I had seen the Pyramids at sunset, but I wanted to see them at sunrise, so I set my alarm for 4:55am. When I woke up it was still dark, so I continued hitting snooze and checking every 15 minutes until the sun started to creep over the horizon. In the end, the light did not hit the ancient stones in any transcendent way, and I sort of wished I had slept in. Like I said…I am one for completeness, and I had to wake up early and check it out.
I had an early afternoon flight out of CAI, so I started piling my stuff into my carry-ons while getting mentally prepared for the trip. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you just may have realized that I am very into planes and commercial air travel. As a result, the way I want to travel is often not the “easiest” or “most direct” way. In this case, I had to depart Cairo and be in Barcelona the same day (Sept. 2nd), as I had an early morning flight the following day (Sept. 3rd) from Barcelona to Sao Paulo.
In all likelihood, I could have gotten on a direct EgyptAir flight from CAI-ZRH (although to be fair, I’m not 100% MS services this route). However, EgyptAir has mediocre business class, and if I was going to be separated from my hard earned miles, it was going to be in a fashion I approved of.
Swiss international Air Lines is one of my favorite airlines in the world. They are in my top two European carriers (along with Lufthansa), and on their Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft, they have a dynamite new staggered product.
The Swiss longhaul J-product looks like this:
Row 1: 1-2-1
Row 2: 2-2-1
Row 3: 1-2-1
Row 4: 2-2-1
and so on, you get the picture. The point is, in addition to a flat bed, you have the opportunity to have both both a window (my preference), and a single seat (my favorite, as I hate sitting next to people on long flights). It seemed worth the connection in ZRH to get to BCN in style.
I had only previous flown Swiss long haul once, in First Class on a flight from Tokyo to Zurich , so this would be my first chance to try Swiss Business on the A340-300.
The Mena House quoted me a price to the airport that wasn’t much worse than what I expected to pay for a taxi, so I opted to use their driver. It turned out to be a great ride. We spoke at length about the political climate in Egypt. He begged me to tell people to come visit the country and pump tourist revenue back into the economy, and since we had some spare time, he drove me through the City of The Dead and pointed out some other Cairo landmarks that I hadn’t had time to see during my brief stop in the city.
Once at the terminal, I had to navigate past more annoying touts who wanted a tip for “assisting” me put my luggage through the x-ray machine. Once past the jumble at the preliminary security check, the departures hall was pleasantly calm.
I got the boarding pass for my CAI-ZRH flight and for the later ZRH-BCN connection, checked out of Egypt in short order, and went looking for the lounge.
There are a number of Star Alliance lounges at CAI. Technically if you have the right to enter one, you have the right to enter all of them, but they are very particular about trying to shepherd you to the branch closest to your departure gate.
I found this out when I walked into the closest lounge and was promptly given directions to the “correct” lounge for my flight. The lounge had wifi, looked pretty slick and offered power ports and light food. Not bad, better than I expected.
As is my custom, I left the lounge a bit early in order to take some shots of the plane and poke around by the gate. I was not familiar with the order of things at CAI and didn’t realize I should have budgeted in time for a long delay. After standing around for ages at the gate, it was finally time to board.
First and business boarded first, and I was surprised at how full the J cabin was. I had expected a light load given the city pair. The seats were as good as advertised.
I’ve heard from other people that they have had trouble selecting single seats on LX, but I had no problems. I called in, requested the seat and it was assigned. I have since booked other LX J flights and again have had no issue. Certain select single seats seem to be held for Miles & More elites, but some of are open for assignment.
Instead of amenity kits, we got neat silver colored tins emblazoned with the LX Airbus A340-300 on the front. I think these are de rigeur in LX and LH J, but I had never flown either airline in J before. Cool keepsakes anyway.
Shortly after we got to our cruising altitude, the meal service began
After the meal I cranked the seat back and I slept well for a few hours. Swiss has a top notch hard product here. I would say this seat is the rival of many airline’s first class seats (if you are sitting in one of the single seats). Very comfortable, spacious and private. Without a doubt one of the top-5 business class products I have sampled.
Shortly before landing, one of the FA’s shook me awake. Out the window I could see we were out of the sand and back over the green hills of Switzerland.