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Friday August 19: Budapest to Boston

Tuesday August 23: St Moritz Switzerland

Monday August 22: Boston to St Moritz

Business Class is Comfortable!

Today, we get to see how the other half lives. As a sort of graduation / coming of age gift, we got Sam a business-class ticket to Zurich. I was going to fly economy, as I'm a cheapskate, but they offered me an upgrade, and in the interest of sleeping during the flight (since the flight leaves at essentially my bedtime), I upgraded myself to business class as well. It turns out that my ticket, with the upgrade, was still about half the cost of Sam's ticket.

Business Class has a number of perks (although not as many as first class--at their check-in window, they actually got to stand on a literal red carpet). There were a number of check-in windows devoted to business class, which had a shorter line than economy. When they checked our bags, they put a tag on them that said "priority". I'm not sure what this means, but perhaps it means that our bags will come out more quickly in Zurich.

At security, there was a separate, shorter line for business class, although it wasn't that much shorter than the normal line. Then instead of waiting in the normal concourse, we could go upstairs to the Lufthansa lounge.

It is certainly a lot more comfortable than the main concourse. There is a selection of free food and drink available. Everything from sandwiches, to scrambled eggs or salmon, to pastries, to clam chowder. There were jugs of juice, wine, beer, coffee. There were couches, comfy chains, and upscale bar stools.

Food Available in Lounge
Couches in Lounge
Sam "Lounging"

The only issue is that it was rather crowded. It was hard to find an available spot. It seemed that a fair number of people would claim a seat, leave their stuff nearby, and then go who knows where. So it wasn't clear whether one could sit in those seats, or whether if one did so, someone might come back in a few minutes and say "hey! I was sitting there!"

There are a lot more people here than would fit in business class on our plane. Clearly some of these people are from other flights. Hopefully, when those flights board, some spaces will open up, and we can get more comfortable.

Apparently, we can board directly from the lounge, so it isn't like we would need to leave the lounge and go down to the concourse at some appropriate time, so that you can board normally. It seems you can just hang out here, and then at some appropriate time board from here. I'm hoping that some of these other flights might board sooner, so the lounge would empty out a bit, and I could find a more comfortable place to hang out.

I could definitely get used to living like this. Of course, it doesn't come very cheap. On the other hand, while the lounge and other perks are nice, my main interest is having a seat that will recline to horizontal, so that I can hopefully sleep better during the flight.


We are now sitting in the main train station in Zurich, waiting for our train. It should get in, I'm guessing, in about a half hour.

Business class is definitely a nice way to go for those overnight trans-Atlantic flights. The service is good, but the lie flat seats are the best.

Our flight was slightly delayed, but then we got the call to board. They had the self-service facial recognition boarding system. I'm still wondering where they get the information to compare your face against.

It felt odd sitting in the lap of luxury, sipping a glass of champagne, watching the "little people" stream past into economy. One family went by wearing masks, but instead of the crease in the mask running vertically like mine and the ones that I'm used to, theirs ran horizontally. I thought it made them look like a family of ducks.

We boarded and found that the seats had oodles of space. The plane was arranged as 3/3/2, but within each group, only every other seat was used. Sam was on the right with one seat out of two used. I was in the left, and every other row had two seats and every other row one. I had paid extra to be in a row with one, so I was the only one between the window and the aisle (I was effectively in the middle seat of three, with two large flat areas on either side of me that I could put things on).

Plenty of Leg Room
Business Class

They offered us a glass of champagne, or some high-end soda. Then they came around with a menu for the dinner service. There was also a card where we could place our breakfast order, along with check boxes for "wake me" or "don't wake me". I wasn't very hungry, but I opted for the dinner and the breakfast just to see what it was like.

Some people opted to skip dinner (given that it was probably about 10pm) and just hit the sack immediately. I had about half of my dinner, hit the bathroom, and then reclined the chair.

I sort of expected the back to recline and the foot area to raise up, but it was more along the lines of the foot area raising up, the chair dropping and going forward, and the back reclining in place (i.e. the back reclining didn't intrude into the person behind you). As advertised, the net result was a perfectly flat and level sleeping platform. It was slightly narrow, but an order of magnitude better than being in a seat.

I was wondering how they arranged it. The row spacing wasn't long enough so that your feet would clear the head of the person in front of you, but it wasn't angled so that your feet would be beneath the head of the person in front of you either. When I woke up in the morning, I figured out the magic. This was why they only occupied every other seat: you never had two people one behind the other. In my case, those two big flat areas on either side of my seat were where the feet of the two people behind me would go. Likewise, the two people in front of me had a big flat area between their seats, which is where my feet would go.

So I converted my chair to a bed, put in their ear-plugs, put on their sleep mask, pulled the blanket over me, rolled onto my side, and surprisingly easily fell asleep. Periodically through the night, I would wake up, roll over, and go back to sleep. Eventually, someone came over, shook my shoulder gently, and said that it was time to wake up.

I don't know how long I slept, but I'm guessing 4 or 5 hours. I certainly feel a lot better than I did in Spain. I was sort of surprised that we were starting our descent, and they were just bringing me the breakfast at that point, but it didn't take too long to eat. In any event, we had arrived sooner than expected because of strong tail-winds, and due to congestion at the airport, we had to circle for about 15 minutes before we could land.

Deplaning was quick and easy. There was a relatively large amount of space and relatively few passengers, so getting my carry-on down, and putting my head-set and stuff away was easy. We then went to find passport control.

We went down some stairs and found...a veritable sea of people. The area was full of them, and they stretched down a hallway and up some stairs at the far end--people waiting in line for as far as the eye could see. We had to walk down that aisle, go up the stairs, get in the back of the line, and then go back down the stairs (a bit of a challenge with one large and one carry-on suitcase in tow).

The line moved, but not terribly quickly. One thing that I found confusing was that the slow flood of people filled the left half of the aisle, but there was a steady trickle of people going down the right side and passing everyone else. At first I thought that these were just jerks trying to move up in line, but eventually I figured out that these were people with European passports, who could go through some self-service passport checks, and who didn't have to wait in the huge line.

Eventually, after about 45 minutes in line, we got to the passport window, said that we were here for a week for tourism, got our passports stamped, and got through. Not at all surprisingly, our luggage was spinning around the luggage carrousel, where it has probably been circulating for at least a half hour.

We followed the signs to the train station. I tried to buy a pair of tickets to take us to the main Zurich train station. It said the cost was about $38, which seemed high to just go across town. When I tried to pay for them, however, the machine said that it couldn't accept this card and canceled the transaction.

I was wondering if I had put the travel notification on my Visa card for the first half of the trip, but hadn't yet put in the second half, and so my card was going to be rejected until I could get it straightened out. For grins, I went to a different machine, and tried again. This time, it charged me about $13, and the payment was accepted. I'm not sure what happened the first time.

We had about a 40 minute wait. After about a half hour, our train pulled in, and we got on board. At the top of the stairs, there was a small luggage rack, so we threw our suitcases there and grabbed a pair of seats.

We will travel for about an hour, and then we need to transfer to a different train that should take us to St. Motitz.

 - -

The first train was a larger, faster, more modern train. The second one was a slower regional train. We got some lunch on the first train. It took a long time to prepare, and we barely had enough time to eat it. I think we finished eating about 5 minutes before our transfer. I had debated whether we should wait for the second train to eat. It was a good thing that I didn't, because the second train didn't have food services. The scenery was fantastic, but halfway through I ended up nodding off, and then waking up a few stops later.

Lunch on the Train
Scenery from the Train

St Moritz is on the shore of a lake in a steep walled valley. The implication is that as you head away from the lake, you have to climb steeply in places. Sam and I did that with luggage, although Sam was gracious enough to take my checked bag (the heavier one), while I took Sam's bag and my carry-on. Still, it was quite a slog to get up to the hotel.

The hotel has a really funky elevator. There is no door on the car--as you go up, you can see the side of the shaft sliding past. You definitely don't want to be leaning against it when the car moves.

The room is a decent one, with a view of the lake. We got in around 5:09, and Amy was due in on the 7:09 train. Sam and I got organized, and then we went down to meet Amy at the train. She would have enough difficulty getting herself up the hill, without having to fight with luggage at the same time. Fortunately, the hotel receptionist told us about an escalator that runs from the lake to about halfway up the hill. That helped a bit.

View of St Moritz from Hotel Room
Church Steeple from Hotel Room Balconey

We got Amy and got settled, and then went out looking for dinner. It was probably about 8:00. There weren't that many places that we could find, and the first two places were full and needed reservations. Eventually, we went to a Michelin rated hotel restaurant. It was rather pricy, but we were desperate.

The temperature was a bit warm when Sam and I went up the hill with our luggage, but when we went down for Amy, the sun was behind the mountains, and it was noticeably cooler. When we went out to do dinner, it was getting rather chilly out.

We are all very tired, so this should be an early night, and I expect that we'll sleep well.

Up to Danube/Alps: Sabbatical Trip, 2022 main page

Friday August 19: Budapest to Boston

Tuesday August 23: St Moritz Switzerland