Time to go back home.
As I my short holidays in India finish it is time to head back home.
Most of Europe bound flights leave late at night or in the early hours in the morning, there seems not to be any restrictions into flying times in BOM
airports. I cannot imagine flights leaving any European airport at 1.30 in the morning due to noise bans.
That morning I check in for my flight on the Internet as I change my original seat, SA
)">9K, to 7B
so I can have an easy access to the aisle and I'd be able to get up and walk around the plane due to my inability to sleep on planes.
The flight seems to be full, most seats are taken and only a few are open when I check in. I am quite kind in traveling on aisle seats at night flights, not special views are supposed to be on sight and getting to ZRH
at 6.15 in a winter morning does not preview any type of amusement looking out of the window.
Getting to the airport is quite fun. My friend is away in Delhi and the driver home is away for the night due to some family affairs so I take a rickshaw to the airport. The guy has never been at the airport before and does not exactly know the way. He does not speak English, my knowledge of Marathi is restricted to 'my name is....', 'my tea, your tea' and numbers from one to ten so you can imagine it is not the best of skills. I am quite aware of directions and there are some signs at Bandra district directing you to the airport which I point to him and tell him to turn left or right. I am aware where the highway is and try to direct him to it. He asks some mates on the way who tell him where to go after getting through streets where Tetris game could have been created after; there was not a single space left for another car, bus or any other means of transport you could imagine. We got to the highway after a while and from there it is quite easy; I just make sure we get to the International Terminal instead of the Domestic one, Santa Cruz, which is the previous exit. Once we get there I thank him and try to explain that both have learnt a new thing: he the way to the airport and I that my sense of orientation is not as bad as I might sometimes think. I tip him generously and start walking on the crowded sideways to the terminal.
On one like this I managed to get to the airport
International Terminal, Chattrapathi Shivaji International, is divided in two main areas 2A and 2C --I wonder why there is no 2B---and LX
departs from 2A... that is walking to the right entrance. To enter the airport you need your ticket and passport so it is outside that you kiss goodbye to the loved ones. I am allowed into the terminal by the two guards heavily armed and get on line for the first X-ray of all my luggage. As it comes out of the machine a lady asks to see my ticket and passport again while the guys at the X-ray zip it with a plastic band to tell everyone that this piece of luggage has been X-rayed. When she is finished she wishes me a pleasant flight and I proceed to the LX
counters. There are two agents directing people to the C and Y ones as there is no sign telling you so. There are two for C class, the rest for Y passengers. The agent, a friendly Indian girl, constantly supervised by a Western lady over her shoulder. We have a brief chat over the load, about 100% in both classes, and my bag is tagged all the way to BCN
. My two cards are handed to me together with an invitation to the Clipper Bar Lounge bearing my name and a map at the back showing your way to it. I do not notice it and it results in me heading straight to the gate and being stuck there for the rest of my time at the airport; oh well next time! From what I saw it is a regular bar so I imagine they just give you a drink and some snacks for free.
Once I was left with my backpack I headed to the passport control area. Before reaching it there is a great number of desks where you can fill in the exit form from India given to you at the check in. There is a dedicated line for First and Business Class passengers which I take advantage of and in about three minutes waiting my passport gets stamped and my boarding cards gets the first stamp, a blue one. Turn left and head down the escalator link downstairs; another long corridor and I make the fatal mistake of getting on the gate area. There are two separate lines: men and women. My backpack goes through the X-rays, I under the detector and then stand on a stall where I am frisked consciously by a policeman, the same scene happens on my right but with a woman frisking women passengers. My boarding card gets a second stamp, a red one.
I get caged in the gates area and once I am aware of my fate I look for a comfortable seat, easy as there are many take out my book and start reading while the lounge starts to fill up. About an hour later the OS
flight arrives delivering all passengers and the crew on the corridors behind the glass corridor. Some passengers bound for MXP
on the AZ
start taking seats, I loose my preferred position and find a more comfortable place on the floor against the wall.
At 00.30 boarding starts with the usual call for passengers with children and those in need of special care. The second announcement calls the Economy passengers seating at the last section on the cabin and tells all Business passengers to board at their wish. I keep my floor seat just in case and wait to make sure I am the last one boarding. Once the line is finished I get up, handle my stamped boarding card to the agent who smiles at me and wishes me a good flight before taking the microphone in hand announcing the last call. I get to the gate where a smiling FA
welcomes me in and directs me to my seat. Again my jacket, which has been stored for a week as Mumbai's lowest temperature has never gone under 14ºC, is taken to the closet with my personal hanger.
Boarding time... No rush please, we all will make it to ZRH
At the gate of another LX
The man sitting next to me has already set his personal space, unfolded the blanket, covered himself and ready to sleep as soon as he can recline his seat. I say 'hello' to him and that's all we talk for the rest of the flight. I set my camera, my notebook, take off my shoes and get the a pair of socks out of the new amenity kit: a black bag with the same continent as in the incoming flight: socks, earplugs, comb, toothbrush and paste plus a 10€ voucher to acquire products at Pureneige online shop. I liked the old one better.
As soon as everybody is on the plane doors are locked and a smiling FA
distributes mango juice, orange juice and water. I wonder why there is no champagne offered, alcohol restrictions on Indian ground? I go for the excellent mango and get ready for take off. Menus are distributed and they include a slip for breakfast orders which I fill up when waiting for dinner.
Menu and my full breakfast choice
We start moving at 1.25 and the security video comes on the overhead screens. While we taxi the Captain comes on the system giving some information about the flight, some light turbulence is expected over the Oman Sea and he confirms our arrival time at 6.15 that morning. As we are at gate 5 we have to move through all the terminal and this allows me to check all the planes at the terminal: OS
/ JET / AZ
)">NW / AI
. Not bad for a 10 minutes spot. My seatmate looks at me suspiciously. Definitely he is not an a.netter.
The plane looks extremely clean, smells nicely and although seats are the old ones they are very comfortable, the leg rest is a little short, and I am just 1.73, so I imagine many people have to fold legs to rest on it.
Once at the head of the runaway we wait for about 2 minutes and then down the runaway, it takes us more than 50 sec. to lift such a heavy plane and I am more than conscious when the plane starts hitting every single hole, and there are many believe me, as it seems it is going to fall apart. Finally we lift the front gear and the rest of the aircraft follows so we have survived the ordeal.
As soon as the 10,000 feet are reached the seat belt sign comes off and half of the cabin sets to sleep. Put on their eye shades, earplugs, cover themselves with the blankets... and see you next morning. I wish I had this ability sometimes.
I wait patiently for dinner as my table is set with a smile and start filling up the breakfast order.
.Grilled chicken breast, mint vegetable shashlyk and tomato filled with pickled beetroot.
.Steamed Patra with chutney Khandvi and mango salsa.
.Vermicelli Payasam --a milk based sweet dessert.
.Indian and Western style hot snacks.
Coffee and a selection of teas.
I go for the Indian choice and I have to admit it is delicious. All is served in one tray as advanced by the maître-du-cabin in my previous flights so it is quicker and people have time to sleep. I am offered some snacks, once I am done some more come around and I take a second samosa.
Full dinner at 2.30. I was expecting something less consistent... too many IB
Drinks come right away and my glass is filled twice with the red French Cabernet-Merlot, a great choice. While I am savoring dinner I start watching a film I cannot remember, it must have been nothing special, and think about how fortunate I am being able to spend this short break in Mumbai and how nicely my friends have treated me.
After an hour on flight the plane starts shaking slightly and the seat belt sign comes on. For about half an hour it stays on while the plane moves, nothing violent, just the usual moving left to right when crossing a turbulent area.
When I am tired of reading I go for a walk to the end of the cabin, mostly everybody is sleeping and I look at them with some envy. When back I stop by the galley and talk for a while with the on duty crew. They tell me they take turns, two at a time for each shift. We talk about BCN
, traveling, the aircraft... a nice conversation that confirms my absolute believe that LX
has the best crews I have ever encountered.
Toilet time. It is clean and shows that is not yet heavily used but most of the lip balm and moisturizing cream containers are already gone....
Beauty products had already been taken care of at the toilet
Yours truly around 3.00
I kill time watching another film, looking at the inflight map and taking pictures of the flight stats.
First European land
My best IFE (i)
My best IFE (ii)
My best IFE (iii)
My best IFE (iv)
My best IFE (v)
When the lights are turned on I am one of the first to be served breakfast and I see that I have ordered a full one.... No problem I have it all. The service is not according to seat number as trays come and go depending on when the order was placed. Mine must have been taken while I was out of my seat on one of the frequent rounds of the crew offering water to still awake passengers me and few others.
My full breakfast
Once service is finished all tables are cleaned and ready for landing announcements are made: headphones from C class passengers will be collected while Y class passengers can keep them.
Plane is set for landing and we land in cloudy ZRH
right on time.
I head out of the plane thanking the crew and head to the train, then to the Arrivals Lounge. You have to cross the border as it is in the luggage belt area for arriving passengers. Indications are perfect but I'd say it would be better to have inside the main terminal.
I am offered a shower cabin in a corridor containing about a dozen and I go for the best experience after a long flight. It is not as elegant as the MAD IB
lounge but it looks really clean, soft towels and hot water are best at this time of the morning.
Partial view of the shower cabin
The shower itself
Before the best experience after a long-haul flight
I get out and head for the breakfast area. I desperately need a strong coffee, better two, a sandwich and a banana come on handy as well.
A nice shower sets my hunger on
View of the Arrivals Lounge at ZRH
Breakfast counter at the lounge... Coffee please!
And now making up time until 9.25 when my flight is due.
First thing is going to the check in area to have my seat changed. I asked for a window seat and I was given at BOM
a 3D aisle.
LX4756 / JK096
The helping girl at the desk has no problem in giving me a new boarding card with a 1F seat on it. The best seats are F as you get to see the coast and BCN
city and I am ready to take more pictures.
Dark and cold morning at ZRH
Once I am done walking outside and have felt the cold of a Swiss morning I get back inside and hit the stores looking for a special offer, once I have found it I get it home with me but first I stop by the lounge which is empty in this morning.
No one at the right
No one at the left
I sit at the bar and despite being 8.00 the American guy on the next stall orders a Bloody Mary, ooops! My tea with lemon looks quite ridiculous, ok! I get a espresso.
My humble lemon tea
When I get to the gate, A83, I am more than disappointed; my long awaited B717 has turned into a MD83.
Corridor to my gate
My biggest disappointment, the B717 turned into a MD87
Morning apron shot
Another view at ZRH
apron. Love those little AVRO
This flight is operated by Spanair code sharing with LX
, as all the LX
/JK flights between Spain and Switzerland.
Before boarding you need to have your boarding pass stamped once your passport is inspected at one of these stalls they set up for some of the flights out of the A area.
The plane has the Star Alliance scheme on the outside; inside the old but clean interior is quite disappointing. It displays the 3-2 seating and it is about less than half full.
Inside Spanair MD87
Generous seat pitch at row 1
Maybe the youngest members have never seen these
The purser, a French lady, welcomes us on board and the rest of the crew perform the safety demonstration manually. It is cloudy and some rain drops start falling when we taxi to the end of the runaway.
The usual quiet and fast take off for such an empty plane takes us fast over the clouds and the Sun greets us in about 10 minutes.
There is no in flight information but the Captain comes in the system and informs us of the route followed: Geneva / Marseille / Costa Brava and BCN
, all at 35,000 feet at a cruising speed of 850 km/h.
A passing neighbor
Before take off I am offered a bunch of newspapers and I go for La Vanguardia, glad to have it on paper after reading news on the screen for so many days.
Service is performed punctually but the smiles and warm service experienced on LX
has disappeared here and it is quite robotic. Due to my few hours of sleep I spill my wine for the cold breakfast on the floor. I tell the FA
on charge and she says not to worry, she forgets to offer me a new one. These little details tell you about the quality of the airline.
Cold snack for this 1.30 hour flight
Another lemon tea
My visit to the toilet, there are only two at the back of the plane shows another lack on this plane. One of them has a broken door that cannot be closed properly and it is half open. No sign telling you it is out of order. Ay, ay, ay.... How can JK
code share with LX
View of the cabin... 40%load?
The clouds have disappeared once we reach the sea and I am able to identify all the villages from Costa Brava to BCN
Sant Feliu de Guíxols. My favorite town on Costa Brava
Barcelona's Port Olímpic area
Barcelona from beaches to Tibidabo hill at the back
Landing is announced and all the cabin is set up for the event.
It is a soft landing.
pushing back before climbing onto the skies to JFK
We pass by the whole airport and docked at a bus gate. This allows me to see the DL
B767 to New York being pushed back and the CO
B757 to EWR
taking off while a small IB
CRJ takes off simultaneously on the third runaway.
A curious neighbor at the apron
Immigration is a breeze but waiting for the baggage takes about 10 minutes, not bad after all. Priority tags result in coming out last... I start missing BOM
Getting out to a nice day and taking the bus home ends up this trip.
I hope you have enjoyed.
Comments, criticisms and questions are all welcome.
"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)