Day 10: Berlin/Zurich/Lucerne (21 Mar) #1

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Breakfast was a simple affair at Hotel Big Mama: Buffet style, 10 Euros for a selection of breads, cold cuts, cereal, juice and the usual. Not too shabby, considering there’s not many options in that area. Again, I might have overdone it with my eagerness to sample the scrambled eggs.

I didn’t want to take a chance with public transport since I’m taking a flight out of Tegel, which is much closer to my place than Schonefeld was. Taxi to Tegel was 15 Euros, and the cabbie was pretty much silent throughout the whole journey.

Now remember, Berlin’s air travel hubs are pretty much a sham, and Tegel was no different, ranking 8th among the worst airports in the world. However, I find it pretty tolerable, much more so than Schonefeld. It is what a totally no-frills airport would’ve looked liked. From entry to the gate, probably would only take you under 10 minutes on a good day like this one. However, if you’re looking to kill some time there, a book or a smartphone is probably your best friend.

I checked in, dropped my bag and was presented with my boarding pass. It was one of those old-style thick boarding passes that you get in the past, none of that thermal paper nonsense you get today from other airlines, particularly AirAsia and Malaysia.

After walking a full circuit of the terminal and finding nothing much but check-in counters, I headed through security and directly to my gate. One thing to note is that Air Berlin is a partner of Malaysia Airlines and part of the Etihad Group, so you could claim miles if you’re a frequent flyer on either one of the programs (Enrich and Guest). I have both, but I charged my miles to my Enrich account.

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Space is definitely at a premium at Tegel.

Facts:

  • Flight: Air Berlin AB 8566
  • Route: TXL-ZRH
  • Aircraft: A320-200
  • Seat: 17A

Boarding started at 12:25 through gate A2, 10 minutes behind the scheduled boarding time. A curious point would be the ‘call crew’ indicator lights on this A320, which were lit blue instead of the orange that you’ll see on AirAsia A320s. The flight was relatively full, and the aircraft was well worn but just as well maintained.

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Last shot of Tegel, correction: The only exterior shot of Tegel.

Pushback occured at 12:50, and when the overhead IFE screens were retracted after playing the safety video, one of those on my side failed to retract fully and was hanging half-in, half out. A light drizzle started as we were taxiing to the runway at 12:54. I also got the opportunity to see a Lufthansa A320 taking off on 26L and an Air Berlin Dash-8 landing on 26R simultaneously.

Queued behind 2 Air Berlin Dash-8s and in front of a Smartwings 737 and 2 A320s by Lufthansa and Niki respectively, we entered 26L at 13:01, and by 13:03 we’re wheels up and climbing out of Tegel.

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Back in the blue skies at FL 335.

The flight was uneventful, and surprisingly unremarkable enough for me to have nothing to say about it, other than one of the airshows shown on the IFE looked like something straight out of FSX.

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Touchdown at ZRH was at 14:12, going a little too fast for my tastes. Still, my excitement probably drowned out anything else: I’ve always wanted to visit Switzerland ever since my father brought back a cow bell souvenir from here on one of his business trips!

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First glimpse of Flughafen Zurich.

A/N: This will also mark my 40th post on this blog, and here’s a special shoutout to everyone who have been following me so far: You guys and gals are awesome!

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