Swiss Business Class Review Zurich (ZRH) to San Francisco (SFO) 777 – August 2019 including Swiss Business Class Lounge Zurich (ZRH) Review
This was just my second time on Swiss long-haul Business Class and I was excited about my flight.
I had had two connections that day in the Austrian Business Class before my flight - so I was tired before I even got to Zurich. I was hoping the excitement would keep me awake.
Terminal D with most long-haul flights is a solid train ride away from the rest of Zurich airport. It is newer but also more crowded during the busy morning/ lunch hours.
Swiss Business Class Lounge Zurich Airport
When coming up to Level 3 I could barely make it out of the elevator - there was a huge line of passengers waiting to get into the lounge. Apparently, the system to provide WiFi Codes was broken slowing down check-in. However, the sole attendant (at the busiest time of the day) took the time to chat with guests. Friendly yes, but efficient no. 20 minutes later I got my boarding pass scanned and was ready to access the lounge.
It's modern and was full of natural light on this sunny day. I'm not sure if it was the air conditioning but it was really hot inside. However, I loved the modern, minimalist design - it looked beautiful and was really clean.
I was hungry and stopped by the hot buffet - to my surprise it was only cook-to-order and the sole chef had built up a solid line of 20 passengers waiting for lunch. The lounge had plenty of seats and was easily planned for 200+ people and the many Swiss departures around that time - but just one chef and lounge attendant?
Oh, and why is the Internet connection so complicated? In China, the lounge operators must register each guest for each connection but in Switzerland that can't be the law so why make it so tricky? A fellow lounge guest gave me his code once I was connected it was super fast - maybe because very few guests were able to connect in the first place?
Once I had gotten my lunch by waiting in line I marveled at the small portion of Risotto and seafood but it was fantastic - full of real fresh taste! Awesome lounge food and worth the extra wait. So I lined up again a few minutes later and got seconds!
Maybe this is an example of Switzerland than, friendly people, lots of bureaucracy and very high-quality products?
Anyways I walked over to Starbucks and got myself a $6 espresso (yes single shot).
Swiss Business Class 777 Review
Boarding was a bit late and the crowds very massive for this (apparently) 100% full flight. I was one of the last passengers to board and had trouble taking pictures as everyone was trying to rush to their seats (and I tried to stay out of their way).
I had selected a single seat on the left that got me out of the aisle and had two 'foot rests' from passengers behind me to right and left. These seats seem to be by far the best for single travelers. The seat itself is not as wide though and delivers less space than the 'Cathay Pacific Mini suites' - still my gold standard for Business Class (after so many years).
Boarding moved quickly and it all seemed like we are set for an on-time departure. But no such luck as the airport changed runways just when we were ready for takeoff. No big deal on this sunny summer day? Well no; in Switzerland - it took a full hour for any planes to take off again. There were no thunderstorms in the area either. I find it quite crazy for a modern airport to block off departures for an hour because of a runway directional change (yes the airport has a number of runways).
Zurich Airport has three runways: 16/34 of 3,700 m (12,100 ft) in length, 14/32 of 3,300 m (10,800 ft) in length, and 10/28 of 2,500 m (8,200 ft) in length. For most of the day and in most conditions, runway 14 is used for landings and runways 16 and 28 are used for takeoffs, although different patterns are used early morning and in the evenings.
Oh well, we got underway with 90 minutes delay eventually and had a wild takeoff. At just a few hundred feet we banked 26 degrees left and went up with full takeoff power until we looped back over the airport at 12,000 feet with another plane just taking off. After a few more rough turns we got over the clouds and the snow-capped mountains of the Alps came out.
After that adrenaline rush, we settled in for a westward (and surprisingly southern) route. It took a solid 2.5 hours until any appetizers came out. By the time the cart came to me, no nuts were left. However, the champagne was excellent.
After almost three hours the appetizer and main course came by quickly. I found them disappointing compared to my expectations. Yes edible but no not great and not yummy. No restaurant would get away with it. To much salt and too complicated and not fresh.
There were a separate cheese and sweet dessert. I found the cheese quite lacking in taste - and this is from a 'cheese' country like Switzerland!
Our cruise was rather uneventful with no turbulence to speak of. I tried to find some sleep. The seat back reclines 100% and forms a fully flat seat. However, it is rough to turn as space is limited for that. Eventually, I found a way to stretch out completely but still find it too narrow. After a few hours of solid sleep, the toddler next to me decided to keep everyone awake with a high pitch shriek every 5 minutes. It was always short but VERY alarming to a parents (and everyone else's) ear. I decided to watch a movie and liked the responsive entertainment system. I rarely use more than the flight map but found it to be easy to use.
Swiss has a inflight system installed. However I'm a data junkie and the 200 MB limit did not appeal to me.
Everyone fell asleep by the time we crossed into the US from Canada but at about 1.5 hours before landing a snack service came through. The salad was good but it was just a few Mozzarella balls and 3 slices of tomato - almost 10 hours after the lunch service?
I had a number of short interactions with the flight attendants and they seemed jovial, friendly and fluent in German, English, and French. They seemed to struggle with a full load of passengers and it seemed much less of a 'well-oiled machine' than you would expect from Switzerland.
In sum this was s decent flight - the Business Class eat is relatively modern. It is good enough to stretch out but too narrow in width and height when fully reclined. The entertainment system works just as expected. The catering was a fail and needs to provide better food to be competitive. The staff seemed strangely overwhelmed with a rather routine flight.