After spending time in Saint-Tropez, our next stop was Sylt, Germany. We went there in SWISS business class via Zurich. In this episode, I wanted to rewatch the first flight, as it was on the A320, which I had never seen before (I won’t be rewatching the second segment, since I just reviewed the A220 business class from SWISS ).
How I booked our SWISS business class tickets
I booked the following business class flights with Air Canada Aeroplan points:
06/08 LX561 Nice to Zurich departure 7:10 p.m. arrival 8:20 p.m.
06/09 LX2570 Zurich to Westerland departure 3:45 p.m. arrival 5:35 p.m.
The cost was 15,000 Aeroplan points plus $92.58 per person in taxes and fees. For comparison, economy would have cost 7,500 Aeroplan points per person, so I thought that was a fair premium to pay for two business class segments, although intra-European travel isn’t very exciting .
As we spent just under 24 hours in Zurich, we could book all of this in one ticket (although if we wanted to spend more than 24 hours there, we could have booked a layover for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points).
Aeroplan points are easy to find, as the program partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards. In addition to this, in the United States, there is the Aeroplan® (balance) credit card, which is quite lucrative.
Check-in and boarding in SWISS business class
SWISS departs from Terminal 1 at Nice Airport (NCE) and shares a check-in counter with all Lufthansa Group airlines, including Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa. There was no queue at check-in and our bags were tagged within minutes.
Security only took a few minutes and we spent a little over an hour in the Library Lounge, which I reviewed in the previous episode.
Our 7:10 p.m. flight departed from gate A31 and boarding was scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. Boarding was delayed about 20 minutes due to the plane being delayed from Zurich, but at least they got the plane turned around quickly. Boarding therefore began at 7:05 p.m., using automated gates.
SWISS A320 business class cabin and seats
Our flight was operated by the aircraft with the registration code HB-IJJ, a jet over 26 years old. In this sense, the aircraft was well maintained. Intra-European business class is simply economy seats with blocked middle seats, which means the size of the cabin can be adjusted for each flight.
On this flight, there were four business class rows, meaning there were a total of 16 business class seats.
SWISS’ A320s have 180 seats, so these planes are really, really dense. This is the same number of seats you will find on most EasyJet and Frontier aircraft.
I think SWISS has a bit more legroom in the front rows. While I wouldn’t say the legroom was good, it wasn’t as terrible as I expected for an A320 with 180 seats (if the business class cabin size is extended on a particular flight, expect less legroom farther back).
I assigned us seats 4A and 4C, the aisle and window seat in the last row on the left. Unlike some other airlines, SWISS does not have a tray on the middle seat. The airline doesn’t even have one of those headrest covers that says the middle seats are blocked (it doesn’t really matter).
Each seat has a literature pocket and a tray table.
The overhead consoles are equipped with reading lamps, but no individual air vents.
SWISS does not have power outlets or Wi-Fi on the A320s, so this is really a very basic product. At least Lufthansa has Wi-Fi on most of its short-haul fleet, unlike SWISS.
At the end of boarding, business class passengers were offered bottled water and cold towels.
Departure SWITZERLAND from Nice
Boarding was efficient and the main cabin door closed at 7:25 p.m., with 12 of the 16 business class seats occupied.
Around that 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 the flight time would be around an hour and hopefully we would only arrive a little late.
A few minutes later we started our pushback, at which point the security video played (there are monitors hanging on the A320 moving up and down).
There are always a lot of interesting planes departing from Nice…
At 7:35 p.m. we were cleared for takeoff on runway 4R. It was a gorgeous evening and we had great views on our way out.
SWISS snack service in business class
The seatbelt panel was turned off approximately 10 minutes after takeoff, at which time in-flight duty began. Each business class passenger was offered a tray of snacks.
It’s always a guessing game as to what is served in intra-European business class. On this flight there was some kind of tuna dish, some kind of other mysterious substance, a few pieces of cheese, a bun and a dessert with cream and berries.
As far as Lufthansa Group business class catering goes, this was one of the best short term snacks I’ve had. That’s because at least there was no pork or elderflower, unlike apparently every Lufthansa flight I take (I don’t eat pork, and I have nothing against elderflower elderflower in theory, except for the extent to which Lufthansa misuses it – the elderflower lobbyists must be in the pockets of Lufthansa’s catering executives!).
Then a beverage cart was rolled down the aisle. I drank a Diet Coke, which was served in a proper glassware.
I also ordered a coffee, which had a lovely presentation which also included a chocolate.
There wasn’t much to do during the flight so I mostly looked at the map and looked out the window.
I visited the washrooms before coming down, and it was reasonably clean but no frills.
Before landing, the friendly crew distributed chocolates to each passenger, which is a tradition on SWISS.
Arrival of the SWISS in Zurich
30 minutes after takeoff, at 8:05 p.m., the captain announced that we would be landing in 20 minutes. A few minutes later, the seat belt signal came on. The views on the approach were breathtaking – I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
After landing, we took a taxi for a few minutes to our arrival gate. Zurich still looks like a pretty big airport to me, but I’m still amazed at how little time SWISS jets spend on the ground taxiing, as they taxi around so efficiently. On our previous flight via Zurich, we were at our gate less than two minutes after landing.
We arrived at our door at 8:30pm and our luggage arrived at baggage claim within minutes of our arrival.
At the end of the line
As far as intra-European airlines are concerned, SWISS business class is average, if not a little below average. On the plus side, the crew was friendly, the snack was quite tasty, and the flight was almost on time.
But at the same time, the SWISS A320s really don’t offer a great passenger experience. There’s no Wi-Fi, no power outlets, and 180 seats offer the space you’d expect from a super low-cost carrier. Of course, on a 50-minute flight, the lack of electricity or Wi-Fi is not a big problem, but remember that SWISS also operates these aircraft on much longer routes.
If you are going to fly SWISS short haul, I recommend flying the A220 instead. This jet is at least a much nicer ride overall, even though SWISS still doesn’t install power or Wi-Fi ports on these planes (which I can’t really figure out).
If you have ever traveled in SWISS A320 business class, what was your experience?