Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log: December 2010: LX242

Zurich (ZRH) - Dubai (DXB)

A little over six weeks after my previous journey in SWISS first class, I was looking forward to a few more hours enjoying some of the best service that commercial flight has to offer. On this occasion, the anticipation was heightened by the knowledge that I was about to board one of the airline's new Airbus A330-300 aircraft, with a new cabin configuration for both first and business classes. I managed to be first down the airbridge after a small number of pre-boarders, which gave me the best possible opportunity to inspect the new arrangements. As I made my way from Door 2L through the small, two-row section of business class and into first class, I was impressed by what I saw on both sides of the partition.

The A330-300 First cabin has two rows of four seats in 1+2+1 formation, identical to the A340s but one row down on the former A330-200s. The curvaceous seat shells have been replaced by fuller, more squared-off partitions, giving a neat and orderly appearance that some might say is very Swiss. The colour scheme has been adjusted so that even on a dull, wintry day, the cabin looked light and airy. With extendable side partitions, the seats offer greater privacy than before, while the more geometric layout is softened by the use of side lamps. Any visitor can now enjoy a proper seat with armrests, rather than having to perch on an ottoman. Perhaps the most obvious innovation of all, however, is the provision of a huge in-flight entertainment screen in a fixed position at the far end of each suite.

I managed to take a few pictures before the other passengers started to arrive. When I finally sat down, I immediately spotted what would turn out to be my one negative observation on the new hard product: the high-gloss, reflective surfaces on those huge screens. No doubt this makes for ease of cleaning, but it appeared to be not necessarily conducive to the best viewing experience. In short order, my jacket was hung and I was offered a glass of Champagne and presented with some welcome snacks, consisting of a cream-filled pastry, some pâté and a scallop. Up to this point I had been alone in the cabin, but presently 1A, a couple in 2G/K and 2A all appeared. The cabin crew mentioned in passing that a further two were expected.

Menus were distributed and I was told that an additional main course was available as a 'special' from the region of Graubünden. Hot towels were distributed as the whole plane was shaken by cargo-loading activity below! When 1D/G eventually turned up, I recognised them immediately as my neighbours from the lounge, and I wondered what had kept them all this time. Boarding was announced as complete at 1310 and the Maitre de Cabine made a little tour of First Class to introduce himself, but we were still not ready to go: an additional wait was required for some urgent cargo from Chicago, which had been delayed on its inbound sector.

Pushback finally occurred at 1333 and the captain announced the expected flight time as 5hrs 35mins. We taxied out to Runway 16 and, after an exceptionally smooth take-off run, made it into the freezing alpine air by 1347 local time. In a further announcement from the flight deck, the route was given as via Austria, the Balkans, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In line with recently observed practice, the tables were deployed prior to serving pre-lunch drinks - Champagne and water in my case. I started up the rather adult-themed courtroom thriller Presumed Innocent, starring Harrison Ford, as my table was set for lunch. The full offering was as follows:

DINNER

 

WINES
FIRST COURSES CHAMPAGNE
Selection of appetisers: Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle

   Tomato tartlet, crayfish cocktail with asparagus tips

  

   Smoked halibut and herb crepe roulade

 WHITE WINE

   Triangle of mountain lamb and rataouille

 Flaescher Riesling Sylvaner 2009

   Goat's cheese in marinated pumpkin

 Flaesch, Graubuenden, Switzerland
   
Fillet of Balik salmon Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007
  Burgundy, France
SOUP & SALAD  
Carrot and orange soup Chardonnay Red Label 2008
Selection from the salad trolley Napa County, CA, USA
   
MAIN COURSES RED WINE
Fillet of beef with sautéed wild mushrooms, cream sauce, Lye bread dumpling and carrots Pinot Noir Selection2009,
Zizzers, Graubuenden, Switzerland
   
Supreme of poussin with walnut pesto, potato and kohlrabi ragout, baby carrots La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion 2005
Bordeaux, France
   
Open John Dory and king prawn raviolo with leek, lobster sauce Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Napa Valley, CA, USA
   
Mushroom stroganoff with fresh rosti, broccoli and sour creamDESSERT WINE
Sauternes Cru Barrejats 2004
 Sauternes, France
Choice of vegetables 
 PORT
CHEESEGraham's Tawny 20 years
Selection of Swiss artisan cheeseDouro, Portugal
  
DESSERT 
Buendner mountain honey parfait on pistachio cake, with blueberry compote  
  
Pineapple tiramisu with sliced pineapple and grenadine seeds 
  
Sprüngli chocolates and pralines 
  
Espresso and a selection of coffees and teas

I had a delicious selection of starters from the trolley, beautifully presented as ever, followed by salad and soup. I then had the beef main course followed by some cheese, both of which were nicely accompanied by the Bordeaux. A nicely made cappuccino rounded off another memorable feast in the air. I managed to watch a documentary about the Bernina railway line in Switzerland, followed by an episode of The Simpsons before succumbing to the temptation to nod off for a while. As we flew over the Arabian Gulf, I realised with considerable surprise that I seemed to be having a music-free flight!

With the help of the IFE map, I could easily pick out the lights of both Bahrain and Doha, and Dubai itself was visible from a long way out. The crew distributed fast track cards for immigration. We touched down at 2215 local time and the temperature was given as a very pleasant 18C. Less than ten minutes later, we were parked on stand. Despite the delay caused by weather-affected connecting flights at Zurich, this had been another memorable experience of SWISS First Class, not least because it was my first exposure to the latest incarnation of the hard product, designed for the new A330-300s.



Date: Wed 29 Dec 2010
Aircraft : Airbus A330-300
Scheduled dep : 1245
Actual departure : 1333
Scheduled arrival : 2140
Actual arrival : 2224
Cabin : First
Seat : 1K



Linked reports from same trip: -

Dubai

Muscat

Abu Dhabi

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