This is the first in a series of posts about my trip from London to Seattle, but via Zurich and San Francisco, travelling in first class with Swiss.
If you want the executive summary – Swiss are brilliant. One of the best flights I’ve ever had. Food, service, and hard product are all outstanding.
My journey started at home in West London, relatively early with a taxi coming to pick me up at 6am. Normally I would use Uber as they’re the most cost effective option given the relatively short distance from home in Ealing, however currently MyTaxi are running a promotion where airport transfers are 50% off the metered fare. The app also has a useful feature where you can pre-book a journey a few days ahead of time.
Bang on schedule a black Mercedes Vito taxi arrived at home, and after a short journey down the M4, about twenty minutes later we pulling into Terminal 2, the Queen’s Terminal. The £44 fare on the meter was billed as £22 on the card – that’s probably what a UberX would have cost, so not sure I actually saved very much. I suspect that goes to show quite how over-priced black taxis are in London.
There was a dedicated first class counter in Zone A for Lufthansa and Swiss first class customers. The formalities took a couple of minutes and after a few moments had dropped my bag and was given some boarding passes all the way through to Seattle.
Fast track security was empty with four people ahead of me and in a further five minutes I was airside in the new Terminal 2 complex.
In total in Terminal 2 there are four different lounges available to business class passengers and people with Star Gold status. In the main part of the terminal there is the Lufthansa Business and Senator lounges – this is the most convenient option for people with only a short time to wait.
Terminal 2 also has a satellite terminal, T2B that is a good ten minute brisk walk from the main building. Unlike Terminal 5, there’s no train, so there are just moving walkways. However in T2B, there’s also three further lounges to choose from:
- United Club
- Singapore Airlines Silver Kris lounge
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge
I’ve visited all of them before and the Lufthansa lounges while convenient I have always found drab and with a fairly poor selection of food and drinks. Given I had some time before my flight, I decided to make my way over to T2B and the Singapore Airlines lounge.
The lounge agent explained they wouldn’t be making announcements for my flight, but I was welcome to enter.
There was an excellent breakfast spread put out, including a variety of fruits and yoghurt, lots of bakery items, cold cuts and cheeses, and a large number of hot plates with both western and asian choices. I was actually very impressed with the selection which was certainly comparable with a good mid-range hotel breakfast.
There was a fully stocked bar, however in the mornings there’s no barman doing mixed drinks, however the staff were very happy for you to help yourselves. The champagne was nicely chilled. There were also a number of WMF beans-to-cup espresso machines scattered around the lounge providing decent coffee.
The lounge itself was wonderfully quiet. Not being a morning person, there were perhaps 15 or 20 other people in the lounge, and it was very much a haven of tranquility. The United Club is also surprisingly an excellent lounge too, however can get quite busy and noisy. This wasn’t at all, and thus highly recommend it if you’re after a bit of space.
Soon it was time to leave and head over to gate A25 where the Airbus 321 was waiting. Almost as soon as I arrived at the gate, they called priority boarding and after a scan of the boarding pass was safely ensconced in 1D.
The aeroplane seemed fairly full, however luckily 1F remained free so was able to move over and enjoy the views from the window once the boarding door had closed. In all there were five rows of business class.
Push-back was onetime at 08.40 and within 15 minutes were airborne – significantly quicker than most of my recent BA flights from Heathrow have been. I’ve got no idea why this would or should be, but there appeared to be significantly less Heathrow hassle factor.
After a few minutes we were airborne and on our way to Zurich. Flight time was a quick 1h 15mins.
Breakfast was fairly mediocre – it was a small pot of bircher muesli, a hot main and some cheese. The hot main was a rather odd mixture of scrambled egg, potato wedges and a tomato salsa. It was almost as if they forgot to add any meat – no sausage or bacon.
The crew were lovely and did a full drinks round. I asked for some Champagne and they served Duval LeRoy from a full bottle, constantly topping up my glass every few mins before having to politely decline any more! There were several passes of the bread basket, offering both pastries and bread rolls.
Before long, we were approaching Zurich airport about 20 minutes early; after a short taxi we arrived at the gate and it was time to disembark and checkout the Swiss First lounge in the E concourse. More on that tomorrow.
In summary, Swiss have a very solid European business class offering. The food was ok, the staff were lovely, and the lounge options at Terminal 2 are pretty good.