SWISS A340 Business Class Review

Swiss Airbus A340 at Zurich Airport
Swiss Airbus A340 at Zurich Airport. Photo: Matt Graham.

Part of the Lufthansa Group and a Star Alliance member, Zurich-based Swiss International Air Lines (or SWISS, as it brands itself) operates long-haul flights to destinations across Asia, North America, South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Although SWISS doesn’t fly to Australia, it does offer some great value round-the-world fares starting and ending in Australia. These fares use other airlines (such as Qantas or Singapore Airlines) for the flights between Australia and Asia, South Africa or North America, with connections to, from and within Europe on SWISS. You’ll also often find award availability on the Swiss national carrier when redeeming miles with a Star Alliance airline (such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles).

In this review, I’ll share with you my SWISS Business Class experience on an overnight flight from Singapore to Zurich in March 2022.

For its long-haul flights, SWISS uses a fleet of Airbus A330, Airbus A340 and Boeing 777 aircraft. I recently experienced SWISS Business Class on an older Airbus A340-300, but the Business Class seats on all of the airline’s long-haul fleet have the same basic design.

Flight Details

Flight number LX177
Route Singapore (SIN) to Zurich (ZRH)
Aircraft type Airbus A340-300
Class of travel Business
Seat number 11K
On-time performance We arrived on time
Star rating 4 stars out of 5

The route

LX177 route map

Flight Cost

I paid for this flight as part of a round-the-world ticket.

If you were to buy a Business Class ticket individually from Singapore to Zurich, prices start from around AUD4,080 return or AUD4,305 one-way. (Yes, it is more expensive to buy a one-way ticket!)

SWISS also sells fares from Australia to Europe via Singapore, with flights between Australia and Singapore operated by a partner airline, from around AUD6,300 in Business Class. You may be able to get a cheaper price by booking a flight to a final destination outside of Switzerland (via Zurich), with an optional free stopover in Zurich.

Airport Experience

Singapore’s Changi Airport has been consistently voted as one of the best in the world for a reason. It’s well designed and passing through this airport is just so easy!

After reading about JessicaTam’s recent experience in Singapore, I knew to expect that the airport would be quieter than usual. Many of the duty-free shops were also closed, although there were still some people around.

Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in March 2022
Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in March 2022. Photo: Matt Graham.

Possibly the busiest place in the whole airport was the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, which SWISS Business Class passengers have access to.

Currently, Singapore Airlines is sending everyone who is entitled to Star Alliance lounge access to this one lounge (there is a separate roped off area for First Class passengers). This meant it was absolutely packed between around 9.30pm and 11.15pm, when a majority of the evening flights to Europe started boarding.

The SWISS flight to Zurich doesn’t depart until 1.55am, and the lounge did get a lot quieter and more peaceful (other than the bloke lying down across a bench and snoring very loudly!) as the departure time drew closer.

Evening crowding aside, the newly-refurbished Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge is excellent. It’s a long, narrow lounge with lots of different seating areas, clean showers, buffet food and a well-appointed cocktail bar that’s open until 1am. (Wine, beer and spirits, including Jacquart champagne, were also available for self-service.)

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge in Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge in Singapore. Photo: Matt Graham.

There were also lots of different types of food to choose from which were freshly prepared to order. These included Singaporean classics like laksa and dim sum, as well as Indian, vegetarian, Western and kids’ meals.

Selection of food at the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge in Singapore
Selection of food and a Singapore Sling at the SilverKris Lounge in Singapore. Photo: Matt Graham.

As usual at Changi Airport, security was done right at the boarding gate. Boarding commenced on time and priority boarding was properly enforced.

The Hard Product

On the Airbus A340, SWISS Business Class is laid out in an alternating configuration with a 1-2-1 layout in every second row, and 2-2-1 in the other rows. Seating is staggered, with the window seats in every second row directly by a window or aisle. The footwell of the seat behind is to the side of your seat.

These seats are more or less identical to the Finnair A330 or Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class seats.

Swiss A340 Business Class seat
Swiss A340 Business Class seat. Photo: Matt Graham.

I was seated in 11K, one of the solo window seats on the right side of the plane situated directly next to a window. This seat was great for privacy, had direct aisle access and offered a good view out the window.

The most prized seats are the single “throne” seats on the left side of the plane – which SWISS charges extra to select.

There was a large in-flight entertainment screen at each seat. Underneath this was the footwell where you could place your legs when the seat was fully reclined into a lie-flat bed.

In-flight entertainment screen and footwell in SWISS A340 Business Class
In-flight entertainment screen and footwell in SWISS A340 Business Class. Photo: Matt Graham.

There was a little bit of in-seat storage available under the entertainment screen and in the side console.

The seat itself was reasonably comfortable and made a good bed, although it did feel a bit narrow when the seat was fully reclined. I also felt a mattress topper for the seat and a better pillow would have improved the sleep quality (see below for more on the amenities provided to Business Class passengers on this flight).

The in-flight entertainment was fine, although the content library certainly wouldn’t compete against the comprehensive offerings on the likes of Emirates or Singapore Airlines.

In-flight wifi was available for a fee, although it’s hard to see how anyone would justify paying the outrageous prices SWISS charges! (In case you’re wondering, CHF9 = AUD13.)

Ouch: SWISS in-flight wifi prices
Ouch: SWISS in-flight wifi prices.

CHF59 (~AU$87) for 220MB of internet is not exactly what I would call a good deal! For less than that price, other airlines would provide you with unlimited internet access for the entire flight.

However, there is another option. I happen to have a free Boingo wifi hotspot access account through my 28 Degrees Mastercard credit card (which is also free). Using my Boingo login details I was able to access the wifi for no cost.

You can log into the SWISS in-flight wifi with a Boingo account
You can log into the SWISS in-flight wifi with a Boingo account.

The only other thing worth mentioning about the “hard product” is that there were only two toilets for the entire 47-seat Business cabin. At one point, I was waiting so long that I wandered down to use an Economy toilet instead.

The Soft Product

When I boarded, there was a pillow and blanket waiting at my seat. A pair of noise-cancelling headphones and, as something a bit different, a coat hanger were also provided.

One thing that surprised me was that I did not receive an amenity kit.

I can’t remember my last long-haul Business Class flight where I didn’t receive an amenity kit. I know SWISS used to provide these in long-haul Business Class, so I’m not sure if this is because they ran out, the crew simply forgot, or perhaps these kits have been one of the many victims of COVID-induced cost-cutting? Either way, I couldn’t find an amenity kit at my seat and was never handed one by the cabin crew.

Before takeoff, the cabin crew offered a choice of pre-departure champagne or the airline’s signature soda drink, and handed out printed menus.

Pre-departure champagne in SWISS Business Class
Pre-departure champagne in SWISS Business Class. Photo: Matt Graham.

One of these menus contained the dinner choices and drinks list, while the other was a breakfast order card to be filled out and handed back to the crew.

This was the dinner menu:

Dinner menu on LX177.
Dinner menu on LX177.

And the drinks list:

Swiss Business Class drinks list (excluding wine).
Swiss Business Class drinks list (excluding wine).

A range of Swiss and international wines were also listed on the menu, including Duval-Leroy Brut champagne.

This was the breakfast menu:

Breakfast menu card on LX177
Breakfast menu card on LX177.

As the flight departed at 1.55am, I was quite keen to quickly eat after take-off and then go to sleep.

The cabin crew were friendly, professional and doing their absolute best, but it was quite clear that there were just not enough of them to efficiently serve a relatively full Business cabin. I was sitting towards the back of the cabin and it took around 75 minutes after takeoff before I was served any food. (This would be less of a problem on a day flight.)

Once the food arrived, it was very good. I chose the smoked salmon starter and beef main course – both were delicious – which came with bread and a cheese plate. I was particularly impressed that the beef steak was not overcooked – it was nice and tender, which is difficult to achieve on a plane!

Dinner on LX177
Dinner on LX177 was served on a single tray.

Once I’d finished, the flight attendant was quick to offer dessert and more drinks. The cheesecake dessert was superb.

Swiss Business Class dessert
Dessert: White chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis.

I wasn’t sitting anywhere near the bulkhead, but I scored the unlucky coincidence of having two infants (not related to each other) in the same row! One of them kept crying and yelling throughout the night. My earplugs (which I brought myself – the airline did not provide these) blocked out some of the noise, but I was still woken a few times. This is obviously not the airline’s fault.

There were snacks like chips and instant noodles available during the middle of the flight, but I didn’t need anything.

I slept on and off until around 2 hours from landing. The breakfast service commenced shortly afterwards, starting with the Bircher muesli, pastries and drinks that I had ordered earlier in the flight. The espresso coffee was from a Nespresso pod machine and tasted great.

Breakfast on LX177
Breakfast begins on LX177. Photo: Matt Graham.

This was followed by the “Swiss breakfast”:

Breakfast finishes off with a traditional Swiss breakfast of cold meat, cheese and bread
Breakfast finishes off with a traditional Swiss breakfast of cold meat, cheese and bread. Photo: Matt Graham.

The famous Swiss chocolates were handed out during the descent.

Arrival Experience

We arrived at the very nice Zurich Airport on time and there was barely any queue for immigration, even though several other international flights landed at the same time.

After almost two years of having to fill out complicated forms just to travel to another Australian state, it was a very pleasant surprise that the only thing I needed to enter Switzerland was my COVID-19 vaccination certificate. There are no more forms, no COVID tests… nothing.

On the ground in Switzerland, most COVID-19 restrictions except for face masks on public transport have now been removed as well. Spring is coming, people are happy and nobody’s really talking about COVID. Life in Switzerland is pretty good right now!

SWISS Airbus A340 Business Class
  • Airport Experience
  • Hard Product
  • Soft Product
4

Final thoughts

Overall, SWISS provides a solid long-haul Business Class product with comfortable seats, excellent food and friendly Swiss cabin crew. I would be happy to fly with them again. But there are some areas for improvement, and some of the recent coronavirus cost-cutting measures are noticeable.

 

You can leave a comment on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

Community Comments

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I'd be interested in learning a little more about your RTW ticket. How much did the full ticket cost? Were you able to book it online? Or did you have to use a TA? Was there any reason you chose a Swiss RTW ticket over, say, a Finnair RTW ticket?

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I'd be interested in learning a little more about your RTW ticket. How much did the full ticket cost? Were you able to book it online? Or did you have to use a TA? Was there any reason you chose a Swiss RTW ticket over, say, a Finnair RTW ticket?

Sure.

My full routing is CBR-xSYD-xSIN-ZRH-LJU/LIS-VIE-IAD-xLAX-xMEL-CBR and the price was around $6,800 in business class. This is not a ticket you can book online - I used a travel agent.

I didn't use this agency, but Roundabout Travel has some info about this Swiss RTW ticket on its website - SWISS Business Class Global Fare | RoundAbout Travel

The Finnair RTW ticket is also a great option. In this case, Swiss just worked better for my trip and I wanted to earn some United PQPs/PQFs so chose to go with Star Alliance rather than Oneworld.

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Thanks so much, really helpful!

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This isn't a 'true' 1-2-1 layout so off my list.

The European airlines by and large seem to have inferior seat layouts to some Asian airlines.

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Thanks for the Roundabout link, fares on rtw business seems to be good bargains and will try them in future..

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