Some of you may have seen my recent trip report about my journey on The Speedbird One from Amsterdam via London to New York to visit the Intrepid. You will find the link to that report here:
A Vision Of Concorde (by Knightsofmalta Apr 10 2012 in Trip Reports)
This here is the somewhat unspectacular prequel explaining how I got from Zurich to Amsterdam in the first place. Perhaps just to explain. Here is the complete journey I made:
You're probably asking yourself, why oh why does this man do this kind of stuff, why not return straight from Heathrow to Basel? Well, it's complicated. No, actually it is not. I wanted to take the trip form Heathrow to Amsterdam just to experience the legendary British Airways breakfast. And I love flying.
But anyway, on to the trip report we go!
Date: 5. April 2012, Maundy Thursday
Airline: KLM Cityhopper
Aircraft: Embraer E-190
Seat: 11A, window
So here we are. It’s half past two in the afternoon on Maundy Thursday. Although to look outside one might easily think it is already much later. The weather is atrocious. Typical April weather. But there’s also something very poetic about it, dramatic even, with soft white tufts of clouds gently and sadly wafting across the rain soaked green countryside, gingerly stroking the vast round backs of the rolling hills that dominate this part of the country.
But I digress. Yes, in three minute’s time, my train will pull out of the station of the boarder town of Basel to embark on a very short journey of forty-nine minutes to Zurich main station, the main artery of the extensive and highly efficient Swiss Federal Railway System. It is a journey from the periphery to the centre, in more ways than one. There is a longstanding rivalry between the two cities. And I am the double agent. I live in one place and work in the other. Basel of course, has the better football team. But I digress again, forgive me.
A quick change of platforms and trains, another very short journey by train and at a quarter to four in the afternoon I alight onto platform three of the railway station of Zurich Airport, buried deep in the bowels of the terminal complex. That was easy, that was only just the beginning.
When I arrive at the airport, the entire place is a beehive of activity. It’s not the usual clientele. Sad looking business travellers and important executive managers trying hard not to look impressed by anything at all have made way for families and young couples on their way to a well deserved holiday with some intense romance thrown in and presumably some heavy duty reproducing too. It’s on days like today, I think to myself, that the new four stories centralised security screening at Zurich Airport really shows its advantages. Sure there are queues, but they are not long and more importantly, they are constantly, slowly moving.
After security I make my way to the lounge. It’s not the Senator lounge for me today. No, as I am travelling with KLM today I will avail myself entirely undeserved status in their frequent flyer programme and use their lounge.
The lounge itself is okay. It’s nothing to write home about. On the downside, there are no toilets within the facility and whenever the front door opens, an irritating beeping sound goes off, probably just in case the receptionist – a frumpy looking thing, unfriendly, female (I think) – falls asleep out of sheer boredom.
I spend about half an hour in the lounge before I embark on the long trek into the remotest corners of outer space and the known universe. At least that’s where I feel like I’m heading judging by the distance from the lounge to gate B08, which is housed in an incredibly soulless and ugly building built of corrugated iron. B08 is a bus gate.
How to make yourself real popular with the other passengers...
As soon as I settle into 11A, an emergency exit, one of the flight attendants moseys up to explain in great detail what to do in an emergency. My first impression of the lady is not good as I see her mincing down the aisle with some serious swagger of the hips. Darling, this is an aircraft you know, not the catwalk. But appearances are deceiving. She takes her time and seems unhurried in her very detailed explanation of the emergency drill. I like that, after all, regardless of the ‘tea, coffee, me?’ routine, ultimately the flight attendants’ priority and their most important task is to ensure the safety of the passengers in the cabin.
Our departure is on time and take-off is powerful. We’re still in a steep climbs when suddenly I am blinded by a bright light. Oh yes, it’s the sun. I knew it was still out there somewhere.
Service is swift, friendly and efficient. Not that the service actually consists of that much. Coffee, still water and Bretzels, formerly known as Happy Snacks.
The shutter on the emergency exit is located at the bottom of the window frame. Presumably because the opening mechanism leaves no space at the top. But alas, the window won't hold and keeps slipping down. It's too bright outside. Bot never fear, I'm not surrounded by engineers all day for nothing you now. So I take the sick bag and wedge it in between the shade and the window frame. A flight attendant walking past gives me a queer look but then decided I'm okay. And walks on.
And very soon we’re already on our descent to Amsterdam. The weather here is much nicer, but it’s also a lot colder.
That concludes this short report. I have added it for the sake of completeness.