The Last Aeroplan Hurrah: Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich, Swiss First Class Zurich to Bangkok

Introduction
United Global First Lounge San Francisco
Lufthansa First Class San Francisco to Munich
Le Meridien Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich, Swiss Business Class Munich to Zurich
Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich, Swiss First Class Zurich to Bangkok
St. Regis Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
Exploring Hong Kong
United Club Hong Kong and Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon
Hyatt Regency Incheon Airport
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon
Asiana First Class Seoul Incheon to Frankfurt
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seattle
Four Seasons Seattle


The Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich definitely ranked among my top five lounges in the world, though after this visit I kind of have to wonder why. In terms of design it’s somewhat similar to Lufthansa’s first class lounges, though the décor is different. That being said, the lounge is spacious and has several seating areas, a restaurant and bar area, as well as nap rooms and shower rooms. While there are waiters roaming around offering drinks, they’re not nearly as proactive and attentive as those in Lufthansa lounges.


Seating


Seating


Seating


Bar

Since we knew we’d be having dinner aboard a few hours later, we decided to have pre-flight dinner sooner rather than later. I’ve always enjoyed Lufthansa’s first class dining experience on the ground, so was curious to see how the Swiss experience compared.


Restaurant

The menu was definitely, erm, interesting, consisting of quite a bit of rabbit.

Nothing really appealed to me, though I ordered the white tomato soup. While I realize they’re going for more of a “gourmet” dining experience, I really think this fell just slightly short of fast food quality. The soup was watery and tasteless. Or maybe that’s just what refined palates crave?

For the main course I ordered the “Rossini Burger.” I don’t like foie gras, though I figured the beef would at least be decent. Unfortunately it was way rare for my liking.


Burger


Burger

While my friend napped for a couple of hours I tried to catch up on work. I also decided to take a shower about an hour before our flight. While the shower rooms themselves aren’t very nice, they do have Bulgari amenities, which more than makes up for any shortcomings.


Shower

Swiss has a rather half-assed car transfer service in Zurich, which we had arranged for 10PM. While Lufthansa drives you to the plane from their lounges (assuming your gate is in a different terminal), Swiss drives you in a van to the terminal. No, there’s no escorting you to the gate or onboard, but rather they drop you off in a service elevator which leads to the terminal, and then you walk to your gate from there.


The cool cars


Minivan we got


Tarmac views

We were departing from gate E34, where boarding was well underway. Fortunately they had a priority boarding lane, so we were aboard pretty quickly.


Departure gate

Swiss 180
Zurich (ZRH) – Bangkok (BKK)
Sunday, March 18
Depart: 10:45PM
Arrive: 3:30PM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr45min
Aircraft: Airbus 340-300
Seat: 2G (First Class)

Once aboard we were directed to turn left to the first class cabin, which already had five of the other six seats occupied.

While the aircraft operating this route is the A340-300 featuring Swiss’ old first class product, I still find it to be very comfortable, especially when traveling with someone. The seats are spacious with a separate ottoman and plenty of storage space.


Our seats


Cabin view


Ottoman


Center console


Seat and entertainment controls

Once settled in the two flight attendants working the cabin offered us amenity kits and pajamas. Swiss has some of my favorite pajamas, and they make up about half of my home wardrobe.


Amenity kit


Pajamas

About 10 minutes later we were offered pre-departure beverages, and I ordered a glass of champagne. This was served with a starter consisting of some sort of fish and breadsticks, which were delicious.


Pre-departure offerings

While the flight attendant working my friend’s aisle was reasonably nice, the one working my aisle could only be described as a “matron.” It was obvious she wasn’t happy to be working, and she made sure everyone knew it.

As departure time approached the captain advised us of our flight time of 10hr30min, anticipating an on-time arrival in Bangkok.

We began our pushback as the safety video started playing, and after a 10-minute taxi we began our long takeoff roll. It never ceases to amaze me how weak the A340-300 feels on takeoff.

About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and service commenced. During the climb out I tried to choose a movie to watch, and eventually decided on “The Big Year.” After about an hour I just couldn’t take it anymore.


Airshow


Entertainment system

The flight attendants set up the bar in the front of the cabin, and quickly began the service. It started with the purser distributing the menus and welcoming us aboard.


Bar setup

The dinner menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

Service began with drinks, and I ordered a Diet Coke with lemon.


Diet Coke

This was quickly followed by the tables being set. Swiss has some of the classiest table settings of any airline, in my opinion, including full sized salt and pepper mills, as well as a breadbasket.


Table setup

Service began with Balik salmon. It might not be as “high class” as caviar, but hey, it actually tastes good.


Balik salmon


Friend’s appetizer

The next course was a delicious salad including apricots and cheese shavings.


Salad

That was followed by a white asparagus cream soup, which was much tastier than the one I had in the lounge.


Soup

Then for the main course I decided to go with the tagliatelle, which was supposed to be served as an appetizer. It was delicious, so I had no regrets choosing that over the other options. The flight attendant came around with a separate tray of vegetables, and I took a little bit of everything.


Pasta

My friend had the sea bass, which he enjoyed very much.


Friend’s dinner

Then for dessert I had cheese and then a rather gross strawberry apple gazpacho (I had actually ordered the cake, but the flight attendant wasn’t a very good listener).


Cheese


Dessert

Meanwhile my friend had the other dessert, which actually looked pretty good.


Amaretti cake

To finish off the meal I had a cup of tea and also some pralines.


Tea


Pralines

On the whole the service wasn’t good. The flight attendant serving my aisle didn’t smile once, didn’t once use a polite phrase (you’re welcome, my pleasure, thank you, etc.), and made sure I had to ask for every possible drink refill.

After dinner she informed me she was doing turndown service now, and asked me if I wanted it (as opposed to asking me when I’d like turndown service). When I said yes she already threw the packaged duvet and comforter on my seat before I could even get up.


Turndown service

Fortunately the bed was really comfortable and I managed to sleep for about four hours, waking up with about four hours to go to Bangkok.

I’m an iced coffee addict, and the menu clearly stated that they had iced coffee. When I asked the flight attendant for an iced coffee she simply said “we don’t have it” and walked away before I could say anything. I ended up asking the other flight attendant for an iced coffee, and she had no problem making one for me.


Iced coffee


Chugging along

I wasn’t especially tired so decided to watch a few sitcoms. Before long we were 90 minutes from Bangkok and the breakfast service began, starting with hot towels (notably the first time during the flight that towels were offered).


Hot towel

The breakfast menu read as follows:

A cart was rolled around with the breakfast offerings, and I went with some fruit, yogurt, cereal, and a croissant and roll. For the main course I went with scrambled eggs.


Breakfast


Breads and coffee

You’ve gotta love how generous their hashbrown portions are. ;)


Scrambled eggs

Shortly before landing I changed back into my jeans and shirt and restowed my carry-ons. They still hadn’t passed out landing forms, and the rude flight attendant informed me there weren’t any for Thailand. I asked the other flight attendant, and sure enough she brought us the forms and priority immigration cards.


Immigration form


Cabin before landing

The seatbelt sign was turned on about 20 minutes before landing, and after a smooth descent and landing we had finally made it to our destination.

The funny thing is that it took them about five minutes to open the aircraft door, and during that time the flight attendant that was rude the entire flight became friendly and engaging. She went from not saying a single unnecessary word to asking us about our travel plans, and even smiling. Very interesting…

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Swiss has an arrivals service in Bangkok, which I thought they only had for HON members (their top tier elites). Each first class passenger was met by an agent and escorted through customs and baggage claim, and brought all the way to the curb. That really makes the arrivals experience pretty painless, especially in a city like Bangkok. From there it was off to the city.


Baggage claim


Our escort

Comments

  1. stef says

    Excellent trip report, and I really enjoyed all of the food photography. Seems like you are using some different techniques and it is yielding interesting results. Again, excellent trip report!

  2. says

    As always a very pleasant read !

    I do find the crew a bit careless when you fly on awards. My wife felt that too.

    It has to be removed from the PIL.

    After 4 flights with them last month I’ll try to take another carrier with my wife.

    take care.

    Do you live close to MCO ?

    If so I may fly there in august. If we can meet up…

    cheers

  3. lucky says

    @ TheBeerHunter — The only one I had while there!

    @ stef — Thanks!

    @ Thomas — To the best of my knowledge neither Lufthansa or Swiss list fare class/ticket type on the manifest, so that should be a non-issue. Also, they were treating everyone the same way as far as I could tell. I love about an hour from Orlando, so if you’re down here let me know.

  4. says

    I love rabbit! Too bad it’s not your thing, but I agree that burger looked awful. Should have just eaten the foie gras by itself ;)

  5. Jake says

    Cool, didn’t know about the escort service in BKK either.

    Was the ‘matron’ flight attendant rude to all F passengers? Once, on a LH flight, I had the feeling that the flight attendant behaved differently to me – a passenger in the mid-twenties flying on an award ticket – compared to other passengers; perhaps she was thinking “why is this young guy sitting in First Class” and then found out that he’s not paying a crazy amount but having an award ticket, ergo deserving/receiving a ‘different treatment’ (i.e. no smile, cold attitude etc.). What do you think?

  6. lucky says

    @ Jake — She seemed to treat everyone equally. For what it’s worth, the Lufthansa manifest does NOT show whether you’re on an award ticket or not, so if you feel you were treated differently it wasn’t because you were on an award ticket.

    Many find that Lufthansa flight attendants treat Germans better than others. I can’t say I’ve noticed that, though I am German and speak German.

  7. Jake says

    Oops, just saw that you addressed my question in post nr. 4 (when I loaded the website, the post still wasn’t there). Sorry!

  8. aengel says

    What I do in such a case: ask for a little chat with the Purser after about two hours into the flight (to give time to the flight attendants to “warm up”). Never fails to work!

  9. Jake says

    Seem that our posts crossed again :) Well, if it doesn’t say it in the manifest, then maybe they saw O class on the boarding pass (which I handed in together with my coat) and figured that I’m on an award ticket. Interestingly, at Lufthansa it doesn’t say F on the BP like at Swiss but instead it shows O class when flying on an award ticket. I always behaved nicely, said ‘thank you’ and showed a smile…so I don’t have any explanations why they would treat me or anyone differently..

  10. lucky says

    @ aengel — I don’t know, it’s just not something I’d be comfortable doing. At the end of the day said flight attendant has access to my food and drinks, so I’d rather complain after the fact…

    @ Jake — It’s funny you mention this. On one hand Lufthansa is one of the few airlines that prominently displays the fare class on the boarding pass. On the other hand, I find they’re the airline that discriminates the least against award passengers. I’d be absolutely shocked if more than 1% of Lufthansa flight attendants knew what “O” class is. The funny thing is that when I’m traveling on an award ticket with Lufthansa I’m almost always asked whether I want to add a frequent flyer number so that I can earn miles. So even the check-in agents don’t know, and they’re the ones that are supposed to…

  11. brahms77 says

    Hey Ben, last time I flew this route with my wife (July of 2011), I was actually escorted to the plane (with S-class ride) through side door of the boarding bridge. We were the last passengers to leave the F lounge (there were at least a dozen of folks on the transfer list, but the lounge attendant asked us to wait until everyone else got their rides).

    Nice to re-live the memory of this wonderful LX F experience through your report.

  12. Rich A says

    Seems your friend made out better on the flight. He received better service and his meal choices were excellent. He is very fortunate to have such a knowledgeable travel companion.

  13. Trevor says

    Its a shame to hear that about the Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich, my wife and I were there in February and had the best omelette, I think we’ve ever had.. Great taste, great plating, and good service.

  14. DJ says

    Excellent reports. I discovered your blog recently, and I have to say I’m hooked (and of course jealous).

    You said: “The Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich definitely ranked among my top five lounges in the world”….. so what are your top five lounges?

  15. lucky says

    @ Trevor — The funny thing is I’ve passed through there a dozen times before in the morning, though don’t think I’ve ever thought of having a meal there. I had heard good things about their supper service, so was convinced to try it. Next time it sounds like I should have breakfast there instead.

    @ DJ — Welcome and thanks for reading! Hmm, my top five? That’s a toughie. I’d say the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich, and Thai First Class Lounge Bangkok are my top three for sure.

    I’d say the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow (despite only being a business class lounge) is the next on my list, and then either the Qatar Airways first class lounge in Doha or Etihad Airways first class lounge in Abu Dhabi. So I’d say the Swiss first class lounge is probably my sixth favorite at this point.

  16. Robert Hanson says

    I’d rather complain after the fact…

    So did you in fact complain after the fact?

    Not being given your entry card and premium lane card, even on request, is not just poor service, it’s virtually an insult. This FA should not be able to get away with that.

    I’ve had this same experience on AA FC, some times the FAs are wonderful, sometimes they seem to think they are doing you a favor even speaking to you. In the past, I’ve just thought: it’s a union thing, nothing to be done about it.

    Now I’m getting fed up with it. I’d like to see all of the travel blogs focus on how to effectively complain when we get this sort of dis-service. And encourage us all to do so. There is no way for corporate to know this is going on unless we complain, when we have cause to do so.

    By the way, an Award ticket is NOT FREE. The airline sells those miles to the cc companies, shopping malls, etc. And builds the free trips into their business plan for miles earned by revenue travel. An award ticket is not free, it is earned. And when earned by an elite member, thru revenue flights, that should bring more respect, not less…..

  17. oneeyejack says

    Do you ever complain about poor service? If this happened to me, I would complain all the time, especially something like this when riding in F. =)

  18. lucky says

    @ Robert Hanson — I didn’t. Perhaps I should complain directly, though at the same time I’m thinking maybe she had a (really) bad day. Who knows. I did speak to some of the flight attendants in business class, and they commented how they really didn’t really like said flight attendant because she was rude.

    @ oneeyejack — Ask my haters. They say I complain too much, so… ;)

  19. Frank says

    You complain far too much for a 25-year-old or however young you are. These “rude” attendants are twice your age and you are complaining that you have to ask them for a refill while you lay in bed en route to exotic destinations. Stop and smell the roses, fellow.

  20. what's your problem Frank? says

    Frank what is your problem with Ben and his age?! You stalk him on his blog and all you do is insulting him. From the sound of it, you’re just jealous. You sound like an old man who can’t be respected by young men, perhaps your own kids! It shows in all of your comments.

    maybe stop being such an a-hole preacher and let people live their lives however they want/however they like. Jeesus. What’s the matter with you?! Far too much free time on hands perhaps. maybe spend it with your kids! and ear the respect!

  21. Zach says

    LOL@ Frank.
    Funny how he consistently comes back, reads the blog, and then makes these comments… If I had such an issue with Lucky’s actions and contents, I’d stop reading by now.

    I don’t think Lucky or the flight attendant’s age has anything to do with.. well, anything, but I’m sure others have told ya this before in previous comments.

  22. Travis Swanson says

    Frank, the job of the flight attendants (as well as for your safety) is to provide service. – And especially good service while you are in first class. If you are not receiving that then of course it should be brought to the attention of the company. The passenger’s age has nothing to do with it. Your post makes his age a justification for being rude, which should not be the case. – Everyone should be treated with respect.

  23. Robert Hanson says

    The level of service described above is simply unacceptable for even economy class. To have to put up with it in First Class is just absurd. The reason we pay so much for First Class, whether in dollars or miles, is to have a luxury experience.

    All of us have a “bad day” now and then, and we don’t take it out on our clients, employees, or passers by. Dis-service of this sort would be out of line at the DMV, much less on a flight where the r/t ticket price is over $20,000 !

  24. cook says

    Aengel has a great suggestion, yet Ben has a point. I cannimagine a F-class FA messing with one’s food, but… In 40+ years of flying I’ve had only ONE unpleasant experience with a F-class FA. I was full-fare Y, upgraded on the long red-eye. I was alone in the 10-seat section and wanted only a few glasses of wine, but I had to ring and ask for every refill. After #3, the Head Mama visited and TOLD me to ‘take it easy, she’s had a bad day.’ That caused a letter to the Head FA and they eventually sent me a system-wide upgrade voucher (far more than necessary). Once in all those years is better than expected, so I don’t worry about it.

  25. James says

    OK, first the hot AA girls in Mendoza, now the hot escort in BKK – and not a word! Do you write another blog?

  26. beachfan says

    Thanks for the wine list!

    Seems like the weakest part of the meal (although better than the service). Would be a good list for business class.

  27. Josh G says

    If you think the showers in the LX F lounge ate bad, take a trip over to the C lounge. I was there a couple months ago and it really reminded me dorm living and dumpy locker room showers. What’s bad about them? It looks fairly well kept.

  28. lucky says

    @ Josh G — The showers weren’t awful, they just weren’t as nice as those offered by Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, etc. My major complaint was that there wasn’t any real barrier between the shower and the rest of the bathroom, so water flowed pretty freely. Also, the ventilation was awful, so the room was scorching hot by the end of the shower.

  29. Frank says

    Those of you who are criticizing me: I read the blog because I enjoy seeing pictures and descriptions of Lucky’s travels. It is true that I may be slightly “jealous” seeing as how I have worked the vast majority of my life – first in the military and then in consulting. Yet, I have never had such opportunities. This makes me critical of Lucky’s attitude towards his travels.

  30. Ken says

    Lucky,QF First Class lounge does not feature in your top 5 lounges? I am surprised…. Nice report, sorry for the somewhat slack service. Trust it was a one off, everybody can have a bad day, too bad some show it more than others.

  31. Jack says

    Ben,
    I strongly recommend that you complain in writing about the flight attendant that you describe. As a customer service manager for a very large company I assure that any competent manager would want to know about this terrible service.

    It is often a challenge to know what is actually occurring between your service employees and the customer. You cannot fix a problem without knowing it exists.

    I urge you to report this.

    Jack

  32. Tiffany says

    Sorry, I’m still stuck on “we don’t have it.” How do you not have iced coffee?!? It’s not like a specialty cocktail or something complicated!!

    I agree with Jack – ANY manager would want to know about this interpretation of “service”. I would probably have said something to the FA at the time (gently and respectfully), but not everyone is comfortable with that.

  33. lucky says

    @ Frank — I can see where you’re coming from and appreciate the honesty, though here’s the thing I don’t think you understand. I’m not some trust fund baby, but rather I’ve been supporting myself since I was 17. I paid for my college, I paid for my rent while in college, I paid for my car, and I pay for all my travels. Am I incredible fortunate to be able to do what I do? Absolutely. Do I take it for granted? Not for a single day.

    But to me that doesn’t mean I should expect less when I travel. Airlines charge as much for a roundtrip first class flight as they do for a car, so I think you should have basic service expectations when you fly. Being told there are no landing forms? Being told they don’t have iced coffee (which anyone can actually make)? Both seem unreasonable to me.

    @ Ken — The Qantas lounge completely slipped my mind. Definitely top five material. You’re right.

    @ Jack @ Tiffany — I think you’re right. Thanks. I’ll be writing a letter.

  34. Joseph says

    I’ve been following your blog since last fall. Thanks for the wonderful posts, which I always have fun reading. Like my fellow readers, I also urge you to write a letter of complaint to Swiss management. You will be doing the airline and its future customer a favour. I look forward to reading the rest of this trip :)

  35. James says

    Regarding your strawberry Gazpacho, I’m afraid your lazy FA screwed you over again. Indeed the strawberry jelly is supposed to be topped with golden sparkles, that actually pops (explodes) into your mouth. That combination gives you an entire different taste of the jelly and the soup. Personally I love it! From your pic the sparkles are missing…

  36. Gareth says

    Excellent summary. The times I flew Swiss (upgrades and air miles), I must say a fantastic service. Except when the Media system went down. They then gave me 10000 air miles as compensation. Can not complain. Just need Miles & More to honour it.

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