In October I had the opportunity to travel to USA on a business trip and in the process fulfilled my dream of setting foot on all 7 continents. A trip to the US from India takes a minimum flying time of 16 hours on a non-stop flight operated by Air India. But since my last experience of Air India business class on the DEL-CPH segment wasn’t worthy of any mention, I decided to opt for a different airline whilst keeping the flying time under 20 hours. Swiss Air, Etihad and Lufthansa fitted the bill perfectly and just of curiosity I decided to fly Swiss business this time. The flight was in 2 legs staring from New Delhi to Zurich and then Zurich to New York with a 4 hour layover at Zurich.
The check-in process at New Delhi airport was smooth and efficient. Separate counters for business class/priority members of Star Alliance travellers rendered the baggage drop and boarding pass issue process efficient and it was completed within 5 minutes. Lounge access is complimentary and unlike most airlines who give a pass for the overcrowded Plaza lounge, Swiss Air has partnered with Allways lounge for New Delhi airport. It’s a very spacious lounge located on the third floor of the airport with comparatively much lesser footfall than the Plaza Premium lounge. Prompt service, friendly staff and an exhaustive collection of whisky, vodka and cocktails makes hanging around in this lounge an absolutely pleasurable experience! However, the food menu was a bit disappointing with not much options for dinner but the quality of food that was on offer was good. Access to complimentary wifi was provided to all guests.
The boarding process was quick for business class and I was one of the last persons to reach. Separate gate for business class makes boarding the flight always way more quicker than economy class. I was immediately greeted with friendly smiles of the crew who made sure that my flight later was nothing short of superb comfort at all stages. The seating configuration is 1-2-1 alternated with 2-2-1. The amenity kit provided onboard was a standard one by Victoriknox either shaped as a bag or a metal box. The contents inside comprised of toothpaste, toothbrush, moisturizer, lip balm, socks and eye cover patches.
A welcome drink was offered with choice of juices, water and champagne. Of course one is free to try them all! Thereafter passengers are given a choice to refresh their senses with a choice of hot towel. Indeed very refreshing ! Menu cards were handed out and since this was a late night flight the breakfast card had an option of not being woken up from dreams and peacefully continue sleeping. This was a real nice touch to take into account the comfort of the passengers!
Drinks were served 30 minutes after take-off. On the European airlines I always prefer to have wines since they are very particular about the quality they stock and Swiss didn’t disappoint! There were choices of Italian and French wines and both white and red wines were up to standard. The dinner service started another half an hour later. The menu was pretty exhaustive and I went with the options for fish. The quality of food was extremely good and all dishes were delectable since the menu was decided by the very famous Swiss chef Florian Trento. The desserts deserve a special mention! Lip smacking would be an understatement. 4 varieties of cheese were served and I paired them with port wine. Later on the cabin attendant came with a big box of authentic Swiss chocolates and that’s when I was sure that I made one of the best decisions of my life by choosing this airline. Since I prefer dark chocolates, I asked if they were available on the flight and to my surprise he excused himself and came back with another box full of dark chocolates. Swiss hospitality at it’s best! With a belly full of exquisite wine, filling salmon and dark chocolate, I dozed off to sleep within minutes in the comfortable lie-flat business class seat.
I was woken up for breakfast, which on the contrary turned out be quite ordinary as compared to the dinner. Of course, I chose to indulge in a few cups of coffee for the onward leg from Zurich to New York. At Zurich, the business class passengers are given access to the Swiss lounge which is probably one of the best I have ever been to simply due to the fact that it has an open balcony from where one can see the flights take off and land ! I will save that for another post! The flight from Zurich to New York was a similar one with some minor changes in the menu.
In conclusion I would say that Swiss Air offers a good business class offering ‘bang for the buck’ experience at a very competitive price. The only downside would be that the business class does not have leather seats but that can be comfortably overlooked considering the premium quality of services provided on board. It doesn’t match up to the business class of Qatar, Etihad or Emirates but I would highly recommend it for business and leisure travellers who are travelling to Europe or USA. After all, who doesn’t love authentic Swiss chocolates and hospitality at 35000 ft !