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Transport : Airlines

In July 2017, I flew Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER of Swiss International Air Lines from Zürich Airport, in Switzerland to San Francisco on the USA’s West Coast. It is worth sharing that, US residents can fly to Europe for free by taking out just one (free) credit card, travelling on most major airlines. Read more in this easy guide.

Swiss International Air Lines (or SWISS) ranks among my favourite European carriers for long-haul flights and is a member of Star Alliance. You can read all my Business Class flight reviews on Swiss airlines. Swiss recently acquired 9 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which replace most of Swiss’ ageing A340 planes although five A340s will remain in service and be refurbished.

My experience on this B777 trip was great and clearly a step up from flying on Swiss airlines A340. The only disadvantage is the constricting flat-bed. I booked my tickets using Lufthansa’s Miles & More airmiles which can be used to book you onto Adria Airways, Air One, Austrian Airlines Group, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, and SWISS.

Swiss features in my top 10 lists of best airlines for long-haul Business Class, best airlines for long-haul First Class, and best airlines for in-flight meals.

Business Class Lounge At Zurich Airport

Swiss manages 9 lounges at its main hub in Zürich airport. I made the mistake of visiting the Business lounge in Terminal A which I have already reviewed, which is used exclusively for flights within the Schengen Area, including domestic flights within Switzerland.

Swiss’ intercontinental flights leave from Terminal E, which is a stand-alone satellite terminal that can only be reached by a short underground train ride. I remembered from previous flights with Swiss that there’s was only one, rather unattractive lounge in terminal E, hence why I stayed in the lounge complex at Terminal A.

It was only shortly before boarding that I learned that Swiss recently opened a new Business and First Class lounge at Terminal E, which is now the best lounge facility at the airport.

Swiss Business Class Cabin Review

You enter the Swiss’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft via the massive boarding doors. The cabin looks sleek with an illuminated welcome panel and an illuminated world map in a wood finish. The entrance galley separates the two Business Class cabins: a small cabin with only 10 seats (in 2 rows) is located behind the First Class cabin to the left of the galley, while the main and much large Business Class cabin is located to the right, featuring an impressive 52 seats (in 11 rows).

The redesigned Business Class cabin interior of the new Swiss flagship plane is impressdark-colouredcraft decor has an elegant and timeless feel with a touch of Swiss. The dark-colored seat cushions, wooden veneer panels and cream-colored fabrics give the cabin a modern, almost residential ambiance. The front bulkhead in both Business Class cabins features a Matterhorn print, referencing Switzerland’s most famous mountainscape.

The 62 Business Class seats are Thompson Vantage seats placed in a staggered configuration or so-called Sogerma Solstys layout. This is basically an alternating 1 x 2 x 2 and 2 x 2 x 1 seat configuration, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seat(s) in front.

The seats in the centre of the plane come in pairs, while the seats on the right and left side of the plane alternate from one to two per row (with the so solo seats – or throne seats – being the most popular seats in the plane; more on that below).

The Sogerma Solstys layout is not the best Business Class configuration as not all passengers have direct aisle access. It is also installed on Finnair’s A330/A340, Austrian Airlines B767/B777, Brussels Airlines’ A330, Delta’s B767, and American’s B767.

Business Class Seat Review

I was seated in 14A, and although an excellent seat, it was not the best on the plane as it has a misaligned window. Swiss’ B777 Business Class seats are an updated, more comfortable version of Swiss’s previous Business Class seat, with more storage when compared to those on the A330 and A340 aircraft.

The seat has a pitch of 152 cm (60 inches) and a width of 52 cm (20,5 inch), which should be more than comfortable for most passengers. All seats come with a large work surface on the side (where you can set up your personal belongings such as a tablet or laptop). Solo seats as well as some seats in the center of the plane also feature an additional and equally large work space on the seat’s other side.

The solo, throne seats have the added benefit of two other storage spaces, being a small box with straps for storage of magazines or a laptop on one side of the seat and a large slide-out drawer located on the other side. Bulkhead row seats also have an additional shelf above their TV monitors to place items such as larger laptops.

A perforated wood panel located above the armrest is the seat’s main eyecatcher and unique to Swiss’ Boeing 777 aircraft. It holds a large fold-out tray table. The wood panel, which also holds a large slide-out drawer at throne seats only, also features a reading lamp on eye level and a hook, which is great for keeping the headphones secured in place during the flight and preventing the wires from getting tangled up in the seat. The armrest below the wood panel holds a power port with international adapters, a remote control for the inflight entertainment system and the automatic seat controls.

Although these seats offer a 180 degree recline and the bed has a length of 2 meters (6,5 ft), the seat has one major downside, being that its foot end (and thus your lower legs) glide into a small box under the seat(s) in front, below the TV screen. This foot compartment narrows to its end and its ceiling is quite low, so your lower legs and feet are kind of locked in this box making it impossible to switch position during your sleep without your legs hitting the wall (and thus waking up).

It has to be noted that this is especially the case in the throne seats (except for the bulkhead throne seats) since the foot wells at all other seats are more spacious due to the cabin configuration. In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is just 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it feel like you are resting on the ground or in a coffin (because of the high seat walls) and making it very uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom.

This is one of the most uncomfortable lie flat seats in the sky, especially when compared to the seat types installed on Swiss’ competitors such as Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.

The solo Business Class seats, or throne seats, deserve a separate mention as they are the most popular seats on the plane, because they offer more storage space, increased privacy and direct aisle access. Compared to other seats, they do have two cons though which compromise an optimal sleeping comfort; the very small foot compartment; and the fixed armrests which cannot be lowered.

Swiss has recently introduced a fee to pre-reserve a throne seat, ranging from 99 to 199 Swiss Francs ($100 to $200 USD) depending on the flight and route.

What Is The Best Seat On Swiss B777?

The seats in the first, smaller cabin (row 4 & 5) are are excellent since this cabin feels more intimate.

The single best seats for solo travelers are the solo throne seats on the left and right side of the plane. Pre-reserving these seats come at a high price and they also have some downsides; the smaller foot compartment (except the bulkhead throne seats 4A and 7A which have more space for the feet) and fixed armrests.

Travel companions should go for the middle seats, which all have direct aisle access. There is also a set of paired window seats in each row, but here the passenger in the window seat will have to crawl over his/her neighbor’s leg to reach the aisle.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Swiss B777?

I suggest to avoid the window seats in row 11 since they are missing a window. The window seats in row 14 also have a misaligned window, although that won’t impact your travel experience that much.

The seats in row 17 are directly in front of the Economy bassinet seats and are thus best avoided as well (in case of child nouse). The bulkhead seats in row 7 are close the galley and restrooms, which may cause some noise. Paired lack privacy, although the fixed divider will make you feel more private.

Amenity Kit On Swiss B777?

Swiss provides blankets and pillows of decent quality in Business Class. Each Business Class passenger also gets an amenity kit, which – on outbound flights from Zürich – comes in the form of a large tote bag available in four different colors. On inbound flights passengers receive four different re-usable smaller pouches that can be connected to the totes.

The bag only contains the basic amenities, such as lipbalm, (bright red) socks, eyeshade, toothbrush, toothpaste, and earplugs.

Food Review On Swiss

Swiss is among the carriers that serve the most delicious in-flight meals. You can see where Swiss falls in my listing of the best airline food in the world.

The Swiss ‘Taste of Switzerland program’ is exclusively available to First and Business Class passengers and is designed to highlight different regions of the country on longhaul flights departing from Switzerland.

The menus change every three months and are created by selected chefs whose restaurants have Michelin stars and Gault Millau points.

On this particular San Francisco bound flight, the menu was created by chef Andreas Appenzeller, the chef de cuisine at Europe’s highest lakeside four-star-superior hotel, the frutt Lodge & Spa (which stands 1920 m or 6300 ft above sea level). Appenzeller has already earned 15 GaultMillau points for his creations in the hotel’s own frutt Stübli restaurant. The food on Swiss airlines is excellent.

The starter was a choice from:
smoked Balik salmon tartate with sour cream, pickled cucumber, and radish salad.
slow-cooked beef with vinaigrette and horseradish, marinated cauliflower, and purée.

Main course:
beef tenderloin with thyme sauce, Obwalden semolina slice, and summer vegetables.
sea bas fillets with red wine sauce, potato gnocci, spinach and mushroom.
Swiss cheese: selection of Bärgmandli, Seiler Sarnerli, and Kloster Bergkäse with pear bread.
Dessert: yoghurt and honey mousse with a strawberry sponge and Bircher muesli popcorn.

Ninety minutes prior to arrival, a light snack was offered, with a choice of salad or pasta, both served with fruit salad. The choice was between artichoke ravioli with lemon sauce or rice salad with curry and grilled pineapple, and sautéed chicken breast.

Entertainment on Swiss

Each seat has a personal 16 inch TV screen of very high quality (with bright and clear pictures), and there are over 140 movies and TV shows to choose from, including the latest blockbusters, award-winning documentaries and the most popular TV series. In addition, you can listen to over 400 different CDs and a wide range of music channels.

There are only two, standard-sized lavatories for Business Class passengers, located in the galley between the two cabins. They feature a selection of facial products and lotion by Swiss Code (see photo in the scroller for more details.

Swiss offers satellite Internet via WiFi on board the Boeing 777-300ER from an altitude of 10,000 feet. The speed is similar to public WiFi connections on the ground. There is a charge for this ranking from 20MB for 9 Swiss Francs ($ 10USD) to 39 Swiss Francs ($ 40 USD) for a 120 MB package.

Find out how to get a free flight upgrade and if you want to pick up a travel bargain, you should read our 7 sensational secrets that ALL travellers should know (but probably don’t).

This review was shared with us by our friends at The Luxury Travel Expert.