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Truffles and (no) Lobster - A weekend in Singapore on LX F and SQ F

Truffles and (no) Lobster - A weekend in Singapore on LX F and SQ F

Old Jan 13, 20, 12:36 pm
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: EDKA, STR, ZRH
Programs: LH SEN, A3*G, IHG plat, DB Comfort, SPG gold
Posts: 964
Truffles and (no) Lobster - A weekend in Singapore on LX F and SQ F

After a surprisingly high amount of international travel in 2019, I actually hadn’t intended to leave the continent again until 2020. However, my +1 keeps complaining that we should actually try „other airlines“ from time to time (meaning non-*A-Carriers and particularly, not Lufthansa or SWISS), and as our status requalification periods are actually alternating, we wouldn’t usually have the chance to do so without jeopardizing the Miles & More status requalification of either me or her. She had already qualified for SEN earlier this year due to an extra trip home in which I didn’t join, but I still needed about 30’000 status miles in order to requalify, so I took a look at several options. Surprisingly enough, the really reasonable (but still not absolutely amazing) LH Group First Class fares from Paris to Asia were still available (I believe they must have been on for almost a year now), and I decided to do a short weekend return to Singapore, which would yield more than enough miles for my requalification, and would extend my status until Feb 2023 and give us the option of not having to worry about status for the next two years.

After some playing around in the Matrix, I were suddenly approached by Laurence Fishburne found some availability for a 4-night-return, but as luck would have it I was forced to take the blue pill, as neither Lufthansa nor SWISS let me book the itinerary directly. Finally, after trying on several OTAs, I ended up with a 724 ticket booked from Expedia, where the outbound flights CDG-ZRH-SIN were operated by SWISS, while the return was booked as SIN-FRA-CDG on LH flight numbers. Actually, I was really surprised that the Lufthansa long-haul segment was actually a code-share that mapped onto Singapore Airlines’ flight SQ 26 from Singapore to New York via Frankfurt - this might actually have been some kind of „error fare“, as codeshares that are not operated by Lufthansa or SWISS are usually not available for booking when taking advantage of one of those heavily discounted promo fares. I guess that it was just another glitch in the booking system of one of the parties involved.

Speaking of glitches in booking systems: Upon checking my booking (and to reserve seats), things got really messy. Despite having a 724 ticket (i.e. a ticket issued by SWISS), the swiss.com website wouldn’t let me log into the booking (displaying some kind of random error message). However, lufthansa.com did at least allow that, but with very limited options (the only thing I could possibly have done was changing the seat assignment for the FRA-CDG segment and entering my API data, which I did) - singaporeair.com also allowed me to log in, but didn’t allow me to choose seats, nor to Book the Cook (so the lobster from the title of this post wouldn’t be happening unless I’d call their hotline which I’m probably not going to do - never call a hotline unless you absolutely have to), as „the flight is operated by another airline“ (which is obviously not true - but it might point to the problem that allowed me to book the flight in the first place, as the LH codeshare might not be properly registered as such in the booking system). However, the seats that had been preassigned to me were actually the seats that I would have chosen anyway, so I wasn’t too bothered by the issue. I just don’t get how airlines consistently fail at properly synchronizing bookings and/or functionality across their websites.

In the end, I felt as if scoring a Singapore Airlines long-haul segment in First Class at a roundtrip price of slightly more than 3000 EUR was more or less a steal, even though the SIN-FRA-JFK route is still served by one of their non-refurbished A380s (much unlike their SIN-ZRH flight which already has the new suites, but I’m definitely not complaining).

So, the only remaining question was where to stay in Singapore, and how to position to Roissy. For the former, I chose to return to the Holiday Inn Orchard City Centre, as my experience there had been quite good last time I visited, and also because they had quite reasonable rates (and probably the best club lounge I’ve seen in any HI so far) and I could possibly benefit from my freshly renewed IHG Platinum status. For the positioning trip, there were two options. On one hand, I could catch a Thalys high speed train, on the other hand, I could fly from Düsseldorf on either Air France or Eurowings. However, even though they seem to have improved over the years, Thalys train service is still really unreliable (with a 1 hour delay only announced 10 minutes after the train was scheduled to depart, just for example), so I didn’t want to risk that. Hence, I opted for an Air France flight in (regular) economy class from Düsseldorf to Paris for the outbound, while returning by train from Gare du Nord to Aachen Hbf, all with lots of padding in between segments in order to compensate for delays which might easily happen (not only) due to weather issues in late autumn.

So, let’s get going. The report will consist of the following parts:
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Last edited by bruce80; Feb 7, 20 at 8:05 am
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Old Jan 13, 20, 12:58 pm
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Hugo Junkers Lounge Düsseldorf

As I still had some leftover Sixt Ride credit (which is a feature of Amex Platinum in Germany), I decided not to take the train to the airport, but instead order a taxi on the Sixt app, which would, thanks to the credit, be more or less free. After a somewhat circumstantial procedure, I was dropped off in front of the terminal entrance at Düsseldorf International airport. Despite the time of shortly past 7 in the morning on a regular Thursday, the terminal was actually quite empty, and there were no queues at the check in counters for Air France. Checking my bag took about a minute, and as soon as I had my baggage receipt, I proceeded towards the concourse B security checkpoint.

To my utter surprise, there was literally nobody waiting for the security check (usually, you can expect wait times of up to 20 minutes, particularly in the morning), and the security staff even had to stand up from their chairs just in order to check me. This really is a date that should be marked in my calendar.

Since I had booked an economy class ticket to Paris and don’t have any status with SkyTeam, I didn’t have any lounge access from my ticket, so I decided to use the PriorityPass that is also included in my Amex Platinum membership for the first time and visit the Hugo Junkers Lounge, which is the only lounge in concourse B and also the contract lounge for all airlines (except Eurowings) departing from concourse B. I had already visited the lounge a few years ago, and not much seemed to have changed.

The lounge basically is one single room, which is slightly smaller than the Lufthansa Senator lounge in concourse A (where I usually spend most of my lounge time in DUS), and overall, as you’d expect from a contract lounge, nothing special. Due to the emptiness of the terminal, the lounge was also not crowded at all, and I didn’t have any problem finding a seat to settle down (which really can be a problem in the SEN lounge, particularly during the early evening hours).

For breakfast, the lounge was offering a surprisingly diverse selection of food, ranging from small croissants over several kinds of cereals, donuts and cold cuts to scrambled eggs, greek-style baked beans and Wiener sausage.

Drink-wise, they were offering a selection of soft drinks, juices, beer, wine and spirits, even though the latter were no-name products and looked quite cheap. The orange juice dispenser wasn’t working as well, and the two coffee machines were both extremely slow and the coffee was way below average.

All in all, this is a lounge that is perfectly alright. The only thing that really bothered me was the noise from the soft drink fridge, as there were obviously some loose parts around the pump which created a really loud buzzing vibration sound which could be heard throughout the lounge.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 2:13 pm
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Air France HOP! Economy Class Düsseldorf - Paris

Route: DUS - CDG
Flight: AF1307 / AFR65MF
STD: 09:05
STA: 10:25
Aircraft: E190 (Embraer ERJ 190-100 LR) F-HBLB
Class: Economy Class (G)
Seat: 11F

After leaving the lounge, I actually had some trouble to find the actual departure gate. First of all, despite DUS being my home airport, I’m not really familiar with concourse B - and then, the layout of concourse B really is a maze. While concourse A is actually quite straightforward, concourse B is a maze of shops, duty free areas, bars, and restaurants. The actual gates are wedged somewhere in between, and are also not necessarily logically numbered - my gate B73 was actually located between gate B74 and B75 (while I expected it between B72 and B74).

The plane had arrived on time, so no departure delay was to be expected. I had checked in online some 27 hours out (check in on Air France opens 30 hours before departure, and that would have been in the middle of the night), and much to my surprise, almost only exit row seats were left, of which I chose one.

Boarding started right on time (with the usual people trying to take advantage of priority boarding when they weren’t actually entitled to do so, but the gate staff enforced the boarding group separation), and as I had booked an exit row, I could board within the first non-premium boarding group (which makes sense, as people sitting in an exit row have to store their baggage in the overhead bins). Due to the exit row, the legroom in my seat was good, even though the legroom in the standard rows didn’t look that bad either - in any case, I wouldn’t want to pay for an exit row reservation, but as selecting the exit row during online check-in was free, I was perfectly fine with that.

When boarding was completed (the plane got quite full), the flight attendants came around to check on the people in the exit rows and shortly explained the evacuation procedure. Push-back also occurred pretty much on time. During engine start-up, there was a strong smell of exhaust gases in the cabin which I hadn’t experienced before in this strength - this surely didn’t smell particularly healthy. We then taxied out to the runway, and I was very surprised that we were actually lining up on RWY23R. After a three-digit number of takeoffs from DUS, this was only the second time that I actually had a departure from this runway, as they’ll usually use 23R/05L for landings and 23L/05R for the departures, when they are operating in parallel runway mode. I’m still not sure why this happened, as the other runway seemed to be in operation as well.

After takeoff, service started for those in business class, who were seated in the first two rows, before the two flight attendants pushed out their carts in order to provide service to those in economy class. Much to my surprise, they were not just offering drinks and maybe a packaged snack, but every economy passenger actually received a full-sized Pain au Chocolat, which I found quite remarkable for such a short flight. Service was also quick, as most people were ordering coffee or tea. The coffee and tea cups are actually pre-equipped with a teabag resp. Instant coffee powder, so the FAs just opened the cups and poured in hot water. However, I’m not entirely sure whether I like this concept, as it creates a lot of additional waste in form of the cup lids, and I doubt that it’s much quicker to do it this way instead of just having a pot of ready-made coffee and tea, as most other airlines do.

There were actually no more remarkable events during the flight, and a short while after service was completed, we were already descending into Charles de Gaulle Airport. For those who are unfamiliar with the airport, I should mention that it really is a huge and extensive airport, and even though they are generally only referring to terminals 1 and 2, there’s actually more to it. Terminal 1 is primarily used by StarAlliance airlines, while Terminal 2 is primarily serving SkyTeam members, of which AirFrance is of course one. However, terminal 2 is actually not a single terminal, but consists of several „modules“ that are designated by the letters A to F (and are partly actually separate terminals with an own curbside drive-by, own entrance etc., while others are actually just concourses attached to another part of the terminal). Sounds confusing? It actually gets even better. Regional flights are operated to and from terminal 2 module G, which actually is a completely separate, very small and sparsely equipped building that’s not even close to any of the other terminal buildings. You’ll actually have to take a bus in order to get to or from this terminal.

The terminal itself doesn’t have any jet bridges, and passengers will have to walk from the plane to the building (this actually feels quite similar to how they handle it at LCY, for example). Once inside the building, you walk along bland and narrow corridors (with very weirdly colored windows), and at some point, the path separates into a lane for connecting passengers to terminal 2 (they can probably take an air-side bus to the main terminal) and a lane for passengers who’ll end their journey here.

As I had to collect my bag and then go to terminal 1, I took the direction for baggage claim, which is a hall with only two baggage belts (probably most passengers arriving here will connect anyway, so they are probably not using it that much).

When I arrived in the baggage claim hall, the monitor was displaying an expected wait time for baggage delivery of about 20 minutes, which I, to be honest, found outrageous. At some point, a handful of other passengers showed up (maybe 10 in total), and after even more than 20 minutes, the carousel finally started moving.

After grabbing my bag, I headed out of the terminal (where I was instantly harassed by a couple of guys offering me „taxi“ service, even though there are lots of billboards telling you not to engage with illegal taxi drivers all over the place), and went to the bus stop for the shuttle service to the main area of terminal 2 - at least they are providing this service free of charge. After another 10 minutes or so, our bus driver showed up and drove us across the airport motorway to module F, which took another 10 minutes.

We were dropped off curbside, and I made my way into the terminal in order to walk a few 100 meters towards the train station, where there’s a people mover connection to terminal 1.

After another few minutes (the people mover actually serves 3 stops along the way and usually gets quite full), I finally arrived at terminal 1.

All in all, I arrived there one hour and 10 minutes after touchdown - hence, if you are planning to connect at CDG, particularly on separate tickets involving a terminal change and baggage re-claim, be sure to leave plenty of time (I’d say at least three hours) for this really lengthy process.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 2:35 pm
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Le Salon StarAlliance Paris

I quickly proceeded to the check-in area for Lufthansa Group flights (which is number 4, right next to the escalator when you come up from the people mover station), and there was no wait at any counter. I proceeded to the StarGold/First Class counter, and was helped immediately (though not in a particularly friendly way). After getting rid of my bag and receiving my boarding passes, I proceeded through the boarding pass checkpoint and took the escalator one level up to the distribution level. While the architecture of T1 can surely be described as impressive, some people don’t like it for its brutalist space-ship appearance (which was intended by the architects). The way the floors are organized is even more unusual - while, usually, the arrivals level is below the departure and check-in level, it’s exactly opposite here. The first floor comprises the check-in area, the second floor is a distribution level from which you can reach the individual concourses (and where passport control takes place when you’re leaving Schengen) and he third floor is the arrival and baggage reclaim level. On top of that, there are several parking decks, and on top of the building, on level 10, there are several airline lounges, all of which are outside of the Schengen area.

Even though there is a Lufthansa Business Class and Senator Lounge each in concourse (or „satellite“, as they call it here) 6, where most or all intra-schengen flights depart from, they don’t enjoy the best reputation - they are small, dark and usually overcrowded. As I had deliberately planned for a lengthy layover (in the end, it was the time of year where weather may cause significant problems), I decided to not go directly to the LH lounges, but instead go through passport control and up to the StarAlliance lounge on top of the building, which would be accessible on account of my SWISS boarding pass, even though I was not flying outside of the Schengen area (and I actually expected to be questioned about that). I proceeded to the border control lines and shortly explained that I just wanted to visit the *A lounge, and they immediately let me proceed to an automated passport control gate. I got through in one minute, and then had trouble finding the elevator to the lounges (CDG is also infamous for confusing signage) - in the end, it turned out that the elevators were located directly behind the passport checkpoint.

Upon arriving at the lounge, once again nobody seemed to care that I was accessing this lounge with an inra-Schengen boarding pass, and I was immediately admitted.

The lounge primarily consists of one large room (or so it seems upon first glance) with different types of seating. Unfortunately, most of the seating options looked (and felt) quite uncomfortable, and all the other seats (proper armchairs) were initially taken. At the very end of the lounge, there is a terrace which is a smoking area, and overall, there was plenty of daylight in most parts of the lounge (much unlike the LH lounges).

I first dropped my carryon somewhere and had a look at the buffet, where breakfast was still being served. The spread was ok, but not really anything out of this world. They were actually offering quite a selection of asian options (including Asahi beer), which probably makes sense as most *A carriers flying out of CDG are actually asian.

I helped myself to a kimchi omelette, and when I returned to my seat, I found that one of the armchairs along the wall had become vacant, and moved there.

However, while I was eating, there were a few guys around me talking in an obnoxiously loud voice, so after finishing the food, I walked around a bit in order to find an alternative place to sit. It wasn’t until then that I realized there was another room on the upper level, which was reached by stairs next to the exit for the terrace. I went up there, and found a much smaller and completely empty room which also seemed to be equipped with more comfortable furniture. I chose to settle down there, even though the entire room had a slight smell of foul eggs.

What I found weird, though, was that the accessible toilet was also located on this upper level - they even had an elevator for wheelchairs next to the stairs; to me, this really seems to be unnecessarily circumstantial.

After spending some time in the lounge, I decided to move on to the Lufthansa lounge well ahead of boarding time, as people have been reporting long wait times at immigration (which I’d have to pass again in order to return to the Schengen area of the terminal). Fortunately enough, there were only 4 or 5 people waiting in line in front of me (the automated immigration gates seemed to be out of service, so everybody had to see a police officer in order to be processed) - however, the line filled up quickly behind me, so I was glad to be through.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 9:00 pm
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Posts: 588
Would appreciate your thoughts on whether the HGI Orchard Road is a quiet hotel or not.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 2:07 am
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Originally Posted by wtcmor View Post
Would appreciate your thoughts on whether the HGI Orchard Road is a quiet hotel or not.
Well, that depends on your definition of "quiet". Regarding the general noise level in the rooms, I didn't hear much from other guests, however, the eastern side of the hotel looks down onto a major motorway, and particularly at night, motorcycles could be heard from time to time. Other than that, particularly during the weekends, the hotel seems to be a favourite location for indian weddings, including all the disturbances that go along with huge wedding parties. Furthermore, the breakfast restaurant got really full during the weekends, with lots of families with small children, so I wouldn't say the HI Orchard Road is particularly quiet, but probably still more so than, for example, the Marina Bay Sands where the lobby already resembles a busy airport check in hall.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 7:05 am
Join Date: May 2011
Location: London
Programs: *A G, OW S, ST Elite.
Posts: 840
Great report so far.

I hope SQ suites works out for you, it's not unknown that they treat bookings made like this as business class when you go to check in and no amount of arguing with them will change anything. This may be why you can't choose seats of book the cook at present.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 8:17 am
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Programs: LH SEN, A3*G, IHG plat, DB Comfort, SPG gold
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Lufthansa Senator Lounge Paris

In order to access the gates, passengers need to walk through one of the currently 5 satellite concourses numbered from 1 to 7 (plus another two which are currently under construction) through access tunnels equipped with moving walkways.

Once I arrived at satellite 6 from where my flight was scheduled to depart, I first needed to go through security. There are two security checkpoints at the entrance of this satellite, but only one was operational. I had to wait for a few minutes as there were two or three people in front of me and they seemed to have trouble with the automated trough return system, and then turned right towards gate 61, where the (well-hidden) elevators down to the Lufthansa lounges are located.

Upon entering the lounge, I found it to be quite full, but not as overcrowded as on other occasions when I went there, and I was even able to secure an armchair seat. The lounge is really small, and the two pictures below basically show the entirety of the lounge (with the exception of a business center next to the entrance that provides 4 computer workstations).

All in all, except for the lack of natural light and the size, the lounge is quite a typical Lufthansa Senator lounge, with all the (relatively basic) amenities you’ll usually find in a Lufthansa lounge - they have a salad buffet, a small selection of warm food with a local touch (quiche), some snacks and sweets (including Tarte au Citron and Tarte au Chocolat) and a basic selection of drinks and alcohol.

All in all, the offerings in this lounge are not as bad as many people claim, it’s just not as spectacular as some other non-Lufthansa lounges. The primary problem really seems to be the small size. At some point, I checked on the incoming aircraft, and realized that they had taken off from ZRH about one hour late, which meant that departure would be delayed by about 30 to 40 minutes. In the end, I didn’t really mind, as I had also planned for a long layover of 6 hours in ZRH, but it once again proved to me that you should never book really tight connections unless there is more than one flight per day to your final destination.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 8:30 am
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SWISS Business Class Paris - Zürich

Route: CDG - ZRH
Flight: LX639 / SWR63M
STD: 15:05
STA: 16:20
Aircraft: BCS3 (Airbus A220-300) HB-JCI
Class: Business (J)
Seat: 2A

Approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the inbound plane had landed, I thought I might as well leave the lounge and head up to the departure gate.

However, when I arrived there, people were just starting to deplane, so I walked around the gate area a bit (which is sort of challenging, as the satellites themselves are quite small, with only one narrow aisle connecting the waiting areas). About 10 minutes later, the replacement crew boarded, and I was quite surprised that they started calling boarding groups 1, 2 and 3 only five minutes later.

Due to the new boarding procedure, there seemed to be quite some confusion. Boarding groups 1 and 2 (StarAlliance Gold and business class passengers) were asked to form a line at the right hand side, while boarding group 3 (that should have been those in a window seat) were asked to form a line to the left. However, the roped-off line for boarding group 3 was way too short to actually absorb the huge number of passengers trying to line up, so the entire line was basically blocking the entire main aisle.

About 5 to 10 minutes later, they started the actual boarding process, and I don’t believe the pre-sorting of people actually helped speed things up, as there was even more confusion as to which line to board first.

I settled down on the port side of row 2 - as there are only two seats on the left hand side of the plane and they will always keep the seat next to each passengers vacant, you can basically select which one of the two seats to actually take, even though the boarding pass will always indicate seat A for odd numbered rows and C for even numbered rows. I chose the window seat for myself.

Suddenly, while boarding was still underway, a guy walked up to my row, put his carryon bag into the baggage bin over my row and sat down next to me. Knowing that there must have been something wrong, I asked him about his seat number. He didn’t seem to understand (or maybe just pretended to not understand), so I waved over a flight attendant who took care of the situation. It turned out that he had just seen an empty seat and had chosen to just sit down instead of walking all the way back to his actual seat which was in row 17.

They had already placed water bottles at every business class seat before boarding started (usually, every business class passengers will receive a bottle of still Henniez mineral water and a packed refreshing towel during or shortly after boarding), and the towels were never distributed (not that I cared, as I don’t like those towels anyway). After boarding was completed, we were quickly pushed back and on our way to Zürich.

After departure, service started. I have never fully understood SWISS’ catering concept, but the kind (and quantity) of food being served on short routes of about 1 hour flight time seems to heavily depend on the time of day. Until noon, they seem to be serving breakfast which is quite substantial, and in the evenings, they are serving a light supper, usually containing of a cold dish such as pasta salad, cheese and dessert. Between those times, they only seem to be serving a small snack which only contains three small bites, and neither cheese nor bread rolls. As our flight was falling into that timeframe, that’s what we received - much to my surprise, the small quiche was actually warm, while the other meals generally served on LX flights don’t contain any warm items (they probably need the ovens in order to heat up the bread rolls). However, even though it was only a small serving, the food was actually very good, and the full selection of drinks was offered, including champagne and spirits.

Soon after, we were already starting our descent towards Zürich, and we took an arrival route that I haven’t had before - the flight path led us straight over Uetliberg and Lake Zürich, with a spectacular view of downtown Zürich. The weather seemed to be a bit weird, as they would usually land on RWY14 during this time of day, but on this specific day, we were approaching RWY28 instead.

We touched down about 30 minutes behind schedule, and, as is the norm when I land at ZRH, we were assigned gate A85, one of the two gates that require the longest walking distance from the gate to the central part of the terminal where the exit and the lounges are located.

Before heading to the SWISS First Class Lounge in concourse A, I decided to first pay a visit to the recently opened Alpine Lounge, which has been established in the same location as the former FCL A, and which would be on my way to the FCL anyway.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 9:55 am
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SWISS Alpine Lounge Zürich

Actually, the above is not true, as I already went to visit the newly opened SWISS Alpine Lounge one week before taking this trip, during one of my regular commutes between ZRH and DUS - however, as this lounge has just recently been opened, I thought I might as well include it in this report.

The SWISS Alpine Lounge replaces the former concourse A first class lounge, and serves as some kind of relief location to the generally overcrowded business class and senator lounges in the Schengen area of Zürich Airport. As such, there are a few peculiarities to the lounge opening times and access rules - the lounge is only open on weekdays until 6pm, and it is accessible by Lufthansa Group business class passengers as well as StarAlliance Gold members (both from Lufthansa Group as well as all other *A programs) - hence, even a person flying out of ZRH on Singapore Airlines First Class (the only *A carrier besides SWISS to offer a first class product out of ZRH) would *not* get access to this lounge - they’d have to use one of the regular senator lounges out there, which, along the lines of Lufthansa Group, is their regular „first class lounge“. Miles & More silver members (aka Frequent Travelers) also don’t get access, they need to stick to the main business class lounge in the airside center.

As I said, the lounge replaces the former FCL A which has been refurbished during a period of approximately 18 months, and is currently not heavily advertised (neither by SWISS’ marketing department, nor by airport signage), which probably is, at least for now, the biggest advantage. From the outside, the only thing that has changed is the labeling at the entrance, which probably also led to the situation that during my stay here, quite a few first class passengers „accidentally“ entered the lounge, as they weren’t aware that it’s no longer the first class lounge. Hence, for those of you who are still familiar with the old FCL, it’s quite easy to find the entrance. For everybody else, just walk towards the A gates until you arrive at the bookstore/café combination. The entrance is right between the bookstore and the transfer counters, and you’ll have to walk up a spiral staircase.

Upon arriving at the front desk (there are also two self-checkin gates which were inoperative) I was welcomed in a very friendly way, and talked to the receptionist for a few minutes. Even though the venue has been thoroughly refurbished, the general structure remains the same as the former FCL, which means that it’s still separated into two parts, with the reception desk in the middle (although the separation is not as bad as, for example, in Cathay’s The Bridge lounge in HKG). The part to the right of the reception (the two former „backrooms“) provide the main lounge area and are equipped with armchairs and sofas, as well as 4 work cubicles.

The other part, the former restaurant and main lounge room, is primarily used as the dining area, and is equipped with large tables with benches as well as a number of smaller, semi-separated dining tables.

The former bar and restaurant area now serves as the main buffet, which is dominated by something looking like a fancy Müesli station (which provides some healthy nibbles such as pumpkin seeds). Soup, Salad and bread are also available here.

Drinks are available along the wall of the dining area opposite to the windows (where the buffet used to be when it was still the FCL), and they are serving a selection of wines, beer on tap and several Swiss spirits.

Across from the „Müesli station“ is the kitchen, which features an „oven“, and where live cooking is performed.

During my visit, they were serving Raclette, just in line with the overall regional touch of the lounge. Upon ordering, the chef asked me if I wanted „everything“, and I agreed. He then piled up a few tablespoons of cooked potatoes, pickled onions, bacon and a few other ingredients into a bowl and covered everything with a few slices of cheese. This then went into the oven, and I was told to wait. All in all, I wonder how this would work if the lounge is full - preparing every dish just in time might get a bit slow when there are many people ordering at once, and I wonder how they will know which bowl to assign to which guest when there is more than one bowl in the oven.

Upon receiving the finished, gratinated dish, I found the overall taste to be way too salty for my taste, and the potatoes weren’t fully cooked, some even still cold. This is a pity, as their concept of providing freshly prepared, locally sourced, regional dishes is actually a nice change from the usual warmed up international stuff.

In the end, I have to say that I really like the concept and also the design of the lounge, and the catering concept is definitely an improvement over what they have been serving in the other lounges since they were (re)opened. However, I still think the biggest advantage of the lounge is that it isn’t widely known yet, and hence it was quite empty when I visited. Otherwise, the small number of traditional lounge seats (remember, most of the seats in the lounge are in the dining area) might be a problem. Still, the Alpine lounge is probably the best non-FCL Lufthansa Group lounge out there at the moment.
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bruce80 is offline  
Old Jan 14, 20, 1:17 pm
Join Date: Dec 2015
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From your pics it seems the Alpine lounge in Zurich looks both chic and comfortably residential at the same time. Looks like something out of a Monocle guidebook.
jysim is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 10:43 am
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Location: EDKA, STR, ZRH
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SWISS First Class Lounges Zürich

I then walked through the (slightly) christmassy Airside Center (the main part of ZRH connecting all the concourses) and up one level, to the airside entrance of the FCL A. Upon entering, the attendant immediately asked whether I would like to be driven to concourse E immediately, but I declined. I was still waiting for a phone call (that never came), and as there is no real dedicated work area in the FCL E, I instead asked for a lift at 6pm, which was confirmed by a small sticker on my boarding pass.

I then walked straight over to my favorite place in the lounge, which is the far corner along the windows looking down onto the terminal, where you have a view across the check in hall 1.

I have never found the service in the FCL A to be as attentive as in the lounge in concourse E, but I was perfectly fine with that. In the end, you could still walk up to the bar to order something, but instead, I chose to go to the smoking room in order to pour myself a glass of whisky (the main bar primarily features all kinds of fruit brandy, mainly Grappa). They now have a wooden chest in the smoking room, that probably contains cigars - however, the chest was locked, and I don’t really have any idea as to what you’re supposed to do with it - do visitors need to pay for a cigar, or how is that supposed to work? For me as a non-smoker, it didn’t matter, but I was actually curious about that - however, in the end, I forgot to ask.

Other than a smoking room, the SWISS First Class lounge concourse A offers a small lounge area, an attended bar (which primarily has fruit brandy on offer), a restaurant area, several work cubicles, a very small quiet room with two recliners, then toilets with showers and, in addition to the semi-open kitchen which serves the restaurant area, a small buffet area primarily offering soft drinks and small nibbles, plus a selection of chocolate and candy (particularly the latter is something that, to me, is a bit lacking in the E lounge - there is no way to actually help yourself to any food or snacks if you don’t want to have a full meal).

As 6pm was approaching, I slowly made my way trough the corridor leading from the lounge past the Senator and business class lounges to the entrance of the former FCL (which is now the entrance to the Alpine lounge), where the car transfer is being provided. Actually, even though I understand that there’s probably no other solution, the corridor itself is the main reason why the business and senator lounges have shrunk after the refurbishment - additionally, the FCL smoking and conference room (who’ll need the latter anyway?) have also been taken from the space originally used for the business class lounge, which I feel is a bit of a step into the wrong direction. Well, anyways.

Unlike in Lufthansa’s FCLs, nobody will actually approach you to pick you up when your car transfer is ready, but instead you are requested to report to the limousine counter on your own when the time of your booked transfer approaches. I was welcomed by a friendly attendant, we waited a few seconds for other people to eventually join (nobody else came), and then we went down the elevator to the car transfer security and immigration checkpoint. LX first class passengers and people who need special assistance (passengers in wheelchairs, for example) will have their immigration formalities done there, before they board a limousine or a wheelchair transport vehicle. People who are coming in from concourse E in the same way (for example, because they have arrived in Swiss First Class at concourse E or have been taken care of by the mobility assistance service) will have their transit security check being taken care of there as well.

We jumped into the car (which was a relatively new Mercedes Benz V class van) and drove through the underground tunnel to concourse E.

Upon exiting from the elevator, I was very surprised that the receptionist in the E lounge directly greeted me by name, and I also didn’t have to scan my boarding pass again. They obviously have a system in place which announces the passengers in advance, and that seems to work very well. She also asked whether I was familiar with the lounge (I was), and whether she could do anything more for me. I asked to have a shower later, and she just said „fine, just come back whenever you are ready“.

I settled down, once again in my favorite spot, and was more or less instantly approached by a waitress, from whom I ordered a glass of champagne. This was served along with some small snacks, and a bottle of still water. While I hadn’t been too happy with the service here the last time that I visited, on this occasion, everyone was very friendly and attentive, even though there were only me and one other passenger (who would end up sitting right in front of me on the plane) were I the lounge - last time, when the lounge was empty, staff would rather stand at the bar and chat instead of taking care of their only guest.

Some time later, I moved to the restaurant (which was also completely empty) and had a look at the menu - unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of it, but there are a few „all time favorites“ that are always on the menu (like the beef tartare) while other options seem to be subject to regular change.

First up, I was offered a bread basket and chose a pretzel roll, which was accompanied by two kinds of cream cheese and something that reminded me of Tsatsiki. I had a glass of Italian red wine, and ordered „home made wild boar ham“ for starter, and a burger for my main.

The burger was actually surprisingly big, and I was quite stuffed afterwards, even though I didn’t even eat all the fries. However, the food quality was, once again, excellent, and I’d say LX have some of the best catering in their first class lounge (the only lounge where catering is still supposed to be better is Air Frances FCL in CDG, but I haven’t had a change to visit so far).

After dinner, I went to reception to inquire about a shower again. I was promptly assigned the „Ascona“ shower room, where I had a quick and refreshing shower.

After spending some more time in the lounge (which filled up a bit over the hours but never got even close to full), I decided to walk down to the concourse and to my gate slightly early, in order to get some exercise after all the hanging around in lounges and before the food to come up on the flight.
bruce80 is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 9:00 am
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: EDKA, STR, ZRH
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SWISS First Class Zürich - Singapore

Route: ZRH - SIN
Flight: LX176 / SWR176
STD: 22:45
STA: 18:00+1
Aircraft: B77W (Boeing 777-300ER) HB-JNC
Class: First (A)
Seat: 2K

Upon arriving at the gate, I was wondering that there were actually not that many people hanging around the gate. Even though I had gone to the gate relatively early, I didn’t have to wait for long until they called priority boarding, making me the first passenger on the plane.

Slippers, amenity kit and a wifi voucher for 50 MB were already waiting at my seat, and not long after I settled in, I was welcomed by one of the the flight attendant who would be taking care of first class tonight. I was offered a glass of champagne and asked which size of pajamas I’d prefer.

Menus were also distributed, along with the note that, due to the ongoing truffle „connoisseur experience“, a few additional options were available, which could be found on a separate sheet handed out with the menu. SWISS is offering a special dining experience exclusively on flights out of ZRH which they label „SWISS Connoisseur Experience“ four times per year, usually lasting two weeks each at the ends of the months February (seafood), May (caviar), August (steak) and November (truffle). Unfortunately, they will generally only announce the actual dates at the beginning of the respective month, so it is difficult to actually book flights during the periods in which the specials will be offered (I already missed this twice by only a few days). However, the seafood special has already been announced to happen between Feb 19th and March 3rd 2020. In this case, I hit the spot with my booking, without even intending to. Contrary to the seafood special which I got to experience last year, the truffle menu actually comprises the entire order of courses, while seafood is only available as an additional starter (and, I believe, they had a seafood pasta dish as an intermediate course).

I also received the amuse bouche, which is usually served while still on ground, however, I have had instances where I only received it shortly after takeoff, just like in Lufthansa First Class.

The Pilot in Command also came around to introduce himself personally (something that always feels a bit awkward from both sides), and informed me that we were expecting a smooth flight with some thunderstorms in and around Malaysia during the last two hours of the flight, and that there was an extremely light load in Economy class, so boarding should be completed soon (no, he didn’t offer a cash downgrade in order to fill the Economy cabin). Shortly after, boarding was indeed completed (with only the seat next to me across the aisle remaining empty in F) and meal orders were taken. First of all, I ordered a gin & tonic as my aperitif after takeoff (SWISS really has an excellent gin on offer, and I never miss out on that). As I had overeaten on the burger earlier, I only intended to order the truffle and scallop starter, followed by the Tagliatelle, and then call it a day. However, the flight attendant responsible for me made a sad face, and asked me whether I really wanted to skip the Balik salmon. Alas, get me some of that as well (but only the salmon, no other items from the menu!).

We quickly pushed back and departed from RWY 32 as the last flight for the day, just as scheduled.

About half an hour after takeoff, and only shortly after the aperitif had been served, the table was set for dinner.

I have to say, the best part of the menu was definitely the scallop tartare, while the Tagliatelle were a bit disappointing. The felt a bit dried-out, and also the truffle slices on top didn’t seem to be all that fresh. It might be a good idea to have them grate the truffle over the pasta on the plane (just like in a fancy restaurant), but I’m not sure whether that would actually be realistic.

Even though I had intended to finish my meal after the main course, the flight attendant first „forced“ me to a cheese plate („Only a tiny, tiny bit, but you *must* try the truffle cheese!“), and then, later on, she also talked me into having the dessert, which was actually the highlight of the entire meal. Now completely overstuffed, I ordered a glass of Säntis Malt Swiss whisky, and had my bed made. Of course, she didn’t make it easy for me once again, as there was an entire box of pralinés waiting at my seat when I returned, along with the landing card for Singapore. I had two of the pralinés before handing the box back, and felt glad that my hotel in Singapore had a gym and a pool readily available.

All the while, the purser came around and explained that he had two trainee pursers with him, and that he wanted to show them how to fix a stuck first class seat. As neither me nor the passenger sitting next to the empty seat had any objections, the went on to disassemble and reassemble the seat quite a few times, and it was really fascinating to see how quickly those seats can be completely taken apart (and hopefully, be put together again).

During the night, I woke up once and had to visit one of the bathrooms, of which there are two located directly behind the cockpit. However, there were several people huddling in the galley directly behind the curtain in my aisle, making it impassable for me. Something must have spilled, I thought, and now they are cleaning up. Hence, I went back to the business class galley and changed there to the other aisle which nobody was obstructing. When I returned from the lav, a bunch of flight attendants was still kneeling around something in the galley, but I still didn’t wonder. However, in the morning, I woke up to two odd revelations. First of all, the first class cabin was now 8 out of 8, with a gentleman contentedly having his breakfast in the seat next to me, and then, both he and myself were now served by a flight attendant that I hadn’t seen In the first class cabin before. As usual, I only ordered a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice as my breakfast, as I’m generally not a breakfast person, and then, I also had way more to eat than any dietary advisor would recommend the night before.

As we were approaching the Strait of Malacca and all other passengers were awake again, the purser came around again and had longish conversations with everyone in the cabin. I was wondering whether he was already bidding farewell to everyone, but when he finally approached me, he seemed very apologetic - he explained that one of his colleagues (the flight attendant who had been serving my aisle the night before) had collapsed in the galley mid-flight, and that he hoped that any potential noise from that would not have bothered us during the night. He went on to explain that she was fine again by now, but that we had just been cruising over Iraq when the medical occurred, and that they had tried for almost an hour to get her conscious again, as nobody actually wanted to divert the flight to somewhere in that area (which is probably understandable). I didn’t really know what to make of his words - I mean, this was a medical emergency, and he is really apologizing for that? I told him that he certainly need not apologize for something like that to happen, and somehow he seemed relieved. I also told him that I had seen the group of people crouching in the galley, but didn’t think much of it. He also seemed to be grateful that I took the detour via the business class galley both ways when visiting the lavatory - I really am a bit concerned that the way he thanked everyone for their understanding and collaboration is a strong indicator as to how first class passengers might possibly react to an incident like that, and it makes me feel ashamed for my fellow humans.
Obviously, the guy now sitting next to me had surrendered his business class seat during the night before in order to provide a calm and quite place for the flight attendant to recover, and he also seemed to view his collaboration as an obvious thing to offer (and a mid-flight upgrade to first class is also nothing to be sniffed at, although I doubt that this had been his primary motivation).

Meanwhile, we had crossed the Malayan peninsula and were approaching Changi airport slightly ahead of time, after doing two and a half racetracks over Bintan island. As is the norm in Singapore, taxiing after landing took quite a while, and then, nobody seemed to be there in order to operate the jet bridge (something that also seems to be the norm at SIN - once, on a BA A380, we had to wait for almost 15 minutes until we could deplane).

After quite a long walk from the gate to the immigration hall (I didn’t bother to address the „Personal Assistants“ waiting at the gate with Lufthansa/SWISS First Class signs and a list of the names of all F passengers and HON members on the flight, as they aren’t helpful at all in SIN - there is no fast track or anything they can be helpful with) I joined one of the queues in the immigration hall, which didn’t seem to be too long. However, my queue took almost forever until the officer in my booth was relieved by a colleague. Even though they had „queue managers“ in place who would check whether people queuing actually had their landing cards filled in and met all other requirements, the entire process seemed to be quite chaotic. After about half an hour, I was through, but the baggage belt wasn’t running yet. Another 10 minutes later, my bag was fortunately the second or third one that came out, and I could proceed through customs into the arrival hall, where a Blacklane driver was supposed to wait for me.
bruce80 is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 9:13 am
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Great TR!
LondonElite is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 1:18 pm
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Stockholm
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Looks very good so far. Will be following the rest of your trip.

It's a very interesting story about the flight attendant that collapsed. Like you I wonder how some people have reacted to such things in the past...
Fredrik74 is offline  

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