The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2018: Trip Planning
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge T3 SIN
SWISS Intl Airlines B77W Business Class SIN-ZRH
Cosmo Hotel Berlin
Westin Grand Berlin
The Intra-Europe Business Class Experience, 2018 Edition
Turkish Airlines A330 Business Class IST-AMM
Sheraton Amman Al Nabil
Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge AMM
Egypt Air B737 Business Class AMM-CAI-NBO
Tribe Hotel Nairobi
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class NBO-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B787 Business Class ADD-GRU
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport
Avianca Brasil A330 Business Class GRU-SCL
San Cristobal Tower Santiago
Air Canada B77W Business Class SCL-YYZ
Air Canada Express E175 Business Class YYZ-BOS
United Airlines B757 First Class BOS-SFO
W San Francisco
United Airlines B77W Polaris Business Class SFO-NRT
ANA B787 Business Class NRT-SIN
The fun with SWISS actually starts way before boarding. If you call up your booking before flying, you’ll see various options, like the possibility of buying a special surprise for that special someone onboard (or yourself, if you’re the type who cries him/herself to sleep each night)
Needless to say everything is extremely overpriced and you’d be much better off buying it in a store and presenting it onboard yourself. Take the champagne for example. It’s a Duval-Leroy, hardly an aspirational brand and one you could get for maybe $50 if you found it on sale. You’ll pay $81 if you want SWISS to have it waiting for you when you board (it’s their default business class champagne anyway, so one assumes they simply cater another bottle).
On the plus side, the same portal also lets you download up to 6 magazines and newspapers to your laptop before you fly, for free.
The selection is huge, and what you see below is just a small sample:
You can download and save them as PDFs on your computer. I’m amazed, I thought there’d be some stupid DRM or that it’d require some annoying spyware installing proprietary reader to open, but no. It’s yours, free and clear.
When it comes to seat selection, SWISS has correctly deduced that the throne seats on its new 77Ws are the holy grail, and has made it so that only HON Circle members can select them in advance. Everyone else needs to pay $269 if they want to pre-select the throne seat.
However, at the T-48 mark all seats in the cabin open up. This catches a lot of people off guard because online check-in only opens up at the T-24 mark. Fortunately I’d done my research, and at the T-48 dot logged in to grab the throne seat 9A.
After my exploits in the Terminal 3 Silver Kris lounge, I took the skytrain back to Terminal 2, which dropped me very close to the F50-60 gates. It was just a short walk to F53 where my first ever SWISS experience was waiting.
As everyone knows, T1, 2 and 3 at Changi Airport operate security screening at the gate. There are pros and cons of this, and one con is that it means everyone regardless of cabin class gets into the same line (versus centralized security screening where there’s usually a special queue for premium cabin travelers). But this is the first time I’ve seen an airline specially demarcate a lane for premium cabin travelers at Changi.
Boarding was called, and I raced down the jetway to try and snap cabin shots before things got too crowded.
Even though SWISS is using a much higher density business class configuration than other airlines, I have to say I love the cabin styling. Do note that not every seat has aisle access though- if you’re on the side in a non throne seat you will have to step over someone to get to the aisle.
The seats have privacy wings with wooden finishes that provide shielding from the aisle.
But it’s the throne seat that everyone is really lusting after. Not only do you have two armrests to yourself, you also have a ton of storage space.
I’m not kidding about the orgy of storage space in the throne seat. For example, you had this huge slide out storage locker in the arm panel near the aisle that could easily store a laptop charger, a small tablet, your glasses, water bottle, you name it.
On the other side, you had more stowage space large enough to fit a regular sized laptop. The sign said no stowage during TTL, but the crew didn’t care.
By your legs there was a slide down panel that revealed- you guessed it, more space.
Under the IFE screen there was also a small storage slot, not that I really knew what it was there for.
Each seat has a clothes hanger attached to it. I thought it was clever that they put the seat number on the hanger too. This avoids the need for the flight crew to take your boarding pass when they take your coat, as is the case on SQ.
Down by your legs was a single power outlet and USB charging slot.
Seat controls were in the right armrest. The annoying thing? There were only preset buttons, no manual adjustments. I thought that was a huge omission. If you wanted to get just the seatback to recline a bit more, you’d have to fiddle with the presets and time your pressing just right.
Within the armrest you’d find buttons to adjust lumbar support, change the firmness of the seat cushion and turn on the massage function. And the IFE controller too, which was touchscreen.
I need to say a few words about SWISS’s amenities kit because I thought it was an interesting concept. It wasn’t the most luxurious of affairs, no branded amenities here at all. But it was ingenious in that during the winter seasons, the amenities are provided within a neck warmer that you can later wear outside. It’s good branding for SWISS, plus it’s something that passengers will have genuine use for later on. There was also a SWISS beanie. The lipbalm, toothbrush, earplugs and eyemask are all disposable stuff, but I have to applaud SWISS for thinking out of the box when it came to using the amenities kit as a chance for branding even after the flight.
The crew came around with pre-departure drinks of orange juice, water and champagne. They weren’t the friendliest crew I’d ever seen, but they got the job done efficiently. German DNA, I suppose.
It was really pelting down outside and we hadn’t budged from our gate, more than 40 minutes after the flight was scheduled to depart. The captain came on the PA to tell us that Changi had closed all but one runway, so we’d be holding here for a while.
While waiting I checked out the IFE. SWISS doesn’t have the largest selection, but there were still some first run movies like Dunkirk
In the end we took to the skies nearly 70 minutes behind schedule. A lot of passengers were connecting through Zurich and some of them missed their connections because of this- when we disembarked from the plane I saw the ground crew ready with replacement boarding passes for these passengers on other connecting flights. Fortunately, I still had adequate time to catch my flight to Berlin.
The crew passed out menus after takeoff, which featured gorgeous photos of the Swiss Alps.
Here’s the selection for dinner
Here’s the drinks list, if anyone’s interested
The table was set up with a table cloth, but everything was served on a tray. I know people have mixed feelings about seeing trays in premium cabins, but I didn’t really care.
The starter of scallops with salsa verde was passable, if not amazing. I thought most airlines try to avoid serving food that results in body odors such as red onion, so was surprised to see a heap of them adorning this dish.
For the main I went with the baked cod, wild rice and shiitake mushroom. I guess this was supposed to be the Asian option on the flight, but the use of wild rice struck me as odd for such a dish.
Dessert was a simple chocolate mousse.
I certainly didn’t find the catering to be one of the highlights of the flight, and meal service was extremely slow. On late night flights like this crews usually rush to get everyone fed and into bed as soon as possible, but it was close to the 3 hour mark after takeoff before everything, including post meal coffee/tea and pralines, was finished.
I visited the bathroom to wash up before sleeping. I really like the sinks that SWISS has installed on its 77Ws.
As well as their bountiful amenities. They had containers overflowing with facial moisturizer.
As well as plenty of wet tissues in sealed packets.
The crew had left water bottles at everyone’s seats after meal service.
The SWISS seat transforms into a fully flat, rather long bed. I was disappointed they didn’t provide any mattress pad or anything more than a rather thin blanket.
The problem with seats in a staggered configuration is that sometimes you find your legroom really restricted. No such problems here, but don’t take my word for it. Check out this space (and hairy legs).
I slept well, really well, in spite of the lack of a mattress pad. Remember that you can adjust the firmness of the seat with the controls in your armrest. By the time I woke up we were within 2 hours of our destination.
The flight had Wi-Fi, but the packages were the pricey volume based ones. One annoyance I encountered was that once you logged out, you didn’t seem to be able to continue with your existing package, even when you logged back in. The system wasn’t registering you had a package with unconsumed data, and insisted that you bought a new one.
Before breakfast came around I stole into the galley to see the snack basket. There were bottles of water, cups of instant oatmeal, fruit snacks, cereal bars and ricola sweets. Hardly Christmas.
Here’s the breakfast selection. SWISS starts serving this about 90 minutes out, and the food is served from a communal trolley that is brought through the cabin.
You could pick as many or as few items as you wanted. I went with a fruit selection, cheese plate, some bread and an Indonesian noodle dish.
The noodles weren’t half bad- they even had some part of a yam cake on top of them.
We ended up getting into Zurich about an hour late, which meant it was a quick jog to the next gate to catch my connecting flight.
I did have pretty high expectations coming into this SWISS flight, but I think I sum it up best when I say SWISS reminded me of a Lufthansa flight with a better seat. The crew were professional, but not particularly hospitable. The food was forgettable, there barely any snack menu to speak of and although it was a good flight, it definitely won’t be playing up there with the ANAs and the SQs anytime soon. On the plus side, I found the seat very comfortable for sleeping (although the inability to do anything other than pre-set lounging positions was annoying) and I did like the overall design of the cabin.
SWISS doesn’t really release a lot of award space, but based on my experience if you see business class seats available I wouldn’t think it’s a must try product.