Few weeks ago, a friend from Germany told me, that he would come to VIE for spotting and asked me, if I would join him. My answer was indeed yes and so i put a memo on 27th into callendar, that he was arriving. That was the start. Two weeks before his arrival, Swiss started to offer business class roundtrips for as low as 160EUR, so I started to think about booking something. After a while of searching, I came up with VIE-ZRH-MAD-ZRH-VIE trip, which would give me 4 legs in C-Class and 8000 M&M miles, although I prefer SkyTeam. Now it was time to find suitable date. After going thru few options, I came up with 28th as departure date and 30th return date. After booking it, I was deciding, if I should return home the evening after Stefan goes home, or if I should stay at the airport. As the airport is about 2 hours from my house and I was departing in the morning, I had chosen the second option. That was about how the trip was planned. Now I will write something about the trip.
I set my alarm clock, to wake me up at 5:30 on 27th, so I could catch bus to Bratislava at 6:15 and then continue by another bus to VIE. The second bus left at 8:00 and I was at Vienna airport at about 9AM. After meeting Stefan at Billa, which was our meeting point, we went to S-Bahn station and got on train to Fischamend, which is actually the first stop after airport. From there, we walked about 30 minutes, following the railroad track to the airport direction and we reached the fence. We didnt stay there for long, as the weather was really bad and also the runway in use was not the ideal one. Anyways, some of the more interesting visitors were Ukraine Cargo An-12, JetTran Mad Dog and maybe SAS 319. After we got back to the terminal, I did check in for my morning flight to Zurich, and we walked around the terminal couple of times, going airside and landside back and forth and we took some nightshots through the terminal windows. Soon, it was time for boarding of Stefan's flight, so I said goobye to him and went on with nightspotting. During that time, I spotted couple of aircraft of Austrian, including the Euro 2008 special colors A320, Lauda 737, easyJet 737 and few more planes. When the traffic stopped, I decided to find some socket, so I could charge my camera and phone. I sat at the benches for few hours, chatting on ICQ. While I was sitting there, an airport agent approached me, and after I told her, that I'm going to ZRH in the morning, she said, that I should go to Starbucks to sleep, as there were soft sofas. After chatting for a few more minutes, I finally went to the Starbucks, where I found myself a nice place to sleep. I set my alarm clock to 5:25, as the lounge is opening at 5:30.
After I woke up next morning, I went to the lounge, located in Plaza of VIE. As I got in, there was already a couple of people. I stayed there for three hours, eated scrambled eggs, some bread rolls and fruits. Then I went to the second one, located in Pier East, where my flight was leaving from. Got there, showed my boarding pass, had some Coke and then just relaxed. As boarding time of my flight was slowly coming, I decided to go to the gate. Before leaving lounge, I asked the agent, if he could not check me in for my flight from ZRH to MAD and so did he. He printed 2 new boarding passes for me. After that, I took some 'Servus' chocolate of Austrian, made by Milka, and heded to the gate.
As in VIE, security check is at gate, I had to pass it now. Took off my belt,... but the thing, they didn't really like was my tripod. They zoomed the X-Ray image in and out and finally let me go. After waiting at the gate for few minutes, boarding was commenced. I showed my boarding pass and got on the airplane.
The plane for this flight was HB-IOC, A321 of Swiss. It was first time after a long time for me to board an A321. After I settled in my business seat 6A, which was just a regular economy seat with centre seat empty, I just sit back and relaxed. After a while, we started our taxi to the active runway, and after the take off run, we climbed steeply into the clouds. After we passed through layer of the clouds, I saw sun after a month without seeing it. Few minutes into the flight, seatbelt signs were switched off and attendants started to serve the catering. I don't know, what they got in economy, but we got cold plate of chicken and cabbage, a tasteful jelly dezert, and a bunny with butter and jam. For drink, I had chosen an apple juice, which I had refilled later. After the meal was finished, it was time for our descend, which was a bit bumpy and then landing at ZRH and slowing down with the help of spoilers and reversers. All in all, it was my first flight in business class ever and it was nice to get metal cutlery and glass cups and plates instead of the usual economy plastic ones.
After disembarking, I headed to the Zurich Swiss lounge, which was nice, but I prefered the Vienna one. In ZRH, there were only snacks, without any real food. Anyways, I had few cups of Coke, browsed net and went out to the terrace, to photograph planes for few hours. After 2:30, I returned to the lounge and had some dezert and surfed on the net again, to let the time pass.
As boarding time was at 16:30, I left the lounge at about 16:15, went to the business/first class security line, which was empty, passed it with a little problem, and yes, again with the tripod. I had to unpac my whole bag at the check. After passing it successfully, I headed to my gate A06, where HB-IPY, an A319 was waiting. After boarding and sitting down in my seat 7F, I got a pre-flight bottle of water and a wet tissue. Soon, we were pushed back, de-iced and ready for taxi to the runway, where we set take-off thrust and after short take-off run, we were airborne. When the seat belt signs were turned off, the crew started to serve, this time hot, dinner. There was even choice of either meat or vegetarian meal. I gone with the meat and it was really tastefull. It consisted of some beef with sauce and mashed potatoes. For drink, I had an orange juice this time. I also had the butter bunny again. After the meal service, a bunch of Spanish people, which were sitting 3 in one row, which was suspicious to me, asked attendant with their boarding passes in their hands about their connecting flights. When she took them, she saw, that there was economy written, and that they messed gate with seat, so they got bizclass service for free. Anyways, she told them that next time they should sit back there, in economy, and they said OK and felt ashamed. I must admit, that something like that happened to me too before, but in reverse order, when I was going to board my flight from Tokyo to Paris, and instead of the real gate, I followed signs to the gate with number of my seat. Such things happen quite often I think. Few minutes before descent, we were also offered the famous Swiss chocolate, which I didn't refuse. Soon, seat belt signs were turned on again and it was time to finish this almost two hours long flight. After descend, we touched down the runway of Madrid Barajas airport just on time. After deboarding, I found my way to the passport control and then I just walked around T1-3 few times, as I had a long night to spend in the airport ahead of me. Finally, I decided to take the shuttle bus to T4 and stay there overnight.
After getting to T4, sitting there for few hours and chatting on ICQ, I decided to walk around the terminal and I took a nightshot of a line-up at T4 through one of the terminal landside windows facing apron. Then I sat at the bench for hour again and I decided to take a nap. I planned to go to the city in the early morning, if I weren't able to sleep, but this backup plan was not needed, as I slept until 10:30. Then I took metro for 2EUR to Barajas station, where after crossing some 0.5m wide 'bridge' over road and the famous roundabout, I got to the spot. As I got there, it was still backlit, so I just watched the planes taxi-by for an hour, but then I started taking photos and the weather was excellent! I stayed there untill about 18:00. During that time, I saw a lot of interesting planes, such as Pluna's all white 767, AeroMexico T7 in new colors, 2x Aerolineas Argentinas 747, Santa Barbara 767 and a lot of heavies from local companies. When it was getting dark, I decided to go back and so I repeated the same procedure of walking through roundabout,... again, just in reverse order. After I got to the metro station alive and healthy, I bought a ticket for 1EUR and an airport supplement charge ticket for 1EUR and got on the train.
When I got to the terminal 2 after 5 minutes ride on the metro, I decided to go and check in for my morning flight to ZRH. I went to the counter of Swiss, which was empty by that time, and asked, if it was not possible to stay at the lounge overnight, and the agent said, that he doesn't know, but that I should try to go there. Hearing his advice, after getting boarding passes for both of my remaining sectors, I headed airside. After passing passport check, it was time for security check, so this time, I put the tripod out of the bag, and I passed it without any problems. When I got airside, I took a stairs, which lead to the Sala Cibeles lounge, which is operated by airport operator, Aena. When I got there, I showed my boarding pass and... was let in! Great! So I didn't have to sleep on the cold benches, but on a great sofa. During the time, I stayed in lounge, I chatted on ICQ for 6 or 7 hours, ate a lot of sandwiches and drunk a lot of Cokes, Fantas and orange and pineapple juices. At about 1AM, I decided, it was time to sleep, so I moved myself to a sofa in a quite corner of the lounge and laid there down. I set my alarm clock for 9:00, as my boarding time was at 9:25. When I woke up after a comfortable night, I had a cup of a tea and a pack of crisps and headed out of the lounge, to the boarding gate.
There was a group of Japanese tourists waiting in the line, and as you know, Japanese are really exact people and so, when the boarding wasn't commenced 1 minute after scheduled time, they went to ask the gate agent, if everything was OK. Although I am half Japanese, I am not really that exact, so I just sat down and waited. After few minutes, finally boarding was commenced by the time, that QR flight to Doha was preparing for pushback. After walking through really long jetway, I finally boarded my aircraft, HB-IPR. After the boarding was completed, we taxied to our departure runway, passing by the point, where I had spotted before and we speeded up on the runway. After our speed was sufficient for rotation, we steeply climbed into the skies. Few minutes in flight, service was commenced, consisting, this time, only of a cold meal, which was a dissapointment for me. It consisted of a ham plate, and kind of a potato desert and spinach cake, which I didn't really like. Anyways, the ham was fine. We were also again offered chocolate and so on. After we were close to ZRH, captain announced our descend and we were asked to fasten our seatbelts again, as the signs were turned on. We descended through two layers of clouds and that signalized, that it won't be really a great weather in Zurich and so did happen. It was cloudly, so after deboarding, instead of going on the terrace for few hours, as I had 5 hours of transit, I just went to the lounge. There I stayed for some 4 hours, mostly chatting on ICQ and eating the things that were on offer - some salted snacks, fruits (pears, apples and bannanas were avialable) and drinking Coke. When there was about one hour left untill boarding, I decided to leave the lounge and have a look at what the shops at ZRH airport offer. I bought couple of chocolates as presents for family and as there was -30% offer on all Hugo Boss items, I couldn't resist and bought myself a think sweater.
After that, it was time to head to the gate, so again, I used the 'service' of Biz/First class lane at security and passed it without problems, again with the tripod rather in the basket than my bag. As there were still few minutes left before boarding, I went through one of the two shops that were avialable at the gates and bought some more, as you expect, chocolate. Then I stood at the gate, waiting for the flight to board. Before boarding announcement was made, some man on wheelchair boarded the plane with his wife. I later discovered, that they were Slovaks, the same nationality passengers as me, and also they were flying in bizclass too. After they got aboard, the boarding announcement was made, advising passengers with the rear rows, don't remember, which, to wait until the first rows board. After boarding, I was offered a pre-flight bottle of water again, as on 2 previous flights and I accepted it with a smile. Then, newspapers were offered, and as that time, I had mood for reading, I asked if something english was avialable, and indeed it was. The friendly attendant told me, that I should wait a minute and she would bring one. After she came, she offered me either some Wall Street Journal or the Harold, and as I am not a business man, I indeed took the Harold. Most interesting article I saw there was one about the worst airports. Among others, there were listed for example CDG, LHR or FRA, in terms of transfering there. After we pushed back, got de-iced and taxied to the active runway, it was time for the last take-off of that trip. It was a steep climb through the clouds, and once we were at our assigned FL, attendats started to serve the catering. It consisted of a bacon, grilled paprika and some cheese. For dezert, it was kind of a chocolate dezert made in St. Moritz. It was really tasty. For drink, I had apple juice and I also had the bunnies, which are offered on all flights, and I inserted a bacon inside, so they were really tasty. During the flight I had my cup refilled and I also accepted the offer of more bakery, and took another bunny. When the trays were collected, it was already time for descend. When close to Vienna, we had to wait in hold for 4 minutes as it was a rush hour at Vienna. Nevertheless, we landed only 10 minutes after the STA. After saying goodbye to the crew and deboarding the aircraft, I had a look at what was departing, and saw flights such as Tel Aviv or Kyjiv or Seoul on the monitor. After I went through the passport control, I headed to the bus stop, where bus to Bratislava would leave.
After waiting 30 minutes for the bus, I bought a discount ticket for 8EUR and in an hour, I was at Bratislava main bus station. There, I waited another 15 minutes, to get on a bus to my hometown, Nitra. After the hour and half long ride, I finally got to Nitra, where I waited few mins for my mother to arrive and take me home.
This is the end of my trip. I hope you liked the report and the photos.
Thanks for reading.