One of the best reasons to invest in Swiss’s business product, especially when departing Switzerland, is premium status expedites Flughafen Zürich’s complex security and departure procedures. The first step is a breeze, thanks to a large, separate check-in/luggage deposit counter for the upper cabin classes that’s well staffed and pleasantly efficient. Those wanting to relax in the Swiss lounge, meanwhile, should get to the airport early. Long lines at the first passport control, the necessity of the second passport control, even with a shorter business line, and the challenge of finding the lounge entry will not leave much time to enjoy the perks.
The Swiss Business lounge, dressed in rich purple and white, has a nice selection of magazines as well as an enclosed quiet area and buffet anchored by a manned open-concept kitchen prepping fresh snacks. However, during peak travel times, and especially Sundays, surprisingly large crowds crammed into the space diminish the “wow” factor.. With the exception of a separate workspace, electrical outlets are few and far between. On top of this, passengers need to remember to get a WiFi access code when entering the lounge. This is easy to overlook when passengers have work concerns or kids in tow.
Once business travelers pass through the gate-side passport control, they are welcomed aboard the Boeing 777-300ER with smiles, Champagne and a food menu. They also receive a cute, functional Victorinox-branded amenity bag with the basics including a toothbrush, earplugs and an eye mask. The bathroom offers mini-tubes of Zürich brand Soeder face cream. The cubicle-style seating lacks the spaciousness of comparable carriers but does offer lots of storage space as well as comfy if narrow seating with pitch and massage controls, good lighting, a cozy blanket probably better suited for winter travel and a fluffy-but-firm pillow.
The built-in privacy of the cubicle-style seating design is a thoughtful idea, but anybody in a window seat will quickly discover they will have to become friendly with their seatmate to get to the aisle once the flight gets underway.
On Swiss, the business-class cabin is best suited for passengers who want to stay focused on business during the flight. The tray accommodates a decent-sized laptop, and the privacy features ensure one’s typing will not disturb neighbors. Surprisingly, the entertainment system does not offer many current movies to choose from; the sound and screen quality are solid.
Full meals are appealingly presented, though the vegetarian selections are standouts, thanks to an assist from Zürich-based Hiltl, the West’s first vegetarian restaurant, which offered curry noodles on this flight. The pasta appetizer served with the second meal was also delicious and filling. True to Swiss form, can’t-miss Mövenpick ice cream and sorbet are on hand. The weak spot is a bland sandwich “snack” trotted out mid-flight that’s the same as what’s handed out in economy.
The warm, attentive flight attendants are the high point of the Swiss business flight experience. They work tirelessly to accommodate any need not met with the food, seating or amenities. Once you’ve requested something, they check on you several times to make sure your flight experience is up to par.
While Swiss business class offers good value, a few things can be tweaked or slightly upgraded on the ground or in the cabin to make the nearly 12-hour daytime flight a true pleasure. At the moment, the crew and the ease of getting through a challenging airport are its best value propositions. I will have seconds of the Hiltl curry noodles and Moöenpick mango sorbet, please.
Swiss International Air Lines
Zürich (ZRH)–Los Angeles (LAX)
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