GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Departs from: Winterthur.
Arrives at: Zürich Flughafen.
Frequency: There are four nonstop trains at 25, 28, 55 and 58 past the hour.
Journey time: 13 minutes.
So far autumn has been very mild and pleasant. So trust my luck that on the very day I am travelling to Barcelona, the weather starts changing. I leave my office just after 17h00 and the weather outside is positively unpleasant. It is raining and wind is so strong, the raindrops seem to be moving horizontally. Even the trains are running late, and that is saying something in a country like Switzerland.
Location: Check-in 2.
Facilities: Web check-in and airport check-in.
Counters: Swissport multi-purpose counters.
24 hours before departure, I receive an e-mail reminder from Vueling to let me know that my flight is open for check-in. Once I have checked in online, I receive no less than four e-mails from Vueling, each containing a pdf attachment with a boarding pass. It is not possible to save the boarding pass to Passbook.
Location: In the airside centre, one floor up from the duty free store on the upper level.
Type of Lounge: DNATA contractor lounge.
Facilities: Really none. There are no workstations, and from what I can tell there are not even any power sockets either, There are no toilets or showers in the lounge.
Internet: Complimentary wifi is available throughout the airport facility. But you will need a Swiss mobile phone number to register for the service. The connection is limited to one hour.
Goodness, this is such an ugly, soulless lounge. It feels like a refurbished broom cupboard. There is a small bar with an average selection of alcoholic and soft drinks and two tables with food. There is a choice of two different soups, sandwiches, cheese, cold cuts and nibbles.
Priority Boarding: No.
At 18h40 the flight shows up as ‘go to gate’, so I leave the lounge and head for A66, from where the flight will be leaving. I reach the gate and look out the window to get a look at the aircraft I shall be travelling with this evening. They are still disembarking the passengers. Even so, boarding has already started and passengers for the flight to Barcelona are invited to get in line. However, the door to the airbridge remains closed and so there is just a short wait while the last passengers from the inbound disembark, before we are finally let on to the plane. The whole process seems just slightly uncoordinated.
Configuration: 2 + 2
Seat: 1C, aisle on the port side of the vessel, front row. Vueling has the usual Recaro slimline seat that many European carriers have these days. The stowage area for magazines, the sick bag and safety on board instructions is located in the top third of the seatback, to give passengers a bit more legroom, or to allow the airline to configure the aircraft in a denser seating configuration – which ever way you want to look at it.
On row 1 though, there is ample leg space available. Furthermore, the middle seat remains empty to give you more elbow space. There is a headrest on the front row seats, but to be honest, it is very uncomfortable because it reaches too far down the seat. In order to rest your head on it, you need slouch down pretty far. Sitting up straight is very uncomfortable because you have the headrest pressing into your shoulder blades.
To obtain a seat on the front row, you must purchase a ticket at the ‘Excellence’ fare, which also gives you access to the lounge at some airports. There are four Excellence fare seats on this flight, so just the first row. Apart from myself, there is only one more passenger on the first row this evening.
The overhead bins at the front of the cabin are reserved for ‘Excellence’ fare passengers, so at least it is not a problem to find room to stow my luggage.
Pitch: No information.
Width: No information.
Facilities: Reading lamp overhead.
Audio and Video: Not available.
The maître de on this flight is a young lady by the name Malgorzata. It turns out she is from Poland, but she speaks Spanish fluently and, from what I can tell, without any accent. In short, I suspect she may just be the best flight attendant I have ever encountered. She is truly excellent. In her interaction she courteous, friendly and displays a level of professionalism that is increasingly hard to come by these days. Throughout the flight she keeps passengers informed about our progress, informs us that we should expect a bumpy ride during the climb, while at the same time assuring passengers that there is nothing to worry about despite the turbulence.
Once boarding is completed, she offers me a cup of water, welcomes me aboard and wishes me a pleasant journey.
Welcome drink on the ground: Still water.
Choice: ‘Excellence’ fare passengers are free to select whatever they like from the on board menu, which is quite extensive.
Type of meal: I decide to go with a Pepsi Zero and a packet of Marina crisps.
The initial phase of the flight is indeed rather bumpy. The aircraft is being tossed around by gusts of wind, quite as though it were as light as a feather. Subsequently, it takes about forty minutes before the service is able to begin.
Eventually, we begin our descent into Barcelona. The weather here is much better. The temperature is 16 degrees Celsius. It is also windy, but not near as bad as in Zürich.
Our aircraft parks on a remote stand. There is a bit of a hold up because we are early. And so we have to wait a few minutes before the gangway arrives and eventually the busses too. For a moment I think I may have lucked out and will be able to take some pictures of the aircraft. But alas, it is too dark and the light is no good.
I am only spending one night in Barcelona. So I have decided to spend it at the airport. There is a business centre attached to Terminal 1 which also has rooms available. Bookings for the rooms can be made in advance and you can either book a room for the night or just for a few hours between 10:00 in the morning and 18:00 in the evening.
As you exit through customs, turn right and follow the signs marked Corredor Shuttle Barcelona-Madrid. Eventually signs will appear with directions to the business centre and AirRooms.
The room is fairly small, but it is very clean. There are tea and coffee making facilities and all the drinks in the mini bar are complimentary. There is also a very well equipped gym at the business centre. However, there is no restaurant as such. Even so, it is possible to get a light breakfast at the business centre. Alternatively, there is a restaurant just outside the facility.