Swiss A330 Business Class Zurich to Beijing

Filed Under: Swiss

Ni Hao from Beijing! I’m in the midst of a US Airways 90,000 mile business class award to North Asia. After a fairly impressive flight on LOT from New York JFK to Warsaw, I just flew from Zurich to Beijing on Swiss in business class.

Swiss A330

While I’ll have a full trip report upon the conclusion of the trip, I figured I’d share my initial impressions:

Swiss A330 business class seat

Swiss’ entire longhaul fleet now features the same fully flat staggered business class product.

Swiss A330 business class cabin

My flight was operated by an A330, which features a total of 45 business class seats in a staggered 2-2-1 and 1-2-1 configuration.

Swiss A330 seatmap per SeatGuru

Basically the product is very similar to what Austrian and Brussels have on their longhaul fleet, except the seats on the right side of the aircraft are all single seats.

Swiss A330 business class seat

Swiss A330 business class seat

That kind of makes it similar to the product that Delta has on their 767s.

This is a decent business class hard product, but not my favorite. Ultimately reverse herringbone business class seats are my favorite, followed by the Solstys style staggered business class seats, which are offered by Alitalia, Etihad, etc.

I do like the fact that they have single seats on the right side of the plane, but at the same time still find the foot space to be a bit constrained, and the seat to generally be a bit tight and not comfortable for lounging.

Swiss A330 business class seat

But purely in terms of hard product I’d say it’s on par with Delta and slightly ahead of Austrian, Brussels, etc.

Swiss business class food

The food was exactly what I was expecting. It didn’t blow me away, but also didn’t disappoint. Ultimately Austrian and Turkish have better food with their DO&CO catering.

I’d say Swiss’ business class catering was on par with LOT, if not slightly better. And I was actually fairly impressed by LOT’s catering, so that’s not as much of an insult as it sounds like.

First there was a starter and salad, both of which were quite good. The salad consisted of seasonal greens with radish julienne, whil ethe starter consisted of sea bass tartare and smoked halibut.

Swiss business class appetizer and salad

For the main course I had the grilled beef tenderlin, which was medium rare and surprisingly good.

Swiss business class main course

While my mother would probably disagree, I’d say the dessert selection was a bit stingy, as the only “sweet” option was raspberry compote with lavender cream.

Swiss business class dessert

But all things considered I thought the catering was good, though not particularly memorable.

Swiss business class service

The service was ridiculously attentive across the board. I had two male flight attendants in their early 20s working my aisle, and they were both incredibly attentive and professional. I even got addressed by name for most of the flight. They really stayed on top of things, not just during the meal services, but they also passed through the cabin every few minutes throughout the flight to see if anyone needed anything.

Even the purser was awesome. She was hands on in business class (despite there being first class passengers). I had ordered the salmon as my main course and apparently they ran out of them, so one of the flight attendants asked if I would mind switching to another option.

The beef sounded just as good to me, so I gladly swapped to that. I thought it was a nice touch that the purser came by to thank me for that, and offered me a first class amenity kit and slippers for making the swap.

Swiss first class amenity kit

Kudos to the crew.

Swiss business class amenities

Swiss has an on demand entertainment system. I’d say it’s one tier below the top ones (Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Singapore, etc.), and certainly better than what’s offered by most European airlines.

Swiss entertainment system

The pillow and blanket were both light, which is a good thing since European airlines are notorious for keeping their cabins warm.

Swiss business class pillow and blanket

And the business class amenity kit was fairly nice as well.

Swiss business class amenity kit

Swiss business class bottom line

I miss the days of easily redeeming miles for Swiss first class. Back in the day Swiss was possibly the single most generous airline with releasing first class award space to partner airlines.

On many occasions I remember seeing all eight first class seats available for awards. Now they’ve switched to the opposite extreme, as only elite members in the Miles & More program can redeem for Swiss first class.

Swiss A330 first class cabin

So while I’m sad that I’ve probably seen my last Swiss first class cabin for a while (maybe ever?), their business class is solid.

Ultimately business class is all about the seat and there are other hard products I prefer, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the experience.

Have you flown Swiss business class, and if so, what did you think?

  1. Damn. They’re having a business fare sale right now. LAX-ZRH RT is <$3,000. I really want to try it. I'm so tired of good (but mostly inattentive) service on KLM. Everyone has such low business prices to Europe out of LAX right now I can't make up my mind.

    This might help…if all of these tickets were the same price, and the destination didn't really matter, which would you choose: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, KLM World Business, Delta BusinessElite, Lufthansa Business, SWISS Business? I also have to re-qualify for Delta PM I guess, and these flights help.

  2. “We ran out, would you mind switching meals?”

    If the reason for the switch is that they’ve run out of your first selection, it doesn’t particularly matter if you mind switching or not. You don’t have much choice.

  3. Flew LX J last year. Agree with the report. I will say I found the firmness/lumbar feature on the seat though to be really useful and important when in bed mode. Once I got the bed at the right firmness level I slept quite well.

    Also, my only real other beef with that trip in particular was that the decent Senator lounge was on the Schengen side of the airport. Connecting from a non Schengen to a non Schengen flight you end up with a dumpy lounge unless you have enough time/patience to cross over and back ( which really isn’t too hard/what I ended up doing). Final thought is that it was neat that arriving from the US they don’t make you clear transit security but from TLV they did, go figure.

  4. @ AZTravelGuy — They hadn’t yet served the meal, and based on the way it was asked it seemed that if I had some serious objection to switching they would have asked someone else. So I do think I had a choice.

  5. @ Garrett — Of those choices I would probably go with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. Love their lounges!

  6. @Lucky that makes my choice pretty easy…getting MQMs is a nice bonus too. You mentioned before you weren’t that happy with the seat since it has to flip to recline. How was it for sleeping?

  7. @ Joe — Well in practice probably as a cost saving measure. And I’m guessing also because food that isn’t eaten has to be thrown out on landing, so that’s wasteful.

  8. @Garrett I just flew LAX-LHR-LAX in VS upper class in March. I thought the seat was great for sleeping. A bit narrow perhaps, but the dedicated sleep surface on the back of the seat combined with the turn-down service and dedicated sleep pad made for a very pleasant sleep experience for me. On the return I didn’t use the bed at all, and I thought the seat wasn’t the best for lounging because the recline is somewhat limited. That and the inability to power my laptop in flight are my main gripes with my VS upper class experience. Overall, though, I absolutely loved upper class (especially the lounge at LHR) and wouldn’t hesitate for a second to fly it again.

  9. But isn’t the right side of the cabin more or less the Solstys style staggered business class seats? If anything, Swiss seems to be unique in that they have all the different styles of staggered business class you can find.

    Was there a pre-arrival snack/meal?

  10. @Kirby thanks! I think I’ll fly VA outbound to get some sleep and KLM/Delta on the way home then.

  11. @ wwk5d — Yes and no. In theory it’s similar to Etihad, Alitalia, etc., except you still have a somewhat restrictive foot cubby (though not as bad as a “throne” seat on the other side of the cabin). My favorite thing about the Etihad and Alitalia seat is that the space for your legs is “open.”

    As far as the pre-arrival meal goes, they served breakfast. Will have more on that in the trip report.

  12. I’m excited to hear you enjoyed the flight! I booked the exact same route and carrier next month and am heading to the airport to catch an OS flight to VIE. Wishing star alliance a sad farewell for a while with OS, LX, CA, BR, TK, 9W and AC J. At least there is coffee menus and Dom ahead 🙂

  13. What is the best way to obtain Business Class seat assignments? Swiss website, call Swiss, other?

  14. Thanks for the report Ben! Just curious if you have any other pics/impressions of the first class amenity kit that you received. I’m flying Swiss F for the first time in two weeks and I was curious what the current kit is like.

  15. @Garrett That’s a good plan with one big hole: the VS lounge experience at LAX is pretty abysmal (you use the horrific Air France lounge in T2), and the VS lounge experience at LHR is wonderful. So flying VS outbound and DL/KL inbound, you get a crappy lounge on the outbound and miss the fantastic VS Clubhouse on the inbound. Kind of a tossup as to whether or not the Clubhouse is worth sacrificing some comfort on the inbound flight, which is obviously a matter of personal taste.

  16. @Kirby LOL…I’ve spent a lot of time in that stupid AF lounge. Tomato juice and pretzels and peanuts…that’s what happens there. Terminal 2 as a whole is pretty depressing, but I don’t mind too much. The new TBIT isn’t as impressive as I feel like it should have been. The KE Lounge on the non-F side isn’t that much to talk about either. I’ll just cut it close and reduce the waiting time lol

  17. We flew LX from NRT to ZRH in April. I really enjoyed it and liked the food a lot. I didn’t have any issues with the seat itself, but the foot cubby is way too small and has a weird upward angle on the interior that made it restrictive. I also disliked that there was so little storage space generally – they give you all this crap: amenity kit, blanket, slippers, newspapers, magazines, menu; then you have nowhere to put anything.

    I liked that the pre-arrival “snack” was accompanied by a draft beer. They had a pony keg on a cart they wheeled around to offer people Swiss beer to go with the ham, white asparagus and potato salad.

  18. @ RKToledo — Website is the best way if you have the Swiss locator. Otherwise by calling Swiss.

  19. @ Adam — Haven’t posted any, but will post some with the full trip report, which should be before your trip. Hope you have a great flight!

  20. Ah, picture it BOS c. 1998 and a fresh faced 23 yo is flying business class BOS to ZRH for work. I watched Thomas Crown Affair and oh did I think I was the shiznit.

  21. Sounds like a great flight. But I figured with two young and energetic flight attendants at least one of them would have offered you alcohol and warm nuts. At least they were attentive with the meal service and the rest of the flight.

  22. Foot cubby is less restricting if you select the seat that is flush to the aisle rather than the one in your photo which is flush to the window ,as it is open to the aisle rather than fully enclosed.

  23. I was flying YUL to ZRH on SWISS 87 earlier this year. I have experienced the same top notch service in business class as Ben has described. I guess it is kind of the “new generation” of young and ambitious flight crews and they represent Switzerland and SWISS to it’s best!

  24. I flew LX in C DAR-ZRH on A330 connecting to LX in C ZRH-LAX on A340 just last week. Enjoyed it, but found service in the two row “mini cabin” just behind F to be pretty poor. Both aircraft had the same configuration and we were in the same seats, and had the same service experience. Attendants in F would walk right by us, C attendants spent most of their time in the main C area. Food was average. But I did get a restful sleep, which is unusual for me even in C, but perhaps because I had just spent a couple days in DAR which will tire anyone out! I preferred the new LH C seat and food I had the previous week LAX-FRA-JNB. The FRA-JNB A380 wasn’t supposed to be the new C but I guess we lucked out with an aircraft change.

  25. @ Daniel — Since I’m not an LH elite, I went out of my way to book LH F on my return from Europe in November. YMMV but service was very nice and my FAs were ladies in their 40s so it’s not just young FAs that are good.

    @ Lucky – make an LH SEN or HON a member of your household on SPG and transfer miles to him/him 😉 I suppose the only other way is to book paid J and use miles to upgrade to F.

  26. Are the loads in LX F consistently high or can you envision them eventually becoming more like LH F (14 days out for partners) or like SQ which started out highly restrictive for suites?

  27. @ Jeremy — Loads definitely aren’t high based on what I’ve seen. Wouldn’t be surprised if they change their policy eventually.

  28. Be glad you didn’t pick the seat with a table on both sides (aka Captain Kirk seat) – the foot cubby with it is MINUTE! Weirdly they even restrict pre-booking it to Star Alliance Gold customers, but it’d be my last choice of seat. Re cabin temperature – I normally find it fine on European airlines, it’s the Asian carriers that run it hotter than I’d like – I remember genuinely sweating on an SQ JFK-FRA upper deck flight a few years back!

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