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 Zà¼rich/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.
Seat 39A looks terrible. Also, what’s with this no personal air vent trend? Not a fan.
I think I would prefer 39A to the bulkheads – just about the same amount of leg room/restriction, but more open and you have a wall to lean against (and 1/4 of a window). The aisle seats on this and other 10-abreast econ sections are horrid with people constantly bumping into your seat, even when just walking down the aisle in single file… don’t even think about when people try to cross each other.
John | AirlineReporter
I have started to bring a small battery operated fan with me on my trips on foreign carriers as I have found the same thing happening, especially on Korean Airlines. It has made the 14-16 hour trips more bearable by having air circulating around me.
It may have to do with costs on building a plane as they can have general air conditioning and not have special areas to send auxiliary air to.
Or, they just like to torture us 🙂
The portable fan is a great idea, even though I don’t want to carry yet another accessory with me. In fact, you gave me another idea… how about a USB-powered fan? Most of the USB ports on the planes barely have enough amperage to charge smart phones, but should be great to power a small fan.
I’m going to have to research this…
John | AirlineReporter
John, on behalf of the many people who use wheelchairs and have incredible difficulty determining if any given aircraft will enable them to fly comfortably on long flights (i.e. use a lavatory), I wish you (and other Avgeeks) would help document accessibility of the latest & greatest aircraft. Your picture of the first class lav doesn’t show if there’s space to the left of the toilet (to the right in your photo) for an aisle chair to be parked alongside allowing for transferring. Your photo of the lav in economy class does not indicate if the double-panel, push-in entry door is wide enough for a chair (they usually are not). Also, is the economy class lavatory marked with a wheelchair sign? Your picture shows the door fully folded inside, so the outside markings are not visible.
Disability groups are actively participating in work groups at the USDOT to review the (lack of) success of the ACAA in providing nondiscrimination to persons with disabilities in air travel. Incredibly, there is no information available about the state of access on aircraft except for horror stories. Check out the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s website AirAccess30.org to see what traveling with wheelchairs is like.
Hi Malcolm, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m taking your comments to heart and hopefully will be able to contribute to that knowledge base now and in the future.
To answer your question specific to this aircraft, none of the lavs I saw were accessible. This included both F lavs and the two Y lavs by Door 4L. I will ask and see if I can get an answer, but the official seat map from Swiss doesn’t seem to indicate any, if the image is the scale:
John | AirlineReporter
I have an update for you Malcolm: According to Swiss, the left front lavatory (the one shown in the photo above) is wheelchair-accessible, and the rest (except the very last two in the back) have assistance handles. I hope this information helps.
John | Airline Reporter
If the left front lavatory in first class (the one shown in the first photo above) is *truly* wheelchair-accessible, it should have about 20″ floor space to the right of the toilet. Can’t tell from your picture, but maybe you noticed and can recall?
A real accessible lav has space that allows the on-board wheelchair to be placed adjacent to the toilet to allow a “transfer”. It should also have space for a personal attendant to assist with transfers. Without adequate floor space, a wheelchair user must be semi-ambulatory and able to independently stand and turn 180-degrees. I suspect that the lavatory isn’t designed for real disability use. 1) The grab bar behind the toilet is high and cluttered and the little flip handle in a back corner is lame. 2) The sink has very high sides and isn’t useful from a sitting position. The lav seems designed for looks rather than utility. Another question is whether Swiss will make it clear that anyone seated in economy and needing an accessible lavatory is *welcome* in First Class? Most airlines won’t interfere with the comfortable ambiance they work so hard to create at the front of the plane.
Since this Swiss Air flight connects Zurich ( ZRH) and LAX, it is regulated by the U.S. ACAA (as amended in 2010) and is supposed to offer more than a wide entrance door. Unfortunately, the USDOT rules that implement the ACAA are vague and let airlines throw around the term “accessible” with abandon.
Swiss Air also pointed out to you that the rest (except the very last two in the back) have assistance handles. Over the last half-dozen years, ALL major U.S. carriers now put assistance handles (often referred to as grab bars) inside ALL lavatories on B737, B757 & A321 aircraft, even though none of the lavatories on those single-aisle planes are even remotely accessible. By some strange coincidence, all lavatories on these aircraft are also marked with Wheelchair-Accessible signs. I wonder if the Swiss Air economy lavs are also so marked?
I hope these comments help guide you to notice this kind of stuff on future flying. You’d be amazed how little folks at the USDOT and disability organizations really know about what’s flying around up there in the sky. Avgeeks are our eyes in the sky! I challenge all to show the stuff that airlines can do better as well as the stuff they do well.
Thanks for your many contributions to Airline Reporter.
Nice report on a Very Nice airplane. The front galley is huge – for eight seats, so the meals ought to be great. The only downside that I can see is the 10x seating in cattle class; I just don’t like that 4x section in the middle – on any airplane. Great pix as well!! -C.
Thanks Cook. I agree, I don’t like the 4 seats in the middle either… but it’s still leagues better than 5 in the middle! (Though that meant that it was a 2-5-2 arrangement on the 777, and I liked all those pairs).
John | AirlineReporter
Hello again John, OMG! I sure that I’ve never seen a FIVER in the middle. If so, I’d run like U-No-What. If you know, who operates such a thing? Having to cross a minimum of TWO, just to take a pee, suggests a great market for leg bags on those 12-14 hour trips and I’m not joking. Unless the fare was under a dime a mile, I would not do it. And yes! One heck of a great report. Thank you!! -C.
We’re on the same page. I’ve never seen a 2-5-2 on the 777, or any other airplane. If/when I do, it will be a one time event. The most simple response, fully approved by t he supervising IPA in the upper right corner, is NO! I will not park my buns in a 5x row, ever. If 4X is the best available go a 90-monute flight, maybe. Larger rowsmf0r longer flights remains an absolute NO . twelve to 14 hours with 2–3 on each side will also not work It will be different airplane or carrier, – or even a purchased upgrade to BC, I’m NOT spending 12+ hours in a 5x row. Nuts!! —C.
When using 9 abreast in a B777 there’s 3-3-3 or 2-5-2. Malaysia Airlines has 2-5-2 configuration in their existing B777.
American Airlines and a few others operated the 777 in a 2-5-2 configuration, which was quite popular with passengers actually. In a 2-5-2, only one passenger per row of seats is two seats away from an aisle. In a 3-3-3, two passengers are (window seats). That means that half as many passengers were inconvenienced. Unfortunately, the new 777s are mostly coming with high density 3-4-3 layouts now, so the 2-5-2 is goung away.
That is indeed a very classy and understated cabin, and I am shocked at how nice that econ lavatory is. The exterior, however, one friend described as “blood spatter” from a distance, and now I can’t unsee it.
Thank YOU, Phoenix… now I can’t unsee that either!
John | Airline Reporter
one of the most classic and elegant cabin in the sky…..Truly amazing Swiss.
Very well appointed interiors on a classy airline.
However, the exterior is simply horrendous.
Please note: Economy class seats are very uncomfortable. Swiss has gone cheap. The cloth seat padding is very thin on the back and bottom. There are no power outlets in economy. Just took the flight to LAX from ZRH. Felt like I sat on a board. Will try to avoid flying on this plane again. Don’t believe the hype.
Exactly, they can spin it anyway they like, but there is no putting lipstick on the 10 abreast pig. It does not matter how nice the touchscreen in front of you is, if you have to spend the entire flight with your neighbours elbow in your ribcage, and being banged by every passing food trolley.
Fortunately a choice still exists, despite the efforts of trade journalists to paint 10 abreast 777 as a supposed new “norm”. Singapore, JAL and Eva, to name at least some, still offer the sane 9 abreast 777 layout.
PS. A sample of the reviews on SeatGuru of Swiss’s horrible economy class 777 offering. Each is from a different reviewer:
* Eating “normally” was impossible, had to eat in shifts, holding the meal container up with my elbows in.
* eating normally is a nogo when you have a 190cms guy seating next to you.
* I came to the conclusion this is absolute NOGO for a long-haul flight.
* seats are too narrow and aisle is too narrow. And Im a medium sized female. I saw a few people actually stand on seats to get in and out ofnaislenacces aisle in order to use the restroom
* the Economy on the way back is terrible, horrible, 100% never fly again with a 10-abrest 777-300!!! It is a torture for a human!!
* the seats in the 777 are so narrow and the aisles are so narrow it is ridiculous. Just suffered the most uncomfortable long-haul flight in a long time.
* When the row in front of you goes backward you can’t read or watch the movie. I probably would have had to stand most of the time. The only comparable flight was on a Tupolew 134 several years ago, but there I could move sideways.
* Basically an A380 seating arrangement in the B777 which has much narrower fuselage. The seats so narrow, one has to sit either slightly sideways or overlap the arms to fit into the seat. also the aisles are so narrow, wonder if in an emergency REALLY can evacuate in time.
* the authorities should look into the security of such a terrible layout because I think there is no chance to evacuate the economy class in an emergency when it is fully booked.
etc etc. Really Swiss, what were you thinking? It’s quite something when the paying public compares your service to an old Tupolev, isn’t it? 😛
For row 40 in the middle…are the video screens in the arm rest or are those particular seats without?