I was holidaying with family over Ireland, staying with various friends (starting in Derry, driving down to Cork, and then over to the Dingle Peninsula). This was kind of a “last holiday” before I go to University or later life, so I wanted to make the most of it. Anyway, earlier in the month I had been offered the chance to visit my girlfriend and her family who were renting a villa in the south of Spain (about 40km from Malaga). The business had done pretty well this year, so financially I could justify it. I decided to cut the Ireland holiday short, and take 6 days out to visit Malaga. I finally worked out my routing, and it was as follows:
26th August: Kerry - Dublin (Aer Arann)
26th August: Dublin - London Heathrow (British Midland)
27th August: London Heathrow - Zurich - Malaga (Swiss)
31st August: Malaga - Zurich - Geneva - London City (Swiss)
KIR-DUB-LHR-ZRH-AGP-ZRH-GVA-LCY (not bad, huh?)
The Swiss and bmi tickets were premium cabins.
So anyway, the time came to get to Kerry airport, and catch my flight to Dublin. Just so happened that it was the day of the Kerry/Dublin match, and me and my dad spent out “farewell time” watching the game in the Irish pub in the airport! Great fun, great culture. Love it. My flight was at 18:50 (for an arrival at DUB of 19:50) and my british midland flight was at 21:50. Plenty of time should anything go wrong.
Aer Arran KIR-DUB
ATR 42 EI-CPT
18:50 - 19:50
Boarding was a doddle (the adjacent MAN flight was 2 hrs late), and me and my fellow passengers were boarded onboard the ATR42 in no time. 100% LF as far as I could see on this flight, as far as I am aware, they make a killing on this route, with a huge number of frequencies, even on this Sunday!
I hate the ATR series, and as per usual it was very loud and relatively uncomfortable, but frankly, hardly a problem for a €85 ticket and a 1hr flight. We arrived on time into DUB, always amusing on this route because you land in a tin can next to all of the big boys! Flew in over Dun Laoghaire and had a very sharp descent which did pain me a little but nothing too chronic. Overall, RE were absolutely fine, good value, courteous staff, on time and very safe. Thats all you want in a A to B airline.
A320 (didn’t get the REG sorry)
21:50 - 22:55
I didn’t use the bmi lounge at DUB, as I got the powerbook out and was preoccupied with answering about 100 emails and attempting to re-order a whole bunch of stock, as well as texting and calling etc etc. In other words, the 2 hours passed by very quickly. As per usual on the DUB-LHR rotations, I arrived at the gate, and there were no free seats. You can really see why bmi still operate this route. 100% load factor, apart from in “business class” as they call it, where it was just me and one of the guys from Westlife. Overall, another easy bmi flight. While so many slate BD, I love them, not quite sure why though. I only took C on this flight as the economy when I booked was full. I wouldn’t have done it any other time. So, a fine flight, I was quite tired so just listened to the iPod and sat for an hour.
Mum was ready at LHR for me to whisk me back to Maidenhead for 5 hours or so before we had to leave for LHR at 5AM sharp the next morning. Ouch. This was one of the heaviest traveling weekends I had done in a while.
The next morning, I couldn’t be bothered to hang around at the airport, so timed it so that I would arrive 40 minutes before departure. All (surprisingly) worked well. I was only with hand baggage for these flights, which was extremely handy (believe me), I managed to cram everything I needed (powerbook, DSLR, ipod, chargers, book, and enough clothes for 5 days) into my samsonite carry on. I was actually quite happy with myself.
This was one EARLY flight, so you can probably understand why I basically slept all the way to ZRH. I’m sure the service was good, but I didn’t see any of it.
I don’t know what anyone else thinks - but the new recaro seats rolled out over the past 2 years really are not great. I prefer the big old chunky seats (especially in C/J). The recaro ones have a real cheap feel to them. Not impressive at all.
Anyway, the aircraft arrived into ZRH early, and we were all quickly making our ways to the connecting gates. Seeing as I was staying in someone elses house for 5 days, I went to the duty frees and picked the most reasonably priced chocolates (ie none of them). Picked up a fragrance for myself also and the bill came to an eye watering 165CHF. They certainly know how to rinse the money out of you in Switzerland!
Before I knew it the Malaga flight was being called so I promptly made my way to the gate, and boarded the Airbus A321. The entire crew from the LHR flight was on this flight too, and a nice little touch was the first officer and purser saying “We have flown with you already today, welcome back on board”. The flight was to be 2hr 40 in length, and I was still pretty tired so tried to catch some sleep. After the smooth takeoff and climbout, I nodded off for 90 minutes or so, just in time for the chocolate offerings and top ups of water and nice little snacks. Very attentive service on this flight with 3 staff at the front.
Not much else to say about this flight, I was pretty frazzled so didn’t pay much attention and slept for most of it.
Arrival into AGP was 5 minutes late, but smooth and steady.
For the next 5 days, we had a very enjoyable time in “Sunny Spain”, with solid 30 degree weather and blue skies exempt from cloud pollution!
Anyway, I doubt anyone wants to hear about my holiday, so on with the trip report. You will be pleased to know that I pulled my finger out and bothered to lug the 300D around with me additional to my bag JUST so I could take pictures!
Flight time approx 2hr 30.
So I arranged for a cab to come and collect me in the morning for the 35 minute trip to Malaga airport. Its actually a very grand building, and I was thoroughly impressed. Oddly, swiss fly into terminal 1, and fly out of terminal 2 (!?!?!?) which confused me somewhat, but I was soon in the queue for checkin.
I was handed my boarding passes (1A, 2A, 1A) for the three flights, and she told me that my hand luggage was overweight but she was going to pretend she hadn’t seen. She gave me my “invitation” to the VIP lounge at Malaga, which would come in handy seeing as I had 2 hours to kill.
View of my tickets and the wonderful Nokia 9300 (rolls eyes).
There were plenty of olives, crisps and little Mediterranean snacks to be had, as well as plenty of coke and water. I wasn’t feeling too good after the night before, so I stuck to the diet cokes and strayed away from the bar. Soon enough, it was time to board, so me and another guy from the flight who I had been chatting to made our way to the gate, where we were promptly boarded. A pre-flight drink and hot towels were distributed as we settled in. Again, I must voice my displeasure of the completion of the recaro retrofit. The older seats are king!
Takeoff came quickly, and I saw the Monarch A321 which would fly my girlfriend and her family back home later that afternoon (ha!).
Flying over the South of Spain is actually remarkably boring once you think about it, its just arid, swimming pool, arid, lake, arid, lake etc etc. Although I did spot this little airport about 40 minutes into the flight, anyone know what it is?
Anyway, soon after this, lunch was served, with a choice between Venison or a Vegetarian option. I, of course, chose the meat, never one for a veggie option!!
Before the food was served, a short film was shown to outline Swiss’ attitude towards the food service, detailing that it was all ethical, sourced from Switzerland, with Swiss recipes etc.
This was my dish, and if I’m honest it was very good. Better than any BA club europe offering I have sampled.
Braised venison (very tender), spiced polenta gratin and shredded carrots. Served with a tasty salad and followed by finest quality chocolates. These guys just wouldn’t say no when I took 3 politely, I ended up with an entire tray. Lovely.
View out of my window mid-flight.
The flight flew by, and, interestingly, much like Alitalia, they show cartoons (in this case Tom and Jerry), which one cannot help but find absolutely hilarious. Oh the fun!
Soon, we were in Switzerland, and overflying Geneva.
What I believe is Lake Geneva below:
We were soon touching down in Zurich, one thing I always like to see is the “field marketing” that is in operation around the runways. Very smart .
Touched down in Zurich, lots of Swiss tails to be seen! My Geneva bound A320 would depart from the same gate as that SAS MD87.
Couple of AVROs seen taxiing to the runway
So soon enough I was in Zurich again for the second time in the same week, and quickly made my way to the gold lounge. I can see what people say when they talk about the bar there, it really is THAT long. Was packed too, they must make a killing there! Helped myself to some snacks and yet another diet coke and went on the PowerBook.
One thing to note is the lack of Broadband as a complimentary offering. I think this is really stingy given that most customers will have paid a fair wodge to have the privilege of entering! Come on LX, its a small price to pay! Was the same story in GVA, and I ended up getting the card out and actually paying for an hour and a half.
Soon enough, I was boarding the A320 bound for Geneva. 2A on this flight sadly, ah well.
Damn Recaro seats.
For some reason, the flight was delayed for 45 minutes. The captain actually said “Thankyou for boarding so promptly, but we are delayed for 40 minutes and we aren’t sure why at the moment”. Very odd. Luckily, the FAs distributed drinks and snacks while we were waiting. Finally the engines spooled up and we taxied to the runway.
LH A320 at the holding point
Various birds waiting behind us with a fairly spectacular sky!
Soon enough we were airborne and shooting towards Geneva. Our cruising altitude was to be 23,000 feet, and flight time was expected to be 40 minutes.
Climbout and view from the window
Despite being such a short flight, service was still very good. They managed to distribute cold snacks to the (full) business cabin, which consisted of a very tasty cured beef, pear, and mustard roll, and a spanish omelet style thing, both of which were very tasty, and accompanied by any drinks on board.
Was a fabulous day for flying, perfectly smooth and with fairly unspoilt views.
I wonder if someone can tell me if A320s are the norm for this route?
Soon enough, we were beginning our descent into Geneva’s International airport where my flight for London City was due to leave just over 2 hours later. I was looking forward to spending a fair bit of time in the lounge there, as by this point I was well in need of a drink!
The sun/cloud combo allowed for some rather lovely views of Switzerland from the air.
One thing I noticed on arrival into GVA, was the amount of hydro-electric facilities in the surrounding area. Encouraging really, although I’ve heard Switzerland is very anti-gas guzzling cars?
I was extremely excited to see a DC8 on the ramp at GVA, does anyone know to whom this beauty belongs?
Easyjet switzerland hub
Soon enough I was off the plane, hand baggage and all and well on my way to the Geneva lounge.
Swish looking entrance to the Geneva Swiss lounge.
It was actually quite comical: for there had obviously been some kind of leak, as the floor next to all the nibbles and drinks was wildly damaged, and when you stepped on one end, the other end flung up, much like a cartoon. Was amusing for about a second, after which it simply became a nuisance.
Like all the Swiss lounges, it looks like the “Office” section of an IKEA store, which is pleasant, and bland. Just how I like it
I took the time to again purchase some overpriced internet, seeing as they are too cheap to offer it to you free! After all, we are only lowly Business class passengers! I should hope they offer a free broadband service in the First lounges?
PowerBook connected (finally)
Slight overview of the lounge area from my seat (which was very comfortable!)
I thought I would leave the lounge a good 10 minutes before scheduled boarding, and boy, was I glad I did. The line for security was insanely long, with only two desks open, and extremely thorough tests being carried out. Very odd, given that the standard of the ZRH desks was normal. It took me 35 minutes to get through, just as my flight was being listed as “Final Call”. I made it, just, as it was the furthest gate. I am sure many people missed this flight.
Awww, ain’t they cute!!
I had the business cabin to myself! Whoopee! LF was about 95% in Y and 7% (?!?!) in C, I think there were 3 rows of seats...
Takeoff was prompt and powerful, as expected from the AVRO100 series of aircraft, one of my favourite to fly on. They are so old looking inside, always a treat, even if I had a 90 minute train journey at the end of it. Oh, what an aviation enthusiast does for a reasonably priced ticket!
Getting out of the clouds...
Poor attempt at a sunset image. Was beautiful, trust me
Soon enough, food was served, and this time it truly was a “Swiss” experience, with cured garlic sausage, sauerkraut and another one of those quiche with no pastry things. Oh, and last but not least....Fruit Strudel! It really is funny how an airline advertises their “ethical and environmentally friendly” sources of food......What about the food for the planes
Was actually quite tasty, I’m partial to Sauerkraut, and while obviously a cheapo can, it wasn’t bad.
The truly lovely FA who was mine, all mine, kindly noticed that I was enjoying the swiss chocolates, so came back with some...errr...more...
We had a chat about Swiss and her flight plans for the next day for a good while. I like customer interaction. Soon enough, our 2 pilots (both women) announced descent into LCY. We promptly touched down, and 3 minutes later I was walking up the stairs for the DLR. I love LCY for this reason alone. I saw the star alliance “wreck” after the vain attempt to hide its identity.
95 minutes later I was home, and quite frankly, ready for bed!
Swiss are excellent. Their euro-business offering is good, and beats BA’s mediocre “Club Europe” product hands down. Not only in this case were the prices more reasonable, but, as in previous experiences, the customer service was excellent, the lounge offerings in all airports were fabulous, the planes were clean, the seats were spotless, the food and drink services were prompt and tasty, and best of all...I earned a whopping 8,800 bmi miles from this one trip. (bumped into Silver).
Who said Diamond Club wasn’t generous?
However, I HATE the new recaro seats, and being on the AVRO home was a pleasant reminder of how good the fat old mid-90s leathers were. Sadly missed by me at least!
Shame their fleet is so monotonous, but frankly, I don’t give a s**t.
Hope you enjoyed my report, please comment, would be nice to hear feedback.