Monday, June 22, 2015

A Trip Report: Swiss International Airlines (May 2015)

    A Trip Report: Swiss International Airlines (May 2015)
                         comment below and let me know your thoughts :)


Travelling around Switzerland is very easy and convenient given how well connected and smooth the trains, trams, and other public transportation run.  Given this convenience, it is difficult to see why a passenger would fly across Switzerland, until they experience Swiss International Airlines’ great service and free chocolates!
We were visiting Switzerland and had traveled from Zurich to Geneva via train.  This journey took 2.5 hours and it was very convenient to go from the downtown Zurich to downtown Geneva.   On the return, we decided to fly and we choose this option for a couple of reasons: 1) We wanted to try out Swiss as we had heard good things about the airline; 2) the price for the ticket was relatively comparable and included luggage; and 3) we were arriving late night and then heading out via plane early the next morning so going via train would have cost an extra journey.  Overall, the return journey only took about 30 minutes of actual flight time. 

I had booked my trip through an online site as purchasing directly through Swiss – for an internal flight – would have incurred a currency conversion fee whereas the online site was booked in my home currency.  The flight price included luggage – a bag of 23kg – but did not include seat assignments as pre-selected seat assignments came with a cost.  Not-preselecting seats is a gamble as sometimes the plane is empty or you are assigned the exit seat, while other times the plane is completely full and the only remaining seats are the ones in the middle in the back of the plane.

24-hours prior to my departure I was able to check-in online and receive my seat assignment.  Online there were plenty of seats to choose from as the flight did not look that full so we were able to select the seats we wanted (at no cost).  When we arrived at the Geneva airport, we presented our already printed boarding passes and passport to the desk and everything was done in less than 5 minutes.  As we had planned for a longer time, we had more time to explore Geneva Airport.

The airport is divided into pre-security and post-security.  There is free wifi (as is the case around the country, you receive the wifi code via SMS/text message so you need a text enabled phone to receive the code) and the wifi was pretty good.  There is no map of the airport but talking to the airport personnel, they informed me that there were more options pre-security than post.   Pre-security has a coffee shop (with sandwiches and pastries); a bookstore; a make your own salad; some shops; as well as a an area with about 4 restaurants and plenty of spaces to sit.  There is even a place to sit outside and see views of the runway.  The restaurants available provide a varied selection from fast food to sit down and near the seating they have screens with up-to-date flight information. 

Going through the security was also quick and took less than 15 minutes.  Post-security are the duty free shops, a coffee shop, a chocolate shop, sandwich shops, as well as bookstores and other standard airport stores.  While the availability is there, there was definitely more variety pre-security.  The airport has large windows that face the taxi and runway so you do a lot of plane-spotting.  You cannot take pictures as the windows have tiny dots on them that inhibit picture taking.

Our flight was in the evening and promptly on time we boarded.  Boarding was completed relatively easily as there only 30 passengers total (so each passenger had a row to themselves).   The seats of the Airbus plane were comfortable leather seats and the legroom was decent for a small flight – the legroom would be tight for a long-haul flight but decent for a short-haul flight.   As soon as we reached cruising altitude, we were served a bottle of water (standard size, which was nice) as well as swiss chocolates.  Originally two were given per passengers but if more were requested you could take as much as you want.  Both the chocolates and free water were a welcome addition, on any flight but especially on such a short flight.  The plane did not have individual IFE’s but rather had overhead screens which showed the progression of the flight.  We landed in Zurich on time and proceeded to receive our luggage, which also came rather quickly. 

If I was to compare the rail versus plane journey, they both took about the same amount of time if you factor in security and other time for the airport.  Another thing to consider that if you purchased the Swiss pass (which includes rail journeys), and still had some journeys remaining then the plane was an additional cost.  Both provided a comfortable seat and a pleasant journey so which one is better – it really depends on your destination and where you would like to final destination to be.  If you want to be closer to downtown without having the extra train connection between the airport and the city, then I would suggest the train.  If you want to be closer to the airport without having to transfer at the main rail station, then I would suggest the plane.  We wanted to be closer to the airport (as we had an early morning flight the next day) and did not want to transfer so for us the plane ride was nice and pleasant.  Definitely worth a trip on Swiss!

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