01. Introduction: I guess Edelweiss Air isn’t so expensive after all
02. Lufthansa A340-300 economy class San Diego to Frankfurt
03. Lufthansa A319 economy class Frankfurt to Zurich
04. Four Points by Sheraton Sihlcity – Zurich
05. Three tips to make your first trip to Zurich better than mine was
06. Radisson Blu Zurich Airport
07. Edelweiss Air A340-300 economy class Zurich to San Diego
After pulling my phone out of my pocket three times in five minutes to check the time, I came to the conclusion that the only thing that it was doing was making me crazy and it was imperative that I needed to stop. It was stressful enough being stuck in a massive crowd of people that was slowly inching towards a lone (and overwhelmed) passport control guy, and worrying about missing my connection to Zurich was a lot of extra stress that I didn’t need right then.
The only thing that mattered at that moment was trying to find the perfect balance of being aggressive enough to keep advancing my position in that massive crowd, while at the same time being polite enough that I didn’t come off as being a total dick to everyone around me. It’s so hard to be an adult sometimes!
Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) – Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)
Friday, April 27, 2018
Duration: 33 minutes
Seat: 16C (economy class)
The feeling of clearing passport control and plowing my way through the turnstile was likely very similar to the way that all those horses feel during the main event at the Kentucky Derby each year. I didn’t even pause to look and see where my connecting flight would be departing from, as I was so anxious to get moving that I just ran ahead into terminal A thinking that I would figure things out (and make necessary course corrections) as I’m running.
A quick glance down to my boarding pass revealed that A38 would be the departure gate to Zurich this afternoon, which seemed awfully familiar to me for some reason…
For those of you not familiar with the Frankfurt airport, it’s one of the largest in the world and it would take hours to walk through and explore. That’s why I was completely dumbfounded when I found myself standing in front of gate A38, realizing that this was the exact same gate that I departed from when I went to Lisbon last year on TAP Portugal. What are the chances of that happening?! Of all the gates in this massive airport, how freakingly odd is it that I would get the same one two times in a row (on two completely different airlines nearly one year apart)?
The delay gave me a lot to think about as I hovered around the gate area waiting for boarding to begin. It turns out that I didn’t need to run after all, and if I would’ve taken my time to assess the situation before I ran full speed here to the gate, I would’ve realized that the flight was delayed and there was no need to be a total spaz. They say you learn a lot about yourself when you travel, and this was a perfect example of that. Lesson learned.
One thing that was slightly different about the last time I was at this gate was the fact that they were using an automated boarding system that wasn’t here before. I hated the idea of these things when they were first introduced a few years ago, but now that I’ve used them in a handful of places I’m slowly warming up to them. My biggest fear was that it would confuse the hell out of most people and it would slow down the boarding process, but from what I’ve seen it’s just as efficient as having a gate agent standing there and manually scanning each boarding pass.
Successfully getting past one of those automated boarding machines feels more satisfying than getting past an actual gate agent for some reason, so it gave me a valid excuse to walk down that jet bridge with a crooked smirk on my face. Hey – I’m proud of the fact that I’m smart enough to use technology in high-pressure situations!
The smirk I was holding eventually wore off by the time I stepped onto the airplane, but it was replaced by a genuine smile as the lead flight attendant greeted me with a snack before sending me down the aisle to find my seat. I should probably mention that she was handing out snacks to everybody, so it’s not like she was trying to win brownie points in hopes of a good review here on the blog. Of all the 750+ flights I’ve taken in my life so far, this was the first time that I had ever been handed a snack during the boarding process. Cool!
This is the point of the trip report where things suddenly change direction and it all goes downhill from here. You see, I had reserved seat 16A for the short flight down to Zurich this afternoon, but unfortunately, the person seated in 16C took it upon himself to take the window seat instead assuming that I’d be cool with sitting in the aisle.
Normally this is something I’m not cool with at all, but in this instance I let it slide considering that it was a short flight anyway, and it really wasn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Now, if it were a sunset flight that was sure to offer some spectacular photography opportunities, I definitely would’ve pushed back and taken that seat.
It turns out that the guy sitting in the middle seat was the father of the guy who took mine, and we ended up having a really nice conversation about Zurich and San Diego. He was a very frequent traveler to the US actually, so it was nice to meet a fellow flyer and exchange travel tips. We likely never would have become friends if I told his son to pound sand, so it all worked out in the end I guess!
Well, it didn’t totally work out. I knew this was going to be a dull trip report right from the beginning, but now that I was sitting in an aisle seat it was going to get worse since I wouldn’t be able to get any take off or landing pics.
That was the thing that disappointed me the most about having to change seats – I don’t necessarily mind sitting in aisle seats if I am prepared for it, but the main focus of this trip report was going to be the view from the window. Is it necessary for me to keep explaining why there aren’t going to be that many pics from this point forward?
Thankfully one of my Instagram friends (@julian.jstk) was at the airport that day and managed to get some pics of our plane taxiing out to the runway:
This was very short 33 minute flight straight south to Zurich, and I was amazed that the flight attendants came through the cabin offering a full beverage service (from carts no less). That’s the kind of service that we just don’t see United States and it’s a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around it.
33 minutes is typically what it takes to fly from San Diego to Los Angeles (a route I’ve done many times) and typically on those flights all we get is the flight attendant making an announcement to “let me know if you need anything and I’ll be happy to help”. European airlines aren’t the best in the world, but they’re certainly a notch above what we have here in the US.
There isn’t much to say about the actual flight itself other than the fact that it was quick and painless and I didn’t really even miss the fact that I wasn’t seated by a window. Sure, the weather looked nice out there, but the sun was so high that the photo opportunities weren’t all that great anyway. I guess I wasn’t missing all that much.
In summary, not only is Lufthansa is a decent airline for short hops within Europe, it’s pretty darn impressive that I successfully managed to be a calm and cool-headed adult through all of it. From being stuck in a massive blob of people fighting their way through passport control only to have my window seat abruptly ripped from my possession at the very last moment, it took every bit of strength I had not to pout like a four year old whose sister had just thrown his favorite toy car into a very deep lake after a heated argument about Wonder Woman vs. Superman (true story by the way).
Travel is about rolling with the punches and taking things as they come one by one. Learning to smile through it all takes a lot of practice, but it’s very necessary skill to have if you want to enjoy your time on the road!
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