Monday 29th January.
I opened my mi and there it was this miles&more newsletter telling me that at the end of the month 5,000 of those heavily seat miles were going to banish from my account. I have not flown any Star Alliance carriers in the past months so I only had 26,000 miles on my account.
Should I look somewhere else and forget about them or should I try to spend them somehow?
Going through the miles&more web page I came across this wonderful offer called FlySmart and discovered I could just fly anywhere in Europe for 25,000 on C class. There I went.
Where? Berlin, of course: 'Ich bin auch ein Berliner'. So there we go.
I was really lucky to get some seats for February, taking into account that it was the Berlinale weekend and Barelona was hosting the 3GSM Congress, which meant packed planes in all the flights I took.
Anyway, I got my seats for Friday 9th and Sunday 11th.
Feb. 9th 2006
Feb. 9th 2006
Despite leaving early form work at 12.30 I had to get to the airport before 14.00 which is quite difficult as I was traveling by train and these days the train system in BCN is running quite hectic due to a lot of construction o the new AVE (high-speed trains on the line MAD-BCN-France). Well there I was earlier than expected, and as I had checked in the night before on the phone my boarding cards were waiting for me at the counter. No bags to check so up we go.
Terminal A security was quite crowded as usual but I got through in about ten minutes. One thing I noticed is that they have installed a pre security guy at the bottom of the stairs that only allows to climb them up those with a boarding card; one more sign to check on the list to remind you are not just a traveler but a potential criminal.
Although you have to go through passport control when flying to/from Switzerland it means as well you get real duty-free prizes at the stores, which at BCN airport are many and well stuffed. I just bought some cigarettes and boarding was announced at the moment I was paying for them. Time to go to the gate.
The hall at the end of Terminal A where all the non-Schengen flights depart
The plane to Zürich
The purser was welcoming us onboard and I tried to practise my German although I still have some difficulties understanding Swiss people; but I actually managed, I guess they made the effort as well and used their Hochdeutsch.
As soon as we boarded my jacket was put on the middle empty seat, under the tray and I was offered a bottle of water and some refreshing packed towel. Quite poor for a C class I thought, I was looking forward to some happier drinks: wine or champagne. Oh well, I drank it right away and as I was looking through the window taking a picture of a Russian Aeroflot plane to Moscow another one was placed on the tray.
Our Russian neighbor
As it can be deduced from what I said the layout for C Class on LX follows typical European patterns, the same as Coach but with an empty seat in the middle
I was feeling quite comfortable and soon we started our run to the runaway which means driving to the end of the airport, all the way up the new terminal under construction, turn right, then left and all the way up to the beginning of the runaway: about 25 minutes. Luckily there was no wait and once we got there we were in the sky in no time.
We quickly turned North and once we reached our cruising altitude the service began, let's say it was a great service: although they only offered cold food I never saw the FA in the galley for more than 5 minutes, refills were constant and once we were done with lunch the purser came by an asked if everything was OK and we needed anything else. Obviously coffee, tea came with chocolates, as many as you wanted since a whole tray was offered.
Light lunch. More than enough for me in this less than two hours flight.
There was some light turbulence as we were flying over Marseille but as it was a really clear afternoon it soon disappeared and the rest of the flight was very smooth. Once we got closer to the Alps the Captain came again on the speakers and he told us too look right as we were flying next to the Montblanc, from now on the white snow, the green valleys and the blue lakes were our companions to our destination.
There is an interesting thing as well on the monitors as you approach your destination; they show you your arrival gate on a map as well as the connecting flights on a list, a lot better than crying them out loud on the speakers.
We landed in Zürich on time and as soon as we debarked there were some Swiss officers in case you did not know your way around the airport. Nice touch!
I went upstairs to the boarding area as our plane to Berlin was soon to depart. Going through security I realized that there are still people who are not aware of the safety regulations concerning liquids. The guy in front saw his shaving cream, shampoo and some other over 100ml container end up their flight right at the security area.
Oh well! I went for a smoke at one of the several smoke rooms at the airport. Nicely furnished, overlooking the aprons and really well refreshed. I wonder why other airports do not have them; another reason I thought it was nice to fly through ZRH.
Overlooking Terminal E from the smoking area.
Our plane to Berlin. Can someone move that column, please?
The plane to Berlin was full as I could figure out from the waiting area. It was boarded backwards so C class passengers had to wait until it was all filled up, and then obviously there was a five minutes at the bridge as not everybody is as fast finding the seat, putting up the hand luggage.
A nice surprise came to me as I entered the plane: I was following the crew in their rotation, or perhaps they were following me eager to practise their Hochdeutsch
This plane had the old seats for the C class but still very comfortable for such a short flight. I exchanged seats with the lady in the back so the two friends could continue their talk in an easier way.
While waiting for the pushback I took a picture of our LH neighbor with a nice sunset at the back
Same excellent service as in the previous flight with some light snack and plenty of refills of a really nice Spanish red wine.
As we were approaching Berlin the lights from the different villages you could see disappeared and clouds came into sight. We began our descent crossing several lays of clouds and when we exited the last one we could verify what the captain had told us: it was snowing.
We landed on time but our gate was taken by AF so after some wait on the apron we were diverted to an off jetbridge parking space. The buses arrived in no time and after asking the crew if I was going to see them on my Sunday flights I said Aufwiedersehen Swiss, Hallo Berlin!
SDT 17.20 (18.30)
SAT 19.05 (20.10)
Aufwiedersehen Berlin, Hallo Swiss!
I got to the airport with plenty of time as I had to leave my hotel by 12.00 and thanks to the no Sunday traffic in the city I got to Tegel with enough time to have a look at the LH lounge. Well, I wish I had not done it. I was really surprised to see such a poorly maintained and shabby looking lounge for Germany's capital and main German airline. The one at Frankfurt looks much better. I guess they concentrate their efforts in the Senator's lounge on the first floor, which I entered by mistake on the first place.
Once boarding was announced I got to the gate and there was such a long line that I decided to go outside for a last view of the airport and feel the cold of today's low temperatures. Back on line I still had to wait for a while to reach the passport control and the security check. Needless to say that I was the last one onboard. So no wait for pushback and take off.
Time enough though to take a picture of our A319 with the Mongolian Airlines A-310-300 F-OHPT airplane to Hamburg-Moscow-Ulan Battor, quite a run! No wonder the a/c is called Genghis Khan.
Same service, same food as on the way to Berlin.
A cup of tea and some chocolate after the snack.
The flight was not as smooth as Friday flight but we made on time and it was already displayed that my flight to BCN would be delayed for half an hour.
Great! I got to walk around the airport which looked quiet this Sunday afternoon. I went to the lounge and got to sit at the longest counter bar in the world where I had some wine and time enough to take this picture
As I got to the boarding area there was a long line where you had your passport inspected before boarding. Being a EU citizen you do no need a passport to travel around Europe so I just showed them my ID and my boarding card was stamped. Usual backwards boarding so a long wait both at th gate and the jetway.
C Class on the plane was extended until row 20 something on today's flight as there were plenty of people attending the 3GSM Congress starting on Monday.
With such a full plane service was not as superb as on previous flights. No water or refreshing towels were offered before take off. Food was dispatched promptly and refills came on time. I had a good talk with my neighbor who was of course attending the Congress coming from Los Angeles and she informed me how nice the long-haul service was on LX. Wrote it down as their prices are lower than IB, let alone LH or BA.
Got to BCN with no rush to go through passport control as I was one of the few passengers holding a EU-citizenship on the plane and the officer at the booth looked more than bored that time of the evening.
Obviously the taxi home cost me just a few Euros less than the whole trip!
To sum up:
1.Swiss has a great service
2.Crews are really nice and they work hard to make you feel welcomed on their planes.
3.Lounge at Zurich is a super TEN.
4.I'd like to see some hot food offered on flights; maybe I didn't flight on the right time.
All comments welcome!