I recently had the privilege of testing out Swiss International Air Lines Business Class product between India and Switzerland. Swiss operates an Airbus on its daily flight between Mumbai and Zurich.
Interestingly, Swiss is one of the few airlines in the world to have a First Class cabin on an A330. The aircraft is configured like this — 6 seats in First Class, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration followed by 45 Business Class seats and 183 seats in economy class.
Since I was testing out the Swiss Business Class product, I am going to list down different aspects of my journey.
The Cabin -The Swiss Business Class cabin is interestingly configured. There are 45 seats spread across ten rows. Right behind First Class, there is a mini-cabin of two rows (9 seats), which gives a very private, intimate feel. Then there is the main business cabin consisting 8 rows of 36 seats. The Swiss Business Class layout is in a staggered configuration, so the rows are configured in a 2-2-1 or a 1-2-1 format. Thus, the seats are spread across the cabin in a non-linear fashion.
I actually chose a seat in the main cabin as I prefer a larger, airy cabin, over a smaller cabin.
For my Mumbai-Zurich leg, I chose a single seat on the right side of the aircraft and for the Zurich-Mumbai leg I was lucky enough to bag one of the “throne” seats on the left side of the aircraft. More on that later. In terms of design, the Swiss Business Class cabin is very understated and elegant, typical Swiss design, muted tones and a nice wooden finish on the workspaces.
The Seat – Down to brass tacks – the seat. It is definitely a very spacious and comfortable seat, designed in keeping with the needs of the business traveller. As you would expect, it extends into flat-bed mode measuring over two metres. The seat features a pitch of 60 inches and a width of 20.5 inches, at part with industry standards. Every seat comes with a generous workspace, with an elegant wooden finish, and easily accessible power connection and USB port, as well as a reading light. There is also a small storage area under the 12.1 inch screen, where you can store small things like a phone or a Kindle but not a laptop.
The Throne Seat – In the Swiss Business cabin, there are five seats known as “throne” seats, which have generous workspaces on both sides, and which are single seaters, so absolutely perfect for a business traveller who wants complete privacy. However, Swiss reserves these seats for its top-tier frequent flyers. Fortunately, I lucked out on my Zurich-Mumbai leg as the flight was empty so those seats weren’t taken and I managed to get myself. I absolutely LOVED the experience of the seat, with its generous work space on both sides and complete privacy.
Service – Swiss employs a mix of Indian and Swiss crew on their flights, which is a nice touch. In terms of service, the crew are extremely friendly, efficient like clockwork and attentive. I was addressed by my name during meal service and my champagne/water glass was never left empty. Between meal services, the crew are always in the cabin checking on passengers. There is an unmistakable Swiss air to the service — discreet, unobtrusive but attentive.
Food & Beverage – I have to say that I absolutely LOVE Swiss for its “breakfast order sheet” that was handed to me on boarding in Mumbai. As it is a midnight flight, most people prefer to sleep soon after takeoff and wake up just in time for breakfast, prior to landing into Zurich. Before takeoff, the crew come around with these order sheets, which you fill out and leave by your seat. Once you are asleep, the crew come around to discreetly collect these forms and your customised breakfast is brought to you when you wake up, saving you the bother of having to choose and order in a hurry, just before landing.
The highlights of my return journey — Zurich to Mumbai is where I actually tried out the food service as it was a day flight — were my champagne aperitif before lunch, enjoyed with a side of sparkling water and lime. The lunch is spread across three courses — starters, mains, dessert – as well as cheese, fruit and chocolates. Swiss Business Class food cannot be faulted and the menu also features an Indian vegetarian option for Indian travellers. Great bread is served throughout the meal and, needless to say, the impressive wine selection did not disappoint, though I chose to stick to my champagne.
Lounge – The Swiss are known for their efficiency and their national carrier is a case in point of this approach — The Arrivals Lounge at Zurich Airport is an absolute treat. It is situated in the arrivals hall of the terminal, after baggage claim and just outside the entrance to the main railway station. Business Class passengers can thus access this lounge and wait, have a full breakfast and chill out before an onward train ride. What’s more, you can enjoy the fabulous shower rooms in the lounge. These spacious rooms, into which you can lug your bags, even has a small window where you place your crumpled clothes and request them to be pressed. The pressed clothes come back to you (at the same window) in fifteen minutes and is complementary! The Arrivals Lounge was one of the highlights of my experience.
As for the Swiss Business Departures lounge in Zurich — let me just say that it has absolutely AMAZING views of the tarmac through its terrace. A well-appointed lounge that has lots of good food, great coffee and plenty of space to lounge around, plug your devices in and wait for your flight.
Bottom line: Swiss Business Class is one of the most competent and efficient products flying direct between India and Switzerland. Business travellers will enjoy little touches to make the journey smoother and more enjoyable. The A330 is perfectly comfortable, though I am curious to see what the airline’s newer Boeing 777-300ER would feel like on a long-haul.
I would definitely use this airline for my flights to Switzerland.
Check out www.swiss.com
Reviewed by Riaan Jacob George