Zurich-Amsterdam, B-737-800 Configuration 20-144 Economy Class
I checked-in online for this flight but due to a electronic glitch mobile boarding passes were not available. However, I passed through airport security with the printed version and was issued another boarding pass at the gate. The flight was booked very light and there was plenty of room for everyone to feel at ease. The airplane was a Boeing 737-800 and looked a bit tired inside. Some seats were a bit dirty and there were many seat pockets which were missing the safety card and/or the Inflight Magazine/Duty Free Shopping List. The flight departed on time and a snack was served, including a choice of coffee and tea. The flight attendants were friendly and pleasant. Verdict: a solid product within the European Market.
Edelweiss Air, Palma De Mallorca – Zurich, A320
Edelweiss Air is a subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines whose route network is mainly focussed on holiday destinations in Europe. The airline also operates some long-haul flights to “smaller” ports around the world. I took this flight from Palma de Mallorca to Zurich on a Tuesday night in December. The flight was fully booked with a mix of business and leisure travellers. The flight was operated by an A320 aircraft with 20 C and 142 Y seating configuration.
Pre-departure water bottles and refreshment towels were ready on the seats upon boarding. A handful of magazines were also available. Inflight service consisted of a cold meal platter with drinks, followed by a coffee service with the famous Appenzeller Biberli which is a small Swiss cookie-type sweet dish containing marzipan. The crew was friendly and cheerful and took care of the passengers well who were concerned about missing their evening connections in Zurich (the delay was only 25 min, so that should not pose a problem to anyone)
A pleasant flight despite the short delay and a friendly young crew who made a good impression.
Oman Air, B788, Configuration: 18/249 ZRH-MCT-DXB, Business Class
Business Class Lounge, Muscat Airport:
There was only 1 counter available for Business Class check-in and the waiting time was rather long as the check-in staff were serving economy class passengers who were carrying excess check-in bags and did not want to pay for excess baggage. So the discussions seemed endless until they finally found a solution and I could check-in.
Boarding started almost 1 hour before take-off (Ground staff explained that the captain wanted to depart 15 min ahead of schedule) but at the end the airport slot was not available and we departed on time. The Business Class section is very small with only 18 seats and each seat offers plenty of space and privacy. The booking on this flight was very light with only about 6 passengers in the front section. The crew was efficient but not charming or friendly. Service was done quickly as this was a 10pm departure and passengers wanted to sleep. I did the same and opted for a breakfast rather than a dinner which was served 2 hours before landing. (A bit too early for my preference as the flight time was only 5.30 h)
Arrival at Muscat was a tedious experience. We landed on time but the stairs were not available for 15 min for disembarkation. After the stairs finally docked on the plane there was a further 5 min delay for the special business class bus. Meanwhile, all economy passengers had already disembarked via the rear stairs and all 3 passenger buses arrived at the terminal building at the same time. Most passengers had connecting flights and went upstairs where a small security checkpoint was located and worked very efficiently.
On departure from Muscat airport, I visited the lounge in the rather old airport terminal and was pleasantly surprised. It was a large stylish lounge. There was a bar area as well as a self-service area are where drinks and food was presented. Friendly staff were available everywhere. Food choice was good, warm and cold breakfast items were available as well as fruit and other snacks. I did not see any alcoholic beverages, but I expect they were available in the bar section.
Boarding took place again via buses and the small cramped waiting area was packed with people and many were standing in line for the wrong flights. It was a bit chaotic and there were no dedicated gates or doors for business class passengers. After all buses finally arrived at the aircraft at the same time there was another short delay as the cabin cleaning seemed not to be finished.
The crew at the boarding door was very friendly and efficient and boarding was quick. There was a small breakfast service on this flight which was only about 50 minutes long. Aircraft was an Airbus 330-200. Configuration: 20/196
Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur,
Business Class, B737-800, Confirguration : 16/144
Check-in at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was disgraceful. There was a separate check-in area for premium customers but there were only 2 counters open and they were dealing with passengers having oversized baggage and other complicated matters. There was no line for quick bag drop so the only choice was to wait. After check-in, I quickly proceeded through security.
I was informed that the Golden Lounge was under renovation and that a temporary lounge had been set up. This was located at a regular boarding gate waiting area and some plants had been put to give it a little privacy. There was a minimal choice of drinks and a few food snacks such as cakes and cup noodle soups were available. Boarding passes were checked at the entrance of the “Lounge” but staff members could not provide accurate information about flight departures. We were sent to the gate about 20 min before scheduled flight departure time, only to discover that the aircraft had not even landed. Boarding took place about 45 min later. The airline provided no proper information about the delay. No reason or explanation was given.
The flight was a pleasant experience. Business Class consisted of a 2-2 configuration with 16 seats whilst Economy Class had 144 seats in 3-3 configuration. The flight attendants were friendly and offered a choice of chicken sandwich or a local hot dish on this flight. This seemed reasonable, given the relatively short flight time of 50 minutes.
Baggage delivery at Langkawi airport was extremely fast as we were the only aircraft on the ground. The passenger terminal was accessed via a short walk from the aircraft as there are no aerobridges available at this small regional airport.
Verdict: Like many other airlines, Malaysian Airlines seems to struggle with their ground services while their inflight product and crews are pleasant.
Zurich-Paris, Business Class, Airbus A318
I checked-in online and went directly to the gate where I arrived 20 min before departure. The boarding was taking place by bus as the airplane had an overnight stay in Zurich.
The Airbus 318 is the smallest of the Airbus family and was well designed with black seats and red headrests. The meal service comprised breakfast served on chinaware and included orange juice and a coffee in a mug. The senior flight attendant was polite and friendly and made this short flight a positive experience. (There was a short delay on the flight and many pax inquired about their connecting flights). Some of the onward departure gates were announced by the chef de cabine – I thought this was a good service offering.
We arrived at CDG Terminal 2F with long walkways to the terminal exit. But if you follow the signs it’s fairly easy. Verdict: Solid product, short and pleasant flight in a clean airplane with a professional crew.
Zurich-Abu Dhabi-Zurich, B787-9 Dreamliner, Configuration: 8/28/195
second review on Etihad, please also see my first review under the tab “Airline reviews”
I flew on the new Etihad Airways Dreamliner out of Zurich on a midday flight. The business class seating configuration is 1-2-1 with some seats facing forward and some seats facing backwards.
I was seated in 5C which was the first row but facing backwards. The seat was a large size full flat business class seat which offered different lights (reading, moodlight and decolight). The seat was comfortable and offered enough stowing space. The well-known windows of the Dreamliner are a real highlight featuring the automatic shades which allow for different levels of natural light during daylight flights. The headsets are not particularly comfortable and are connected to the seat with a small magnetic plug which can accidentally disconnect whenever moving or shifting. I did not like it.
The inflight service consists of a dine anytime concept where you order your food from the menu and decide on the time that you like to eat. I tried the soup and a main dish (radicchio risotto) as well as a dessert and then some ice cream and fruits before landing.
The cabin crew on the outbound flight was correct but not very charming or friendly. Different picture on the inbound flight where the crew was attentive and charming at all times.
Abu Dhabi Airport is still under construction and does not have enough gates with aerobridges. I would guess that about 50 % of all flights are still operated by bus gates. This can be very time consuming and uncomfortable in Abu Dhabi’s hot and humid climate.
Verdict: Hardware from check-in to airplanes are solid, inflight service depends a lot on the crews. Abu Dhabi Airport needs a lot of improvement.
Thai Smile is a relatively small, full service, airline operating flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to regional destinations which fit into the network of an all Airbus 320 fleet. Thai Smile fly Thailand domestic routes as well as routes from Thailand to neighbouring.Their flights include a 2-class service with the first 4 rows sold as Thai Smile class (16 seats) and 160 Economy class seats. The tickets include 20kg baggage allowance, a mileage credit on the THAI Royal Orchid Plus program, and a small snack/drink service.
I checked-in online for both flights and it was quickly and easily done as I already pre-booked the seats (no charge). Bag drop at Suvarnabhumi airport was quick and efficient. The inflight service consisted of a drink service as well as a hot snack. The flight attendants were efficient and polite.
The fare prices are moderate and similar to those offered by competitor airlines such as Nok Air and Thai Airasia. Thai Smile flights can be booked on the airline’s own website or on the THAI Airways International website.
I found both flights on Thai Smile pleasant and they were on time. The big advantage for Thai Smile are that the flights are operated from Suvarnabhumi Airport which makes it easy to connect from any international flight even though baggage through-checking is not possible.