Review: Swiss Panorama Lounge Zurich

Introduction
Around the World on 90k Part I: Warsaw and Beijing with Nothing But a Passport and a Dream(liner)
Around the World on 90k Part II: Blowing Through the Horn of Africa
Korean Air Lounge New York JFK
LOT Polish Business Class 787 New York To Warsaw
Westin Warsaw
LOT Polish Business Class Lounge Warsaw
LOT Polish Business Class ERJ-170 Warsaw To Zurich
Swiss Panorama Lounge Zurich
Swiss Business Class A330 Zurich To Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 787 Beijing To Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine Business Class Lounge Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 767 Addis Ababa To Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class 747-8 Frankfurt to Washington
Park Hyatt Washington DC


Upon landing in Zurich, Andrew realized he had never been issued a boarding pass for our flight to Beijing, so we went to the transfer desk, which was just a few minutes walk away from our arrival gate.

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Zurich Airport terminal

While the agent at the transfer desk was friendly, she asked to see his visa. When we explained we were doing a 72 hour transit without visa, she started doing some typing in her computer, and then eventually said that the transit without visa was only valid for up to 24 hours, and not 72 hours.

We stood our ground, and then she made a phone call to some other department, and they confirmed that we could indeed transit for up to 72 hours without a visa.

As far as lounge usage goes, we had two options — we could use the Swiss Business/Senator Lounge, which is Swiss’ main lounge in Zurich (it features the longest airport bar in the world), or we could use the Panorama Lounge, which is located in the E Concourse, where our connecting flight was departing from. Since I had done the Swiss Lounge many times before and it’s nothing special, we figured we’d head over to the Panorama Lounge, so that we’d be closer to our departure gate.

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Zurich Airport terminal

The main terminal in Zurich Airport is gorgeous, though I find the temperatures inside to consistently be hot, which I guess isn’t surprising given the amount of natural light it has. We then cleared passport control and took the train over to the E Concourse. Zurich Airport probably has my favorite airport train system out there, given that there are cow “mooing” noises while the train goes between concourses, and there’s a cool graphics display on the wall of the tunnel.

Here’s a video I found of it on YouTube:

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Zurich Airport terminal

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Zurich Airport

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Zurich Airport

Once in the E Concourse we walked around the terminal once to check out all the planes. This is where all of Swiss’ longhaul flights depart from, so there was tons of fun traffic, including a bunch of A330s and A340s.

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Swiss A340 Zurich Airport

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Edelweiss A330 Zurich Airport

We then took the elevator up to the second level, where the Panorama Lounge is located.

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Zurich Airport terminal

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Zurich Airport terminal

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Panorama Lounge signage Zurich Airport

The public areas of the second level are rather bare.

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Walkway to Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

The lounge is a very short walk from the elevator, and located on the right side.

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Walkway to Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

We were promptly admitted, and were told to scan our boarding passes to get wifi codes. The ridiculous thing about this lounge is that you only get 60 minutes of free wifi, and once you use it up you can’t get another code. Since it scans your boarding pass, it won’t give you another code if you scan a second time. Rather ridiculous, in my opinion.

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Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport wifi code machine

Anyway, the lounge itself is okay. It tends to be pretty crowded since it’s where all the longhaul flights depart from.

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Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

There are both tables with chairs, as well as couches with coffee tables.

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Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge Zurich Airport

The buffet spread isn’t all that impressive. There’s some snack mix, a few cold options, soup, and then two hot dishes.

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Panorama Lounge buffet Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge buffet Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge buffet Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge buffet Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge buffet Zurich Airport

The drink selection is probably more impressive than the food spread, with a selection of self serve liquor, wine, beer, soft drinks, etc.

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Panorama Lounge drinks Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge drinks Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge drinks Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge drinks Zurich Airport

The coffee machine in the lounge is fairly decent, and they even have “proper” latte glasses, which I appreciate.

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Panorama Lounge coffee machine Zurich Airport

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Panorama Lounge latte Zurich Airport

The only thing that makes this lounge kind of awesome is the outdoor terrace they have, which I guess is why it’s called the “panorama lounge.” It’s awesome to be able to enjoy fresh air in Zurich at an airport in summer, and that’s especially true when you’re looking directly at a Singapore A380.

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Panorama Lounge terrace Zurich Airport

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Singapore A380 Zurich Airport

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Singapore A380 Zurich Airport

I was of course most amused by the A380, while Andrew nearly had a heart attack out of excitement when he saw a US Airways 767-200.

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View from Panorama Lounge terrace Zurich Airport

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US Airways 767-200 Zurich Airport

Our flight was scheduled to depart Zurich at 1:20PM, so at around 12:30PM we headed down to our departure gate.

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Zurich Airport terminal

There was another passport check at the gate, and once again the agent wanted to see our visas. He was much more familiar with the rules, though, and once we showed him our itinerary with a connection to Ethiopia he stamped our boarding passes (and chuckled at our routing).

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Departure gate to Beijing

At around 12:50PM boarding was called, starting with first and business class.

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Departure gate to Beijing

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Swiss A330 Zurich Airport

Bottom line

I’ve never really been impressed by the lounges in Zurich Airport. I find it absolutely ridiculous that they all restrict the amount of free wifi you can get. On the plus side, at least this lounge has nice views of big planes, which is at least a consolation prize.

Comments

  1. Kris says

    Scanning BP to get wifi reminds me of Air China Forst lounge, where I had to scan my passport to get wifi code (although I don’t know if there was a time limit).

  2. Tom says

    I wonder if they monitor your internet browsing and use the scanned pass code to link it back to an identity. Likely in China, in Switzerland not so sure.

  3. Hasse says

    @Lucky, does the Panorama Lounge allow access to Staralliance GOLD holder travelling in Economy?

  4. Deo says

    Automated post Ben? I’m assuming so.
    There’s no way you could’ve wrote that up and published in real-time in the wake of MH17.

  5. lucky says

    @ Deo — Yes, I was flying Amsterdam to Chicago, which was surreal in and of itself. More on that shortly.

  6. lucky says

    @ Neil S. — Just to have a copy of your itinerary and also a print out of the rules.

  7. jon says

    Try the lounges in MAD where you only get 30 minutes wifi at a time. Ok you don’t have to scan your BP so you can get more of them but you have to go back to the reception desk, and every time they give you this silly little card that you have to scratch the password off with a coin like it’s a lottery ticket.

  8. Denise says

    I was in the Panorama Lounge a couple of weeks ago, and discovered that internet access via Boingo was available, and allowed me to extend my time on line. Fortunately, just before the trip I had activated my Boingo subscription through my Amex Platinum Card.

  9. Marshall says

    Wifi is a scarce resource that needs to managed to meet the expectations of all premium passengers. 60 minutes is more than adequate to take care of any last minute needs that cannot be done offline. Anything more than that, suggests a more serious (addictive) problem.

  10. Ivan Y says

    Hmm… The first-class lounge (whatever the heck it’s called) is better; I was there maybe for 30 minutes so don’t recall the whole 60-minute rule for Wi-Fi.

    Anyhow, I know you are writing about a J trip here and not F but can we discuss how strange it is to be driven to the vicinity of a gate at ZRH instead of directly to the plane like in FRA? If they go through all the trouble of getting us into a van, why not go to the plane directly? Strange…

  11. Encore Traveler says

    Say what you will about the 60 minute wifi limit, one thing I know is that the Panorama Lounge staff and its patrons are incredibly honest and trustworthy. During a long layover at the Panorama Lounge last January on my way to S. Africa, I managed to a leave an expensive telephoto camera lens on one of the couches. I contacted lounge staff from S. Africa when I noticed it missing. They referred me to the airport Lost & Found Dept. who emailed me several days later informing me it was in their possession. During a stopover in Zurich on my return trip to Boston 4 weeks later I was easily able to pick up the lens at the Lost & Found office. Yes, in typical Swiss fashion I had to pay a nominal fee for the administrative efficiency of the Airport Lost & Found Dept., but seriously, in how many international airports would I likely to have had the good fortune to ever see that lens again? I didn’t get to use the outdoor seating area because it was January, but on my next trip through Zurich in September I will be able to get some great photos of aircraft and the Swiss mountains using the telephoto lens several kind and honest strangers assisted in returning to its rightful owner!

  12. clifford says

    @ Hasse — I think it depends on the airline you are flying. I’ve been allowed access as *G when flying LX, but I’ve heard of people being turned away when flying UA.

  13. Jacob says

    I was just in this lounge and I felt it was lacking something… The buffet was really small and there was no free unlimited WiFi. The whole airport at 60 minutes free so the lounge should of allowed more. Although the outdoor terrace was really nice. While I was in the lounge I saw a full turnaround of a Emirates A380!

  14. Gilbert says

    I did a second take when I reached that spare public area on the second floor… seemed odd.They did have very friendly staff in the lounge though and were serving spaetzle when I flew through.

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