Welcome to my first mileage run or…………..
How to get from
The end of the year was coming and I was 15K miles short to reach SEN
so I decided to look for some LX
Business upgrade offers to get it, it was too close to forget about it.
At the end of November LX
stopped the offer for BCN
, my favorite destination in intra-European so I decided to start looking for other destinations, as there are far more cities in Europe that LX
flies to apart from Berlin
; finally I settled for Athens: I had never been there
, the price was best option
plus a hot meal was offered on that sector which I had rarely sampled on LX
European rides as they only serve them on flights longer than two hours.
Settled then: some days in ATH
, then to Berlin for a great farewell to the old year and the great ride back home on the 31st December: TXL
The first two sectors BCN
will not be covered in this trip report flown on 26th Dec. and 29th Dec. were excellent LX
flights, especially the ATH
sector where the constant attention from the FA
serving the C cabin will be long remembered as an example of professionalism on board. While the ZRH
was an example of lack of coordination and improvisation, more common to Southern Europe than to true Swiss reliability. The other two sectors were just LX
standard: 8/10, I’d say.
So, let’s get down to the issues.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------December 31st, 2009
-IYU ‘Rot Turm’ (StarAlliance livery)
SDT: 06.50 // 07.15 TXL
: 08.15 // 08.45 ZRH
As you can imagine for such an early flight I have an early rise, at 5.30 I set off to the airport from Zoologischer Garten. Berlin is covered in snow as it has been snowing during the previous day and all night. A very typical northern image to start off.
The ride to the airport is quite smooth, not many people around, and when I am finally at Tegel I get to the self boarding unit at the entrance and my two boarding passes are printed in no time. The other two had already been printed the afternoon before from the web; there are always issues involving flights from Germany on LX
, they let you check for the TXL
leg but not for the coming one, I think LX
needs to fix that as it is very inconvenient when flying with a connection.
Then up to the Lounge, today the SEN
lounge is the only one in use; I imagine not many people traveling today so they use this one. There are two people when I get in, four when I leave. So I guess my assumptions about low loads is not that bad.
I get to the gate, A06, and the amount of people is similar to the one at the lounge, about 60 people on board, so pretty comfortable flight. 4 (1crew) / 20 on C.
Our Avro is sitting there on the snow getting ready for today’s first flight; boarding is called on time and by 06.40 were all on board ready to go.
Our ride sitting on the snow
FIDS announcing boarding
We are welcomed by the ‘maître-de-cabin’ and offered the ritual bottle of water and the wet towel. The safety demonstration is played manually by the crew, the male purser and the lady FA
. We push back on time a couple of meters and then sit there for a while, then again pushed again and we are informed by the captain about the deicing process and how it will delay our scheduled take off for about ten minutes.
General view of the cabin
Fs, seats with a view
As, seats with no view
We begin taxiing to the deicing position and when we get there two trucks start the deicing process which lasts about ten minutes and then a quick taxi to the closest runaway, 8L
It is snowing again and I expect a shaky take off, I am mistaken, it is one of the smoothest ones I have ever encountered, you can barely feel we are flying, so smooth, so quiet…
Water and snow still on the window
About five minutes after take off service starts, we are already above the clouds and the first lights of the last day of the year can be guessed on the far East.
First lights of the last day of the year
More of the morning lights
Morning light more visible
Engines getting hit by morning light
Service is very professional as usual, with lots of smiles and second offerings on bread selection and coffee.
Best thing in the house, sit sideways for a perfect view
Breakfast is quite filling, although no hot food is offered on LX
for flights less than two hours.
Sun about to boost into the sky
Sequence of the Sun, aka Mr Lorenzo in Spanish, coming out (I)
Right before the descent into ZRH
and the captain informs us about the weather conditions: cloudy and rainy at 6ºC and tells about 25 minutes left.
First Switzerland view after the clouds
Town before landing
Descent is not as smooth as take off.
My ride docked at the A pier
Embraer looking for a parking space
An Adria CRJ arriving from Ljuabljana
FIDS at Zürich
We finally land and I get directly to the A81 gate to get ready for my next flight.
SDT: 09.45 // 09.40 ZRH
: 13.20 // 13.00 ATH
My ride to ATH
, docked and ready
Looking at her in the face
General view of the apron in a rainy morning
ride going to NCE
Boarding to ATH
Side view before stepping in
Boarding is called on time and completed by 9.30; after the usual greetings in German and English from the crew the water, towels and press are distributed. A Greek recording is played with some information about basic safety on board.
Old seats on this ride
Seat am-rests and legroom view
The first thing that strikes me are the old seats on this plane, not the usual LX
Recaro seats, They feel more comfortable as they are padded but the armrests are difficult to move and there is no in-flight map.
The load for today is about 70%, on C 9/12.
We taxi to the runaway, 16 (S-SE
) and after a DL
B-763 we are ready to go. We sit at the beginning of the runaway for a while until full thrust is applied to the engines and off we go.
heavy precedes us on the runaway
We take off smoothly and climb quite fast, the seat belt sign is turned at 10,000 ft. sharply although we are still crossing a second layer of clouds to cross and the planes shakes a bit.
Klotten right after taking off
General view of ZRH
A town in Austria / Germany
Views before the clouds
Last view before the sea of clouds
We cross a third layer of clouds and we can see that YES! The sun is out there to say hello on the last day of the year.
Sea of clouds
First view of the Austrian Alps
Austrian Alps (ii)
When we reach the open sky drink orders are taken by a smiling and cheerful flight attendant. I go for a red wine and after everybody is served the trays with the meals are distributed: only 3 are taken; the rest of the passengers do not seem to be hungry.
On the first tray: a nice-seized green salad, cheese and dessert are featured. After a while she comes back with the main dish, again, only three are taken, as I am the last one I am presented, the others were just asked for, with the two dishes: Strogonoff ragout and a vegetarian curry. I go for the last and I am pleasantly surprised, it tastes excellent. Glasses are refilled and I go for the champagne this time.
Austrian Alps (iii)
First tray of service, excellent salad
Very tasty vegetarian curry
Do not forget to look out of the window when eating
Eating on a plane and having a nice view, especially if there are no clouds, is something I really enjoy.
Service is very kind as the FA
keeps coming back and forth always smiling and seeming to enjoy her job. At least one of the FA
and the ‘maître-de-cabin’ are Italian speaking, not very frequent on LX
., from Ticino probably.
The landscape has gone from green Switzerland, to Austrian Alps, to a drier landscape when we are heading South. I do not know the exact route as there is no in-flight map or information from the cockpit until we are half an hour from ATH
when we are informed about weather conditions at our destination.
City in the distance
The dry landscape of Southern Europe in sight
First sight of Aegean Sea
Some Greek islands
The rest of the flight is uneventful until the duty-free trolley is taken out and Mr. 1C decides to buy something and uses his credit card that seems is not working due to a malfunction of the electronic terminal. After a while and trying several times he gets quite upset and starts a verbal discussion that can be heard from my seat. The purser tries to calm him down but he is very up and starts complaining about LX
and their service; they finally set down as he throws some money on the trolley from a very stuffed wallet. I really hate this behavior, they were trying their best and it was not really their fault if the electronic device was not working properly.
More great views
Right before landing and as the purser is storing the curtains I inform her of my plans to come back with them as the service was so wonderful, she is really neat and asks me to bring them something from my ATH
A Greek town on the way
More Greece views
Turning over the sea
Four A343s Olympic sitting on the apron
We land and taxi to our gate, B3
, and I set off to the transit area which is nothing less than walking back up to the arrivals level, in fact you can as well exit the airport this way as once you are on departures level you are free to wander around the departures area. There is a guy sitting on a desk as these stairs give way to some gates on the lower level; he asks to see your boarding pass to exit the area.
SDT: 14.05 // 14.00 ATH
: 15.55 // 16.10 ZRH
As I had checked in for this segment the night before I had already mi boarding card in hand when I went through the first control that gives you access to the one of the shopping areas; be aware that you are able to buy things and then go out of the area again, which I find quite surprising as there are Duty Free items that can be then brought outside again (???).
Anyway I had everything I needed in hand and I went to the gate, in case you want to access the lounge you are directed to the Olympic Air one, which is quite surprising as there is a LH
lounge as well, but LX
seems to partner with locals here.
To access the door there is a preferred line for Business Class fliers although it proved to be of no use, once I had put my carry-on on the belt I was prevented as there were two elderly people in wheel chairs coming from who knows where. Ç
After about 5 minutes wait it was my turn through the metal detector and I was waived through without much enthusiasm.
Walking back to gate B03 is quite a long walk as you by pass all the other B gates, anyway I got there with plenty of time and then I realized I wouldn’t be alone flying this afternoon, the plane was 100% full.
Stepping back on the plane I was greeted by the ‘maître-de-cabin’ who merrily greeted me again and I said I was sorry for them for the duty-free episode that had taken place just before landing. I promised to buy something and not make that fuss.
I took my seat, 3F, next to a father of two seating on 3C
and wife on 3A. They were really calm during the flight except for descending when the toddler began crying, I do not blame her, sometimes I would cry as well when the plane goes down. (red) Two other children were on board seating at 2A & 1A with their parents on 2C & 1C.
Boarding was finished and once everybody was seated we went through the same usual ritual on LX
: bottle of water, wet towel, newspapers. Greetings by the crew in English, German and a Greek recording plus safety demonstration on the overhead monitors.
We started taxiing to the long runaway and there we were up on the air. This is almost a straight fly to ZRH
, we did not turn until well above our cruising altitude, 37,000ft.
The views are impressive as you get to see all the city of Athens right after take off.
Town of Spata, housing ATH
Crossing Mount Imitos, Athens behind
First view of Athens
View of Athens
Athens massive spread
Close up of central Athens
General view of the port
The Piraeus in a closer view
Greek landscape, home to the famous Kalamata olives?
The captain welcomed us on the plane before taking off and once on our cruising altitude he informed us of views on both sides, seating on F I was addressed to watch Mount Olympus… great, Zeus’ home on Earth.
Order drinks were taken on the same way as in our incoming flight, the same cheerful FA
and the same professionalism and kindness. Despite a full cabin (12) she performed her duty without signs of tiredness, maybe a little bit stressed with four children on board, but very nice.
Curious cloud and its shade over Greece
Food was brought first to the children: ravioli, crackers, chocolate bars…. Kept them entertained while adults had their trays prepared and served.
Again the first tray featured the salad, cheese and dessert. Refills for my champagne came before the main dish, a perfectly cooked steak (no choice this time), was served to me and bread offered. More refills came after plus a second serving of bread.
Salad, cheese and dessert service
Once we were finished: coffee, tea… was offered and I went for a green tea which was promptly brought to me with a smile.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and some nice views could be seen as we traveled above the Dalmatian coast: Tirana - Dubrovnik - Split - Venice - Innsbruck - Zurich as we are informed by the captain.
Dalmatian coast (ii)
When we began our descent to ZRH
we passed several layers of clouds and we shacked a bit. Landing was on the same runaway we departed, 16, which I though was quite curious.
Initial descent into ZRH
Sun hiding away
Sun hiding away (ii)
We were parked at a bus gate and descended the plane thanking the crew for these great flights and wishing them a Happy New Year!
Apron activity in ZRH
Engine view from the bus
Registration and tail view
Under the wing
Once inside the terminal I headed for the lounge and up the escalator to the bar, which was quite empty that afternoon. I had my usual Campari and a espresso and watched the beautiful sunset on the last day of the year.
Best place to wait for next flight
FIDS at the bar
Sun beams coming into the bar
That is, almost home, another leg and I will be home to celebrate New Year’s Eve in my friends’ home.
So, let’s go.
I have to admit that I was a little tired of going up and down planes, basically, I had been doing the same thing since 6.30 that morning.
SDT: 17.20 // 17.30 ZRH
: 19.05 // 19.10 BCN
Security was a breeze at the area leading to the A gates, the agents were looking forward to closing down and going home. They all wished a Happy New Year as I was moving away trying to put on my belt for one last time that day.
When I got to the gate the plane had already started boarding and one could tell which were the planes heading South; lines were huge to BCN
and ROM, the one to HAM
was fairly empty.
My ride to BCN
Again a full plane… and a little late departure from ZRH
After the customary greetings by the crew in English, German and French came a recording in Catalan and Japanese (there were quite a few on board). The Captain informed us about the route and told us that the FO would take care of the flight tonight.
Again we are pushed back and taxied to runaway 16 where we sit for a while waiting for crossing traffic to stop by and then off we go.
Again a smooth take off, I have noticed that A321 do not vibrate as much as A320 when they take off, but nothing as smooth as that Avro departure in the morning.
Once up we start turning South East towards MRS
and then straight to Costa Brava and South to BCN
The crew springs into action once the seat belt sign comes off and they keep onto it until we reach descending time.
This evening we are served a cold Ceasar salad, which is certainly fresh and tastes wonderfully. With some glasses of champagne it goes down very well.
Nice Ceasar salad
Meanwhile I try to take some pictures of the last lights of the day that can be seen in the far West. Not very happy with the results.
Last light of the last day of the year
The flights is really smooth and once the duty-free trolley has done the typical run to the back of the plane we start descending to BCN
It is nice to see all the coast and all the villages with the lights….
We land a few minutes late and that puts an end to my New Year’s Eve mileage run.
swinging airport lights
I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I did on board the four planes. Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions….
A full moon welcomes New Year’s Eve
And That’s All Folks!
Millor Any 2010!
Happy New Year!
Ein gutes neues Jahr!
Bonne Anné 2010!
Feliz Año Nuevo!
Buon anno nuovo!
Een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
υτυχισμένο το Νέο Ετος!
счастливого нового года!
Urte Berri On!
Erós An Nau!
"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)