Getting to the Airport
The journey from Valletta to the airport normally takes about 20 minutes. However, they’re currently in the process of finishing some major roadworks near the airport, and as a result, there have been a lot of traffic jams recently. Last week the Times of Malta reported that the airport bus got stuck in traffic, so that eventually passengers for the airport had to alight and walk the last kilometre to the terminal carting their suitcases behind them.
I leave the hotel at 07h10, and arrive at the airport at 07h45, 35 minutes later.
SWISS checks in on rows 12 to 14. There are two counters for Economy Class passengers, and one counter for Business Class and status holders. I check my suitcase in and then head one floor up to security.
There is a dedicated priority lane for Business Class passengers.
The Malta Airport La Valette Lounge
The lounge is busy, just like the rest of the terminal. Which is why I don’t take any photos. It has a buffet with a good selection of hot and cold breakfast dishes. There is also a well stocked bar. Unfortunately, there is also a French peaking man with his two badly behaved brats yelling everytime they speak. For crying out loud, it’s only just gone 08h00 in the morning! Personally, I think parents and their children should not be allowed to enter airport lounges.
Boarding is from gate 5. From what I can tell, I would say there are about 100 passengers on the flight today. As the aircraft is parked quite far away from the terminal, we are bussed to it.
I’m always amazed by the size of the E2’s engines.
There are six rows of Business Class on this aircraft, for a total of 12 passengers. Surprisingly, there is no cabin divider between the Economy and Business Class section. Which becomes a bit awkward during the flight, when the crew turn away passengers wanting to use the forward loo by explaining to them that they need to use the Economy Class one in the back of the bus. To be fair, without any curtain or cabin divider, how are you supposed to know when the Business Class cabin begins – or even that there is one?
The crew on this flight are a delight. They’re very attentive, and really just so friendly. Throughout the flight they’re permanently in the cabin making sure that passengers are comfortable. The service starts with a bottle of still water and a wet towel, which are handed out while we’re still on the ground.
We take off in a northwesterly direction, from the intersection of the taxiway and runway 31, roughly half way down.
As we climb out, we pass St. Paul’s bay and then Comino’s Blue Lagoon.
Together with the friendly cabin crew, I think the meal is really where SWISS blows Lufthansa out of the water. The meal service is extensive and tasty.
The hot meal is a poached egg in a spicy tomato sauce with Rösti and a bacon rasher.
A plate of cheese, of course.
A berry müsli.
And a plate of fruit.
With that the cabin crew offer a selections of buns and croissants from the bread basket.
And to drink I have a coffee and an orange juice.
The meal concludes with a small Swiss chocolate. The crew bring me a pillow and I nod off until we start our descent.
The flight time to Zürich is two hours. As we make our way across the Alps, the aircraft gently eases off the thrust and we start our descent. I’m surprised by how much snow there still is on the peaks, considering it’s already the end of May.
We park on a remote stand adjacent to runway 28.
There is a dedicated shuttle for Business Class passengers already waiting to take us to the terminal.
There’s a bit of a hold up for the suitcases, but nothing major. Eventually, I arrive in the office just after 13h.
This flight with Helvetic Airways really was a pleasure. The service was impeccable and the food was very good. With the start of the next winter schedule, SWISS aims to reduce the number of wetleases operating its services. While I can understand that they may not want to dilute the SWISS brand, I hope their plans will not affect Helvetic. Mainly, because their crews tend to be far more attentive and friendly than those of SWISS. I’m very positively surprised!