Departure at 06:00 is really early. I didn't want to pay for parking my car at
STR, and train connections are rather poor on an early saturday morning, so I
chose a rather uncool way to get to the airport: My mother drove me there. We arrived at the airport at 05:30 and I went directly to gate 121 in Stuttgart's old Terminal 1. Security control was very quick, passport control as well, so I sat down for ten minutes before boarding started at 05:45, and at 05:55 the bus with about 30 passengers brought us to our aircraft. I left my bag as a "delivery at aircraft" as the space in the ERJ overhead bins is limited.
Swiss has painted the names of their aircraft next to the door - I had never
realized this before! A friendly flight attendant wished me a good morning,
checked my boarding pass receipt, and I went to my seat 3F. Of course no
curtain between Business and Economy on the ERJ, but Business has white Swiss headrests.
For the safety instruction, the flight attendant started a tape in English language. Soon we were off-block and rolled the short way towards runway 07. After take-off, we turned south, so I had a great view over STR. For breakfast, we were offered croissants, "Schneckennudeln" (sorry I don't know the English term), coffee, tea and orange juice. I had a "Schneckennudel", an orange juice and a typical Swiss chocolate cube. The captain made an announcement about the Rheinfall which could be seen on the right-hand side. During approach, the Alps in the first light of the day created a nice atmosphere. Soon, we landed on runway 34 (first time for me to land on this runway) and taxied to our stand.
Among others, there were five Helvetic F100s and four Gexx F100s just being
readied for their flights, and some ex-Swiss MD-11s and MD-80s parked. After
leaving the aircraft, I picked up my bag and took this photo:
31 July 2004
STD: 13:05 ATD: 13:20/13:33
STA: 07:55 ATA: 07:50/07:53
HB-JMI (Swiss' newest A340, delivered only a few weeks ago, in early June 2004
"Dent Blanche 4357m"
Boarding by seatrows started from the rear of the cabin. When my row was called, I gave my boarding pass to the gate agent and with row 5 I had the choice between boarding via door 1L or 2L. I took 1L in order to have a look at the Swiss First Class seats. I had seat 5A, a guy was sitting on 5B already. As Business Class would not be full anyway, I offered him to change my seat after boarding would be completed, but he moved to 5D, already before boarding was completed, so he had to change again to row 7 when the passenger on 5D came. By the way, both First and Economy seemed to be rather full, however Business was only about half full.
Alright, so I had my window seat, and the aisle seat next to me remained free.
Swiss' A340 business class is really comfortable: a 2-2-2 configuration with lots of legspace - I even had to open my seatbelt whenever I wanted to take something out of the seatpocket in front of me!!!
Behind the first pair of doors, there are two rows of First Class, then a bulkhead, then two rows of Business (that's where I was sitting), then the second pair of doors, and then another six rows of Business Class.
Boarding was completed on-time. but a slot forced us to wait about 15 minutes. Drinks were offered. The screens showed the wall of Terminal E, with some airport staff walking around - quite a boring entertainment, I thought. Stupid me, this was of course the front-view camera, which was very interesting as soon as the aircraft moved.
We taxied to runway 16, and a safety video was shown. The Maître-de-Cabine made her welcome announcement in German, French and English, then one of the (two or three?) Japanese flight attendants made an announcement in Japanese. Take-off was very impressive to watch on the screens, and once airborne the A340's famous climbrate (or should I say lack of climbrate) offered me a nice view out of the window when we made a 180° turn to the left immediately after take-off!!!
After take-off, we turned northeast, flew over the Lake Constance with FDH airport where I saw a Zepellin passing below us - they offer Zepellin sightseeing flights from FDH. Then we turned east, over Austria, south of Munich (I could see MUC), then Prag, Lodz, Warsaw, Minsk, Russia. North of Moscow, an Air France A319/A320 passed above us - I had no idea how far east these AF A320s are flying! Then five hours straight ahead over Russia/Siberia, and no towns below for five hours, just a few streets and sometimes a few houses - this world is bigger than I thought, I was very impressed about the expanse of Russia, I mean I knew Russia is big, but when you fly over it and don't see a larger town for more than five hours, it's really impressive! Shortly before the sea, we turned left to avoid Chinese airspace, then right again, to the south, passed Chaborovsk, then the Japanese Sea, and finally Japan, which was first very flat, then mountains, and then the city of Tokyo.
Flight time for this 9600km flight was 11h 30min.
As already mentioned, very spacy seats, with a set of bottons to recline the seat electrically into a flat position, move the footrest, curve the seat in or out. A very large PTV to be folded out of the armrest, with a handset also to be taken out of the armrest. A large table to be folded out of the other armrest. Large overhead bins. An Amnity Kit was placed in every seat pocket, also some house shoes (a sort of bathing shoes) in the seat pocket, and a blanket and a pillow on every seat. By the way, the safety card looked virtually unused, I think the typical C-Class passenger never takes a look at the safety card. Large stowages in the back of the front seat, large enough to be used for shoes, or in my case binoculars and a Digi-Cam. Two reading lamps, one from the cabin ceiling and one moveable lamp placed on top of the center armrest.
Before push-back they served drinks (champagne, orange juice, water). Shortly after take-off they served some crackers and drinks of all kind. Then about 45 minutes after take-off, they served lunch. "They", that was the Swiss-German
Maître-de-cabin (who also spoke French and English) and a Japanese Flight Attendant (who also spoke English).
This meal was part of Swiss' "SWISS taste of Switzerland" program, "designed to make various regions of the country and the distinctive culture more familiar to you". This summer, it's the Lake Lucerne Region ("Zentralschweiz").
- Vegetable salad with thinly sliced fillet of smoked peppered duck, fillet of trout and wasabi cream:
After the meal, they came around with a box of Swiss pralinées.
As an alternative, you could also have the Japanese meal:
Sushi: King prawns, tuna and ginger roll; buckwheat noodles with leeks, Japanese horseradish and soba sauce
Sunomono: Vinegared cucumber with marinated and fried shrimps
Nimono: Tamago - a Japanese eggcake with marinated salmon; Pan-fried chicken-breast with teriyaki sauce accompanied by shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and green aspargus.
"From classic Swiss and French to more innovative Portugese or Argentinian, the choice is yours":
- Champagne: Brut Nicolas Feuillate, Réserve Particulière, France (40% Pinot Noir 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay)
- White Wine: 2003 Riesling x Sylvaner Auslese Stäfner Switzerland
2003 Chardonnay Finca La Linda Mendoza, Argentinia
- Red Wine: 2001 Vin de Pays d'Oc La Cuvée Mythique France
2002 Douro DOC Lavradores de Feitoria Tres Bagos Portugal
2002 Malbec Reserve Bodega Norton Mendoza, Argentina
Various drink services throughout the whole flight. During the "night" (when window shades were lowered, in never became really dark outside due to our northern route) they offered various snacks in the galley, for example all sorts of fruits, Japanese soups ("5-Minuten-Terrine"-style), crackers, peanuts, etc.
Not on the photo is the choice between a) Scrambled eggs served with wmoked pork and cherry tomato (which I had) or b) Orange gratin or c) Country ham and Black Forest ham with Gruyère and Camembert. (sorry I forgot to take a photo of this).
Very large PTVs. Video on demand(!), with 21 programs! I watched "50 First Dates", a very funny movie which I hadn't seen yet. Music on demand, 125 CDs were available, that's a total of about 1500 songs! I spent most of the flight listening to Avril Lavigne, Craig David, Beyoné, and they also had DJ Tocadisco's record "Nobody likes the records that I play"
available, which I found very funny. Games: "Who wants to be a millionaire", however the German version of this game was apparently a Swiss-German version, I couldn't answer some 100 Euro questions... Swiss Ski Challenge, Solitaire, all in all about 10 different games. Flight information: The usual map/time/speed/temperature thing, plus a camera facing forward (which was not too interesting during flight, and which was switched off for landing, however for take-off this was a nice feature) and a camera facing down, which was always interesting to watch, especially over Siberia with all the forests, the rivers, the lakes... Financial news latest DAX, Dow Jones, Nikkei indices
With all these meals, the entertainment and the comfortable seats, those 11h 30min flight were very enjoyable! We landed at 07:50am in NRT, Terminal 2, concourse D. I took the train to the Terminal 2 main concourse to immigration. A small queue, but it all went rather slowly, so it took me about 30 minutes to pass immigration. The immigration officers fulfilled every cliché because they all wore white cloves, all Japanese officials like police men, pilots, even bus drivers wear these white gloves. Some of the immigration officers also wore masks over their mouths, which I found strange - what does a foreigner think when the immigration officers wear masks? They still have SARS in Japan or what?
I didn't have any baggage checked, so I went directly to the customs. And just like every time I go through customs, I always get searched. This happens nearly every time when I travel between Germany and Switzerland, and of course it also happens when I enter Japan. I guess I have the look of a smuggler, also the fact that I only stayed in Japan for two days and had only a carry-on with me must have helped to create the impression that Mister Ndebele came to Japan for smuggling. In fact I came for spotting, but I didn't tell them because this would possibly lead to further questions. So I let the customs officer search my bag and my rucksack, what a disappointment this was when he didn't find anything. That's why he also checked my purse - 20 Francs, 15 Euros and a few thousand Yen, not very much. He searched my trousers legs, my shoes and under my shirt. At least he was very friendly and polite, he even *asked* weather or not it's okay for me if he would check my rucksack - what if I had said "No"?
My stay in Japan
Fellow a.net member Ba319-131 has already provided me with spotting information about NRT and HND, and indeed spotting in Japan is great: They do not have one observation deck in NRT, they have at least three! Two small ones on top of Terminal 2 and a large one on top of Terminal 1, with holes in the fences in order to take photos, here's a photo I took from Terminal 1:
As I was tired and it was hot and humid, I took the hotel bus to the Tobu Narita Holiday Inn, less than 1km from the airport. This hotel offers some decent spotting even from the hotel room (my room was on 7th floor), of course nothing compared to the LHR Renaissance, but with a good set of binoculars you could get the registrations from your air-conditioned room. 9300 Yen per night (about 75 Euros), quite okay for a hotel in Japan. But of course, NRT is not central Tokyo, in fact NRT is about 70km from Tokyo. So I guess a hotel in central Tokyo would be much more expensive.
There's a bus from NRT to HND. It takes about 90 minutes and costs 3000 Yen one-way. It's definitely worth it, all those domestic aircraft that you don't see
anywhere outside Japan. And it's very impressive to see those 1000s of Japanese people inside the Terminal which is so crowded: HND.jpg>
Inside the terminal I was the only non-Japanese, I think - later on the observation deck there was a British spotter.
03 August 2004
STD: 10:40 ATD: 10:47/10:58
STA: 16:15 ATA: 15:47/15:53
HB-JMD (delivered in December 2003)
On Tuesday, I left my hotel at 6:30 and took the bus to NRT's Terminal 2, where Swiss check-in is located. You always have to show a passport when entering the airport, they already check your passports inside the bus when you arrive. Swiss check-in is done by JAL and the counters open at 08:10. A short queue for baggage screening, although I didn't have any baggage for check-in, I decided that it would be very impolite to rush forward, so I entered the queue. Ten minutes later I got to the counter, checked in and got seat 6G, this time an aisle seat, the first row of the rear Business section.
Some last spotting from the two Terminal 2 observation desks, a last Sushi for breakfast, then I went through security (20 minutes queue) and passport control (another 20 minutes queue). Gate number was E70L, a bus gate! From here I saw a JAL MD-11, I thought this would be my last JAL MD-11 ever, but I was wrong as I saw exactly the same aircraft (JA8582) only 12 hours later in ZRH - so this MD-11 operated JAL's NRT-ZRH flight.
At 10:00, boarding was called, the gate agent, the station manager and the bus driver bowed to the passengers, then boarding started. I got into the first bus which arrived at the aircraft at 10:30. Only one door was in use (2L), we had to wait until catering was finished (they used the 2L door as well).
Some of the flight attendants were the same as on my way ZRH-NRT. They welcomed us aboard, I sat down on 6G. The Business Class on this flight would become nearly full (only about three or four seats remained empty). When boarding was completed, they served some drinks, Champagne, orange juice or water.
- White peach mousse on a red peach sauce
- Pecan nut tart
I had the peach mousse, but deleted the photo by mistake.
There was also a Japanese meal offered.
Lunch was completed about 2 hours after take-off. Window shades were lowered, most passengers fell asleep, I reclined, listened to some records and watched the different onboard cameras and the flight information.
Two hours before landing, they served a light meal:
We landed at 15:47, more than 20 minutes ahead of schedule, and taxied towards gate A81. I walked to the transfer desk and checked in for my onward flight to STR. Then through a window, I saw HB-IJH taking off! This is an ex-Swissair A320, all white, which apparently took off for a test flight after its long-term storage.
STD: 17:35 ATD: 17:35/17:40
STA: 18:20 ATA: 18:15/18:20
HB-JAT (delivered to Crossair in February 2002)
"Arnihaaggen 2207m" still in Crossair livery
Bus boarding from gate A02 started at 17:15. 12 passengers on this flight. Even on this short flight, they served orange juice before take-off, and they served newspapers, I had a "Blick". We taxied towards runway 28, took off and I had a great view over Zurich, the main train station, the Zürichsee, then we turned north, Lake Constance, FDH, the two flight attendants served another orange juice and a Swiss Chocolate, then we already descended and landed on STR's runway 07 at 18:15. We were bussed to the terminal building (Terminal 3) and after passport control I went directly to the airport train station catch my train home.
Thanks for reading this report, I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry if some passages of the outbound flight are too lengthy or detailed, I did my best to keep the report for the homebound flights as short and simple as possible. If you want, feel free to reply to this report - thanks in advance!
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4748 posts, RR: 26
Reply 2, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 27729 times:
From the look of things, looks like LX hasn't changed much since my last Biz trip with them (other than the seats, of course). While the quality of the food is superb, I found the presentations styles somewhat lacking.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2899 posts, RR: 23
Reply 3, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 27574 times:
Thanks so far for your replies!
@Alphafloor: Afaik, there is only HB-IWE left. About the retirement date of the last Swiss MD-11, all I know is what I read here on a.net - last I read was that ZRH-ORD-ZRH on October 31st will be the last commercial Swiss MD-11 flight.
@Ryanair!!! The quality of the food was indeed superb! Regarding the presentation style, do you mean the order the different plates are arranged on the table? This is more or less my fault, as Swiss doesn't serve the courses on trays but only the plates - so I arranged the different plates on the tablecloth in a way that I thought would make them look good for the photo. If the arrangement of the plates is lacking of style (glass on the left-hand side, roll on the tablecloth instead of the plate, etc.), then it's apparently me who is lacking of style - drinking a glass of Coke to the cheese course somehow proves it
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 27513 times:
Well that's been superb reading, thanks for taking so much time to write out the details of your trip to Japan with Swiss - quite a unique report I think! I hope you enjoyed your trip to Japan (sounds like you did). When I read later on the observation deck there was a British spotter. I just had to laugh. Is there anywhere you don't see some British person, be they a spotter or just a traveller?
I have a question: having flown frequently in the past with Emirates (who have the vision cameras installed across their fleet) do you remember feeling that the actual motion of the aircraft was faster than the recorded film on the screen? It always looked to me as if the aircraft was moving more slowly on TV than in reality...
Anyway, thanks again for sharing your flight experience!
FLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5137 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 27467 times:
great, detailed report. You know from my PRG report that we nearly meet us at STR this Saturday morning .I´m right that your flight was non-rev, or did you pay it?
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4748 posts, RR: 26
Reply 7, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 27295 times:
Regarding the presentation style, do you mean the order the different plates are arranged on the table?
No, I do not mean that. I find the presentation rather plain. Everything is white and the food is just.... there. It is still morning here and the thesarus in my brain is not working. Let me think about it some more and I will describe it to you.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 8, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 27223 times:
Great trip report. The pictures made a perfect addition to an already well written trip report.
Nice to see Swiss is capable of a decent flight. I have been reading a lot of negative stuff about them recently. Maybe there is some hope for them. Still does not sound like the Swissair I was used to flying long haul.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2899 posts, RR: 23
Reply 9, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 27194 times:
Thanks again for your replies!
@DoorsToManual: Exactly what I thought when I saw this British spotter at HND: at least an observation deck is a location where you can be sure to meet a Briton - they're virtually everywhere! Regarding the camera: sorry but I can't tell you much about the motion speed on the screen, I guess I was so impressed about that camera that I didn't compare the motion speed on the screen with our actual speed.
@Markus/Flieger67: Yes your assumption is correct. I read in your report that you travelled to PRG on the same day, however I suppose you arrived at the airport when my flight had already left.
@Mark/Radelow: Indeed, the flight was the main reason for this trip. Unfortunately I was travelling alone, otherwise I would have stayed in Japan longer (although everything is quite expensive there...)
@Ryanair!!! Your thesaurs works perfectly, now I know what you mean; watching the pictures again, you may be right, but I'm certainly not the type of guy who would have noticed this as a "lack of style", it all was just perfect for me.
@SR103: The flight was more than decent, in fact there was hardly anything that I can think of what they could have done better. But then again, I'm not a seasoned C-Class traveller, so I have not much comparison.
Swiss-airplane From Switzerland, joined May 2000, 591 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (9 years 11 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 27168 times:
very nice trip report.. enjoyed reading very much.. i still like swiss. It is for me still a great airline and i like their staff a lot.. it's not easy for them, but at least they try to provide a good service on all of my flights which I had.. very glad to hear that you had such a wonderful flight.. flow some business class routes with lx two years ago. ..loved it...
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4693 posts, RR: 43
Reply 14, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 26960 times:
Let me chime in with all the other praise and applause for your very interesting and brilliantly written trip report! Reading your detailed but never boring description really made me feel like flying with you onboard SWISS.
Good to hear that your plans have worked out - I guess non-reving in the summer can be quite a gamble!
IMO Japan is quite a fascinating country to visit - I am considering to fly there in a few years too, so I guess I will come back to your Japanese experiences in our private conversation.
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
ChrisZRH From Switzerland, joined May 2004, 423 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 26705 times:
hi, very good report indeed!
next time on the LX A340 in Cclass, try the seat rows 4 and 5 (just behind F-class and infront of second boarding door) you have F-Class carpets + often F-class flight attendants, service) usually those seats are reserved for Swiss Circle Members!
Cambrian From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 619 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 26255 times:
Great report- and excellent pictures!
Swiss is my favourite airline and I don't know why they get such a hard time on these message boards.
I always find the food to be excellent in Swiss Business. I also like the presentation of the food in that it is very simple, on white china- this is all part of the Swiss branding- modern, simple and uncluttered.
Airsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 34
Reply 20, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 26177 times:
>>>Having never been to Asia, having never flown on the A340 and having never flown Business Class, I thought it was time for a trip that would give me all three experiences.
That's a good reasoning - especially the last part. Hey, with that argumentation I should go book a Round the World trip in First class next thing tomorrow morning.
You know, it's a bit unfair to post all those pics of you being pampered up front with delicious food etc. Other people have to fly from Ustupu to Malatupo in 30 year old Twin Otters and be happy about a couple of dry crackers.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14
Reply 21, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 26074 times:
well, what can I add to all those positive comments
Really excellent report, I enjoyed reading it a lot! The pictures are a valuable contribution to your report - great work! You obviously had a good time in Japan and on your flights (well - what else should you expect in Business?)
the safety card looked virtually unused, I think the typical C-Class passenger never takes a look at the safety card
... or maybe they make sure that there are only new safety cards on C-Class and not these worn-out old papers you sometimes find in Economy?
During the "night" (when window shades were lowered ...
Did you HAVE to lower your window shade, even if it was C-Class and there was no passenger next to you? I thought being forced to darken your window happens only in Economy...
Ba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8506 posts, RR: 55
Reply 22, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 26074 times:
Great report, Ndebele!
Totally enjoyed reading it.
Well,i'm right hey,NRT & HND are superb for spotting,though NRT can be a hard work at times given the distance between the 2 terminals.The first time I went to NRT,the sheeer volume of NW & UA traffic totally shocked me,such volumes,it was like being at LAX!
Hopefully my info was usefull,it appears so.
I might have to go back early next year and start getting all those NW 332's that will be flying into NRT - yipee!
Godbless From Sweden, joined Apr 2000, 2752 posts, RR: 16
Reply 23, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 25996 times:
Usually you do not reply to a Trip Report which you have not even read pieces of but I will now do so... When I get back from Canada and the US I will take some time and read it but here I would have to rush it through.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2899 posts, RR: 23
Reply 24, posted (9 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 25856 times:
Once again thanks very much for your replies!
@Montague/Qantas077: Indeed the Marroad Hotel would have offered much better views. A pity that I chose the next-best airport hotel without further searching.
@ChrisZRH: Yes I was sitting in row 5 for my flight to NRT, and I enjoyed it a lot, mostly because of the quiet atmosphere because of that fact that this cabin section between bulkhead and galley consists of only two rows. Definitely very nice seats.
@Daniel/Airsicknessbag: Hey that routing of your last weekend trip sounds much more exotic than my routing - can't wait for the report!
@Christoph/ContactAir: No they didn't really force us to lower the window shades. But they lowered the shades in all seatrows that were empty, most passengers lowered their shades as well, and when I went to toilet they lowered my shades as well - and they were right, the sun was shining very low through the left-hand side windows, this can be very disturbing to other passengers.
@Ba319-131: Indeed your Tokyo spotting information were very useful, thanks again. - Regarding Peking, isn't spotting in China rather restricted?
By the way, I have one question: What exactly is the difference between an A340-313X (HB-JMD) and an A340-313X Enhanced (HB-JMI)? As far as I know, engines and maximum takeoff weight are the same on all of Swiss' A340s, also both aircraft looked pretty much the same both from outside and from outside - so what's so "enhanced" about the A340 Enhanced?
: Nbebele, Regarding spotting in China,I too thought it might be risky,however I did a little research with a couple of A.NET member in China,checked wi
: Hi Alex, What an impressive trip! And great report as usual. Now you "did it", I remember you once told me in fall you would like to fly to NRT this y
: So now I finally found time to read your report and must say that I did very much enjoy it. I do assume that it made up for not having flown to SIN la
: Ndebele...excellent report which I read the first time and liked, then read again just now because I am contemplating to fly on LX 343 in C class. Jus
: Hi Michel, funny that you bring my report back again right now - firstly because I just mentioned in another topic that old reports should be locked a
: I too will be flying on an LX A343, in econ. Will I still be able to get video on demand at the seat? I'm flying LHR-ZRH-CAI (return). I can't wait!
: @Alex You almost got me confused, until I noticed that I had already replied to this report - I thought this would be a new one covering your planned