Some aircraft just didn’t catch on in Europe. A perfect example of this is the Beechcraft 1900. The 19 seat turboprop airliner was pretty popular across the Atlantic, with operators flying the type across the US and Canada. Today, only a handful remain in commercial service in Europe, almost all with the French airline Twin Jet.
Twin Jet operates a network of flights across France, with a handful of international flights to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Their flights are almost solely aimed at business travelers, resulting in a premium price tag.
I had never flown on a Beech 1900D, and Twin Jet seemed the perfect, if expensive, way to get a ride on one. I paid almost £300 for a short, 210 mile flight from Zurich to Lyon, two of the larger airports served by Twin Jet. My pocket still burning, I headed to Zurich Airport to get my flight across the Alps.
The check-in agent was very friendly and was keen to inform me about the lack of bathroom facilities onboard the tiny airliner!
I headed through security to the B gates here at Zurich. It seems they’re doing some work on the way down to these gates, and it wasn’t the most pleasant part of Zurich Airport to walk through.
I heeded the check in agent’s advice and headed to the gents before I got onboard the flight!
It didn’t take long until my flight was called for boarding. Boarding today was via a bus out to a remote stand.
After a drive across the airport, the aim of this trip came into sight – the incredible looking Beechcraft 1900D.
I boarded the aircraft and headed for my seat. The Beech 1900D is slightly taller than its 1900C sister, meaning it’s possible to stand (almost) in the cabin. It’s configured in a simple 1-1 configuration, meaning every seat is both a window and an aisle seat.
The windows have a strange tinting on them. The seats on Twin Jet’s are incredibly comfortable and modern.
There’s no flight deck door on the Beech 1900 meaning you get a great view of the pilots at work, up on the flight deck.
We made a short taxi out to runway 28 at Zurich, before making a beautiful departure to the west over the Swiss countryside.
The engines sounded incredible as we climbed up to our cruising altitude of 19,000ft for today’s flight.
Above the seats were the rather utilitarian overhead consoles, which don’t look all that great but do the job. The air vents are at seat level to the side of the seat.
There’s a TV at the front of the cabin that’s used for the safety briefing, and otherwise remains switched off.
I have to admit – for a 50-minute flight on a turboprop I wasn’t expected anything at all in the way of inflight service. I’d eaten at Zurich in the belief that I’d get nothing on this flight – but what a surprise awaited me when the flight attendant bought around the snack service for this evening’s flight.
It consisted of a can of French beer, as well as a delicious Brie filled baguette. How very civilized, and very French indeed!
The scenery out of the window went from beautiful to stunning as we headed along the Alps towards Geneva.
Twin Jet’s route network is unique, to say the least. Most of the flights are to places I’d never heard of – with the exception of a few flights from larger airports.
After the stunning views of the Swiss Alps, we crossed into the flatter scenery of France and began our descent towards Lyon airport.
Before long, we lined up for our final approach and the landing gear came down as we closed in on Lyon’s Saint-Exupery Airport.
We touched down on a beautiful Spring evening in the south of France.
We pulled onto the stand and disembarked into the beautiful evening.
My flight with Twin Jet was incredible. The service provided was amazing, and the chance to fly on a Beechcraft 1900D was well worth the hefty price tag.
However, it seems that it’s partially this price tag that puts more people off flying these routes. My flight was only around half full, which is somewhat understandable when you consider that there’s a train from Zurich to Lyon that takes 5 hours 30 minutes with a connection in Geneva. This runs every half hour and starts at just 52 Euros one way.
The flight is, of course, quicker enroute, but requires all of the time around the flight to get to the airport, check in and go through security. It also goes only twice a day and costs almost six times more. Twin Jet does, however, offer an excellent service on this flight, which felt more like a business class service to economy.