Swiss International Airlines Airbus A330-300 on departure from Zurich Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Swiss International Airlines Airbus A330-300 on departure from Zurich – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Swiss International Airlines
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Departed: Zurich (ZRH)
Arrived: Chicago (ORD)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Business Class
Seat: 4A
Length: About 9.5 hours

Cheers: Mini-cabin that offers additional seclusion and privacy, connection efficiency at the Zurich hub
Jeers: No hot meal offered for second service, despite nearly 10-hour flight length, aging and clunky IFE
Overall: A leading long-haul business class product from an EU carrier, needs a few updates to make it more competitive in the future

Lounge with a view- terrace in the business class lounge at the E-Gates in Zurich Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Lounge with a view – terrace in the Business Class lounge at the E-gates in Zurich – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

FULL SWISS FLIGHT REVIEW

For my most recent visit to the USA, I decided to go with Swiss International Airlines. This decision was influenced by two factors; first, Swiss has again been awarded the 2014  “Europe’s Leading Business Class Airline” at the World Travel Awards. Second, and more importantly, was the price. I managed to grab an online special for US $2,000 return from Prague to Seattle (via Zurich and Chicago) – this was an offer too good to refuse.

Having arrived with a 40-minute flow-control delay on my flight from Prague, my 1:20 connection in Zurich turned into a 40-minute marathon dash through immigration and onto the E-gates. Luckily, thanks to Swiss efficiency, this was all completed in 15 minutes from gate to gate and I still had a chance to enjoy the Business Class lounge. I should mention that the lounge used in the E-gates (long-haul flights) is not of the same quality as the one used in the main gate area; it is rather small and cramped (especially during the long-haul afternoon rush). The redeeming factor though is the outside terrace, which offers a panoramic view of all the happenings on the ramp. I’m sure most AvGeeks would be thrilled to spend a few hours here.

Flying like a king - the "throne" seat on-board Swiss' A330-300 Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Flying like a king – the “throne” seat on Swiss’ A330-300 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

As the flight was very lightly loaded, I was fortunate enough to secure 4A in the mini cabin located behind first class (these seats are normally reserved for top-tier frequent flyers). Swiss has a rather interesting layout within their business class cabin. The layout is designed such that the first row is 1-2-1 while the second row is 2-2-1, and then it repeats. The single seats are generally reserved, once again, for top-tier frequent fliers but are worth it if you can get them. On the left-hand side the single seats resemble a throne due to the layout of the two seats behind it.

Following an on-time departure, the crew began the service some 20 minutes after takeoff. The drink service was completed from a classic cart and there was a range of pre-packaged snacks on offer (I am not a fan of these, as it cheapens the whole “business class experience” for me).

Pre-lunch drink along with a pre-packaged snack Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Pre-lunch drink along with a pre-packaged snack – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

My steak for the main was cooked medium (which is the way I prefer it) and was very juicy and tender.

A delicious and perfectly cooked steak Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

A delicious and perfectly cooked steak Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

For dessert we had a selection of sweets and cheeses from the trolley. I, for one, am a fan of this service delivery method, as it reminds of the glory days of air travel, and allows for more interaction with the crew.

Dessert service from a cart - very classy Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Dessert service from a cart – very classy Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

About two hours after lunch we were offered Movenpick ice cream. This was an impressive service, as it was served straight from the tub and onto actual ice cream cones, something I have never come across on an aircraft before.

A novel experience- ice cream cones on a plane Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

A novel experience – ice cream cones on a plane – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

As this was a daytime flight I decided to explore the entertainment options. This is one of the weaker points of Swiss business. The system used on the aircraft is about 5-10 years behind todays systems and as such it is a very “clunky” and at times unresponsive system (on my return flight, the crew had to reset the system no less than four times). The screen size is also not up to the standards of many business class products out there. Despite this, I still managed to watch a few new releases and TV shows.

An ageing IFE system in need of an upgrade Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

An aging IFE system in need of an upgrade Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The second service was conducted approximately two hours prior to arrival. There was a selection of cold salads, meats, and cheeses which were plated from a trolley. It was a bit of a let down; given the length of the flight, I would have expected a second hot meal or a more substantial offering from the trolley.

Arrival into Chicago was on-time, but not before the crew distributed the legendary Swiss chocolates – this is my favorite part when flying Swiss.

Swiss chocolate! The best part of flying Swiss Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Swiss chocolate! The best part of flying Swiss – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Overall, Swiss delivers a solid business class product in terms of on-board comfort. In order to continue to be the leading European business class airline, I feel they need to improve not only their ageing IFE system but also redesign their catering – in particular on transatlantic flights. I am sure that once they bring their Boeing 777-300ER aircraft online in coming years to replace the A330/A340 fleet, we will see a fresh, new, and once again leading European long-haul business class product.

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SENIOR CORRESPONDENT – PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC A native of Australia, Jacob’s interest in aviation first came about as a child going on a long-haul flight between Australia and Europe to visit relatives. In addition to being a pilot himself, he has worked in operations for a charter airline, been on-the-ramp handling aircraft, worked as a slot coordinator for major airports, and currently works as an aircraft charter broker for corporate and VIP clients throughout Eastern Europe. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys photography, plane spotting, and travel. Email: jacob@airlinereporter.com.

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7 Comments

Wish I had known about that Business-lounge at the E-gates. Flew last christmas Business to Mumbai, but during transit I went to the Senator lounge with my dad (a ‘top-tier frequent flyers’). Well I know what to do next time, if I am lucky enough to fly Business from Zurich again 😀

James Burke

Even the 2nd servce snack on LH and OS in economy is hot on FRA-YYZ / VIE-YYZ. Although, the 1st service did not look like yours… That was a smokin’ hot price. Hope you liked Prague – I quite enjoyed my visit there!

well swiss did go bankrupt twice, it it was for german airline they would not have been around

Swiss is solid noting extra , they were the airline some 20 years ago, but they seriously behind ,

Took JNb – ZUrich , very dissapointing .

Nadir,
Not sure where you got the info from that Swiss went bankrupt twice? They were near bankruptcy once about 18 months after their creation in the early part of the decade but they pulled through thanks to LH.
Certainly they never went bankrupt…I should know, I’ve been flying them twice a month since their creation and never really had a bad flight yet. The questionable ones were generally due to the cabin crew not being compatible with each other and not the Lx product as such. Each airline as that issue, it’s only human. EK and other such carriers also have their difficulties in this regard as well. Even if their IFE and product is marginally better, the consistency of delivery is a random affair at best…I use them for business as well and still prefer LX. Question of taste and culture perhaps…but hey …we’re all different.

Thanks Jacob for the info. It always gives me immense satisfaction to travel in business class. The services are awesome. Last year I have make a business trip to Europe and booked my ticket from http://www.skyluxtravel.com/ and believe me they have given me discount upto 70% on my business class airfare. It’s a wonderful experience for me.

Switzerland is not part of the EU

Jacob Pfleger - AirlineReporter

That is correct but it is a part of Europe.

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