The very first time I visited the city of Prague was 24 years ago, after I graduated from secondary school in Switzerland. We travelled by train, mainly because it was a lot cheaper than taking a flight in those days. Back then, the city and her inhabitants were still slowly adjusting to the advent of capitalism in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Parts of the city were shabby and run down from years of neglect. But even as an obnoxious and, admittedly, totally clueless young man, I could not help but be impressed by just how beautiful the city was.
Since then a lot of water has passed under the famous Charles Bridge. Today, Prague is a modern, confident city that has been meticulously restored to its former splendour.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
The journey from the centre of Prague to the airport takes roughly thirty minutes by car. There is of course the option to take public transport, but from the location of the meeting I attended, public transport would mean taking a tram and changing metro lines twice. So a taxi it is.
There are two terminals in Prague. Fortunately, my driver is a knowledgeable guy. So when he asks me ‘which terminal’ and draws a blank, he just asks me where I’m going. I explain I’m heading for Amsterdam, to which he nods and says ‘Terminal 2’. Well okay, if you say so…
Terminal 2 is a strange building. The check-in area is essentially one very big hall with a few rows of check-in counters. I’m not sure how long the facility has been open, but they appear to still be working on half the check-in area.
Czech Airlines have their own row of counters and there is one dedicated row for SkyPriority passengers.
SkyPriority passengers are entitled to use the fact track at security. The airport is not very, so the process is painless and swift.
Czech Airlines does not have its own lounge in Prague and uses the Premier contractor lounge operated by Prague airport.
The lounge is nice enough and looks fairly new. The decoration of the lounge is a question of personal taste, I guess. But it gives the impression of being rather gloomy and dark.
Food options are limited to finger food and light snacks.
Boarding starts exactly on time at 16:55, as indicated on the boarding pass. There is a separate lane for SkyPriority passengers, who are invited to board first. The gate agent announces that the flight is very full and therefore, oversized pieces of luggage will need to be checked in.
My first impression of the cabin is very good. I rather like the colours and I think it’s just brilliant that Czech Airlines has decided not to follow the trend of using leather seat covers
The middle seat is kept empty and there is a small tray table that folds out of the back of the middle seat to provide some extra storage space. Legroom on the first row is also good. There are two rows of Business Class with a total of eight seats, five of which are occupied on this evening’s flight.
There are two female cabin crew working the Business Class cabin. One of them is very charming and all smiles as I step on board. The other looks very serious. But it later turns out that that is her default facial expression and in facts she’s very friendly and takes good care of the passengers in the forward cabin.
A welcome drink is served on the gorund. There is a choice of water, sparkling wine or orange juice. Although it’s a bit of a shame the drinks are served in plastic cups.
As soon as the crew is released after take-off, the service begins. The cabin crew place a table cloth of crisps, white linen each tray table. Much to my surprise, one of them informs me that, apparently, I’ve ordered a vegetarian meal. She notices the look of surprise on my face and tells me that the standard meal is also available if I’d rather have that. But I decide to stick the veggie meal that’s been ordered for me.
Even more to my surprise, the meal is actually rather nice and consists of a plate of raw vegetables. I’m quite amazed at how crisp everything has managed to stay. For dessert I have a bowl of fresh fruit. The tray comes with a refreshing towel and a small tub of margarine.
My only complaint about the meal is that it might have been nice to have some olive oil or vinegar to put on the veg.
After the meal I have a cup of coffee. Kudos to Czech Airlines for serving coffee that is hot and not just tepid.
The tray is removed and shortly afterwards we start our descent into Amsterdam.
To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting anything much from Czech Airlines. In fact, I suspected I would be treated to another sad experience with an airline the world doesn’t really need and that nobody would really miss. But I have to say, I am quite impressed. The crew were friendly, the seat was comfortable enough and the food was not bad at all.