Swiss’ all-new premium economy class will take to the skies from late 2021 aboard a fleet of upgraded Boeing 777-300ER jets bound for Asia, the USA, Canada and South America.
As is the norm for this ‘better than economy’ class, Swiss’ premium economy will offer more comfort and privacy, a wider range of inflight cuisine and a more generous baggage allowance.
Swiss is the last airline in the Lufthansa Group to slot premium economy between business class and economy class, although this same seat will be adopted by Lufthansa alongside its new business class seat on forthcoming Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 jets.
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 Boeing 777’s economy seats are 43.4cm (~17”) wide.
Swiss’ premium economy seats have a pitch or spacing of 99cm (~39”), compared to 78.7cm (~31”) of pitch in economy, with a fold-out leg rest for added comfort.
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 a USB power outlet.
Swiss hasn’t mentioned the premium economy seats as including even a shared AC power outlet, which we certainly hope is a simple omission.
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.
The company behind Swiss’ premium economy seat is German seat manufacturer Zim – and specifically, this is Zim’s PC02 or ‘ZIMmagic+’ seat. Zim’s first-generation PC01 seat was chosen for Lufthansa’s original premium economy offering.
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 well Zim’s designers and engineers have done their job to ensure passenger comfort on those 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.
Just avoid seats 20A and 20K, which are close to a large bump in the door which contains the emergency slides.
Swiss’ premium economy cabin
The 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, neither the airline’s photos or seat map show any 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.
(This is currently offered to economy passengers at a ’reduced rate’ of 29 Swiss Francs “due to no availability of food and beverage” at the lounges.)
Swiss’ premium economy pricing
So how much extra should you expect to pay for Swiss’ Boeing 777-300ER premium economy experience?
The airline says that “in line with general market pricing,” premium economy will sit around 250-350 Swiss Francs higher than economy.
In common with the airline’s economy fares, Swiss premium economy will be available in Saver, Standard and Flex categories.
As a baseline, Executive Traveller checked pricing for Swiss’ Boeing 777 flights between Zurich and Singapore during mid-April 2022.
The difference between equivalent economy and premium economy fares varied from 320-400 Swiss Francs, which represented an increase of between 42% and 80% (the smallest gap was for flexible fares, with the largest for mid-range standard fares).
Swiss’ premium economy rollout and availability
Swiss will install premium economy only on its Boeing 777-300ER jets, and not the older Airbus A340 fleet.
The airline says the process of adding the new premium economy seats to the Boeing 777s (where they’ll replace the first four rows of economy seating) will begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, with all 12 of the Boeing 777s upgraded by April 2022.
While Swiss expects premium economy to be offered “from April 2022 on the entire Boeing 777-300ER route network”, it says that premium economy “may also be established sooner as a standard product on some of these routes” depending on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.