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Edelweiss Air
by Luigi Vallero

Flight: 8R5161
Route: Olbia (IATA: OLB/ICAO: LIEO)–Zürich (ZRH/LSZH)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-214
Departure time: 1915; Arrival time: 2045
Passenger: Luigi Vallero

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PHOTO: VICENZO LAGANÀ

Boarding/Cabin

Boarding was handled very smoothly by GEASAR, the local handling agency, and with the aid of buses we were whisked to the aircraft, parked at a remote stand. Most of the 130 or so passengers were Swiss individuals and families with small children returning home on a package tour after a week’s vacation on the emerald island. Thus the atmosphere was upbeat.

The assigned A320 (HB-IHY Upali) looked smart in the distinctive Edelweiss livery. Named after an elephant born in the Zürich Zoo, the Airbus carries suitable nose art. Upon boarding, Swiss newspapers and magazines were offered. Postcards of the A320 fleet and the airline’s single A330-200 were available in the plastic dispensers fixed to the galley bulkheads. The pleasant cabin had comfortable navy blue leather seats and was attended by four cheery and helpful ladies. Soon after all passengers were seated, the flight attendants brought around refreshing towelettes and games for the children.

In-Flight

We left the parking stand five minutes behind schedule and were soon airborne, heading on a northwesterly track toward the nearby island of Corsica [Corse], en route via Genoa [Genova], Milan [Milano] and the Alps. As most passengers were Swiss, all in-flight announcements—including those made by the first officer—were made only in German and French. The video system provided the standard Air Show route information as well as a brief introduction to the crew operating our flight.

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PHOTOS: LUIGI VALLERO

As soon as we had reached our cruising altitude, special children’s meals were distributed, followed by the snack service offered to ‘adult’ passengers. Dinner was a cold snack, presented in a wicker basket and featuring a fresh and tasty sandwich, a piece of Swiss marzipan cake, cheese slice, mixed fruit and nuts, and a chocolate bar. The meal was more than adequate for the short flight and very well presented, together with a wide range of drinks. A good selection of duty free items was then made available, with sales continuing during our descent into Kloten Airport.

The approach procedure to Switzerland’s major airport was, not uncommonly, quite lengthy; however, we were finally on the ground at 2035, with parking brakes applied at 2041, four minutes ahead of schedule. We docked at the Midfield Terminal, which houses the E gates, and a quick ride on the SkyMetro brought me to the main building.

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Overall Impression

A bright airline that provides warm and cheerful service, with a product consistency is akin more to a very good quality economy class standard on a scheduled carrier than to that of a low-cost charter operator. Definitely a brilliant way to start or end your vacation.

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