After just a few days at home, it was time to head out again and cross the Atlantic back to Switzerland. In this case, it was a total coincidence that I was connecting in Switzerland, but keeping in the spirit of maximizing time at home I left for the airport at the last possible minute.
An Uber to National Airport takes me about 12 minutes, and with CLEAR at the A Terminal only taking two to three minutes, I can easily be door to gate in under 20 minutes. So when I left home 55 minutes before the flight, and got to the gate before the incoming had even arrived, I knew I had maxed out every possible minute at home!
I stalked the gate a little bit, since the biggest problem sitting in 1A is no storage space, and you really have to be one of the first one if you want to find overhead space near you. No problem, and off we go.
Air Canada flight 7615 operated by Sky Regional
Washington, DC, National (DCA) to Toronto, Ontario (YYZ)
Depart 12:45, Arrive: 14:12, flight time: 1:27
Embraer ERJ-175, Registration C-FXJC, Manufactured 2009, Seat 1A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 87,495
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,780,083
Takeoff on runway 1 today, and another great view of the Pentagon as we climbed:
Air Canada was mixing up the snack today, and we were offered smoked salmon which was good. Not amazing, and certainly not filling, but good. I feel like this “meal” could have used a small sweet to go with it.
After relatively quick transit security in Toronto it was off to the Air Canada Signature lounge for a more substantial snack and some champagne. Horror of horrors they were out of rosé champagne today (something to do with LCBO being out of stock) but the smoked meat sandwiches more than made up for it!
After finishing up some work it was off to the gate, where the usual chaos of rush-hour boarding at YYZ was already well-underway.
Air Canada flight 878
Toronto, Ontario (YYZ) to Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)
Depart 18:05, Arrive: 07:40 next day, flight time: 7:35
Boeing 777-300ER, Registration C-FRAM, Manufactured 2008, Seat 11K
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 91,540
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,784,128
Having changed my departure date rather late, there was only one window seat left, so I was curious to see how sitting in the last row – 11K – would be. Turned out, it was actually nice and quiet. The folded napkins were a bit weird to me – is this supposed to be fancy or something?
Shortly after takeoff was the usual warm nuts with some wine.
Sigh. Shrimp appetizer yet again. At least there were five of them so it was a reasonably substantial amount…and they were relatively tasty.
None of the other options sounded all that good today, so decided to go with the beef which was as expected rather overdone.
The usual Air Canada cheese course. Nothing adventurous, but it was tasty enough with a bit more wine.
Ahhhh the absolutely amazing Air Canada brown sugar tart. Absolutely delicious as usual.
Managed about three hours of sleep which is pretty good for me on such a short flight, especially when I knew I’d be napping shortly after arrival.
Woke up in time to have a little bit of breakfast – which I really didn’t need, but it’s just so hard to resist the Air Canada omelet with that unusual salsa and cottage cheese concoction.
Landing was right on time, and there was no line for immigration this morning and soon I was in the train station and headed straight to my hotel where I planned a solid five hour nap before getting up to enjoy a little bit of time in Switzerland.
Had no trouble at all sleeping, and woke up early afternoon and headed out for a short walk around Zurich to enjoy the city a bit and stretch my legs. The hotel had been kind enough to agree to a 6pm checkout (this was the same hotel I’d left just four days prior and I’d arranged this with them in advance) so I also enjoyed a small snack in the executive lounge before catching the train back to the airport with plenty of time before my flight.
I had a bit of drama with my return seats (SWISS had for some reason canceled my “throne” seat and put me back in a regular seat) and spent some time at the airport trying to solve it – but was unable to as the return flight was completely full.
Admitting defeat, I headed to the gate in the satellite terminal to wait for my flight. At least I would have 4A tonight – a throne seat – so I would have an enjoyable flight to Johannesburg.
Wanting something a bit more substantial I found these unusual turkey roll-ups in the lounge that were basically deli turkey, cream cheese, and a bit of pickle all rolled up in a tortilla. What’s not to love!
I spent my time in the lounge obsessively checking the seat map to make sure they didn’t take my throne seat away again tonight, and everything seemed on the up and up, so headed off to the gate to board.
Waiting to board, I chatted a bit in line with the passenger in front of me, an older gentleman who was headed to Zimbabwe. We talked about life in Zimbabwe a bit, how hard things are with the currency situation these days, and soon enough it was time to board.
The gentleman boarded first, and the machine made all sorts of angry noises when his boarding pass was scanned. The agent informed him “I’m terribly sorry sir, but we’ve changed your seat to 1A in First Class. I hope that won’t be a problem.”
I joked with the agent that if it was I’d be happy to take that seat instead…and then scanned my boarding pass…which was also met with angry noises…and an upgrade to seat 1K!
I have no idea what process SWISS uses to do upgrades when business class is full, and maybe it was a psychic wavelength, but I wasn’t going to argue – my first operational upgrade to First Class on SWISS and I couldn’t wait!
SWISS flight 288
Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH) to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)
Depart 22:40, Arrive: 09:10 next day, flight time: 10:30
Airbus A340-300, Registration HB-JMH, Manufactured 2004, Seat 1K
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 96,751
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,789,339
Warm grüezi on board from the super friendly crew, and was promptly welcomed with a glass of Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle and an amuse bouche which set the mood for what was sure to be a lovely flight!
Being quite a late departure, the table was set right after takeoff, and it was perhaps the most elegant table setting I’ve seen in quite a while. Loved the wooden salt and pepper shakers.
Decided to go with the balik salmon as a starter. Slightly disappointing that there’s no longer caviar in SWISS first class, but the salmon was absolutely delicious.
The flight attendant was a little hurt I didn’t want a second appetizer, so I decided to go with the meat platter from the Canton of Vaud. Super tasty, and just small enough it wasn’t too filling.
I decided in for a penny, in for a pound, and decided to risk the veal. OMG I’m glad I did, because it was cooked to a perfect medium rare with an absolutely delicious sauce. One of the best steaks I think I’ve ever had in flight!
I was getting pretty full by this point, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to try a cheese plate on a new first class product. I was very glad that I did, because it was an absolutely delicious sampler of Swiss cheeses – once again from the Canton of Vaud. I think that may have been tonight’s theme….
I really didn’t need desert at this point, but it sounded way too delicious to pass up. Layered chocolate cake with salted caramel, praline ice cream, and caramelized hazelnuts. I could have eaten several of these!
Hard to say no to a few pralines with a glass of Johnny Walker before heading off to dreamland.
Still six hours left in the flight, so plenty of time for some shut-eye!
Woke up and wasn’t all that hungry. so decided to have a mini pain au chocolate, some fruit, and being SWISS of course a bit of Muesli. I decided to skip the heavy caffeine in favour of a diet coke since I was hoping for one more short nap upon landing.
With that, a wonderful treat came to an end. I knew how fortunate I was to receive this upgrade, and it really is all about expectations. When you have no expectation of it happening it really is a wonderful treat, and your mood can go from zero to one hundred in an instant.
Now, if only the same could happen on the return….off to my Johannesburg hotel!