Swiss’ New 777 First Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from the US (again)! Yesterday I flew Swiss’ new 777 first class from Zurich to Los Angeles, which I was very excited about.

As many of you may know, Swiss is one of the most restrictive airlines when it comes to being able to redeem miles for first class. They only let elite members in their own Miles & More program redeem for Swiss first class. However, back in early June there was a brief period where Swiss first class was bookable with partner miles, so I redeemed 70,000 Aeroplan miles for a one-way ticket from Zurich to Los Angeles.

The restriction on redeeming for Swiss first class is an odd policy, since people can book Lufthansa first class with partner miles up to 15 days before departure, so clearly the Lufthansa “group” is saying that Swiss first class is more exclusive than Lufthansa first class. Well, is there any merit to it?

The last time I flew Swiss first class was back in 2012, before their rule change, so I was curious to see what the updated 777 first class product was like, and also how the service has changed.

Swiss’ 777 first class cabin consists of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seats are fairly private thanks to an extendable privacy shield, but they’re not fully enclosed suites (which to me seems like a lost opportunity, since they could have easily added doors — the seats have the same “bones”).

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The seats are otherwise well designed, and the cabin is incredibly stylish. In my opinion Swiss’ 777 first class might be one of the chicest first class products out there, while still being understated. So kudos to them on that.

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The service on the flight was great… ish. Both of the first class flight attendants were friendly and professional. At the same time, when we’re talking about the world’s top first class products, it’s very small differences in service that stand out:

  • Service didn’t feel especially customized, in the sense that most courses were served off carts, so you were stuck eating at everyone else’s pace.
  • Between meals the crew didn’t come through the cabin very often, and even during meals it often took them a while to clear plates.
  • While attention to detail was good for the most part, there was room for improvement there. For example, I had my bed made and then went to the restroom. When I returned there was a new bottle of water, though my blanket hadn’t been “refreshed.” I know that sounds silly, but in my experience on top carriers that’s something they do, especially when you know they were at your seat when you left.

Again, these are very minor things and I’d still say the crew was excellent. But at the same time when we’re talking about first class on the world’s best airlines, it’s very minor differences in service that stand out.

The food on the flight was fantastic, probably the highlight. For the starter I had balik salmon, scampi with carrot and ginger chutney, and scrambled egg mousse with truffle.

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Then I had a beef bouillon soup.

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For the main course I had panko-crusted salmon with coconut risotto.

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Then there was a great cheese course.

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And finally I had dessert, which consisted of bavarian cream with plum jelly, date and fig crumble, and plum sorbet. That’s not something I’d usually order, but I was surprised by how much I liked it.

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Overall it was an excellent meal.

Now to my biggest gripe of the flight — my entertainment system (including the screen and controller) didn’t work. The crew tried tirelessly to reset it, but they couldn’t get it fixed. The cabin was full, so I was on a 12 hour flight without any sort of entertainment. Not even the flight attendant call button at my seat worked, given that it’s connected to the entertainment controller.

In terms of other aspects of the product, the first class bedding was phenomenal, among the best I’ve had on any airline.

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The amenity kit was very nice and had La Prairie toiletries, which are among the highest quality cosmetics out there. I also found it hilarious that they had a carton of Ricola lozenges in the kit. At the same time, they didn’t have any pajamas.

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Swiss also has wifi on their 777s, and first class passengers get 50MB for free. However, beyond that the pricing is steep. For example, 120MB costs ~$40. After using up the 50MB I purchased the 120MB pass, which lasted me for about an hour with “normal” laptop use. Meanwhile on Lufthansa you get unlimited wifi for ~$20 per flight.

So overall Swiss first class was great. Is it the world’s best first class product? I don’t think so. But it’s probably in the top 10, in my opinion, when you factor in the whole experience.

Personally I’d say Swiss first class is roughly on par with Lufthansa first class, and I can’t say I have a strong preference one way or another. I do prefer Lufthansa’s wifi pricing, while I thought Swiss’ food was marginally better. However, the fact that I had no entertainment on the flight was extremely disappointing.

Stay tuned for the detailed trip report, which will be coming shortly!

Comments

  1. Yeeez, I can never understand how an airline can charge money for wifi in first class.

    Other then that it looks like a decent hard product, though they really cheaped out on not installing doors.

    Looking forward to the full review!

  2. You should definitely contact Swiss and get some “apology miles” or some kind of voucher. I couldn’t imagine paying the actual amount for that seat and the entertainment system wouldn’t work.

  3. @Mathiasfe There’s an argument to be made that not everyone prefers full on doors in airplane suites. It’s a cool feature, but I kind of find them claustrophobic (for example the SQ Suites or the EK First) unless the seat area is really big like the EY Apartments.

  4. The hard product is top notch and modern. Glad an airline is finally updating their interiors to match modern tastes. So much better than the tacky, overwrought, and old fashioned gaudiness of Emirates and the like.

  5. You have a nice life, but seriously you have bank of miles and you just use them because you need to use them? So for a brief period where you could redeem miles from a to b on a hard to redeem segment so you redeem and try to build an itinerary around that? So the whole purpose to redeem was because normally you can’t?

    I am having a hard redeeming my stuff and trying to fit the redempions in my life.

    How do you tax write of award travel?

  6. If someone paid $9,000 out of pocket for this seat and the entertainment system didn’t work, what should your compensation be?

  7. Swiss has PJs and slippers on red eyes and I believe that if they don’t offer them then they are available on request. Atleast when I flew LX first a few months ago that was my experience. Did you not event get any slippers?

  8. The door containing the wardrobe does close as well, so it gives you a fully enclosed suite. You just have to lower the handle and pull it towards you.
    And I had a pyjama on the flight to LAX.
    Too bad the TV wasn’t working for you. The screen is so big, it’s amazing to watch the 3D air show animation.

  9. I flew business to New York with KLM recently. IFE in Economy was broken so everyone on the flight got a US$100 voucher. And I mean everyone (not just affected passengers).

  10. When I returned there was a new bottle of water, though my blanket hadn’t been “refreshed.”

    Oh brother, this column is becoming more affected and more pompous by the day.

    UGH

  11. Sometimes I don’t get you Ben. You continually write review after review on other airlines where you state that you really don’t care much for IFE because you prefer to work on your laptop. So the one time that the IFE doesn’t work it becomes a big negative for you? I’m confused.

  12. It’s funny, I recently flew JL in First and wasn’t especially excited beforehand because it doesn’t really get a lot of coverage on the blogs…. but the service was excellent, and the crew did everything that apparently this LX crew did not… bring out every course individually during meal service, refresh the bedding every time someone used the lavatory, rush to one’s seat the second they saw someone perusing the snack menu after the main meal service, etc.

  13. I’m not sure about SWISS’s policy, but I had a non-working video monitor ~10 years ago in LH F (revenue ticket, not sure that matters though when it comes to compensation) and I was given a cert. for EUR 300 toward duty free. Maybe because I was overly nice about it, because it was on an overnight flight from FRA-JNB and I was planning on sleeping, but the pursar was appalled, saying “But this is first class! This should NEVER happen!”

    SWISS could learn from their cousin, Lufty.

  14. I have no problem you bringing up the problems on each flight Ben, no matter how trivial they might seem to others. As someone wrote, this is a $9,000 flight, so everything should be as perfect as can be. And the FA’s should be bringing their A+ game every time to every guest. It’s the details that make the difference and the details you remember and enjoy.

    How the cutlery is laid; how items are presente; how you are addressed; how pro-active they are to you. It all matters for a complete picture. Without that, you might as well take UA Global…which is basically UA Business with a better seat.

  15. Swiss does have pajamas in their B777 F. The closet door doubles as the suite door. The lounge offers Balik salmon and full service menu. The 32 in. TV’s are great for appreciating special effects in movies. Check out the tour for pilot’s rest area. FA customize service upon request. It helps to speak in French 😉

  16. @Credit – on the tax write-off, the short tax accounting answer is that generally there isn’t a tax deduction for award tickets because the tax deduction for a business expense is based on the cost of the business travel, and FF miles (generally, unless you buy the miles from the airline for cash) have a zero cost basis. No cost basis = no deduction.

    There are theoretical methods to assign a value to FF miles, but unless you wanted to move expense between tax years there’s no practical reason to do it, since the total deductible amount doesn’t change and it would involve a metric buttload of record-keeping. And me trying to describe the underlying accounting theory would be really, really boring, especially since I can explain the theory but I’m not familiar with any actual IRS regulations (nor do I want to be.)

    @FED YO – the “refreshing” is a small thing, but when you have an airline that’s really trying to differentiate their First Class product, it’s a fair observation, especially when smaller carriers can do it in premium cabins (see the recent Air Serbia review.)

    @majik – a fair point, but Ben does try to write reviews for everybody, not just his personal needs, so it’s a fair criticism, especially with Swiss’ exorbitant data rates.

    @Mathiasfe – I suspect it’s the same reason lower-end hotels have free wifi, but luxury hotels frequently charge: higher-end business travelers on expense account are more likely to get reimbursed by their employers (or be able to bill it to customers), so the airlines go for the money. Especially since travelers are more likely to choose their airline (if they have the authority to do so) on other factors like schedule or FF miles. Just as with hotels, I suspect we’ll gradually see this practice die out, or at least the rates will go down.

  17. I’m also curious about the whole not enclosed statement – did your closet not slide out? Should be a full suite product.

  18. Well technically the suite is fully enclosed… you see, the way to make the seat fully enclosed (you may or may not know this) is that you have to extend the privacy screen, then you have to open the coat hanger compartment, and that will make a sort of door. Yes this is pretty unconventional and downright stupid if you ask me, but I guess if you wanted fully enclosed suites, then there you have it!

  19. the new updated swiss first class actually does have doors… or one door. The privacy shield extends to the end of the armrest, and then the door pulls out from the wall in front of you. the door is supposed to connect to the armrest, but there is a small gap, making it not ‘totally’ private. in addition, the wall that slides out from in front contains a wardrobe, where you can hang a coat or use it to store other items. shame you didn’t ‘discover’ it, as you would have had way more privacy sleeping-but I guess they do a pretty good job of hiding the door!

  20. The level of service can sometimes work against an award traveller vs a paid customer especially in case the flight is full.
    Happens in hotels as well. When you are redeeming points not earned on the airline or its alliance partners, there is a chance a full flight may force the crew to focus on revenue pax.

  21. I m really curious to know if they proactively offered you a nice compensation for the broken entertainment system.

  22. Nice review, Lucky. One point: perhaps you meant “scrambled egg mousse” and not “scrambled egg mouse”?

  23. Hi Ben, I had the same situation, no IFE on ZRH-HKG in 1A on the LX 777.

    I was on a paid ticket. I am M&M SEN and was offered 30,000 M&M award miles (after declining their initial offer for 10,000). I was happy as I take my own entertainment anyway, not my first time to the rodeo so to speak (and to be frank, I’m surprised you don’t take your own entertainment too..!)

    Also, as stated above, suite is fully enclosed. Just pull the wardrobe out.
    Agree food LX>LH F. Crew on LX F can either be beyond excellent or a little lazy, I’ve had both this year. Sounds like you unfortunately got the latter.

  24. “So overall Swiss first class was great. Is it the world’s best first class product? I don’t think so. But it’s probably in the top 10, in my opinion, when you factor in the whole experience.”

    In a cabin that is becoming more and more rare with such focus on Business Class these days being ranked in the top 10 for a First Class cabin just isn’t good enough. If you are going to offer First Class you need to offer a “WOW FACTOR”. EY/EK/SQ are the current Pioneers in First Class and the competition need to match this. LX’s new First Class product visually is the same offering as SQ’s refreshed Business product.

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