Review: SWISS A320 Business Class (NCE-ZRH)

Review: SWISS A320 Business Class (NCE-ZRH)

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FROM: NCE
TO: ZRH
CABIN: Business
DATE: June 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: SWISS' A320 business class is pretty basic. While we had a friendly crew and tasty snack, SWISS doesn't offer Wi-Fi or power outlets, and the airline crams lots of seats on these planes.
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After spending some time in Saint-Tropez, our next stop was Sylt, Germany. We flew there in SWISS business class via Zurich. In this installment I wanted to review the first flight, as it was on the A320, which I haven’t reviewed before (I won’t be reviewing the second segment, since I just recently reviewed SWISS’ A220 business class).

How I booked our SWISS business class tickets

I booked the following flights in business class using Air Canada Aeroplan points:

06/08 LX561 Nice to Zurich departing 7:10PM arriving 8:20PM
06/09 LX2570 Zurich to Westerland departing 3:45PM arriving 5:35PM

The cost was 15,000 Aeroplan points plus $92.58 per person in taxes & fees. As a point of comparison, economy would have cost 7,500 Aeroplan points per person, so I figured that was a fair premium to pay for two segments in business class, even if intra-Europe travel isn’t much to get excited about.

Since we spent just under 24 hours in Zurich, we could book that all as one ticket (though if we wanted to spend more than 24 hours there, we could have booked a stopover for 5,000 additional Aeroplan points).

Aeroplan points are easy to come by, as the program partners with American Express Membership RewardsCapital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards. On top of that, in the United States, there’s the Aeroplan® Credit Card (review), which is pretty lucrative.

SWISS business class check-in & boarding

SWISS departs from Nice Airport (NCE) Terminal 1, and shares a check-in desk with all Lufthansa Group airlines, including Austrian, Brussels Airlines, and Lufthansa. There was no line at check-in, and our bags were tagged within minutes.

SWISS check-in Nice Airport (NCE)

Security only took a few minutes, and we spent a bit over an hour in The Library Lounge, which I reviewed in the previous installment.

Our 7:10PM flight was departing from gate A31, and boarding was scheduled to start at 6:45PM. Boarding was delayed by around 20 minutes due to the inbound aircraft from Zurich being late, but they at least turned the plane quickly. So boarding began at 7:05PM, using automated gates.

SWISS boarding gate Nice Airport (NCE)

SWISS A320 business class cabin & seats

Our flight was operated by the aircraft with the registration code HB-IJJ, a 26+ year old jet. In that sense, the plane was well maintained. Intra-Europe business class simply consists of economy seats with blocked middles, and that means the size of the cabin can be adjusted with each flight.

On this flight there were four rows of business class, meaning there were a total of 16 business class seats.

SWISS A320 business class cabin

SWISS’ A320s have 180 seats, so these planes are really, really dense. This is the same number of seats that you’ll find on most EasyJet and Frontier planes.

SWISS A320 economy class cabin
SWISS A320 economy class cabin

I believe SWISS has a bit of extra legroom in the first several rows. While I wouldn’t say legroom was good, it wasn’t as terrible as I was expecting for an A320 with 180 seats (if the size of the business class cabin is extended on a particular flight, expect less legroom further back).

SWISS A320 business class seats

I assigned us seats 4A & 4C, the aisle and window seat in the last row on the left. Unlike some other airlines, SWISS doesn’t have a tray on the center seat. The airline doesn’t even have one of those headrest covers that indicates that the center seats are blocked (not that it really matters).

SWISS A320 business class seat
SWISS A320 business class legroom

Each seat has a literature pocket and a tray table.

SWISS A320 business class seatback
SWISS A320 business class tray table

The overhead consoles have reading lights, but no individual air nozzles.

SWISS A320 overhead console

SWISS doesn’t have power outlets or Wi-Fi on A320s, so this really is a very basic product. At least Lufthansa has Wi-Fi on most of its short haul fleet, unlike SWISS.

At the conclusion of boarding, business class passengers were offered bottles of water and refreshing towels.

SWISS business class water and towelette

SWISS departure from Nice

Boarding was efficient, and the main cabin door closed at 7:25PM, with 12 of the 16 business class seats occupied.

SWISS A320 business class cabin

Around this time the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, which he did while standing in front of the cabin — I thought that was really professional. He told us that the flight time would be around an hour, and that we’d hopefully only arrive slightly delayed.

A few minutes later we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened (there are overhead monitors on the A320 that raise and lower).

Pushing back Nice Airport (NCE)

There are always quite some interesting planes when departing Nice…

Taxiing Nice Airport (NCE)
Taxiing Nice Airport (NCE)
Taxiing Nice Airport (NCE)

By 7:35PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 4R. It was a gorgeous evening, and we had lovely views on our departure.

Taking off from Nice Airport (NCE)
View after takeoff from Nice Airport (NCE)

SWISS business class snack service

The seatbelt sign was turned off around 10 minutes after takeoff, at which point the inflight service began. Each business class passenger was offered a snack tray.

It’s always a guessing game as to what’s being served in intra-Europe business class. On this flight there was some sort of a tuna dish, some sort of other mystery substance, a couple of pieces of cheese, a roll, and a dessert with cream and berries.

SWISS business class snack

As far as Lufthansa Group business class catering goes, it was one of the better short haul snacks I’ve had. That’s because it at least didn’t have pork or elderflower, unlike seemingly every single Lufthansa flight I take (I don’t eat pork, and I have nothing against elderflower in theory, except for the extent to which Lufthansa overuses it — elderflower lobbyists must be in the pockets of Lufthansa catering executives!).

Next up a drink trolley was rolled down the aisle. I had a Diet Coke to drink, which was served in proper glassware.

SWISS business class drink

I also ordered a coffee, which had a cute presentation that also included a chocolate.

SWISS business class drink

There wasn’t a whole lot to do during the flight, so I mostly just watched the map feature and looked out the window.

SWISS A320 monitor with map

I visited the lavatory prior to descent, and it was reasonably clean but no frills.

SWISS A320 business class lavatory
SWISS A320 business class lavatory amenities

Prior to landing, the friendly crew distributed chocolates to each passenger, which is a tradition on SWISS.

SWISS business class chocolate

SWISS arrival in Zurich

30 minutes after takeoff, at 8:05PM, the captain announced that we’d be landing in 20 minutes. A few minutes later the seatbelt sign was turned on. The views on approach were breathtaking — I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

View approaching Zurich
View approaching Zurich
View approaching Zurich

After landing we had a taxi of just a few minutes to our arrival gate. Zurich always looks like a pretty big airport to me, but I’m consistently amazed by how little time SWISS jets spend on the ground taxiing, as they taxi really efficiently. On our previous flight through Zurich, we were at our gate less than two minutes after touching down.

Taxiing Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Taxiing Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Taxiing Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Taxiing Zurich Airport (ZRH)

We arrived at our gate at 8:30PM, and our bags arrived at baggage claim just minutes after we got there.

Bottom line

As far as intra-Europe airlines go, SWISS business class is average, or perhaps even a bit below average. On the plus side, the crew was friendly, the snack was pretty tasty, and the flight was nearly on-time.

But at the same time, SWISS’ A320s really don’t offer a great passenger experience. There’s no Wi-Fi, no power outlets, and cramming in 180 seats provides the space you’d expect from an ultra low cost carrier. Of course on a 50 minute flight, no power or Wi-Fi isn’t a big deal, but remember that SWISS also operates these planes on much longer routes.

If you are going to fly SWISS short haul, I’d recommend flying the A220 instead. That jet is at least a much more pleasant ride in general, even if SWISS still isn’t installing power ports or Wi-Fi on those planes (which I can’t really wrap my head around).

If you’ve flown SWISS’ A320 business class, what was your experience like?

Conversations (25)
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  1. Brianair Guest

    Cool. On June 17th, I flew this exact route. Only that it was on an A320neo (not the ceo/-200 that I assume you flew) and it was from ZRH to NCE. The views of the Alps and the Mediterranean were breathtaking. I even spotted Milan Malpensa Airport from above. And after landing in Nice Airport, I remember seeing that same row of small jets with odd liveries that you photographed while taxiing out at Nice,...

    Cool. On June 17th, I flew this exact route. Only that it was on an A320neo (not the ceo/-200 that I assume you flew) and it was from ZRH to NCE. The views of the Alps and the Mediterranean were breathtaking. I even spotted Milan Malpensa Airport from above. And after landing in Nice Airport, I remember seeing that same row of small jets with odd liveries that you photographed while taxiing out at Nice, including the 737 “combi” with the green tail. I wonder what they’re for. I’m guessing they’re private jets, but I’m not sure about the 737. First time visiting Nice was a blast. I would be down to spend more time on the French Riviera/Mediterranean coast if we didn’t have to leave to Paris after only one full day there.

  2. Timtamtrak Member

    I’m curious - looks like Swiss does not, but on European carriers’ flights where they have the mini tray table that goes between the two business class seats, who changes the cabin between flights? Is it the flight attendants? Where do they store the unused trays?

  3. Rosalia Guest

    I have had amazing experiences on all LX flights I have taken and ZRH is very easy to get around.

    The food (vegetarian) is delicious and the crew are very attentive. The same applies to OS flights as well

  4. Uncle Coffee Guest

    The best about Swiss is that they serve champagne even on short haul flights, in contrast to Lufthansa. And they offer special meals, also in contrast to Lufthansa. I fly Swiss whenever possible across Europe.

  5. DKB Guest

    The business on the A220 is very good. Flew it with two people, was one of the nicest flights I ever had, crew kept coming back with different beers for me to try, nice seats, big windows, nobody in the same row. Lovely.

  6. Pascal Guest

    The chocolate isn't a business class feature, it's also given to passengers in economy

  7. NSS Guest

    How did you get from Milan to Nice?

  8. Chris Guest

    "I don’t eat pork"
    In any case, especially on LX, as I told you before, have you pre-ordered special meal MOML? Only this reservation will guarantee you pork free meals!

    1. Tom Guest

      The main appeal is that you won't have to rub shoulders with a stranger, which you'll almost certainly have to do if 2 people travel in a packed coach cabin with a 3-3 layout.

      For whatever reason, my body gets along really well with economy seats, so the larger dimensions of proper business or first class seats mean very little to me.

      Not being squeezed next to a potentially smelly and or obnoxious stranger does.

  9. Ben Holz Guest

    Out of curiosity @Lucky, did you encounter the punks in Sylt?

  10. Daniel Guest

    Princess lucky why can't you fly coach?

    1. glenn t Diamond

      Maybe (no, definitely) @Daniel is on the wrong blog.
      There are surely others who review coach/economy flights, but I'm certain it would be very hard to write a positive or interesting review of the vast majority of those flights.
      And why fly economy anywhere when you don't have too?

    2. Michael_FFM New Member

      Because some people have standards.

    3. Schar Gold

      because why would you if you dont have to?

  11. AA70 Gold

    So by your valuations, you paid $127.50 more per passenger to upgrade to business class. Was that meal really worth $127.50?

    1. Creditcrunch Diamond

      Don’t forget the checked baggage costs, you get 2x32kg free bags with the business fare.

  12. mdande7 Gold

    Upcharge to business class really doesn't seem worthwhile to me. I'd save my miles.

  13. Donato Guest

    I believe the chocolate was a custom on Crossair (LX) which later evolved into the current SWISS. They gave out chocolate coins. I had a tight connection at ZRH ( LX to SR) and stuffed the chocolate into my pocket with my Passport. There was an issue at immigration at JFK, they are not fond of passports with unknown substances.
    This was decades ago and I was a newbie but I was impressed with...

    I believe the chocolate was a custom on Crossair (LX) which later evolved into the current SWISS. They gave out chocolate coins. I had a tight connection at ZRH ( LX to SR) and stuffed the chocolate into my pocket with my Passport. There was an issue at immigration at JFK, they are not fond of passports with unknown substances.
    This was decades ago and I was a newbie but I was impressed with a drink service, newspapers, snack sandwich and chocolate service in a 30 minute flight LIN to ZRH. I was less impressed with my missed connection every month but that was more of a LIN issue.

    1. Tom Guest

      Serving chocolates to all pax may well be a Swiss tradition, not just a SWISS one.

      Swissair did this, too, no?

  14. Js Guest

    Honestly, aside from the food, that didn't seem much different than the economy class ticket I had a few weeks ago to/from Zurich.

    1. Tom Guest

      The main appeal is that you won't have to rub shoulders with a stranger, which you'll almost certainly have to do if 2 people travel in a packed coach cabin with a 3-3 layout.

      For whatever reason, my body gets along really well with economy seats, so the larger dimensions of proper business or first class seats mean very little to me.

      Not being squeezed next to a potentially smelly and or obnoxious stranger does.

  15. Klaus Guest

    I still find it positive that they even serve food on those short hops….compared to the US, where you get a bag of crisps.
    Hopefully you will be reviewing the Whiskey Lounge in Zurich?

    1. GermanExpat Guest

      Whiskey Lounge is only in the E terminal Senator Lounge. Won't work for Schengen flights and you need to be Star Gold to get in.

      I find it ok with a large selection but no higher end options.

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glenn t Diamond

Maybe (no, definitely) @Daniel is on the wrong blog. There are surely others who review coach/economy flights, but I'm certain it would be very hard to write a positive or interesting review of the vast majority of those flights. And why fly economy anywhere when you don't have too?

4
Creditcrunch Diamond

Don’t forget the checked baggage costs, you get 2x32kg free bags with the business fare.

3
Colin Guest

Why are you so jealous?

2
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