LX17 (in codeshare with AA6203)
23 June 2003
STD: 18:05 ATD: 18:00
STA: 07:50 ATA: 07:41
Runway JFK: 13R
Runway ZRH: 14
Delivered to Swissair: 23 June 2000 (exactly 3 years before)
Photo © Frank Schaefer
Photo © Timothy Feise
Photo © F-ILIP
Photo © F-ILIP
At about 14:10 the first two check-in agents arrived, I asked them when they would start checking in for ZRH, "In twenty minutes", they replied. Stupid me, a moment later I realized that I was just standing right in front of a sign that said "Check-in for Zurich starts at 14:30"... Well the reason why we were there so early was because Patrick would have to check in for his Air France flight at T1, his flight left at ~17:00.
Okay I returned to the check-in at 14:30, there was no queue at all. I only had a carry-on bag, check-in went really quickly, I never saw anybody entering the API (passport) data into the computer so quickly! A moment later I had my boarding pass, having a stand-by ticket I didn't expect to get my seat already at the check-in, but I did, seat 38A, I was very surprised because the flight was fully booked. I was especially surprised to get a window seat, I thought they would first give me a stand-by boarding pass and later at the gate give me a middle seat. But I was really glad, thanked the lady behind the counter, and then I went with Patrick to T1 where he checked in and where we had lunch. Then Patrick had to go to his gate, and I took the bus back to T4.
Passport and security control went really fast as well, I wonder why they make such a big deal about flights from Europe to the US, whereas flights from the US to Europe have less security controls than European short-haul flights. But I appreciated it not having to queue, not having to put my shoes into an x-ray machine, and not having to wait for somebody to put a "document ok" stamp onto my boarding pass (this was already done at the check-in, at the passport control they just compared name in the passport and name on the boarding pass).
I arrived at the gate quite early, the gate area was not very crowded and you have a good view towards the aircraft, I got a seat right in front of HB-IQP, so I just relaxed and watched how the aircraft was prepared for it's flight.
Some facts about this flight:
- In the end, there were 169 passengers aboard, that is F5 C40 Y124 (capacity: F12 C42 Y142). So there were again a lot of no-show passengers.
- Those 169 passengers had 243 bags checked in, with a total weight of 3585kg.
- There were also 10712kg cargo on this flight, most of which was obviously loaded in the front compartment.
- Take-off weight was 203799kg (mtow: 230000kg), take-off fuel was 48800kg.
- Funny, although I got my seat already at the check-in, the computer still made every weight calculation twice, once "INCL JOI PAD" and once "EXCL JOI PAD", which made a difference of 88kg.
- Interesting, they seem to change the aircraft at JFK, HB-IQP had arrived from GVA and left to ZRH, HB-IQE had arrived from ZRH and left to GVA.
When I arrived at the gate, fueling was already in progress and was completed at 17:22. Loading of cargo began at 17:17, loading of baggage a few minutes later. Boarding started at 17:35, with a special lane for first class, business class and Travelclub Circle/Gold/Silver passengers. At the gate, they once again compared name on the ticket with name in the passport. Entering the aircraft, I gave the crew a friendly "Schönen guten Abend!", "Guten Abend!" they replied with a smile, I was one of the few passengers on this flight who spoke German, most passengers were from the US, from Israel, from India or from Pakistan.
I took my seat 38A, although I had a light but huge carry-on, there was no problem to put it into the spacey overhead bin. I sat down, and on the PTV they showed the Swiss boarding video showing the whole Swiss fleet, great pictures of the ERJ, A320, A330 and MD11 flying over the Swiss Alps. A Mexican (I think) family arrived, the father took seat 38C next to mine, the rest of the family were sitting on 38DFG. The father of the family was a strange guy. First of all, he didn't talk to his family at all during the whole flight, strange but I didn't care about that. But, although those LX seats are quite comfortable for Economy Class, this guy also had the bad habit to put his left elbow all over the whole armrest. I thought, well, let's wait until we're airborne. This habit did not change, so I had a heavy discussions with him later during the flight.
Push-back started at 18:00, five minutes ahead of schedule. But there was a long queue of aircraft ahead of us, all waiting to take-off from runway 13R. The cabin crew made their welcome announcement, a few minutes later the cockpit's welcome announcement followed. On the whole flight, each and every single announcement was made first in English, then German, then French - on the flight ZRH-JFK, all announcements were made in German, English, French.
A few minutes later, while we were still waiting for take-off, the captain made yet another announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen! In my right hand, I have a gun - so let's not have any problems!", oh wait, I was joking, he said: "Ladies and gentlemen, on the right hand side, you can see Air Force One, the aircraft of the President of the United States!", this was the first time I saw Air Force One! But I had to wait until take-off, because I was sitting on the left-hand side of the aircraft.
Finally, 33 minutes after push-back, we finally took off. The "flight information" channel was the only feature of the PTV in-flight entertainment that was already activated. Five minutes after take-off, they showed BBC news on all screens, then the full inflight entertainment was activated:
Once again 7 TV Channels:
- The Life of David Gale
- Jungle Book II
- Comedy (Friends, Simpsons, Will&Grace, My Family)
- The Fugitive
...the other inflight entertainment was just the same as on my flight ZRH-JFK, see my other trip report. At least this time the handset was working properly, on ZRH-JFK the "curser: left" key didn't work which meant that I could hardly play any video games. I spent most of this night flight playing "Who wants to be a millionaire" (German version, I tried the English version as well but I was not very successful in the English version...). - Unfortunately, about three hours before landing, on the whole plane the headsets became silent, no more sound meant no more audio channels, and of course watching the movies without sound was annoying as well.
One hour before landing, they collected the headsets. 30 minutes before landing, they showed the movie "Welcome to Zurich" which contained information about how to find the gate to the connecting flight, unfortunately we didn't have our headsets any more, but I mean the sound didn't work anyway.
The crew on my flight ZRH-JFK (daytime flight) was the best crew I had ever had. On the return flight JFK-ZRH (night flight), the crew was friendly as well, but you could somehow feel that they were looking forward to get back home, or at least they would have preferred to sleep this night, I think - but I can understand that. They tried not to show too much that they didn't like this night flight, and they were all still very friendly.
The routing was exactly the same as on the flight ZRH-JFK: Gulf of Maine, Newfoundland, North Atlantic, passed south of Ireland, over Jersey and Alderney, then France, Paris, Basle, Zurich. ZRH-JFK I was sitting on 40J (window seat on the right), JFK-ZRH I was sitting on 38A (window seat on the left), so I had exactly the same view, including a great view of Jersey, Land's End, the city of Paris and the city of Basle. Flight Level was at first 37,000ft, later 40,000ft.
Somewhere over the North Atlantic, we suddenly turned right and climbed a few 100 feet. A minute later, I could see a United Airlines B767 on the left-hand side below us. The 767 was flying much faster, so obviously our A330 had to clear the main airway in order to let the 767 pass. Then we turned left again. I had to smile and thought of my old motto "If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going!", okay so the B767 is faster than the A330, but the A330 is a great aircraft as well.
Half an hour after take-off, they served some crackers and a beverage, I had an apple juice. For dinner, they offered a choice between pasta and chicken, I decided to take the pasta and ordered in German: "Könnt ich bitte die Nudeln haben", the flight attendant (who's native language was German) didn't understand and asked "Sorry?", I said "Ich hätte gern die Nudeln, bitte.", he said (in English) "Sorry, sir, but I still didn't understand", I said (in English) "I'd like to have the pasta, please", now he realized that I was a German passenger and apologized in German. In fact there were so few passengers on this flight who spoke German, he was obviously surprised that anybody ordered his meal in German.
The pasta was Tortellini with tomato sauce, it tasted great! But I had to use the salt and pepper, in fact this was the first time that I actually used the salt and pepper on the flight, I normally take it home as a souvenir. In addition to that, there was salad with a Vinegraite sauce, a roll, butter, cheese and a cheesecake. It all tasted delicious.
During the whole flight, they came through the aisle with water bottles, but not as often as on the flight ZRH-JFK, this time only about every 30 minutes, but this was still enough because most passengers were sleeping anyway.
90 minutes before landing, they served breakfast: croissants and rolls, butter, jam, strawberry yoghurt and an orange juice. Due to compression in 40000ft, nearly everybody (including me) made a mess with the yoghurt onto his/her shirt.
Ten minutes before landing, they showed the gate numbers of all connecting flights on the PTV screens. And these were many connecting flights, did anybody stay at ZRH at all?
We landed at 07:35 and arrived at our parking position (A67) at 07:42. When leaving the plane, I thanked the crew for their service. The way to passport control was short, again no queue at all, I went through the customs and then left the terminal building - it was 08:00 and my flight to STR would leave at 09:40, enough time to go to the Operations building and ask for a SWISS neckcord, then I went to the viewing area. At 09:00 I left to the gate.
Photo © Andrew Hunt
Photo © Andrew Hunt
LX1176 (in codeshare with AA6252)
24 June 2003
STD: 09:40 ATD: 09:55
STA: 10:20 ATA: 10:37
Runway ZRH: 16
Runway STR: 25
Delivered to Crossair: September 2000
Photo © TZ Aviation
Photo © Charles Falk
Photo © Anthony Lindeman
Photo © Anthony Lindeman
Gate number was A54, do you know those A5x gates at ZRH? They are very cramped, each gate was in use, and at every gate there were only about 8 seats, so most passengers had to stand. Up to now, I only had a stand-by boarding pass (which I got at JFK), I asked the very friendly gate agent for a seat and got 8A, that's a single seat in front of the wing, very good. At gate A53 (Munich) they made passport controls for every passenger, with "Document ok" stamps just like for flight to the US, which took a lot of time. At gate A55 (Oslo) the flight was overbooked, they searched for voluntary passengers to re-book to the afternoon flight, they offered 200 US$. All in all waiting in this crowded and busy gate area was a little uncomfortable, the best thing I could do was to take a newspaper (Blick) and sit down on the floor.
Boarding started at 09:20, unlike the Munich-flight we didn't have to show our passports again. There were 29 passengers on this flight (C10 Y19) who had 20 bags checked in with a total weight of 370kg. In addition to that, there were 65kg of cargo loaded. The aircraft was HB-JAG which had arrived from CPH at 09:00. Boarding was completed at 09:35, and we were bussed to the aircraft.
I took my seat, doors were closed, and at 09:55 we started rolling towards runway 16. I fell asleep, but woke up when they switched off and on the fasten-seatbelt-signs before take-off (*Bing*-*Bing*).
After take-off, we made a 180° turn to the left, so I had a great view over ZRH. A few minutes later, we passed the Lake Constance, with Konstanz, the Isle of Mainau, and then we flew directly over the airport of Friedrichshafen. Then it became cloudy. Cabin service began, but was interrupted after having completed service in Business Class, because we were flying straight through a thunderstorm. About five minutes later, we already started our descent into STR, where we landed at 10:32. Parking position was 41, I said goodbye to the crew, we were bussed to the terminal building where passport and customs control went very quickly again. Then I took the train back home. The end of a short but great trip to NYC.
I have to say that I really loved the service on Swiss! Everybody was very friendly, the crews were great (especially on my outbound flight ZRH-JFK, but also on the return flight), great inflight entertainment, delicious meals... Really pleasant flights I had! I didn't like the cramped gate area at ZRH, but this will change soon I guess, as soon as they open the new terminal building. But all in all a really great experience to fly Swiss on longhaul.
So this was my report about my return flight, I hope you enjoyed reading it, comments, corrections, additional remarks, ... are welcome.