Date: 11. July 2016.
Flight time: 2 hours 15 minutes.
Well that was quick. Yesterday late afternoon I arrived back in Zürich from Lanzarote. It is now ten o’clock on Monday morning and I am back at the airport. This time, I am on my way to Malta.
I am travelling with two guys from work – the tall, blond M, with whom I previously travelled to Singapore, and the silent, broody S. The latter will be leaving in summer to start a new job in the autumn. So in a way, this trip to Malta is a kind of last farewell.
Location: Check-in 3 above the railway tracks, or Check-in 1, which is the dedicated Star Alliance terminal in Zürich.
Facilities: Online and app check-in, self-service ticketing machines or counters.
Counters: There are separate counters for Business Class passengers in both check-in areas and there is a separate queue to speed things up.
We catch the 10h25 train from Winterthur, which arrives at Zürich airport at 10h38. The summer holidays have only just started, so the queues for check-in are something nasty. Fortunately, there are next to no passenger queuing up for Business Class and I am seen to right away. The check-in agent tags my suitcase with a priority sticker and sends me on my way.
Location: SWISS Business Class lounge on the upper level of the airside centre.
Type of Lounge: SWISS branded lounge operated by Swissport.
Facilities: Toilets and showers, workstations with computers, a selection of newspapers.
Catering: A limited selection of rather hot and cold snacks.
Internet: Available in the lounge. The password is available at reception but there is complimentary wifi available throughout the terminal.
Much to my surprise, the lounge is not at all full. It is still a mess though, and I really think they need to have a word with their cleaning staff.
Priority Boarding: Good question.
When we arrive at the gate, there is already a long queue forming for our flight, even though boarding will only start in about ten minutes. Eventually, when boarding does start, no boarding call is made. The gates just open and boarding starts. Given that the three of us are sitting on row 1, we figure we might as well wait until all the other passengers have boarded.
Configuration: 2 + 2 in a mixed Business/Economy Class configuration with the middle seat left empty in Business Class.
Seat: SWISS has recently completed reconfiguring its narrow body fleet. As a result, they have managed to squeeze a staggering 182 seats into the Airbus A 320, which is only four seats short of the maximum.
Pitch: 32 inches on the first row, which gradually degreases to 31 inches towards the back of the bus.
Width: 17 inches.
Facilities: Reading lamp and air vent.
Audio and Video: There are overhead screens showing a lot of SWISS ads, short films and the route map.
The cabin looks very neat and clean. Especially the SWISS logo on the bulkhead makes a sharp contrast and adds a bit of colour.
The crew are all Germans from what I can tell. This is something that creeps up regularly in various aviation forums. The lack of Swiss staff apparently tarnishes the airline’s Swissness. To be honest though, I am not quite sure what the big deal is. The four young ladies working the flight today are friendly, charming and attentive. What do I care if they are not Swiss? After all, if you take an airline like Emirates, it may well happen that you have as many different nationalities in the crew as there are crew members. And nobody seems to have an issue with that either.
Welcome drink on the ground: Small bottle of still water.
Towel before the meal: Scented, pre-packed towel served with the bottle of water.
Pre-meal drink: No.
Choice: There are two choices for the main course, one is vegetarian.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Type of meal: Lunch.
- Salad with balsamico dressing.
- Vegetable ravioli with a creamy tomato sauce.
- A plate with two different cheeses.
- A lemon tiramisu.
- Selection of bread from the breadbasket.
- Tea or coffee.
The meal is tasty enough and the crew even appear to respect passengers’ status in taking orders for the main course. However, the whole experience does seem a bit lacklustre. I mean, with a flight time of 1 hour and 50 minutes and only 12 passengers in the cabin, surely it would not have been too much to ask to offer a drink before the meal.
Our routing takes us from Zürich to Genova and then from there more or less in a straight line across the water to Palermo. Just as we hit Sicily’s southern coast, the descent into Malta begins.