Tag Archives: Switzerland

This week: Is Singapore airport crazy? & more

It’s March and with that a new airport month starts. But first we look back at the last week of February and its airport related aviation headlines:

Continue reading This week: Is Singapore airport crazy? & more

This week: Paris partial airport closure, more winter difficulties in the U.S. & more

The weeks seem to be flying by, don’t you think? Here’s our next overview of this week’s airport news from around the globe:

Continue reading This week: Paris partial airport closure, more winter difficulties in the U.S. & more

This week: Frankfurt on strike, hijacked plane in Geneva & more

It’s been a rather eventful aviation week this week with some major airport news reported from Europe, the States and Australia. Here’s what we will cover of this week’s news:

Continue reading This week: Frankfurt on strike, hijacked plane in Geneva & more

This week: Harvey Milk SFO, Zurich clears the sky and more

This week has been another interesting one with quite a range of different airport news. Berlin got mentioned a couple times again, then San Francisco was in with an interesting and maybe slightly controversial idea, Stansted also had a busy week and Zurich was put to the test whilst Chicago received some disturbing freight.

Continue reading This week: Harvey Milk SFO, Zurich clears the sky and more

This week: Tornadoes, an April’s Fool’s prank gone wrong & more

Easter is finally here and with that all the usual airport delays. All of them? Not so much! Travellers of the British Stansted Airport (IATA: STN) got off with a slap on the wrist as the announced baggage handler’s strike was called off. Nevertheless, we found a few (other) interesting stories in the lead-up to the long weekend.

Continue reading This week: Tornadoes, an April’s Fool’s prank gone wrong & more

Airport Innovation: Augmented Reality Binoculars

We love innovation and particularly – surprise, surprise – airport innovation. This one here was sent to us from a very attentive reader who discovered a story about a new way of overlaying digital flight information onto a binocular display at an airport observation deck. The story gets even better as the case study is based on an art installation at Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH), one of our “like” airports in Europe.

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Best International Airports for Layovers Critiqued

Our lovely friends over at Forbes have recently come up with their selection of the best international airport for layovers. It’s a great idea and something we have been discussing for a while here at LateDeparture. So, in true LD-style, let’s get that red pen out and add some notes to their recommendations:

London Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR)

Yes, London is exciting, however, the airport overall isn’t. Don’t get us wrong, we really like what they’ve done with Terminal 5 and the Virgin Clubhouse in Terminal 3 is simply fantastic, however, the average traveller would probably be quite underwhelmed by the airport overall. It still feels too crowded, outdated and confusing. Plus there’s always the chance of getting in or out late because of the airport is already at 99% capacity with its 2 runways. But then it is London, well known for being eccentric and a bit chaotic. So if that’s what you like, you’ll have a great time there!

Hong Kong International (IATA: HKG)

Yes, Hong Kong should definitely be on that list; we wrote about it numerous times, for example in one of our most famous headlines reading “When little airports grow up, they become Hong Kong International“. The airport has also won numerous awards and certainly has our seal of approval!

Munich International Airport (IATA: MUC)

Munich airport has two faces: a happy one and a rather confused if not angry one. Let us explain this further: Munich is one of the Lufthansa hubs and therefore receives special treatment by the German airline. The carrier occupies one terminal exclusively (together with its Star Alliance partners). This terminal, Terminal 2, is really nice and offers plenty of options for shopping or consuming one of those famous Oktoberfest beers. On the other side, Terminal 1 is dull and boring and doesn’t seem to fit next to its upmarket cousin. However, there’s a solution if you are not flying through Terminal 2: head outside and get into that middle section between the two terminals. There you find a few restaurants and other interesting stuff to spend your time with (read our more detailed review titled “Oktoberfest atmosphere at Munich Airport” to gain further insights).

Singapore Changi Airport (IATA: SIN)

Yes, yes, and yes! This airport ticks all the boxes and definitely belongs in this list. And no, we don’t get any money for writing this. But it is an open secret that this airport has been our long lasting favourite and we’ve covered it extensively (e.g. read our detailled review of Changi’s crown jewel, Terminal 3 here).

Amsterdam Schiphol (IATA: AMS)

Amsterdam, Amsterdam, what can we say? Maybe that we love you? There’s certainly no doubt that this is an exciting airport with plenty to see and do. In our opinion it’s probably the best European airport as it’s got the perfect size, it’s big but not too big. Plus similar to Changi airport, Amsterdam keeps introducing new and exciting things.  The latest one was the banner vending machine – we wrote about it. If you want to read more about the airport, a good start is our review here.

That’s where the Forbes list ends. Overall we believe it’s a good selection but might miss out on mentioning South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (IATA: ICN), an airport that has also regularly won awards, Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH) which we also featured a number of times (e.g. here) or good old Los Angeles International (IATA: LAX) albeit not for the airport itself, but for it’s great location only minutes away from the beach and other superb layover options (read our extensive LAX reviews here, here and here).

[Photo from Flickr – Some rights reserved by Gerrit Wenz]

Lounge Review: SWISS hospitality at Zurich Airport

Knowing that airlines put most of their efforts into the lounges at their home airport, I expected big things from the SWISS lounges at Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH; LD hub page). SWISS – or Swiss International Air Lines – serves 72 destinations in 39 countries – most of them through its main hub in Zurich. The airline claims that because it is the airline of Switzerland (albeit owned by the Lufthansa Group), SWISS is the byword for traditional Swiss values. Surely you now want to know what those values are. Being Swiss myself, I want to come up with ‘attention to detail’, ‘high quality’ and ‘hospitality’. Others might add that the Swiss are known for staying on the fence and that they can be slightly boring. So, how do the SWISS lounges fit into this?

Continue reading Lounge Review: SWISS hospitality at Zurich Airport

Chocolate Fest at Zurich Airport

Well, this isn’t actually news as Zurich Airport’s Chocolate Fest has been going on since the 19th February. But it did catch my eyes this time while travelling through the airport. Why? No, not because I felt a sudden chocolate rush and would have had to try all the yummy offerings from Lindt, Toblerone, Frey or Sprüngli (honestly!), it was because I discovered this chocolate art creation you see in the picture: Australia in chocolate. I’m actually emigrating to this country next month, so it fit very well. Next to the Australian icons you can also discover other countries’ themes made of, you guessed it, chocolate. It’s worthwhile going for a quick tour so that you then at least have an excuse to try those “god forbidden” Sprüngli truffes…

The exhibition continues until the 5th April and you can find it in the transfer & shopping area A at Zurich airport. The Sprüngli truffes can be enjoyed even beyond that date at their airport store in A and E.

Interview: Air Traffic Controller from Geneva Airport

LateDeparture.com is proud to have secured an interview with Daniela, an experienced Air Traffic Controller from Geneva airport. She provides us with interesting insights about her job, the stress levels and where she thinks air traffic volumes are heading towards. Plus she provides us with her favourite airport tips.

How did you become a Air Traffic Controller (ATC)?

After a few psycho-technical and job related tests, SKYGUIDE (former swisscontrol) proposed me to join a 36 months lasting student course.

The first year, I had a lot of theory lessons about legislation, aerodynamics, aircraft recognition and other ATC subjects followed by a period of simulator training.

Then, all the students (around 40) of my class were transferred to the final location, either Geneva, Zurich, Bern or Lugano. We had also few students working for military airports.

After two more years of on the job training, under surveillance of a confirmed and trained coach, I got my license to work alone on the different sectors at the tower and approach-sector in Geneva.

Can you explain our readers what your job involves on a day to day basis?

In my daily business I am always member of a team working in changing shifts.

In the Tower or Aerodrome Control, our team has to supervise the entire airport’s taxiing, takeoff and landing operations, as well as handling all the airborne traffic in the airport’s immediate vicinity.

In Approach Control, we guide all approaches and departures within a radius of around 50 kilometres from the airport. This includes managing and monitoring departing flights as they climb to their assigned levels and airways, and assisting aircraft down until they are handed over to the Tower.

Many people regard your job as a very stressful one with a lot of responsibility, do you see it this way too?

It can be very stressful, for instance on high loaded days as during the summer holiday period.

But, to hand over to an other colleague at the end of my shift, is the hugest advantage of my job. At the end of my working day I do not have to worry about ongoing folders as someone else is taking on the traffic.

During the years you have worked in your job, the air traffic volume has increased steadily, did your workload increase in parallel to that?

Yes, it increased constantly, but not at the same rate as the traffic volume. Compared to the nineties we have a lot more technical help, the systems are in a constant evolution to assist us in an optimal way.

As this blog is about what you can do at airports when your flight is delayed, one obvious question is, what areas can Air Traffic Controller influence in terms of punctuality or delay in terms of a specific flight?

Obviously, every ATC is always doing his best to expedite the traffic flow.

We try to optimize constantly the speeds of the arriving traffic in a way to permit to get in-between each arrival at least one departure out. This is by the way a specificity of Geneva as we are one of the busiest airports with one single runway in use.

For the slot management we do not have a lot of possibilities to act on, as we are only one of many handling a flight.

Each sector treating a flight from the departure airport to the final destination has a certain capacity, meaning an amount of traffic it is able to handle at a given time at the given conditions.

This capacity depends on the weather conditions, the staffing, the availability of navigational aids and technical installations.

For all flights anywhere in Europe, the routings are collected in a central computer at Brussels where they are compared and so called departure slots are distributed to flights which risk to be in a traffic congestion.

This flights are then held on ground instead of being kept longer in the air in a traffic jam.

Can you illustrate a specific example for Geneva airport where a situation led to delays? What did you (have to) do about it?

One obvious example creating delay is a runway closure, for instance in winter time, when snow clearing becomes necessary. Then, the fire brigade needs around half an hour to remove the snow on a large width and the whole length of the runway.

As well in winter, the time needed on ground for the aircraft can be increased for deicing procedures. The aircrafts have to be cleared of ice and snow which could cause too much resistance during flight enabling the aircraft to fly properly.

But the most common reason for delay is the overload of sectors, as all the companies want to have the same arriving times at their destination. For example, a lot of businessjets plan to arrive on time for the first meetings in the morning, so you create the same traffic jams as you find on the road on the way to your office.

Clearly safety is the biggest priority in your job, but do you also get measured on timeliness of arriving and departing aircrafts?

Yes, we do get regularly feedback on our performance in terms of delay.

There exists a so called “hit-list” of the worst airports in Europe where Geneva figures on as number 17 with an average delay of around 0.34 minutes per flight for the 175’863 handled flights in 2008. 95% of all flights were able to respect their schedule on time.

What would your suggestion be for improving flight punctuality in general?

As a passenger you can contribute to more punctuality by being ready early enough at the gate. This measure helps the companies to leave the stand on time and meet the given departure slot.

If a flight is delayed due to a missing passenger, the company has to announce the delay to the flow management and the departure slot is lost. As it is a last-minute change, this flight will get the next available slot which can be hours later. The principal of the slot allocation is always “first come, first served”.

The second suggestion would be to be patient, as a flight is much safer, economically and ecologically while waiting on the ground than doing holding patterns close to the overloaded destination.

You have probably come across many airports in your life as well, do you have a personal favorite and if so, what makes that airport special?

Of course Geneva Cointrin is one of my favorites, as you can get one of the best coffees and chocolates at “MARTELS confiseur” close to the arrival hall. It is also famous for its “pavé de Genève”, a chocolate speciality.

An other airport I like a lot is Copenhagen [read our reviewed here] , people are very friendly and from an operational point of view, the two parallel runways and the very flat topography are a huge advantage for expediting the traffic.

Thank you very much, Daniela, for your time answering all our questions!

[Picture from Skyguide]