This series of flight reports chronicles my journey from Europe back to North America. The first portion of the flight was purchased from a cheap LOT fare sale between Zurich and Toronto, with a continuing flight to Vancouver on AC on a separate ticket. Like my previous TR, the journey can also be read in my blog for the original format.
The flights for this journey was as follow: LX1348 ZRH-WAW - Current Report LO045 WAW-YYZ - Read it here AC149 YYZ-YVR - Please read it here
With a noon departure out of Zurich, I had breakfast at the Sheraton Zurich's club lounge first before taking a ready cab from the entrance of the hotel. The ride to the airport was uneventful with light traffic and it was leisurely drive leaving me with plenty of time to spare.
Swiss check-in counters in Zurich Airport
Swiss has a very nice setup in Zurich airport which is their main hub. Check-in areas are very spacious inside this modern terminal and there is an enclosed First Class check-in section reserved for their VIP passengers and HON Circle members. I received both my boarding pass for the Swiss and onward LOT flight to Toronto.
Swiss First Class check-in area
Zurich has a nice modern airport that is really clean and walking around the airport, I discovered they have a Läderach chocolate store. It is my favourite chocolate store in Switzerland! The public concourse is quite small compared to other airports and the lack of crowds that morning meant I manage to process my tax refund and customs stamp very quickly.
Läderach chocolate store in the airport
After that I head straight to security and there was no queue for the premium line but they had to rummage my bag for all the liquids with the stringent requirements being followed to the last dot. Electronic equipments were also taken out and resulted in multiple scans of my backpack and hand-carried lugagge, resulting in a long 20 minute check
Flight information display
Once in the departure hall, I went to look at the airport map to check out the location of the Swiss lounges as I forgot to ask about them from the check-in desk. There are quite a few lounges operated by Swiss and I figured I will just head to the large main lounge around Concourse A. There is the newer First Class lounge on Concourse E which is supposed to be spectacular but I would not have access to it.
Entrance to the lounge
There was no queue when I arrived at the lounge, and once past the reception, there are a flight of stairs or the elevator to bring guests to the upper floors where the lounge is located. The main seating and relaxing space is large but it was also quite busy.
Swiss Business lounge interior
On the buffet counter at the end of this main lounge space, there was a counter with potato leek and beef bouillon soup, fruits and canisters filled with popcorn, chocolates, butter cookies and Haribo gummy bears.
Fresh fruits and cutleries with popcorn, nuts and pretzels in the canisters
Bread basket and soup pot
There was also paella and a variety of sandwiches. For beverages, there was a large self-serve counter like those found in supermarkets with all kinds of soft drinks and beers available. There are also jars of fruit juices, an espresso machine and several bottles of wine and other liquors.
Paella in the lounge
Sandwich and fruit juices
Wines and Liquers
Self-serve beverage counter
After getting some snacks, I logged onto the wifi and it was provided with a code that was valid for only an hour. Most of the time this would be enough for the standard transit time though it makes it more difficult for those with long transits and requiring to work.
Beef bouillon at the Swiss Business Lounge in Concourse A
Cappuccino and popcorn
For those who are going to sit down and eat, there is a more comfortable dining space at the other end of the circular atrium with views of the terminal. While it was crowded, the lounge has space for me to sit down and enjoy my snacks.
Counter seating with atrium view
Dining section in the back of the lounge
This space has their own food and bar counter and has less crowds. Seats at the dining area also has a view of the airport buildings but not of the airplanes.
Self-serve beverage counter
Fruits and cookies display
There is also a quiet workstation corner beside the dining space and a newspaper and magazine shelf that revolves around the wall pillar. This shelf also acts as a buffer to the walkway that leads to the First Class section. However most of the reading materials are in German/French and thus of little use.
Newspaper and magazine shelf with entrance to the First Class section
The services and amenities in the main floor of the lounge provides travellers with a space to relax and grab a bite. However I figured the space and amenities are built and designed so that guests do not really want to linger too long. After all Zurich has one of the nicer airports that I have been to in Europe, and the main terminal has some nice lounge spaces in the waiting areas with views of the tarmac that would appeal to aviation enthusiasts.
The dining area with wifi plank
As I left at around 11:30am to head to my boarding gate, there was a queue of people waiting to be checked in. While this lounge is large and has a good range of amenities, they seem to be quite busy and crowded and that might make it slightly unpleasant during a long transit. Guests visiting this lounge could do well to search a quieter spot either in the upper storeys or the side and corners during a longer layover. Otherwise, this Swiss lounge does fit into the carrier's character of providing quality and efficient service even if it is lacking in flair.
Main floor of the lounge
Arriving at my gate, I got a quick glance at the Fokker 100 aircraft operating this flight. The plane was emblazoned with the Helvetic Airways logo. Signs were displayed for the flight being operated for Swiss International.
Boarding the plane was a comfortable process and I suspect it should be the case in Switzerland. Seats onboard the plane was in a 2-3 configuration and there are no difference for Business or Economy class, as per the usual intra-Europe style.
Bulkhead on the Fokker 100
While I was in the row with 3 seats, there was no one in the whole row. Either way, the seat next to you is blocked off in the 'Business class' cabin. Legroom on the seat was basic, and standing up the plane was definitely more comfortable than the average regional jets like the CRJs or the Embraers.
Legroom for the intra-Europe flight
Settling down on my window seat, I got a view of the BAe Avro jet that I took on the Swiss flight between Warsaw and Zurich. And this was unique in a Star Alliance livery. The baggage handlers were also loading bags onto the airplane as the boarding continued.
Star Alliance livery on a Swiss BAe Avro
Passengers in the Business class cabin were provided with a bottle of water and a refreshing towel as they waited. No pre-departure drinks, but the bottle of water sufficed for me. Boarding progressed while I sit down and check out the seat.
Bottled water and refreshing towel
The bulkhead seat was not a bad space to be seated for this flight and onboard this particular plane. There was ample space for myself, and I consider myself to be of average height. It can certainly be a squeeze for someone taller.
View from row 1 inside the Fokker 100
As I waited for the boarding to be complete, I checked out the inflight magazines, since Swiss does have a very nice magazine onboard and if passengers get a new issue, there are postcards in them for a keepsake of the flight.
Inflight magazines on Swiss
With all passengers boarded, the flight does not seem overly full and Business class has a light load as is the case in intra-Europe flights. I mean who bothers to pay for the seats if they are essentially the same?
Swiss airplanes at Zurich
During the taxi to the runway, I managed to spot Emirates A380 on the tarmac. I believe Singapore Airlines flies to Zurich with the A380 as well. For a relatively small European airport, that just speaks volumes to the rich business loads to this city.
Emirates A380 taxiing at Zurich
Take off was quick with no wait and the plane made a turn around, allowing me to get a nice view of Zurich.
Take-off views of Oberglatt
Lägern mountain ridge
From this point onwards the relatively nice winter weather made me focused on out of the window. Without any inflight entertainment, this was as good as it gets, and my pictures can attest to that fact as we cruised past the Swiss Alps.
View of Zurich and the lake
Border between Switzerland and Austria
The view of the Alps continued as we cruised past Switzerland into Austria with views of the Tyrolean Alps.
As we flew past Austria, the crew came around to conduct the meal service. Lunch options were chicken breast with broccoli and potatoes or a vegetarian option of rice with curry and chestnuts. I picked the latter, as I am not a huge fan of chicken breast.
Inflight meal of curry rice with chestnuts
For drinks, I got myself some apple juice which the crew placed on the tray table in the middle seat. That was a nice touch to provide more space. These little touches makes a huge difference to the whole flying experience and perhaps may make passengers consider paying for the extra premium of Business class.
The food on Swiss was good as always and I finished everything on the plate. With the end of the meal, the crew once again asked if I wanted coffee or tea. Naturally I obliged with some coffee as I have quite a long day ahead with the layover and another trans-Atlantic flight.
Coffee service after the meal
A while later, another refreshing towel and mints were distributed to passengers. After finishing my cup of coffee, it was time to check out the lavatory. Being a small narrow body plane and one that is relatively old, the lavatory is smaller than the more modern interiors of other regional jets. However it was still functional and not too shabby.
Refreshing towel and mints
Lavatory onboard the Fokker 100
Cloudy weather throughout the second half of the flight meant there was not much to do and I had a short rest by relaxing on the seat for a while and reading the newspaper I obtained from the lounge. The crew did check if I wanted any more beverage during the flight and distributed the classic Swiss chocolate bars to thank us for flying with them.
Swiss chocolates onboard the flight
The descent into Warsaw's airport was equally uneventful with a quick landing into the relatively quiet airport for a capital city. There was not much wide-body jets aside from LOT's 787 in the airport, as even Qatar Airways sent their A320s here.
Descent into Warsaw
Highway junction seen before landing
Qatar Airways A320 at Warsaw Chopin Airport
With another completion of a flight with Swiss, I would certainly cherish a flight with them. Though they might have some outdated planes on their fleet, they were refreshing to fly with as the crew did a great job and the inflight meals, coffee and chocolates are top-notch. Which probably makes them a joy to fly with!
Swiss International Air Lines SWISS Business Lounge
Zurich - ZRH
Warsaw - WAW
Swiss might not have the best or modern planes, but their onboard services and catering are good when compared to their North American counterparts. Furthermore the unique fleet of short haul planes makes it interesting enough for the average aviation enthusiast. From the chocolates to Swiss efficiency, there is probably no better way to fly within Europe when your journey requires a stopover too.
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