ZRH-CDG: Homeward Bound

Our Airbus A321 ZRH-CDG as seen from the front passenger seat of a BMW ripping along the flightline.

ZRH…the final frontier. No more new countries to explore, no more new people to meet. An hour and change and I would be back in France, on the way to my apartment to fall into a normal routine and live a (semi) normal life.

I know for some people coming home is a welcome thing. Some people aren’t built to be on the road forever. I’m of the opinion that there are four kinds of people on this earth when it comes to traveling. 1. Those that have no desire to ever leave the immediate and familiar, 2. Those that are content to go on a big trip once and let the memories hold them over for the rest of their lives, 3. Those that “love” to travel but can only handle it in 3-4 months stints at maximum before they need the comforts of home, and 4. Those that would prefer to always be on the road, all the time.

This trip left me confident in the knowledge, that I am the fourth kind of person. Before I even landed back in CDG I was trying to figure out when I would next be able to get on a plane bound for somewhere far away. Unfortunately, living in real life means that you can’t be on the road 365 days a year. However, before landing at CDG, I had already booked my New Years Eve trip to S.Korea, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar & Japan. Good to always have things to look forward to.

From an aviation perspective, there was still one last box I wanted to try and check at ZRH. Visiting the Swiss First Class Lounge. On a related note, I just (yesterday) read an absolutely terrible CNN article about the “10 Best Airline Lounges in The World.” I won’t link it, because I don’t want to reward such awful journalism with more hits, like most of CNN’s aviation related content, it was pure tripe written by some hack who probably just mentioned the only 10 lounges she’s ever been to. They chose to include a Swiss Business lounge at BSL, and neglected to mention Swiss’ First Class Lounge at Zurich. While I don’t think the Swiss FCL deserves a place in the top 10, it is certainly superior to a secondary hub business lounge, and worth a visit, if you’re at ZRH and you can swing it.

Swiss (LX) FCL ZRH

I had arrived the day before in F from NRT. Like OZ, LX’s rules technically state that you only get FCL lounge access if you arrive or depart on LX F same day. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I walked up to the Swiss FCL, found a female desk agent (I find the female agents are always much more receptive to listening and bending the rules) and mentioned that I had come in the day before in Swiss F and I was departing in C (since there is no F on intra-euro flights). I asked since it had been less than 24 hours, could she perhaps construe same day to mean within any 24-hour period.

She thought it over for a moment, then granted me access to the lounge, but said she wasn’t sure if she would be able to arrange a car transfer from the lounge to my plane (leaving from an apron position) unless there were other passengers in the FCL taking the same flight. As it were, there were two other German fellows on the ZRH-CDG flight, so the car was no issue.

I didn’t have a terribly long time in the lounge, and I wasn’t hungry, so I decided to skip the al a carte dining service which is available to F passengers. The Swiss FCL is open to LH and LX passengers traveling in F and to HON Circle members. It’s the same rules as the LH FCL and FCT basically.

I grabbed some light snacks from the buffet, a glass of water and pulled out my laptop, until I was called to the desk to meet my car.

Our ride out to the plane

Similar to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, or their First Class Lounge in Munich, First Class passengers are driven (usually a Porsche, Benz or BMW) from the lounge to their aircraft when the plane departs from an apron position (an apron position is when the plane is not pulled up to a jetway and the passengers need to take a bus out to the stand).

Anyone who has ever been crammed into a bus and then shuttled out to their plane knows that this is generally an unpleasant process. The only downside to this veritable limo transfer to the airplane, is that the car usually gets you there after the bus has already arrived, and the airline staffers insist on holding all of the other passengers on the bus until F passengers are delivered and board the plane. This leaves you walking to the plane escorted by staffers like some sort of celebrity, which is a bit awkward and embarrassing.

On the way to the plane, the other two passengers (who were German) were conversing with the driver. I just smiled and nodded as if I understood, until they addressed me. Then I explained I actually had no idea what they were saying. The driver questioned me, asking why if I had a German last name, I didn’t speak German. I explained to him that I didn’t speak German, because I am American. The last name may be German, but we’ve been in America since before the Civil War…people stop using the old languages.

Row 1 Seats

In my opinion, Swiss is the absolute best carrier for the short intra-euro flights. Their seats are comfortable, the cabin service is above and beyond what you find on any other european carrier, the planes and cabins are always clean, and they give you delicious little chocolates at the end of the flight.

After I finish my 15 segments a year on Air France to keep my low level elite status and be able to cut the lines at CDG and pre-board my flights, I switch whatever flights I can to Swiss, even though it requires a stop in ZRH because 1. It’s a very pleasant way to fly, 2. The miles go to my United account. In short…I love Swiss.

LX J Meal ZRH-CDG

This flight was great. I had a row 1 window seat, no one sat next to me, a nice meal was served, and less than 90 minutes later we were on our way into CDG. Thankfully this flight comes into T1 with all the other (or rather almost all the other) Star Alliance flights and since I was coming from Switzerland there was no immigration to deal with.

I had arranged for a car in advance, and we were on the road back to Paris in no time. Traffic wasn’t bad. It was a little bit strange to walk into my apartment for the first time in almost four months. I threw my bags on the couch in the living room and tried to settle back in to normalcy. It was all over, until the next time.

Home Sweet Home

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