Flying SWISS Business Class JFK-ZRH

A little while ago, I mentioned how I was giddy about getting to fly SWISS business class – a new airline for me, and a new business class product to boot.

Here’s my take:

The Seat

For me, the #1 thing I care about when flying in business class is the seat. Fully-flat, 180 degree recline is a must. I’ve tried the angled lie-flat thing, and it doesn’t work for me – I just can’t get a good night’s sleep. Fortunately SWISS‘ business class is true lie flat, and it is arranged in a staggered formation. On their A330s that means the seating setup alternates between 1-2-1 and 2-2-1:

SWISS A330 Business Class Seatmap via Seatguru.com

SWISS A330 Business Class Seatmap via Seatguru.com

As you can see, there are a lot of different options:

    • Single “throne-style” seats (“A” seats in even-numbered rows) – initially tempting, but after reading One Mile at a Time‘s review of Brussels’ business class seat (which is essentially the same as SWISS’), I knew my size 15 feet would not be a good match for these.
    • Single “non-throne” seats (“K” seats in all rows) – these are typically blocked for HON Circle Members
    • Window seats in the double seat rows (“A” seats in odd-numbered rows) – I hate having to climb over someone to get to the aisle, so wasn’t particularly keen on this option either
    • Aisle seats in the double seat rows (“B” seats in odd-numbered rows) – I hate having someone else climbing over me to get to the aisle as well
    • Middle section seats (“D” and “G” seats in all rows) – these are the type of seat I wanted to get, due to the direct aisle access, and the relatively larger footwell. In addition, I had a slight preference for either a “G” seat in an even-numbered row or a “D” seat in an odd-numbered row, due to the placement of the armrest/console being between the seat and the aisle.

I was fortunate to be able to snag seat 12G, and was quite happy with my selection.

Back of the business class cabin - note the alternating proximity to the aisle

Back of the business class cabin – note the alternating proximity to the aisle

My seat, 12G

My seat, 12G

Seat control console

Seat control console

It was a comfortable seat, but I can’t say that I was all that impressed. I was able to get a reasonable amount of sleep, but I found it to be quite cramped. I’m much bigger than most people though, so I certainly recognize that others might not feel the same way. Despite having what was supposedly a roomier footwell, I really didn’t have much room to move my feet. The bigger issue was up around the shoulders though, where I found it to be quite narrow. Lastly, the pillow was pretty flimsy – so I found it somewhat difficult to get into a comfortable position. Overall, I’d say the seat was good for sleeping purposes, but not great.

SWISS

Food and Wine

Despite the fact that it was a late-night flight, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to try the food :)

There were several options that sounded appealing:

Dinner menu

Dinner menu

I usually go for the steak or maybe the fish, but I guess I was just in the mood for something “typically Swiss” as the spätzle was calling my name.

My late night dinner

My late night dinner

Spätzle up close

Spätzle up close

Dessert

Dessert

I was really happy with my choice! I’m no spätzle expert, but the chewy, cheesy, oiniony -ness of it was exactly what I was craving. It was a pretty heavy meal to have right before trying to get to sleep, but I think that actually worked in my favor as I conked out very soon afterward.

Given my meal choice, I wanted something lighter and maybe even a bit sweet to drink. Riesling was the obvious choice, so that’s what I went with. It’s not usually one of my favorite kinds of wine, but I also don’t often have rich, carb- and cheese-laden meals. I really enjoyed it, and while I would’ve liked to try some of the other wines on the menu, it just wasn’t in the cards for a flight where I was only awake for such a short amount of time.

Wine List #1

Wine List #1

Wine List #2

Wine List #2

Breakfast was offered, but I declined it in the hopes of getting a bit more sleep and appreciated that the breakfast order form allowed you to specify this explicitly. I’ve definitely had experiences in the past where I would’ve liked to be woken up for breakfast, but ended up sleeping through it. Having a form is an easy way to minimize the possibility of miscommunication.

Breakfast order form

Breakfast order form

Overall, I really enjoyed the food and wine and look forward to flying SWISS again so that I can sample more items on their menu, and more wines on their wine list.

Entertainment

As I mentioned above, I slept for most of the flight so didn’t end up using the entertainment system all that much. In looking for something to watch during dinner, I did find the selection to be fairly extensive and the user interface to be modern, easy, and intuitive.

Audio Video on Demand

Audio Video on Demand

The screen was a little on the small side, but perfectly adequate. (in case you’re wondering, I ended up watching Life of Pi and would recommend it if you haven’t seen it already)

Service and Miscellaneous

The aspects that I was perhaps most curious about was how the service and miscellaneous elements would be. If you believe everything you read on FlyerTalk, just about any premium foreign carrier is much better at delivering high-quality service  than American carriers, especially in their premium cabins. Since I was asleep for so much of the flight, maybe this wasn’t the best opportunity to evaluate that aspect, but while I found the service to be very good (polite, professional, friendly, etc.), I didn’t think it was anything exceptional. Certainly not notably better than most of the United crews I’ve had on overseas flights.

The amenity kit was also quite basic. It had most of what I’ve come to expect (eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, lip balm), but also missing a few things I’d consider to be “basics” (hand lotion, mints, face wipes). Perfectly adequate for me, but definitely on the more basic side of things. I did like the metallic case it came in though:

Amenity kit case

Amenity kit case

Overall Conclusion

I had pretty lofty expectations of my first SWISS business class experience. In some ways it very much lived up to them, in others it felt decidedly “average”. Looking at the total package, it’s very nice and I look forward to flying it again. However, I likely won’t go out of my way to fly SWISS for business trips to Europe, nor will I go out of my way to find a way to get onto a SWISS flight when redeeming miles for personal trips.

SWISS

If you’re continuing on from ZRH, make sure to check out my review of SWISS Intra Europe Business Class as well (ground and air experience).


Disclosure: The inclusion of any link does not imply our endorsement of such external website or the products and services offered at such site.


The following is an advertisement from First2Board

Have you read these posts yet?