SWISS air line can boast not only the national Swiss cross on its aircraft tails but a complicated history as well. The airline inherited the IATA Code LX from the Swiss regional airline Crossair. The ICAO code SWR is inherited from Swissair. The latter went bankrupt in2002 and Swiss International Air Lines was formed. However, it didnít change the situation much. The new airline also suffered losses until it joined Lufthansa group and Star Alliance straight away. And even now you can buy SWISS tickets on Lufthansaís site instead of Swiss own site.
Swiss International Air Lines operates a fleet of about 80 aircraft of different types. But thereís one thing to mention here - all small Avro RJ100 belong de-facto to Swiss European Air Lines. These planes are used for regional traffic in Europe. The flight Luxemburg-Zurich, which Iím going to describe here, is one of those and is operated by that type of planes. By the way, they have already announced that Avro RJ100 will be replaced by Bombardier CS100 in future. So it means that about a couple of dozens of Avro RJ100 will soon be sent to rest. Considering the current state of my plane, thatís quite well-deserved.
Air line site http://www.swiss.com
We are arriving at Luxemburg-Findel LUX. Now Iím going to dwell on some nuances and what catches the eye.
And itís the well thought out system of approach roads that catches your eye. On the one hand, the passenger flow isnít big and thereís no need to have all those separate lanes. On the other hand, itís good to have a lane specially for buses with a bus stop and a lane for taxis. Cars use the middle lane to drive to the automatic barriers. A fifteen minute stop is free. Right in front of the terminal there are overground and underground car parks. Of course thereís an entrance to the arrival area from the underground car park, which is very convenient. The main difference from our Domodedovo is that different types of transport use different approach roads, not the only one.
In the opposite end of the terminal there is a smoking area with the trash-bins. There is a yellow postbox nearby (all smoked through). If you go a little bit further, youíll get the view of one of the corner gates and the airport buses stand. Most often British Airways is parked at this gate.
Hereís the check-in. There are a few people. At the same time thereís a lively checking in for the flight to Portugal. SWISS counters are on the contrary half-empty. I have already checked in for the flight on the Internet (the letter is sent to you by mail). I need to hand in my bag, print off the boarding pass and add the flight to my bonus card. The member of the airline staff is doing all this very efficiently. There are SWISS tags for hand luggage lying on the counter. And right behind you thereís a counter where you can check the size of your luggage. Donít ignore it. When boarding (at the gate) the airline staff is actively using it and donít let passengers with big suitcases go through.
The gates are to the right and left from the counters (in the corners of the airport). I have some time, so Iím not in a hurry to get there. I notice a Belavia plane Ė thatís really an unexpected guest here! Is it a charter?
Letís have a walk around the terminal. The first thing I notice is a BMW on the podium. They change the models. I often fly and have already seen about four different cars. To the right of the podium theyíre planning to open a café. And meanwhile you can eat either in a bistro in the opposite corner or in a restaurant (buffet) with an airfield view on the second floor.
As for the shops, thereís a duty free and a souvenir shop. In the latter you can find books, postcards, snacks and cigarettes.
After having walked around the terminal, itís time for boarding. The security check goes without any problems. Even when there appears a line of some anxious Portuguese, the staff deals with it very quickly. There was nothing out of the ordinary except the attempts to carry drinks and perfume on board. The lady with the perfume was outraged and refused to accept the rules. You know, how it can be.
Whatís next Ö Next thereís an escalator which takes you down to the airside. First you get the impression that thereís no passport control for non-Schengen citizens. But we have seen Belavia, havenít we? The thing is a couple of gates for other countries are hidden in the corner of the terminal. There you can see two windows for customs officials.
The rest of the space is filled with shops, cafes and lounge chairs. In the center thereís a big information stand. You just canít miss it. The duty free here is much bigger, but the prices are a rip-off. Instead of shopping, letís have a look at the airfield.
On the left thereís ďan orangeĒ easyJet. These guys fly to Luxemburg from three airports. Basically, you can fly with them from DME as well, which is also cheaper, but the schedule is utterly inconvenient. Obviously they couldnít get a better time from DME. Thatís why we have to fly with SWISS.
There is no sign of our plane yet, only the trucks are actively shuttling to and fro. First a local board arrived, then a Chinese, finally our AirBridgeCargo has come. They all park in the cargo terminal, which is to the left from the runway if you face it.
Finally my plane is landing - Avro RJ100, in beautiful green colors, "ZRH Airport Shopping Experience". Number: HB-IYS. At this very moment the
easyJet is departing. Following the old tradition the SWISS board is parked by gate 11. I need to mention here that except Boengs Luxair has nothing to park to air bridges. All the planes stand on the airfield. Their size simply doesnít fit the bridges. However, other airlines, including SWISS, actively use them for their passengers comfort (this way they also donít have to pay for busses). Out of habit and for comfort, the planes of certain airlines try to park at certain gates.
The board has just arrived and we are watching the passengers getting off, the bags being unloaded and the plane being tanked. Everything is going very quickly. As far as I remember, there has been only one delay of this flight due to the late arrival of the plane. The service is always efficient. This is proved by the fact that they start to let people on board in 15-20 minutes. Yes, the plane is not big and this also helps.
Of course, thereís a line in the air bridge. Nevermind. Itís much worse when somebody is late and you have to wait for them. While in the line Iím taking a close look at and the livery. The shabby nose with peeled off pain makes you think.
A smiling crew and standard European chairs meet us in the cabin. Only a couple of rows are for business class, the rest are economy. Thereís enough space for legs, and you get an extra space under the porthole as a bonus (and this isnít the case with every plane).
However, when you look at the above panel, it all becomes clear Ė the seating arrangement has been changed. Instead of 3+3 we can see 2+3, and I was lucky to get a seat in the rows of twos. Have a look Ė there are three fans and lamps, but thereís only one neighbor sitting next to me.
The plane soon starts taxing, the flight attendants and the captain speak to the passengers on the radio. Safety instructions are being shown. You can take the last look at the terminal LUX through the porthole. After the passenger terminal you can also see the cargo one (where the arrived guests have parked).
The take-off is pretty fast without sharp climbing. But this flight is short Ė less than an hour, thatís why the flight attendants stand up almost immediately during climbing. And meanwhile I am taking photos.
This red (and white from the opposite side) hangar is actually Cargolux maintenance building. Inside there is a client already. The building is 200 meters long, 40 meters high and can place two ¬747 and loads of equipment. It would be great to go on an excursion there!
Further there is a big concrete mixing plant Ė two ready-mix stations, crushers, excavators, loaders. It isnít difficult to guess where the concrete goes from this plant. Most likely even outside Luxemburg.
This is an American cemetery and memorial. The form is easily recognizable and it takes 20 ha. of land. De-facto it is located in Hamm area, the western part of the principality. It means we are heading east, direction 24/06 (thereís only one runway). Everything is simple. You can see the location of the city and the airport on the scheme.
Thus we are taking off in the direction of the city at the height of haze instead of clouds. The last thing you can more or less make out is the railway station and the road junction in Bonnevoie.
Ok, thatís enough with the views from the porthole. And what is there in the cabin? And in the cabin Ö During the take-off the overhead locker opens up and just wonít close down again. The crew has to fix it. As soon as they have dealt with it, one of the passengers has trouble with Ö what do you think? An armrest! It just comes off and falls onto the floor. The passenger with a guilty look on his face tries to fix it back. He is afraid they will think he has broken it himself. Awful!
The cabin is not full. While we are sitting and idly waiting what else can get out of order, the crew is serving drinks and bars of chocolate. I consumed the chocolate straight away, as for the drinks I took tea and water. The flight attendants can speak English, German and French well. I realize the distance and time of the flight are ridiculous. Nevertheless Luxair serves sandwiches on a similar flight.
I could hardly manage to finish with drinks before they started to collect the glasses. I check out the pocket of the seat in front of me. Apart from the standard set of magazines I come across Business & IT magazine, which is a strange item to find there. And then thereís also a postcard with a code and a request to leave a flight review on the airlineís site. Well, it will be done.
Meanwhile we started to descend. The sky obviously decided to demonstrate all possible optical phenomena. The first one is Glory. You can read about it in Wikipedia. It can be observed in the clouds which are right in front of the light source. The observer should be on a mountain or up in the air, ant the light source (the Sun or the Moon) should be behind their back. Everything is right. We were just turning around.
Then I notice the Moon. Itís already high in the sky, almost full, but still very dim.
Before the landing we can see one more phenomenon Ė a lighted cloud. Itís either a parhelion or an arc. Really, a bit too much for one time
And on the earth houses with red roofs started to fly past. You can see the river Rein and some building site. We are descending smoothly and quite slowly, but without any turnings or sharp altitude drops. By the way, there wasnít any turbulence during the flight as well.
Finally we smoothly touch the runway in Zurich, the spoilers are let out and the plane starts to brake. The speed isnít dropped completely, the plane drives off the runway and taxes to its parking place. Naturally, the planes of such size are not parked at air bridges in Zurich .The parking place is already being guarded by our bus. Try and find the plane wing on the photo of the sunset
We were kept inside for quite a long time. Everyone was waiting patiently (of course in a standing position). Finally, the door opened. Halfway to the bus Iím taking photos of the plane.
On the whole, the flight goes quickly and without any major flaws. I often fly on it and they always announce gates for transfer passengers before landing. Whatís more, a convenient connecting flight to Moscow is sold at the cheapest price you can get a day in advance.
The airport in Zurich is damn beautiful. The colors are well chosen, thereís a lot of light, transfer flows are well thought out Ė only good things. You canít get lost in it Ė you can see at least one signpost from every point. Before entering the airside, we get through the customs.
Moving on I offer you some photos of that area. I took them while I was walking towards my next plane. Unfortunately, the photos are indistinct but I think even in them you can see the interior of the airport. This is the airport I would give the award every year. Its only downside is very heavy traffic in the sky. A small delay will put you at the end of the line for take- off. And one more thing Ė donít forget to buy Toblerone chocolate at the best price in Europe!
In conclusion some words about the airline. Everything is not as smooth as you want it to be. Delays occur and pretty often. It goes for example for the night flight from Zurich or Geneva to Moscow. The reasons vary from late arrival of the aircraft to lightning strike. Os course, the airline tries not to lose face, but if you fly with SWISS, be ready for a small lottery. After numerous delays I regarded every flight on schedule as a present. Good luck!
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