Review: Swiss Business Class on B777-300ER from Sao Paulo to Zurich
My review: Swiss Air Lines Business Class on the Boing 777-300ER from São Paulo Guarulhos Airport to Zürich, Switzerland includes the Star Alliance lounge before departure, the flight, service, product, and the Swiss business lounge during my layover. This is a fantastic product that I would fly again any time. Let’s take a look.
I booked through Singapore Airlines for a few reasons. First, they have a friendly change policy of just $50, and I knew my itinerary was subject to change. Additionally, Singapore accepts miles from every transfer partner possible, so it’s a great airline for when you have miles that you need to add up to book a reward. However, in my case, I had some orphaned miles in my Singapore account that I wanted to use after we transferred them in previously but wound up booking elsewhere.
Looking on Singapore’s website, I could go through Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and save an hour. I wasn’t thrilled about the online reviews of this flight’s seats (2-3-2 is an odd layout for business class), but I was excited to check out the new Istanbul IST airport. However, $200 extra in taxes pushed me to the Swiss/Lufthansa booking.
I paid $94.30 in taxes plus a $44 positioning flight to São Paulo GRU airport, since Singapore doesn’t partner with Azul and has ended their partnership with troubled Avianca Brazil. This routing took an hour longer than Turkish but saved $200. My overall value in the booking was 8.9 cents per point, so I was excited about that.
If you need to transfer in points to Singapore, know that times can be anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days, depending on what you’re sending them, and they won’t put awards on hold for anything that isn’t a Singapore flight. Here’s the transfer partners master list of information.
Swiss Air Lines Business Check-in at GRU São Paulo
Check-in was flawless. Smooth, friendly, simple – everything I desire in a check-in process. There was 1 person in front of me. Staff checked my bag quickly, and I was on my way. 5 minutes tops from the time I entered the line until I was walking away from the counter with my boarding pass.
Review: Star Alliance Lounge at GRU São Paulo
This is easily the busiest and most crowded lounge at the international terminal. It’s a Priority Pass lounge as well as receiving traffic for all of the business and first class passengers from Star Alliance. There were numerous Star Alliance flights around the same time as mine, plus the Priority Pass visitors, so the lounge was quite packed. This photo is just 1 of the 3 main rooms, and most of them were full of people or marked with bags for people who were taking a shower or getting food.
They offer showers for a charge, but all of the food and drinks are free. There are multiple types of seats offered, including lounge chairs for relaxation in a quiet area. Tons of sockets around the lounge let everyone recharge their devices, and moveable tray tables on chairs plus numerous tables let you work on your laptop.
There are tons of options for drinks – everything from coffee and espresso to alcohol, soft drinks, and mixed drinks. The food offerings are decent, but nothing exotic. There’s a pasta bar and salad bar, and I went for this. The foods were fresh, stocked well, and tons of employees were cleaning, refilling, and helping. The service was good and handled the huge number of passengers well.
Review: Swiss Business Class on B777-300ER
I’ll start with the summary: wow. This is a fantastic hard product (“hard” meaning what can be physically touched). The soft product (“soft” meaning service) left something to be desired. Let’s take a look.
Boarding was quite odd. First class rows 1-3 had their own jetway, then everyone else had a separate jetway. Putting business and first on the first jetway would’ve sped things up immensely.
When booking online, I would’ve paid $200 to choose the seat I was able to choose for free during check-in online 24 hours before the flight. In business class, some rows are 1-2-1, and some rows are 2-2-2. The “1” seats have extra space, obviously. During booking, these seats are available to platinum members or anyone willing to pay $200. During check-in the night before, these opened up. If traveling solo, this is the seat I recommend. You have 2 people’s worth of space for yourself.
First class was rows 1-3, a service area, then business class rows 4-5, then a service area before more business class. With only 2 rows of people to create noise around you, I found this the best area for booking. It was really quiet when I wanted to sleep, since we had a mini-section of only 2 rows, 10 seats, but only 7 people. 5A and 5K looked like the best seats in the house.
Review: Swiss business class hard product
Tons of space. I got a bunch of work done and never felt like I had a hard time deciding where to put my things. Lots of storage space here. It also has a lap AND shoulder belt, and the shoulder belt is required for take off and landing.
The single seats have footrests going under the divider between the 2 seats in the row in front. Rows with 2 seats behind 2 seats are staggered to the left and to the right in an offset layout for foot space.
There’s a small storage area under the TV, but it’s impractical for anything more than your passport and small items.
There’s a space for your shoes, and the door goes up and down for additional storage space.
Along the aisle, I had a reading lamp, personalized hangar if I had a jacket to give to the flight attendants, headphones, and a bottle of water.
Inside this case was my tray table. Push the button for it to slide out, lay it down, then unfold it for full size.
Behind the tray table is more storage that slides out and then locks away.
A reading lamp also folds out.
The amenity kit had your standard items. The socks were really red.
Personal Entertainment System & Seat Controls
Inside my left arm rest was the remote for the personal entertainment system. It’s a touchscreen, pops out for easy use, and also has buttons for video game controls. The bottom of the left arm rest had a universal adapter for plugs of all types plus a USB charger.
The screen size on the TV is quite good, and the quality is great.
There are also additional seat controls in this area, as well. I found the massage system quite…lacking. I kept wondering if it was still on or not, which tells you it wasn’t doing much.
The bathroom was kept clean and was well stocked. The bathroom was behind my row and before the larger business class section. Lotion, face cream, and even toothbrushes & toothpaste were available for use.
When I slept, the bed was long enough to never feel cramped. I also had a ton of space by not having a passenger next to me. The hard product is 9/10 and would be a 10 if the massage feature were improved or just removed altogether, rather than offering something that I questioned whether it was on or not.
Review: Swiss business class soft product
When I boarded, I was immediately impressed with service, but this first impression didn’t last. The flight attendants knew your nationality and greeted you in your language when you took your seat. They knew I was from the US and spoke to me in English. Another man had an Austrian passport, and they greeted him in German. However, the 2 people in front of me were Brazilian, and they didn’t have anyone who could speak Portuguese working in business class. None. That absolutely blew my mind, and it made for a bad experience for this couple. I’d be really annoyed if this were my flight experience after paying that much money.
Menus were in English, German & French. They did find someone who could speak a bit of Spanish to try to talk to this couple, but not having the language of the starting location of the flight (they did offer announcements in Portuguese) to serve in business class made for rough times for this couple. I wound up translating for them to order their meals.
The menu was extensive. Being an overnight flight, we had dinner and then breakfast about 90 minutes before arrival. While economy passengers were boarding, we filled out our breakfast choices and could mark whether we wanted woken up or not during breakfast.
Meal options for your convenience
The menu also had a “fast” meal option, where you’d get pre-selected items, all served together without multiple courses, so you could eat fast then sleep more.
Dinner was mostly good, but there were problems with staff again. I received my starters and enjoyed them. Nothing special, but it was good. My flight attendant disappeared, and a man I hadn’t seen before replaced her. He saw I was finished eating, took away my plates, silverware and napkin, and I thought the meal was over. I felt the meal was small and lacked a hot plate.
20 minutes later, a 3rd person showed up with a hot plate of food for me. He was shocked to find my tray table put away, and they had to go round up a place setting for me. There was no communication, and this could be better by just 1 person taking care of my meal service OR by some kind of communication about where people were at in their meals.
The hot plate was decent, but again nothing special. None of the food gave me a “wow”.
I was woken by the flight attendant for breakfast, as I’d requested. Again, the food ranks as “decent”. There was nothing in any of my meals that I couldn’t whip up in 5-10 minutes at home.
My first flight attendant (the female) became confused at some point during the flight and when she came around to thank us for flying with Swiss, she was speaking to me in German and to the Brazilian couple in French. There was a lot of confusion about what was happening. I understood this was the “hope you had a great flight” moment, but this cements my review of the service as “great first impression, not great overall”. Soft product is a solid 5/10 for being impressively mediocre.
Review: Swiss business lounge in Zürich ZRH
I shouldn’t have visited this lounge, but a delay in setting up the jetway and a tight connection (45min) meant that my best running through the airport still wasn’t enough. They had closed the door on my flight to Frankfurt and bumped me to a flight an hour later. Off to the lounge.
The lounge is extremely spacious, and the design is excellent. Tons of food and beverage offerings, including an omelette station, plus espresso machines, tons of cold and hot dishes to choose from – great offerings.
They used a boarding pass scanner for entry to the lounge, and another scanner pops out a wifi password for lounge visitors.
I was still full from breakfast on the flight, so I grabbed an orange juice (which I’d just watched a woman squeeze) and headed to the “quiet area” to relax. The quiet area had several dividers to break up the already minimal noise, keeping it super quiet. I’d definitely rate this lounge as superior to the Star Alliance lounge at GRU. Wider range of offerings plus a better quiet area put it a cut above.
Final thoughts on Swiss Business Class
This was a product I was really excited to check out. The pictures I’d seen in advance looked incredible, and the hard product lived up to – maybe exceeded – the hype. The sheer amount of space I had at my seat was the most I’ve ever had on any flight in business class. Other than the lackluster massage feature (which isn’t a “must”), the hard product was amazing.
The soft product could do with several improvements.
- Offer the language of the starting airport (I’m sure they had this in economy, why not business?) to give all customers a good experience
- Drastically improve staff communication for the meal service to not have issues
- Find the source of the issue and then fix that for the “goodbye” talk from the flight attendant. Ex: Did she just wake up and was confused? Create a cheat sheet.
I’m actually not hard to please on a flight. If the flight attendant brings my meal, says hello, and smiles, I’ll consider that good service. I don’t need my hand held. However, the service / soft product was not impressive at all and doesn’t match what I had expected in advance. “Mediocre” is the only word for it.
Would I fly Swiss business class again? Absolutely, especially if I can get the solo chair flying solo or could take the 2 seats and bring my wife next time. The hard product is fantastic. I highly recommend flying Swiss business class, despite the service issues.
Overall review: Swiss business class has a fantastic hard product and “meh” soft product.