Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Flying Home The Swiss Way (Part 1: LHR-ZRH)

 Welcome to my first experience on the Airbus A320NEO! 


Swiss Airlines Airbus A320NEO just arrived from ZRH 


Introduction

It turned out that all my 4 flights with Swiss Airlines were operated by different aircraft, so that's a good thing in hindsight. Swiss Airlines operates many flights on the ZRH-LHR route, however only selected flights were available when I did the booking. I would have love to fly on Helvetic's ERJ-190 E2 which would have been a new aircraft type for me but it's ok I settle for the Airbus A320NEO. From this trip, I would get to fly on both A320 and A321 NEO series and in a few months time I will be flying on the 737 MAX. A good comparison between the 2 competitive aircraft report would be done and I try to stay as neutral as possible. (Yes, I am a big A320 fan!) 

The day before this flight I did my check-in, the seats were completely full so I wasn't able to change. The aircraft operated on this flight remained as scheduled. 




Checking the outbound flight from Zurich, the airline's 2nd A320NEO was scheduled to operate my flight. 



My last few days of vacation 

I had a good time with my family. We spent quality time together after 2 years of no travel because of the covid pandemic. At least travelling now is easier with the lifting of restriction in most parts of the world. 

This is the Stratford Station, a popular place for shopping and there is nearby football stadium which hosts the premier league team, West Ham United. 


Magnificent view from my sister's home 


The train tracks just outside Stratford station.


This is near Forest Green tube station. 


My comfortable Airbnb stay for the 3 nights. 


The Elizebeth line train 


Here are some more photos of the city 

This is the Clayton Crowne Hotel.





This is the Tower of London


On the day of departure 

After departing my sister's place, I made my way to the airport taking the Elizebeth line from Paddington station. 



Once I reached terminal 2, I made my way to the Star Alliance check-in counters and everything was done within 15 minutes. The check-in staff had to check my vaccination status, without that, I won't be able to go home. I won't mind to be honest! But, it was time to head back as my students and my partner were waiting for me.

This is terminal 2 of LHR airport.




Checking my flight, everything looks good.


However, when I did the check on Flightaradar24, my flight was due to arrive late, that would mean my flight would be delayed. As the connecting time to my next flight was only an hour, it was a bit worrying. Any further delay, I would have a high chance of missing the connecting flight. At this point of time, Swiss airline was only operating 4 flights to Singapore and the next flight availablity was scheduled 2 days later. Did I make it for the connecting flight? Stay tuned to find out.


Airside 

While I had some time to spare, I went around and found a good spot to do some plane spotting. 



This is Lufthansa's A320NEO 


This Swiss Airlines A220-300 was the earlier scheduled flight, originally scheduled to operate my flight before switching over with the A320NEO. 


This is Air Baltic Airbus A220-300.


SAS Airbus A320NEO


My ride arrived late due to the lack of parking lots, according to the Captain.


This is SAS Airbus A320CEO. 


Eurowings Airbus A320CEO


Great to see EVA Air's Boeing 777-300ER 


Tintin's special livery on Brussel Airlines' Airbus A320.


ITA Airways Airbus A319, the livery certainly looks striking. 


My ride: HB-JDB (Airbus A320-271N)


Photo: Terry Wade 

Aircraft Owned
Name: Riederalp
Configuration: Y180
Engines: 2 X PW1127G
Delivered on July 2020
MSN: 9379
Age: 2 years old (June 2022)
Built in Hamburg (XFW)

Flight route: LHR-ZRH 


Miles: 491 

Most passengers on this flights were connecting flights at Zurich and I spotted a few Singaporean travellers among the crowd. There were calls from the counter staff for volunteers as this flight was overbooked. The compensation was 250 Euros, whether it's cash or vouchers, I am not sure. If I had the time, I might have gone for it, but missing the connecting flight was not an option. 


We boarded the aircraft quite late and at this point of time, I was a bit concerned about the flight connection.



Taking a little peep at the racoon window! 


This would be my first A320NEO ride.


Date of departure: 14 June 2022
Airline: Swiss Airlines
Flight: LX327 
Route: LHR-ZRH 
Aircraft type: Airbus A320NEO 
Registration: HB-JDB 
Departure terminal (LHR): 2 
Gate: A18 
Scheduled departure: 1840
Boarding: 1833 
Push back: 1909 
Take off: 1920
Load: 100%
Announced flight time: 1 hour 20 mins 
Actual flight time: 1 hour 13 mins 
Scheduled arrival: 2130
Touch down: 2133 
Arrival terminal (ZRH): 2 
Arrival gate: E27
Departure runway: 27L
Arrival runway: 34

My flight experience 

Once on board, there was an issue with the seat assignment with a couple of passengers but thanks to the hardworking crew, that got settled quickly. This would be a busy flight for this young dynamic Swiss Airlines crew and they had been friendly and helpful through out the flight. Just like my previous flight (A220-300), there was no Wi-Fi installed on this aircraft and also no In-Flight Entertainment individual TVs but there are overhead tv screens which show programmes and the in-flight map. Was I disappointed with the entertainment options? Yes I am. You expect more especially from a premium airline, this feels like flying on a budget airline. 

Once we were on our way, the flight crew updated us with our flights and apologised for the delay due to heavy traffic at LHR airport and he was aware of the flight connection. He promised to try to make up for the loss time and he did just that when we touched down at ZRH just 3 minutes past the scheduled arrival time, so kudos to him and the first officer. The flight was smooth for most parts except for the approach which was slightly bumpy. We were treated to magnificent view from the start to the end of the flight, I enjoyed this ride very much. The lack of complimentary food/drink service was another negative aspect about the flight, even the U.S domestic flights offer a complimentary drink and snack service. Anything else the passenger wants, I think its fair for the passengers to pay for them. Well, at least we received a bottle of water at our seats and were given a Swiss chocolate near the end of the flight. 

Once we touched down, we taxiied to our gate and I spotted a Boeing 777-300ER from the distance and that was my aircraft to Singapore. 

Economy Class Seats 



The seats comes with a 31' inch legroom space in a 3-3 configuration. Business Class passengers would have the middle seat vacant and slightly better legroom space.


Swiss A320NEO comes with the Airspace cabin which means more space for larger carry-on baggages can be placed in without issues. However, there is no power outlet or Wi-Fi installed, making this a very basic cabin. 


This is the view from my seat.



The cabin reminds me of my flight experience with Alaska Airlines! 



Are you a fan of this cabin? 


More photos of the seat 

The safety card and magazines are placed at this literature holder. 


The seat comfort is more on the average side. More padding would be better. 


The legroom space was adequate for this short flight. 


What's inside the magazine holder? 

The in-flight menu options for purchase 


Safety card 


In-Flight drink/snack

For snacks/meals on my flight, I had to pay for the meals. Pointless for me since I was having my dinner on my connecting flight.


 Swiss's famous chocolate (expect to receive one near the end of the flight)


In-Flight Entertainment

Luckily for me, I downloaded some movies from netflix to keep myself entertain for a while. 


The overhead screen displaying the flight map. 


No WiFi for the passengers. 


Window shot photos 

The airline's A220 was heading to Geneva 


See you later, Singapore Airlines! 


It was time to say goodbye to London! 


There were quite a number of traffic but we managed to get past a few airlines and take off  before them. 



Can you see the number of planes waiting to take off? (below)


Soon it was our turn to take off. 


Bye bye LHR! 




Fantastic view as the beautiful day brings out the best view you can imagine.



Stunning view,  isn't it? 





After an hour of flying, we started our descent. 




Night time was approaching as we got to enjoy mother's fabulous nature at work.



I would love to visit this city in the near future. 



We touched down smoothly at Zurich Airport.



This is the beautiful golden light which made a lot of passengers look out of the window and some like myself snapped a lot of photos. 


Even my seat mates asked me to snap some photos for them! 


Taxiing past an Edelweiss Airbus A340-300. 


There it is, my ride to Singapore waiting for me. 

We landed about a few minutes late and at the airport I found out later, the flight to Singapore was pushed back to a later timing to give some more time for the connecting passengers on our flight to go through another round of passport check before clearing us to board the flight to Singapore. More on this in my next trip report. 


My flight summary 



Transiting in Zurich for my connecting flight.


The sunset at Zurich Airport was a fitting end to my wonderful trip! 




To be continued in my part 2 coming up soon! 

My rating: 

Airline's website/Mobile app: 2/5
Airport staff at LHR: 3.5/5 
In-Flight service: 4/5 
In-Flight experience: 4/5
Entertainment system: 0/5
In-Flight meal/drink service: 2.5/5 (At least a bottle of water was given)
Cabin interior: 3/5
Punctuality: 2.5/5 
Aircraft comfort: 5/5 
Aircraft condition (interior): 4/5 
Overall rating: 30.5/50
Percentage: 61% 
Verdict: Average 

Conclusion 

Flying with Swiss Airlines's medium haul aircraft within Europe has been underwhelming, thanks to the recent pandemic which force airlines to make significant changes to the in-flight service and products, making it less enjoyable and frustrating for some especially flying on the premium classes. For my experience with Swiss's narrow-body so far, the lack of IFE system, Wi-Fi, in-flight meal/snack (For Y class) makes me feel like I am travelling back to the past and for the airfare I paid, I don't find it any different flying with a Low Cost Carrier. From a budget traveller's point of view, apart from earning miles (depending on class fare type), I rather pay lesser for a flight experience similar to this. Even Jetblue has entertainment system and free WiFi that keeps you well entertained. Perhaps the the airline can consider is installing Wi-fi on the narrow-body aircraft and allow steaming on our mobile devices (the very least) on these short routes and hope they bring back complimentary snack for Y class passengers and keep the snacks/drinks available for purchase if some passengers are still hungry. 

Stay tuned for my summary review of this airline in my next trip report. 

Hope you enjoy it! 

For my Swiss Airlines A340-300 (SIN-ZRH) trip report, click here
For my Swiss Airlines A220-300 (ZRH-LHR) trip report, click here
For my Swiss Airlines B777-300ER (ZRH-SIN) trip report, click here

Thanks for reading! 
Charles 

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