Hong Kong 3: For the LOVE of Avios! With Swiss and British Airways
LX425 – Birmingham to Zurich.
- Memo to Self: Stop looking at Booking Engines Late at Night
- Leaving Birmingham, Servisair Lounge, To Zürich with Swiss and OLT Express on LX425
- Zürich Night Stop – “Zürich Dayrooms”, Senator Lounge
- LX1952 Barcelona to Zurich
- A Free Tour of Barcelona
- Back to El Prat, Lounge, BA0475 Barcelona – London
- British Airways T5 First Class Lounge
- BA027 London Heathrow – Hong Kong
- Holiday Inn Express Soho, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
- One Time Exception: Macau with TurboJet
- GhettoIFE Special: Images of a Fragrant Harbour
- Lounging Around Hong Kong Airport
- BA026 Hong Kong to London Heathrow
- British Airways T5 First Class Lounge, BA484 London Heathrow – Barcelona El Prat
- Barcelona Switch, Lounge, LX1955 Barcelona – Zürich Airport
- Run like the wind, LX424 Zürich – Birmingham Airport, Homeward bound
- Avios? Oh Yes, Oh Yes, OH YEAH!
Well – enough talk about the trip. Lets going. Firstly to my night stop: Zurich .
After a day of dealing with the incompetence of Duns and Bradstreet, Thawte and GeoTrust (nothing like digital certificates to make a person want to push themselves off a cliff), it was time to grab my stuff which I had packed the night before in the little rucksack and head off from the office.
Of course, the bus took its own sweet time arriving, but soon enough I was passing through Central Birmingham – which is in full Christmas mode – the Frankfurt German market had long arrived.
The bottom end of the Frankfurt Christmas market in Birmingham.
I on the other hand needed two things before heading off: A new power supply for my laptop (I left it at home) and a spare lightning cable (I left that in the office. Doh and Doh.)
After a quick purchase in the Apple Store, it was over to Birmingham New Street for a train to Birmingham International station. The train was on time, and being rush hour – rammed packed solid. No matter for me – its a 10 minute hop to Birmingham Airport on an express service, getting me sort of near where I needed to be.
Pulling into Birmingham international station, it was up the stairs, turn left and over to the Air-Rail link that deposits you on the departure level at BHX. Heading down is the check in area – and where Swiss’s check in is. There was a cursory hello, passport request, a check to see if luggage needed to be put in the (not for this segments it isn’t). Boarding passes were then issued for both flights (both that day’s and the onward segment to Barcelona). No fast track was offered or given (as I found I had entered the wrong SEN number into the booking).
Whoops. I’d have to fix that later.
Airport security wasn’t busy – which summed up the airport really – it wasn’t busy. For an airport that proclaims itself to be the 6th busiest in the United Kingdom – it was pretty quiet for a Wednesday evening with a little bit of charter traffic heading out, and Ryanair/FlyBe running the other terminal happily.
After negotiating security, it was time for the game we like to call “Exit via the Shop” that airports in the United Kingdom seem to love.
Once that hell was cleared, it was off to the Servisair lounge.
Lounge Stop: Servisair Lounge, Birmingham Airport.
Once again, the redecorating fairies have been to the lounge, and to be honest – it looks like someone re-done this with a bit of care for once as opposed to some of the re-decorations this lounge has been through.
It’s an improvement from what was a Red Carpet Club on a bad day to slightly something better that an Red Carpet Club on a good day. The muted colours along with the ikea furniture scheme seems to be a nice fit here.
There were the usual drinks on offer, and shock and horror – warm food. Now part of the reason why Servisair has had to up their game is that a No. 1 Lounge has recently opened at the airport – creating competition between lounges.
And it shows. A reasonable effort all around
Time passed, and it was time to head to the back end of the old International Pier at Gate 59 where our little Fokker was waiting. After a short wait for the queue to die down, I was beeped through to the gate area, and after another wait, the access-way was open to the jetbridge.
My little Fokker.
Leg 1: LX425 Birmingham Airport – Zürich Airport
Operated by OLT Express Germany for Swiss International Air Lines
125 Miles Earned + 32 Executive Miles
The crew seemed smiling as I boarded and headed back to the back of the Fokker. Since Swiss has dropped the frequency down from 3 a day to 2 a day to Zurich (and switched provider from Helvetic to OLT Express Germany), it seems Swiss are jamming people in as the plane was solid to Zurich.
Fokkers are in the 2-3 cabin layout, so if the plane is lightly loaded – you aim for the right – if it’s heavily loaded, you aim for the left for the best seats.
Alas, this is a Fokker 100, so the term “best seat” doesn’t really apply here.
The plane boarded quickly, and soon enough we were away. The safety announcement was pre-recorded, with the two cabin crew demonstrating along.
The exterior of the plane was painted up in Star Alliance colours – and interestingly, the OLT Express crew didn’t say “this was a Swiss Flight, A Star Alliance member”, rather they said that this was “A Star Alliance flight”.
Soon enough, the little Fokker lined up, and it was off into the clear night
And it was a clear night indeed. Climbing out over Coventry and Leamington Spa, before turning for London and Paris.
How do I know this? The captain was doing a sightseeing tour at night as well as flying his plane – something I haven’t heard for a VERY Long time.
Lets move along. Seating. And it’s the typical European seat – ie 32” of pitch. Which somehow manages to be LARGER than the 32” of seat pitch that AA managed to do.
Work that out.
Cruise continued as we passed over the city of London.
As the plane began to cross the channel, the food and drink cart made it to my row. And this being Swiss, there’s got to be turkey sandwiches.
And its nice to be correct.
The plane continued on its path, crossing over Paris
The flight was smooth,, with little interruption from the cockpit other than to state times to landing. Soon the 1 hour 50 was up as the plane turned for Zurich Airport.
Landing was a gentle affair with the Rolls Royce Tay engines bringing us to a halt. To be honest, those engines weren’t that loud – considering I was right at the back of the plane almost.
The plane taxied past the A Gate and over to the D Gates, where for the first time that I remembered – the plane got an airbridge connection to the terminal.
As we parked up, the seatbelts were released, and we were allowed on our way – where Swiss thank you chocolates were given out.
Overall: Whilst not as polished as Helvetic are, OLT Express did a good job of delivering the Swiss regional project. I can’t help feel it felt a bit rushed with some bits being left over till right at the end (for example – the Swiss Chocolates is an important part of the service)