the pilot made his announcement stating that SWISS had not been informed about the cello. If that were the case she would not have been issued a boarding pass. It's the same thing as checking-in without a valid booking. I'm guessing Swissport botched it.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 10): Thanks for sharing. Now it is time to move on to the next part.
My pleasure, I hope you enjoy the other parts as well.
Quoting Burj (Reply 11): Great Windsor castle photo! I wonder if cabin crew ever point this out to pax as they fly over it!
The aircraft is already so low by that stage that if you're not fast enough you miss the castle.
ba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8352 posts, RR: 55 Reply 13, posted (2 years 4 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6440 times:
Nice report, Swiss always provide and excellent product, just wish the european flights offered priority boarding.
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter): the captain suddenly came on the PA and made an announcement that there would be a delay due to a passenger ‘and her cello which we did not know about’. The poor woman looked as though she wanted to go through the floor with embarrassment.
- Not particularly proffesional, do feel for the woman.
knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 14, posted (2 years 4 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6388 times:
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 13): just wish the european flights offered priority boarding.
Aegean and Malaysia Airlines both offer priority boarding. But I can't say I was too impressed. If you're sitting on the aisle you have everybody brushing against you as they make their way to the back.