Where flying is still personal: On the Swiss flight from Budapest to Zurich, Helvetic Airways operated with its Fokker100 as the executing airline. Once again, it was going to be a very special flight, even though the well-known Swiss or Helvetic product already plays in the front row, regardless of class.
Web check-in and fast track security
The web check-in for seat 1A went smoothly. The fast track security at Budapest airport was a bit more difficult. The older lady who checked the tickets for the fast track line (e.g. business class status) initially refused to accept my mobile boarding pass. She could not see anywhere that I had booked business class. The class was only marked with “C” (for business class), which meant nothing to her, and my three-minute explanation session was also unsuccessful. Nevertheless, I asked her to scan the ticket or barcode. However, she was so nervous and had a shaky hand that the barcode was not readable for the scanner. I placed my mobile phone on the counter and asked her to try again calmly. And behold… “Open sesame,” the way was clear to the fast track security, and I left a somewhat irritated security lady behind me.
Business class boarding
There was no time for the lounge this time. Boarding would begin in a few minutes. Arriving at the gate, I was able to board as one of the first thanks to pre-boarding for business class guests. The plane was parked at an external position (remote stand). The passenger bus was divided into thirds. One third was reserved for the six business class guests, with their own separate area and entrance/exit.
Upon arriving at the plane, we were able to board first. The cabin crew greeted us warmly and I quickly found my seat in row 1A. A few minutes later, everyone was on board the Helvetic Fokker100. The seat configuration is 2-3. However, in the business class, the seat next to the passenger is left vacant in the 2-seater row, and the middle seat is left vacant in the 3-seater row. To welcome us, we were offered the obligatory mineral water and refreshing towel. I always appreciate this nice attention to detail from Swiss.
Shortly thereafter, the captain made an announcement, and I was pleasantly surprised when he thanked the passengers for being on time. From past experience, I know this is not always the case, so it was nice to hear someone express gratitude for it. Unfortunately, on that evening, as is often the case, the airspace sector over Vienna was congested, resulting in a predicted delay of about 40 minutes. The passengers had mixed feelings about it. The captain seemed to understand this, and I was amazed for the second time within minutes by him and his crew. He personally came into the cabin and distributed Swiss branded chocolate as an apology. At the same time, he calmly answered questions from concerned passengers about their connecting flights in Zurich. Amazing! Some airlines in Europe could learn from such attention to detail.
On-board service and catering
As soon as we were airborne, the famous Swiss service began. On this evening flight, there was a wonderful wild salmon on couscous, salad, fresh bread, and Swiss cheese, as well as a small panna cotta for dessert. It is simply delightful to have consistently outstanding quality on a European short-haul flight.
Seat and comfort of the Helvetic Fokker100
Admittedly, the seats on the Fokker100 are not state of the art, but they are not a major issue on short-haul flights. The Fokker100 is reliable and, most importantly, quiet in the front cabin area. The engines are located at the rear of the fuselage. The further forward one sits, the less one hears. I claim that I did not hear any engine noise in row 1, neither during startup nor during takeoff. It is a quiet and gentle ride, which I always enjoy on board the Fokker100.
Anyway, there is no inflight entertainment system or screens installed on the Helvetic Fokker100. This means that the cabin product is significantly inferior to that of Swiss.
Landing and Business Class Service upon Arrival
As if the crew wanted to surpass their outstanding performance, we landed in Zurich with only a five-minute delay instead of the predicted 40 minutes. Of course, the captain was also at the door to say goodbye to each passenger individually. If the aircraft is parked at an external position (Remote Stand) in Zurich, Swiss Business Class passengers have their own small Business Class bus available, which takes them directly to the terminal first, saving valuable time. Simply excellent!