Arrived on a SpiceJet turboprop (!) from Chandigarh into Delhi airport’s domestic Terminal 1D, the first little challenge was to get from there to Terminal 3, the international one. This proved to be quite easy as the little helpdesk in front of the terminal building actually was a real little ticket office and, after having verified that I actually was going to fly, pointed out the shuttle bus and issued a ticket.
The bus was empty but with doors open, so I entered and sat down. Next, in rapid order, a driver and a conductor appeared as did another passenger. And, despite the fact that it was still 10 minutes to the scheduled depart, they apparently declared the two of us VIPs and promptly drove off. Nice.
There is a thing called electronic, paperless ticketing. It works well at check-in counters etc inside the airports – but that particular development has not yet reached the security personnel that controls the entrances to said airports. On all my domestic flights, I had itinerary prints thanks to my thoughtful and efficient colleagues in Mumbai – but now, on the ticket I had booked from home, not a scrap of paper. The guard at entrance 4 vaguely pointed in some direction to get a print – but as far as I could tell, the ticket offices that might give you one were also inside…
Thankfully, the guard at entrance 3 was gadget literate enough to accept my TripIt itinerary off my iPad and I was allowed entry to the hallowed halls. Two learnings: a) do carry paper copies of your flight schedule when flying from Indian airports, b) it would have been a little easier if TripIt’s overview had shown today’s date instead of or in addition to the kind translation into “today” and “tomorrow”.
Despite checkin not really being open yet, there were people manning the counters where I assumed Swiss would be announced on the screens above. And open or not, the StarAlliance silver card did its trick and the business class counter ladies smiled their welcome, processed my bag and did their best to get me a seat with legroom. 23D on the A330 – second row in Economy, special in that it has no seat directly in front. So I could stretch out reasonably.
With some four hours to kill, the company issued Priority Pass came in handy as I found a Plaza Premium lounge and sat down to catch up on a bunch of Emails as well as my social media life. The kind barman served a G&T that in time was followed by some nice Indian food, some water, a large cappuccino and rounded off with a glass of redwine.
The clock ticked around to past midnight and gate 8 beckoned. Following a sound travel principle – if you don’t ask, you’ll never get a yes – I checked whether, despite it’s never said in the announcements, my silver status would let me board with business class. And so I sailed past the economy queue and had plenty of time to get installed. The flight was not full, so overhead bin space was not hard to come by – but you never know before you’re on board.
Onboard service was quick to start and friendly – as I had eaten in the airport, I settled for some cookies, some water and a G&T. While most were still eating the late night snack, I could pop down and use the washroom and get back, wrap myself up in the blanket and shut my eyes.
I probably slept quite well and quite a lot – economy seat sleeping does involve some semi-awake shuffling around at intervals to try to be comfortable, no way around it – but at least I have no recollection of meal garbage collection, duty-free sales or the like.
Morning appeared with the ubiquitous omelette, sausage & tomato thing and, as importantly, coffee. On the approach to ZRH, connections overviews came up on the monitors along with a gate map with the landing gate indicated. As I only had a 50 min layover, having the departure gate and and idea of where to go upon disembarking is very helpful indeed – points scored! And landing on schedule, even a few minutes early, counts that way, too.
The idea of stepping off a plane and heading directly to a security check is a little bit puzzling to me. And I couldn’t help wonder that it looked as if the stairs down towards exit let you to one half of a transfer train platform while the signed way to the A gates led you through security to the other half. There was a wall between the two halves – but the train was the same… Possibly there was a similar wall at the other end of the train ride so that it is not possible to sneak an easier way through…
Blessedly no queue at passport control, up the stairs to the shopping area where I dared to dive in for a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and then headed off for a brisk walk to the other end of the A terminal where boarding was being announced at my gate right as I got there. A tight transfer, but also a pleasure when things run that smoothly and airport time is exchanged for “just get me home” time.
A Swiss A320 was waiting to take me on the last leg to CPH – I’d secured an emergency exit row seat on the web checkin done in Chandigarh and the service offered yet a needed cup of coffee as well as a croissant.
All in all a trip that I can’t call anything but smooth and well-executed. Run like a Swiss clockwork!