Despite United’s delay getting us to Dulles, ultimately we made it to Brussels on schedule. We now had approximately 2 hours until our onward flight to Zürich.
Brussels Airport A pier, photo via creative commons
Once at the Schengen gates where we would take our flight to Zürich, we looked for a lounge to relax. There are a few options, but despite arriving on Brussels Airlines Business Class, there was no arrival lounge available at our late arrival time. There is a Brussels Airlines lounge, but since we were departing on Swiss in Business Class, the only lounge we could access was the SAS lounge. The lounge was fine, decent views of the tarmac and runway. It was similar to other SAS lounges I’ve visited; modern, functional Scandinavian design, and pretty well equipped. (Please see Rohan’s review of the SAS lounge at ORD).
Why did we choose to layover in Zürich than just continue on? There weren’t a lot of flight options to get to Málaga, and the Zürich connection seemed the most interesting. I’ve long wanted to visit that city, and in no small part to Matthew’s previous reviews, to stay at the Park Hyatt Zurich. Our stay was short, but it was nice to get to spend a little time in an great city and a wonderful hotel.
While in the SAS lounge in Brussels, I decided to have a Belgian beer. This would be the only taste of Belgium I would get during our short visit, so I figured why not.
Leffe was one of the options in SAS lounge
Our flight to Zürich was supposed to be on an Avro RJ100, but I noticed a Fokker 100 at the gate. Neither of these airplanes are common to see in the US anymore, but there are still a fair number flying around Europe. We got new seat assignments with the aircraft change, and boarded with Business Class.
The Swiss Business Class experience was good, even on what is basically a regional jet. We were seated at the bulkhead, and while there might have been slightly more legroom, only a blocked middle seat distinguished our seat as ‘business class’. The extra space was nice, and this was perfectly comfortable for the short flight.
A snack was served that included some smoked salmon, potato salad and vegetables. There was also fresh bread and some dessert. Not bad for a 60 minute flight.
Swiss snack service on BRU-ZRH
The short night flying across the pond started to catch up with us. My wife slept through much of the time in the lounge in Brussels and the flight, and I dozed off for much of the flight to Zürich. Thankfully I did wake up in time for the small treat before landing:
After arriving in Zürich, there were both good and bad things that we encountered. First the good: We landed at a remote gate and were picked up by a designated Business Class van to take us to the main terminal and baggage claim area. Unfortunately, as I expected our baggage did not arrive. I spent some time in line to file a missing baggage report.
While filing the report, I received an overnight bag provided by Swiss. It contained basic toiletries and a men’s undershirt. I presume they also offer a ‘female’ bag, but they only provided the men’s kit since I was alone at the desk. I wasn’t too concerned since we had our basic toiletries in our carryons.
The Swissport agent told us that our bags had been rerouted and would be on the nonstop United from Dulles to Zürich. They offered to deliver them to our hotel, but since we were flying onward to Málaga in the morning, so we said we would just pick up the bags before that flight the next day. They collected our hotel information in Spain too, which proved to be a good idea…
SWISS Business bus
For our afternoon and evening in Zürich, we stayed at the lovely Park Hyatt Zurich. Rather than my own separate report, I’ll point you to Matthew’s excellent review. His report was more thorough than mine would be after a short stay. To get to the hotel from the airport, we took a train to a tram, and then had a short walk to the hotel. We checked in, likely looking rather disheveled after a long travel day in the same clothes, and we were somewhat under dressed compared to most of the clientele of this hotel. All of our interactions with staff were excellent. They were very helpful and offered suggestions for where to buy some essentials in town, and even found some contact lens solution for my wife free of charge.
We walked to some nearby stores and got dinner in the same area. We even walked along along Lake Zürich briefly. This helped us stay up a little longer despite jet lag setting in. Despite not having clean clothes to change into, it was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Zürich is a nice city, and the Park Hyatt is well situated. I certainly hope to return someday.
The next day we were up early, had breakfast at the hotel, then were back on the Tram/Train to Zürich airport where we caught our flight to Spain. We returned to the missing baggage office, and we were told our bags had arrived, and were already re-tagged for our next flight. One less thing to deal with, which was fine by me. We headed to the Swiss Senator Lounge for a brief visit before our flight. Ben has a nice review of this lounge for those interested. Soon we headed to the gate for our departure to Málaga. It was a rainy day in Zurich, but our Airbus 321 was scheduled to depart on time.
rainy day in Zürich
The A321 was fine, and had a large business class cabin. A few rows had dedicated blocked middle seats, but even more rows just kept those seats open. Our row had an aluminum table mounted on the middle seat. Unfortunately, the seats were the stiff Recaro seats that United is installing on their Airbus fleet.
The RECARO park bench
Not much legroom, but the business cabin was lightly booked. Service was friendly, and we were served a hearty lunch which included salad, cheese, and a main course of chicken with risotto.
Swiss Business Class lunch
Our flight to Málaga landed a few minutes early, and we headed off to baggage claim. Unfortunately our bags did not arrive with the bulk of the luggage from our flight, we began to file a report, but after a search, they said that one bag was delivered. I returned to baggage claim, and found my bag. Sadly, my wife’s bag was still in Washington. I’m not sure why only one of our bags made it onto the flight from Dulles to Zürich, but this is United we are talking about…We provided our Málaga hotel information, and we hoped that my wife’s bag would arrive in 24 hours. From here, we took a bus from the airport which dropped us off a few blocks from our hotel, the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio. We had finally made it to the first main destination of our trip.