On June 10, Swiss International Air Lines officially inaugurated its new Boeing 777-300ER (77W) on its first regularly scheduled daily service to the United States. The debut flight took off from Zürich/Kloten Airport (ZRH) and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The 77W is the first Boeing product in Swiss’s mainly-Airbus fleet, and carries 55% more passengers than the Airbus A340-300 (343) it replaces on the ZRH-LAX route. Its first 77W, HB-JNA (delivered on January 29) with its special “Faces of SWISS” livery, made the flight.
Swiss gave the public a CGI-based video preview of the all-new aircraft and completely redesigned interior, and AirlineReporter was the first to confirm the delivery date of HB-JNA. We were also one of the few media to be invited to LAX for the inaugural events to take a look with our own eyes. Were we disappointed?
Swiss, part of the Lufthansa Group as well as a member of Star Alliance, chose the 77W to replace some of its aging Airbus A330/A340 equipment, as well as upgauge lift capacity, with the larger 77W carrying 340 passengers versus 236 in the A330-300 (333) and 219 in the 343. While improving fuel efficiency by 23% over the 343, cargo lift is also significantly upped in both payload and volume.
While LAX was selected as the official inaugural route, the airline has already accepted delivery on four 77Ws out of nine ordered, and they have been flying familiarization flights to the crews’ benefit and training, including short intra-Europe flights as well as temporary assignments on routes to New York (JFK) and Montreal (YUL).
Swiss currently operates the following daily schedule to Los Angeles:
- LX 40 ZRH-LAX: departing at 1:15 pm, arriving at 4:20 pm
- LX 41 LAX-ZRH: departing at 7:40 pm, arriving at 3:40 pm the next day
From front to back, the Swiss three-class cabin was revamped to enhance passenger experience and comfort. Starting with the main entrance at the second door, Swiss chose to stick with warm, earthy tones, classy woodgrain appointments (more so than in older cabins) and clean lines to create a visually welcoming ambiance throughout the cabinspace.
The 77Ws come equipped with wireless internet that is purchased in 20/50/120 Mb data transfer packages for CHF 9/19/39 respectively (1 CHF = 1.04 USD). Interestingly, Swiss also offers the ability for cell phone calls while inflight through a service called Aeromobile.
SWISS 777-300ER: First Class
The crown jewel of Swiss’s flagship is the first class cabin, featuring just eight partially-enclosed suites arranged 1-2-1 in two rows. The seats are 22 inches wide, and in bed mode 80 inches long. Each seat has a large manually-operated partition that slides out to reveal a wardrobe, while a smaller powered blind slides out over the armrest to create an enclosed private space for relaxing or sleeping, open only at the top. The suites also tie the industry’s largest entertainment screen at 32 inches, and first class passengers are given 50 Mb in complimentary data. Storage cubbies abound, and a large table flips out from the armrest, with enough space to dine facing a companion sitting on the ottoman.
The two center seats are best for traveling companions, though a substantial wall separates them; for single travelers sitting in the middle, a large divider slides up for privacy. For those sitting in the window seats, electric window blinds are offered… very nice touch.
First class passengers receive pajamas for the flight, and while there is no changing room, there are not one but two lavatories for exclusive first class use. While they are only slightly oversized, having a passenger-to-lavatory ratio of 4:1 is amazing. Seats 1G and 1K are nearest to the galley so should be the last chosen, though there is a fair bit of separation so while there may be sounds, it should be muted compared to other configurations. In a final touch of aesthetics, a flush wood-textured door closes to isolate the first class cabin from the rest of the aircraft, creating a truly exclusive space.
SWISS 777-300ER: Business Class
Swiss’s 65 business class seats (by Thomson) are arranged in an alternating 1-2-2 or 2-2-1 pattern. There is a small cabin between first class and the second doors with just two rows and ten seats, with the remaining 55 seats in one large cabin between the second and third doors. While they are arranged similarly to the cabins on the 333s/343s, the extra width of the 77W allows for more room, storage, and privacy elements than previous iterations, such as a clever tray table that serves as a divider “extender” when not in use. A small tray table for drinks or other personal items flips out from under the large 16″ screen.
The business seats are slightly wider than the previous 20.5-inch seat, and bed length is advertised as “over 2 meters” (79 inches) with larger footwells. They also feature a three-point seat belt.
No pajamas are offered for business class passengers. There are three designated lavatories by the second set of doors, creating an almost 22:1 ratio for passengers-to-lavs. For reduced foot traffic, select a seat either in the mini-cabin or towards the back of the main section.
Solo travelers would do best to get one of the single seats along the windows, as those have the most work, storage, and personal space. Traveling pairs should aim for the middle section seats for more table surface area and aisle access. The pairs of seats by the windows will involve the window passenger having to climb over the aisle passenger to get in and out, and they only have the center table area to split between them.
SWISS 777-300ER: Economy Class
Then we come to economy class, where the industry trend has been to put 10-abreast seating on 777s, and Swiss has followed suit, cramming in 270 seats in the back. There are marginal improvements to the seats themselves, such as larger 11″ touchscreens with flush USB charging and audio ports, improved cushioning, drink and smartphone holders that don’t require the tray table, and a new walk-up snack bar. The seats are listed as 17.1 inches in width and 31 inches in pitch.
There are six lavatories in economy (four mid-cabin, two aft), making for a 45:1 passenger ratio. At least the lavatories in coach look nice.
There are a few desirable seats in economy, such as the extra legroom seats in the exit rows (Rows 23 & 39, seats ABC and HJK) and bulkheads (Rows 22 and 40, seats DEFG), as well as a few pairs of seats in the far aft (Rows 50-51, seats AC and HK).
One final note that applies to all three cabins: there were no overhead air vents.
SWISS 777-300ER: The Ribbon Cutting
As with most other inaugural flights, there was cutting of ribbons and cake involved. For the Swiss twist, an Alp horn player made an appearance, along with the General Consul of Switzerland in Los Angeles.
Overall, Swiss pulls off one of the classiest cabins flying today, with a focus on premium passengers. Aside from (now becoming industry-standard) 10-across seating in economy and the lack of air vents, the look is refined and tasteful, harking to the Swiss traditions of quality and precision. It’s no wonder that Swiss’s 777-300ER is a source of national pride.
Swiss will expand 777-300ER service from ZRH to Miami (MIA) in late Summer 2016. Currently, there is also daily 77W service from ZRH to Hong Kong (HKG).
Story updated 6/16/16 at 9:30am PT to include seat dimensions in economy.