Swiss’ newest seat is “more premium than economy”

Expect greater legroom, more personal space and upgraded meals in the new 24-seat premium economy cabin.

By David Flynn, February 25 2022
Swiss’ newest seat is “more premium than economy”

Swiss’ all-new premium economy is here, and it also serves as a preview of the second-generation Lufthansa premium economy which will take to the skies from March 2022.

And the Star Alliance member airline is not shy about talking up the seat or the service, promising a “best-in-class air travel experience” built around “a top-quality standout product against our international competitors.”

So what can travellers expect? As is the norm for this ‘ better than economy’ class, Swiss’ premium economy offer more comfort and privacy, a wider range of inflight cuisine and a more generous baggage allowance: in short, the things which most people don’t like about travelling in economy.

Swiss’ premium economy seat

There are no real surprises in Swiss’ premium economy seat: if you’ve flown premium economy on any other major airline, you’ll know what to expect here.

Each Swiss premium economy seat measures between 46-48cm (~18-19”) wide: by comparison, the economy seats on the Boeing 777s (which will be the first Swiss jets upgraded to premium economy) are 43.4cm (~17”) wide.

Swiss’ premium economy seats have a pitch or spacing of 99cm (~39”), compared to 78.7cm (~31”) in economy, with a fold-out leg rest for added comfort, and are arranged in a 2-4-2 layout.

Other features include a 15.6” screen – a substantial upsizing from the 11” screens in economy, and in fact only slightly smaller than the 16” screens in business class – a personal reading lamp, and USB power.

The armrest between the seats contains a recessed pocket for storing a tablet or magazine, a water bottle holder and a shared cocktail table for drinks and snacks.

Swiss’ premium economy legroom

While all premium economy seats boast more legroom than economy, a unique touch in Swiss’ premium economy is that your legroom is ‘protected’ against the passenger in front reclining their seat.

That’s because the Swiss premium economy seat is housed in its own fixed ‘shell’, and it reclines within that housing rather than leaning back to encroach on the space available to the passenger behind.

This cradle-style recline can play havoc with your lower back if there’s insufficient lumbar support, although stuffing a pillow behind you is a quick but short-term fix – it remains to be seen how comfortable this particular seat is on long international flights, which for Swiss typically lasts around 12 hours and includes an overnight leg.

The Swiss’ premium economy seats with the most legroom will be found at row 20, the first row of the premium economy cabin, which shares its space with the Boeing 777’s main doors so you can really stretch out.

However, we'd favour seats 20B and 20J, as 20A and 20K suffer from slightly impinged room around the knees because they are adjacent to the exit.

Swiss’ premium economy cabin

The 24 premium economy seats are arranged in three rows with a 2-4-2 layout, compared to the 3-4-3 of economy class.

Here’s how that looks on SWISS’ Boeing 777-300ER seating chart:

While there’s a small gap between the last row of premium economy and the first row of economy, ther is no formal divider between the cabins – not even a thick curtain.

There are also no dedicated toilets for premium economy passengers, which means they’ll be sharing the four washrooms at the rear of the first economy cabin.

Swiss’ premium economy meals

Another popular premium economy strategy for airlines is to improve the meals and snacks served during the flight.

In the case of Swiss, the airline says premium economy passengers will be served an elderberry welcome drink and “be able to choose from three hot meals, all served on china tableware.”

It’s not made clear if that choice includes the same two hot meals as offered in economy class, one of which is a vegetarian dish supplied by Zurich’s famed Hiltl restaurant, which is the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant.

There’ll also be a third option inspired by the airline’s Taste of Switzerland program of meals based on seasonal and regional ingredients.

Swiss’ premium economy services and amenities

Beyond the seat itself, Swiss’ premium economy passengers will enjoy several ‘creature comforts’ intended to make their experience, well, just a little more premium and enjoyable.

You can check in two bags of up to 23kg each – twice the allowance for Swiss’ economy class – and also jump the queue with priority boarding.

At your seat will be an amenity kit manufactured from sustainable materials, and a pair of noise-reducing headphones.

Swiss also says that premium economy travellers will be offered reduced-rate access to its business class lounges at Zurich and Geneva, along with Zurich’s arrivals lounge.

Swiss’ premium rollout

Swiss will upgrade all 12 of its Boeing 777-300ER flagships to the new premium economy seat at a cost of US$43m.

The first route to see premium economy will be from Zurich to Miami from early March 2022; at the time of writing, San Francisco and Sao Paulo will follow in April, while premium economy will be available on all Boeing 777 routes by the end of May.