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”).
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.
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.
Then I had a beef bouillon soup.
For the main course I had panko-crusted salmon with coconut risotto.
Then there was a great cheese course.
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.
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.
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.
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!