Swiss European Air Lines, Business Class – Avro RJ100: Basel to London City

INTRODUCTION

Let me see. So far this year I’ve only done two flights with Swiss, both of which I took involuntarily. The first was an A 330-300 flight to Montreal in January, which I was rebooked onto after my original BA flight via Heathrow the day before was cancelled because of the snow and the KLM flight via Amsterdam I was subsequently rebooked on for the same day was also cancelled when the MD-11 went tech.

The second flight was with an Avro RJ100 to Warsaw in June. I was put on that flight because the original flight from Zürich to Amsterdam with KLM was delayed and I would have missed my connection to Warsaw.

So in that respect, today’s trip is different. This is a trip with Swiss that I actually booked as is, that I decided to take.

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Airline: Swiss European Airlines
Aircraft: Avro RJ100
From: Basel – departure 07h20
To: London City – arrival 07h55
Cabin: Business Class
Seat: 1F, window on the starboard
Date: 02. August 2013

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

The square is still quiet as I make my way towards the bus stop for the bus line 50. Yesterday was Switzerland’s national day, so I’m assuming many people decided to take the day off and have a long weekend.

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It looks like it’s going to be another lovely day. There isn’t a single cloud in sight, perfect flying conditions!

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CHECK-IN

I checked in online the evening before the flight. I subsequently received an SMS from Swiss with a link to my electronic boarding pass. Once you open the link, there is a button at the bottom of the page for you to add the boarding pass to the Pass Book App. The process works smoothly and is far more intuitive than it is with KLM for example, where using the Pass Book App can be a tad unreliable at times. On the downside, with the Swiss boarding passes, the ‘show even when iPhone is locked’ functionality does not seem to work.

THE LOUNGE

This is my first time back in the lounge since it was renovated. I’m rather curious to see what they’ve done with it and what they’ve kept. As it turns out, it’s just a gentle renovation they’ve done. Newer and healthier looking plants have obviously replaced the scrawny looking palm trees, and the wooden floor has also been newly done. Other than that the place looks pretty much the same.

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I have myself a cappuccino and an orange juice. It’s still a bit too early for the scrambled eggs for me.

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BOARDING

Is this where things start to go wrong again, in the way they so often seem to do when I’m travelling? First of all I notice the somewhat alarming status of my flight. It’s not delayed – yet – but it has a new advise time for 07h20, which should have been the departure time. Not good. The second thing I notice at around 07h00, is that in fact there is no aircraft at the gate.

Eventually though, things start looking up and the status changes to ‘delayed’ with an expected departure time of 07h40.

At about 07h30 I exit the lounge, go through passport control and then from there head downstairs to gate 29. When I arrive, boarding has already started, but the flight obviously isn’t going to be full.

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THE CABIN

There is just the one row of Business Class today and I’m the only passenger. I’m seated on 1F, which is on the row of three seats. There is a cushion on the middle seat for me.

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SERVICE

The purser is a friendly gentleman. He immediately brings me a bottle of still water and a refreshing towel and asks me if I’d like a paper. He also explains that our initial delay was due to the fact that the aircraft had spent the night in the hangar. When the time came to tow the aircraft to the apron, the hangar doors would no longer open and had to be opened by mere manpower.

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At around 08:00 the captain comes on the blower to announce a further delay, this time a technical problem on the aircraft. According to him it should not be a big issue but he still needs clearance from maintenance in Zürich.

DEPARTURE

Eventually we depart at 08:25, a bit over an hour behind schedule. With the light load we don’t even need to taxi to the end of the runway. Take-off is to the south. As we climb out we do a gentle right hand turn to point the aircraft in the direction of Paris. What lovely weather!

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THE MEAL

Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, the purser comes to ask me if I’d like a tea or coffee with my breakfast and then disappears in the galley to prepare the meal.

Swiss have evidently changed their meal concept on European flights. Either that or the crew have decided to do things at a leisurely pace, the grand old way: there is no tray and instead all the items are brought to me individually. First the table is set with a linen tablecloth.

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Next the purser brings me:

  • a plate of cheese with a prune, butter and apricot jam.

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  • A fruit salad.

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  • a yoghurt, warm bread.

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  • the coffee and an orange juice.

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It’s a quite a small meal really but for a flight of just over one hour it’s perfectly adequate. And it looks rather nice I have to say.

During the meal the other, female flight attendant comes to see how I’m doing. She gives my coffee a refill and brings me some more rolls and encourages me to enjoy my breakfast and the lovely view outside. Thanks, I shall.

ARRIVAL

Of course the weather is shitty on London! As we cross the English Channel thick clouds start to appear and by the time we reach London the sky is completely overcast and it’s raining.

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CONCLUSION

The flight with Swiss was fine. The service was nothing special really but it wasn’t bad either. The same can be said about the food. The irregularities were of course unfortunate, but that cannot be helped. The Avros are on their way out at Swiss. They will be phased out once deliveries of the new C Series begin. Let’s just hope they last that long.

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