Here we go again - it's summer vacation time! After a few years of city trips, my partner and I decided to go for a beach trip this time. Our final destination: Sitges, Spain
, just about 40 km south-west of Barcelona.
In this trip report I'll tell you about the onward and the return trip (that's 2 legs).
Our vacation started on July 24th. We went to Basel to attend the Basel Tattoo
show. For those who like military music and drills, I can wholeheartedly recommend this. In case you're interested, here are some pictures I took during the Tattoo:
As we were in Basel already, we decided to start our trip to BCN from BSL airport. We rarely ever travel from there, so it was a welcome change.
But let's take a step back and start from the beginning. Our trip began in Locarno
, where we live. This time we chose to take the train, as there are no plane connections between LUG and BSL.
Our train to Basel
The (empty) First Class carriage, unfortunately a quite old one
A typical Basel Ferry Boat
, with a piper on board (because of the Tattoo)
Basel, Switzerland - Barcelona, Spain
Date: 25. July 2010
Flight: LX 1934 (BSL-BCN)
Airplane: Avro RJ-100
After our Basel visit, we took the bus from the city to BSL airport. The trip takes about 10 minutes, and buses run every 15 minutes. A pretty good service.
Once we arrived there, we only had to drop off our bags - for the first time we actually tried out the mobile boarding pass, wondering if the scanners could cope with the iPhone screen. They did, indeed.
The mobile boarding pass
After dropping off our bags (which took about 1 minute), we proceeded to the airport restaurant to have some breakfast.
As you can see, the place was quite empty - and so was the rest of the airport. It's a real shame: in BSL there's a great infrastructure, and it really appears like a major airport. But there was nobody around. Only a few dozen flights depart and arrive every day.
We had plenty of time, so we went for a quick look from the panoramic terrace (which unfortunately has a plexiglas wall all around it, spoiling the fun for photographers).
Panoramic terrace (where is everyone?)
The tarmac - deserted as well
Some empty room which could for sure be used for something, if only there were more passengers traveling through BSL
We went through security (which also took about 1 minute, just like the bag drop off) and proceeded straight to the Swiss lounge. Yes, Swiss had a nice offer for European Business flights, making them only about $50 per leg more expensive than Y, so it was a no-brainer. The quirks you get are the usual ones: lounge access, priority check-in, seats in the front of the aircraft, meals and better service in general. The seats are not any larger than regular Y on European flights, but still we thought it was worth it. And we were right!
We were astonished by how nice the BSL Swiss lounge is. The pictures speak for themselves:
We actually found it much nicer than the Business lounge in ZRH. Guess what? It was empty as well. A great place to relax and chill out before a flight. Oh, and we had our second breakfast of the day
About 20 minutes before our planned departure time, our flight was called, so we proceeded to the gate.
It appears to be a full flight...
The view from my window
The view from my seat to the other side
As soon as we sat down, we received our "welcome aboard water bottle" and we could pick among a choice of newspapers.
Soon we were on our way - we pushed back and went straight to runway 15 for take-off.
Here's the take-off video:
Weather was very nice in Basel, and remained so during the entire flight. There was no turbulence whatsoever.
Shortly after take-off, we were asked what we wanted to drink. We chose orange juice (although we were offered champagne - but it was a bit too much at 9:30!). Not long thereafter, we were served our (third!) breakfast.
Yes, that's one of the perks you get when traveling Business in Europe. It was actually very good, and consisted of some fruit, bread, croissant and a yogurt. Of course there was a choice of coffee or tea.
The "Maitre de Cabine" (that's what LX calls the purser) was very nice and kept asking if he could bring us something else to drink, extra bread or whatever we wanted. This was quite surprising on such a short flight. And here comes the best part: Business load was 2 seats (out of 4 available that day). Just the 2 of us. Fun!
After only 1 hour and 20 minutes, we landed in BCN, almost 15 minutes early. Here's the landing video:
A quick snapshot during roll-out
Our jet bridge waiting for us
Now the wait could begin - it took our bags almost 30 minutes to arrive. That was a bit more than we would have liked, but we were on vacation after all. So no need to get fussy. We went straight out of the terminal and took a taxi to Sitges. The trip took about 25 minutes.
At this point, it was beach time! If you wish to see more about the non-aviation part of our trip, feel free to browse through the following web album:
Fast forward, 1 week later it's time already to head back home.
Barcelona, Spain - Basel, Switzerland
Date: 01. August 2010
Flight: LX 1935 (BCN-BSL)
Airplane: Avro RJ-100
Our taxi waited for us in front of our hotel at 9:30, as we were told to be at the airport about 2 hours before departure. As usual, this turned out to be a bit too early. But hey, it's better to be early than late!
Check-in area in BCN
We had already checked in and had our mobile boarding passes, so we only had to drop off the bags once again. The nice Swiss check-in agent made sure we had our boarding passes. I said "sure, we have them in the phone, want to see them?" - "No, I was just asking to make sure" - "Great, the mobile ones do work here, right?" - "Of course they do, sir".
We then strolled around the airport, and saw the self service check-in desks. Guess what? There was nobody using them! Either self service is not catching up in Spain, or it was just a coincidence.
We passed security in a breeze. I actually love the way security is organized in BCN: you have all the time in the world to get your stuff out (laptop and whatnot) before standing in line at the x-ray machine. There are several tables before the actual lines. This means that slower people don't slow down the whole process, because they stand in line only when they have all their stuff together.
Descending the escalators after security
The airside shopping area
For some reason, there were several cars being advertised: the Audi A1, the Volkswagen Touareg (including a live snake underneath it), the Mercedes SLS and the Alfa Giulietta.
After shopping around a bit (but not buying anything), we proceeded to the Spanair VIP lounge. This was our first and only disappointment during our entire trip: the lounge looked shabby, with demotivated personnel, stains on the couches and tables full of stuff left there by previous passengers which wasn't cleaned up. Not really a service you would expect from something called "VIP lounge".
After about an hour, we had enough of it and proceeded to our gate.
While at the gate, I started taking some random pictures, and after a while I sat down. After a few minutes I was approached by a Spanish police officer. He asked me (in Spanish) to see the pictures I took. I asked him to repeat in English as I wasn't sure if I understood it correctly (I don't speak Spanish) - guess what? He repeated it in Spanish. A fellow passenger translated it for me. On one of the pictures I had inadvertently photographed him and one of his colleagues. He asked me (still in Spanish) to delete the picture as it was "not allowed to take pictures of policemen". I was quite sure that this was some random power trip rule, but I didn't want to argue with a Spanish policeman 10 minutes before boarding, so I went ahead and deleted the picture. He was happy and went his way. Reasonable, isn't it?
Our "Jumoblino" waiting for us
Soon, boarding started, and we got onto the jet bridge.
...but at least there was air conditioning
This time I took seat 1B and my partner took seat 1A. Business load was 3 (out of 4 available seats).
Just like last time, we were offered our "welcome aboard water bottle" and a newspaper. Soon we took off (about 15 minutes late).
When we were airborne, service started, and we received our lunch. Swiss gave it a nice touch: as it was August 1st, Switzerland was celebrating the National Day, so we were served a classical Swiss dish, along with a choice of wine. Outstanding!
The "Maitre de Cabine", Mrs. Ketterlin, was very nice. She kept chatting with us and making jokes. For instance, she wanted to make sure that we got enough wine so that we'd be able to sing the Swiss National Anthem at some point during the flight. Luckily for everyone else on board, this did not happen
. Along with our coffee, she offered us a Bailey's on the rocks. Jummy! Just perfect to end a perfect vacation.
We were actually so enthusiastic about the flight and about Mrs. Ketterlin's service that we are writing a positive feedback to Swiss about her. The service she offered was really what I'd call "above and beyond". You could see that she really cared about her job and that she went out of her way to make our trip a special one, even if it was only such a short European flight.
Soon, we were over Switzerland already. We entered the country over Geneva and went north to Basel.
Landing was smooth and perfectly on-time.
Our stand neighbor
We deplaned through a stair and walked right into the terminal, to the baggage claim. We had to wait about 20 minutes to get the bags - still a bit too much, considering that BSL was really empty at that time.
Waiting for the bags
We then got out and hopped onto the (very crowded) bus from BSL to the city center.
45 minutes after getting off the plane we were in Basel, still a few minutes early to catch our train back to Locarno. We bought some drinks and magazines to kill the 4 hours on the train, and off we went back home.
First Class carriage on the ICN train (definitely better than the one we took 1 week earlier)
What can I say? It was a perfect vacation. Thank you to Swiss for turning our average short intra-European hop into a special flight. It doesn't take much to do so, and this was the proof that Swiss does care about its passengers, and that they do distinguish themselves from other carriers with their service.
I hope you enjoyed this Trip Report, even if it was only a short trip in a small plane. I'm looking forward to your comments!
Here are my other trip reports:
LUG-ZRH-TXL On 0D, LH And LX (pics + Vids) (by ManuCH Jul 29 2006 in Trip Reports)
LX LUG-ZRH-YUL (Y) And YUL-ZRH-LUG (C), Pics+vids (by ManuCH Jul 11 2009 in Trip Reports)