Zurich - London (Heathrow)
- A guaranteed empty seat next to you for extra elbow room
- Choice of lounges at Zurich Airport
- You're still travelling in an economy seat
- No charging ports
- You're flying from Switzerland, so save room for the Swiss chocolate (with Champagne, of course)
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.
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Star Alliance and SWISS.