It’s pretty unusual to get to try an entirely new aeroplane type, the last one for me was about a year ago on a Finnair A350. However today was one of those days travelling back from Geneva to London on a Bombardier CS-100, operated by Swiss.
I’d just arrived from Abu Dhabi so after seven hours on an aeroplane was in need of a shower. Swiss provides no shower facilities for business class passengers at Geneva. This is poor. However the airport have showers available so paid the CHF15 fee.
The water pressure was excellent, however there’s no lavatory in the shower cubicles so do be aware.
The business class lounge was perfectly adequate for a short wait. There was a reasonable selection of nibbles, but nothing substantial for a meal. Some falafel bites, some crudités, sandwiches and soup. There was also an ok selection of alcohol including Prosecco enabling me to make an Aperol Spritz (I add a large splash of gin to mine).
The wifi was free and very fast too with a coupon given to you when checking into the lounge.
Soon it was time to head to the gate. The non-Schengen flights depart from two little glass huts in the middle of the apron, the B gates. It’s a five minute walk under the tarmac to where you then leave the Schengen area and wait in a glass rotunda.
Passports were checked before boarding by a ground services person, and one of the little stickers affixed to the back of your passport. However on boarding the ground agent didn’t seem to look for this.
Boarding started a little late, due to the aircraft arriving late, however didn’t take too long.
The cabin is narrower than an Airbus or Boeing that we’re all used to with 2-3 seating, like the MD-80s and DC-9s that Swissair used to fly many years ago. The overhead bins are also different in that they open downwards but are surprisingly roomy.
Seat pitch is noticeably tight. They are slimline seats, but there’s still not a lot of room. The seats are also different from the normal ultra-slimline seats in use across most European airlines in that the tray table drops down from a single central stalk, as opposed to being secured by two arms at the edges. That meant there were two little seat pockets which were essentially useless.
There were multiple overhead LCD screens displaying the safety video and later on in the flight, the moving map. These seemed too small and could imagine anyone with poor eyesight would have issues seeing them correctly. In any event, the audio didn’t work correctly on the safety video so the crew had to resort to a manual demonstration.
Oh, the crew. 😍
On the ground, we were offered a bottle of mineral water and a towel wipe. We then taxied out and took off. One thing that was very noticeable about the CS-100 was the air-conditioning white noise. The engines themselves seemed no louder than any other short-haul aircraft, but the air-conditioning was. I’m a big fan of the A350 and A380 over the B787 for this reason as I think Boeing dropped the ball on this particular aspect of cabin comfort. Well, they’re still substantially ahead of Bombardier. If you’re going to fly these with any regularity, make sure you invest in a set of Bose noise cancelling headphones!
After take-off we were served a light meal. It was tuna, something I can only describe as Swiss, a few leaves, some cheese and a roll. The dessert pot I think was plum and cinnamon. Overall it wasn’t bad for a flight of an hour’s length, and the tuna seemed to be of good quality.
To go with the food I had the obligatory gin and tonic, which was Bombay Sapphire and Schweppes tonic water. To finish I had a cup of filter coffee (no espresso available on the aircraft), which as you can see was served with a Swiss chocolate.
As an aside, the crew go around with a large basket of these chocolates to the entire aircraft, handing them out before arrival.
Arrival itself was on time, arriving into one of the closest gates at Heathrow Terminal 2 to immigration. Within five minutes of walking off the aircraft I was landside and heading towards the central bus station for the journey back.
Overall, I thought Swiss was good. Perhaps a little better than British Airways Club Europe, but not substantially so.
In terms of the CS-100 as an aircraft, I think Bombardier have a way to go before they’re on a par with Airbus or Boeing in terms of cabin comfort and ambience. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to fly one again.