I left my hotel just after a very early dinner (the hotel restaurant was barely open - they might have even opened it early for me but didn't make it obvious) on New Year's eve for my flight to JNB. It had been a wonderful Christmas season staying with friends in Zurich. Now time to head south to Cape Town and onwards to Zimbabwe and Kenya before returning to New York.
I arrived at Zurich airport a bit earlier than usual. I had purposefully left earlier than necessary as I wasn't sure what would go on in town for Christmas eve and didn't want to get stuck somewhere.
Usual check in affairs - not HON here so no First check in for me
Check in hall was empty as not many were flying tonight. You don't want to wake up to the new year in Africa? Well I certainly do.
This picture is from a few days before the flight when I arrived in ZRH. I really like LX's livery and how ZRH feels. I have to say that some countries have the money to build the 'best' facilities in the world, but those places can never feel like ZRH/ARN/MUC.
I soon made it to the lounges past security. The lady was very nice and didn't even ask to see my physical UA *G card in order to let me into the senator lounge. I never got the logic why LH/LX would give *G a (in theory) better lounge than paying J passengers with no status. Also never got the point of being made to show the physical card. Do people fake boarding passes to gain lounge access? Isn't there a scannable barcode on the boarding pass?
Food selection of the night. If I remember correctly this is all there was.
The lounge was so not busy that it took time for me to get used to it. I'm used to the version of this lounge Friday late afternoon right before the EWR/BOS flights leave. What shell I say that seemed like worse than the Zurich zoo.
Always my favorite part of this airport
Departure board. The flight to JNB (shown here as a SA codeshare) was the last flight to leave in 2014! This is also the usual last long haul ex-ZRH, which results in quite a lot of cancellations when some other aircraft goes mx.
Paid a visit to the long bar. No one around!
And it is 2015 in SYD
I soon decided to leave the main lounge and go to the contract one in concourse E since I still have to pass passport control before reaching the gate. Nice touch on exit from the lounge.
The terminal was super quiet tonight. Immigration officer commented that I should get more pages on my passport. I wished him happy new year and set off.
In the E concourse at gate
My ride tonight
Very quiet. I thought that ad is very good.
I was surprised that for flight to SA there is a US style passport control before boarding, where they ask a list of silly questions including if I had packed my bag myself. I always thought to answer that question with 'i wish i could afford to have someone else do that for me'
I was soon onboard. A pre-departure beverage was offered as the J cabin filled up
The crew was very friendly and good spirited tonight. Maybe they are always good spirited on LX just that I'm used to the UA crews.
We took off in no time. I felt like we just went directly on the runway and took off. No waiting at all.
Menu for tonight. They are so large! A whole page of A4 paper
Swiss runs the 'taste of switzerland' menu on ex-ZRH and ex-GVA long-haul flights. Some inbound flights (such as China-ZRH) have locally inspired cuisines in partnership with locally famous restaurants. Tonight we have a menu from the canton of Uri,
Orders were quickly taken and the first tray was brought out just as we passed the Italian coast.
Swiss had made some updates to its J catering program in 2014. Looking at pictures they seem evolutionary rather than revolutionary. In actuality though, the food has been consistently better than before.
Starter: Salmon tartare.
When flying Swiss, of course I need the pretzel roll
Very yummy. I finished them all.
As we were entering Algeria, the main course was served.
Main dish: Swiss sturgeon. This one looks not special but was very taste. Unlike UA's Amazon cod (Isn't cod an ocean fish? Where is UA getting them from if they are 'Amazon' cod?), this is very flavorful
Just as main course plates were collected, we hit some very heavy turbulence in southern Algeria, close to the border between Algeria, Mali, and Niger, just south of Tamanrasset. Service was paused for about 30 minutes and honestly I was scared. It was for sure the worst in the past decade of my flying.
Once the turbulence went away, dessert was served with coffee and tea.
I went to sleep after dessert and slept soundly for just a little bit over 6 hours. Our plane flew over Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, DRC, Zambia, and Botswana. I woke up as the plane was passing by Gaborone and breakfast was immediately offered to me.
I almost forgot there is a hot dish since they don't exist on US/Canada - ZRH flights. I was rather surprised when it was brought to me.
And clouds over Africa
We soon landed at JNB. Light rain, but soon went away.
Cabin after landing. F was a full load. Good for LX.
A couple shots of the seats
And there were some SA and CX friends nearby
Arrival board. Passengers had to retrieve hold luggage and bring them to customs inspection before onward connections.
My bag took a long time since the F bags were prioritized. The F cabin was full and there must have been 30 some bags with the first/HON circle tag.
Now it's time to find the Air Zimbabwe counter to pay cash for my VFA-HRE flight before my onward connection on SA to CPT. I have come across a surprising number of airlines that don't take credit cards for booking. UM is a new one adding to my list of AH, IR, and CU.
SWISS Senator Lounge
Zurich - ZRH
Johannesburg - JNB
Overall it was a very good flight. No false advertising from Swiss.
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