dinsdag 1 mei 2012

I`m only here for the chocolate


All this talk of the Galilee is all well and good, but getting there is a matter in itself. Thankfully, that matter was resolved most satisfactorily when we booked tickets for a flight with Swiss.

Now, you won`t often hear me praise big companies, but Swiss International Air Lines merits an exception. Swiss stands out among A-carriers for two very important reasons. The first is that the inflight meals served on board are actually quite edible. Meals that don`t make you want to scramble to the nearest lavatory are a rarity in the world of air travel, so any airline that serves edible food is worthy of praise.
The second reason to like Swiss is their in-flight snack: Chocolate. The tiny bars they hand out are some of the most delicious milk chocolate I`ve ever tasted. In fact, my first reaction on finding that the best flight to Israel was with Swiss, was a Homer Simpson-like “mmmm, Choc`lit…” Some discussions on the internet suggest that the Swiss-Belgian company Barry Callebaut might be responsible for producing the base product. Even if that is so, both the Swiss and the Belgians know how to make grade-A quality dope, so it would be a win-win situation. But regardless of who makes it, the chocolate alone is worth flying Swiss for. Thus it proves the age-old adagio that the way to a man`s heart goes through his stomach.

Just to be fair, let’s look at something I don`t quite like about the company, namely their use of Airbus planes. Airbuses tend to have a nasty habit of acting like Windows OS, in that they`ll die on you in the middle of whatever it is you are doing for no discernible reason. It has become a bit of a running gag in our family that, if we know we are going by Airbus, we will tell each other ”It was a pleasure knowing you, see you in heaven.”
Last year we had a similar experience during our return flight with Lufthansa. Our Airbus from Frankfurt to Amsterdam remained at the gate for an hour after boarding, because of “technical issues” in the cockpit; that is how long it took the technicians to find the problem and reboot the flight control systems. After all systems were online again, the pilot informed us that they were “going to see if everything worked properly again.” In the end we landed at Schiphol airport without further incident, but during the flight I was entertained by the thought of what it would be like to fall down from 25.000 feet.
Even with my prejudice about Airbuses, it is a comforting thought to know that we`re flying with Swiss. If anything, the Swiss are even more meticulous than `ze faimous zjermans` and therefore well aware of the virtues that come from quality maintenance. A lot of buses and trains in Switzerland are older models that have long since been discarded in other countries. Yet, these older vehicles are almost always in better condition than more modern ones in other nations, which explains why they last longer. The same applies to planes: they may not always have the most modern ones, but they are in great condition, significantly decreasing the likelihood of `blue-sceen-of-death` occurrences in the cockpit.
Lastly, it wouldn`t be fair not to mention that the flight attendants from Swiss are some of the nicest you`ll ever come across. They are polite and quick to respond, which is a huge boost to your satisfaction if you are, like me, not a big fan of in-flight movies.

So am I truly concerned that my flight to Israel will end up being a journey to heaven (or, more likely in my case, a nosedive to hell)? Not really, because the Swiss tendency to take care of things the right way is sure to prevail. If I have any concern, it is how to get away with taking two chocolate bars instead of one.

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