Cobblestone Flight Review – CPH-VIE-TLV (and return via Zürich)

This trip made for an interesting opportunity in that I got to go with two different airlines out and back: Austrian out via Vienna (to the soundtrack of Caroline Henderson, “Made in Europe” – listen to the lyrics and you’ll get the reference, I’m sure) and back on Swiss via Zürich.

To be honest, Austrian was one down from the outset: the Internet check-in did not work. I could get a nice listing of all four segments on my ticket, but the check-boxes next to each were grayed out, so they could not be selected for the check-in.

A call to the helpline only made me know one thing more: “That happens rather frequently for CPH origin flights.” As the second leg was tied to the first, both were locked alas. And, contrary to a Lufthansa representative some years back, when they had the same sort of issues here, this lady did not offer to check me in on the phone. So goodbye, chance of picking a decent seat on the 3 hour 25 minute flight to Tel Aviv. And hello, possibility of being at the airport at an even more ungodly hour to now also check in in due time before the 07:10 departure.

In the airport, I actually got some information that cast a little more light on the situation – and not really to Austrian’s advantage. See, all Star Alliance airlines have so far been handled in the SAS terminal 3. But apparently, in Februay, Austrian (and Swiss, judging by the monitors) changed handling agents. Lufthansa had similar problems earlier but have them straightened out through Star partner SAS nowadays – so I’ll venture an educated guess that Austrian changed before they had worked out the kinks in the IT systems connections and now, 4 months later, they still haven’t. Abysmal.

Flight to Vienna, then? Uneventful, which is good – I did catch a take-off and a landing nap which was needed and inflight service actually was in existence – a muffin, a coffee and an “apfelsaft”.
Arrival on time.

Vienna airport is a bit messy in my eyes. The structure is that of 6 or 8 gates at a roundish end of a corridor, with individual security screening at some (most? all?) of them. Makes for quite crowded departure halls and as you have to queue, you have to be in good time – and beyond the security, there is only an unbelieveably crowded and nosiy lounge with too few seats for a Boing 767 worth of passengers – that’s all. Points for free internet in the airport, though – even if proxy logon and speed are decidedly in the slow end.

But boarding for the Tel Aviv flight seemed orderly by row numbers and once more, time to hurl off a slab of concrete in a pressurised aluminium tube.

My lack of web checkin resulted in a bulkhead seat. Ok, as it was first economy row, it got me out of the plane quickly but there was not much room for my rather long legs. Had a galley section in front of me that wasn’t much used so plenty of opportunity for taking a wee walk and stretch – but still, I was glad I wasn’t doing a long haul.

Return leg? Rather parallel to the outbound – while I could do a web check-in and did, some 16 hours in advance, there was not many seats to choose from. And the good one there was, 23D, got snagged right before my eyes. So I ended up with 30B, aisle & an entertainment box to kick a bit. Nice company in 30A – got to practice my French conversation skills.

Swiss does do good service on these flights – nothing bad at all to say on drinks or meal service. Altogether, I have them better than their Austrian counterparts, I must say.

Only an hours layover in Zürich – had a wee worry when they had a 5 min delay up on the monitors but then remembered this was clockwork Switzerland. Elsewhere it might have been a “something’s up to be traveller-paranoid about” warning, but here all went fine. Actually, all flights on the entire trip were within 10 minutes of schedule, ost on the slightly early side. Which is all good!

Last leg to Copenhagen was on SAS – bonus of a Danish paper, minus on the economy class being all purchased refreshments, though SAS has started to do free coffee and tea. Not the biggest deal as I wasn’t in for anything anyway – just finished my iPad book and then it was just baggage collect and out to the waiting daughter and a smooth drive home.

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