This report is dedicated to my daughter.
Disclaimer: This report has no affiliation whatsoever with The Jonas or Blues Brothers or Scissor Sisters or Sister Sledge or whoever. This report also features an abundant use of the colours white and red. If you happen to have an allergy to this colour combo, please stop reading, you might go in shock...
Lately I have been suffering from light to medium flight deprivation due to (happy) family matters. Some weeks ago my wife and I had the privilege to welcome a new member to our family, a baby girl. As some of you may know, parental life is all about dedication and for some time now my only concerns are keeping the newborn happy, fed and dry and trying to have some decent amount of sleep for myself at night.
Now that the whole family organisation is becoming less chaotic, it was about time to plan an ‘escape day’ of some sorts. I was thinking about a day with only me myself and I and a(n) (some) airplane(s). You might call it ‘quality air time’
After an extensive browsing session I finally settled on a daytrip on Swiss. A closer look on the schedules revealed some interesting options. First of all, on Wednesdays the 2nd ZRH flight of the day ex-BRU operates on Edelweiss Air metal. Edelweiss Air is a charter airline under Swiss’ wings, mainly serving holiday destinations ex-ZRH with a scheduled Swiss run now and then to fill up some gaps. They also have this cute livery, starring the unofficial national flower of the Swiss, the edelweiss.
Another interesting option was the return to BRU in the evening with the early evening flight which is operated on Helvetic Airways’ F100. This flight operates daily.
So as to include both the Edelweiss and Helvetic in one day, I had to book for a Wednesday and that’s exactly what I did.
So, to sum it up:
BRU-ZRH Edelweiss Air A320
ZRH-LYS-ZRH Swiss European Airlines Avro RJ100 (same aircraft return)
ZRH-BRU Helvetic Airways F100
And on a map (thanks to the excellent www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L Schwartz):
All on one ticket, for a grand total of € 236, or € 59/leg. For those that measure the ‘flight value’ by the price compared to the inflight length: I did the math for you and this day clocks off at € 0,87/min of flight. A bargain or not: I let you be the judge
on to ZRH
The day starts as usual, quite early that is. I fulfill my morning duties, say goodbye to all my housemates and hop on the motorbike for the half an hour commute to the airport. Already dreaming of my flight on that lovely Edelweiss plane, my mind wonders off and I come to think of an appropriate song:
Ev'ry morning you greet me
Small and white
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me’
-- from ‘The Sound Of Music’ --
Not that I have lots of time to drift off. The ride to BRU is quite busy and I elbow my way in between the queuing cars and lorries, that’s the advantage - and danger - of a motorbike for you.
Once in the terminal I realise I have only printed out my booking confirmation and forgot to print the BP’s. So I pass by the Swiss checkin, which happens to be the only empty counter in the hall and the friendly lady hands me over my 4 BP’s for the day.
Passing by the SN checkin counters, the most likely elaborate checkin for the flight to this exotic destination has just started. Quite a generous bagage allowance for Y class if you ask me:
After a swift security screening I emerge out of the tunnel under the apron and meet up with all these people. The place is packed:
I arrive at gate A51 - the inbound is already there - and see my worst nightmare come true: that’s no Edelweiss plane! Bummer.
In fact, I could’ve known already. While checking the ZRH airport website I learned already the day before that this flight had a ‘normal’ Swiss plane scheduled. Operational reasons for sure. And as a matter of fact, that’s not the only ‘operational reason’ for today. But I’m running ahead on things, first things first!
Some 10 minutes left so I have the usual look around. Next door sees a Vueling bus, with boarding in full swing. I kinda like the tail design:
This one’s for OA260:
Boarding is called and I duly make my way into HB-IJR’s belly.
BRU to ZRH
Photo © AirC
Through the glass jetbridge I spot these titles on the neighbouring Austrian plane. I’ve never been here before, but hey, if it features mountains, it’ll be a nice place (right, Hannah?)
The purser and F/A at the door greet me genuinely and also the one in the back - a nice young blond and talkative Swiss girl exchanges greetings with me. I ask her where my Edelweiss plane is and she says it has gone to TXL this morning. She also tells me that she was supposed to work on an Edelweiss plane as well this morning - going out to some holiday destination - but last minute she got switched to this very flight. So Swiss moves its crew around in the family apparently.
The Austrian plane in full:
The captain checking what has to checked:
Always nice to see the airshow operating on these short hops:
The cabin makes a good impression: it’s clean with comfy seats, good enough legroom and I have 6 seats for me:
We do the pushback thing and this reveals a nice Nordic trio. Dedicated to our friends from up there. Do you know which one goes to where?
Takeoff is via the usual means: runway 25R:
This one tailgates us, from a safe distance of course:
Takeoff features your usual BRU overviews. The weather isn’t improving btw...
Some road infarct:
And a last view after a lefthand turn. Next stop ZRH:
The flight is uneventful, outside it is cloudy for most of the way. The crew meanwhile do their round, serving a croissant and drinks to those who desire (me! me! me!). Even a 2nd croissant is offered which I gladly accept.
A croissant and lemon tea:
You can call this a stylish plastic glass:
The seat pockets contents is not overly interesting. An article on New Delhi however features some nice photos:
Some 45 minutes later, we gently dive down meaning the descent into ZRH is initiated. We come out of the clouds and the nice Swiss landscape unfolds underneath us. There’s even some snow left on the peaks:
Seeing all this beauty underneath me makes me lyrical again...
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Loud was the voice of the lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo
Folks in a town that was quite remote heard
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Lusty and clear from the goatherd's throat heard
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo’
-- from ‘The Sound Of Music’ --
Landing on runway 14 is imminent now:
What spies me eyes? I do hope this one’s still on schedule this evening...
A short taxi passed the E gates section and we make a stop at the A gates.
Right next to a German winged bus:
I disembark as the last person on board and say my goodbyes to the crew and captain, who is at his office door wishing everyone a nice continuation of the day. I tell him: ‘The same to you too and enjoy the flight to HAM!’ He gives me a puzzled look and probably thinks: how does he know, but he soon replies: ‘I sure will, see you next time’.
Auf Wiedersehen, adieu
To you and you and you’
-- from ‘The Sound Of Music’ --
Yeah - rub it in will you! The exact plane that was supposed to take me here is now coming in from TXL. For a moment I have this hallucination: shall I wait for the crew and make them feel sorry? No, of course not. Just better luck next time.
I have some 2 hours of time to kill at ZRH before the next run to LYS. So I decide to do my morning walk and explore the facilities - and that includes the lavatories as well.
Most views are quite familiar for a lot of you so I just let the pics do the talking here. In fact the only part of ZRH I really like is the main hall with the obligatory shops and restaurants. the A gates is a rather dark and unpleasant waiting area. On a positive note: ZRH has excellent spotting opportunites throughout the whole terminal!
I settle down at the Sports Bar which sports comfy chairs and a view. There are indeed worse places to have a rest:
And of course this view is complemented with a cool drink.
Didn’t I warn you for the excessive use of white and red?
After a sip and a nibble at the bar, I part ways with the comfy chairs and go for another walkabout.
I like this colour scheme. For the pax inside, there was probably not much to like as this one was mighty late...
There are multiple ‘farm’ sections in ZRH. Here’s the ‘Avro RJ100 farm’, I like the way they are brotherly/sisterly parked together:
And like in AMS: the ‘Fokker farm’, albeit in a small version:
HB-IYS passes by. I guess Swiss didn’t overhear my wishes to have this one operating today’s LYS flight.
This one’s for Lee, cheers mate!
And just in time, I see this one taking off from runway 16. It remains a sight.
on to LYS
I take a look at the FIDS and finally the gate for LYS is announced. As expected the flight will leave from the A busgates downstairs:
These gates feature a waiting area upstairs with ample views and seating:
And an actual boarding area downstairs where the only view is that of the distinctive ZRH airport Cobus’.
So boarding is by bus and we drive right to the expected ‘Avro RJ100 farm’. Nice views along the way but sadly these bus’ windows are equipped with the latest technology in sun protection. I get dizzy from looking out the window. Those who know GVA airport will know what I mean.
We make a stop at HB-IXR.
ZRH to LYS
Avro RJ100 HB-IXR
Photo © Xavier Zehr
Quite some rollerboards are tagged ‘delivery at aircraft’. Yeah - these aircraft’s overhead bin capacity is quite limited.
When I turn around, I spot another white and red machine:
I enter this little cutie and am greeted with a ‘Grüß Gott’ by the female purser. ‘The same to you’, I reply and make my way to the back in this almost fully loaded little 4-holer where another FA acknowledges my presence.
I settle down in my seat. The cabin is clean but clearly this aircraft shows it’s age. Also the last seats on the left feel more cramped because of the curvature of the cabin. And no recline is possible.
My view onto a part of the galley. Little bits and things indicate this is a very 90’s aircraft. Actually this one dates back from 1996. I was in my early 20’s back then... that’s a looooong time ago lol!
A view to the cabin, the Recaro’s are comfy enough:
The flight time is announced as 35 mins with some turbulence to be expected on arrival into LYS. The ‘some turbulence’ would be an understatement...
We leave our parking spot under own power. There’s the advantage of being parked in an opposite way with one another and to have apron space on both sides. We make a beeline for runway 28 and take into the skies, lazy like only an Avro will do:
What follows are some view of Zürich, the city:
And of Zürich, the airport:
And of the Alps of course, but at quite a distance:
Service is drinks and drinks alone, some Coca of the Cola does fine by me. All served with a
Enroute there’s not much to be seen outside...
I think we overflew a French region, called ‘Les Vosges’ - which btw is a motorbike paradise - as there is some snow to spot:
Not before long, we enter the valleylike region where the city and airport of Lyon is located. From now it starts to get interesting as gusting winds start to play with our little Avro. The views outside are almost your typical French countryside views:
Some (public) swimming pools, probably too cold and windy to swim in today:
Some mustard coloured colza fields. Will our aircraft ever fly on their seeds?
The lower we go, the more violent the turbulence becomes. Taking photos has now become virtually impossible. When I see the runway underneath, I notice our plane is almost perpendicular to it:
We touch soil with the left side gear first and then the pilot turns the nose back in alignment with the runway and puts the right gear down as well, real gently. That’s top class craftmanship by the folks up front!
We leave runway 18L...
… and taxi into gate 16A at terminal 1, next to a Lufty Boeing. Besides this plane and ours, T1 is totally empty.
The other pax and I disembark. While walking down the aisle I notice the plane still shakes around due to the hefty winds - I even have to hold on to the seats!
LYS has no airside transfer possibility, therefore I exit through the bagage claim area:
2 minutes later I’m back in the departure hall, which counts at least some people::
I don’t have much time to look around, because my return flight to ZRH will be boarding soon. Security is a breeze and the French folks on duty there seem to enjoy their job: they are all friendliness and smiles. Well done LYS!
Here she is again. To the left is T2, which is AF (Skyteam) domain:
The boarding area is quite small, there is enough seating but the layout is kinda strange. The area consists of several ‘boxes’, each with a number of gates. Our ‘box’ is 16 and the gate itself is 16A. You can only walk around in your own ‘box’, so for those who seek to spot some airside, you views are quite limited.
A FIDS in our box: clearly all *A flights scheduled:
on to ZRH
LYS to ZRH
Avro RJ100 HB-IXR
Photo © NicolasG
Another boarding is done and also the gate agents are a happy bunch. ‘Bon vol et bonjour Monsieur’. ‘Le même à vous, Madame’, I reply. And on my way I go.
A crew change has taken place, a young male and female FA this time, both biz friendly to say the least (and most). I take the same seat, 21A in the back, commenting to the FA: ‘It’s still warm (the seat that is)’. She replies with ‘Yes, the inbound pax left the plane not so long ago’. Yeah - I know
Same view, but the Lufty is probably already back in FRA:
The same drill is performed prior to leaving our stand: counting, announcing all kinds of things that have to be announced. Meanwhile the plane still plays rattle and roll with the wind. Not by surprise, the captain announces ‘some’ turbulence on our climb out of LYS.
In French they say: ‘le couloir’:
The plane gets a push, a long push, a very long push. In fact it’s so long we are nearly pushed until the threshold of the departing runway. Nah - just exaggerating a tiny bit here, but the pushback was very lengthy. We cruise past T2 which is occupied with all AF Réginalds:
And some more...
As far as the eye can see...
Will it ever stop? I don’t know!
When turning onto the departing lane 18R, I see this one not having an ‘easy’ time as well as she’s struggling to keep herself aligned with the runway. As we start our roll, the race begins! We speed up, she slows down and in the end we part ways:
Indeed some turbulence again on climbing out of LYS, but not as bad as coming in.
We come to a cruise and the crew duly performs their drill which is serving the thirsty:
What’s inside this trolley? Hmm, let’s see:
Not much has changed weather wise: murky views outside, now also on descent and approach into the Zürich area. I do manage to get a shot of this power plant:
We’re wheels at tarmac in ZRH some 40 mins after leaving LYS and taxi to the same parking position as we departed from some 2 hours ago. The Cobus drops us off at the A gates. Having some 2,5h to kill again, I decide to go landside and head the new viewing deck at the B gate area.
On the way, I pass through the checkin area 1, which is mainly a Swiss affair:
And through checkin area 2 as well which is home to a mix of airlines. I find this area look rather dark and unattractive:
Ha, there it is. Entry is ‘pay per visit’, I guess to cover the costs of the x-ray screening involved? At least the viewing and photographing opportunities seem good. No obstructions or high fences whatsoever. For a moment I decide to enter but as the weather is not the best - and I have no jacket with me today - I decide to skip for now. There most probably will be another a.net meet held here someday, no?
Adjacent to the viewing deck is a self-service restaurant and I decide to have my early dinner there. The place is virtually empty but that’s not surprising because it’s a little before 5 pm. I go with the turkey today and although it’s not Christmas yet, it is nicely stuffed with a very tasty filling. Some basmati rice and curry sauce accompany this tasty dish. And to my surprise, the price is reasonable as well.
Feeling quite stuffed, I pack up and go back airside. Security is efficient enough, the moment I arrive there, I’m the first to be sent to the upper level screening area. After that, it’s back downstairs and on to the gate area. I locate another FIDS and see this message next to the BRU flight:
An ‘operational delay’ of 20 mins is announced. For a moment I start to think my 2nd worst nightmare of the day is about to come true: no Helvetic Airways flight! My heart starts pounding so hard I feel it in my throat. Since the gate is A54, the most likely substitution would be another proper Swiss Avro. Or perhaps, another Helvetic F100? I tell myself: think positive! And my mind wonders off again...
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad’
-- from ‘The Sound Of Music’ --
I go back all the way to the busgate waiting area and settle down at the window. Quite a queue for takeoff on n°10 has formed:
Suddenly one of those bagage transporters races past. A suitcase flies off one of the carts. The driver turns his head, but drives on. A Cobus, following him, does a near hit with the fallen case but the driver doesn’t stop. Some minutes later, someone stops and picks up the bag. I feel sorry for the bag and am glad it’s not mine:
on to BRU
After witnessing this major incident - probably in the papers tomorrow! - I gather my few belongings and head on down where boarding for my flight is in full swing. It’s an all ‘business type traveller’ load today, except for me and a handful of others.
ZRH (Zürich, Switserland) to BRU (Brussels, Belgium)
Photo © Tamas Martenyi
The bus drives off to the ‘Avro farm’, but there’s not a single Avro to see. My smile becomes brighter as we make a halt:
Happy and excited as a kid I am, it makes me want to sing out loud!
Ray, a drop of golden sun
Me, a name I call myself
Far, a long, long way to run
Sew, a needle pulling thread
La, a note to follow Sew
Tea, a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to Do’
-- from ‘The Sound Of Music’ --
At second though: better no singing, all these business men must think I’m some lunatic or so (well I am just a tiny bit ). I board as the last one and take some more shots instead:
Another friendly welcome at the door by - what I later learn is - the female capt and the purser.
All the way in the back is my seat, 20F but oh, shock horror, major mistake here!
Half a window with an obstructed view. And I studied that seat map so well for out loud!
The cabin is in excellent condition and my seat can easily fit a sumo wrestler.
That’s how roomy it is! I spot no vacant window seats more up front, so I’ll have to settle on this one. It doesn’t matter, I’m more than happy to be in this plane anyhow! Oh and the seat reclines almost to a full flat bed.
A closer look at the engine reveals a former paint job:
Which do you like best?
Photo © Hans Domjan
Photo © Gerry Stegmeier
A soothing female voice comes on the horn, explaining about a last minute plane change, hence the delay. But time will be made up enroute, since the winds will be blowing in our direction as well. Good to know Meanwhile we leave our position and taxi off to runway 10 for the 2nd time today where Miss Captain pulls the throttle for a rolling take off. The distinctive whining of these tail mounted engines is music to my ears. And no, no singing this time!
This largest of Fokkers goes like a rocket!
Leaving behind the Swiss countryside. Now where’s that lonely goatherd?
The seat belt sign stays on for quite some time, nearly half of the 1h flight.
Finally, the crew can start their duties. They have a hard time feeding nearly 100 pax. By the time they reach the last row, the captain announces ‘crew, landing in 10 minutes’. We do get a tasty chicken sandwich and a drink of choice:
I do take my time however to eat and drink what is offered to me.
We are nearing BRU now, the sun is reflecting on the wet landscape, meaning it has rained here:
All good things come to an end and so does flight LX788... Here’s some wing action upon touching down on runway 25L:
Hello folks up there, I’m back!
We dock into one of the A gates, I believe it’s the same one that we used this morning. I ask for a flight deck shot which is met with a ‘sure, go ahead’. Nice bunch, these Helvetic people
With this last photo and me back at point 0, this excellent day out has come to an end. I phone up the wife and tell her I’ll be at home in a jiffy. I’m all smiles when I hear the familiar sound of crying kids in the background
I had a great day out on Swiss. There are already many reports here on the site featuring this airline. In general, the reviews are quite good in all travel classes. I can only comment that their economy product hits the spot nicely for me. The Airbus fleet features good seating comfort and a nice recent airshow. The Avro’s are still comfy enough but be sure to pick a seat somewhat more upfront. The biggest surprise was the Helvetic Fokker: really comfortable and roomy.
Too bad I missed out on the Edelweiss bus, but that’ll for sure be something for a next mission.
Thanks for reading and and let me end as follows:
I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye -- Goodbye!
I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lie
I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly
The sun has gone to bed and so must I
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye’
-- from ‘The Sound Of Music’ --