Finally a report on LX by me. After reading the many reports we’ve seen over the years from several users, I took my card and booked for me and partner all the way to Istanbul, were we enjoyed 5 days of this beautiful Turkish city.
SWISS website is easy to navigate and after booking confirmation, e-tickets are send right away in PDF format. Since my profile list me as ‘Asian Vegetarian’ for the meals, these were secured to.
We decided to take the early connection to IST, to get most of the day. Leaving at an unhuman 7.00am on a rainy and still dark morning in AMS. Of course we just missed our 5.30am bus to the airport, so 15 minutes more waiting at the busstop, cold enough there to wake up a little. The bus drove us there fast enough, arriving at departure hall 1 for check-in just 55 minutes before departure.
Seat selection was done already, but for some reason it was impossible to sit next to my partner on the ZRH-IST leg. Annoyed as I was with this, I contacted LX offices in Zurich, tried the desk in Amsterdam, and of course that morning at check-in, but nobody was willing to assist. Despite that, my profile on the LX website says that my seat preference is window, but I was pre-seated on aisle. My partner got a window seat instead. Not the best impressions so far.
The check-in desks in AMS are staffed by Aviapartner and are in a bad location, and, when we approached an economy class passengers with 3 suitcases was being handled at the business class desk. A lady from economy class waved to us to proceed with her, so we did. She quickly checked the baggages, and I had to remind her of the priority label for our suitcases. Also changing those seats on the ZRH-IST leg was not possible for her, the flight was full, she said.
Security control at AMS can by bypassed quickly using the priority lane for Privium members, business/first class passengers. So we did, and through in a few minutes. We continue to the lounge.
SWISS uses the Menzies business lounge (lounge 21) at AMS. The lady at the desk was friendly. Only 2 other passengers were in. But, it was freezing cold inside, and pretty dark too. The whole lounge didn’t attract me and made me feel uncomfortable. Food offering was at a minimum, just a cake (out of the plastic, from the supermarket), and some nuts and crisps (who is eating those at 6.00am!). Coffee was available of course, and with the cake, they did for a little breakfast. I quickly made some pictures, grabbed a magazine, and we were called for our flight which was boarding by then.
AMS departure lounge 1 in Christmas decorations
The not so exciting Menzies lounge at AMS
Not Swiss, but an Edelweiss on my flight
It took nearly 10 minutes to reach the gate (B17), and to my surprise I noticed an Edelweiss A320 parked at our gate, and that was the machine taking care for our first flight that day. This was a new airline for me, making me quite happy of course. Boarding was not separated between economy and business/priority class, all went together and had to queue.
Once on board, a friendly male purses greeted us and we took our seats. The seatpitch is rather limited though, with the large blue leather seats on this aircraft. The adjustable headrest on these seats were worn out, and did not stay in place once adjusted.
Boarding finished 5 minutes late and at that time the captain came with an announcement about low visibility in ZRH, giving us a bad slot with an expected 45 minutes delay before block-out. Further information was not given, also not to us (we had a connection flight, and with 45 minutes delay, the transfer time would become very short). During this time, a bottle of Evian water and a wet towel was given. No ‘Henniez’ water for us? I was also given a questionnaire, so I had the possibility to write already a bit about my not too positive experiences so far.
It came as a surprise, but suddenly the crew was told to prepare for departure, and the safety video was played on the dropdown screens in the cabin. Our delay wouldn’t be that big as previously announced,
Flight No.: LX737 Date: 12NOV09
STD: 0700 ATD: 0720
STA: 0825 ATA: 0827
A/C: Airbus A320-200 Reg No.: HB-IHY
Seat: 02F – Business Class
Photo © Marco Toso - SpotIT
We taxied out to the departure runway, 24 in use, so the quick ride brought us in the air at 07.27am. This flight carried a total of 92 passengers, 88 in economy and the others in front of the curtain, which was closed already. Service began almost immediately after our climb out.
Our section was taken care of by the purser, Mr Roland Jordi, and he was very attentive throughout the flight. But with the very short flighttime, also busy, and that was maybe the reason that he didn’t have the time to be a bit more personal to each passenger.
Breakfast was served, and is was a fruit plate with some yoghurt, and a croissant. More bread was offered a bit later. I got an orange juice, and a coffee.
With nearly no time to finish is in a relaxed way, we started our descent and the cabin had to be prepared again for landing. A female crewmember handed out SWISS chocolate, 1 per person.
Water and towel, AMS-ZRH on Edelweiss (no Henniez water?)
Welcome on board…
Cruising in the morning light
ZRH runway 14 final approach. Improving conditions, but still not the best
During final approach it was very clear to see that the visibility was indeed a bit low, clouds were at low level but the situation was improving already. Landing was on runway 14, which I found to be a rough runway. How about the surface of this runway? Did anybody else noticed the rough surface?
Block-in was with only 2 minutes delay, basically ‘on time’ and we had to deplane by stairs, and take the bus. This surprised me also, since we had to wait for about 8 minutes until the rest of the passengers came in the 2 buses, and once finished, the bus drove us to the terminal building.
Bye bye HB-IHY
During the transit at ZRH we were able to contact the transfer desk. A friendly older lady assited us very kindly, and said that the cabin was not enlarged so were able to get seats on row 5 or 6, both sides, whichever was our choice. We took 5A/C. We were additionally wished a good flight by her,and a little child. Apparently it was some kind of ‘childrens-day’ at ZRH. We saw more staff joined by a child. Nice idea I think. It was clearly visible that those children enjoyed the airport life!
It took us about 5 minutes to go via passport control to the B-gates, were the SWISS lounge is located for flights using these gates. We were accepted in a friendly way and took our seats near the window in this, nearly empty, lounge. Breakfast was still on offer, so some sandwiches and a very nice latte machiato. Free internet was available of course. In case you need a shower, it’s located just outside the lounge, near the lavatories.
Lounge at B-gate area @ ZRH
Some design coffee maker, produced a good latte machiato !
Relaxing and extra breakfast before the next flight
20 minutes before our departure we left, via the security checkpoint. There is a dedicated lane for Business class/First class passengers. I beeped this time, so got a bodycheck, but the officer was very friendly and I got my privacy behind a curtain (AMS: please take notice!).
We were among the last ones boarding the bus, which was already filled up by other passengers, and within minutes we left to our aircraft.
This time a normal SWISS machine. Upon boarding we were friendly greeted by the cabin staff.
Flight No.: LX1800 Date: 12NOV09
STD: 0950/b] ATD: [b]0955
STA: 1335 ATA: 1346
A/C: Airbus A321-100 Reg No.: HB-IOK
Seat: 05C – Business Class
Photo © Airwim
Doors closed on time, and water/towels were handed out. The safety demo was shown on the overhead screens. The names of the flightcrew and cabin crew were announced. At this time I noticed that our co-pilot was also member on this forum, and not flying around that long. Sandro, I felt completely safe that flight. Don’t worry .
Runway use was mixed at that time. Departures in westerly directions from runway 28, and we got 16 assigned. It took some time for taxiing and waiting. A company A320 in front of us, and we were chased by another A321 and A330-200. The runway was in wet condition. Time to leave soon, to find the sun in Istanbul!
Takeoff itself was nothing special. I took a while to climb through the pack of clouds covering most of Switzerland, but soon we were presented some great views on the Austrian Alps, while we were finding our way in Southeasterly directions. Meanwhile, drink orders were taken, and I was pleasantly surprised by the outstanding friendliness of this crew. SWISS was at it’s best here.
I thought to write a quick note to the front office, to tell about my presence in the cabin. The stewardess gladly delivered this card for me. It had result, since I was able to say hello to our F/O and we had a quick chat.
Climbing out over the Alps
… and good views everywhere
… as far as we could see !
Also on the other side of the aircraft
Also the meal service was excellent on this leg. I got some Indian style menu, the bread was delicious and freshly baked, and drinks were refilled all the time.
Meal / Lunch on ZRH-IST flight (Asian Vegetarian order)
On the overhead screens we watched some Mr. Bean comics. Always funny to watch, so once in a while.
After about 2,5 hours flying we started descent to Istanbul. We got bumped in a holding pattern for about 10 more minutes, according our crew due to busy traffic at IST. We landed at runway 36R if I’m not mistaken, and continued on the taxiways to our assigned spot 211. IST always guarantees for interesting planes, and I was happy to see some of the history on the ground here.
Some interesting metal on the ground
A narrowbody from Saudi Arabia is not seen often more to the West
Blockin was slightly later then schedule, but as airlines say, still within the 15 minute margin, so on time.
After block-in a we checked in the flightdeck for a final chat with the crew, said goodbye and we will meet again some day, I guess.
Goodbye to HB-IOK, preparing for the returnflight to ZRH
Arrival procedures at IST are easy. You can first go to the visa counter, were you pay for your visa. For me, EU citizen, it’s 15 Euro. After you get the visa you continue to the passport/immigration control. It was a bit busy with people, but it was handled well and went quite smoothly. I think it took max 10 minutes to clear everything.
Meanwhile our baggage also arrived. It came on the belt when we approached, so no need to wait here.
Our days in Istanbul started here. First thing to do is cashing a few Lira from the ATM, before going to the metro. A single fare is TL1.50, and change to the tram at Zeytinburnu station. At this station you can buy an Akbil, and charge it with some amount of your choice. Every time, and in every transport (incl. local train, metro, funicular, ferryboats on the Bosphorus) you can use it to enter and it takes off the amount of TL1.50 each time. So, with Akbil there is no need anymore to purchase single tickets each time. Also, you can charge Akbil at machines which you’ll find at many places. A deposit for Akbil applies (TL6.00) which is refunded when you return the devise. You can do that at e.g. the same office were you bought it at Zeytinburnu station.
I’ll finalize the report with some views of Istanbul city. I must admit, this city ranks amongst the most interesting and beautiful cities in ‘Europe’. I will return for sure, some day. That’s for sure!
>> continue for some Istanbul views:
Mosque at Eminönü
Aya Sofya and the fountain
The nostalgic tram at Taksim square
Sunset over the Golden Horn
Fisherman on Galata Bridge at night
Haydarpasa Station (Asian side)
Gloria’s Coffee at Istiklal Caddesi