flown Business Class, I thought it was time for a trip that would give me all three experiences.
31 July 2004
STD: 06:00 ATD: 06:06/06:10
STA: 06:45 ATA: 06:41/06:45
HB-JAY (Swiss' newest ERJ, delivered in May 2002)
Photo © Kenneth Olsen
This aircraft was delivered with special "600th ERJ" titles, then leased out to
JetMagic, and now it's back with Swiss in standard livery.
Photo © Adrian Thompson
Photo © Andrew Hunt - AirTeamImages
As I only had carry-on baggage with me, I checked in the evening before, at
Swiss' counter 300 in Stuttgart's new Terminal 3:
Photo © Markus Moßhammer
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.
Photo © Anthony Lindeman
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:
I spent most of the morning on ZRH's observation deck on Terminal B:
And here's my probably last-ever photo of a Swiss MD-11:
By 12 o'clock, I took the people mover to Terminal E...
...where my flight to NRT would start boarding by 12:45:
By the way, HB-JMI had arrived from GRU at 11:00.
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"
Photo © Charles Ryan Teo
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.
Photo © Jean-Luc ALTHERR
Photo © Christian Galliker
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:
- Lamb cutlet and lamb goulash of sun-dried tomatoes, olives and herbs accompanied by saffron rice galettes, mint-favoured zucchini and stuffed tomato
- Fillets of perch on Lucerne-style pearl barley served with lobster sauce and buttered leaf of spinach
- Orecchietta alla diavola - Orecchietta pasta with spicy tomato sauce
I had the Orecchietta:
- Selection of cheeses from central Switzerland:
- Light creamy mousse with Kirsch served with fresh strawberries
- Chocolate brownie served with vanilla sauce and Chantilly cream
I had the brownie:
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.
Two hours before landing, they served breakfast:
- Fresh seanonal fruit
- Yoghurt Cream with blueberries
- Assorted breakfast breads
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:
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)
Photo © Michael Arcellana
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.
Push-back at 10:47, the forward-camera was in use again, I took this photo during taxying:
yes you're right, that's a Northwest Cargo B747-200F in front of us. And this photo on the runway, just a second before we accelerated for take-off:
I won't go into detail about cabin and inflight entertainment, as it was basically just the same as on ZRH-NRT. Only the lavatories on HB-JMD were a little different from HB-JMI.
The routing was also very similar, after take-off in southeatern direction, we turned 180° to the northwest, Japanese Sea, Chaborovsk, Siberia, north of Moscow, Belarus, Poland where I took this photo of my PTV screen:
- Saffron-flavoured, and Provencale vegetables wrapped in rice paper served on a bed of mizuna leaves:
- Grilled loin of lamb with a grain mustard sauce accompanied by Lyonnaise potatoes
- Pan-fried swordfish in saffron sauce served with ratatouille - French vegetables, garlic and herbs
Chinese noodles with pak choy and shimeji mushrooms in a black sesame sauce.
I had the lamb:
- 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:
- Chicken salad with potato and celery served on an anchovy-flavoured creamy dressing and fresh greens
- Penne pasta and mushrooms gratin served with tomato sauce
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
Photo © Magnus Trippler
Photo © Erik Frikke
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!