To kick off the detailed articles in this trip report, we thought we’d combine 3 experiences into a single article about getting to Switzerland and getting settled. So, in this article we’ll provide mini-reports on (1) the DFW AA Flagship Lounge, which we visited pre-flight; (2) our BA business class flight; and (3) our first hotel, the H+ Hotel in Zurich.
The DFW AA Flagship Lounge (Terminal D)
This trip was our first time to visit the new DFW Flagship Lounge, which had opened only a few weeks beforehand. We were able to access the Flagship Lounge because we were traveling in Business Class on British Airways.
We decided against doing a full review of the lounge for purposes of this trip report, since it’s been a year and we’re not sure how the Lounge will operate in a post-virus world. But we found it comfortable and a significant step up from regular Admirals Clubs. There were plenty of hot food and drink options, plenty of seats with power outlets, and agents available to help with any irregular operations issues.
The entrance to the Flagship Lounge is between gates D21 and D22. It has a separate entrance from the Terminal D Admirals Club, which is located between gates D23 and D24. The space is long and slender, with large windows facing west and overlooking the runways on that side of the airport.
Here are a few pictures of the Flagship Lounge (as it existed in early July 2019):
British Airways 777-200 Business Class (old-style 2-4-2 seating)
- BA 192, DFW-LHR – depart DFW 9:55 pm – arrive LHR 1:00 pm (+1 day)
- Business class (Club World)
Again, we won’t fully review this flight, as it had British Air’s old-style 2-4-2 seating on a 777-200 plane. We understand that these seats are being replaced on those planes, and the 772 is also being replaced on the DFW-LHR route, ultimately with a brand new 787-10.
For our DFW-LHR flight, we were able to score 2 seats together in the “couples” seats in the middle of the row. The seats were great for traveling together, but inconvenient in that we had to climb another passenger to get out during times when people were fully reclined and sleeping. Our seats faced backwards, which we hadn’t done before. We were worried that this would be an issue, especially for Philly who can get a bit of motion sickness at times, but it was no problem for either of us.
Service was solid, not great. One huge difference from our usual experience on AA trans-Atlantic flights was that the meal service on BA went much slower. It was almost 3 hours after departure before the meal service was complete and the cabin lights were turned off, compared to 90 minutes or less on most AA flights.
I kept a timeline of our flight, along with some other notes:
- BA pre-boarded people in wheelchairs and groups with kids – and there were a *lot* of passengers who fit this bill
- We were offered a pre-departure beverage, water or champagne
- BA flight attendants were very strict about having nothing on the floor for takeoff
- In these seats, you’re very close to the people next to you; the seats have dividers to help with this, but sometimes they must be lowered to facilitate service
- Our flight had WiFi available for purchase
- On-time pushback from the gate at approximately 9:55 pm (all times are Central time
- 10:13 pm – Takeoff
- Cabin lights were on for takeoff and for a long time thereafter
- 10:55 pm – Drink orders taken
- 11:11 pm – Drinks served
- 11:40 pm – First course served for me
- 11:58 pm – First course served for Philly
- We both actually skipped the main course and just had the cheese board, as we weren’t hungry after dinner plus extra snacks during our visit to the Flagship Lounge
- 12:15-20 am – Pick-up of dinner service trays
- 12:50 am – We laid our seats flat and shifted into sleep mode
- Note that the cabin lights were still on at this point
- About 1:00 am – Cabin lights off
- 5:23 am – Cabin lights back on
- 5:30 am – Breakfast served
- Approximately 7:00 am / 1:00 pm London time – On-time arrival at LHR
Here are a few photos from our BA Club World business class experience:
After we connected in LHR, we flew from LHR to Zurich ZRH in BA Club Europe “business” class, which consists simply of regular coach seats with a blocked middle seat. The flight was uneventful, and this “business” class didn’t feel particularly special, although we had no complaints about having the extra space.
H+ Hotel Zurich
We didn’t need much for this night in Zurich, as we arrived fairly late and Zack & Erin got in even later, then we knew we’d be hitting the road early the next morning. The H+ Hotel Zurich fit the bill perfectly. The hotel was new, fresh and clean, and it was in a nice neighborhood. We would definitely stay at the H+ again if it fit our needs.
As we mentioned in our earlier “how we booked it article,” we booked the H+ using Wyndham Rewards points, at 15,000 points per room (2 rooms for the night, for 30,000 points total). This presented good value for our points, as Zurich is an expensive city for hotels, and nightly rates during our summer visit were about $175/night. At about 1.2 cents per Wyndham Rewards point, this gave us a return well above our baseline value (our baseline value was 0.9 cpp then; now we’ve reduced it to 0.7 cpp). Even after Wyndham’s category changes, this hotel remains at 15,000 points per night, though, meaning that it still would probably present good value during the summer holiday season.
On points, we were able to reserve a King Bed Business Room, which seems to be a step above a base-level room. Our points booking also included a breakfast buffet, which was fine although nothing to write home about.
I made the following notes about our stay at the H+ Hotel Zurich:
- We couldn’t get the air conditioning cool enough, so it was a bit too warm at night
- The bed was good although not great – we slept fine considering our jet lag
- Like many European hotels, there was no top sheet
- The window opens big, which was a nice feature (as you’ll see in the picture below, the view wasn’t anything spectacular, but it overlooked a neighborhood full of single-family houses that appeared to be safe)
- The shower was great, with good hot water and good pressure
- Single-use shampoo and bath gel containers were strange – you had to snap off the top, then flip the top over and screw it in to poke a hole in the tube to get the shampoo or gel out
- The room had a slot that had to contain a key card for the lights to work
- Location was good, although not in the heart of downtown Zurich
- The tram line ran down the street in front of the hotel, and the hotel was very near a stop
- FC Zurich’s soccer stadium was about a block away – if you happened to be going to a match, the H+ would be a perfect place to stay
- The Italian restaurant across the street, Pizzeria Da Cono, was fantastic, reasonably priced (especially for Switzerland), and really hit the spot after a long travel day
- WiFi was available for 3 devices and worked well
- Parking was 24 CHF (about $24) per day
- The restaurant downstairs seemed especially proud of their desserts, although unfortunately we didn’t get to try them
- The fitness center was very small
- The hotel actually had a sauna for guest use – we stopped by but didn’t try it out
Here are some pictures of the H+ Hotel Zurich (the featured image at the top of this article is a photo of the H+ Hotel building):
The DFW AA Flagship Lounge, BA business class flights, and the H+ Hotel Zurich got our Swiss Alps & Tour de France trip off to a good start. Flying business class (even though this BA product was far from the finest in the skies) is a luxury that makes a real difference for those of us who are middle-aged (old-aged?)! And the H+ Hotel Zurich gave us a positive experience for getting clean and catching up on some rest that we very much appreciated – especially since we were able to book it using near-orphaned Wyndham Rewards points that we wouldn’t have a lot of other uses for in the near future!
What are your thoughts on these parts of our Swiss Alps & Tour de France trip? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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