In the week between Christmas and New Year I normally visit Japan. In 2011 however, I decided to do something different for a change. It had also been quite a stressful year so I didn’t really want to stray too far from home anyway.
So where to go? Obviously, given that I probably do have a bit of an obsession – I like to call it a keen interest – with airplanes, apart from a new destination the routing would have to include a new type and preferably also a new airline.
Eventually, the solution came to me and I decided to head for Oulu in Finland. To get there, I would first fly with Swiss from Basel to Copenhagen and then from there on to Helsinki with Blue1 and then on to Oulu.
This trip review is about the first leg of my trip from Basel to Copenhagen. A route which has since been discontinued.
If you’re just interested in the pictures I took in Copenhagen, please scroll down to the bottom.
Date: 26. December 2011
Airline: Swiss International Air Lines
Aircraft: Avro RJ100
Class: Business Class
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
After celebrating Christmas with the family at my parents place, I leave Basel for Copenhagen in the afternoon of 26 December – Boxing Day. My first stop is the main railway station to get some Danish Krona and then catch the bus to the airport from just outside the main entrance of the station. It being the day after Christmas, I was not really expecting there to be any people. Much to my surprise though, the bus is full and the airport is also rather busy when I arrive.
I’ve already done online check-in, so once I arrive at the airport, I head straight through security to the Swiss Business Class lounge, which is nearly deserted. This however, has nothing to do with the Christmas holiday and seems to be the usual state of affairs for this lovely lounge. As you can see, it looks wonderful with the warm light of the low winter sun seeping in through the windows in the roof.
I looks as though the flight is going to be packed. and indeed, it turns out there is only one row of Business Class. There is another passenger in Business Class. He has the window seat 1F. The seat between us is empty and I am on 1D. I’m hoping to shift to 1A once boarding is completed, but no such luck.
In the row behind me there is a family with two young children sharing the row of three. The flight attendant informs them that they need to be reseated as there are no additional oxygen masks on the row of three, therefore one parent will have to sit on the other side of the aisle with one of the children. So the guy in the aisle seat on the row of two gets up to change seats with the dad, but instead of swapping seats, he just parks himself in the empty two-seater of the Business Class cabin. What’s more, the flight attendant lets him stay there for the entire flight.
It’s a lovely day for flying. The little Avro is obviously struggling with the heavy load, subsequently our climb is not exactly steep. We take off in a southerly direction, then do a 270 degree right hand turn and crossed the river Rhine into German airspace. We then fly a easterly track to lake Constance, on the German-Swiss boarder, and from there set course for Denmark.
The service on board this flight is nothing much to write home about either. The mini Business Class cabin is served by a German flight attendant who would obviously much rather be at home with her family or by the beach, or climbing a mountain – anywhere but just not on a flight to Copenhagen. Looks like the Avros are not the only ones that Swiss urgently need to decommission. She plonks down the tray with the meal before me, get the drinks and then disappears. No idea where to. She reappears to remove the tray about 15 minutes before we arrive in Copenhagen.
The lunch that is served is rather strange and consists of shredded Zucchini with a slice of poached salmon and some Bündnerfleisch – dried meet. It also seems that since my previous trip in Business Class, Swiss has reverted back to using plastic dishes and cutlery. It’s so stylish…
The rest of the flight is uneventful, which is rather obvious. The good thing about having a vanishing flight attendant is that it seriously reduces the risk of having red wine or something accidentally spilled over you.
What can I say? This flight was certainly not one of Swiss International Air Lines’ finest moments. First of all, the airline should make up its mind on whether or not to provide a Business Class product on flights from Basel or not. If the decision is to have such a service, then it should be executed properly, and not be treated as some kind of unnecessary burden for the staff.
And indeed, in the meantime this route has been discontinued, together with a number of other destinations from Basel. For an airline like Swiss there is no money to be made in Basel, given the strong presence of Easyjet, which now has something like eight Airbus A 319s stationed at the airport. First of all, the old little Avro – with its four engines and only 97 seats – can hardly compete, from an economic perspective at least, with Easyjet’s A 319s, which can seat up to 156 passengers.Furthermore, Easyjet’s dominance at Basel airport should be a clear enough indication that the market it serves has no use or interest in a premium product.
Obviously, Swiss’ plan for Basel was not to make money but simply to try and regain some of the market it had lost to Easyjet. But this is the kind of strategy you can only pursue if you have sufficient funds to keep it up over a longer period of time, which is evidently not the case for Swiss or any airline in Europe right now.
In Copenhagen I stayed at the Hotel Nimb, the entrance of which is opposite the main railway station. The Nimb is actually on the premises of the Tivoli amusement park and access is for free for guests. The Tivoli itself is a really magical place to visit in winter.