Air Europa, Economy Class – Embraer 195: Zürich to Madrid

Airline: Air Europa
Aircraft: Embraer 195
From: Zürich
To: Madrid Barajas
Departure: 18:51
Arrival:
20:36
Flight time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Seat:
14D, aisle seat on the emergency exit

At 16:54 I catch the train back to Zürich airport and make my way to Check-In 2, row 3, which is where Swissport has its counters for the smaller airlines like Air Baltic, Air Malta and Air Europa.

There‘s nobody else checking-in right now, so I‘m seen to straight away. And then from there I head for security, which is just as quiet.

Air Europa uses the Dnata lounge in Zürich, located towards the end of the airside centre, near the B pier. The lounge is completely packed and there‘s hardly any room to sit.

Eventually, I find a place to settle and get myself some food. The selection in the lounge is good, with a choice of salads, soup and a pasta dish to choose from.

Considering they‘re a handling agent, boarding an aircraft is something Swissport doesn‘t do very well at all. An announcement is made that boarding will be by zones, starting with zone 1. only, no further announcement is made, resulting in the inevitable scrum by passengers. In fact, boarding is utter chaos and the original two queues expand quickly into a riot-scale pushing and shoving extravaganza.

Eventually though, I make it onto the plane and settle into my seat on the emergency exit.

Again, the seat pitch on the exit row is great. I also think Air Euopa have better padding on their seats in the Embraer than KLM, Air France or Helvetic.

There are three crew in the cabin. As I don‘t make any purchases from the inflight menu, my interaction with them is limited. But the safety briefing they give is professional.

The flight itself is very bumpy for most of the journey. To the extent that even the crew had to be seated. Which is good, because the rocking puts me right off to sleep!

We land slightly head of schedule. In Madrid Air Europa operates out of Terminal 3, which has its own metro station. Public transport in Madrid is quite cheap. Although you need to purchase a supplement for journeys to and from the airport.

Air Europa, Business Class – Boeing B 737-800: Madrid to Lanzarote

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Date: 09. July 2016.
Departure: 09:25.
Arrival: 10:50.
Flight time: 2 hours 25 minutes.
Seat: 1A, window seat.

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GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport:
Complimentary hotel shuttle.
Journey time: 10 minutes.
Departs from: Outside the hotel lobby.
Arrives: Departures level of Terminal 2.
Frequency: Every 20 minutes.
The shuttle for Terminal 2 leaves at 07h00 in the morning. There are only two other passengers in the bus with me and both of them are heading for Terminal 2 as well.

CHECK-IN
Location:
Terminal 2.
Facilities: Self-service check-in machines or counter check-in.
Counters: All of Air Europa’s domestic and Schengen flights operate out of Terminal 2. Accordingly, the airline has quite a presence at the facility. There are thirty Economy Class counters. And then there are two separate counters for Business Class passengers.

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To the left of the Business Class counter is the Fast Track security lane.

LOUNGE
Location:
E concourse, near gate E76.
Type of Lounge:
Contractor lounge operated by AENA.
Facilities:
Toilets and showers are available in the lounge. There is also a quiet area towards the back of the lounge. Computer workstations are also available and all seats are equipped with electric power sockets.
Catering: They have Nespresso machines! Other than that, the selection is good, with a wide range of typical breakfast items like fresh fruit, yoghurt, breads, etc.
Internet:
Wifi is available throughout the lounge. The code is displayed on the information screens in the lounge.

BOARDING
Priority Boarding:
There is a separate queue for SkyPriority passengers, families and passengers requiring assistance. Much to my surprise, once the boarding call is made, the passengers queuing in the Economy Class do not immediately push and shove to the head of the counter but actually wait until the passengers in the SkyPriority queue have boarded.

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CABIN
Configuration:
2 + 2.
Seat: Air Europa has the typical European style Business Class configuration, where the middle seat on a row of three is kept empty. The armrest on the inner side of the seat is turned inwards and a small tray table is set up between the aisle and the window seat to give passengers more space. There are twelve seats in Business Class and 168 seats in Economy Class – for a total of 180 seat. Eight of the seats are occupied in Business Class this morning.
Pitch: 33 inches in Business Class and 31 inches in Economy.
Width: 21 inches.
Facilities: There are no power plugs.
Audio and Video: Overhead drop-down screens.

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SERVICE
There are four cabin crew on the flight. A friendly young man and friendly but certainly no nonsense female purser are working the Business Class cabin. Initially, I am on 1D, which is an aisle seat. However, once boarding is completed I move over to 1A, the window seat.

THE MEAL
Welcome drink on the ground:
A choice of either orange juice or still water. In contrast to the flights operated by the Embraer, on the Boeing 737-800 the welcome drink is served out of a real glass – not plastic.
Towel before the meal: Pre-packed, scented cold towel.
Pre-meal drink:
No.
Choice:
No.
Delivery:
Trolley service.
Type of meal:
Breakfast.
Meal:

  • Omelette with turkey ham, aubergine and zucchini.
  • Natural yoghurt.
  • Croissant and a roll with butter and strawberry jam.
  • Coffee and sparkling water.

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The meal hits the spot nicely. All in all though, I think I prefer the food and the presentation on Air Europa Express, which seems more innovative. This breakfast is good but there is something very old school about it.

The crew are friendly and make a series of coffee rounds. From what I can tell, there is no tea available. Or perhaps only on request.

The trays are removed as soon as passengers finish their meals. Which is a nice touch and shows how attentive the crew are. It is always a bit frustrating when you finish the meal and cannot get out of your seat because you are trapped by the tray table.

About an hour out of Lanzarote the crew make another drinks run, which are served with a packet of salty almonds.

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ARRIVAL
After about an hour over the empty immensity of the Atlantic Ocean, our aircraft gently dips its nose and we begin our descent into Lanzarote. Our routing takes us due east of the isles, so make sure you get yourself a seat on the starboard side of the aircraft. Otherwise, you will only see land about three minutes before touchdown, once the aircraft comes out of a 180 degree turn to line up with the runway.

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Air Europa, Business Class – Embraer E-195: Zürich to Madrid

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Date: 08. July 2016.
Departure: 19:00.
Arrival: 21:05.
Flight time: 2 hours 5 minutes.
Seat: 1D, aisle.

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CHECK-IN
Location:
Check-in 2, row 3.
Facilities: Web check-in is possible. Via the app you can only check-in if you have a log-in. At Zürich airport check-in is only possible at the counter and not at the self-service machines.
Counters: Swissport does the check-in for Air Europa in Zürich. There are four common use counters for Economy Class passengers, one baggage drop counter and a Business Class counter.

LOUNGE
I do not have time for a visit to the lounge today. By the time I have retrieved my rucksack from the locker, collected my boarding pass and gone through security, I only have about fifteen minutes left before boarding starts.

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My previous ride on the right and me next ride on the left.

 

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BOARDING
Priority Boarding:
The first call is for Business Class passengers and Air Europa and SkyTeam status card holders.

Apparently the flight is completely sold out this evening. The last few passengers to board the aircraft are out of luck. There is no more space left in the overhead bins and they are asked – if not to say ordered – to relinquish their bags and have them put in the hold instead.

 

CABIN
Configuration:
2 + 2. Seating capacity on the Embraer 195 is 120 (12 + 108).
Seat: The aircraft is operated by a company called Aeronova on behalf of Air Europa under the Air Europa Express brand. Business Class seating is the same as in Economy Class, so the seat next to you is not kept empty. There are three rows in Business Class with a total of twelve seats. The forward cabin is fully booked as well this evening, although only four are revenue passengers, the other eight are all commercial upgrades.
Pitch: 30 inches.
Width: 18 inches.
Facilities: There are no power outlets.
Audio and Video: No.

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SERVICE
There are three female cabin crew on the flight. Funnily enough, the purser is the young lady I had on the inaugural flight a few weeks back.

THE MEAL
Welcome drink on the ground:
Choice of orange juice or still water.
Towel before the meal: Pre-packed, scented cold towel.
Pre-meal drink:
Coke Zero with a packet of almonds.
Choice:
None.
Delivery:
Individual tray service.
Type of meal:
Dinner.
Meal:

  • Watercress, rocket and spinach salad with grilled citrus marinated vegetables and parmesan shavings.
  • Crudités with artichoke cream and olives.
  • Potato and fennel salad with Dijon mustard, beef pastrami, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, rocket and sesame.
  • Yoghurt mousse with a crunchy crumble, strawberries and strawberry sauce.

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ARRIVAL
The flight passes quickly, and before long we are already on the approach into Madrid. We land in a north-westerly direction and then taxi for a good ten minutes to our parking stand at Terminal 2.

 

 

Air Europa, Business Class – Embraer 195: Madrid to Zürich

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Date: 20. June 2016.
From: Madrid.
To: Zürich.
Departure: 08:00.
Arrival: 10:10.
Flight time:
Seat: 1D, aisle on the starboard side.

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INTRODUCTION

I am rather looking forward to this flight, mainly because I am curious to see what will happen. Today’s flight is special because it is the inaugural flight of Air Europa from Madrid to Zürich. I am kind of hoping for a water cannon salute, but I am not entirely sure how realistic that is…

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

Transport: Complimentary shuttle service.
Journey time: 6 to 8 minutes.
Departs from: Right outside the hotel lobby.
Arrives: Departures level. The shuttle stops at Terminals 1, 2 and 4.

The first shuttle from the Hilton leaves at 05h30 and requires an advance reservation because it tends to be busy. For all later services though, no reservation is required.

CHECK-IN

Location: Terminal 2.
Facilities: Self-service check-in or counter check-in.
Counters: All of Air Europa’s domestic and Schengen flights operate out of Terminal 2. Accordingly, the airline has quite a presence at the facility. There are thirty Economy Class counters, all of which are open this morning. And then there are two separate counters for Business Class passengers.

To the left of the Business Class counter is the Fast Track security lane. There is only one passenger ahead of me and I am quickly processed.

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LOUNGE

Location: E concourse, near gate E76.
Type of Lounge: Contractor lounge operated by AENA.
Facilities: Toilets and showers are available in the lounge. There is also a quiet area towards the back of the lounge. Computer workstations are also available and all seats are equipped with electric power sockets.
Catering: They have Nespresso machines! Other than that, the selection is good, with a wide range of typical breakfast items like fresh fruit, yoghurt, breads, etc.
Internet: Wifi is available throughout the lounge. The code is displayed on the information screens in the lounge.

Since my last visit to Madrid last year, the lounge has been updated and looks a lot more attractive, fresh and new. Of course, as far as I am concerned, the lounge’s best feature remains the fantastic view of the apron.

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BOARDING

Priority Boarding: Available and strictly enforced.

Unlike the other SkyTeam Alliance partners like Air France or KLM, which require you to push and shove your way to the front if you want priority boarding, Air Europa has a dedicated queue for passengers with priority and makes sure to board that queue first.

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Initially, every looks pretty normal. But then suddenly a whole armada of journalist appear on board with Air Europa press folder, followed by three camera men, a photographer and a hairy, scruffy dude who must be the sound engineer. Apparently, the company’s CEO Juan José Hidalgo is also on board. The whole thing is rather interesting to watch and obviously Air Europa intends on making a big show of this inauguration. Even so, I am quite impressed how they manage to keep the general chaos surrounding the CEO’s appearance away from the passengers.

CABIN

Configuration: 2 + 2. Seating capacity on the Embraer 195 is 120 (12 + 108).
Seat: The aircraft is operated a company called Aeronova on behalf of Air Europa under the Air Europa Express brand. Business Class seating is the same as in Economy Class, so the seat next to you is not kept empty. On this morning’s flight this is not really a problem though, seeing as only seven of the twelve seats in Business Class are occupied.
Pitch: 30 inches.
Width: 18 inches.
Facilities: There are no power outlets.
Audio and Video: No.

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Seatmap courtesy of seatguru.com

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SERVICE

There are three cabin crew on the flight today. I really do not envy the three young ladies though. There are camera men and journalists all over the place, trying to get a word in with the CEO and there is hardly any room to move around up front.

Eventually though, the doors close and the cabin finally settles down. The crew offer newspapers and a selection of still water or orange juice as a welcome drink. Note that only Spanish language papers are on offer.

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After take-off Mr Hidalgo gives a few more interviews and prepares what must obviously be the speech he will be giving upon arrival in Zürich, which makes me hopeful for that water cannon salute.

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THE MEAL

Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice.
Towel before the meal: Packed and scented cold towel.
Pre-meal drink: No.
Choice: No.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Type of meal: Breakfast, hot meal.
Meal:

  • Fruit (Kiwi, pineapple, grape).
  • Crème brûlée with apple compote.
  • Scrambled eggs with grilled vegetables (aubergine, zucchini, pepper and mushroom).
  • A croissant and a bun, served warm.
  • Tea or coffee.

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I really like the presentation of the meal. The eggs and grilled vegetables are served in a small ovenproof pan with the lid still on. The bread items are served in a small brown paper bag, which looks good and makes a change from the usual breadbasket that is usually handed round for all passengers to stick their grubby mitts in. It all tastes very nice too.

The young lady working the Business Class cabin does an excellent job to serve all passengers quickly. Throughout the service she makes sure that drinks are replenished. Once the meal is over the trays are removed without delay to give passengers more time to relax and spread out. By this time we are only one hour out of Zürich.

ARRIVAL

I am not quite sure what the exact route of our flight is. At some point the Alps come into view on the right side of the aircraft. It takes me a while to realise that we are approaching Switzerland from the West, coming in over the Jura mountains and entering into Swiss airspace above Basel, my hometown. The city easy to spot every since Hofmann-La Roche erected that incredibly ugly building they now call HQ.

From Basel we continue on an Easterly track until eventually we make a right turn to line up for a straight in approach to runway 14. Zürich airport is fairly busy and there is a whole queue of aircraft waiting to take-off from runway 16 as we land.

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We taxi off the runway and that is when I spot them up ahead – the fire engines! Woohoo! I’m so excited! This is just so cool! I have only had to wait 42 years for this but finally, at long last it has happened and I am treated to my very first ever water cannon salute.

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Eventually we come to a stop on one of the stands at the B dock. The doors open and there is a whole welcoming committee expecting us in the airbridge. As we disembark, passengers are given a small box of typically Swiss biscuits – it is a kind of waffle filled with chocolate cream.

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I head downstairs to retrieve my luggage and then from there to the railway station to take me to the office in Winterthur.

CONCLUSION

I think chasing water cannon salutes is my new hobby! Seriously, I know it may sound shallow, but I think it was a really cool experience that gives you back that sense of arrival that air transport used to have many moons ago but that has since gone missing in a haze of cost cuts and deteriorating yields. The wiry R., with whom I started out on this trip to Amsterdam, has often said that he simply cannot understand where in the fascination lies for me to like spending hours on planes. But I think it is just that, flying is not just a means of transport like any other. It is something special to me, and I’d like to keep it that way.