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Monday 30 May 2022

Kicking Off My First Flight After 2 Years

 Welcome to my long awaited trip report with Lufthansa! 

Photo: Rainer Bexten 


As you know the past few years has been challenging for everyone, I was grounded after my Ethiopian Airlines trip to London at the end of 2019. At that time when the Covid was spreading across many continents, the decision to not to fly because at that time, vaccination was not yet available and the high cost of medical fees and the risk wasn't worth it. By the end of 2021, the situation was still unstable with many cases, more than 2020 but the differences are most of us are fully vaccinated and also the Omnicorn virus wasn't as deadly as the previous variants so when most countries reopened the borders, I knew I had to do my flying trip soon. I decided to go at the end of May as it was the end of the 2nd term for my students and I could take a couple of weeks off to do what I want, with my partner's blessing. At the time when I did the booking, airfare was quite cheap so I went ahead to do the booking, ended up with 16 flights within 2 weeks. I was determined to make this one of my best trips.

The first flights I booked was with Swiss Airlines originally it was supposed to be Singapore to London via Zurich and return on the same route but in January 2022, I received a notification from the airline that the date I was originally booked on, was changed to a day later which was not ideale and furthermore the aircraft on both flights were changed, as I didn't want to fly the Airbus A340-300, I looked at other dates and noticed Lufthansa was flying the Airbus A350-900 on the MUC-SIN sector while the A340-300 (Originally scheduled to be B747-8I) was doing the FRA-SIN sector, so I went for the A350-900, flying on thursday instead. 

Booking with Swiss Airlines app and website 

This was my original booking 

I had to use the airline's website to book my flights because the mobile app is terrible. Initially I had issues with the app, I could save my flight information on the app without logging in, but when  I click on the manage my flight option, I was stuck. Fortunately, a few weeks later after booking my flights, I was able to access the manage my booking option on the mobile app, not the most user-friendly app but still I am able to access the important features such as adding in my personal info for the Advance passenger information, reserving the seats and also changing my flights (I used the Lufthansa app instead). 

I had to use Lufthansa's app to select the seat for the outbound flights. 

I had to pay around S$35 to make the change. For these flights, I chose the cheapest fare, the Economy Basic option.

I took a look at the bid options and I had to cough out at least $1.2K, I rather use the $$ for others, so yeah, I am all good. 

While on my Ipad, the Swiss Airlines app looks like this

Not all the airlines I booked or access to, had the full screen version for the Ipad and Swiss is one of them.

Swiss app rating: 2.5/5 

Lufthansa mobile app  

This app is more responsive and doesn't give me much issues. I was able to view my booking and check out the seat maps without issues and the response is faster too. Unlike Swiss, this airline's app has the full screen version on the Ipad. 

The seat map of the A350-900

I don't like the idea of having to scroll around just to view the seats at the front and the rear of the aircraft. I have not booked my seat on this flight at this point of time as I decided to choose the seats during the online check-in. 

I prefer Lufthansa's app as its easier to use and it isn't as buggy. Furthermore, it gives a good summary of your flight as shown below. 

It also gives you some important information for you to take note.

Unlike Swiss Airlines app, I was able to select seats on all flights. 

If I have to manage my booking, I would use the Lufthansa app as it is a clear winner between both airlines. 

Lufthansa app rating: 3.5/5

A brief info of Lufthansa Airlines 

This German based airline was set up in 1953 based in Frankfurt and Munich. It is one of the founding members of the Star Alliance set up in 1997. This airline is operated by the Lufthansa group which also operated other subsidiaries such as Swiss Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussel Airlines, Eurowings, Lufthansa Cargo, Air Dolomiti, Edelweiss and Lufthansa Regional. The airline operates a good mix of Airbus and Boeing aircraft and it is well known for its Boeing 747 operation. Currently the airline is the only one that operates both the Boeing 747-400 and 747-8I and this is due to the shortage of aircraft after the airline retired the A340-600 and Airbus A380.  A few Boeing 747-400 aircraft were re-activated to make up for the lack of aircraft together with the Airbus A340-600 which made a come back in the middle of March 2022. One thing for sure is the A380 will not make a return and Air France too has ended the airline's life, primary reason is this huge aircraft is not economical to operate especially in today's enviroment. 

I was lucky enough to fly on the airline's A340-300 (No trip report yet) and the Boeing 747-400 on the 5th freedom flights (Singapore to Jakarta and return) in 2011. You can check out the trip report over here.

Wait a minute! 

Just as you thought I would be flying with Lufthansa right? Well, guess what? In March, I received another email about my flight and this time the SIN-MUC flight sector was cancelled and I was re-routed to London via Frankfurt, this time on the A340-300 and A320NEO combination. After thinking about it, I decided to just switch back to Swiss Airlines as I found a chance to fly the A220-300 aircraft on the ZRH-LHR sector. I had to do so because apparently the return flight on my ZRH-LHR route has the aircraft changed to A320NEO. At this point of time, I just have to hope for the best as flight changes can continue to take place even until the day of departure. 

So from this point, let's get back to Swiss Airlines trip report.

About Swiss Airlines

Swiss International Air Lines AG is commonly known as Swiss Air Lines, is the flag carrier of Switzerland, replacing Swissair which went bankrupt in 2002. This airline was built around Swissair's regional,  Crossair and the IATA code of Crossair was retained for this airline. 3 years later, Lufthansa Group took a minority share of this airline and gradually integrated with Lufthansa and became a whole subsidiary of Lufthansa group in 2007.

Currently (March 2022) the airline operates a fleet of 30 Airbus A220 family (-100 and -300), 13 Airbus A320 CEO, 6 Airbus A320 NEO, 8 Airbus A321 CEO, 2 Airbus A321 NEO, 14 Airbus A330-300, 5 Airbus A340-300 and 12 Boeing 777-300ER. There are plans for the airline to take delivery of some Airbus A350-900 to replace the A340-300 and possibly some A330-300 too. 

Swiss Airlines also has Helvetic Airways to operate on behalf of the airline, operating a fleet of 10 ERJ-190 E2. 

Booking and changing flights with Swiss Airlines 

Unfortunately, as I booked an Economy Basic ticket, I have to pay for my seats. I decided to pay for the European flights to ensure myself getting the best view flying in and out of Zurich and London Heathrow. 

 Boeing 777-300ER cabin

Airbus A220-300 cabin

Airbus A340 cabin

Airbus A320NEO cabin

In May 2022, all restrictions to Switzerland and United Kingdom in regards to Covid 19 have been removed and that is a lot to cheer about. That means whatever pre-covid test is not needed anymore except for flights to U.S which I will cover that on my next trip report. So with that, all I need to do is book my pre Covid test a couple of days before my departure to the U.S from London and get my vaccination status ready if I want to do my first trans-atlantic flight. 

Online check-in 

I tried using the app to do the check-in but it kept failing on me but fortunately, I was able to do so using my Ipad. IT is clearly not one of Swiss Airline's strength, that's for sure. 

This online comfirmation is not you flight's ticket, you need to go to the airport to get the physical one and also to confirm with the staff that you are fully vaccinated. 

I tried adding my EVA Air mileage account into the frequent flyer boxes below, but it keeps rejecting. A headache to be honest. I have tried tweeting to Swissair handler on twitter but no response from them, so I would most likely pay a trip to their office after the trip. 

It turned out be a full flight later on. 

On the day of departure 

Waking up excitedly in the morning, I had an almost full day to spend as my flight was at 2330 hours. No work for me on this day as I decided to spend the day cleaning up my apartment before I leave for the airport. Fast forward to the evening, I left early at the airport to meet someone who was very nice to spend the few hours with me before I depart.

I went to Jewel for dinner 

Thai food at Saap Thai restaurant 

The famous water fountain at Jewel 

I also watched the progress of my flight coming in from ZRH 


While waiting for my flight, I did some observation of the movement of traffic at Changi Airport. 

My first flight in 2 years, how excited I was!  

As the early check-in facility was not available at this time, so we had to do check-in the earliest, 3 hours before the flight. When I reached there, it was about 45 minutes before the offical timing but there were passengers already queueing up, so I decided to join the queue. Unexpectedly, 2 counters opened and they served the Economy Class passengers, leaving the business and first class passengers bemused. 

After a short while, a couple from First Class went over to one of the counters to make noise and they kind of force themselves to queue up behind one of the counters, making other passengers unhappy with their behaviour. While the staff at the counters were not handling the situation well, the supervisor should have done something to ensure the situation doesn't escalate. (Luckily it didn't). Apart from 3 unhappy passengers, the rest of us didn't want to create a commotion. Fortunately for me, I just sticked to the lane I am in and soon I got my bags checked in and I was on my way. I waited at the queue for 30 minutes as the check-in procedure took longer than usual as they also need to check your vaccination and other proof of travel if needed for travelling in this Covid period. I was on the 6th in the line and later on after walking around the aviation gallery for a while, I returned to see a long queue. Thanks goodness I got the check-in done early. 

Look at how long the queue is! 

I received my boarding passes for both flights. Do note that the check-in counters were catering for both Swiss and Lufthansa flights. (Lufthansa flight was operating to Frankfurt). When my Munich flight got cancelled, I was re-booked onto this Frankfurt flight, but I manage to switch it back to Swiss Airlines without being charged. 

This is Changi Airport Terminal 3 

I entered the airside around 9 pm. With 2 hours to spare, I decided to take a walk. Here are some photos. 

Gate A21 is where I would be departing from. This gate is the furthest from the Terminal 3 but there is a skytrain connecting from the departure hall to this side of the terminal. 

Traffic is certainly lesser than during pre-Covid times but its getting better now as many more have decided to travel despite the Covid situation. Luckily for me, I booked my tickets early as the airfare at this time was ridiculously expensive. 

Time to board! 

My ride: HB-JMH

Photo by Felix Sourek

Photo by Aldo Bidini 

About this aircraft 

Swiss's Airbus A340-300 (Owned)
Delivered in April 2004
Configuration: F8 C47 Y168
Engines: 4 X CFM56 
MSN: 585
Built-in Toulouse 

My flight route: SIN-ZRH

Miles: 5,403

Date of departure: 25 May 2022
Route: SIN-ZRH
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
Registration: HS-JMH
Departure Terminal: 3 
Arrival Terminal: 2
Class: Economy 
Seat: 37K 
Departure gate: A21
Arrival gate: Unknown 
Load in all classes: 100%
Boarding: 2256
Push back: 2339
Take off: 0008
Take-off roll: 57 seconds 
Duration: 12 hours 40 mins
Arrival airport terminal: 2 
Scheduled arrival: 0610
Actual arrival: 0636
Departure runway: 20C
Arrival runway: 34 

As the Airbus A340 had a 5-hour rest, I didn't expect any delay, especially with boarding taking place on schedule. The flight was filled to the beam and there were passengers from connecting flights, thanks to the codeshare among the Star Alliance members. However, we pushed back late due to the delay in cargo loading. Once that was settled, we fired up our engines after pushing back for quite some time and we taxied a long way to the other side of the airport for runway 20C departure.

Onboard the A340-300 

Economy Class 

The A330/A340 aircraft family is configured in a 2-4-2 configuration and is supposed to be comfortable, however, I found the seat to be cramp and uncomfortable for this 12 hour flight and to make it worse, the passenger sitting in front of me had her seat reclined through out the flight except for the meal service which I had to repeat a number of times before she finally pushed her seat back to the original position. 

Among all the A340 operators I flown so far, this has to be worst in terms of comfort. I am glad I won't be flying on this aircraft on the return leg. At that time, it was scheduled to be operated by the Boeing 777-300ER. 

The bulkhead row offers better legroom space, usually opens up just before the departure time and is usually prioritise for families with kids. 

A little peep in the premium classes while making my way to the seat. 

This is my seat, 37K. One of the 164 seats in Economy Class. This economy seat has a seat pitch of 32' inch and 17'3 inch in width.

What I like about Swiss' A340-300 is the mood lighting which makes flying more relaxing to me.

The inconsiderate parents sitting in front of me. 

The 4-seater is situable for families of 4. No middle seat for anyone, that's the good thing about this seating configuration. 

The last 2 rows of the aircraft, which can be noisy due to the placement of the toilet behind them.

Most passengers were asleep while the aircraft was flying midway through the journey.

Look at how close the seat is to the person sitting behind the reclined position, that is how tight it is.

In-Flight Experience 

After take off, once the seat belt signs were switched off, the cabin crew were off to a busy start with preparation of the late dinner to begin early so that the passengers can rest shortly after that. This set of crew were nice in general with one of them serving my aisle being chatty with some of the fellow passengers. She was ok, but only part I had question was, her rushing to remove my tray even through I had not finished my food. My seat mate was still midway through his meal but still went ahead to collect mine! The crew should have collected my tray later. Fortunately for the 2nd meal, the service wasn't too rush and what i like about this flight, is they came around with extra rounds of drinks for us, to keep us hydrated and satisfied. This flight so far doesn't feel any difference comparing the times before Covid period. 

Majority of the passengers and crew didn't wear mask and I am one of the minority who chooses to wear them. I want to play safe especially with my U.S flight coming up soon and also a PCR test to take before getting the green light to fly over. There were turbulence from time to time, with the seat belt sign coming on twice during cruising and of course on approach to ZRH airport. The most turbulent part of the flight took place just about reaching India continent, cruising through Bay of Bengal. Approach to Zurich was a bit turbulent due to the strong wind but we landed safely and taxied very quickly to our assigned gate. As the flight landed later than the scheduled timing, some passengers had been rebooked.

More photos of the Y class seat 

The drink holder was difficult to open, though it is useful to hold the drinks especially when one is resting. 

The In-Flight entertainment system is touchscreen, no issue using with it except that it got itself hanged just an hour prior to arrival. 

Seat legroom space is 32' inch but I find it crampy. ( I am 6 foot 4)

The standard foldable tray 

What's inside the seat pocket and provided by the airline? 


Earplug (Quality was normal, at least I was able to listen clearly) 

The safety card of the aircraft 

Small pillow was provided 

Disposal Bag 

In-Flight Entertainment System 

The amount of programmes in this system is limited and I was unimpressed with the selection of choices. The world map was working properly, and no issues with it. Just before an hour prior to landing, the system hanged when the crew made an announcement on the connecting flights and since we only had less than an hour to go, I didn't bother to ask the crew to reset it. Still it was a bummer as I love to watch the map, while the plane is landing. This aircraft also offers WiFi on board but I wasn't able to use as it wasn't working. 

This was the part when it hanged. (Below)

The details of our flight 

Limited choices 

The toilet and the rear galley of the aircraft 

My seat mate complained to me how small the toilet was, while I do agree with him, but it was still manageable. 

A snack bar was located at the rear, facing the lavatory. 

The staff was preparing for another round of drink service. 

Business Class 

This aircraft consists of 47 business class seats with a seat pitch of 60' inch and 20.5' inch wide. The configuration of this class has rows of different configuration, some with one-seater while there are some with 2-seater. So for more information of this configuration, you can check it out over here. (Below) Photo: Seatmaestro

The 5 Airbus A340-300 in the airline's fleet are still operating for the airline due to the delay of the arrival of the new aircraft which the Lufthansa group has ordered. I strongly believe that the Boeing 787-9 would have been a perfect replacement for the A340-300 as this aircraft even though its not so economical to operate these days due to its slower maximum speed compare to its competitors and the extra 2 engines which cost more to maintain. However it doesn't matter for the Lufthansa group for now as these aircraft have been fully paid for and while they are not the most fuel efficient aircraft out there, they serve their airlines well. 

The business class looks luxurious but not the most modern compare with the major operators. 

At least you get to choose a proper window seat which is limited, on first come first serve basis. 

If I get to choose the seats in Business class, this would be my seat (below), window seat with a bit of privacy. 

First Class 

I was fortunate to be able to disembark the plane through the first door which means I got to explore this cabin briefly. 

This first class is configured in 2 rows of 1-2-1 seating configuration, located at the front of the aircraft. Each of the seats has a legroom space of 83' inches and a seat width of 22. 

Will I ever fly in this top class? I can't see myself doing so unless I save up tons of miles. Paying cash for it, is simply not worth the deal unless the airline offers a ridiculow low fare for it. For the premium classes trip reports, you can easily find them on goggle. There are many talented trip reporters out there! 

In-flight meals 

For dinner, I had a choice between the pasta or chicken. Below is the chicken selection

The chicken didn't look appetising but it tasted normal. For dessert, it was apple pie. Overall it was just a typical standard airline meal. 

I chose coke as my drink which was served before the meal. 

As for breakfast, there was no choice given. It was the standard omelette with vegetable in sweet sauce. My seat mate didn't like it and asked for the cabin crew to give him an extra bun instead. 

Just before landing, we were each given a piece of milk chocolate, the airline's tradition. 

Window shot photos 

We took about 20 minutes to reach runway 20C 

Off we go! My first take-off in 2 years and I enjoyed the slow but smooth climb. 

The sun started rising while we were flying across the middle east. 

At this point of time, we started our descend as we were approaching our destination. 

Not the best weather out there as there were gust of wind blowing our aircraft while descending. 

It was my first time in Zurich and I was happy I picked the right side of the aircraft 

We touched down smoothly about 25 minutes late. 

Taxiing to our gate took only 5 minutes and that's the end of the first leg of my journey. 


I was quite happy to alight from the plane.

Time to explore both terminals of Zurich Airport! 

My flight status (actual stats according to Flightradar24)

My rating: 

Airlines's website/Mobile app: 2/5
Airport Staff: 3/5 (Check-in Experience)
In-Flight Service: 3/5
In-Flight Experience: 2.5/5
Cabin interior: 3.5/5
In-Flight WiFi - 0/5 (Not working)
Cleanliness: 5/5
In-Flight meals: 3/5
In-Flight Entertainment system: 2.5/5
Punctuality: 2/5
Overall rating: 26.5 /50
Percentage: 53%
Verdict: Average 


I am glad I stick to Swiss Airlines in the end as I manage to get my first A220-300 (Next trip report) and also to fly on a different A340 operator. For Lufthansa, I had flown the airline's A340-300 (D-AIGU) from CGK to SIN with a group of friends many years ago, so flying with them was not to my appeal and furthermore, the country still requires a negative test report even for transit, so its not a difficult decision. From my booking till today (About 6 months), I had to make several changes thanks to the airline as they had canceled and amended my flights a few times due to its schedule changes. 

By the end of the flight, my knee was hurting a bit due to the crampy seat width, it felt shorter than 32' inches to be honest. However, I was just glad to be back flying and with a full flight like this, it felt like pre-epidemic time with 2 full meals served. The airline has mentioned that the A340-300 would be gone by 2025 but that depends on the arrival of the new aircraft. As for the in-flight entertainment system, it was disappointing with the lack of variety of movie selection while the service on this flight, was typical European airline service, nothing to shout about. Overall, I give this an average rating.

At the time of working on this blog, I have another 3 flights with this airline to go, I hope the flight experience can only get better. I will do an overall of my flying experience with Swiss in my return flight from Zurich to Singapore and for now it is scheduled to be operated by Boeing 777-300ER, hopefully that remains as it is.

Thanks for reading this trip report! Many more to come including some hotel reviews and a blog post on the new Elizebeth tube line in London. 

For my Swiss Airlines A220-300 trip report, click here.


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