I have to apologize for posting this tripreport so late, but due to family matters, the national holidays and my schedule at work… no time to write it earlier.
This report is continuation of part 1 which was already posted:
Istanbul Delight: AMS-IST On LX Business (pt. 1) (by Airbuseric Dec 3 2009 in Trip Reports)
After a few days in the city of Istanbul, which became a very pleasant stay actually, it was time to fly home again. But before we go to the flights itself, first some final city-pics:
Old train at Sirkeci Station. Once the Orient Express arrived here. The left train was leaving for Sofia (Bulgaria) Station
Sultanahmet – Inside the ‘Blue Mosque’
Entrance of ‘Eminönu Mosque’ during prayer
Galata Tower at night
Sunset over the Marmara Sea / Bosphorus
We flew out on 16th November, with an afternoon departure out of IST. Very good timing for us, so after enjoying breakfast in our hotel for the last time, and checking-out, we walked with our trolleys towards the tramline. This tram would bring us to Zeytinburnu station, at which we connected to the metro which is having it’s final stop at Ataturk Airport (Havalimani Stn). In case you travel by using Akbil, beware to return the Akbil at a stand at Zeytinburnu Station. You will find a small stand during your transfer from tram to metro. There is no possibility to do this at the airport. So, you have to buy a normal ticket (TL1.50) for the last part of your journey to the airport.
You can also keep your Akbil for a next visit to Istanbul.
Once in the terminal, we tried to check-in at the business class counter of TK, and since they’re Star Alliance partner, and at their homebase, we expected TK to be able to check us in. This was not the case, but the staff showed us the desk for LX (E-area). The LX desk was not open yet, but waiting didn’t take long. Some 10 minutes later staff came and made lines. Several passengers for C-class were in line, quite a lot for Y-class too. One remark, 4 desks were checking-in Y-class, and one desk for C-class. The first C-class passenger was flying onward ZRH-JFK, and the lady had to input a lot of data for US immigration purposes. This took quite a while. None of the other check-in staff called us forward to the Y-class section, so we had to wait for quite some time.
At our turn the friendly lady did put priority labels on our suitcases, and gave lounge invitation cards for the Millennium Lounge. So, regular Star Alliance business class passengers cannot use the TK lounge? We didn’t try, and the Millennium lounge was fine enough. Several –not too exciting- foodoptions, plenty of drinks and relaxing chairs. Also free WiFi or Internet-PC’s were available. Only the noise from a music store on ground level was quite disturbing. Nevertheless we heard also some nice songs, which made us decide to purchase that particular CD in the shop!
SWISS check-in at IST
IST departure lounge
IST departure lounge
Entrance of ‘Millennium Lounge’, used by SWISS
Inside ‘Millennium Lounge’
Food & Beverages
Arty waterfall in the departure lounge
No calls were made for any flight, and of course we left maybe a bit too late. So we hurried ourselves over to the gate, 211. We did not have to wait for the security and proceeded without delays. Most passengers already boarded. Newspapers at the door only in Turkish or German language, and when we entered the cabin we got a word of welcome from the crew.
Our A321 (HB-IOD) waiting at the gate
Boarding HB-IOD at IST
Cabin shot after boarding
Doors were closed at 14:17, on time.
Flight No.: LX1801 Date: 16NOV09
STD: 1420/b] ATD: [b]1420
STA: 1620 ATA: 1622
A/C: Airbus A321-100 Reg No.: HB-IOD
Seat: 02A – Business Class
Photo © Gerry Stegmeier
The A321 which served on this flight was previously also flown by TK as TC-JMA, but returned back to LX after a few years. The inside cabin is a bit worn though, and starts to show it’s age, not strange for this 1995 build example and nearly 15 years ‘old’.
Pushback was exactly on schedule. The safety demo was on the overhead screens, but I was more busy by looking to an Ariana Afghan Airlines B737-800, leased from Saga.
During taxiing to runway 36R I noticed enough other interesting birds around and we got airborne 10 minutes later.
Airborne! No future anymore for those Bosphorus European A300’s…
After our initial climb one of the crew from the flightdeck informed about our route. This was roughly via Plovdiv – Beograd – Budapest to ZRH. Due to headwinds along the whole route we had also a long flighttime, but they were trying to arrive on schedule.
First drink after take-off
Mealservice (hotmeal, AVML)
Enjoying the flight…
Throughout the flight a bit unstable flight, caused by the headwinds, but nothing serious actually. The crew was friendly enough, and drinks were refilled throughout the flight. There was some choice of meals too, for my partner, but I got my pre-ordered vegetarian choice. And that was a bit disappointing, since it was exact the same meal as on my previously flown LX1800 ZRH-IST flight. The kitchen at LX is not very original… at least not for me.
The evening came in from the East also when we neared ZRH. Light was mostly gone, so I have to apologize for not having good pictures of the approach. We landed on runway 14, and taxied to the remote apron near the B-gates. Deplaning by stairs, and a bus to the terminal. Arrival was only 2 minutes late, so basically ‘on schedule’.
We got eventually dropped off in the terminal and proceeded through passport control into the ‘Schengen/EU’ area. We were now in the shopping area of the terminal and walked around for a while before proceeding to the lounge. We had several hours to kill now, and were not in a hurry at all. I count this specific part of the airport among the best and best looking terminals in Europe. Very stylish, friendly staff, good but pricey offerings for food/drinks. This is ‘typically Swiss’, I think. Some images might give an impression:
Zurich departure/transit lounge
Zurich departure/transit lounge
Zurich departure/transit lounge
Zurich departure/transit lounge
Then it was off to the lounge. The one that is famous for it’s long bar. It was pretty busy inside, but when the time passed, it became more quiet. Drink offering is very good, but I was really slightly disappointed with the food offering; only a dish of paella was served. No changes during our stay. Of course some salty crackers, peanuts etc. were available, but I was expecting a few more dishes, at least to have some choice. A large amount of Apple internet PC’s is available too, and you can take a shower if you wish to do so. We read a bit during the stay, I made some pictures, who can do the job overhere:
Inside the SWISS lounge; this was the only food available at dinnertime
The long and famous bar at the SWISS lounge
I checked on the Zurich airport website for our flight, and this website provides also the registration of the aircraft which is planned to operate on each flight. Therefore I noticed that once again, Edelweiss Air would carry out the last part of our trip. And lucky me, a different aircraft then a few days before. Since no boarding calls were made inside the lounge, we left a few more minutes early. Not too far to walk, our aircraft was the first one on the apron, our gate A65. Boarding just started and a large group of old Dutch travellers was very loud. We were greeted friendly at the doorside and stored our bags, jacket etc. It took a while maybe, and the group was pressing through the aisle. I didn’t complain about it, but just noticed their behaviour. The cabin supervisor brought us Dutch newspapers, we gladly accepted. Then the group members also wanted newspapers, but this was friendly rejected by the crew. That’s only for business class, they said. I thought this was quite funny in this particular situation.
Door closed at 20:28, early enough, and with a light load (4 in C, not so much in Y either) we left exactly on schedule.
Flight No.: LX736 Date: 16NOV09
STD: 2035/b] ATD: [b]2035
STA: 2210 ATA: 2203
A/C: Airbus A320-200 Reg No.: HB-IHZ
Seat: 02D – Business Class
Photo © Brian Tu
Also on Edelweiss Air, dropdown screens from the overhead panels will show the safety demonstration, as well introduce the flightcrew and cabin crew members by name (and photo). If you doubt about the aircraft registration on Edelweiss, just bring a visit to the forward lavatory; a plate with the aircraft and name/registration is located on the wall. Nice details…
Seats are comfortable, but big. With the large blue leather cushions, legroom is significantly reduced, and much more worse then on mainline LX. I wouldn’t feel comfortable on longer sectors, and I’m 1.88m tall.
During taxiing to runway 28, captain Boris Surdez informed us about the expected flighttime of 1h15m and the route would lead us over Stuttgart, Saarbrücken, Brussels and along the coast to Amsterdam.
Frédérique Stingelin was looking after us in the cabin, and took care for business class by herself. She was very friendly and really tried her best to get everybody satisfied. Although it was a bit embarrassing when she distributed the meals from the trolley.
Both to me and my partner she handed the meal, but it was a cold plate with carpaccio. I rejected this, since I specifically ordered a vegetarian meal, just because I don’t ear red meats. She was a bit shocked, since she had only the carpaccio’s and not any special meal. I complaint a bit, since this was the first and only flight out of 4 which went wrong, and I said that I couldn’t understand this handling. She agreed with me, and said that I should complain by letter to the airline. And she offered to find some more suitable food for me. After a minute or 2 she returned, with a cheese sandwich from economy class, and a plastic cup with some salad (part of her crewmeal she said). I accepted, and she apologized once again.
After this she started to serve the passenger seated in front of me, but the same problem occurred. That passenger ordered some low calorie meal (or low fat, I didn’t understand well), and at that moment Frédérique was really wondering how this all happened so went for a thorough investigation in the galley. And after a while she came back full of smiles; all special meals were loaded correctly but she overlooked herself. So I got my plate also in the end, and I must say, it was very nice.
Some glasses of white wine tasted good also and I talked with Frédérique for a while and said her not to worry and I wasn’t upset at all. She handled the case professionally and even tried to make the best out of it. And that is what counts.
One of the younger crewmembers handed out the famous Swiss chocolates during approach, but she handed herself just 1 per passenger. No chance for me to get a few more this time. Their chocolate is really delicious.
The meal, made by the cabin supervisor when my AVML choice ‘was not found’
And after she found my AVML meal, it was presented to me!
Landing was done on runway 18C, and that was very unusual for AMS at that specific time of the day. One would expect 18R instead, but that was apparently closed for some reason. Good for us, a 18C landing means a much shorter taxitime and we it took only 7 minutes to reach our stand on gate B23. Within schedule, once again.
We disembarked, thanked the crew, and were off to the baggage hall. It took handling company Aviapartner about 25 minutes to deliver the first bags on the belt. And of course, they didn’t care about priority labels. The last few km’s home were by bus, and just after 11pm we were back at our own place.
I hope you enjoyed this report as well. LX is a good airline, and still offers very reasonable fares in all classes. Despite that, I think that there must be an eye also on some details, e.g. variation in special meals. Also the food offering in the lounge is really disappointing and can’t meet with other airlines’ standards around dinnertime. Edelweiss was operating on behalf of LX and did well. But seatpitch is too small for a business class product. Maybe slimline seats (like mainline LX) can bring a positive change here. The crew made up everything and was professional and in a friendly way.
Once again, Aviapartner didn’t deliver baggage within 20 minutes, a standard for me. I work for an airline and last baggage is on the belt 20 minutes after block-in. Including unloading from ULD’s. That’s performed on a daily basis in AMS, and almost never fails. And therefore I find no excuse for an airline (read handling company) that fails to deliver within 20 minutes (at least for the first bag), and then even doesn’t look after priority labels.
Thanks for reading, and expect my first report from 2010 here in a few weeks. My first travel is next week again, with hopefully an interesting story once again. For now, your feedback or opinions are gladly appreciated and I will answer them when possible.