SWISS Launches New Premium Economy Product

SWISS Launches New Premium Economy Product

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In June 2021, SWISS initially revealed the details of its new premium economy cabin. While there’s usually not a lot of innovation when it comes to premium economy, there’s a lot that makes SWISS’ new product offering interesting. There’s now an update, as SWISS has installed the cabin for the first time on a plane, and it should enter service shortly.

SWISS premium economy seat

SWISS’ new premium economy will supplement the carrier’s existing first class, business class, and economy class offerings on the Boeing 777-300ER (SWISS has 12 of these planes in its fleet). The new premium economy experience will offer greater privacy, more comfort, a wider range of inflight cuisine, and an extra baggage allowance.

Each SWISS Boeing 777-300ER will feature 24 premium economy seats, in a 2-4-2 configuration. The seats are manufactured by ZIM, and feature a fixed shell, so that there’s no intrusion when the person in front of you reclines.

New SWISS premium economy seat

In terms of the additional space afforded by the new premium economy seat:

  • The new premium economy seat is 46-48cm (~18-19″) wide, while economy seats are 43.4cm (~17″) wide
  • The new premium economy seat has 99cm (~39″) of pitch, while economy seats have 78.7cm (~31″) of pitch

Premium economy seats will feature additional recline, a fold-out leg rest, a 15.6″ inflight entertainment monitor, a reading lamp, and a built-in USB-A socket (no AC power outlet, really?!?).

New SWISS premium economy seat

SWISS premium economy services & amenities

SWISS premium economy isn’t just about the extra space, but there will also be extra services and amenities. SWISS premium economy passengers will receive:

  • An enhanced food and drink experience, including an elderberry welcome drink, and the choice of three hot meals all served on china tableware; it’s not entirely clear to what extent this food will be differentiated from what’s served in economy
  • An increased baggage allowance of two bags of up to 23kg each (double of what you receive in economy)
  • Priority boarding over economy class travelers
  • Amenity kits manufactured from sustainable materials
  • Noise-reducing headphones
  • Discounted access to the SWISS Business Lounges in Zurich and Geneva, as well as the SWISS Arrival Lounge in Zurich
SWISS premium economy will feature enhanced catering

SWISS premium economy availability & pricing

SWISS will be gradually installing the new premium economy product on its fleet of 12 Boeing 777-300ERs, in a project that’s expected to cost 40 million CHF.

The first aircraft to feature the new cabin has the registration code HB-JNH, which is a roughly five year old Boeing 777-300ER. The plane will begin flying daily between Zurich and Miami as of early March. In terms of the timeline of other routes getting premium economy:

  • San Francisco will get premium economy as of mid April 2022
  • Sao Paulo will get premium economy as of late April 2022
  • Premium economy will be available on all 777 routes as of late May 2022

It’s stated that premium economy fares will be roughly 250-350 CHF (~$270-380) higher than economy fares in each direction, which seems fair.

All SWISS 777s are getting premium economy cabins

SWISS premium economy coming at the expense of economy seats

SWISS’ Boeing 777s are in a premium-heavy configuration, with a total of 340 seats, including eight first class seats, 62 business class seats, and 270 economy class seats. I was curious to see if the new premium economy cabin would come at the expense of business class or economy class capacity.

The good news is that the premium economy cabin will come at the expense of economy seats. Four rows of economy seats are removed (that’s a total of 40 seats) so that three rows of premium economy can be installed (that’s a total of 24 seats). In other words, SWISS 777s will be losing a total of 16 seats, and will have a new capacity of 324 seats.

SWISS 777s will still have 62 business class seats

What I find bizarre is that SWISS’ picture of the premium economy cabin shows it being integrated into the economy cabin, with no separation between cabins. I get that the location of the premium economy cabin might not match where there are exit doors, but it’s surprising to me that SWISS doesn’t even plan to put a flimsy curtain between cabins, which feels very not-premium.

SWISS premium economy cabin

My take on SWISS’ new premium economy

It’s great to see SWISS finally introduce a premium economy product, as it’s the last Lufthansa Group long haul airline to install this cabin. In a way that’s surprising, since SWISS is generally considered the most premium Lufthansa Group carrier, yet it’s also the last airline to get this increasingly popular cabin.

Even Brussels Airlines has a premium economy cabin

The plan is for SWISS’ new premium economy seat to eventually become the standard premium economy seat for Lufthansa Group airlines, so Lufthansa will have this seat in the future as well.

As far as the product as such goes:

  • Overall we haven’t seen much innovation when it comes to premium economy seats, so it’s cool to see that SWISS has at least selected an updated seat type
  • At the same time, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of fixed shell seats (they minimize disturbance from other passengers, but also don’t maximize space), and eight seats per row in premium economy is still pretty tight
  • What I find most disappointing is that it doesn’t look like SWISS plans to offer any separation between premium economy and economy, but rather essentially seems to intend to just integrate it into the cabin

Bottom line

SWISS has finally installed premium economy on its first Boeing 777. The plane will start flying to Miami shortly, and further 777s should be reconfigured in the coming months. These planes will feature a total of 24 premium economy seats, in a 2-4-2 configuration. Fortunately the cabin will be coming at the expense of economy seats rather than business class seats, which is good for business class award availability.

Premium economy will come with enhanced service and amenities, and will be priced 250-350 CHF above economy. It’s cool to see a somewhat new type of premium economy seat, though I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of the seat design. I hope to try it out some day.

What do you make of SWISS’ new premium economy?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Phillip Maguire Guest

    One has to ask why do we have premium economy in the first place? It's really only because airlines have stripped down regular economy from what it was some 3 decades ago, with perhaps some marginal premium features added. For long-haul flights, this so called "premium economy cabin" should be the standard for regular economy. That said, one has to expect to pay more if that were the case.

  2. Steven E Guest

    Unless the crew do a head count often I’m sure there will be lots of “movement” from economy as there is no divider

  3. Vito Guest

    LH Premium Economy is also not separated from economy. Even more bizarre, in most 747-8s, PE is in between two sections of Economy…

  4. Jim Guest

    Swiss has long sold "premium" meals in economy, which I believe were a little bit of a step down from business/first, but a big step up from economy. Wouldn't be surprised to see them simply repurpose those meals as the PE offerings.

  5. Cedric Guest

    looks good but I only see this as possible for a return flight form europe (day flight) and there would have to be a good delta with C.

    It does give SWISS more upgrade options.

  6. Lurk Guest

    Last time we flew premium economy (Air Canada) the standard economy section was maybe 30% capacity, and almost all passengers could lie comfortably across three seats. That's impossible with the fixed armrest in premium. Total waste of money for less comfort. Not going there again. The small extra recline is so not worth the extra cost. If comfort is vital we'd rather pay full J.

  7. Creditcrunch Gold

    Virgin who were the vanguard airline to introduce Premium Economy and have won numerous awards have drastically reduced the width of the seat from 21” on its 787/A330 to 18.5” on its new A350. I don’t like shell type seats in premium cabins (ok in economy) but also feel the width of PE seats should be greater than 20”.

    1. LCFA Guest

      EVA was the first to introduce Premium Economy in 1991:)...VA about 1.5 years later, but of course with their brand and LON base they propelled the popularity of it.

      I have noted that many of the updated PE products by all airlines really only eliminate one seat from the row (on 350's/787s), which is disappointing. 2-4-2 is still pretty good on the wider 777. Cheers!

    2. LCFA Guest

      EVA was the first to introduce PE in 1991:)....followed by Virgin Atlantic about 1.5 years later. VA definitely made it a "sexier" product with their brand and additional soft benefits.

  8. Joey Guest

    I suspect, once in the air, economy passengers will move into any empty Premium Economy seats and the cabin crew will have a difficult time to get them to move.

  9. Clem Diamond

    Those fixed shell seats are a nightmare if you are trying to get comfortable to sleep. You just "slide" forward in a position that is very uncomfortable on the back, and I found myself preferring economy seats with a tiny recline over those fixed shells ones.

    1. Steve Diamond

      Those dont look too bad but you bring up a great point about the slide versus and actual recline. At least you wont be bothered by the person in front of you.

    2. Clem Diamond

      Those seats are great for a day flight because to your point, no one is reclining in your space, but I'd take an economy seat with standard recline over these for a night flight.

  10. GeorgeBrown12 New Member

    So, quick calculation (and I may be wrong), SWISS will have to charge at least 66% price premium over economy to break even (not including enhanced service offerings) for removing those economy seats (assuming they were full). My guess is that they're not flying full economy section. Also, I think a flimsy curtain between would make the whole cabin look worse.

  11. RetiredATLATC Gold

    I don't mind the 8 seats per row as it's almost always myself and my spouse so we just grab one of the 2's.

    It's all moot however as the international options out of ATL are few and far between so I doubt I'll be trying Swiss any time soon.

  12. Endre Guest

    Don't the premium eco seats resemble those in business class from 20-25 years ago?

  13. Niko_jas Guest

    So the 777 used to be 9 seats across in economy, but then refitted to be 10... making 8 across in premium economy look quite decent. It seems so cynical that this premium economy only looks ok because they made economy worse.

  14. Andy 11235 Guest

    Obviously I haven't seen in person, but from the "AR" view on their website, it does look like the seats have a regular plug as well (for laptop charging).

  15. Alan Guest

    Eight seats per row. What a joke.

  16. tuotuo Member

    These seats seems good for a domestic US flights first class.

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LCFA Guest

EVA was the first to introduce Premium Economy in 1991:)...VA about 1.5 years later, but of course with their brand and LON base they propelled the popularity of it. I have noted that many of the updated PE products by all airlines really only eliminate one seat from the row (on 350's/787s), which is disappointing. 2-4-2 is still pretty good on the wider 777. Cheers!

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Clem Diamond

Those fixed shell seats are a nightmare if you are trying to get comfortable to sleep. You just "slide" forward in a position that is very uncomfortable on the back, and I found myself preferring economy seats with a tiny recline over those fixed shells ones.

1
Phillip Maguire Guest

One has to ask why do we have premium economy in the first place? It's really only because airlines have stripped down regular economy from what it was some 3 decades ago, with perhaps some marginal premium features added. For long-haul flights, this so called "premium economy cabin" should be the standard for regular economy. That said, one has to expect to pay more if that were the case.

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