As I mentioned in my Park Hyatt Vendome review, my six-year-old daughter and I spent a week in Paris watching the Women’s World Cup this past June. We flew over in Air France economy, but I decided to splurge for the return flight. We flew Paris (CDG) to Zurich (ZRH) to Boston (BOS), with the transatlantic segment notably being in SWISS business class.
By all accounts, SWISS business class is a solid but unspectacular product. I’d say my experience mostly lines up with that assessment, though of course, it’s tough to judge an airline after a single flight.
In This Article
Let’s take a look at why I think SWISS is a perfectly comfortable and affordable (points wise) way to hop across the Atlantic.
How I Evaluate Business Class Flights
A couple of quick notes on how I generally look at business class flights. When flying in First Class, obviously I’m looking for a comfortable seat, but I also enjoy the extra special service and care that’s to be expected in seats that people pay $10,000 to sit in.
When I book business class, I’m not so concerned with the service, or even the food and beverages. I’m just looking for a nice comfortable trip across the pond, and in this case, a good experience for my daughter. So that’s the lens through which I’m looking at SWISS business class, just so you know where I’m coming from.
Booking SWISS Business Class
SWISS seems to have pretty decent award space from the United States to Zurich, especially from Boston, my home airport. I’ve found that it’s one of the most reliable Star Alliance partners releasing business class space across the Atlantic along with TAP Portugal.
To search for SWISS award space, the easiest thing to do is to search with United. I like to search for one-way flights, though you can also search round trip. Just input your dates, city pairs, and click “Book with miles”.
When you receive your search results, make sure you click on “Saver Business Class” space to sort from lowest to highest. The partner business class awards don’t always show up at the top of United’s results.
You can also look at a calendar’s worth of dates. Sort by “business/first”, anything that’s 70,000 miles likely is business class on Swiss (or another Star Alliance partner).
Once you’ve found award space you like, you have multiple options for booking. You can book on any Star Alliance partner, but here are a few of my favorites. I’ve listed one-way rates but round-trip rates are simply double the one-way rate.
- Air Canada Aeroplan: 55,000 miles per person, plus taxes and fees
- Avianca LifeMiles: 63,000 miles per person, plus taxes and fees
- United MileagePlus: 70,000 miles per person plus taxes and fees
Obviously, Aeroplan is the cheapest, but the option that works best for you will depend on your personal mileage balances. In terms of transfer partners, here’s what you need to remember:
- Air Canada Aeroplan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards
- Avianca LifeMiles is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou Points
- United MileagePlus is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards
Luckily, for all three of these programs, you won’t pay fuel surcharges if you fly SWISS, so taxes and fees shouldn’t be too bad. You can book these flights online through all three programs. For United, I just clicked through after my award search, paid, and was all set.
To select seats beforehand, get your SWISS record locator and go to the SWISS U.S. website. To get the record locator, you will likely have to call the airline that you booked the ticket through. You then want to click on “Login” (top right) -> “Retrieve Booking.” On the right side you can login with your name and your booking number (record locator).
Quick tip: I had to include my middle name before it would find me, so if your first and last aren’t working try doing that. If all else fails, you can call SWISS to select your seats as well.
Check-in and Zurich SWISS Business Lounge
We started the day in Paris and checked in for our regional European flight with no issues. Not much to say about regional SWISS business class, as “business class” on intra-Europe flights is normally just regular seats with the middle seat blocked out. They did come around with a box of toys, games, and coloring books for my daughter to choose from. That was a very nice touch.
We landed in Zurich and had to walk all the way across the airport to the E gates. That only left us with about 15 minutes to enjoy the lounge, but we made our way to the SWISS Business Lounge at the E gates.
The lounge was large but also very crowded. We found a seat near the food and I went to go check out the spread. The lounge had some made to order food which was a nice touch.
I enjoyed some macaroni and cheese and a few other hot items, but the real hit between my daughter and myself were the Movenpick individual sized ice cream!
The lounge had a moderate selection of alcohol if that’s your thing. I was too tired and didn’t have enough time to partake.
Hands down, my favorite part of the SWISS Business Lounge in Zurich is the observation deck. You can take your food and drink outside, eat, and plane watch. It would have been a great place to hang out for a few hours, but alas, we only had fifteen minutes. So we finished up our ice cream, used the restroom, and made our way to the gates.
Since we were flying to the United States, we had to pass through another security and immigration check. I was very thankful to be in business class since that meant we could show up a little later and still not have to deal with a line.
SWISS Business Class Seat And Cabin
Like I said above, to me, business class is all about the seat. So let’s take a look at SWISS’s Zurich to Boston business class cabin on the Airbus A330-300.
One of the tricky things about SWISS’ business class cabin is its staggered configuration. Some rows are 1-2-1 and some are 1-2-2. Due to this staggered configuration, there is a lot of variance in the seats. What this means practically is that you will have the same seat as everyone else but everything around your seat will be different. Different amounts of table space, storage space, and even the foot cubbies have slight variations.
My daughter and I sat in two middle seats so I’d have easy access to help her out. She ended up with more storage space so I had to dump my phone, tablet, etc. in her space, which amused me. As we settled in, they offered us orange juice, champagne, and my daughter got to pick out some more SWISS toys. I told her to get some for her brother this time.
The seat itself was pretty comfortable. When in the bed position I’d say there was a very slight angle but for all intents and purposes, it’s a lie flat bed. It felt a little narrow, but neither myself nor my daughter had any trouble sleeping on the flight. There are settings for making your seat cushion firmer or softer, which seem to work fine. I don’t normally mess with those kinds of settings though so I’m probably not the best judge about how comfortable they make things.
There was a good in flight entertainment system with a large selection, although my daughter just watched How to Train Your Dragon 3 for the (counts…) fourth time. (She’s up to seven after our recent flights to Hawaii).
Overall, I was happy with the SWISS business class seat, though the lack of storage space in my particular seat annoyed me. It’s sort of weird how the experience can be uneven depending on where you sit, but at least the product is comfortable. It won’t blow your mind, but if you want to rest on your transatlantic flight, it gets the job done.
Business Class Food And Drink
I generally don’t have super high standards when it comes to food and drink in business class. For drinks, I don’t expect anything top shelf but I appreciate a good red wine. I had a couple of glasses of the French red, which I rather enjoyed. Here are pictures of the wine menu (sorry for the crease).
The food was serviceable, but nothing to write home about. We were served dinner after we reached our cruising altitude. I had the steak and I got the fish for my daughter because I had forgotten to order a child’s meal. Neither of us were huge fans of the main course but we did split and finish our food (I finished 2/3 of it). I’d say as far as airplane food goes, it was fair to good.
What we did find excellent (my daughter and I have very similar palates!) was the appetizer, a cake-like thing with alternating layers of cured meat and pastry. The technical term is “millefeuille”, for those of you foodies out there.
We loved it.
Mid-flight we got more Movenpick ice cream. Couldn’t say no to that!
On descent we had a spinach salad with mozzarella and prosciutto, which I preferred to the main course from the beginning of the flight. Again, nothing spectacular, but neither of us were hungry when we landed so that’s a solid win.
Business Class Service
I thought the service on our SWISS flight in business class was top notch. In general, I found the flight attendants very attentive and very helpful whenever we needed something. They came around the cabin multiple times asking if I needed anything which was much appreciated. They were also very prompt with meal service and clearing our trays, which can make a big difference in terms of comfort on a flight.
But where this flight’s service really stood out was with my daughter. Their great service extended beyond the toys she was offered at the beginning of the flight. The flight attendants in her aisle took the time to check in on her, ask if she was having fun, and really make sure she had everything she needed. They were warm, friendly, and couldn’t have made her flight more smooth. They left a great impression on me. I realize it could have just been this crew, but I was definitely impressed by SWISS’ service.
Flying with a Child in Business Class
Before I finish up, I thought I’d discuss a little more about flying with a child in business class. While I won’t engage in the debate about whether you should or shouldn’t (we’ve flown in first class with children as young as six months), I think it is useful to at least discuss what I think about when flying with my kids in business or first class.
For starters, you know your child the best. I knew my six year old was going to be super happy just watching the in flight entertainment the entire flight and that the lie-flat bed would help her to take a nap. I also knew that she wasn’t going to be super careless with the china or silverware, though there was of course still the possibility of an accident. But that being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly upfront with my four year old even though he’s not as “in control.” I would, however, keep a much closer eye on him.
The benefit of flying in business class besides the seat and service is it makes everything much easier. Shorter check in lines, you board first, you don’t have to worry about paying for meals, etc. etc. So if you can afford it, miles wise, I definitely think it’s worth it. The whole experience is more comfortable and that usually makes long flights easier for kids to handle. If you do happen to have a baby, the extra space a lie-flat bed affords can be invaluable.
All that being said, we flew coach on our outbound and that was perfectly fine as well. In fact, I don’t think I want my kids to be “spoiled” too much or to think that every time they fly they’ll have a lie-flat bed! So, as with anything in parenting, I try to find the balance that makes the most sense.
In terms of this flight, it was a special trip with my daughter and so I was happy booking us a special flight for the way home. Thankfully, SWISS and their wonderful staff helped to make our time together even better than expected.
Have you ever flown SWISS business class? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Disclosure: 10xTravel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. 10xTravel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.