On the Ground: SWISS began flying nonstop six days a week between San Francisco and Zurich in June. I took the first flight to Zürich, Switzerland’s financial center and largest city. SWISS, a member of Star Alliance and the Lufthansa Group, shares United Airlines’ Red Carpet Club. The 10-year-old lounge, located just past security to the right in the International Terminal, has aged fairly well, though it doesn’t match offerings from top international carriers. Two drink coupons are available, and there are plentiful power outlets and work stations with desks. Food offerings are sparse; two of the five options on a coffee-making machine were out of order. Happily, the sparkling, two-level SWISS lounge in winningly modern Zürich Airport, 10 minutes from downtown, more than compensated on my return flight. (25/30)
Pre-flight: The Airbus A340 used on our premiere flight was the first aircraft to feature SWISS’ new business class, which will be rolled out across the airline’s 77-plane fleet this year and next. It is superb. Boarding was fast, overhead bins ample. I relaxed with a glass of mild, Swiss-made Chardonnay. The seasoned cabin crew members were crisply efficient without ever being officious, anticipatory but not intrusive. SWISS’ new business class alternates rows of 2-2-2 and 2-2-1 configurations. There are power outlets at all seats and plenty of personal space for working or chilling out. I occupied a single seat by the window, giving me both a window and an aisle — ideal. (30/30)
In-flight: Once we took off, food and beverage service commenced promptly. I sipped a nicely rounded Swiss-made Pinot Noir from hilly lakeside vineyards. Alas, the tender veal in cream sauce, one of Switzerland’s national dishes, was gone. But this was not deeply tragic; my salmon was moist and flavorful. For dessert, I nibbled choice cheeses and, of course, creamy Swiss chocolate. I read and surfed the in-flight entertainment system during the 11-and-a-half-hour flight, enjoying the wide range of movies and TV shows, games, music CDs and radio channels, as fellow travelers beavered away on laptops and electronic devices. Late in the journey, I opted for slumber. SWISS has a 180-degree flat-bed seat with adjustable air cushions, making it one of the best beds in the sky. (38/40)
The Experience: The long-haul business class on SWISS is better than some carriers’ first class, and most elements under the airline’s direct control tick like a Swiss watch.
Total Score: 93/100
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
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