Those of you living in central Europe, for example in a place like Switzerland, will be quite familiar with those long stretched of bleak autumn grey. Weeks of endless, cold misty grey and rain. There are days when it will just rain perpetually – a light, gentle drizzle.
But Malta is not like that. Definitely not. The air cools down to a more balmy, temperate sensation and there may be occasional bouts of rain. But when that happens, when it rains… My God, how it rains. Short outbursts of just a few minutes, but with such a force and in such copious amounts have the island submerged in water in no time.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Journey time: 35 minutes.
My flight back to Zürich is leaving at 14h20. Normally I would have taken the X2 bus, which runs directly from St. Julian’s to the airport. But there another vicious downpour happening outside and so I decide to take a taxi instead.
By car the journey should normally only take about 20 minutes from St. Julian’s to the airport. But not today. With the heavy rain there has been during the night, a wall somewhere along the main artery that connects the south and the north has collapsed, and so we have to make a slight detour.
Location: Check-in is on the first floor.
Facilities: Online check-in and airport check-in. There is no Air Malta app.
Counters: The airport is very busy when I arrive. Alitalia, Lufthansa and Emirates are all check-in their flights and there are quite a few Air Malta flights departing around the same time as well. Fortunately, there are two dedicated Club Class and Diamond member check-in counters.
The check-in agent labels my suitcase, and hands me my boarding pass. He also writes up an invitation to the La Valette Business Class lounge. The lounge invitation will also give you access to the priority lane at security.
Location: Airside, behind the duty-fee shop.
Type of Lounge: La Valette contractor lounge.
Facilities: Toilets but no showers, four work stations with Mac Computers, newspapers, buffet with hot and cold snacks and drinks.
Internet: Free wifi is available in the lounge.
This is the only lounge facility in the terminal. As a result, the place has a fairly good occupancy when I arrive. What I like about this lounge is that it is very well kept. There is enough cleaning staff at hand to ensure that tables are cleared and cleaned. It is also a nice place to grab a last taste of Malta and have a glass of Kinnie, Hobz biz-Zejt or Ftira filled with tuna.
Priority Boarding: Yes.
Boarding for the flight starts on time. There is a separate queue for Business Class passengers, but seeing as we will be taking a bus to the aircraft anyway, I figure there is not much point in using the priority lane.
Configuration: 2 + 2 (European Business Class configuration with the middle seat left empty)
Seat: On Air Malta, there is a tray in the back of the middle seat, which is folded down in the Business Class configuration. The idea is that you can then raise the armrest on that side of your own seat to give you a bit more width. The height of the headrest is adjustable. The recline is good.
Audio and Video: Available, but only used for the safety briefing on this flight.
There are two rows of Business Class, for a total of eight seats. Seven of the seats are occupied on today’s flight.
The service begins with a choice of orange juice or water as a welcome drink. This is followed by the newspaper service. There is a choice of two Maltese dailies, including the Time of Malta.
After departure, a hot towel is served ahead of the start of the meal service.
Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice.
Hot towel before the meal: Yes, not scented.
Pre-meal drink: Kinnie with lemon and ice.
Choice: There is no choice for the main meal. However, snacks are available for purchase after the main meal service is over.
Delivery: Individual tray service, no trolleys.
Type of meal: Light dinner.
- Tomato and Mozzarella salad with a pesto sauce
- A few slices of some smoked meet with salad leaves.
- A plate of fresh cheese with melon and mint.
- Cream caramel.
- Bread and butter
The meal is tasty enough, although I do not touch the smoked meat. As I get older I find I am eating less meat. The flight passes quickly and quietly, and there is a very comfortable and lazy atmosphere in the cabin.
We are lucky today. It is a beautiful day here in Switzerland, and so we are treated to a magnificent view of the Alps as we start our descent into Zürich. The airport is fairly busy, and so there is a bit of a hold up for our luggage to arrive, despite the fact that is was priority tagged in Malta.
GETTING INTO TOWN
Departs from: Railway station in the basement of the airport.
Journey time: Roughly every 30 minutes.
Fare: CHF38.- for a one-way ticket.
With my suitcase arriving so late, I just manage to miss the airport train to Basel, which runs every hour and departs from Zürich airport at four minutes past the hour. So instead I take a train to Zürich main station, from where there are four trains to Basel every hour.