Luxair, Business Class – Bombardier Dash-8/400: Luxembourg to Genève

Introduction

I’ve just finished the week working in Luxembourg. It’s Maundy Thursday before the long weekend. Originally, I would have just returned to Zürich in the late afternoon. But then within two weeks of booking my flight, SWISS had already cancelled it again, which seems to be a recurring theme with them these days. In May I should have travelled to Brussels on SWISS, but that booking didn’t survive for very long either. So instead, I’ve decided to return from Luxembourg to Geneva and then to spend the long Easter weekend in the Bernese Oberland, which should be nice and relaxing.

Getting to the airport

I leave Eurocontrol just before 14h00 on Maundy Thursday to catch a number 6 or 16 bus to the airport. There’s a bus every ten minutes, and the journey only takes about 15 minutes.

Check-in & security

Luxair has its dedicated Business Class check-in area off to the far right of a long row of check-in counters.

This afternoon there is only one counter open, but it’s not looking very busy. From check-in, Business Class passengers have a direct access to the fast track for security. Which doesn’t get me very far today, mind you. There’s a young couple at the head of the queue and I’m wondering if perhaps this is the first time they’re travelling by air. They have multiple pieces of hand luggage with them and the poor security agent looks close to tears. She more or less has to ask them item by item to remove things from their bags, take off their jackets, etc.

Airside

By the time I’ve checked in, bought an Easter bunny and gone through security there’s only about ten minutes left before boarding starts at 14h55. So I figure I might as well go directly to the gate on the B concourse. The airport is really very quiet today, which is surprising given that it’s the long Easter weekend. I would have assumed people would be going off to make the best of the short break.

Boarding

My flight is departing from gate B07. Just as boarding is called, my bladder decides I need to visit the rest room. When I come back just a few minutes later, the gate is deserted and the gate agent is giving me her patented “you do know we’re only waiting for you” look. So I inquire about the load of the flight today, to which she answers that there’s a grand total of 13 passengers on the flight.

The cabin

I always like the Q400, although my colleague the Flying Dutchman tends to disagree. Of course it also helps that there are five rows of Business Class and there are only two of us sat in the forward cabin today. On the port side of the aircraft, the first row is row 1 and has very good legroom. On the starboard side, the first row is row 2 by the emergency exit. Legroom on row 2 is good too, although the location of the emergency exit means that my fellow aviation geeks do need to lean forward to look out the window. In Business Class the aisle seat on each row of two is kept empty.

The crew

There are three crew on this flight, and from what I gather one of them has her first training flight today. And it shows. She seems very nervous and when she brings me the tray, she’s holding it the wrong way, so that the food is on the far side of the tray from me. Other than that though, the crew are all very friendly.

The meal service

Before departure, one of the crew hands me a disinfectant towel and the menu for the flight, which is surprising given that the flight time is only 55 minutes.

The meal is nicely presented and I’m positively surprise by the presentation and quality of the dishes. It’s quite an unusual meal. Personally, I’m not a fan of duck, but I think Luxair certainly deserve Brownie points for effort and presentation.

To drink I have a Coke Zero. The cabin crew ask me if I’d like that with lemon and ice, which is also a nice touch you don’t get that often any more on short-haul.

Arrival

As we head south, the weather starts to improve. By the time we reach Geneva, there are only few scattered clouds and the pilot reports a ground temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. The approach into Geneva brings us in over a mountainous are to the south of the city. In this distance you can see the famous jet d’eau in action.

Eventually we pull up to our stand on one of the funky satellite gates at Geneva airport, which look as though they haven’t been upated since they were built sometime in the 1970s.

The terminal at Geneva airport is a strange set up. The main issue is that there’s hardly enough space for the terminal building, because there are public buildings and roads encroaching on the airport on all sides. As a result, there are many long, narrow corridors with little natural light that give the place a gloomy apprearance.

Eventually, my suitcase arrives and I make my way towards the railway station at the far end of the terminal.

Conclusion

I rather liked my flight with Luxair. Even though it wasn’t very long, I found there was something charmingly old fashioned in Luxair’s service delivery. I also thought the meal was a pleasant surprise and different to what you normally get on short-haul European Business Class.

Luxair, Business Class – Bombardier Q400: Luxembourg to Paris CDG

Introduction

The Ibis at Luxembourg airport is currently in the process of being refurbished. And I think that’s probably a good thing. The room I’m in is nice enough, but the public areas are starting to look grubby. The carpets should probably be declared a bio hazard, and the smell of boiled cabbage is ‘interesting’…

The hotel’s redeeming feature though, is that it’s very close to the airport terminal, within walking distance.

Getting to the Airport

On foot, the airport is only about ten minutes away from the hotel. However, there’s also a shuttle that runs every thirty minutes and is available for guests. The service is complimentary, but advance reservations are mandatory. The drive takes about four minutes.

Check-in

I’m booked on the Air France flight from Luxembourg to Paris-Roissy, which is in fact a code-share operated by Luxair. There are two counters open for Business Class passengers and there is no queue when I arrive, given that it is, after all, the weekend.

The Lounge

From check-in I head straight for the security check. There is a checkpoint at either side of the terminal facility, and trying to figure out which one is currently in use is not always that clear when you’re standing in front of the check-in counters. Which means that it’s not uncommon at Luxembourg airport to see disoriented passengers moving back and forth between the two, with the look lemmings get when they’re trying to figure out if they’re really in the mood to go jumping off a cliff with their pals…

But anyway, the lounge is very quiet. All the bankers that normally populate the lounge have gone home to count their millions. I grab myself a coffee and a bottle of water, in the hope they will turn me into a functioning human being again.

Boarding

The flight is departing from gate B08, which is in the new part of the facility and specially designed to handle small regional aircraft. As in, regional aircraft that do not use a contact stand and thus require passengers to walk across the apron and, as a pleasant side-effect, give me cause to geek out on my obsession with airplanes.

I’m seated on 1A, so I figure I might as well wait until the very end to board, so as not to be in the way. The Dash 8 is a small aircraft. Besides, I have a back injury, so my movements are a bit slow right now. And every moment I do not have to stand in a queue is bliss right now!

The Cabin

There is literally half a row of a Business Class cabin on this aircraft. Because on row 1 there are only the A and C seats on the port side. And as it happens, I’m the only Business Class passenger on today’s flight. The seat is comfortable and nicely padded. It’s very pleasant on the bum and also on my damaged back.

Leg space is also good on the bulkhead row and the seat next to me is kept empty.

The Crew

There are two cabin crew on the flight today, one male and one female. Both of them are perhaps not the world’s most extrovert individuals, but their service is attentive, friendly and polite.

There is a trolley set up by the entry door of the aircraft, where passengers can pick up a magazine or newspaper before taking their seat. The selection is rather good. I go for Time magazine, mainly because their cover catches my interest.

Other than that though, there is no service at all on the ground. The flight time is indicated as 45 minutes.

The Meal

As soon as the crew are released after take-off, the male cabin attendant asks me what I’d like to drink with breakfast. He subsequently brings me a glass of orange juice, served in a real glass, and a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. The coffee is good, but I wonder if they really couldn’t have splurged on a proper cup instead of the cardboard one.

They put down a paper table cloth for the meal. Agreed, it won’t make the meal larger or better, but it’s still a nice touch.

The meal arrived in a cardboard box. It contains:

  1. a salami sandwich
  2. an yoghurt
  3. an apple pasty
  4. and a packaged refreshing towel

Transfer in Paris Roissy

Eventually, we land in Paris more or less on time. Luxair uses terminal 2G, which is exclusively for small regional aircraft. It’s also very far out in the sticks. The only way to access any of the other terminals from here is by bus. Depending on which terminal your onward connection is departing from, there is an airside or a landside transfer.

I shall be departing from the M concourse, which is basically the non-Schengen satellite of Terminal 2E. Transfer to 2E is airside, which means that I will not have to undergo security screening again here in Paris. On the downside, emigration is done in 2G and the queues are very long.