This is an online travel journal about the journeys I have taken. I hope you may find in it useful information about airports, airlines and hotels and their products and services. Perhaps you will also find here some inspiration for future places to visit and journeys to take.
Airline: Iberia Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-1000, operated by Air Nostrum From: Madrid Barajas To: Basel Mulhouse Departure: 10h16 Arrival: 12h29 Flight time: 2 hours 13 minutes Seat: 3F, window seat
The 7 Islas Hotel is located just off the Gran Via in the centre of Madrid. I exit the hotel just after 7h00 in the morning and walk five minutes to Tribunal metro station.
From there I take the metro line 10 to Nuevos Ministerios, which is two stops away. And then from there I catch the metro line 8 to Terminal 4. The metro service starts at 06hoo in the morning, with trains running every eight minutes.
At Terminal 4 I take the lift three floors up from the metro station to departures on level 2. Iberia Business Class counters are located on rows 780 to 799.
There is a dedicated security checkpoint for Business Class passengers, which is completely segregated from the other passengers and very efficient.
The Iberia Business Class lounge is hard to miss as you exit from security. The lounge is enormous and offers a wide range of seating options. It‘s a very nice looking lounge. As for food options though, it‘s a bit of a let down and only has very limited choices.
Terminal 4 is huge, and recently the airport authority was given planning permission to expand this already vast facility. My flight is boarding from gate K95, at the north end of the terminal, which is equivalent to Amsterdam’s Fokker farm.
I must say, I really dislike the Bombardier CRJ1000, because it’s such a badly designed aircraft and from the passenger’s perspective, it’s just narrow, tight and unpleasant.
On the starboard side there is a row one, right behind the lavatory. On the port side though, row 2 is the bulkhead row. According to the seat map when I checked in, there’s one person on row 1, two on row 2 – one on either side – and one person – that would be me – on row three on the starboard side.
Just before the doors close, a middle aged gentleman and his son appear from behind the cabin divider and park themselves on 3A and 3C and I have the sneaking suspicion the shouldn’t actually be sitting there. The doors close and the crew go through their routine duties, with the passenger address and then the safety briefing.
Unfortunately, for messrs father and son, the flight attendant notices something’s amisss and checks the flight manifest to figure out what it is. Of course it doesn’t take very long for her to realise that there are two passengers two many sitting in the Business Class section.
Sometimes the stupidity of humanity can be interesting to watch. If perhaps also a tad pathetic at times. The flight attendant asks the father what his assigned seat number is, to which he replies that he doesn’t know. So she then asks to see his boarding pass, only to find he should have been seated on row 16. When she explains this to him, he tells her he knows but suffers from an acute case of claustrophobia, which is of course made worse by sitting on row 16 and having to look all the way down this long metal tube.
But the flight attendant obviously has been doing this for a while, so she very sweetly explains just how bad she feels for him, and that he will have to move nonetheless once the seatbelt sign is turned off after take-off. So there you have it kids, don’t lie. It doesn’t pay off. You only end up looking like a dick in front of your son, at an age when he already thinks you’re nothing short of embarrssing anyway.
We take off towards the north. I’ll say this though about the CRJ1000: when you’re sitting up front, it really is very quiet and there’s something quite poetic climbing out of the vast expanse of the flat landscape around Madrid.
No sooner has the seat belt sign been turned off, the crew are released to start their service, which begins with a glass of orange juice, followed by an unscented hot towel. One of the cabin crew comes through the cabin asking what we’d like for brunch. There is a choice between a melted cheese and ham sandwich and a tortilla.
The tray is served with the hot meal, a bowl of fruit and the cutlery on it. My first impression is that the tray looks very empty. But then the crew come though the cabin with warm bread and shortly after make a second round offering croissants and chocolate doughnuts.
The hot meal consists of a warm tortilla, spinach, pumpkin and a sausage.
To drink with the meal I ask for a coffee and some sparkling water. I’m surprised when the cabin crew brings me a half-litre bottle and leaves it there for me.
I spend the rest of the flight reading with the warm glow of the morning sun on my face. Eventually we make our approach into Basel from the south. But the clouds are very low today, so that we’re already more or less past the city before we actually break through the cloud.
Our flight comes to an end on the non-Schengen side of the terminal. However, we are then bussed to the other side, which is also non-Schengen but for flights arriving from countries which would actually be in the Schengen area if France so much as respect the Schengen agreement. Every time I pass through Basel, they’ve thought up something new to make the process even more convoluted and complicated…
At least the airport isn’t too busy, so there’s next to no queue for immigration and my suitcase arrives quickly.
I now have three days in the office before I’ll be gone for a while… stay tuned.
Airline: Air Europa Aircraft: Embraer 195 From: Zürich To: Madrid Barajas Departure: 18:51 Arrival: 20:36 Flight time: 1 hour 45 minutes Seat: 14D, aisle seat on the emergency exit
At 16:54 I catch the train back to Zürich airport and make my way to Check-In 2, row 3, which is where Swissport has its counters for the smaller airlines like Air Baltic, Air Malta and Air Europa.
There‘s nobody else checking-in right now, so I‘m seen to straight away. And then from there I head for security, which is just as quiet.
Air Europa uses the Dnata lounge in Zürich, located towards the end of the airside centre, near the B pier. The lounge is completely packed and there‘s hardly any room to sit.
Eventually, I find a place to settle and get myself some food. The selection in the lounge is good, with a choice of salads, soup and a pasta dish to choose from.
Considering they‘re a handling agent, boarding an aircraft is something Swissport doesn‘t do very well at all. An announcement is made that boarding will be by zones, starting with zone 1. only, no further announcement is made, resulting in the inevitable scrum by passengers. In fact, boarding is utter chaos and the original two queues expand quickly into a riot-scale pushing and shoving extravaganza.
Eventually though, I make it onto the plane and settle into my seat on the emergency exit.
Again, the seat pitch on the exit row is great. I also think Air Euopa have better padding on their seats in the Embraer than KLM, Air France or Helvetic.
There are three crew in the cabin. As I don‘t make any purchases from the inflight menu, my interaction with them is limited. But the safety briefing they give is professional.
The flight itself is very bumpy for most of the journey. To the extent that even the crew had to be seated. Which is good, because the rocking puts me right off to sleep!
We land slightly head of schedule. In Madrid Air Europa operates out of Terminal 3, which has its own metro station. Public transport in Madrid is quite cheap. Although you need to purchase a supplement for journeys to and from the airport.
Airline: Air France Aircraft: Airbus A 321 From: Paris Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) To: Zürich Departure: 13h20 Arrival: 14h15 Flight time: 55 minutes Seat: 25A, emergency exit on the port side
I disembark the Airbus A330-200 that brought me to Paris from Dubai and enter into Terminal 2E. My connecting flight to Zürich will depart from Terminal 2F, which sits opposite 2E. The route to take is clearly signposted for connecting passengers.
The security check is done in Terminal 2E and there is a dedicated queue for SkyPriority passengers. Right behind security is the passport control to enter the Schengen area. And then from there it‘s just a short walk to the main airside area of 2F.
Terminal 2F has two piers. And like the other terminals, it also has a striking desing.
By the time I get to 2F it‘s 12h, and I still have 50 minutes before boarding for the next flight begins.
The Air France lounge, le Salon, is located one floor below the gate area.
The lounge is very busy, which is why I don‘t take any photos. It has a good selection of hot and cold drinks and cold snacks, which are replenished and changed throughout the day.
At 12h35 I leave the lounge to find my gate. The flight is departing from F49, which is right next to the escalator coming up from the lounge. Boarding has just started for zones 1 and 2.
I‘m seated on row 25, which is the second emergency exit row on the A 321. Leg space is absolutely brilliant. What‘s more, the middle seat stays empty, so I have more than enough space to spread out!
On the down side, there is no window on row 25. But it‘s cloudy all the way to Zürich anyway, so that‘s okay.
As soon as we‘re airborne, the service begins. As a snack there is a tomato and egg sandwich. To drink I have a can of Perrier.
Eventually we touch down at 14h15. By 14h46 I‘m already on the train to the office, where I need to sign off a few documents. And then from there I head back to the airport.
On the four flights I took with Air France for this trip to Dubai, the airline provided a solid product at a consistently high standard. Unlike boring Lufthansa in its perpetual identity crisis and dreadful BA, flying with Air France is still a pleasure, firmly establishing them, in my view, as Europe‘s best airline right now.
Airline: Air France Aircraft: Airbus A 330-200 From: Dubai To: Paris Charles de Gaulle Departure: 07h00 Arrival: 11h10 Flight time: 7 hours 10 minutes Seat: 3C, aisle seat
Air France operates two daily flights from Dubai to Paris. AF655 is the night time service which departs Dubai at 01h30, to arrive in Paris at 06h15 in the morning. This flight is operated by a Boeing B 777-300ER and features Air France’s fabulous la Première.
AF659 is the day time service that leaves Dubai at 06h40 and arrives in Paris at 11h40. This service is operated by an Airbus A 330-200. Air France is currently in the process of refurbishing the Business Class cabin on its Airbus A 330s. In both the old and new versions, the seating configuration is 2 + 2 + 2, seeing as the aircraft are mostly deployed on mid-haul sectors only. The main difference between the new and the old seat is that the old seat is an angled lie-flat, while the new seat is also lie-flat but horizontal.
Theoretically, only aircraft in the new configuration are operated to Dubai. However, for operational reasons it may happen that you will find yourself sitting in an aircraft in the old configuration.
If check the seat map, in the new cabin the first row on the port side is row 1. Whereas in the old configuration, the bulkhead row on the port side is row 2.
I leave the Sofitel Downtown near Burj Khalifa at 04h26. The journey to the airport takes exactly 14 minutes to complete – partly because there is hardly any traffic with it being the weekend, and mainly because the driver clearly has a pressing appointment with death and thinks I might fancy coming along for the ride.
Air France operates out of Terminal 1 in Dubai. Check-in is done in area 2 and there are seven counters open when I arrive.
When I arrived in Dubai a week ago, the immigration officer stored my passport data, so that I could use the biometric smart gates. As a result, passport control for departures is now very swift and painless.
At this time of the day, Terminal 1 is not very busy. As such, security only takes a few minutes and then I’m on my way to the shuttle that will take me to the D gates.
In Dubai Air France uses the SkyTeam lounge for its Business Class passengers. The lounge is very spacious. I’d like to say it’s also quiet, but that would be a lie, because there’s this beastly little squirt making enough noise for ten. Luckily the little creep soon vanishes when the Saudia flight to Jeddah is called for boarding. Peace at last…
Boarding starts at 05h55. It’s still dark outside and the location of the gate makes photos of the aircraft impossible.
Boarding is by zones, with Business Class passengers in zone 1 boarding first.
My first impression of the seat is good. The cabin looks tidy and the seat configuration is practical. There is a stowage compartment right below the video screen and in the side of the seat.
The inflight entertainment has touch screen technology and the picture is very sharp. Complimentary wifi for text messages is available. For more capacity, passengers can purchase individual packages.
The divider between the two seats is good, and in the open position offers at least some privacy.
On this service, Air France serves the main meal immediately after take-off, which I think is rather inconvenient, because most passengers have had an early start and want to sleep, more than anything else. And so I decide to skip the meal and go off to Noddy land instead. In the bed position the seat is very comfortable, and together with the thick blanket and plump pillow makes for a good few hours of sleep.
I wake up halfway into the flight. One of the crew sees me and immediately comes to ask if I’ll have breakfast, which she subsequently brings me with an espresso and fresh orange juice.
The meal consists of a plate of smoked salmon and smoked turkey.
Fruit salad and yoghurt.
And a selection of bread.
There is also a choice of English breakfast or sweet crêpes. But seeing as I already had something to eat in the lounge, I decide to skip the hot meal.
A bit over an hour out of Paris the lights come on and a light snack is served.
It consists of three small canapés with cheese, salmon and grilled vegetables.
A bowl of fruit.
And a strange looking dessert I steer clear of…
The crew on this flight are truly excellent. Throughout the journey they are constantly passing through the cabin and even actively asking passengers if there’s anything they can do for them.
Eventually, we land in Paris ahead of schedule, despite the detour via Saudi Arabia. The flight ends at Terminal 2E. I now have to make my way to 2F for my onward connection.
Airline: Air France Aircraft: Boeing B 777-300 From: Paris Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) To: Dubai Departure: 14h00 Arrival: 23h50 Flight time: 6h50mins Seat: 3L, window seat
To date, the UAE’s three largest airlines, some of the country’s ANSPs and a few smaller operators use the tests my university is responsible for. Which is why I regularly travel to the UAE to train new assessors. Every time I come here, the flying Dutchman tells me it’ll probably be the last trip for a while. But that never really seems to be the case…!
I go through immigration in terminal 2G, at which I just arrived on a flight from Basel. Behind passport control is the stop for the shuttle bus, which pulls up just as I’m through passport control. The journey to terminal 2E(K) is nine minutes.
On the way I get a nice tour of some of Paris’ best sights (at least I think so…):
Once I enter the building at 2K, I head one floor up to the main concourse. My flight to Dubai is boarding from K41, which is the gate immediately next to the escalators.
I don’t recall having passed through this terminal before. And I must say, the architecture is spectacular.
Just as I step off the escalator, boarding for my flight begins, 55 minutes before departure. That seems rather early to me, but I figure I might as well skip the lounge and just get comfortable on board instead.
Well hello, gorgeous! Aren’t you a lovely big girl… in case you hadn’t realised, I seriously have a thing for the B777. Those engines…!
The Business Class cabin on Air France’s B777-300ER is configured in a reverse herring bone layout. There is a smaller Business Class cabin of four rows between the L1 and L2 doors, and then the larger cabin after the L2 door. Row 3 is the bulkhead row of the forward cabin, immediately behind La Première.
Air France has one of my favourite Business Class products. The design of the seat is great and the amount of privacy offered is also very good.
There is ample storage space and the layout of the seat is very practical.
When I reach my seat, a pair of slippers, a thick pillow, a nice, fluffy blanket, and a bottle of Evian have already been placed there.
A member of the crew quickly comes to greet me and then hangs my jacket.
Once boarding is completed, service begins with a welcome drink. There is a choice of champagne or fresh juice. I have the latter, which turns out to be a combination of apple, banana, orange, pineapple, spinach and something else I’ve now forgotten. It’s quite tasty!
This is followed by the distribution of the unscented hot towels, which are also very fluffy.
We take off heading westwards. Our flight today is routing via Switzerland, the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The flight time is six hours and 25 minutes.
After take-off, the vanity kits and menus are distributed.
The service begins as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off. To start, I just have a glass of Perrier, which is served with the appetizer, which is smoked duck with a celery and hazelnut purée. There’s also a packet of cheese-filled crackers.
The tray is served with the first course and salad on it. The starter is foue gras, which I simply don’t like, and a lentil and cauliflower salad, which is very tasty and flavourful.
There’s a lovely selection of warm bread served with the meal.
For the main dish, I have the fish, which isn’t all that good and has a somewhat off-putting smell from the reheated mussels.
Next is the cheese course, which is served with more bread. There are three pieces of cheese, a camembert, a cantal and a goat’s cheese. All three are quite subtle and go well with a glass of port.
And finally, for dessert I have a small ramekin of mocha ice cream, which is a refreshing conclusion to the meal. Two hours after take-off, the service is completed.
For the rest of the flight I lounge in my seat, reading my Kindle. I can highly recommend Ian McEwan’s The Cockroach, which is a brilliant satire based on Kafka’s Metamorphosis but in reverse, in which a cockroach finds himself transformed into the British prime minister.
90 minutes out of Dubai, the lights are turned on again and a light snack is served ahead of our arrival.
The snack consists of a chicken wrap and two sweet pastries and is perfectly adequate, given the short flight time.
Eventually we land after six hours and fifty minutes, including 25 minutes spent holding over Dubai. The airport seems very quiet and there are hardly any people on the shuttle to the arrivals building.
Immigration is deserted. I’m seen to by a friendly young guy, who tells me he’s now registered me in their system, so I’ll be able to use the eGates on my next visit.
I grab a taxi and make my way to the hotel. It suddenly starts raining heavily, and within minutes Sheikh Zayed Road is flooded is places. I’ve never seen Dubai like this. It’s still warm though.
Airline: Air France Aircraft: Embraer 190 From: Basel-Mulhouse To: Paris Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) Departure: 11:10 Arrival: 11:55 Flight time: 45 minutes Seat: 1A, bulkhead row, window seat
Nine days into the new year my travel activities resume. I catch the 09h27 bus line 50 from in front of the Swiss railway station.
At the airport, I cross over into the French sector for check-in. There are three counters open: one for SkyPriority passengers and two for everybody else.
The check-in agent tags my luggage and issues my boarding pass for this flight and the next. I then head one floor up for security. There is a dedicated line with a separate entrance for priority passengers. As at check-in, here too there are no queues.
My departure gate is right opposite the exit from security. But I still have some time to kill and I’m hungry. So I figure I might as well make the schlepp to the Swissport lounge.
By 09:57 I’m enjoying a plate of eggs and beans in the lounge. I don’t take any pictures because the lounge is quite busy. But I really do think it’s still one of the most nicely designed lounges around, especially with the winter sun coming through the windows.
And what on earth is it with women that even the most untalented and uninspired among them all seem to think they know how to sing? For heaven’s sake! There’s this big, blousy American lady, by no means a spring chicken, belting out a Motown medley as she meanders in and out of the buffet section. She’s dreadful and sounds like somebody’s strangling the cat. But she just won’t stop!
By 10h10 I can’t stand it (her) anymore and head for the gate, where boarding should start soon anyway.
Boarding starts on time with a call for SkyPriority passengers to board first. But there’s a scrum for the gate the moment the gate agent picks up the microphone, making it difficult to actually get to the counter.
On the Embraer 190, Air France has two large storage compartments at the front of the cabin, which are great if, like me, you’re on the bulkhead row and the overhead bins are already full. Pitch on row 1 is brilliant!
Mr 1C is a fat guy in his late fifties, I’d say. He obviously think he’s hot stuff, the big shaker-mover. He’d also obviously already assumed the seat next to him would stay empty, judging by the unhappy look he throws me when I appear. I just think he’s a creep.
He literally spends the whole flight intentionally spreading out as much as he can and generally has the manners of a pig.
On domestic services, Air France does not have a Business Class product. Also, seats on domestic flights are assigned automatically and cannot be selected until check-in opens. Although in my experience, they make sure that status holders are seated as far up front as possible.
Service consists of a selection of hot and cold, non-alcoholic drinks and a choice between a savoury and a sweet snack. Which is not bad for a flight of 45 minutes.
I go with some Perrier and a piece of lemon and poppy seed cake, which tastes okay.
The crew on this flight consists of two gentlemen in their forties. They’re your typical Air France cabin crew. Friendly and professional but perhaps not very warm.
The flight passes quickly and eventually we land in Paris on schedule. The flight ends at terminal 2G, which is used for smaller commuter flights.
The facility is fairly quiet. Passport control for my next flight, so leaving Schengen, is done in terminal 2G, before I catch the shuttle bus to terminal 2K.
Schaffhausen is probably best known for its proximity to the spectacular Rhine falls in Neuhausen. But it’s definitely also worth a visit in its own right.
In Schaffhausen I spend the night at the lovely Hotel Rüden, which is located close to the railway station, on the fringe of the old town.
There are two ways to get from Schaffhausen to Friedrichshafen airport. The boring way is to take the train and change in Friedrichshafen. The journey will take 1 hour and 27 minutes. The alternative is quite a bit longer at 2 hours and thirty minutes, but definitely more fun!
First, I take the 09h49 train from Schaffhausen to Kreuzlingen, which is a journey of about fifty minutes, part of which run along a very scenic route next to the river and then the lake.
In Kreuzlingen I have three minutes to make the connection to Konstanz, which is only another four minutes by train.
And then in Konstanz, I have twelve minutes to connect to the catamaran that goes across the Bodensee to Friedrichshafen.
Only, it turns out that because of the wind, the catamaran will not be operating. So I’m just going to have to take the train.
But that’s not quite so straightforward. First, I take the 11h40 train to Radolfzell, which is a ride of fifteen minutes.
And then in Radolfzell I have ten minutes before my train to Friedrichshafen arrives. This being Germany, it’s late of course. But it’s a diesel train, which we don’t have in passenger service in Switzerland. I think it’s kind of cool, and sounds like a bus more than a train.
In Friedrichshafen I just have enough time to walk down to the lake to take a look at the water, which is starting to look a bit rough.
And then from Friedrichshafen Stadt I take yet another diesel train at 13h09, which takes five minutes to get to the airport.
From the airport station it’s just a short walk across the road to the terminal, which is a nondescript, flat building. But there is an Ibis hotel.
Departures are to the left of the building. Despite its limited size, inside every carrier has its own dedicated check-in counters. Although having said that, I hardly think there are all that many operators out of FDH.
Security for all gates is off the the left of the check-in hall. And of course, once you’re through security, you’re immediately ejected in the duty free shop.
All in all, there are seven gates, of which the five A gates are for Schengen departures and the two B gates for non-Schengen flights.
About 45 minutes before departure, the immigration officers appear to open up shop. The guy at my counter looks at my Maltese passport and just says ‘cool’ with this gleeful tone in his voice. ‘I’ve been there, you have great weather down there…’. And then he just lets me through.
At 14h20 the inbound from Gatwick glides down on runway 24. The A 320 looks slightly out of place and a but oversized compared to the terminal.
Boarding starts at 14h45 for a 15h05 departure. But that’s okay, because it turns out there’s only 49 passengers on the flight anyway…
Originally, I’m seated on 1C. But once boarding is completed two minutes later, I switch to the window on 1F and have the whole row to myself!
On the first row the pitch is comfortable enough. I don’t think it’s much less than on the first row of SWISS’ A 320s. The only complaint I have though, is that there’s cold air coming in through the R1 door inflight. Obviously it’s not enough to depressurise the cabin, but it certainly gives you cold feet!
On the climb out of Friedrichshafen we’re treated to some excellent views of the lake.
Once the buy on board service starts, I purchase a large cup of hot chocolate with two shortbread finger biscuits for GBP4.-, which I think is quite fair.
The crew are a friendly bunch and they’re obviously enjoying not having a full load of passengers for a change.
The flight passes quickly, and eventually we land after a flight time of 90 minutes and taxi to our stand at the satellite of the North Terminal.
The airport is surprisingly quiet and I’m through immigration in no time. From arrivals I head one floor up to catch the shuttle train to the South Terminal, from where the Gatwick Express into London’s Victoria station will be leaving.
The journey into London takes 32 minutes if you’re lucky enough to catch the express and there are multiple trains per hour.
For a change, this time I won’t be staying in the West End. Instead, I’m off to Brixton…
I won’t be writing a post about the return flight to Basel with easyJet, so this is going to be my last post of 2019. I want to thank all those of you who have visited my blog throughout the year and read the posts or just looked at the pictures, but especially all those of you who also were kind enough to leave a comment – be it a question, criticism, explanation or correction. Thank you!
I wish you all a happy holiday and a spectacular festive season!
It’s just coming up to 16h by the time I enter the terminal building. The airport is very busy, and there are people everywhere. I make my way to the LOT Business Class lounge, which is one floor up from the public airside area.
I think the place is probably cramped at the best of times, but right now it’s also completely full. It doesn’t look at all inviting. I don’t even bother to look for a place to sit, because I have a much better idea anyway…
So instead I head one floor down again to the foodcourt, which is where I spot just what I’m looking for: a Polish restaurant that also serves Pierogi. It’s basically just a fast food joint. But the Pierogi are just so good, covered in fried onion and served with a healthy dollop of sour cream!
With that out of the way, I make my way to gate 32. There’s a slight delay for boarding. And the flight is completely full, the gate agent says.
There are seven rows of seats ahead of the cabin divider. This aircraft is clearly older than the one I had on my way to Warsaw on Sunday. But it’s still a nice looking cabin and the seat pitch is great.
Again there are no welcome drinks, but the crew hand out chocolate biscuits, followed by Polish and English language newspapers.
The crew on this flight are a lot more pleasant and approachable. The purser is a portly, middle-aged gentlemen and he’s very friendly.
The flight time is announced as one 1 hour and 45 minutes, although in actual fact it later turns out to have been only 91 minutes.
The service in Business Class is slightly different to Premium Economy, in that there is a drinks service ahead of the meal. I just have a glass of sparkling water, which is served with dried slices of veg in a cajun spice mix. Not a good combination…
Next, the tray with the food is served. It looks pretty much like the Premium Economy tray, except of course that the plates are not plastic.
The right dish is quinoa with aubergines, spinach and feta cheese. I think.
The left dish is roast beef with feta and broccoli and bell pepper. It’s good that I had the Pierogi.
With the meal the crew offer bread from a basket. It’s just a minor thing, but I’m quite sure it wouldn’t hurt to warm up the bread in the oven to upgrade it from recently defrosted to at least room temperature.
The flight passes smoothly. The crew have kept the cabin lights dimmed, which makes for a nice, cosy atmosphere on board.
Eventually, we land at 19h56. By 19h15 I’m already on the train on my way home.
And that brings to an end my first experience with LOT. All in all, the four flights I took were not unpleasant. And I think the hardware – things like seat comfort or the meal service – were fine. Bu the crews were a bit of a mixed bag. And as a result, the service delivery lacked consistency. I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly LOT. But at least I wouldn’t actively avoid them either.
One of the things I enjoy about my job, is that everywhere I go, people go out of their way to make me feel welcome. And Rzeszow is no exception. But it’s probably still a good thing I’m leaving today, because I seriously could get used to Polish food. As far as I’m concerned, Pierogi Ruski are the epitome of comfort food and deserving of a Nobel prize!
Uber does not have a licence to operate in Rzeszow. Instead, a similar service is provided by Bolt. And to be honest, I think I like their app better than Uber’s, because it’s easier to use.
In any case, the journey from Rzeszow to the airport will take between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on a range of variables, such as traffic or your driver’s maniacal inclinations.
Fortunately, the latter does not appear to be a concern with my driver. And so we make the journey in pleasantly civilised 25 minutes and without putting at risk the lives of the inhabitants of the Subcarpathians.
Apparently, there is also a bus to the airport. But unless you speak Polish, information about the schedule may be hard to come by.
The terminal is a modern building on three levels with a domed ceiling.
Arrivals and departures are both on ground level, with the airside area located on the upper floor. The airlines that operate to Rzeszow – namely LOT, Ryanair and Lufthansa – have their own dedicated counters. Check-in doesn’t open until 90 minutes before departure though. So don’t be too early!
LOT has a dedicated check-in line for Business Class and status card holders. But this is also still closed when I arrive.
There are a few places to eat, both landside and airside. Alas, none of them serve Pierogi. But the potato pancakes with sour cream help to console my disappointment…
Incidentally, there’s a HolidayInn Express just across the road from the airport.
And… there’s even an open air viewing gallery. Now if only there just a bit more traffic!
Security is very pleasant. It’s just me, and for a change the staff seem glad to see me. The airport is so quiet, they must be bored to tears most of the time!
Much to my surprise, there’s even a lounge, which is small but serves its purpose perfectly.
When I enter, there‘s one person in the lounge. He’s obviously on the Munich flight, which has just started boarding, and seems determined to do that I’m-way-too-cool-to-board-first thing. Now if only he would stop pacing up and down checking the gate situation. It kind of spoils the effect.
There’s a large tv screen showing the news. I can’t understand a word of what’s going on, but I still enjoy listening and trying to figure out the Polish language. But the lounge attendant obviously mistakes my baffled expression with dissatisfaction – and promptly switches channels to Michael Bolton live in concert. I’m not fully sure that’s an improvement though…
Eventually, Michael gives his last encore. But my reprieve is only short-lived, because next up is a ‘best of the nineties’ medley featuring Brian Adams and the tedious Lenny Kravitz.
Okay, enough’s enough. Okay? ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ has me wanting to hit someone. I’m leaving. This must be worse than waterboarding…
Boarding starts exactly on time. There is a separate queue for status card holders, but there’s no special announcement.
The flight is operated by an Embraer 175. I’m seated on 1A.
The seats on this aircraft are different to those on my flight to Rzeszow. Or maybe they’re just a different colour.
Eventually we depart five minutes ahead of schedule. The flight time is thirty minutes.
We break through the clouds just in time to witness a glorious sunset.
The service is the same as on the outbound leg. This time I have the waffle and sparkling water.
Eventually, we land at 15:35. Shame though that the ground crew are not expecting us. And so we wait for 15 minutes for the stairs and a bus to arrive to take us to the terminal.
By 21h45 I’ve disembarked my flight from Zürich to Warsaw. I consider visiting the lounge, but it’s only 25 minutes before boarding for the flight to Rzeszow begins. So I figure I might as well head for the gate. Warsaw airport is quite busy at this time of night, especially the non-Schengen area.
Boarding starts at 22h25 with a slight delay. And it looks like it’s going to be a full flight.
Sitting on row 1 on a full flight is difficult, because you’re always holding up the queue. So no photos.
I dump my stuff in the overhead bin and take my seat on 1A. Seat pitch is very good.
On domestic flights LOT doesn’t appear to offer a Business Class service, it’s Economy throughout. Which is fair enough, the flight time to Rzeszow is only 32 minutes.
Even so, that’s still enough time for the crew to pass through the cabin with a basket full of chocolate wafers and sour jelly sticks for passengers to pick from. There’s also a choice of still or sparkling water.
The crew on this flight are more senior Than the previous crew. And possibly also more experienced. Perhaps that’s why they’re a lot more pleasant and far more relaxed about the service – despite the short flight time.
Eventually we land at 23h30. The airport is deserted, save for a Lufthansa Cityline aka Germanwing aka Eurowings aka Let’s-see-what-they’ll-come-up-with-next Bombardier Regional jet which has also just landed.
The airport is very small and easy to navigate through. Once I’m landside, I grab a taxi into town. There are no more busses this time of day.
Uber has no licence to operate in Rzeszow. But instead there’s Bolt, which is pretty much the same thing.