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LX: LAX-DEL-LAX via ZRH in C (To India on Swiss Air)

LX: LAX-DEL-LAX via ZRH in C (To India on Swiss Air)

Old Jan 15, 09, 4:21 pm
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LX: LAX-DEL-LAX via ZRH in C (To India on Swiss Air)

> INTRODUCTION

Although my leisure travel has not been finalized for the year, it appears that 2009 will entail an exploration of key holdings of the (former) British Empire. With trips to Canada, Gibraltar, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand planned for later in the year, I jumped at the chance to visit India in the cool of January. I had a wonderful trip and now understand why India was labeled the “crown jewel” of the empire.

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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:22 pm
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> FLIGHTS

I decided to book with LX and after some initial turmoil with the reservation, which I shall abstain from discussing in this report, I was confirmed in Business Class from LAX to DEL and back, with an overnight in ZRH on the way over.

LX is one of the few Star Alliance carriers I had not tried yet, so I looked forward to flying their “flagship” A340 on the 11.5-hour flight from LAX to ZRH.
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:23 pm
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>INITIAL HICCUP



On 06 Jan, my brother and I hopped on the Gold Line Metro in Pasadena at about 4:40p, in hopes of making it to Los Angeles Union Station in time to catch the FlyAway bus to LAX at 5:00p. After stopping just past the Chinatown Station for about five minutes due to another train ahead, we pulled up to Union Station at 5:02p, made a mad dash down the corridor, and scurried up the stairs to the bus platform, hoping the FlyAway bus was running a few minutes behind. The bus had just left…

With 25 minutes until the next scheduled bus departure, we were stuck waiting, annoyed that we would probably not be able to spend much time in the lounge prior to the flight.

At about 5:25p, our bus pulled up and we soon boarded, hoping for an on-time departure to LAX. But we sat there…and sat there. Finally at 5:40p the bus driver turned on the motor and pulled out of the lot.

For anyone who has lived or spent time in Los Angeles, just imagine I-110 at 5:50p on a weeknight. Not a pretty picture. Only this night, traffic was heavier than usual and it took almost a half hour for the driver to reach I-105. I glanced at my mobile phone and for the first time began to worry that we were in danger of missing the 6:20p check-in deadline for our 7:20p flight to ZRH.

To make matters worse, the driver got off on the wrong exit, Nash St instead of Sepulveda Blvd, so we had to cover the final distance to the airport on surface streets and lost over five minutes on two long traffic signals.

Finally we pulled up to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at 6:25p and my brother and I sprinted in and quickly located the LX check-in desk. We were met with a frown from the Station Manager who quipped that “check-in is closed unless you have already checked in online.” We had not checked in online.

We were issued standby passes, but told our seats had been given up. Glumly, knowing that we were at fault, we quickly passed through the security checkpoint and headed to the gate.

As it turned out, one person did not show up in C-Class, but Y and F were full so my brother and I elected to stay behind and travel together the next day.
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:23 pm
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> TAKE TWO

Wednesday January 7. We were not going to miss today’s flight so I left my office at 3pm and we drove to LAX, arriving by 3:45p. After re-checking in to obtain boarding passes (I had checked in online earlier), we decided to play one of my favorite games: lounge hopping.

There are five Star Alliance Lounges at LAX: US, AC, NZ, UA, and the Star Alliance Lounge in TBIT. Having spent a great deal of time in the US and UA lounges, my brother and I walked over to T2, hoping that we could talk TSA into letting us through security so we could access the NZ and AC lounges.

A supervisor had to be called, but after calmly explaining what we attempting to do, he granted us access () to the terminal and we proceeded upstairs. There was a moment of apprehension, however, when the dutiful TSO manning the metal detector noticed that we had LX boarding passes in our hand. I had gone through the metal detector first and he asked me why I was trying to get into this terminal. I explained that I would be accessing a lounge and that Mr. XX had approved. He did not take my word for it and called over his supervisor, Mr. XX. He was told that we were fine, but felt the need to argue, stating that passengers from airlines that did not serve T2 were not allowed in T2. He was again told by his supervisor that we were okay and he finally shut up and let us through.
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:24 pm
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> LAX LOUNGES

Our first stop was the highly acclaimed NZ Koru Club. I will let the pictures do the talking, but I was very impressed with this lounge: by far the best Star Alliance lounge in the airport and perhaps the best lounge in the airport.











Because I had never been it, I wanted to also check-out the AC Maple Leaf Lounge next door. What a let down after spending time in the Koru Club! I suppose it was not too bad, but it was tiny and the snack selection was very limited.













We considered going to the US Club (we certainly had time for it) or the UA Red Carpet Club, but did not fancy the thought of an additional security screening, so we returned to TBIT.







After another quick security check, we took an elevator up to the fifth floor Star Alliance lounge and settled in for the next 1.5 hours. The lounge was spacious and had a decent selection of food and drink, but all I sampled was the potato soup in order to leave room for dinner on the LX flight.














The potato soup was tasty
















A view of TBIT check-in area from the lounge
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:26 pm
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>LX41 LAX-ZRH, A340, C-Class, 4K, 1920 departure





There were two boarding lanes, one for Business and First and one for Economy, though both funneled into the same jetway. We were among the last to board and were warmly greeted by the purser at the door and directed to our seats in 4JK.

LX C-Class seats on the A340 are very similar to LH’s angled lie-flat seats. We settled in, our coats were hung, and we were offered a drink of our choice. Menus and amenity kits were passed out and moments later “boarding complete” was announced and all of us were welcomed onboard first in German, then in English, then in French by the trilingual purser. A safety video was played and then the Captain welcomed everyone aboard in German and English. We pushed back, taxied for a few minutes, and soon departed on our ~6,000 miles journey to ZRH.

The AVOD system, though not great, was adequate and included about two dozen movies, though many of them outmoded, as well as numerous television programs, music CDs, games, and audio books. The LX A340 is also equipped with two nifty cameras which allow you to observe under the plane and in front of it. Not much to see during the flight, but it was fun to watch the landing in ZRH the following afternoon.

The cabin crew was exceptionally courteous and professional and even accommodated my brother’s request to pull out his filet early. It turned out medium rare—a rarity at 40,000 feet above ground. I chose chicken for my entrée and found it to be perfectly prepared. After dinner, I fell asleep watching A Beautiful Mind and slept without interruption for over seven hours. The angled lie-flat seat did not bother me!

The appetizers, main course, dessert, and breakfast (especially the bircher muesli) all met my expectations. I am not going to list the menu/wine selections now, but have retained them if any of you are interested.

We landed early in Zurich, my brother and I both refreshed after a full night’s sleep.






















Approaching ZRH


Nose Camera


4K

Last edited by MatthewLAX; Jan 16, 09 at 4:30 am Reason: corrected seat number above
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:29 pm
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>IN ZURICH

My brother and I had made a priceline.com “name your price” reservation at the five-star (LOL) Renaissance Hotel near the airport. Because of our one day delay, we did not expect our reservation to be honored, but we decided to try anyway.

The hotel is about a 10-minute tram ride from the airport. The check-in staff, while very gracious, explained that the hotel would not be able to help us out in anyway and we would have to make another reservation. I asked where the business center was located and logged on to Priceline to try to get the hotel again. I had bid $105 for the previous night, with the cheapest available directly from the hotel being about $155. Tonight, I bid $81 and was successful again.

We checked-in and were assigned a room on the first floor (actually two floors above the lobby). The halls were shabby and the room, though comfortable, reminded me of a three star hotel rather than a four or five.

That evening, we ventured into Zurich and took a long walk down the busy city streets. We found a little Italian restaurant to eat at and were impressed with the food, although it was three times what I pay for Italian food in America. The weather was a frigid 25F (for a California native that is pretty darn cold!) and we were happy to get back to the cozy confines of the hotel.

The hotel had a dated but well equipped workout center and indoor pool which I used the next morning before we returned to the airport for our seven hour flight to DEL.





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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:32 pm
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>LX LOUNGE

We checked in for the flight and proceeded through passport control to the LX Lounge. After being directed to the Senator’s side, we settled down in the very cozy lounge. It was crowded, but not packed and I first employed one of the laptops in the business area before checking out the food options, which were disappointing, and walking through “the world’s longest bar”.























Beautiful Zurich Airport:





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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:33 pm
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>LX146 ZRH-DEL, A330, C-Class, 8A, 1230 departure

We only had to share the forward C-Cabin with two others and there were only about 100 passengers in Y. Service and food were once again excellent and although the A330 does not have AVOD, I did enjoy watching Eagle Eye and Breakfast at Tiffany’s during the flight. I ordered salmon and my brother ordered chicken.




















Flying over Tehran


Pre-arrival meal





Soon enough, we landed in DEL. A LX rep. was waiting on the jetway with a sign bearing my brother’s name. Due to a change in schedule he had to return immediately to Los Angeles (talk about a mileage run…) and I am sure his rather odd itinerary resulted in a bit of head scratching by LX DEL staff. After bidding him goodbye, I proceeded to passport control and entered India.

Last edited by MatthewLAX; Jan 15, 09 at 7:17 pm Reason: grammar
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:36 pm
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>INDIA

I must admit that I really enjoyed my time in India and look forward to returning in the future. Sure, many tried to rip me off, steal my money, and outright lied to me, but I found the good outweighed the bad. The poverty I witnessed was harrowing, certainly making me more thankful for all I have been blessed with, but I was glad to see hope and optimism among many of the people and a rapidly improving infrastructure in Delhi, as they prepare for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.




In Jaipur






Taj Mahal


Inside Agra Fort


Agra Fort


India Gate


Presidential Residence


Government building
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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:37 pm
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>DEL LOUNGE

Three days later, I found myself bidding my driver farewell as he dropped me off at DEL a few hours before my return flight to ZRH. If you are visiting Delhi for the first time, I recommend you hire a guide/driver. I had a wonderful driver who spoke good English and was very knowledgeable about the “Golden Triangle” area of Jaipur-Agra-Delhi that I visited.

Check-in was smooth and passport control took mere moments. I proceeded upstairs (before security) to the “Port Lounge” which was very crowded and a very poor lounge overall. There was small bar and bathroom in the back, a food area in the front, and only one computer station near the exit. There was a decent selection of German magazines, probably taken from LH, and a few Indian newspapers.

About 45 minutes before scheduled departure, a LX rep. walked through the lounge advising those traveling on LX to proceed to security. The security line moved slow, but was relatively painless: my shoes stayed on. Boarding looked like it was going to be very chaotic as there was a big gaggle around the boarding gate, but Business Class passengers were boarded first.





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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:38 pm
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>LX147 DEL-ZRH, A330, C-Class, 7K, 0200 departure

I took my seat the first row (7 on a LX A332) and found my seatmate was a blue-blooded Manhattanite with a Park Avenue Penthouse and an extensive fine art and rare pottery collection. She was very snippy with the FAs (who were excellent) and became perturbed when she was refused champagne before the flight departed and was told that she would have to stow her oversized Louis Vuitton bag in the overhead compartment. She complained to me that the seats on LX were not like Virgin Atlantic’s and that the only reason she was using LX was so that she could visit a friend near ZRH. We talked for quite a while during the flight and she was actually a very nice person.

In addition to top-notch service, the meals were also excellent. Prior to departure, we were given breakfast cards to fill out—much like the room service door hangers in hotel rooms—indicating whether we wanted to be awakened for breakfast prior to landing and what we wanted. I ordered a smoothie, orange juice, fruit, yogurt, and an omelet. I was also not quite ready to go to sleep so I partook in the light meal after takeoff. The chicken burrito and cold chicken breast was very tasty (although after three days of chicken tikka, I did not exactly need any more chicken!). I started to watch a very disturbing German movie about a woman who goes into depression after giving birth to her child, but I fell asleep and was out for about four hours. Not bad for a recliner seat.

An observation that I quickly picked up on is that although UA and LX have very similar recliner seats in some of their aircraft, LX has kept the seats clean (as well as the whole plane) and in working order. That makes a difference. On my last UA international Business Class flight, the foot rest was broken and the cabin was filthy…

We landed early in ZRH and I bid my new friend goodbye then proceeded past passport control to the arrivals lounge.



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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:39 pm
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>LX ARRIVALS LOUNGE

It serves its purpose: a serene area in which to freshen up after a flight, but the food selection was very limited. However, the showers were clean and the linen quality was good, plus there were many amenities available including shaving kit, toothbrushes, and lotions.

After a quick shower I retreated to one of two “quiet rooms” where I relaxed for a couple hours before proceeding into the city again.







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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:40 pm
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>ZURICH AGAIN

I did not have a reason for returning to the city center, except to do a bit more exploring. I took the S-Bahn from the airport for 12,40 CHF r/t and spent the next 2.5 hours walking around.



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Old Jan 15, 09, 4:41 pm
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>LX40 ZRH-LAX, A340, C-Class, 5A, 1315 departure

This would turn out to be the best flight of the trip thanks to the excellent crew. From the moment I set foot onboard, I was treated like a king and enjoyed being addressed by name the entire flight. I had an open seat next to me and thoroughly enjoyed the meal service (I had pasta today) before I fell asleep as we approached Iceland. Seven hours later I awoke over Salt Lake City, just as the pre-landing meal was being set up. I chose a saffron/mushroom dish that was tasty, though I was still full from lunch.

Prior to landing, the purser stopped by each passenger’s seat to thank us for our business—a great touch that left a positive final impression of LX. We landed fifteen minutes early and I bid farewell to the excellent crew. Immigration took less than a minute and I was soon on my way home after a marathon day of flying.





















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