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Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:33 pm

Folie1

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Means of transport:
bus
Fare: EUR1.50
Journey time: ca. 20 minutes, depending on traffic
Frequency: a mystery – the bus lines X4, X5 and X7 all run via different routes from Valletta to the airport

The development of Maltese public transport over the last few years is a bit of a saga. If, like me, you only visit the island occasionally and only catch a glimpse of what’s going on in the news, then it all seems like rather an entertaining comedy. If however, you live in Malta and have to deal with public transport on a daily basis, then it’s probably more like a tragedy.

Up until 2011 Malta operated a fleet of ancient buses. The buses were privately owned and operated on behalf of what was then the Malta Transport Authority. Back then, every town and village had its own dedicated bus line with a direct service to Valletta. The service was highly unreliable to say the least, the buses had no air conditioning and, more often than not, didn’t even have doors either. The fare was something of a gamble. Of course the service was dirt cheap officially, but if you looked remotely foreign you could be sure to get ripped off in a big way. There was general consent among the populace that really only the taxi drivers were more lowly than the bus drivers.

And then came Arriva. The bus service was privatised and promised to be better and faster. Suddenly the drivers wore uniforms with a shirt and tie, the buses had air conditioning and there was even something remotely resembling a schedule. At the time, knowing that as a rule the Maltese are an unruly lot, I wondered how long the new regime would last. Alas, the novelty quickly wore off.

Journey times increased because instead of taking the most direct routing to the terminus in Valletta, Arriva set up a series of hubs and interchanges around the island and merged some of the thinner routes. Then there was a series of accidents because the bendy buses proved too big for many of Malta’s narrow roads and ended up causing major damage to roads and buildings. Oh yes, and then there was also a series of buses catching fire in mid-journey, because the air conditioning couldn’t cope with the hot Maltese summer.

Eventually Arriva was kindly asked to leave Malta as quickly as possible and the service was temporarily returned into the hands and responsibility of the government. This could only go horribly wrong – and did.

And now it’s Sunday noon and I’m standing at the bus stop in Valletta, waiting for the bus driver to return from his break to take me to the airport. Apparently the previous bus that should have left ten minutes previously never showed up – not that anybody seems to notice or care. The uniforms, shirt and tie have disappeared and the driver is wearing shorts and a white t-shirt. Are those flip flops he’s got on?

I walk up to him and tell him I need a ticket to the airport. I speak in Maltese, hoping that this might make him think twice about ripping me off. Much to my surprise though, the complete opposite happens and instead of overpricing, he simply explains that he can’t be bothered to switch on the ticket machine. I thank him for a loss of anything else to say. As I take a seat it dawns on me that we’re really back to square one.

CHECK-IN
Facilities:
on flights departing from Malta, Air Malta offers web check-in, mobile check-in and airport check-in
Dedicated counters: there are dedicated counters for Club Class passengers and upper tier members of Air Malta’s frequent flyer programme

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The airport is quite busy when I arrive. After all, this is the busy summer season. I walk up to the check-in desk where a young lady first greets me in English, before switching to Maltese when she sees my passport. She prints my boarding pass and issues an invitation to the La Valette Business Class lounge. The invitation also gives you access to the priority lane for the security check.

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THE LOUNGE
Type of lounge:
La Valette contractor lounge
Facilities: toilets, business centre with Apple computers and a printer/fax
Wifi: available for free, there is a password
Food: an interesting selection of Maltese foods, like ftira with tuna, bigilla dip, and hobz biz-zejt

The lounge has been extended recently. I think it looks rather good and there are a few nice touches, like the lamps made out of colourful Malta Glass. What’s more, the food selection in the lounge is really good, with an interesting range of hot and cold snacks.

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No boarding calls are made in the lounge.

THE CABIN

At 13:55 my flight shows up as ‘boarding’ so I collect my stuff and make my way to gate five, from where the flight will be leaving. Just as I exit the lounge they’re already making the final call for the flight. Either somebody’s in a hurry or the flight really is not very full. As it turns out later on, there are 108 passengers on today’s flight.

From gate five we’re bussed to the aircraft. It’s a lovely day and once we pull up next to our Airbus A 319 I let all the other passengers disembark so I can take some pictures.

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There are three rows of Club Class, with a total of twelve seats. There are four passengers seated in Club and I notice there is a blanket and pillow available for every passenger.

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SERVICE

Literally the moment I sit down a young man appears with a tray of drinks. He welcomes me on board and offers me a glass of orange juice. He vanishes into the galley and reappears a moment later with the Sunday Times of Malta. He also tells me there are Maltese language papers available as well if I’d prefer one of those instead.

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The purser on this flight is a woman in her late thirties and she’s truly quite amazing. She makes all the announcements live in Maltese, English and nearly flawless German – apart from an obvious, heavy Semitic accent. She’s also very proactive in taking care of the passengers: originally there is a gentleman sitting next to me on the aisle on 2D. As soon as boarding is completed, the purser comes along and informs us that we’re free to move around and change seats as we please. Later on, she notices one passenger reading and switches the overhead reading light on for him.

We take off in a northerly direction. As we climb out we get some good views of Malta from above. From where I’m sitting you can also see the writing on the inner side of the cowling very well.

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THE MEAL
Pre meal drink:
yes
Type of service: individual tray service
Menu: no menus are provided
Choice: there is no choice available
Meal:
  • a plate of cheese (Red Leicester, Gorgonzola and a goat’s cheese) with dried apricot, prune, grape and cucumber

  • Cold breast of chicken in breadcrumbs with Salade Niçoise

  • Two buns

  • Strawberry mouse with chocolate flakes


Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, the purser comes through the cabin taking orders for the pre meal drinks. Of course I ask for a Kinnie, which is brought to me with a slice of lemon in it.

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Before the meal scented hot towels are distributed.

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The trays are served individually and I’m delighted to see it’s a different meal to the one I had on the outbound. The service remains attentive, with the crew regularly checking up on us to make sure the passengers have everything they need.

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A cup of coffee rounds off the meal, my tray is removed and I doze off. When I wake up again we’ve already crossed the Alps and we’re descending towards Zürich.

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ARRIVAL

Not bad at all. At 16:41 the main landing gear makes contact with runway 16 and the thrust reversers open to slow us down. Eventually we come to a stop at the very last gate at the far end of the A dock. At 17:00 I’m already sitting on the train to Basel, with four minutes to go before we start. Tragically, I’ll be back at Zürich Airport in about eighteen hours.
 
gabrielchew
Posts: 3819
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:43 am

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:08 pm

Thanks William. Interesting to read about the bus situation. I hadn't realised that Arriva had been turfed out. Sounds like a right mess. I guess Malta is stuck with the new buses though rather than the cool old ones?

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):

The trays are served individually and I’m delighted to see it’s a different meal to the one I had on the outbound.

Everything on your KM flight seemed excellent, although the main course looks awful!
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: AMS-RIX-BUD-VDA,ETH-TLV-FCO-LHR,STN-TXL-LCY,LTN-CPH-LTN,LGW-SZG,MUC-LHR
 
invaders
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 7:00 am

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:12 pm

Thank you for a nice report. I visited Malta in october 2012 flying DY from CPH, I opted for the fixed fare taxi to and from the aiport to Hilton in Sliema. But what you write here is that the (what I thought atlest) well working bus-service (I tried it from sliema severall times) is now ruined?

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):

There are three rows of Club Class, with a total of twelve seats. There are four passengers seated in Club and I notice there is a blanket and pillow available for every passenger.

Looks a bit cramped tbh, reminds me of SAS Plus.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Not bad at all. At 16:41 the main landing gear makes contact with runway 16 and the thrust reversers open to slow us down. Eventually we come to a stop at the very last gate at the far end of the A dock.

I want to try Air Malta at one point, but at the moment its easyer reaching MLA from BGO via OSL or CPH with DY then Air Malta, specially after LH anounced that FRA-BGO is removed from their W14/15 scheudle.

Anyway, let me thank you again for a great read  
 
joeytaffy93
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:25 pm

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:43 am

Seems like a good airline, how was the food?
 
MIAspotter
Posts: 2939
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2001 1:57 pm

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:31 pm

Hi William!

Once again a nice read on a well travelled route by you, I lol-ed at the bus situation.

I visited Malta in 2012 and did take the X2 (I think) from the airport to Sliema... it took like 2 hours to reach sliema and the bendy bus was completely thrashed, smelled of oil and the ride was not comfortable at all, and yes my heart rate rose in certain times due to the tight spots they had to put that bus.

As for the rest of the services, I found them OK, although I am not a fan of single door buses.

I enjoyed my visit to Malta, gorgeous place.

KM looks like a nice carrier, and their livery is gorgeous!

MIAspotter.
Nos vamos de Vueling?
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:09 am

Hi Gabriel

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Interesting to read about the bus situation. I hadn't realised that Arriva had been turfed out. Sounds like a right mess. I guess Malta is stuck with the new buses though rather than the cool old ones?

Believe me, those cool old buses may have looked quaint, but if you had to rely on them to get around, they'd drive you insane.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Everything on your KM flight seemed excellent, although the main course looks awful!

The flight was good. But I agree the presentation of the main dish could have been improved.

Hi Invaders

Quoting invaders (Reply 2):
I opted for the fixed fare taxi to and from the aiport to Hilton in Sliema.

Good choice. The fixed price process at the airport is good, mostly because otherwise I think visitors to the island might get a seriously bad first impression of Malta if they get ripped off within 30 minutes of arriving!

Quoting invaders (Reply 2):
But what you write here is that the (what I thought atlest) well working bus-service (I tried it from sliema severall times) is now ruined?

The government has issued a call for tender to privatise the service again, but to be honest I won't hold my breath.

Quoting invaders (Reply 2):
Looks a bit cramped tbh, reminds me of SAS Plus.

Pitch is certainly the best on row 1 and become gradually tighter.

Quoting invaders (Reply 2):
I want to try Air Malta at one point, but at the moment its easyer reaching MLA from BGO via OSL or CPH with DY then Air Malta, specially after LH anounced that FRA-BGO is removed from their W14/15 scheudle.

Wasn't the BGO service a seasonal route anyway?

Quoting invaders (Reply 2):
Anyway, let me thank you again for a great read

Thanks, my pleasure.

Hi Joeytaffy93

Quoting joeytaffy93 (Reply 3):
Seems like a good airline, how was the food?

Food was good, although as Gabriel pointed out the presentation could have been better.

Hi MIAspotter

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 4):
Once again a nice read on a well travelled route by you

Give me a chance, some new airlines and routes are lined up.

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 4):
I lol-ed at the bus situation.

It is kind of funny I guess, although I also find it a bit embarrassing.

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 4):
I visited Malta in 2012 and did take the X2 (I think) from the airport to Sliema... it took like 2 hours to reach sliema and the bendy bus was completely thrashed, smelled of oil and the ride was not comfortable at all, and yes my heart rate rose in certain times due to the tight spots they had to put that bus.

I rest my case. Thanks for corroborating my text, seeing is believing.

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 4):
KM looks like a nice carrier, and their livery is gorgeous!

It took my while to get used to the new livery. It's a radical departure from the previous one, which may have been classier but also a bit old fashioned.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Cheers,
William
 
invaders
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 7:00 am

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:09 am

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 5):
Wasn't the BGO service a seasonal route anyway?

The LH FRA-BGO route was introduced late 2009 or early 2010 with tea-time departure and later increased to 3x daily. However, when their S14 program started it was reduced to just one afternoon-departure and from W14/15 its completely removed.

Anyway, I wanted to go back in october but the routing BGO-OSL-MLA-ARN-OSL-BGO was a bit too much for a couple of days :P
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air Malta Club Class To Zürich

Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:47 pm

Quoting invaders (Reply 6):
Anyway, I wanted to go back in october but the routing BGO-OSL-MLA-ARN-OSL-BGO was a bit too much for a couple of days :P

Oh I dunno, I think here on Anet. we'd fully understand...

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