Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
Around mid 2013, after the success of the airliners.net meet in MAN, it was decided that a further meet would take place in October in Zurich. As I wasn’t able to attend the meet in Manchester due to being in the USA at the time, I was glad that the dates chosen would work for me and I’d finally get to meet a few of you that had I had got to know online. There were a few options to get me to Zurich, including quite a few direct flights – although it would be sacrilege to attend my first a.net meet using a standard BA/LX A320 return from LHR route! Although BA had some pretty attractive fares in Club to be had… There were quite a few other direct options, including a Helvetic F100 from BHX which really appealed. However due to it departing at 08:50 meant it was pretty difficult – and catching a train up to Birmingham the night before then staying in a hotel would cost more than the flight itself! That was most definitely on the B list. In the end, I found a nice schedule from LCY routing through GVA with LX on their RJ100’s and back on LH through FRA, with the ZRH-FRA sector being operated by one of their classic 737’s. Perfect.
Another bonus would be that I got to depart LCY for the fist time. I’d flown into there before, but was yet to fly out of there. There was also an option of selecting which type of seat you wanted in the flight preferences. If you’re not able to select your exact seat, this is a great compromise and I wish more airlines would do it!
Check in was made 24 hours before departure and my request had been fulfilled, however I had been allocated seat 7A – which is a row with a missing window. I moved back to 8A later on.
The following morning, I set off a little earlier than needed, as I had to pick up something important:
It was then on to the train for the thirty minute or so journey to London Waterloo. As I was running early and the weather was pretty good, I took a walk up the Thames walkway:
I then took the boat to the O2 Arena, in order to catch a train to LCY. This definitely wasn’t the quick option, but a million times more scenic. The journey from The London Eye to the O2 took around an hour or so.
(Very) Slowly edging towards the Docklands area.
I finally arrived at the O2 where I could pick the train up – and I was starting to feel a little on edge as boarding was less than an hour away, and I still had to make two train journeys to reach the airport!
I arrived at the airport at 11:30 – some 20 minutes before boarding. I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass, passed through the very quick security check and had a brief look around.
As I reached the end of the terminal, my jet was pulling in – HB-IYV, in the Star Alliance scheme.
Almost immediately, the gate was opened and I made my way down to the holding pen, and perched myself on one of the toadstools. I like how I can turn up so late, and yet still be here in plenty of time.
Boarding was called at 12:00 and I made the walk across the Tarmac.
Avro RJ100 / HB-IYV
Seat: 8A / Economy
Off Stand: 12:18
On Stand: 14:45
When I reached my assigned seat, there was a guy already sat in it. I asked him to move and the reply was ‘you can take my seat, it’s 7F’. Well no that doesn’t have a window, so shift! He reluctantly moved with a few huffs and puffs.
The engines started and we made the very quick taxi to the runway – taking about a minute at most. Then the engines powered up to full throttle before we went hurtling down the short runway.
During the climb, my seat mate got up and moved over to the spare window seat on the other side of the aisle. Suited me. With the generous legroom offered, I now had plenty of space!
Around ten minutes after departure the service was started. The snack was a pretty small salami roll. There wasn’t a vegetarian option, and quite a few were actually handed back. Tasted pretty good although was a little on the dry side. The two crew members were like chalk and cheese. The purser had plenty of smiles to go around where as the other had a face like a slapped arse for the most part.
The famous Swiss chocolates swiftly followed.
I relied on angry birds to keep me entertained for the remainder of the flight.
The business class cabin on this flight seemed to be entirely LX crew heading back to GVA. The engines spooled back at 14:20 and we made a definite nose dive back to solid ground.
The crew made their final checks before being seated for landing.
We made a reasonably rough touchdown, before heading over to a remote stand.
It was then on to a waiting bus to clear passport control and head over to my next gate.
It was a pretty long walk over to one of the satellites.
Once I reached my next gate, I was greeted with a very familiar sight.
Pretty busy Satellite – serving mostly U2 flights it seemed.
Boarding was called at 15:40, and I made a wet walk over to a familiar jet. In the last few years I’d been lucky not to get any repeat registrations… Now I’ve had repeats on my last two trips!
Avro RJ100 / HB-IYV
Seat: 14F / Economy
Off Stand: 15:50
On Stand: 16:39
The flight was pretty full, but the middle seat remained empty. There wasn’t quite as much room at the back of this jet, but the legroom was still pretty good.
It would appear there had been a crew change between flights on this one. And once again there seemed to be quite a few LX crew positioning back to ZRH, but no familiar faces from my LCY-GVA hop just over an hour ago.
The flight time was announced as 35 minutes and we pulled away from our stand a few minutes late.
During taxi the flight crew came over the PA and said we were number one for take off – so not that busy at GVA today it would seem.
We took off at 16:00 and made a U turn, passing GVA on the right before a complete white out.
A few moments after departure the seatbelt sign was switched off, and the drinks trolleys were rolled towards the front of the cabin. The choice was water and the Swiss chocolate or nothing. I went with the water and chocolate. I did notice however there were rolls handed out in business. Impressive – not only do LX offer a business class on a domestic flight, but also offer a decent looking service.
There were no views to be had at all on this short hop until we reached the Zurich area.
We made a smooth touchdown and made a pretty long taxi over to the stand at the A gates.
I then made my way through arrivals and up to the service center where I met up with Eco, who had arrived on the KL flight just a few moments after my flight landed.
We spent the next hour or so on the observation deck, courtesy of InfoDesk who had arranged free tickets for the group – thanks again!
Where the rest of the group were…
Something more familiar heading back to LHR
My ride from LCY via GVA preparing to head off to HAM
My only two RJ100’s in the log in one shot
At around 18:30, we both made our way back downstairs to meet up with the rest of the group and head over to the Runway 34 restaurant for a great meal.
Great tasting cheese dumplings
In loving memory of PalmJet, who couldn’t attend.
A few hours later, after many chats about all things aviation related, we made our way over to the Hotel Allegra.
The rest of the evening (and maybe just a bit of the following morning) was spent in the bar with the rest of the group who were staying at the hotel – minus The777Man who headed off to bed after a LONG day!
The following morning, I made my way downstairs and checked out – and just happened to bump into RogerBCN who was having breakfast. MSS658 followed shortly after and we took the shuttle over to the airport. Marc went on his way and I took a train into the city for the next couple of hours.
View from my rather chilly balcony.
Our chariot for the ten minute or so journey.
Double decker trains are still a bit of a novelty as they’re non existent in the UK.
In central Zurich now.
Autumn was definitely approaching after a pretty decent summer.
After a brief look around, it was time to head back to the airport.
Of course, I had to grab a couple of souvenir boarding passes…. Especially since I’d forgotten to screenshot my mobile ones – and with no internet connection, it rendered them useless.
I met up with the rest of the group and made my way through security with luxair747SP, Emek96 and LH4532, who would also taking the Lufthansa flight to FRA.
It was then up to the Swiss lounge where SloAir guested me in – thanks for that, much appreciated!
The F&B selection here was pretty good:
After quite a while in the lounge, we made our way down to gate A65 – where a ten-minute delay had occurred.
We saw our jet, D-ABEA land and taxi over to the stand. At approaching 23 years old this one is definitely a classic!
Boarding was announced a few minutes behind schedule and we all made our way on board. As we boarded we were handed the in flight meal – which was a first.
Boeing 737-330 / D-ABEA
Seat: 14A / Economy
Off Stand: 15:05
On Stand: 15:55
Boarding was soon complete, with the middle seat remaining free. With the three other guys sat in the row in front, I hope the guy in the aisle knew what he had let himself in for! Although he stayed buried in his paper throughout.
We pushed back and made our way over to the active, making a pretty loud and bumpy take off a few moments later.
There were then a few sharp turns to the right before being buried in cloud.
A few moments later, the drinks service began, with three crew members blitzing the cabin.
Pretty much as I took my last mouthful, descent started and the seatbelt sign was switched on.
We made a rattily touchdown at one of FRA’s older runways and made a pretty quick taxi over to a remote stand.
It was then on to a bus, for a journey that seemed to take twice as long as the taxi in.
I was under the impression that I had quite a while before my next flight, but Johannes pointed out the time to me and I realised that things were a bit tighter than I first thought! Luckily, the bus pulled up at the B gates, which just happened to be where my next flight was departing from – so things weren’t quite so rushed after all. I bid farewell to the guys, and made my way off to my next gate.
I took a bit of a walk through the terminal, grabbed a LH branded souvenir boarding pass, and my now traditional Ritter Sports (to make up for the melted ones from my last trip to Germany).
Following this, I made my way to the gate, just as D-AIDJ, just over two years old, was pulling on to stand. So it would appear this flight was slightly late too.
I took a seat at one of the café style tables and watched the goings on outside.
Boarding was called at 17:00, and I managed to avoid most of the crush. There were two jet bridges attached to this jet – can’t say I’ve noticed this before. Felt odd boarding a narrow body and not having the flight deck immediately to the left though!
Airbus A321-200 / D-AIDJ
Seat: 35F / Economy
Off Stand: 17:28
On Stand: 18:12
As it turned out, despite the flight being reasonably full, the middle seat remained free once more – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had a seat mate on LH?
Decent legroom, even down the back.
The captain came over the PA and announced a flying time of an hour and five minutes. This was actually my second female captain of the weekend after my GVA-ZRH sector yesterday. We pushed back around twenty minutes behind schedule and made our way over to the startbahn.
As the previous departure was a LH A380, there was a bit if a wait until we were cleared for takeoff. We finally made it into the air around 35 minutes behind schedule.
The service was started shortly after departure. The sandwiches were dished out pretty quickly, however it took an age for the drinks to reach my row. By the time they did we had already started our descent!
The new Airbus cabins are a good improvement over the older ones.
Is this mood lighting or paint? I couldn’t tell.
During descent, the first officer came over the PA and announced that due to congestion over London, we would have to hold for fifteen minutes. I’m used to five minutes, but fifteen?!
After many laps north of London, we broke through the cloud cover and were treated to the scenic approach to 27L.
On short finals, a pretty big gust caught us and the right wing dipped quite considerably. Yet the flight crew did a great job of catching it and still made a smooth touch down. Nice work!
It was then a lengthy tour of Heathrow as we made our way over to T1.
As I was exiting, the crew member manning the door said he’d noticed I was taking quite a few pictures during the flight – and wanted to know if I had taken any of the crew. I replied I hadn’t and I made sure not to take pictures of anybody. He was fine with that and I went on my way. See Flybe, that’s how it’s done….
Following this, it was the usual walk to passport control, through customs – with not one person manning it – and through the tunnels to the central bus station. Of interest, the huge area with nothing in as your exiting passport control in T1 now does have something there – a pretty lonely looking Heathrow express ticket stand!
Overall it was a great weekend being able to put faces to usernames. Although I’m still kicking myself for taking the later flights out to ZRH and missing out on the SR technics tour! On the plus side, I thought LX were pretty good – having only experienced them on a short MXP-ZRH hop previously. LH was also decent enough. Surprisingly, these were my only two flights with the airline in 2013 despite them being my joint most flown airline in 2012.