Flying in Europe. Ups and Downs.

Normally I don’t write about flying in Europe; a bit like domestic flying in the US, it’s fairly mundane.

However I thought I’d document a couple of experiences that I had towards the end of August, flying from Heathrow to Oslo with BA in economy, and then the next day from Oslo down to Zurich with Swiss in business.

It was part of a wider trip that I was doing with Swiss from Oslo to Boston (via Zurich) and then on the way back Austin in Texas to Milan, via Houston and Frankfurt with Lufthansa.  But more on those later.

I was booked on the BA770 from Heathrow to Oslo on a Friday evening, due to leave at 19.25, getting in at 22.40.

I rocked up to the First-class check-in at Terminal 5, dropped my bag off and went through the excellent first wing.  For those that aren’t aware, it’s British Airways dedicated security line for Gold card holders and oneworld emeralds, that leads directly into the lounge.

As much as I may moan about British Airways on here, it’s a genuinely great addition to Terminal 5 and they should be investing more in facilities like this.

Glancing at the departure screens I could see that my flight had about an hour’s delay on it – seemingly one of the few that evening.  I’d be getting in close to midnight, would have to wait for my checked bag before being up early again the following morning for a 10.00 flight to Zurcih.  Thankfully I was booked in the Radisson Blu hotel at the airport, but still would have preferred a little more sleep.

However the champagne was cold, the BA burger was still on the menu, so I just waited in my usual haunt of the Galleries First terrace.

I left boarding relatively late and wandered over to the gate where boarding had already started.  There was no queue for the group 1 lane so walked straight to the podium and joined the back of the queue to get on the aircraft.

I had a window exit row seat with a decent amount of legroom.  British Airways also blocks seats next to Gold Card holders unless the flight is completely full.  This service seemed about 90% full and thankfully it remained empty next to me.

The weather was pretty horrible outside, raining cats and dogs and being Heathrow it took the normal 30 minutes from push back to take off.  Flight time was about 1h 45mins when we did eventually take off.  As British Airways now has buy on board, I had no meaningful interaction with any of the cabin crew for the flight.

We landed in Oslo around 23.30 and disembarked to a packed immigration hall.  There must have been a couple of other non-Schengen flights that had arrived at the same time.  The queues seemed all mixed in with each other and only three agents were working.  Some 30 minutes later I was finally through and made my way to the baggage claim area.  The one upside of waiting so long at immigration was that pretty much as I walked up to the carousel I saw my bag coming off.  Ten minutes later I was in the lobby of the Radisson hotel.

The next morning, I skipped breakfast at the hotel and made my way into the terminal area.  SAS are the handling agents for Swiss and there was a very short queue of three people ahead of me.  My bag was tagged and I was given a very strange boarding pass that had both of my segments on a single piece of card.

SAS Boarding Pass with two segments

The fast track security was 20m away from the desk with zero queue.  A few minutes later I was in the SAS lounge within a lounge in terminal.  It was alright, but nothing special.  I didn’t have terribly long there before I headed to the gate to board the Embraer 190 that was flying to Zurich.

Swiss (operated by Helvetic) keep the seat next to you free in business class which is nice.  However, the breakfast on board was fairly meh.  It was a plate of a few slices of salami, cheese and a yoghurt.  On a two hour flight.  I napped for a bit and landed in Zurich.

Swiss Business Class breakfast

So I guess travelling in Europe is fairly meh.  It’s transport from A to B with potentially some average food and the odd glass of champers or G&T thrown in.

One comment

  1. Interesting what you say about the Gold block. I’ve heard of it and may have experienced it before (always hard to be sure if it’s that or pot luck!), however yesterday returning from CHQ it was not there.

    Husband was in 11A & I was in 11B (exit row). I had a neighbour in 11C yet I could see other empty seats ahead & behind in the rest of economy.

    I just wonder if a passenger chooses to pay to select 11C, would that override the Gold block – I’ve no idea if they paid or not, however I do know she wasn’t gold.

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