This is the second part of my previous Trip Report: A Flying Afternoon: BCN-MXP-ZRH-BCN (LH+LX) +A380
taken two weeks previous to today's in order to obtain a generous portion of M&M miles.
Today's an early start as my alarm clock rings at 04.00 in a Saturday morning; no doubt my friends tell me I am a geek when I really think about it.
Anyway, a good cup of coffee gets me in the mood to move on to the airport.
The first bus leaves at 05.00 so I am right at the stand when the doors open and few other passengers catch it along the way, mostly airport workers... At 05.35 we are safe and sound at T1 which starts getting into action for its early morning flights: two Vueling flights to LCG
Line up for boarding
Saturday Oct 16th, 2010
-IPX 'Mont Racine'
In service with Swissair, then Swiss, since April 1996
Dep. 06:30 // 06.40
Arr. 08.10 // 08.21
Check-in was done at work the previous day via OLCI on friendly user LX
website so going through security is a breeze and I am at the lounge for some more coffee and some other pastries to go with it.
Then I go for a walk to see how many stores at open at this early hour, to my surprise only the cafeterias, the tax-free shop and the newspaper stands seem to be open, so I get some duty free cigarettes (one of the pros of traveling through Switzerland) and a newspaper.
I get out to have a last cigarette and fill the chilly weather, 12ºC, for an October morning in Barcelona is a clear sign that the weather still turns around despite the climate change.
This particular LX
flight tends to leave early, even 12 min. before scheduled departure time so I do not want to delay it and by 06.10 I am already on the plane.
It is the typical LXA319 with its clean and fresh interior, the obligatory towels and bottles of water are distributed by the crew who seem in a good mood despite the early hour.
Load is about 80%, many connecting passengers to the Far East morning flights.
Our neighbor to AMS
Vueling and Skyteam side
and Star Alliance side
We start moving at 6.40 and get to the head of the runaway, 07L, pretty fast.
Take off is excellent at this time of the day and we are soon over the sea heading towards MRS
as the captain has informed us right before take off.
As we reach the 13,800 feet mark the belt sign is turned off and the crew, one male purser and one female FA
spring into action. Trays are brought individually with the request for drinks, I go for orange juice and tea at this morning time.
As usual they do not serve a hot breakfast, or hot meal in other flights, on this route; this is something I really think should be improved, come on LX
, is an 110min. flight, VLC
is just 20min. longer and you have hot meals for it... and you do serve hot breakfasts out of LHR
in the early morning flight.
Once we the crew is released the moving map disappears from the screens and the usual information about LX
is played on the overhead screens; it seems LX
is adding a midday GVA
flight, start two daily services between GVA
and adding a flight to VLC
in their winter schedules... Spain must be a good market for LX
as they already operate 7 flights to BCN
, 3 to MAD
, 2 to AGP
, 1 to VLC
and 1 to PMI
. I guess competing with IB
on the North American routes plays an important role here, less money for a far better service; plus services to the Far East which IB
does not offer, is opening their market share in the Iberian peninsula.
Service is, as usual with LX
, top notch. Refillings of orange juice, tea, coffee come any time your cup is empty and the crew is around... so can't complain here.
First lights on the horizon
We fly over the Catalan coast until we turn West to MRS
and then the first rays of sun appear on the horizon. As I am still savoring my breakfast and I keep my camera in hand I am gifted with one of the best sights one can have in an early morning. Yeah! My 4.00 am wake up call is rewarded by this impressive image.
As we are approaching Switzerland and start our descent we encounter the clouds, for the whole descent we are in the clouds which makes the last part of the flight a little bit turbulent, nothing spectacular though. We turn and turn until we seem to be on the right path and the usual 10 min. for landing is heard in the cabin.
Landing from the South on runaway 34. With this I complete my landing on all possible runaways at the airport, except for 32 which I think is not used for that matter.
The first Swiss land to be seen moments before landing
Zürich airport maintenance hangars
Master of the skies already here
Landing of US from PHL
Under the wing shot from the bus
Anyway a rainy and outcast morning is welcoming us to the airport, together with just 7ºC makes quite a difference from BCN
just about two hours ago.
Both, front and back door, are opened to let people out of the A319 and after saying goodbye to the crew and thanking them for the flight I board the bus and take some pictures of the plane plus some of the landing aircraft. Unluckily the A380 has already landed and only a USA330 lands smoothly next to us.
Transfer to the airport and dropping us to the Schengen area is next. I climb the stairs and get to the lounge, although invited to the Star Gold section I do not really like what is on offer, more cereals, I had my share already and go up to the bar to savor a couple of espressos and smoke a couple of cigarettes.
When I realize that the orange 'Go to the Gate' sign is on I start my stroll around the shops, happy enough to see that some chocolate brands offer a try I get to the security with a flavor of chocolate in my mouth.
Baby planes on the apron
Security is empty this Saturday morning so no need to get to the premium lanes as it would mean a detour on my way to the A05 gate assigned today.
Saturday Oct 16th, 2010
In service with Crossair, then Swiss, since March 1996
Dep. 09.40 // 09.53
Arr. 10:35 // 10.40
Walk down to the gate area to realize that boarding has already started and almost all passengers have got onto the bus that will take us to our plane.
Gate to MXP
As usual I am one of the last to board it, then two, three, four more passengers appear and when the gate agents allow it the drivers comes along and loses the door one by one and takes us to the apron. As we get there we are informed both through the speakers and on the screen that we will have to wait a bit until the cleaning team has finished.
No more than five minutes later the doors of the bus open and we are on the tarmac free to walk to the stairs, not me. Both front and back door are open but the rear one is seldom used by any passengers. Meanwhile a retro livery Finnair lands and docks on the A gates.
Finnair retrolivery surrounded by Swiss friends
Getting on the plane, old style, via stairs, is a great experience that brings memories from the past. I really enjoy it, it makes flying getting its true sense, you actually leave the ground to get onto an aircraft.
My two engines
One bird taking off in the distance
One bird taking off closer
Great room to sit sideway
The young purser is accompanied today by a guy who serves the rear section, about 70% load they will have quiet a work as the flight time is announced as 35 minutes.
The C passengers, about 5, are offered newspapers in English, German, French and Italian, a real language school on board.
We start moving to the active runaway which is the usual 28 and we depart after an A320. Take off is so smooth as you can hardly tell we are flying, we reach the clouds pretty soon and we keep a smooth pattern. When on A320s I always feel some kind of vibration when the plane takes off but these little ones are really a pleasure to fly.
Moments afetr take off
A moment later, my last view of Switzerland
Ahhhhhh! No, two engines
The captain has informed us of the flight time after the manual safety demonstration, recorded in English, by the crew and weather conditions en route: clouds to land on a scattered sky in MXP
It is really amazing the amount of work the FA
does in this 35min. flight, they serve all passengers one by one, asking for drinks, refillings, distribute chocolates, pick up all the trash.... I am really surprised, as she does it professionally, with a smile on her face all the time and seeming to really enjoy her job. Bravo!
The flight is really a pleasure although the views are limited and, once again, I am seated on the wrong side of the cabin, Roger remember to grab an F seat next time... Although the weather is cloudy I can glimpse some mountains on the other side showing up their summits above the clouds, they want to remember everyone we are flying over Switzerland, the country with the most mountains in Europe.
The outcasted Sun for the flight
My healthy breakfast to Milan
Between two layers of clouds
A Lybian friend arriving
Landing in MXP
is as usual from the East and we are quickly directed to our apron position where we are docked and the short flight of the day comes to and end.
A single bus takes all the passengers to the terminal and we are offloaded at the baggage belt area, I go out of the building, walk along the taxi lanes, go up to the departures area and start enjoying the views on the tarmac from the big windows at MXP
, a favorite pastime of many passengers.
I have noticed there is a separate secured area, only accessible by passengers, with gun machine armed men at the end of the terminal for all flights to the US and Israel; it is really a not very pleasant sight.
I move along to security as I feel hungry again and would like to have some of the pasta salad, prosciutto and Parmesan cheese always on offer in the LH
lounge. At security you are asked to show your boarding pass to the officer right next to the scanner which sometimes brings problems as many passengers have stocked it on the hand luggage and you have to wait until it comes out of the machine and you cross the metal detector.
Passing all the shops and duty free along the way to the lounge which lacks the warmth of other LH
lounges. It would be a 5/10 for me. No views, quite deserted and limited food offerings.
Saturday Oct 16th, 2010
First delivered to LH
in December 1996, then to Air Malta and Germanwings. Back to LH
in 2005, and finally to LH
Italia in July 2010. The newest on the fleet.
Dep. 12:40 // 12.35
Arr. 14:15 // 14.07
My ride to BCN
Boarding is announced on the lounge and I start my trek to the A gates, along the way I stop to buy some chewing gum and once at the gate I am the last passenger on board: 101 + an infant as the purser informs the gate agent.
Crowded entrance to the plane
No one else coming?
The other 4 passengers in C today are from Mexico and they seem o have been enjoying their time in Milan and looking forward to continuing when in Barcelona. Just in case we do not make it to BCN
, they stick up to their beers as the only service requested from the crew.
General view of the cabin
A whole row to myself
The purser is a young man who speaks very fluently Spanish, English and Italian; I realize he speaks German with the rest of the crew... quite surprising as usually crews commands of foreign languages, English aside, is quite limited. He offers me all reading material on board and I go for an Italian magazine and he adds that anything I may need during the flight I may ask him... game, set and match!
We start moving five minutes ahead of the planned time and we get down to the end of the runaway ready to take off.
Move away guys! We are coming
We start rolling and we are soon airborne turning South to the Mediterranean. As soon as the crew is released the service begins: finally a hot meal: three pieces of big macaroni with a tasty tomato sauce. I go for the champagne and I start enjoying my return to BCN
at the beginning of the afternoon.
Right after take off
My meal... yummy!
Pasta on LH
Italia. What else?
We only see clouds until we reach the coast and the sky begins to clear.
View outside. Better concentrate on the meal
Clouds fading away
Starting to clear
Finally, clear skies
We go along the Catalan coast and I start guessing our runaway as we fly into mainland, we fly over Sabadell and my father's home.
Starting the descent over mainland
QSA, Civil Aviation and Trainning Airport near BCN
Starting our turn towards the sea
We turn over Sitges and then line up with the active landing runaway, where we land 10 min. ahead.
Completing the turn over Sitges
On the path to land
La Ricarda, Llobregat river marshes next to the airport
About to land
Landed. Benvinguts a Barcelona!
A sole LH
soul on the B gates
Home with some cousins on sight
My flying morning is over now.
The airport is busy , a lot busier than it was at 5.30 this morning.
have provided a flawless service today so I have no complaints here, let aside the hot food on LX
flights. Looking forward to flying them again in December for my BCN
route, ready to collect more miles.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave any comments.
"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)