SWISS 777 First Class: A Wonderful Experience

SWISS 777 First Class: A Wonderful Experience

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Hello from Zurich, as I just flew SWISS’ Boeing 777-300ER first class on the 8hr20min overnight flight from Miami to Zurich, and am now enjoying the SWISS First Class Lounge. This was my first time flying SWISS first class in over seven years. As I explained in a previous post, I redeemed points for a business class ticket, and then upgraded with cash.

While I’ll have a full trip report soon, in this post I wanted to share my initial impressions. I recently reviewed SWISS’ A330 business class, and didn’t have very nice things to say, as it almost seems like SWISS isn’t trying in that cabin.

I’m happy to report that first class is a very different experience. SWISS offers spacious first class suites, extensive amenities, and tasty food and drinks. It’s time for me to adjust my first class airline rankings a bit, as I do think SWISS first class is a cut above Lufthansa first class (though from an aircraft perspective, I do love flying the A380 and 747-8 on Lufthansa).

SWISS’ 777 first class seats are comfortable

SWISS Boeing 777s have eight first class suites, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

SWISS 777 first class cabin

Even though this product isn’t cutting-edge at this point, SWISS offers a functional, comfortable, and elegant seat, which is significantly more private and spacious than what you’ll find on Lufthansa.

SWISS 777 first class seat
SWISS 777 first class seat
SWISS 777 first class seat

The seat has a large tray table, plus an ottoman, so that you can dine face-to-face with a travel companion, if you’d like.

The SWISS first class seat also has a door… sort of. The setup is almost humorously practical, as there’s a shield that extends from the side of the seat, and then there’s a wardrobe that you can just pull out to create a door. Hah.

SWISS 777 first class seat “door”

Most importantly, the seat is comfortable as a bed. It’s wide, it’s private, and the bedding is excellent. I just wish SWISS had individual air nozzles, but then again, that’s an issue on most non-US airlines.

SWISS 777 first class bed

SWISS’ first class entertainment & Wi-Fi is solid

SWISS by no means has the world’s best inflight entertainment, but the system on the 777 is way better than what you’ll find on the A330. Not only is the system more modern and easier to use, but the selection is also more extensive. For example, I counted 235 movies, plus a variety of TV shows, audio, and more.

SWISS 777 first class entertainment system

Of course I also loved the map feature, which could be customized, either to cycle views, or to keep one specific view of the flight’s progress.

SWISS 777 first class entertainment system

Lastly, while SWISS’ inflight Wi-Fi is ordinarily pretty pricey, first class passengers get free Wi-Fi passes with no data caps, so that’s nice.

SWISS first class free Wi-Fi voucher

So between the entertainment selection and the Wi-Fi, I had no issues staying entertained on the flight.

SWISS’ first class food & drinks are tasty

SWISS’ first class meal service is very different than Lufthansa’s, and I’d argue that on balance, it’s superior.

Lufthansa’s advantage is that it serves caviar in first class on every flight, which is something that many people appreciate. However, other than that, I found the quality and presentation of SWISS’ first class food to be better.

For example, SWISS serves an amuse bouche on the ground, with the pre-departure drink. In this case, that was a carrot panna cotta. For those curious, the champagne on offer was Pommery Cuvee Louise Millesime 2006, which I enjoyed.

SWISS first class amuse bouche

After takeoff, the airline has a variety of starters to choose from, and I selected the balik salmon (a staple of SWISS first class), plus yuzu marinated shrimp and scallop with cucumber and pear. That was accompanied by a bread basket, plus olive oil, butter, and some pretty huge salt and pepper shakers.

SWISS first class appetizer

This was followed by the option of a salad or soup, and I selected the tomato tortilla soup, which had a nice kick to it.

SWISS first class soup

For my main course, I had the salmon with vegetable salsa, couscous, sautéed spinach, and leek. The menu didn’t make reference to it, but there was also a huge slab of butter on top of the salmon… heh. While I moved the butter to the side, this was probably the best salmon dish I’ve ever had on a plane (and it can be hard to make airplane salmon stand out, in my opinion).

SWISS first class main course

As you’d expect for an airline from Switzerland, SWISS has a great cheese selection, which I had to indulge in. I loved the presentation as well.

SWISS first class cheese course

There was also quite a chocolate selection, another staple of the SWISS experience (that I had to say no to, as I can’t eat everything).

SWISS first class chocolates

Last but not least, for dessert I selected the tiramisu.

SWISS first class dessert

It’s also worth noting that SWISS often has special dishes onboard, for a limited time. For example, in the coming weeks there will be an onboard caviar tasting. For that matter, there was the option to have fondue on my flight, though the flight attendant warned me that it was “a Florida take” on fondue, so I gave that a pass (I was picturing melted Kraft cheese singles with some Goya products in there).

SWISS’ first class amenities are solid

When I flew SWISS business class, I was disappointed by just how cheap and lacking the amenities were. By comparison, SWISS has competitive amenities in first class.

The first class amenity kit was well stocked, with all the essentials, plus some cute additions, like Ricola, as well as some skincare products from Soeder.

SWISS first class amenity kiy

There were also comfortable pajamas, which I took with me, and will definitely be wearing at home.

SWISS first class pajamas

Then there were also sturdy slippers.

SWISS first class slippers

SWISS’ first class service is good… in a Swiss way

Let me just say that based on my experience over the years, service on SWISS can be a mixed bag. I don’t find service on SWISS to be as consistent in premium cabins as on Lufthansa, though perhaps that’s my bias showing, given my German roots, and that I have an appreciation for German service (despite sort of having a language in common, Switzerland and Germany are very different in that way).

There were two flight attendants working first class on this flight, and they were seasoned professionals, though perhaps not overly warm or engaging, which I’m totally fine with.

Most importantly, I was impressed by their efficiency and attentiveness, especially on an overnight flight. For example, I was served my first course just 25 minutes after takeoff, so that’s some impressive speed. It was definitely one of the better SWISS crews I’ve had.

Bottom line

I just had the chance to fly SWISS’ 777 first class across the Atlantic. After my recent SWISS business class flight, I was really managing my expectations, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. While SWISS doesn’t seem to invest much in its business class soft product, the carrier has a great first class, with comfortable seats, free Wi-Fi, good food and drinks, and a very comfortable bed.

I think I prefer SWISS first class to Lufthansa first class. However, I don’t prefer the inability to redeem miles for the product, so I think in the future I’ll still stick to Lufthansa first class. 😉

What’s your take on SWISS’ Boeing 777 first class?

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  1. Jacques Portgieter Guest

    I am happy for you to have this experience. I do wish sometimes you would order something other than fish on these reviews, just for us avid readers to see how they do other meat dishes in the most premium of cabins. I understand your stance against eating pork, however there are many other interesting opportunities to delve into some of the other things on the menus.

    In South Africa we don't eat much fish lol ;)

  2. John Guest

    Flying SWISS first out of ORD recently and when placing my dinner order, I said something like “of course I will have the cheese course as this is Swiss”. The flight attendant looked at me and after an uncomfortable silence said “sir, I must tell you, this cheese, it is from… Wisconsin.”

    The way she said it was just absolutely perfect.

    I passed.

    1. Jacques Portgieter Guest

      The cheese on that plate looks neither Swiss, nor particularly appetizing.

  3. AndMilesToGoBeforeISleep New Member

    It seems like it's a (bad) strategic decision to not enhance business class in order to promote their first class. They are afraid of cannibalising their first class, but the outcome will be people choosing other airlines.

  4. Jakob OG Guest

    As a regular Swiss First traveller I'll add a few details that I believe are noteworthy:
    - The screen in Swiss First is 32" and beats most airlines in size
    - The amenity pouch is Bally
    - The pyjama is from a high-end Swiss brand (Zimmerli) and their Swiss-unbranded equivalent retails for 200USD+

  5. Rick Guest

    Great to see they use BALLY for their amenity kits!

    Also, may I oint out that you use the verb "select" in the wrong way? I have noticed it across multiple posts, and so I wanted to post here something you might find useful going forward. Nothing major, just minor stylistical and grammatical correction.

    "When you say select, you mean that you have to sort out the best based on the requirement. When you elect,...

    Great to see they use BALLY for their amenity kits!

    Also, may I oint out that you use the verb "select" in the wrong way? I have noticed it across multiple posts, and so I wanted to post here something you might find useful going forward. Nothing major, just minor stylistical and grammatical correction.

    "When you say select, you mean that you have to sort out the best based on the requirement. When you elect, you mean that you select based on the number of votes or comparison. When you say you choose, then you select based on choice." - From BARD AI

    1. Santos Guest

      I'm not sure Bard AI is an authority you want to cite when correcting people on grammar. It contradicts itself in the quoted guidance by using 'select' in the same manner it claims is incorrect.

      There's nothing incorrect about using "select" as a verb meaning to choose. It's vernacular at worst and in a "stylistical" (this is not a word, by the way) context, it would pass muster on any copy desk I've ever...

      I'm not sure Bard AI is an authority you want to cite when correcting people on grammar. It contradicts itself in the quoted guidance by using 'select' in the same manner it claims is incorrect.

      There's nothing incorrect about using "select" as a verb meaning to choose. It's vernacular at worst and in a "stylistical" (this is not a word, by the way) context, it would pass muster on any copy desk I've ever worked on, be they conformed to Chicago, AP or AMA manuals of style. And I've worked on quite a few.

  6. Robert Furmanek Guest

    I relatively often fly first with LH and LX and definitely prefer Swiss. Also First Lounge in Zurich is better - in my opinion - than LH in Frankfurt.

  7. Jamie Guest

    Great article. The food looks so much better than some of the offerings you have had from Lufthansa- I’m sure you once had a stale sushi roll ? The chocolate and cheese looks awesome! Out of interest how much was the upgrade and do you think it was worth it ?

    1. Steve Guest

      How much cash was upgrade?

    2. Calidude Guest

      He said in a previous posting that the upgrade was $ 1920.

  8. TravelinWilly Guest

    LX allows/invites FC pax to pre-order items that are not on the in-flight menu handed out upon boarding.

    I don’t know how upgrades work in terms of time windows, but on revenue tix I’ve had that option weeks ahead of time, at least for USA-Zurich flights.

  9. CXP Member

    Fun fact: Swiss used to have a giant thing of La Prairie Skin Caviar (which retails for $4-500) in the first class lavatory. On at least 2 occasions I flew with them the bottle had mysteriously disappeared by the end of the flight. My next flight had much cheaper stuff in the lavatory. You can't have nice things.

    Now to be fair, they also downgraded their amenity kit - they used to have really nice wooden hair brushes and shoe horns, but not more.

    1. TravelinWilly Guest

      EK used to have the Hennessy Paradis on a shelf on the A380 FC front bar area. After bottles went missing, the Paradis is only served from the galley now.

      The kleptos ruin it for everyone.

  10. Rand Cooley Guest

    I would be curious to know the price of FC vs Business class to see if the bump to FC is a better deal

    1. Barbarella Guest

      Swiss Business transatlantic award can be booked for 63k lifemiles one way which is about 820 USD (assuming you buy your miles one way or another), add taxes and fees, about 1000 USD. As mentioned FC awards on LH are not very accessible so you have to upgrade cash.

      In cash you can find a one-way MIA-ZRH for 5k+ in Business and 14k+ in First. Ben has reported separately that a cash upgrade at the...

      Swiss Business transatlantic award can be booked for 63k lifemiles one way which is about 820 USD (assuming you buy your miles one way or another), add taxes and fees, about 1000 USD. As mentioned FC awards on LH are not very accessible so you have to upgrade cash.

      In cash you can find a one-way MIA-ZRH for 5k+ in Business and 14k+ in First. Ben has reported separately that a cash upgrade at the airport on an award ticket can run between 1000 and 2000 USD. Setting you back a total of 2000-3000 USD vs about 1000 USD.

      However this is subject both to availability of the Business class award and First Class upgrade.

      In the end it's a question about what you value and how else you'd use the money if you pay for your tickets.

      While the upgrade from chicken class is a no brainer on long haul to access the better hard product, paying 1000s of dollars to be served "better" (reheated) food and wine (in shitty glassware) seems precocious. Hell, with the ban on liquids coming to an end you'll be able to bring your own wine and glasses and caviar ! Why pay for First ?

  11. DT Guest

    Ben, can you post the beverage menu? I flew Swiss FC once, a long time ago (to MIA). I remember their wine selection to be significantly better than LH's.

    I have a flight to SIN booked with them this fall, looking forward to it.

  12. Samo Guest

    Hi Ben. I've noticed that last couple of your reviews don't include pictures of menu. Is it an intentional change? I really miss it, knowing what kind of food to expect is one of my top priorities when researching who to fly with.

    1. Robert Fahr Guest

      There is another travel blogger, because he and his partner are both vegans, do not show the menus. Frustrating.

    2. Brendo Guest

      Samo FYI there is a menu thread over on flyertalk with SWISS's current menu offerings, and swiss also Swiss does publish there menus for various routes on their website.

  13. Daniel from Finland Guest

    On so many airlines, the difference between J and F is very small nowadays. I get the feeling that Swiss wants to differentiate these products, which consequently leads to a J product that's even worse than Finnair and not competitive in general.

    I guess the right thing to do would be to modernize both hard products and keep the J product as meh as it is.

    The F food looks great and presentation is like in a restaurant.

  14. Karties Guest

    I remember redeeming BMI miles for LX first (GRU-ZRH) - those were the times!

  15. Andy Guest

    Flew Swiss First a couple of years ago and while the product was great in the air the ground was an appalling series of mistakes that severely marred the experience and means we won't be hurrying back.

    1. TravelinWilly Guest

      Was your experience flying out of Kloten?

      If so, then yes, it can be a bit of a clusterfrick.

  16. Peter Guest

    Said no to Swiss chocolate.

    Somebody is getting older :-)

    1. Albert Guest

      It looks as though one can take the box home anyway?

  17. Edbeauregard Guest

    Your panna cotta melted under the hot lights of your photo studio!

  18. Clem Diamond

    I guess I got lucky a few years ago with being offered an upgrade on the one and only time I flew Swiss. Had a great time as well (it was from ZRH to JFK), and the people watching was just the best. I was in 1A and a very wealthy looking couple sat in the middle seats. The woman was busy shopping on her ipad for bathing suits that retailed for over $1k a...

    I guess I got lucky a few years ago with being offered an upgrade on the one and only time I flew Swiss. Had a great time as well (it was from ZRH to JFK), and the people watching was just the best. I was in 1A and a very wealthy looking couple sat in the middle seats. The woman was busy shopping on her ipad for bathing suits that retailed for over $1k a piece, Amex Black in hand, and she did it literally from boarding until the plane was lined up for take off :D.
    That being said, I would have passed on the Florida fondue too but good lord am I fascinated by it and wonder what the heck that could be.

  19. MRL Guest

    Is it normal for airlines to have different entertainment selections on different aircraft? I totally expect the different displays, etc., but I would have thought it would be pretty easy to just load the same catalog to all aircraft.

    1. W Gold

      I think that in order to update the entertainment catalogue, each aircraft's selection needs to be manually updated. I expect that this is easier on aircraft with newer Bluetooth IFE screens.

      For example, I fly Qatar Airways often, which has multiple types of long haul aircraft which are often substituted for one another on the same route. I'll have a one week round-trip where I fly on 4 Qatar aircraft, and I often find...

      I think that in order to update the entertainment catalogue, each aircraft's selection needs to be manually updated. I expect that this is easier on aircraft with newer Bluetooth IFE screens.

      For example, I fly Qatar Airways often, which has multiple types of long haul aircraft which are often substituted for one another on the same route. I'll have a one week round-trip where I fly on 4 Qatar aircraft, and I often find that the movie selection is different based on the aircraft (some aircraft don't have the newer movies that were just added, and I've noticed that the A350/787s have the updated selection, while their 777s don't always have it).

  20. Balazs Guest

    The skincare products are Soeder, "Foerst" is just their play on the word "first" and how it's pronounced in German

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Balazs -- My mistake, thanks! Fixed.

  21. Reiner Guest

    i can fully confirm all what was written, although you can redeem miles for an upgrade from P to F which i did recently also flying to MIA. I guess you need to be a Senator, not 100 sure about that. Absolutely chose Swiss over Lufthansa or any other European carrier in First, but also in Business especially as they have the single big seats, like 4a that you will not find with Lufthansa.

  22. Jack Guest

    A "Florida take" on fondue -- I bet it's tremendous

  23. VVIP Guest

    While I agree with you that the seat is very fine still (and better than LH), I have had some awful food in Swiss FC over the years. "Highlight" was a "Bratwurst" from JFK, simply not a FC food option, IMO. And I am fed up with the same old Bally kit for so many years, now even without La Prairie. The PJ's have also not changed in ca. 6-7 years, and are simply not...

    While I agree with you that the seat is very fine still (and better than LH), I have had some awful food in Swiss FC over the years. "Highlight" was a "Bratwurst" from JFK, simply not a FC food option, IMO. And I am fed up with the same old Bally kit for so many years, now even without La Prairie. The PJ's have also not changed in ca. 6-7 years, and are simply not nice enough. So call me spoiled, but with the Wine selection of Emirates and the Caviar there, I have now changed most bookings from LH group, even though I am mostly based in Zurich. However, I will try the new LH group seats as soon as they are available.

  24. Jack Honeycutt Guest

    On a slightly unrelated note, funny how the in flight map points out Martha's Vineyard, instead of ya know, Boston or New York. Clearly SWISS knows there first class passengers!

    1. Jack Guest

      Ha! Though as the U.S. ambo in Canberra, I doubt she's flying SWISS much.

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Jakob OG Guest

As a regular Swiss First traveller I'll add a few details that I believe are noteworthy: - The screen in Swiss First is 32" and beats most airlines in size - The amenity pouch is Bally - The pyjama is from a high-end Swiss brand (Zimmerli) and their Swiss-unbranded equivalent retails for 200USD+

1
Robert Furmanek Guest

I relatively often fly first with LH and LX and definitely prefer Swiss. Also First Lounge in Zurich is better - in my opinion - than LH in Frankfurt.

1
TravelinWilly Guest

Was your experience flying out of Kloten? If so, then yes, it can be a bit of a clusterfrick.

1
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