SWISS has announced that over the next 2 years, it will roll out upgrades and enhancements to the long haul fleet, focusing on their A330 and A340 aircraft.
Beginning in December, SWISS will begin to retrofit their 14 Airbus A330 aircraft with Wifi connectivity. Obviously this will not happen overnight, but SWISS anticipates that all of their A330s will have the retrofit complete by the end of 2017. Math suggests that approximately one aircraft per month will be taken out of circulation for a few days to complete the work. WiFi is currently available only on SWISS 777 aircraft.
SWISS has also stated that their A340s will receive the same First Class cabin as the Airbus A330. The big advantage of the newer F product is the increased size of the television screen and an enhanced IFE system. The fact that the seats will be brand new will also go a long way to refresh the cabins and give them a brand new look and feel. WiFi is also planned during this upgrade. SWISS expects that it will take through 2018 to complete this retrofit on their 10 A340 aircraft.
Related: First Class Aboard SWISS A330
Lighting has struck twice in my travel ‘career’.
Back in 2012, when Lufthansa received their first 747-8i (D-ABYA), I was in Frankfurt to participate in the delivery events and had the good fortune to fly her back to Washington DC a few days later and was the only passenger in First Class. Now I can add a SWISS flight to the list where I was the only passenger to sit in First Class.
The particular flight was aboard SWISS LX6 from Zurich To Chicago. My wife and I were homebound to GRR after spending 10 days in Africa on a Safari trip. You may ask why would I sit in First and not my wife but the answer is simple: She had sat in Lufthansa First for the flights to Frankfurt and then on to Johannesburg and she insisted that I take the final leg home in First.
Our tickets for the trip were a combination of paid fares, some miles, and a couple of Miles & More eVouchers. Once all of that was mixed together, my wife enjoyed the trip from Chicago to Johannesburg in Lufthansa First while I ‘sucked it up’ in Business Class for the flights. On the return, we both flew SWISS business from Jo’burg and then my wife made the sacrifice to sit in Business while I took in the LX First Class experience from Zurich to Chicago.
I became cautiously optimistic about being the only passenger in First when I checked in for our flights a day earlier and saw that the cabin was empty. I assumed there would be at least some last minute upgrades by passengers but that never came to pass. When we boarded, my suspicions were confirmed when I was greeted by the Flight Manager who told me I was the only passenger in the cabin for the flight and thanked me for being a Miles & More ‘Senator’.
Knowing that I had a SWISS A330 (HB-JHE / delivered Jan 29, 2010) to serve practically as my private jet for the 9.5 hour flight, I imagined things would go well. I underestimated!
The 2 flight attendants working in the F cabin were wonderful and saw that I thoroughly enjoyed the ride home. After the initial formalities where they referred to me as Mr. and sir, I asked that the drop the fancy-speak and just treat me as if I were a friend or family member aboard the flight. I know they have to follow a certain standard of service, but I don’t deserve or enjoy being treated with the ‘formal’ approach. I’ll leave that to the maximizers who enjoy squeezing out everything they feel they are entitled to, including being talked to like royalty 😉 …but wait, Maximizers can’t find their way easily into a SWISS First cabin, but I digress.
After I had settled in, the pilot came to introduce himself and thanked me for being a SWISS customer. He spent a few minutes talking about the flight time, routing, and anticipated trouble spots for turbulence. It’s always interesting to receive a personal briefing from the person in charge of bringing you safely to your destination. I asked if we can fly via HKG as a technical stop, but we didn’t have enough relief pilots on board.
With all the verbiage aside, here are the photos from the flight. First will be the hard product and then the meals. I suspect the photos will replace the need for words.
A view from 1K across to the port side of the aircraft
View of seat 1K
View from seated position. The Ottoman moves out via electric motor which allows for a guest to sit across from you.
Another look at 1K….
Seat control pad and remote control for the IFE system. USB power as well as the headphone jack is installed in this compartment. The IFE System was excellent. Over 80 movies and dozens of TV shows ensure there’s something for everyone on board. WiFi will be introduced aboard the A330s beginning in January 2017. I only watched one movie since I was busy sorting through nearly 13,000 photos that came back with me from Safari.
Storage for the large table. It’s a nice size especially when a guest sits in the Ottoman. The small panel in front of the tray table storage area contains the 110/220v power outlet.
A dedicated control pad for your seat provides you with complete control. The remote control allows you to adjust every angle of the seat, as well as lighting settings and seat cushion adjustment. The SWISS First Class and Business Class seats have adjustable air-filled cushions for complete control of your seat’s comfort.
The larger IFE screen is found on SWISS’ newer A330 aircraft…..
The Amenity Kit was full of useful items. Separate kits are available for male and female passengers. Pajamas are also provided and are made from a high quality cotton blend similar to high quality T-shirts.
The food aboard the flight was just as excellent as the hard product. The multi-course experience featured some outstanding options and were healthy sized portions. So well sized that I had to take a break between the Salad and Main Course to recover from a bit of a food coma.
The pre-departure snack consisted of a fresh fruit cup and almond pastry.
The Balik Salmon appetizer is a signature dish in the SWISS First Class cabin. This style of Salmon traces its roots to the Tsars of Russia and today the recipe is trusted to only a handful of individuals. Phenomenal!
Click here to learn more about the history of Balik Salmon.
Another excellent appetizer. A combination of cold cuts from some of Switzerland’s finest butchers…..
The beet and greens salad is delicious. Complimented perfectly by a Balsamic dressing.
The main course of Veal Filet literally melted in your mouth. There was no need to use a knife. Cooked and seasoned to perfection, and a nice sized portion.
I forgot to take a photo of dessert, but it was a choice of Mövenpick ice cream served either in a waffle cone or in a bowl. Other desert choices included fresh tarts, fruits, and cheeses.
Approximately 90 minutes before landing, a light lunch was served. The grilled chicken club sandwich was excellent.
Now that you’ve had a glimpse at life aboard SWISS’ First Class cabin, take a look closer look at SWISS’ beautiful new First Class lounge that opened earlier this year in Zurich.
Another headline caught my attention today while things were quiet from the LH Front.
According to a DailyMail UK piece including video evidence, a Canadian business traveller stumbled across a safe in his hotel room that has a default passcode that can be entered to override any combination and open the safe. The traveller suggested that the hotel staff told him the default code is 000000 when he called the front desk to ask them to reset his safe after he had forgotten his code. The article goes on to explain other ways to bypass hotel safes as well. None are difficult to master.
I’m not sure if this is a big problem and one that extends to a variety of safes in hotel rooms around the world. But if it is possible in a hotel room somewhere in Ontario, then it may be likely to be possible anywhere.
So the next time your in a hotel, try it out. See if the passcode default is nothing but 0’s, thus rendering the protection of your valuables fairly worthless.
After well over a million miles of flying, a recent ‘Airports International’ article brought something to my attention that I had never realized before. For those of you who travel in the USA and Canada, stop and think, have you seen many Glass Jetways at the airport? Thats because only a handful of airports have them, and the last ones were installed over 20 years ago and those needed special variances in order to be built because otherwise, they were forbidden. They’re prevalent everywhere else in the world, but for weird and outdated reasons, they were never allowed to be built here.
Now, thanks to a new directive from the National Fire Protection Association, building safety codes for airports have been updated to allow for the installation of Glass Jetways at any airport that chooses to have them. The previous building code forbid glass Jetways due to the fear that ‘passengers would not egress from a glass Jetway in the event of a fire’. Not sure if that makes sense, but the code was the code. Another reason that comes into mind is that there has not been any new, major or semi-major airport opened in the USA for the last few decades, which may have added to why we didn’t see Glass Jetways sooner.
The article goes on to compare the pros and cons of Glass vs. Steel or otherwise window-less Jetways and the comparison far and away favored the glass Jetways primarily due to the aesthetics and cost. We passengers apparently enjoy having a nice view as we board or deplane, and airports actually want you to see the area immediately surrounding the airport, especially if mountains, lakes, or oceans are near the airport. Cost wise, the glass Jetways are approximately 2-5% more expensive than their steel equivalent, making it a moot comparison when looking at cost.
So the next time you’re at a North American airport, stop and look around. You may be looking at the beginning of the end of the old, dark tubes they use to funnel us onto our flights.
H/T: Airports International / July 2015
Up until recently, I had never, EVER made a mistake when flying as far as flight times, gates, departure and arrival times were concerned. Well over a million miles worth of error free travel, a bit of a badge of honor.
On my recent trip to Vienna where I decided to fly aboard LOT to enjoy their 787 I finally made that one, embarrassing rookie mistake: I didn’t know how to tell time.
My travels originated in Grand Rapids (GRR), with a flight to Chicago in order to catch LOT’s LO2 to Warsaw and then to an Austrian flight to get to Vienna the following morning. Leaving GRR was fine, I knew what time it was, no problem.
In the air to Chicago, I spin my watch back an hour to account for the difference between Eastern and Central US time zones…..I’ve done it perhaps a hundred times without error.
Then I make the biggest mistake in my travel ‘career’ and basically ruin a day.
Aboard LO2 from Chicago to Warsaw, I spin my watch forward 6 hours, thinking that was the appropriate time zone difference from the USA to Central Europe time. It would have been had I boarded the ‘daily’ Lufthansa flight between Grand Rapids and Frankfurt. But with the central time zone involved, I forgot to account for the extra hour ‘gained’ when I flew to Chicago, and therefore didn’t account for it when I lost it flying eastward. I set my watch forward only 6 hours, when it should have been advanced 7 hours.
So what happens next?
I arrive in Warsaw where on paper I had about 1 hour and 20 minutes to make an easy connection at an airport designed for easy connections. But what happens? I look at my watch, and in my bizarro world, I think I have 2 hours and 20 minutes before my Austrian flight. Great. Plenty of time to visit the LOT lounge for the fantastic polish fudge and some breakfast.
I actually leave the lounge having what I thought was nearly an hour before my flight so that I could walk around the terminal since it was my first time transiting WAW. I get that covered in about 15 minutes and go back to the lounge again (at the behest of a certain Swabian friend in my What’s App chat group). All of this because in my beautiful mind I think I still have over an hour before boarding.
So I sit down to another Coke and a few pieces of fudge because I want to catch Diabetes, pass 30 minutes and decide to finally head to the gate and get myself to Vienna and onward to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m on my way to an F1 race weekend.
I arrive to the gate which is mysteriously empty and look at the display to see that my flight is ‘CLOSED’. WTF? It’s not supposed to leave for at least another 30 minutes (So I thought). But then I look at the gate clock and see that time had somehow moved 1 hour ahead of where I thought it should be. As I look out the terminal onto the tarmac, I see the bus I should have been on pulling up to bird I needed to be on. No gate personnel left at the gate, it wouldn’t matter if there was. I missed a flight due to my own screw up for the first time in my life. The pit that my stomach acid etched into me was palpable as I was overcome with this sense of helplessness and the thought of ‘Now what? How can I get to Vienna now?’ Dammit. Then I think to myself that I must have walked right past my flight while it was boarding, but I was more concerned about Polish Soccer souvenirs inside a gift shop. Nice going moron.
All was not lost as I was able to rebook (and pay the appropriate penalties) to a later flight and I finally arrived in Vienna at 7:30p with my tail between my legs after my self-induced 7 hour delay in Warsaw.
The lesson to learn from all of this?
Know where you are flying from, and more importantly, know what time it is where you land. Or buy a GPS-enabled watch that removes the risk of idiocy. Another lesson? enable location services on your phone and ALSO enable auto-update for time zones. That would have been a handy safety net had I enabled ‘auto-update’.
My only ‘lame’ defense is the fact that my last 10 or more flights to Europe did not have an onward connection once I got there. I’d usually fly directly to my destination so knowing what time it is was less of an issue.
Also, keep in mind if you fly an itinerary ‘out of order’ by missing a flight, you run the risk of having the rest of your itinerary canceled. How great would it have been when I got to Vienna for my flight home only to be told, sorry, you and your itinerary do not exist. Make sure if you miss a flight that the rest of your flights are kept intact.
Stupid is as Stupid does I guess……