I recently enjoyed a phenomenal holiday in Singapore & Thailand. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Swiss Boeing 777 Business Class from Zürich to Singapore (today)
- Review: Fullerton Bay Hotel (Singapore)
- Review: Six Senses Duxton & Maxwell (Singapore)
- Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class from Singapore to Phuket
- Review: Keemala Resort Phuket (Thailand)
- Review: Rosewood Resort Phuket (Thailand)
- Review: Thai Airways Boeing 747 First Class from Phuket to Bangkok
- Review: The Siam Hotel Bangkok (Thailand)
- Review: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle (Thailand)
- Review: AMAZING Soneva Kiri (Thailand)
- Review: Asia’s largest holiday villa at Soneva Kiri, Thailand
- Review: Eva Air Boeing 777 Business Class from Bangkok to London
Today (January 22, 2020): Review of Swiss’ B777 Business Class – Zürich to Singapore.
I recently flew Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft of Switzerland’s flagship carrier, Swiss International Air Lines, more commonly known under its short name Swiss (often stylized as SWISS). The flight took off from Swiss’ main hub at Zürich Airport at 10.30 pm local time and arrived 12 hours later on-time at Singapore Changi Airport. Swiss was formed after the 2001 bankruptcy of Swissair, Switzerland’s former flag carrier. The airline is a member of Star Alliance and a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group since 2005. Swiss recently acquired 11 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which replaced most of Swiss’ aging A340 planes although five A340s remain in service and are currently getting a refurbishment. The experience on this B777 trip was great and clearly a step up compared to flying on Swiss’ A340s (which I reviewed here). But although I like the elegant cabin interior, I am not a fan of Swiss’ uncomfortable flat-bed seat and cramp cabin layout.
Have you ever flown with Swiss? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Zürich to Singapore
- Airline: Swiss International Air Lines
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: HB-JNE (delivered to Swiss in 2018)
- Flight number: LX167
- Date: October 22, 2019
- On time departure: Yes (10.30 pm)
- On time arrival: Yes (4 pm; + 1 day)
- Miles: 6400
- Flight time: 12 hours
- Seat: 7A
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube clip):
- Cost of my ticket
- Fact & figures about Swiss’ Boeing 777 fleet
- Swiss Business Class lounge at Zürich Airport
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory & views)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid this one-way Business Class ticket from Zürich to Singapore with miles & cash: 250 euros + 67500 miles. The ticket was booked via Lufthansa’s frequent flyer program Miles & More. Read my review of Miles & More (with pros, cons, & tips) here.
2. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT SWISS’ BOEING 777 FLEET
Swiss has 11 Boeing 777-300ER planes in its fleet, which were acquired in 2018 & 2019 to replace the carrier’s aging A340 aircraft. The B777 aircraft are used on Swiss’ ultra long routes, such as Zürich to/from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bangkok, Singapore, Miami, Sao Paulo, and Hong Kong. Here are some interesting facts and figures about Swiss’ Triple Sevens:
- The B777-300ER saves 23% in fuel and CO2 emissions per seat in comparison with the Airbus A340.
- The aircraft is powered by two General Electric GE90-115BL, with a maximum thrust per engine of 115,300 lbs or 52,300 kg.
- In Swiss’ configuration, the Boeing 777-300ER offers 340 seats: 8 in First Class, 62 in Business Class and 270 in Economy Class.
- The plane’s maximum range with a full load is 10,700 km (6650 miles).
3. SWISS BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT ZÜRICH AIRPORT
Swiss operates several lounges at its hub, Zürich Airport. This is a review of its Business Class lounge at Terminal E, Zürich’s stand-alone satellite terminal which is entirely used for intercontinental flights.
Located conveniently close to the airline’s long-haul departure gates, entrance to the lounge is one floor above the terminal’s main concourse. Opened in 2016, the stylish lounge is basically a long passage, with several seating areas on one side and a buffet & restaurant on the other side. The sleek decor of the space feels very “Swiss” because of its dark hardwood flooring and Jura limestone walls. Several seat types are available, including leather arm chairs, bar stools, and seats set up around individual dinner tables. Other state-of-the-art facilities include showers, six private work stations (equipped with comfortable chairs and desk space with power outlet) and a tranquility zone (equipped with pods with leather recliners, which are perfect to snooze).
The lounge offers an extensive buffet spread, which comprises a selection of (complimentary) premium alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages, a salad bar, fruits, and several sweet and savory snacks. The buffet is displayed on a L-shaped counter around an open kitchen, where chefs prepare selected fresh meals right in front of the guests. There’s a made to order menu, which changes on a regular basis. During my visit, the menu offered Swiss veal meatballs, potato-rosemary quiche, and farfalle pasta, as well as a choice of two soups (chicken broth with root vegetables, and cream of pumpkin).
The lounge’s center features a ‘coffee island’, opposite of a self-serve bar with an excellent selection of wines and prosecco, as well as a showcase of Breitling watches. Breitling is a luxury watchmaker based in Grenchen, Switzerland, and they clearly have an ongoing collaboration with Swiss since its logo and watches are omnipresent in the lounge (there’s also a Breitling display at the entrance).
The lounge is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace, offering terrific views of the airport’s activity and the Alps on a clear day.
4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Entrance to Swiss’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is via a sleekly decorated welcome galley. This esthetically pleasing space features an illuminated panel with world map that mirrors the one you find in the reception areas of Swiss’ lounges at Zürich airport. The entrance galley separates two Business Class cabins: a small cabin with only 10 seats (in 2 rows) is located behind the First Class cabin to the left of the boarding door, while the main and much large Business Class cabin with 52 seats (in 11 rows) is located to the right.
The Business Class cabin of Swiss’ flagship Boeing 777 plane features a gorgeous interior. Created by Priestmangoode, a British design and brand consultancy firm, the aircraft decor has a luxurious, elegant and timeless feel with a lightness of authentic Swiss touch. The dark-colored seat cushions, wooden veneer panels, and cream-colored fabrics lend the cabin a modern, upscale and almost residential ambiance. The front bulkhead in both Business Class cabins features a Matterhorn print, referencing Switzerland’s most famous mountain peak.
The 62 Business Class seats – which are more like little cubicles – are Thompson Vantage seats placed in a staggered configuration or so-called Sogerma Solstys layout. This is basically an alternating 1-2-2 and 2-2 -1 seat configuration, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seat(s) in front. The seats in the center of the plane always come in pairs, while the seats on the right and left side of the plane alternate from one to two per row (with the solo seats – or so-called throne seats – being the most popular seats in the plane; more on that below). Although the Sogerma Solstys layout is not the best Business Class configuration (since there’s no direct aisle access for all passengers), it is also installed on aircraft operated by other airlines, such as Finnair’s A330/A340, Austrian Airlines B767/B777, Brussels Airlines’ A330, Delta’s B767, and American’s B767.
Click here for a seat map of Swiss’ Boeing 777-300ER.
5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I was seated in 7A (a bulkhead seat) for the 12 hour flight to Singapore. Swiss’ B777 Business Class seats are an updated, more comfortable version of Swiss’ previous Business Class seat, which you find on their A330 & A340 aircraft (and which I reviewed here). The main difference between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Business Class seat is the introduction of more personal storage – including headphone hangers and straps for storing tablets or magazines – and a new, more easy-to-handle tray table.
The seat has a pitch of 152 cm (60 inches) and a width of 52 cm (20,5 inch), which should be more than comfortable for most passengers. All seats come with a large working surface on the side (where you can set up your personal belongings such as a tablet or laptop). Solo seats as well as some seats in the center of the plane also feature an additional and equally large work space on the seat’s other side. Besides the overhead bins, the main storage compartment is a closable shelf underneath the seat’s private TV monitor, which is perfect for storing smaller items although larger items such as laptops don’t fit in. The solo, throne seats have the added benefit of two other storage spaces, being a small box with straps for storage of magazines or a laptop on one side of the seat (above the fixed armrest) and a large slide-out drawer located on the other side (above the other fixed armrest). Bulkhead row seats also have an additional shelf above their TV monitors to place items such as larger laptops (albeit not during takeoff/landing).
A perforated wood panel located above the armrest is the seat’s main eye-catcher and unique to Swiss’ Boeing 777 aircraft (you won’t find it on Swiss’ Airbus fleet). It holds a large fold-out tray table, although ejecting and stowing it can only be achieved through a slightly complicated maneuver that may require the help from a flight attendant. The wood panel – which also holds a large slide-out drawer at throne seats only (cf supra) – also features a reading lamp at eye level and a hook, which is great for keeping the headphones secured in place during the flight and preventing the wires from getting tangled up in the seat. The armrest below the wood panel holds a power port with international adapters, a remote control for the inflight entertainment system (more on that below), and the automatic seat controls that can be used to adjust the seat position (from take-off position to fully flat) as well as the seat cushion’s firmness according to your liking.
It surprises me that Swiss choose these forward-facing, staggered seats for their flagship B777 plane (as well as for their A330/A340 planes), as they are not the best in the industry: the seats don’t offer direct aisle access for all passenger and they are not very comfortable in the lie-flat position. Although it’s a 180 degree recline and the bed has a length of 2 meters (6,5 ft), the seat has one major downside, being that its foot end (and thus your lower legs) glide into a small box under the seat(s) in front, below the TV screen. This foot compartment narrows to its end and its ceiling is quite low, so your lower legs and feet are kind of locked in the lie-flat position, making it impossible to switch positions during your sleep without your legs hitting the wall (and thus waking up). It has to be noted that this is especially the case in the throne seats (except for the bulkhead throne seats) since the foot wells at all other seats are more spacious due to the cabin configuration. In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is just 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it feel like you are resting on the ground or in a coffin (because of the high seat walls) and making it very uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom.
The solo Business Class seats – or throne seats – deserve a separate mention as they are the most popular seats on the plane – and therefore in high demand by knowledgeable solo passengers. They offer more storage space, increased privacy, and direct aisle access. Compared to other seats, they do have two cons though which may compromise an optimal sleeping comfort: (1) the very small foot compartment (except for the throne seats); and (2) the fixed armrests which cannot be lowered. So you have to very carefully weigh the pros and cons before choosing a throne seat. And regrettably, Swiss charges a gut-wrenching fee to pre-reserve a throne seat, ranging from 99 to 199 Swiss Francs ($100 to $200 USD) depending on the flight route. Previously, these seats were reserved on a complimentary base for Miles & More elite member (with HON Circle and Senator status), while they were released to non-members at the start of check-in.
What are the best Business Class seats on Swiss’ B777? Click here for a seat map.
- The seats in the first, smaller cabin (row 4 & 5) are an excellent choice since this cabin feels more intimate.
- The single best seats for solo travelers are the solo throne seats on the left and right side of the plane. Keep in mind though that pre-reserving these seats come at a stiff price and they also have some downsides, such as a smaller foot compartment (albeit the bulkhead throne seats 4A and 7A have more space for the feet) and fixed armrests.
- Travel companions should go for the middle seats, which all have direct aisle access. There is also a set of paired window seats in each row, but here the passenger in the window seat will have to crawl over his/her neighbor’s leg to reach the aisle.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Swiss’ B777? Click here for a seat map.
- I suggest to avoid the window seats in row 11 since they are missing a window. The window seats in row 14 also have a misaligned window, although that won’t impact your travel experience that much.
- The seats in row 17 are directly in front of the Economy Class bassinet seats and are thus best avoided as well (or you may end up being close to young children).
- The bulkhead seats in row 7 are close the galley and restrooms, which may cause some noise disturbance from time to time (albeit nothing too bad).
- Choosing one of the paired seats is not the best thing to do for solo passengers, because these seats lack privacy (although there is a fixed divider to make you feel more comfortable in case you end up seated next to a stranger).
Swiss offers its Business Class passengers the following amenities on a longhaul flight:
- A special edition amenity kit, created by Victorinox. The kit contains basic amenities, such as lipbalm, (bright red) socks, eyeshade, toothbrush, toothpaste, and earplugs. Toiletries are not provided in the amenity kit but available in the lavatories. Additional items are available upon request (e.g. shaving kit, nail file, and shoehorn).
- Sleeping amenities, comprising a warm blanket and a medium-sized pillow (unfortunately, no quilted mattress is provided, which you sometimes get on other airlines).
- Swiss branded noise-cancelling headphones, which are hard wired and of decent quality.
IMHO, Swiss is among the carriers that serve the most delicious in-flight meals. Swiss’ so-called ‘Taste of Switzerland program’ – exclusively available to First and Business Class passengers – is designed to highlight different regions of the country on longhaul flights departing from Switzerland. The menus change every three months and are created by selected guest chefs whose restaurants have received Michelin stars and Gault Millau points. The focus is on regional and seasonal specialities that guarantee a culinary flight of fancy.
On this Singapore-bound, overnight flight, a dinner and breakfast were served, shortly after takeoff and 90 minutes prior to departure respectively. The menu was created by Michelin starred Swiss chef Andreas Caminiada. At the age of only 33, Caminiada had already earned in an incredible manner all the important awards of the sector: three Michelin stars and 19 GaultMillau points.
I choose the following selection from the dinner menu:
- First course: Balik salmon sashimi with dill cream and smoked fish mousse, served with a seasonal salad and a selection of cheese from the Swiss canton of St Gallen
- Main course: veal ragoût braised in vegetables jus, served with roasted bramata and broccoli
- Dessert: chocolate slice with plum mousse and brioche cream
Ninety minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served. Breakfast items were chosen from an extensive menu, with a selection of cold cuts, cheese, Danish pastries, bread rolls, fruits, and yoghurt. The menu also included hot items such as poached eggs with potato pancakes or congee-rice porridge with tofu.
Each seat has a personal 16 inch TV screen of very high quality (with bright and clear pictures), and there are over 140 movies and TV shows to choose from, including the latest blockbusters, award-winning documentaries and the most popular TV series. In addition, you can listen to over 400 different CDs and a wide range of music channels. The inflight entertainment can be commanded by directly touching the TV screen or by using a handheld remote control which is located in the armrest. The latter also features its own touchscreen, allowing you to watch a different program (e.g. flight map) from the main screen. Swiss branded, noise reducing headphones are located at each seat, and block most noise from the cabin and aircraft as you watch your favorite programs; as mentioned above, a hook is provided to secure the headphones in place during the flight, in case you don’t use them.
9. ONBOARD INTERNET
Swiss offers WiFi onboard all of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from an altitude of 10,000 feet. The speed is similar to a public WiFi connection on the ground. The internet rate depends on how much data you use (which includes both downloads and uploads), rather than how long you spend online:
- The least expensive option is a 20 MB pass for 9 Swiss Francs ($10 USD), which the airline suggests is best ‘for using text messaging services’.
- The second option is 50 MB for 19 Swiss Francs ($20 USD), for ‘using social media or visiting a few websites’.
- The third option is 50 MB for 19 Swiss Francs ($40 USD), for ‘working only or simply surfing the net’.
- The most expensive choice is a 120 MB package for 59 Swiss Francs ($ 60 USD), which allows you to enjoy the full extent of the internet.
This makes Swiss’ onboard internet one of the most expensive in the world (especially in a time when onboard text messaging is offered for free by many airlines), but I believe the carrier can afford it to charge this kind of rates since they are very popular and highly rated among Business Class travelers.
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: I’ve always been a fan of Swiss’ cabin crew, which I rate among the best in Europe. Service was efficient, courteous and always with a genuine smile.
# TOILET: There are three, standard-sized lavatories for Business Class passengers, located in the galley between the two cabins. They feature a selection of facial products and lotions by Soeder.
# BAR: A walk-up bar with some salt and sweet snacks as well as fresh fruits is set up by the crew in the galley after dinner.
# VIEWS: This was an overnight flight, so there were no views at all during the first phase of the flight. Later, we flew through a tropical cyclone over the Bay of Bengal, with some spectacular cloud formations to be enjoyed along the way.
11. MY VERDICT
- Swiss Business Class lounge at Zurich: 8/10
- Cabin design: 9/10
- Seat comfort (upright position): 8/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 5/10
- Food (quality): 7/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- WiFi: 5/10 (works great but too expensive)
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10