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Review: SWISS A330 Business Class (JFK-ZRH)

Updated: 2 days ago

We arrived in New York-JFK earlier in the day and, after an afternoon of lounge hopping, it was time for us to continue on to Zurich. This was my first trip on SWISS and I was excited to try out a new long haul business class product!


Booking

While we had this trip booked months in advance, due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to cancel our United Polaris flight from Dulles to Brussels. Fortunately, transatlantic travel demand to Europe in February is low so we had plenty of other options.


I managed to grab two seats in SWISS Business Class for 70,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points plus $74 in taxes and fees per person.


Pre-Flight

We arrived at New York JFK on our Delta flight from Austin and had a 4 hour layover before our onward flight. After a quick stop at the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4, we hopped on the AirTrain over to Terminal 1.


Interior of the JFK AirTrain Terminal 1 Station
JFK AirTrain Terminal 1 Station

After a short walk across the skybridge, we found ourselves in the chaos that is Terminal One. A quick glance at the monitor showed that SWISS check in was at counter G.


JFK Terminal One Ticketing Hall
Terminal One Ticketing Hall

Since we were still three hours away from departure the shared Austrian, Lufthansa, and SWISS check-in lines were completely empty. Only a few agents were standing around chatting.



Mostly for fun, I inquired as to the cost of an upgrade to First Class and was quoted $1700 per person, though we were informed that they couldn't guarantee the catering. For a variety of reasons, aside from the price, we decided to pass. The short duration of the flight and the fact that Mrs. ATX couldn't enjoy the full experience meant that our first ride in longhaul First would have to wait.



With boarding passes in hand, and our luggage checked through to Prague, we headed to the always disastrous Terminal One TSA checkpoint. Fortunately, there were very few passengers in the First and Business Class line and we made it to the front quickly.


New York-JFK Terminal One Security Checkpoint
JFK Terminal One Security Checkpoint

Unfortunately, when we made it to the front, there was an issue with my ticket and I had to head all the way back to the SWISS counter to get a new one issued. My ticket scanned the second time around and, after a slow and unorganized screening, we were airside 40 minutes after stepping off the AirTrain.


Lounge

SWISS Business Class passengers have access to the Lufthansa Business Lounge. The lounge is located immediately to the left after clearing security, if you find yourself in the main concourse you've gone too far.


Lufthansa Lounge Entrance at New York-JFK
Lufthansa Business Lounge Entrance

The lounge itself was fine but I wouldn't go out of my way to arrive early. It did have great views out over the tarmac where we caught a glimpse of our A330 arriving from Geneva.




Boarding

We relaxed in the lounge for a couple of hours before heading to the gate. Our flight to Zurich was departing from Gate 4. Our flight was scheduled to board at 3:50p and queues had already formed when we arrived a few minutes prior.


Gate 4 at New York-JFK Terminal One
SWISS Boarding Gate New York-JFK

Boarding was slightly delayed and preboarding began at 4:00p, 25 minutes before our scheduled departure time. First Class was invited to board, followed by Business Class. E-Gates were in use, though they were having some issues, and we were headed down the jet bridge to our waiting aircraft at 4:07p.


Swiss International Air Lines

LX 17

JFK-ZRH (New York John F. Kennedy International - Zurich)

Seat: 9G (Business)

A330-300 (HB-JHE)

Scheduled: 4:25p-6:10a (+1)

Actual: 4:45p-6:20a (+1)


Electronic Gates at New York-JFK Terminal One
eGates at New York-JFK

We boarded through door 2L and made a right into the larger Business Class cabin. The First Class cabin and a two row, more intimate Business Class cabin are located between doors 1L and 2L.


Boarding a SWISS A330
All Aboard, Next Stop: Zurich!

Seat

I assigned us seats 9D and 9G, the center pair in the larger, rear Business Class cabin. SWISS's Business Class layout is somewhat unique in the fact that it alternates between 2-2-1 and 1-2-1 seating. The cabin was adorned with dark brown seating and light brown wood. While it wasn't modern, I really enjoyed the overall feel.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Seats
SWISS A330 Business Class Seats

Even numbered rows featured the "Throne" seats on the left side of the aircraft. SWISS was charging $300 per person for this flight which came out to a roughly $45 per hour upcharge on this short flight.



My first impression of our seats was the lack of storage. This became immediately apparent as we were trying to store our bags and get situated. While most modern business class seats have a storage cubby, we just had a side table and a literature pocket.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Seats
SWISS A330 Business Class Seats

The Business Class seats on the SWISS A330 are staggered with some being closer to the aisle while others have a buffer thanks to the table. Mrs. ATX wanted more space so I swapped my 9D with her 9G.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Seats
SWISS A330 Business Class Seats

Waiting at our seats were a small pillow and blanket which would be all we received on our short, overnight flight. Since we didn't have much storage, I just stacked these on the side table.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Seat
SWISS A330 Business Class Seat

The IFE screen wasn't very crisp and felt quite dated.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class IFE Screen
SWISS A330 Business Class IFE Screen

Headphones and a bottle of water were waiting in a cubby underneath the IFE screen. The headphones were fine but the overall quality wasn't great.



To the left of the seat, there was a wired remote for the IFE. While it had a slight delay, I didn't use the remote much and opted for the touch screen on the IFE.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class IFE Remote
SWISS A330 Business Class IFE Remote

Between the seats there was a reading lamp, power plug, and the headphone jack along with the small side table.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Reading Light and Power Outlet
SWISS A330 Business Class Reading Light and Power Outlet

Also, in the cubby underneath the IFE screen, there was a S-video port. Admittedly, I had to Google what this was and I'm not sure when the last time this was used on the plane was. This just goes to show how dated this product is.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class S-video report
SWISS A330 Business Class S-video Port

The tray table folded out from the center divider and could be folded over in half, to hold a drink or phone, or opened fully to hold a meal tray or laptop. The seat controls were also located on the center console between the seats.



As we settled in, amenity kits were distributed. The amenity kit came in a metal tin that only included socks, eyeshades, earplugs, and a dental kit. Overall, I was underwhelmed.




Menu

As boarding wrapped up, dinner and breakfast menus were distributed. Both menus read as follows.



Departure

With a delayed start to boarding, we ended up pushing back 20 minutes behind schedule. While we waited, the FA's working the Business Class cabin came around with PDBs consisting of champagne, juice, water, or a non-alcoholic sparkling cocktail.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Pre-Departure Champagne
SWISS A330 Business Class Pre-Departure Champagne

We ended up pushing back from the gate 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time due to a fueling delay. During our taxi out to the departure runway, hot towels were distributed.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Hot Towel
SWISS A330 Business Class Hot Towel

As we taxied out to our departure runway the security demonstration was screened. At 5:05p we started our takeoff roll down Runway 22R and headed out over the water before turning towards Zurich.


SWISS A330 Airshow departing New York-JFK
Airshow departing New York-JFK

The Captain turned off the seatbelt sign 10 minutes after takeoff and I headed to check out the lavatory. Since the A330 is one of the smaller widebodies flying, the lav was smaller than one you may find on the Boeing 777. However, there was still enough space to stand up straight (at 6'2" this isn't always possible) and move around.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Lavatory
SWISS A330 Business Class Lavatory

Amenities in the lavatory were a collaboration between Soeder and SWISS. Business Class was completely full and the flight crew did a great job of keeping the lavatories clean during the duration of the flight.


SWISS Business Class Toiletries
Soeder X SWISS Toiletries

Back at my seat, I pulled out my laptop and connected to the Wi-Fi. A full flight pass cost a whopping $39 but it worked well enough throughout the flight that I was able to work and upload photo heavy trip reports.


SWISS Inflight Wi-Fi Connection Screen
SWISS Wi-Fi Connection Screen


Dinner

We had a slow climb out of NYC and the flight crew stayed seated for the first hour of the flight. An hour and a half after pushback, the meal service started with a ramekin of mixed nuts and a beverage service. I opted for champagne.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Champagne
SWISS A330 Business Class Champagne

The cabin crew took our orders after dropping off beverages and I selected the roasted beef tenderloin with potatoes and broccoli. Forty minutes later our trays were brought back to us. The steak was way beyond medium rare but, it was somehow still extremely juicy and flavorful.


SWISS A330 Business Class Beef Tenderloin
SWISS Business Class Beef Tenderloin

Mrs. ATX ordered the rotisserie chicken stroganoff which she enjoyed but stated that it could use some seasoning.


SWISS Airbus A300 Business Class Chicken Stroganoff
SWISS Business Class Chicken Stroganoff

It was 6:40p at this point and we both were hungry so we ate quickly. Our trays were cleared as soon as we finished eating and dessert was served. The Caramel Delight was a small pastry filled with a caramel mousse. It was good but not great.


SWISS Business Class Dessert
SWISS A330 Business Class Dessert

Finally, to round out my meal, I ordered a coffee and a bourbon. This was served with a Lindt truffle, sweetener, cream, and a chocolate.



The meal service wrapped up roughly three hours after departure. With only five hours remaining in-flight, I put the seat in bed mode and slept on and off for three hours. It was tough to fall asleep as it was only 6:30p on my body clock.


SWISS Airbus A330 Business Class Seat
SWISS A330 Business Class Seat


Breakfast

After three hours of sleep I woke up for breakfast with two hours remaining to Zurich. Keep in mind that, due to the timing of this flight, my body thought it was about 10 PM. The majority of the cabin was still sleeping so I worked and watched some episodes of 1923 on the IFE. I always love when airlines load entire seasons of shows.


Working in SWISS A330 Business Class
What time is it?

Breakfast orders were taken on the menu cards prior to dinner and the cabin crew began distributing trays with just over an hour remaining in-flight. Mrs. ATX had a bowl of fruit which was served with a small pastry as well as a cappuccino and orange juice.


SWISS Business Class Breakfast Fruit Bowl
SWISS Business Class Breakfast

I had a couple of croissants which were accompanied by a carton of plain yoghurt and butter. I decided to order all of the drinks and had coffee, tea, and a mimosa (I clearly don't know if it is morning or night at this point).


SWISS Business Class Breakfast Tray
SWISS Business Class Breakfast

Breakfast wasn't substantial but it was more than enough for a short, overnight flight.


Arrival

Breakfast trays were cleared with 30 minutes remaining to Zurich, just as we started our descent. At this point, hot towels were distributed. I'm not sure why these weren't given out before breakfast.


SWISS Business Class Hot Towels
SWISS Business Class Hot Towel

Finally, a few minutes before landing, the crew brought our jackets back to our seats on hangars.


SWISS A330 Business Class Coat Hook
Definitely gonna need this.

We touched down at a cold and rainy Zurich Airport just after 6:00a local time. We had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate and blocked in 10 minutes behind schedule at the E Satellite Concourse. I was able to get one last look at our A330 from the terminal.


SWISS A330 at Zurich Airport
Welcome to Zurich!

Our flight was one of the first arrivals into the airport and, aside from passengers on our plane, the airport was empty. We followed the signs to Concourses A&B to catch our connecting flight to Prague.




Summary

Overall, our flight on SWISS wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. The crew was friendly but the service flow took a long time and the hard product is uncompetitive (though not as bad as Lufthansa and Turkish which I'll likely be flying on my first big trip post baby).


The flight time was also pretty brutal when it comes to sleep. SWISS has plans to retrofit all of their long haul aircraft with new Business Class seats so I'd be interested in trying that out once they are introduced. Otherwise, there are better ways to cross the Atlantic and you won't see me onboard SWISS anytime soon.


In This Trip Report

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