Swiss has been doing quite a bit of experimenting with its Basel operation in recent years. A while back they decided to cancel the long-standing Basel-Amsterdam flight in favor of a second daily flight to Hamburg. As I love flying and I quite like Hamburg, I decided to take a week-end trip there late in March.
This trip covers the outbound leg, I did not take any pics of the return leg as that flight left Hamburg after 21h, so there wasn’t really that much to see.
Basel is in Switzerland. the airport however is actually on French soil and is divided in a Swiss and a French side. Of course since the introduction of Schengen this isn’t really such a big issue any more. There is an access road leading from Switzerland to the Swiss side of the airport.
The most convenient way to travel to the airport is to take the bus line 50 from outside the main entrance of the Swiss railway station. The journey takes about 15 minutes to the airport.
The airport in its current shape was build at a time when Crossair still operated is regional Eurocross hub and expanding rapidly. Since then many things have happened. Crossair became SWISS and during the very difficult early years the airline scaled back its operation in Basel to a fragment of what it used to be in favor of the airline’s main hub in Zurich. Today, vestiges of the ‘good old days’ remain: Basel airport hosts an Business Class lounge that is way too big for the amount of travel handled by the airport today. The good thing is, it’s nearly always empty, giving it a tranquil atmosphere.
The check-in area on the Swiss side:
This pic was taken one floor up, where the security check takes place:
And here are a few shots from the very empty airport:
A few ramp shots, taken from the terminal and the lounge:
Does anbody know what this is. It’s been standing around in Basel for quite some time and certainly doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon:
But back to the trip report. I had checked in online, so upon arrival I went straight through security and then to the lounge. Security was not a problem at this time of day. But early in the morning when the five Easyjet buses stationed at the airport and all the regional flight leave, you can be in for a long wait if you’re not travelling on a Business Class ticket and can’t use the dedicated fast track.
Here are a few images of the huge and very empty lounge:
I have to say though that the lounge is not exactly very well stocked. There’s a coffee machine, and a fridge wth a limited selection of cold drinks and only a few alcoholic drinks. As far as food is concerned, as I was traveling on a Saturday morning, the offerings were buns with butter and jam, fruit and cereals with fresh milk. That’s it.
The flight was on time. By the time I walked from the lounge to the gate, boarding was already in process and most of the passengers were already on board. Here’s the bird from the outside:
I was seated on 1F and had a whole row to myself. There were a total of 8 passengers on the flight, which I thought was rather a lot, especially seeing as it was a Saturday.
And just in case you were wondering boys and girls: this aircraft is not powered by four hair dryers, even if the similarity is amazing…
A couple of pics I took from the plane:
We took off from runway 15. Shortly after take off we did a long right hand turn of 270 degrees, passing right over the threshold of runway 15 and an Air Algerie B. 737-800 that had just come in, presumably from Algiers. There is a manufacturing plant for Peugeot not far from Basel, and I think there are quite a few Northafricans working there I believe.
As soon as the fasten seat belt sign went off, service started. It was not really anything to write home about, but the food was actually rather tasty. There was a small dish with cheese and chutney in it, a bun, butter and, as the main event, green asparagus and grilled chicken breast on a bed of tagliatelle pasta with cream and asparagus tips. The meal was served cold and quite good. There was also a dessert, but I didn’t have a go at that.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and quiet.
The flight to Hamburg took 1 hour and 20 minutes. We landed on runway 05, which was really cool s it meant lining up with the runway right above the Airbus plant. There were a few A380s standing around, including one for EK still in primer. There are the best shots I managed:
As we slowed down on the runway, we past this aircraft. So elegant! I don’t think it’s used as a fire trainer. At least I hope not.
Hamburg was nice. The weather was lovely but it was still rather chilly. As for SWISS, what can I say? The flight definitely was nothing to write home about but it was okay. No more, no less. But in a way I think it must be hard for any airline to try and distinguish itself on short-haul flight with regional aircraft. Perhaps we live in a day and age where the mere fact that an airline still have a short-haul Business Class is enough distinction.
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