Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), the flag carrier of Switzerland, is the only major airline in the world offering First Class on all of its long-haul flights. The airline symbolises its country’s traditions and values - delivering the highest standards of product & service. It comes as no surprise therefore that SWISS provides one of the finest First Class experiences in the world – arguably a notch above that of its bigger sibling, Lufthansa.
SWISS was formed in 2002 following the demise of Swissair. In late 2005 the airline was taken over by Germany’s Lufthansa Group. Today, SWISS is the second largest airline in the group, that also includes Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings. SWISS operates one of Europe´s most advanced and carbon-efficient fleets of aircraft.
Serving over 100 countries globally from its central hub in Zürich, SWISS is a member of the Star Alliance partnership, allowing passengers to fly and earn miles with member airlines. However, First Class tickets cannot be purchased using frequent flier points unless booked through Miles & More Senator elite or Hon Circle member status – which is notoriously difficult to achieve.
The SWISS hub at Zürich Airport is located 13 kilometres (8 miles) north of central Zürich and is well serviced by road, rail, and tram. It operates as a “single terminal” concept, but is split into several areas - A, B, D and E. Non-Schengen international flights operating exclusively from E gates. A much smaller centre is located at Geneva Airport but for connecting flights.
At Zürich Airport, SWISS First Service benefits include an exclusive check-in area away from the crowds, a private security screening area, and priority boarding. Your baggage is also prioritised, with ample allowance of three checked bags of us to 32 kilogrammes each and two items of hand luggage up to 8 kilogrammes each.
SWISS offers two excellent First Class lounges at its Zürich hub – a one in the main terminal building close to the A gates, and a second lounge in the midfield satellite terminal where E gates are located. While most passengers at Zürich Airport take an underground train from the main terminal to the satellite terminal, First Class passengers are offered a private chauffeur service directly between the lounges. Mercedes V-Class and Sprinter vans are used for this exclusive service. The larger Mercedes Sprinters feature a custom designed interior inspired by the SWISS First Class cabins, using the same seat fabrics and details such as small lamps.
The SWISS First Lounges opens daily between 06:00 hours and 22:20 hours to SWISS First, Lufthansa First Class and HON Circle passengers. First Class passengers flying other Star Alliance airlines cannot access the SWISS First Class lounges.
The 750 square metre flagship - SWISS First Lounge E in the satellite terminal - is split into three sections with dining, bar, and seated lounge areas providing a spacious and relaxed environment with the highest levels of comfort for up to 80 passengers. Large panoramic windows on three sides of the lounge provide panoramic views of the airport and even the Alps.
Two restaurants offer 5-star cuisine from the all-day à la carte menu and US-inspired delights from the American Diner, while a wide range of high-end beverages are available from the bar. An impressive wine humidor is located at the lounge entrance, boasting over 1,000 bottles of quality wines from around the world. If you have an extended stay in the lounge, the specially curated 5-course “Taste of Switzerland” menu is highly recommended, and staff is happy to provide wine pairing with each course.
Washrooms with shower facilities are immaculately clean. There is the addition of two comfortable ‘hotel’ day rooms, which come with plush double beds from Swedish luxury bedmaker Hästens, en-suite bathrooms with luxury amenities and panoramic views of the tarmac. These rooms cannot be pre-booked.
Complimentary Wi-Fi, conference facilities and business suites with ample charging points are available for those who need to work privately.
Seating in the lounge is arranged with passenger comfort in mind, and cosy family areas provide a television and plug points for laptops and tablets. There is a large outdoor terrace enclosing the lounge from which to sip your favourite tipple and watch the aircraft in comfort for those who like to watch the tarmac action.
The 650 square metre SWISS First Lounge A - in the main terminal - offers the same style, facilities, and services, except the two hotel rooms. While the same à la carte menu is available, the dining area is notably smaller and there are no views from the lounge. This lounge is primarily used by passengers in transit from a long-haul flight to a connecting flight within Europe. If you are departing on a long-haul flight from Zürich, the A lounge primarily functions as a starting point for the private transfer to the E lounge.
SWISS deserves credit for the impressive service offered to those arriving in Zürich in First Class. Passengers are welcomed by a chauffeur at the aircraft door and driven in one of the Mercedes vans to a private security and passport control area located under the main terminal building. From there, passengers have direct access to SWISS First Lounge A or the baggage claim area.
Passengers ending their journey in Zürich are also welcomed to use the SWISS Arrival Lounge, located in the public area of Arrivals.
In some markets, SWISS First Class passengers enjoy complimentary limousine transfers to and from the airport.
SWISS operates the flagship Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330-300 and A340-300 aircraft on its long-haul flights. At first glance, the First Class cabin appears similar on all three aircraft types, thanks to the consistent use of colours and materials. First Class on all aircraft features eight fully adjustable seats that turn into generous flat beds, set in a 1-2-1 forward-facing configuration.
Single travellers may prefer to select a window seat option – spanning three to four windows, making it a bright and airy environment in which to travel. In contrast, couples may prefer the central seats and have a dividing screen providing complete privacy from the adjoining seat when required.
While the First Class experience is consistent across the SWISS fleet, there are some differences in the cabin design. The best cabin can be found on the Boeing 777-300ER, which was the first aircraft in the SWISS fleet to offer First Class suites with closing doors. The same suite has been retrofitted to Airbus A340-300, although the cabin is slightly narrower and the automatic window blinds found on the larger 777 could not be fitted. The Airbus A330-300 features a very similar First Class suite, but without the door and with a notably smaller IFE screen.
Irrespective of aircraft, the suite design is of generous size, with a pitch of 203 centimetres (80 inches) and a width of 55 centimetres (22 inches). The design is clean and crisp, with white gloss surfaces and wooden trim. Fully-extended beds are incredibly comfortable, with plush welcoming bedding and pillows that the crew will make up when desired. On the Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A340-300, the suite walls are tall enough for complete privacy from the rest of the cabin when fully enclosed, and two other retractable screens provide different levels of privacy.
The suite has ample storage with a large stowage area beneath the ottoman, used when the bed is extended or as a second seat for guests. A neat sliding wardrobe acts as a privacy screen when opened, and a retractable seat drawer offers additional storage space. Another compartment in the side trim contains a power socket, a USB port, an IFE hand controller, and further seat adjustments – including lumbar support, a footrest, and neck support. A large in-flight entertainment screen is located above the ottoman.
Other smart design touches include – a dimmable lamp, a flush push-activated reading lamp, a vanity mirror in the wardrobe and blackout and window screens that lower at the touch of a button. The veneered oak tray table folds out from the side of the seat and is one of the largest in use – perfect for spreading out work or enjoying fine dining with a companion.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft. Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested, before making your choice.
Upon settling into their seats, customers are greeted with warm rosemary nuts, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Champagne and a refreshing hot towel as the remaining passengers come aboard the aircraft.
A thick card in-flight à la carte menu is delivered soon after with an extensive range of starters, main courses, desserts, wines, and Champagne.
SWISS describe the First Class dining experience as “the restaurant above the skies”, where passengers dine as if in a gourmet restaurant – choosing their menu options and when to dine.
A small amuse-bouche is served shortly after take-off to tempt the tastebuds into action, after which the crew commence the full meal service.
Meals are served upon white pressed linens with stylish white chinaware, a small breadbasket of white, multigrain and whole wheat rolls, and full-sized salt and pepper shakers.
‘SWISS Taste of Switzerland’ is an award-winning inflight food and beverage programme, providing long-haul First Class passengers with the best seasonal Swiss gastronomy from top chefs from around the Swiss Cantons (districts). Menus change every three months, and the Canton of Lucerne is currently featured with fine dining menus created by Michelin-starred chef Patrick Mahler of the Focus Atelier restaurant at Lucerne’s Park Hotel Vitznau.
Highlights include Balik smoked salmon from Toggenburg, prepared by hand to an old tsarist recipe. Main courses of veal tenderloin with morel jus, gnocchi romaine and green and white asparagus, and a cod fillet with mussel-beurre blanc, potato, and lemon mousseline with caramelised chicory. A delicious Felchlin chocolate crémeux tartlet with cassis and black vanilla ice cream completes the top-notch gourmet experience.
All dishes are accompanied by a selection of regional cheeses and a curated 2020 Pinot Merlot red wine from the Brunner winery.
On night flights, breakfast options commence serving around two hours before landing and include hot dishes such as omelettes, cold meats and cheeses and a selection of seasonal fruits and cereals.
Special meals such as vegetarian, Kosher and more dietary specific can be booked in advance, no later than 24 hours before departure.
SWISS first has a good selection of Champagne - usually Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, fine wines from across Europe, aperitifs, spirits, beers and soft drinks. Swiss wines are often discovery wines from top producers, limited bottlings or new creations from the featured canton or neighbouring regions.
Spirits include original Swiss Etter Kirsch Vintage – Switzerland’s most famous spirit made from cherries, and Swiss Etter William, a colourless fruit brandy made from the William pear. Customers can also try a 4-year-old Swiss single malt whisky.
Tea and coffee drinkers can enjoy hot beverages from a varied selection, and soft drinks include Coca-Cola, Sprite, tonic water, various juices and Henniez spring water.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes, but feel free to let us know if there is something we missed.
SWISS First customer service is a premium experience. Passengers are welcomed aboard by the cabin crew personally by name, offering a welcome glass of Champagne or your favourite drink. Customers are given pyjamas and international newspapers of choice and receive impeccable care throughout the flight.
SWISS First flight attendants are highly trained, attentive, and engaging. All flight attendants speak multiple languages and are exceptionally professional while being warm and friendly in attending to the individual needs and wishes of the customer.
A unique tradition in SWISS First Class is that before departure, the Captain visits the cabin to personally welcome each passenger onboard. The Captain shares information about the planned flight route, expected flying time and expectations of turbulence, almost as if flying on a private jet.
The in-flight Entertainment system (IFE) is set in a fixed position at the front of the suite above the ottoman and has a very large screen at 32 inches (81 centimetres) with excellent HD picture quality. Note that on the Airbus A330-300, screens are smaller. The screen monitor is out of reach when in bed or in the seated position, though this is negated by a small Panasonic hand controller found in the side seat compartment that handily also displays a small screen making it easy to scroll through the various menus.
A customisable ‘Airshow 3-D’ flight map allows free-roaming of the camera and optimisation of the command centre, though, there are no external flight cameras on the aircraft. The hand controller can be used to view flight progress information while a movie is playing on the ‘big screen’.
Movie and television options are the same as in the other travel classes and change monthly. They aren’t the most expansive options available in the skies, but there are several of the latest blockbuster releases, documentaries, and some of the most popular TV series to keep majority of passengers entertained. There are also 100 music playlists, podcasts and audiobooks available.
Children can choose from children’s films and cartoons, games, and a SWISS Kids music playlist.
The noise cancelling headphones do a reasonable job of keeping out the peripheral noise; however, they are not as effective as some leading brands on other airlines.
SWISS First passengers receive a complimentary 50MB Wi-Fi voucher, though this is unlikely to last the duration of a long-haul flight with moderate usage of the internet. Additional paying packages are available to order through the hand controller.
Information pages such as travel guides can be accessed free of charge on swiss.com, and Airshow can be accessed on any device.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.
Customers receive soft pyjamas specially designed by luxury Swiss underwear brand Zimmerli along with a comfortable pair of slippers. An upscale amenity kit from fashion brand Bally contains high-end skin products from the luxurious Swiss cosmetics brand La Prairie, including lip balm, hand creme, eye lift cream and skin creme. Other essentials include a toothbrush, toothpaste, quality socks, eye mask, earplugs, and tissues. Additionally, ladies have a brush and vanity kit, while gentlemen will find a comb and shoehorn.
Two lavatories are available in the forward section of the cabin. They are spotlessly clean and reasonably sized. They are stocked with single-use towels, La Prairie cosmetics, and Soeder face spray.
The SWISS short and medium-haul fleet of Airbus A321, A320, and A220 aircraft do not have First Class as an option, meaning that any connecting flights will be in Business Class. Depending on the length of flight, beverages and meals are also available on SWISS’ shorter flights around Europe. The seats in SWISS Business Class on short-haul flights are no different from Economy Class seats, but have the adjacent seat blocked providing a bit more space. The food and beverage offering is among the best within Europe, with hot meals on many flights. A full bar service is also available including excellent Champagne, which not many European airlines offer on short flights. Cabin crew seem to know which passengers are connecting to or from long-haul flights in First Class, which may be reflected in extra attentive service.
SWISS has invested heavily over the last few years, renewing its fleet of aircraft so that it now operates one of the most advanced and efficient fleets in Europe.
Passenger and cargo capacity have grown by 107 per cent since 2003. However, due to SWISS’s efficiency enhancements, fuel consumption has increased by only 30 per cent for the same period.
Aircraft noise has also reduced with the introduction of the new Airbus A320/A321neo fleet with their advanced engineering and technology.
SWISS has reduced fuel consumption by 29 per cent since 2003. Together with the Lufthansa Group, it aims to halve its CO2 balance by 2030 and be neutral by 2050. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are crucial to this, and SWISS, in association with the Lufthansa Group, is committed to developing and introducing these fuels.
SWISS offers customers the option of offsetting CO2 emissions by donating to climate protection projects.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.