Return to International Travel – Introduction
Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH
Lodging Review: Sina Villa Medici, Florence, Italy
Our Time In Florence, Part 1
Our Time In Florence, Part 2
Lodging Review: Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris, France
Our Time In Paris, Part 1 (Louvre, Sainte-Chappelle, Arc, Eiffel Tower)
Our Time In Paris, Part 2 (Versailles)
Our Time In Paris, Part 3 (Catacombs, Musee d’Orsay)
Viking Kari and an Afternoon in Montmartre
Our Time in La Roche-Guyon and Vernon/Giverny
Our Time on the Normandy Beaches
Our Time in Les Andelys and Le Pecq
Lodging Review: Renaissance Republique, Paris, France
Review: Air France A350 CDG-ORD
For our flight to Florence I wanted to try an airline I’d never flown while still paying a reasonable price. The SWISS flight from Chicago to Florence via their hub in Zurich fit the bill perfectly. At the time of booking there were two ORD-ZRH flights and only the earlier flight had open economy award space for my friend to use. But that flight was much more expensive than the later one so she booked a long layover in Zurich so we could be together on the final leg into Florence. But a few months out SWISS changed her to the evening flight with me, which worked out great for us.
Our Experience in O’Hare T5
Even though our ORD-ZRH flight did not leave until just after 7 PM, I booked my Memphis-Chicago leg to arrive around 1:30 PM. At a mid-sized airport like Memphis I always take irregular operations into consideration. If there was something wrong with my plane I’d still have time to take a later United flight and still make the connection. If that flight was full there was at least one if not two American Airlines flights that United could have put me on to ensure I made the flight to Zurich. I was willing to wait at O’Hare a bit longer than I had to if it meant I was on the long-haul flight since that was SWISS’s last flight of the day.
The last time I’d flown out of O’Hare’s international terminal (T5) was my flight on LOT Airlines to Vienna via Warsaw in 2019. Back then, while the O’Hare train between terminals was out of commission, I was able to go to one of the American Airlines concourses and catch an airside bus over to T5, thus avoiding the hassle of security again. While I checked for that this time, it seems it’s been discontinued since the train is once again working. That’s a real shame in my book.
So it was that at about 2:30 PM or so I met up with my friend in the lobby of T5. While I could have gone through security at that time, we learned that the SWISS counter only opens two hours before the flight so there was no way for her to check her bag. As there’s not a lot of seating on the departures level, we went down to the baggage claim area and found a quiet space to hang out as we passed the time. Fortunately I’d had lunch in the terminal in Memphis and she’d eaten before coming to the airport so we were able to just sit and chat until the counter opened.
Once her bag was checked we went through security and to the Swissport lounge which serves both SWISS premium cabin passengers/elites and is the Priority Pass lounge. Unfortunately on that day it was not accepting Priority Pass customers. I’ve since learned this is pretty normal in the evenings as there are a number of airlines who use this as their primary lounge. Since my friend was traveling in economy she had no other lounge access and we skipped it altogether. We ended up buying sandwiches and drinks in the terminal and eating them in the gate area. I knew it would likely be 8 PM or so before we were served dinner on board and knew I’d have a headache if I waited that long to eat. As it turned out my friend slept through both meal services in economy so it was a good thing she ate when she did!
SWISS flight LX 9 – A340-300
Our flight departed from the far end of T5 which is either new or has been completely renovated, I’m not sure which. While there are no services near the gates in the gate M33 area, there are large restrooms and not a lot of people. The ceilings are high and the windows are huge, giving the whole area a light, airy feeling. I look forward to returning at some point when construction is complete in this section.
LX 9 ORD-ZRH A340-300
Departure: 7:10 PM (scheduled) 7:04 PM (actual) 7:18 PM (takeoff)
Arrival: 10:20 AM (scheduled) 10:12 (touchdown) 10:17 (arrival)
Duration: 8h 18m (actual)
Seat: 11K (Business Class)