Date: 17 May 2016.
Flight time: 3 hours and 10 minutes.
I am on my way to Cyprus to give another course. I am rather looking forward to this one. The last time I was in Cyprus, the authorities were very welcoming and friendly. So for me, this kind of feels a bit like visiting old friends. I am joined on this course by my colleague, the valiant M. and the test manager P., a Dutchman whose flight statistic makes me look like a hopeless newbie. While I am still trying to figure out how to achieve Platinum again with Air France for this year, the Dutchman is already planning for his lifelong status once he achieves Platinum in ten consecutive years…
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Journey time: About 90 minutes.
Departs from: Basel SBB.
Arrives: Zürich Flughafen
Frequency: The earliest direct train departs from Basel at 04:37 in the morning. From then on there is a direct train every hour until 19:37 from Basel to Zürich Airport. The journey takes about one hour and twenty-five minutes. Alternatively, the fastest way to the airport is to catch a train to Zürich main station and change for an airport train there. There is a nonstop train to Zürich main station every half hour from Basel, at 07 and 33 minutes past the hour. Even changing trains at the main station, this option is about 15 minutes faster.
But my flight to Larnaca will already be leaving at 06:15 in the morning, which is still too early for the first train. So I am travelling to Zürich the evening before and spending the night at the Radisson Blue adjacent to Terminal 1 in Zürich
To access the hotel from the airport’s railway station, follow the signs to Check-in 1. Eventually, you will pass through a set of sliding doors and will have a small Coop grocery store ahead of you. The passage curves to the left here. If you continue walking straight ahead, you will eventually end up in Terminal 1. However, if instead you turn right, you will eventually arrive at a set of escalators. The ones on the left lead down into the airport gym, while those on the right lead up into the lobby of the hotel.
The Radisson Blue Zürich Airport is pretty much your standard airport hotel. I like the high ceiling in the atrium, but overall I just find the whole place a bit too dark and gloomy.
Location: Check-in 3, located right above the railway station.
Facilities: Web check-in, app check-in with Passbook, airport check-in.
Counters: The flight is operated by Edelweiss but has a SWISS flight number, so I can check-in the evening before until 22h00 at the SWISS counters. Once that is taken care of, I head for the hotel.
The next morning I meet the valiant M., all bright eyed and bushy tailed. We take the underground passage to Check-in 1. The place is more or less deserted save for a few other passengers milling about. Airport security does not open until 05h00, so we still have a few minutes to wait before the airport officially ‘opens’.
Security is a swift affair and there is a separate queue for Business Class passengers.
Location: On the upper level of the airside centre.
Type of Lounge: SWISS Business Class lounge.
The lounge does not open until 05h45, by which time my flight will already be boarding. So I figure I might as well head across to the E dock from where the flight will be leaving. There is another SWISS Business Class lounge in the E dock.
Priority Boarding: There is a separate queue for Business Class and SWISS status card holder and these passengers are invited to board the aircraft first.
Configuration: 2 + 2, typical European Business Class configuration with the middle seat left empty.
Seat: The seat and cabin are more or less identical to the SWISS product. If it were not for the headrest covers, which feature the Edelweiss, you would not be able to tell the difference. The cabin looks very clean and tidy, with a pillow placed at every seat. But somehow the whole cabin has also started to look very drab and dated.
There are three rows of Business Class on today’s flight and there are eight passengers in the forward cabin. Not bad at all, considering the holiday season has not even started yet.
Facilities: Reading lamp and air vent. No power outlet.
Audio and Video: Moving map.
Service in Business Class is done by an elderly gentleman and a young blond female. Both of them are what can best be described as business friendly. Other than that though, the service is really excellent. The crew are very attentive and do repeated rounds to replenish drinks and offer more bread. They remind me a bit of what the old Swissair used to be like.
Welcome drink on the ground: A choice of grapefruit juice or still water.
Towel before the meal: Pre-packed refreshment towel.
Delivery: Trolley service.
Type of meal: Breakfast.
- Ramekin with scrambled egg.
- A plate of Swiss smoked meat (Bündnerfleisch) and cheese with a slice of dried apple.
- Fruit salad with grapes, melon and mango.
- Croissants and bread from the breadbasket.
- Butter and raspberry jam.
- Coffee, juice and water.
The meal is really excellent. What I particularly like about it, is that there is a bit of everything on the tray and that there is certainly more than enough food. By the time we finish, I am feeling happy and full.
THE SECOND SERVICE
Delivery: Tray service.
Type of meal: Pre-arrival snack.
- Packet of savoury biscuits.
- A selection of ham roll or mini cheese and leek quiche.
- Full service from the bar trolley.
About an hour before arrival, the crew come through the cabin for the second service. The crew also seem to have warmed up and are friendlier and more chatty now. It is around this point that I start to be impressed with the level of service and the quality of the product provided by Edelweiss Air.
Just as I finish my drink, the Med comes into few and I feel, for the briefest of moments, the pang of being home sick. The service concludes with the distribution of a Biberli and scented hot towels.
We make a beautiful approach into Larnaca. We pass over the airport and then head out to see before executing a 270 degrees turn to bring us back on to the approach for the airport.
Immigration is fairly swift. And then we pick up the car and head into town. Just so you know, if you rent a car: you can pick up the car one floor up from arrivals, unless you have rented a car with Hertz, in which case you will need to take a shuttle bus to the pick up and drop off point for car rentals.