Swiss Economy Class Review San Francisco (SFO) to Zurich (ZRH) B777 – the ‘Poor Man’s Business Class’ strikes again
Just a few months ago I was able to review Swiss Business Class from Zurich to San Francisco and thought it was a decent product (with a good number of flaws). However, I consider the Swiss airline 'Premium' brand in Economy and was looking forward to my flight. San Francisco International Terminal is connected to Terminal 3 from the Star Alliance side and you can roam around freely between the terminals. As usual, there is also no outbound immigration - and security was deserted that day. Swiss airlines are participating in TSA PreCheck and my boarding pass came out in seconds with PreCheck on it. There are two restaurants left at SFO that accept Priority Pass and make for a great feast. In addition, the Airport Wifi is extremely fast if the terminal isn't too crowded - which it surely wasn't that night. Boarding was announced right on time at the furthest away gate and it seemed that this would not be a full flight. Indeed, Economy Class was just 2/3 full while Business Class was seemingly 100% full. I had chosen a middle seat and bet on the fact that the whole row would be empty (which was true when I checked-in). Alas on the far end of the four-seater there would be another person when I boarded. There was plenty of space with two seats empty in the middle but not enough to lie-flat. I immediately asked a flight attendant to move but they were adamant (and so was the captain over PA a few minutes later) that everyone MUST stay in their assigned seats for the take-off time. Swiss has installed a modern IFE system on all sets and the flight attendants seemed jovial and friendly though stern (shocker for flying with a 100% Swiss crew). We taxied a good 40 minutes to our take-off position and runway 28R and got a good amount of bumps with the stormy San Francisco sky until we got some smoother air east of the Golden Gate bridge. At 15,000 feet I snug up and looked around if there are any empty rows left - and indeed just the very last row in the middle was left for me. The four seats together are perfect for me and allow me to stretch out completely. Dinner service rolled around about 90 minutes later. I wasn't really hungry but noticed that the drinks menu was rather extensive with several different wines, beer brands and aperitif and digestive. Swiss provides Wifi but the prices are steep and the data limit low. So I did not bother with it. The food wasn't my favorite but tasted entirely edible though a bit bland. Shortly after dinner I 'reclined' into my full bed and slept without interruption until we were just 30 minutes outside Zurich. There were no issues with the seat buckles are spaces in between seats. With the four blankets and four pillows, I felt perfectly situated - better than in many Business Class seats. After eight hours of excellent sleep - I caught the end of the breakfast service. We had a windy and stormy day in Zurich and the pilot seemed to go for an approach where we would drop from a higher altitude and higher speed onto the runway. It was perfectly executed but still a pretty rough maneuver for such a big bird. Right across from the arrival gate is the Primeclass lounge which impressed me with excellent catering, fast WiFi and great natural light. In sum - I felt this was a great Economy flight. I had access to excellent food before and after my flight using Priority Pass inside the departure and arrival terminal. The flight was perfectly on time and seemed to be executed by seasoned professionals in the cockpit and the service crew. Getting an entire 4-seater to myself is a fantastic Economy treat. II was able to rest perfectly. I don't think Swiss (and the airport infrastructure) can get much better for an Economy flight. If at all the Wifi could be free and fast enough for streaming (dream on!) and the catering could be less blend and offer more choice.