The course with the Romanian ANSP goes well. With that out of the way, it’s time for me to pack up my bags and head back home. On the return flight I’m travelling with SWISS, mainly because they have a direct service from Bucharest to Zürich and the timing was convenient.
Getting to the Airport
Everybody in Bucharest seems to use Uber these days. In fact, taxis are rather hard to come by and when you do find one, there is a latent risk that you will be ripped off. I’m not sure what to think of Uber. But what I like, is that the drivers are not constantly trying to engage you in conversation or giving you advice on where to find the best prostitutes.
I checked in using the SWISS app. But for some reason I couldn’t obtain my boarding pass. Which is why my first stop at the airport is the Lufthansa/Austrian/SWISS check-in counters to get an good old-fashioned, printed boarding pass.
The Lufthansa group checks in on counters 80 to 84, which are located in what is either a new extension to the terminal or a recently renovated part of the building I previously hadn’t noticed. In any case, it all looks very modern and new, especially in contrast with the rest of the facility which is starting to show its age.
The young lady who checks me in hands me the lounge invitation and then sends me on my way.
The Mastercard Lounge
In Bucharest SWISS uses the Mastercard lounge, which is located one floor up from the general airside area. The stairs to reach the lounge are located near gate 7.
The lounge itself is nothing special. It has a very limited selection of drinks, and food options consist of a few sad looking, limp paprika chips and some stale peanuts. But. There’s one big but: the views from up here are excellent, and I even manage to get a seat by the window, from where I can watch all the proceedings outside.
Boarding is from gate 2, which is the closest stand to the terminal building. The first call is for Business Class and status card holders to board. There are four passengers in Business Class today.
This aircraft is clearly a fairly new addition to the SWISS fleet. Either that, or they’ve taken exceptionally good care of this bird.
There are three rows of Business Class, for a total of twelve seats. Which means that every passenger has a row to themselves. Unlike Lufthansa or Air France, SWISS has screens installed throughout the cabin. On the downside though, there are no electricity plugs for passengers.
I’m seated on 1A. On the first row the seat pitch is good. Better, I should say, than on Air France or KLM on the bulkhead row.
There are four cabin attendants. As I enter the plane, a middle aged female maître de and a clean-shaven, pleasant young man welcome me aboard the aircraft. Their manner is friendly and welcoming. While boarding is still in progress, the young man brings me a bottle of still water and a packaged refreshing towel.
Once boarding is completed, the captain comes on the loudspeaker to inform us that there will be a slight delay in leaving due to snow in Zürich. While we wait, the crew pass through the cabin with chocolate, which always goes down well.
The flight time is announced as 2 hours and 5 minutes.
Shortly after take-off, the crew is released to start the service. The food trays with the meals are delivered individually from the galley.
The meal consists of:
- thinly sliced veal with a walnut vinaigrette and a salmon mouse on wholegrain bread,
- a plate of cheese and butter, which is served with bread,
- a dessert which tastes rather nice but of which I have no idea what it is supposed to be.
The meal is okay, although I still think that a flight time of over two hours is enough time to serve a proper meal. I also think that compared to the lobster flan served on Air France on my way to Bucharest, the salmon mouse thing served by SWISS is rather underwhelming, heavy and just a bit weird.
Throughout the meal the crew pass through the cabin to check if there’s anything else the passengers need – offering top ups of drinks and more bread. The crew really are quite pleasant and take their time to interact with the passengers in a very natural way. I especially like that when they talk to you, both the maître de and the young man really look at you, as though their acknowledging you as a customer. It’s quite refreshing and something you don’t get that often anymore these days.
After the meal I ask for a coffee, which is served with yet another chocolate. Jay!
Eventually we start our descent into Zürich. There’s a bit of a delay because apparently it’s still snowing heavily around the airport. About twenty minutes out of Zürich, the captain makes an announcement informing us that due to the low visibility we’ll be doing a fully automatic landing and therefore, all electronic devices will have to be turned off completely. And indeed, a short while later the cabin crew come through the cabin to check that mobiles and the likes are fully turned off and not just in flight mode.
To be honest, if the pilot hadn’t said anything, I don’t think I would have known the difference.
When eventually we come to a stop on our stand, there’s a bit of a hold up with the airbridge. The young man is standing next to me. He apologises and tells me it hopefully won’t be long. I explain that given the rejected take-off and the subsequent delay of nearly four hours on Monday and the two-hour delay in Paris on Tuesday, a few minutes hardly seem worth mentioning…
And so my trip to Bucharest ends. Tomorrow I shall go off to London for the week-end. But that trip will be in BA Economy Class, and I’m not really sure that will be worth reporting on…