Returning back from Brussels to Singapore was a less hectic affair then SIN-Brussels (see part 1 for trip report). My flight was in the morning but i left nothing to chance and opted to go a good 2.5hrs early using the Brussels metro system which at 6:30 in the morning is highly efficient. Not only was i able to check in early, but i was also able to sample the SAS business lounge ( a first for me). The train arrived on time at the airport and i made a b line straight to the check in area. While there was a large crowd for check in it was for the Lufthansa flight and not mine ---- phew.
Scheduled Dep: 10:15 Scheduled Arrv: 11:10 Flight time: 1hr
Although Brussels airport is nice, and somewhat spacious, some really good opportunities to take pictures of parked aircraft it is no ZRH and can be a bit boring at times, as was this occasion. Furthermore i am surprised that given airlines like Lufthansa frequent this airport that there is only one star alliance lounge (SAS business) in the shengen side and one BMI lounge in the non-shengen side, wonder why this is the case. After looking around the airport for a while, i decided it was time to head to the SAS lounge which was very easy to find, once you climbed the stairs.
Surprise Surprise, a very nice looking lounge, with furnishing straight out of a IKEA catalogue. I really like the breakfast bench overlooking part of the runway and an area which was under construction. However at 8:40am it was nearly empty, at most i could count a total of four other people in the lounge with me. Mind you i was very impressed with the simplicity of the lounge and how the different types of chairs was a nice way of breaking the lounge into various section. Also nice was the Mac work station available. But unfortunately the selection of food and beverages was quite poor, with only basic nibbles available, so grabbed some Swiss cheese, croissants, toast and jam. P.S good luck to anyone trying to figure out the coffee machine as i found it impossible to make a cup of coffee. Eventually the lady cleaning the lounge helped me figure it out. Nevertheless i took this opportunity to grab something to eat and take some pictures of the lounge and watch some cargo arrivals
With 20min its to go to final boarding, i said good by to the SAS lounge and head to gate A53 where LX787 was waiting for me, by the time i got there most of the passengers had already boarded and i was lucky to snap a shot of the aircraft parked at the gate. I was hoping for another AVROJet plane but this time it was an Airbus A-319 oh well i guess you win some and you lose some. The flight was almost 95% full with a few spares seats left, luckily one of those spare seats was next to me. Unfortunately, the captain came over the PA and announced that due to heavy traffic in both Zurich and Brussels and that we would be delayed on the ground for another 10-15min.
While seating in seat 14F, waiting to depart, i was able to snap some pics of the local traffic:
Right on que we started our push-back from the gate and before we knew it were climbing over the Brussels. Shortly after the trolley came around offering the usual drinks and a light breakfast snack. Nothing special to write about here other then we were able to make up the lost time and land on time at Zurich airport. Overall very impressed with Swiss, inter-European flights, in both the level on board comfort and service. Would definitely fly with them again, and their prices do seem reasonable enough as well.
Scheduled Dep: 22:05 Scheduled Arrv: 16:10 Flight time: 11hr 40min
My European work/leisure trip was coming to an end. My friends had a prior engagement to go to, so they had to drop me off at ZRH a good 6.5 hours before scheduled departure. As i had plenty of time to kill i was thinking of visiting the observation deck, which many people had recommended on previous forums. Unfortunately, finding the bloody bus to the location was extremely difficult as i spent nearly 30min looking for the dam thing. Once found, i paid the 2 CHF and the was off. I was amazed at how close the bus got some of the aircraft parked at the airport, the only problem was that windows of the bus where covered with adverts making it impossible to take close up pictures. Oh well!! I spent the next three hours at the observation deck, luckily the weather was holding up watch aircraft, land, taxi, park and take-off. All in all a great viewing platform for the general public, and on this particular day it was crowed with families bringing their kids along. As i did not have a SLR camera with me i could only manage the following pictures:
As time passed it came close to opening of checking in for SQ flight, so back onto the bus and back to the departures terminal it was for me. When i arrived at the SQ check in counter it was virtually empty and the nice check in lady said i was the first to check in. She also told me that the flight was only a ¼ full for today, wow, i don’t know what SQ’s load factors where on this route previously, but 25% full sounds bad, may be the hard times have finally caught up. Furthermore the check-in lady was also nice to point out that i should visit the Swiss lounge, instead of the designated Belleview lounge, as it was much nicer with a wider selection of food and drinks as well. This sounded like a good idea, and after some duty free shopping headed to the Swiss/Senator lounge, this time to try the Swiss side of the lounge. The lady at the gate recommended that i try the longest manned lounge bar in the world, which i was certainly going to do only after a quick shower. The showers were very spacious and came with an array of goodies. Although it looks similar to the senator lounge next door, i really liked the ambience of this lounge. It had great array of seating areas, ok choice of food – the fried rice was nice though and decent selection of drinks. Loved massage chairs facing the apron, very nice touch and i think a must try for this lounge. After some time in this lounge, drinking, eating, charging the ipod/laptop and checking the emails i made my way up to the manned lounge bar to order one last drink before the flight. It was a great feeling being served at an airport lounge and to just have a chat with the bar tender, i think it was the highlight of my trip. Also nice addition in that you are provided with bar nuts, really adds to the bar experience:
After a few more drinks it was straight onto the mini-train to immigration and to Gate E42 where SQ341 was waiting for me. As it was late night i was not able to take a nice picture of the aircraft – sorry. Once i board was greeted with the usual SQ charm and accompanied to my seat 34A. In fact the stewardess joked at how empty this flight was, and yup she was right, the entire plane seemed virtually empty. There was a handful of people in my part of the Y cabin and even fewer in the rear cabin. Well the up side of this was that it was now possible to stretch out along the four seats in the middle. In fact i was surprised as i had never in the past seen an SQ flight so empty before. Push-back from the gate was on time as usual and before you know it we were on our way to Singapore.
Once the seatbelt sign came off and the KrisWorld entertainment system was switched on, i plugged in the earphones and proceed to watch the only movie i have not seen so far – Valkyrie. I know it is not the best movie in the world, but it was one i had not seen before, and plus what else can a movie buff like myself do in such situations. Actually this whole trip i had only watched one movie that was this one. About 10min into the movie the FA’s came around taking meal requests, having a look at the menu nothing really appeased me so i opted for the beef stir fry with Asian vegetables, what was Asian about the vegetables i don’t know but they were supposed to be Asian in some way. As it was late i could only stomach a few spoonfuls of the food and left it as is. Waited for desert but did not come around, quite weird for SQ right, and even weirder was how quickly the FA’s came back around to collect the trays of everyone on the flight. Maybe, like the load factors the level of service on SQ its self is slowly slipping?
With cabin lights dimmed, i moved across to the adjacent and empty four seats and made a make shift bed. Yes it was not as comfortable as business class lie-flat but what the heck, when in Rome... right. Well it must have been comfortable as i was awakened by the FA’s about 30min before landing.
I really enjoyed this trip, the only thing marring it was the lingering threat of the Swine flu and being on a flight arriving from Switzerland was not exactly the best choice either. However no problems were encountered at CHangi, and yes the thermo scanners from the SARS period where out and working overtime at Changi airport when i arrived.
For my next trip at the end of May i was thinking of doing something different. Instead of trip report i was thinking of a lounge report instead. Within a period of 10days i will be passing through the following airports
BKK, LHR, FRA, BOS, IAD, ORD and LAX. I was intending to visit as many Star Alliance lounges as possible and post their pics on forum
All comments and suggestions welcomed.