Helvetic Airways is an airline that operates some of Swiss’s intra-European flights using a fleet of Embraer aircraft. Recently, I had a chance to fly with the airline on a flight from Prague to Zurich when making my way back to Japan from Europe.
Continue reading this review to see what the flight was like.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Prague Airport
Since I stayed at AeroRooms, a hotel directly inside the airport, I had a fairly relaxed start to the day – other than not feeling really well due to an upset stomach. Still, I left the hotel around 7:30AM and, since the check-in wouldn’t start until 7:55AM – two hours before departure – I went to one of the airport’s two observation decks.
I spend about 30 minutes there before heading back inside and making my way over to check-in counters 272~ where my flight was being handled.
Being a Star Alliance Gold member, I got into the fairly long business class line just after 8AM. While waiting, a couple of people left the lane after realizing it wasn’t the economy class lane (it was a bit confusing), and all in all it took about 15 minutes until it was my turn.
With boarding passes for both this flight to Zurich and my onward flight to Tokyo in my hands, I thanked the friendly check-in agent and made my way through the security. I used the fast track which merged into the regular line at some point but still saved me a few minutes.
I had to chuckle when the family in front of me was asked whether they wanted to take their cat out of its carrier and hand-carry the cat through the metal detector or simply have the carrier with the cat inside go through the X-ray machine. While the daughter who was holding the carrier looked confused, the mom started with a resolute “no X-Ray” but the husband replied “don’t worry, let her just go through the machine.”
Needless to say, the cat did go through the X-ray machine.
Going through security took about ten minutes and once airside, I headed straight to Erste Premier Lounge which I could use as a Star Alliance Gold member. The lounge can also be accessed using Priority Pass.
While nothing groundbreaking, the lounge was quite nice and provided a nice place to spend some time in before the flight. I wrote a full review here.
I left the lounge around 9:25AM and made my way to gate C12 where the flight was boarding from. By the time there was already a bus full of passengers waiting to be taken to the aircraft.
It took another ten minutes or so, though, from the time I got on the bus until we finally departed bound for the aircraft.
Helvetic Airways E190-E2 Economy Class Cabin & Seat
Helvetic Airways operates both the E190-E2 that I flew on as well as the longer E195-E2. While the former is equipped with a total of 110 seats (all economy) in a 2-2 layout, the latter is equipped with 134 seats. I believe both of the aircraft offer similar seating.
The first thing I noticed after boarding was a nice Helvetic Airways logo on one of the panels.
The seats themselves were alright considering the type of flights the aircraft tend to operate. That said, I did find the legroom to be on the tighter side.
On a positive note, each seat was equipped with two USB charging ports – there was a group of four in the middle of the two seats in front of each row. There were no universal power outlets.
Departure from Prague
Going back to the flight, at 9:46AM, we were welcomed onboard by the captain. He mentioned that we were expecting an ontime departure.
Shortly after that, the cabin crew did a manual safety demonstration.
Instead of being pushed back, we simply taxied out of the remote parking spot at 9:54AM – one minute ahead of schedule.
Just a few minutes later, at 10:01AM, we took off from Prague airport’s runway 06 and started our journey to Zurich.
Helvetic Airways Short-Haul Economy Class Service
Seatbelt signs were switched off five minutes after take-off at which point the onboard service started.
Considering that this was a one-hour long intra-European flight in economy class, the service solely consisted of the flight attendants handing out bottles of water to passengers. While there was a buy-on-board menu in the seat pocket, I believe it was not available on the flight.
Besides the menu, there were also a safety card, an in-flight magazine, and a waste bag in the seat pocket.
Twenty-five minutes into the flight, just before 10:30AM, one of the pilots made an announcement saying that we would be landing in Zurich in about 30 minutes. He also mentioned that the temperature there was 18 degrees and it was cloudy.
Not long after that, the cabin crew handed out Swiss chocolates. This is something that Swiss does consistently on all its flights and is a really nice touch.
Arrival at Zurich Airport
In preparation for landing, the seatbelt signs were switched back on at 10:43.
Around the same time, we started our descent toward Zurich airport.
We landed at 10:57AM and reached our remote parking spot at 11:02AM – 18 minutes ahead of schedule.
That said, it took another ten minutes or so to get from there to the terminal.
Helvetic Airways E190-E2 Economy Class Summary
While the flight was nothing to write home about, it was nothing to complain about either. In other words, Helvetic/Swiss offered exactly what one needs to get from point A in Europe to point B – a seat and a bottle of water. The seat wasn’t the most comfortable but it was perfectly fine for the short flight. It was also nice that each seat offered two USB ports.
For me, though, the highlight was having the chance to fly on the E190-E2 for the first time. Oh, and the chocolate was very welcome too!