Reviews

Review: SWISS Airbus A320 business class (Zurich-London)

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, February 18 2019
SWISS Airbus A320 business class (Zurich-London)
Route

Zurich - London (Heathrow)

Aircraft Type

Airbus A320

Airline

SWISS

Flight

LX338

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

2A (window)

Notes
The Good
  • A guaranteed empty seat next to you for extra elbow room
  • Choice of lounges at Zurich Airport
The Bad
  • You're still travelling in an economy seat
  • No charging ports
The Unexpected
  • You're flying from Switzerland, so save room for the Swiss chocolate (with Champagne, of course)
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

With most parts of Europe a good 24 hours of flying time from Australia's east coast, it's very common for Aussie travellers to visit more than one city when they've made such a journey, which can often mean a short flight in 'EuroBusiness' business class.

Found aboard SWISS' Airbus A320s and like most other European airlines, the EuroBusiness experience here includes just about everything you'd expect in 'normal' business class, except for an actual business class seat!

Australian Business Traveller took to the skies to put SWISS' Airbus A320 European business class to the test on a flight between two global financial hubs: Zurich and London.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: Miles & More, Star Alliance – a great frequent flyer program for European travellers given the unlimited lounge access perks offered at the Frequent Traveller (Silver) tier.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x8kg bags up to 118cm each, or 126cm for foldable garment bags.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 2x32kg for all passengers.
  • Priority airport services: I found no queue at priority check-in, and priority security was a breeze. However, priority boarding was shambolic and not enforced (or laid out) particularly well, and although London's Heathrow Airport offers a fast-track facility for participating airlines, SWISS doesn't distribute passes for this, resulting in a 45-minute wait at UK passport control – prompting me to later enrol in the UK Registered Traveller scheme.

Lounge

With a multitude of lounges at Zurich Airport, the most conveniently-located for business class passengers is SWISS Business Lounge D, found after passport control for passengers jetting to the UK.

AusBT review: SWISS Business Lounge D, Zurich Airport

Unfortunately though, it's quite a small and hot space with limited dining options compared to the airline's other lounges here, so if you've arrived early, I'd instead suggest using the SWISS Business Lounge A, found after security screening but before outbound passport control.

While more commonly used by passengers travelling within the Schengen Area, London flyers – and other passengers departing from the D gates – can still stop by to enjoy the market hall food area...

... make use of the many working desks, or simply relax in a modern space, given the lounge was revamped in 2018.

Just leave Lounge A early enough to have your passport stamped, and either make a quick stop in Business Lounge D if there's still time, or proceed straight to your boarding gate.

AusBT review: SWISS Business Lounge A, Zurich Airport

Flight

SWISS operates seven daily non-stop return flights between Zurich and London Heathrow, scheduled throughout the day and with a travel time of just under two hours.

If you'd prefer to fly into London City Airport as opposed to Heathrow, the airline also offers 3-6 daily return flights from Zurich, including codeshare flights operated by Helvetic Airways.

Finally, if you have a burning desire to fly into London Gatwick, you can also connect with SWISS via Geneva, but we suspect most passengers from Zurich would simply take a non-stop option.

Seat

As with business class aboard SWISS' similar Airbus A321 jets, the A320 experience is much the same, which places business class passengers in what are otherwise economy class seats in a 3-3 layout...

... but with the middle seat blocked from sale in each group so that you don't have to sit directly next to anybody, making the layout more like 2-2. The extra space affords a little more elbow room...

... but given the chaos that was priority boarding – and arriving on the aircraft to find the overhead lockers in business class already full – the vacant middle seat proved a good place to store my cabin bag, without compromising my own legroom or having to gate-check it for collection after the flight:

Being a journey of just 110 minutes from gate to gate, I found the legroom and knee room ample, although the absence of USB or AC charging outlets was unfortunate...

... and as for storage beyond the empty middle seat and the pouch pictured above, there's a slot suited to reading material in the seatback...

... and below that, a standard tray table:

Don't fret if any of your personal items accidentally become stuck within the literature pocket – when you open the table, there's easy access to everything inside, even if you can't reach it via the opening at the top:

While Australian travellers are certainly spoiled when it comes to domestic business class, in Europe, SWISS' offering here matches the experience of most other airlines – such as Air France and Lufthansa, to name just a couple, and British Airways which is much the same but with the simple addition of a cocktail table over the empty seat.

Meal

Welcoming travellers on board was a bottle of water and a refresher towelette...

... with dinner served after take-off, being a chilled salad with bread, cheeses, and a 'strawberries and cream' dessert, with brownie bits:

On the side, a glass of Champagne – Duval-Leroy Brut NV...

... and later in the flight, a local chocolate, as you'd expect when flying from Switzerland!

Just be aware that no meal choices are provided – you simply give a yes/no to the meal service when asked – so vegetarians are best-advised to pre-order a special meal, otherwise there won't be a suitable main course on board.

Entertainment & Service

On short flights within Europe, most full service airlines don't provide any form of fixed inflight entertainment – although on this leg, SWISS at least had something on the screen...

... but not finding children's cartoons particularly interesting, I reverted to my own device, and stored it on the tray table in the vacant middle seat, keeping my own tray vacant for the meal:

Service on this flight was friendly and prompt, with passengers addressed by name and cabin announcements made in both German and English.

However, I would have appreciated the crew keeping the business class overhead lockers closed at boarding time – as I've experienced on other SWISS flights – to avoid those lockers becoming full of other passengers' belongings when many business class travellers were still to arrive, on what was a full flight.

Also read: SWISS Airbus A321 business class (Rome-Zurich)

Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Star Alliance and SWISS.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

alyopsis

alyopsis

02 Aug 2018

Total posts 15

That meat in the salad .... looks like devon

marcellinus

marcellinus

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 3

I don't think I would give that meal 3.5 stars for a business class fare... even if the champagne was decent (not sure if it is or not).

Fonga

Fonga

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 227

Looks like Jetstar with a glass of bubbles.

jch

jch

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 52

This comment made me laugh out loud at my work desk...

QFP1

QFP1

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 44

Sadly this is the reality of 'business class' on most European flights, when you look at what we have in Australia you have to admit we have it pretty good!

PK

PK

03 May 2012

Total posts 113

Sigh...If an airline is so concerned with flexibility in the ratio of J to Y, what is so hard about a half decent convertible seat? Not as good as a dedicated business seat, but much better than this rubbish.

jch

jch

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 52

I'll be taking this flight in the back of the plane this coming Easter, looks like I won't be missing out on much for a two hour flight. Will still get lounge access with A* gold.

Did they seem to be strict with carry-on luggage? I've got the cheapest ticket to take on a small wheelie but can still pay extra if I want to avoid the risk of a confrontation at the gate.

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2917

I didn't see any cabin baggage enforcement at the boarding gate, but this could well be undertaken at check-in.

Instead, they were focused on double-checking that the passengers boarding this London-bound flight were admissible for entry into the UK before reaching the aerobridge, by checking the type of passport against a long list of passports eligible for visa-free entry, for those who were neither UK/EU/EEA citizens and who didn't have a UK visa.

Took them about a minute to confirm my Australian passport was eligible for UK entry (as perhaps they don't see a lot of them for that flight), but no problems boarding.

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

It certainly looks like maintaining a gold status in Europe for the lounges, service on the ground etc, but certainly not worth forking out for "business" class across any of the carriers.

Ourmanin

Ourmanin

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 61

Completely agree. I fly a fair bit intra Europe and unless someone else is paying I would never bother with Biz. Same seat as economy and the prices on biz to Zurich and Geneva can be very high. Status gets you lounges and priority boarding so that’s ok for me. Interestingly a couple of times flying BA to Geneva I’ve actually found biz class seats being sold at the same price as economy. Here’s hoping that Aer Lingus new biz seats intra Europe may start a step up in quality. But for flights of 2-3 hours it’s not the end of the world.

jonom

jonom

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 May 2011

Total posts 35

The only note worthy point here is to BYO device with The Cleveland Show pre loaded

alenb

alenb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

14 Feb 2014

Total posts 32

why bother, really?

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Looks rather unimpressive. Not much better than JQ.

Why fly on a short intra-Europe trip like this when European rail travel offers such a compelling alternative, in this case a seven hour scenic journey with far more creature comforts and the ability to easily move around, unlike on a cramped plane?

And with trains, one is conveyed between CBDs, and in most cases one doesn't have additional hassles such as long security lines or being treated like cattle as in the comment about 'chaos with priority boarding.'

This site would do well to recognise that very substantial numbers of European (and Asian) businessmen and women, and leisure travellers, choose rail over the airlines.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 79

If this style of business class is adopted with relative success in Europe, why isn't other continents following suit? Surprised the short-haul business class lasted this long, not that I'm unhappy about this.

Alistarch

Alistarch

29 Aug 2017

Total posts 17

I’ve flown Finnair business (Melbourne-Singapore/HK-Helsinki-London/Rome/Vienna) on their A320/321’s and the flights have been great. The first 3 rowss are reserved in business and you receive a hot meal (lunch) and booze, not a cold meat salad! Also or a majority of European business class seats are set up this way.

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 148

Eurobusiness works commercially for two reasons. 1. Almost all of the airlines flying it are the only full-service carrier operating out of their home country, so dominate business travel, with the main competition on routes being LCCs. 2. A good proportion of travellers in Eurobusiness are actually connecting to/from long haul flights in business class, so this isn't the main product they are concerned about 3. The flexibility in configuration means that pricing of Eurobusiness need only be 50% above economy, but often can be much less of a difference if economy is heavily sold and Eurobusiness is undersold in one direction.

I've paid for business on short haul in Europe when the difference is minor, but realistically for premium travel in Europe, those with money will fly on the numerous private jet operators.

dennis626

dennis626

sq

07 Aug 2015

Total posts 15

Good review Chris - thanks. A couple of questions please.

Did the full overhead lockers carry the notice that you pictured in the review you made on the a321 ROM-ZRH flight?

Have you had anyexperience with Helvetic airlines business class?

bl812

bl812

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 174

nearly all EU- carriers using the same seating for economy and business which is a disgrace but seems that people are put up with it the other day there was an article about S7 a Russian airline which have proper business class seatings and food to match even for domestic flights between DME-LED all eu carriers should be ashamed!

bl812

bl812

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 174

I flew this swiss as they sometimes offer an upgrade for around a 100 dollars for a one way in Europe destination-waste of money for sure The Kloten lounges were under reno so crammed into some other which had to walk miles and was mediocre to say the best-but bought a BUD-LIS-IST both ways via FRA on LH for around 800 dollars on business which is not much more than Y for the upcoming trip in October-better than elbowed by an another pax for sure

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