A few weeks ago while enroute back to the States from our Safari trip to Africa, we flew with SWISS and because of our seats, we were able to visit the First Class Lounge in Zurich between flights. You can see what that fabulous Lounge is like in this trip report. To see what a First Class flight aboard SWISS is like when you have the cabin to yourself, read this trip report.
Aside from all the fantastic amenities that you’ll find in the Lounge, my favorite was outside the Lounge. When SWISS designed and built the new Business, SENator, and First Class Lounges inside ZRH’s Terminal E, they took advantage of the real-estate they had to work with and included outdoor terraces for all 3 lounges. In fact, for the hardcore plane spotter, the Senator and Business Class Lounges are actually better for plane spotting since it puts you closer to the runway used for ‘Heavy’ arrivals in the morning. The First Class Lounge however does have an advantage for ‘Heavy’ departures in the late morning and afternoon.
The photos should give you a pretty good idea as far as just how great the vantage point is from these Lounges. Unfortunately the timing of my visit wasn’t ideal for photography. We were in the Lounge from about 6:30a to 9a which meant that most of my shots were taken with the sun still not above the horizon. The fact that it was extremely overcast didn’t help matters much. Fortunately my camera did a stellar job with high ‘ISO’ settings so I was at least able to see what I was shooting!
If for some reason you don’t travel with a suitcase full of camera equipment, you’ll appreciate the high quality Leica binoculars and telescope that is available to guests so they can get up close looks at the birds. There are a few pair of binoculars installed in kiosks found on the terrace (First Class terrace only for the binoculars).
Next year’s trip is going to include outbound SWISS flights so that I can spend 8-10 hours at this new Plane Spotting Mecca……
A 20-year old Single Malt Scotch just adds to the wonderful experience! 🙂
To celebrate the inevitable changing of the seasons and the time change that comes with it, Lufthansa’s First Class Services in Frankfurt will be giving a special and rare Duck to visitors to the First Class Terminal on October 29 and 30th. The duck is appropriately named ‘Good Night’ due to the fact that Europeans will spin their clock back one hour on October 30 as Standard Time returns to their time zones and everyone will be able to get an extra hour’s sleep.
So if your travels qualify you to visit the ‘FCT’ this weekend, make sure you leave with this new duck to add to your collection.
Appropriately nicknamed the ‘Good Night Duck’
Related: First Class Duck Registry
As part of our travel back from a Safari trip to Africa and the fact that I was booked in First Class for our flight from Zurich to the States, we had the ability to visit SWISS’ new First Class Lounge in Terminal E at Zurich. Typically lounge access is restricted only to SWISS First Class passengers and Miles & More HON Circle members and since the lounge is located in Terminal E which serves only International long-haul flights, its even more exclusive than most First Class Lounges.
Just as I had the good fortune to have the entire First Class cabin to myself for the flight from Zurich, we were also the only visitors to the First Class Lounge during our 3 hour layover in ZRH. This gave us the opportunity to explore the entire lounge without the risk of violating the privacy of other passengers and since we were the only ones in the lounge our attendant, Bjorn, was extremely happy to give us a tour of the entire facility.
The lounge opened to passengers in February of this year and offers a few unique features not found in most First Class Lounges. For example, the lounge is almost entirely wrapped by an outdoor terrace that provides an OUTSTANDING view of the airport, making it nirvana for ‘avgeeks’. I spent most of my time on the terrace taking photos of aircraft while nursing a 20-year old Scotch….not a bad way to pass a lay over.
The lounge also offers private rooms that remind me of a high quality hotel accommodations instead of just a room with a cot in it thats designed for short naps.
Additionally, the lounge of course offers a 5-star al-a-carte dining experience along with a wine selection that can be measured in hundreds of bottles.
What struck me most about the lounge is simply how spotless and perfect it is. Nothing is out of place, not even the cocktail napkins at the bar. Magazines and newspapers were piled perfectly, even the flowers seemed to be set into a template. Really impressive.
Being the only passengers gave us a great opportunity to explore the nooks and crannies, and I hope that the photos below give you a sense of how special this lounge is.
You know you’re in for a treat when you see signage like this!
This is the first impression that you get when entering the lounge. As I mentioned, see how everything is absolutely perfect??
Several Champagne choices……
Magazines and Newspapers in several languages
Hundreds of bottles of wine will satisfy any palette…..
Several seating areas fill the lounge, each with their own large flat-screen TV.
Another example of a seating area
A Leica Spotting Scope is available to zoom in on the aircraft. Another nice touch is the placement of several pairs of Leica binoculars on the terrace.
The Bar offers nothing but top-shelf beverages…..
The Dining Room overlooks the terrace, providing wonderful views of the airport….
The Dining Room offers a 5-star culinary experience, but unfortunately neither one of us had an appetite to eat at 7am!
But I did have room for a dram of 20 year old Scotch while plane spotting…..
A private conference room is available and thanks to the modular design of the lounge can be adjusted to accommodate small or large groups, as well as being tied directly to one of the ‘Hotel Rooms’.
A look inside the ‘Hotel Room’, notice the proximity to the observation terrace. Privacy can be an issue but light blocking shades and draperies take care of any concerns.
The private bath in the ‘Hotel Room’
So as you can hopefully tell, this lounge is quite the place and should be on the list to visit for anyone that enjoys experiencing a premium product. Though its not necessarily easy to create the strategy to gain entry, I promise you that the effort is worth it!
Lighting has struck twice in my travel ‘career’.
Back in 2012, when Lufthansa received their first 747-8i (D-ABYA), I was in Frankfurt to participate in the delivery events and had the good fortune to fly her back to Washington DC a few days later and was the only passenger in First Class. Now I can add a SWISS flight to the list where I was the only passenger to sit in First Class.
The particular flight was aboard SWISS LX6 from Zurich To Chicago. My wife and I were homebound to GRR after spending 10 days in Africa on a Safari trip. You may ask why would I sit in First and not my wife but the answer is simple: She had sat in Lufthansa First for the flights to Frankfurt and then on to Johannesburg and she insisted that I take the final leg home in First.
Our tickets for the trip were a combination of paid fares, some miles, and a couple of Miles & More eVouchers. Once all of that was mixed together, my wife enjoyed the trip from Chicago to Johannesburg in Lufthansa First while I ‘sucked it up’ in Business Class for the flights. On the return, we both flew SWISS business from Jo’burg and then my wife made the sacrifice to sit in Business while I took in the LX First Class experience from Zurich to Chicago.
I became cautiously optimistic about being the only passenger in First when I checked in for our flights a day earlier and saw that the cabin was empty. I assumed there would be at least some last minute upgrades by passengers but that never came to pass. When we boarded, my suspicions were confirmed when I was greeted by the Flight Manager who told me I was the only passenger in the cabin for the flight and thanked me for being a Miles & More ‘Senator’.
Knowing that I had a SWISS A330 (HB-JHE / delivered Jan 29, 2010) to serve practically as my private jet for the 9.5 hour flight, I imagined things would go well. I underestimated!
The 2 flight attendants working in the F cabin were wonderful and saw that I thoroughly enjoyed the ride home. After the initial formalities where they referred to me as Mr. and sir, I asked that the drop the fancy-speak and just treat me as if I were a friend or family member aboard the flight. I know they have to follow a certain standard of service, but I don’t deserve or enjoy being treated with the ‘formal’ approach. I’ll leave that to the maximizers who enjoy squeezing out everything they feel they are entitled to, including being talked to like royalty 😉 …but wait, Maximizers can’t find their way easily into a SWISS First cabin, but I digress.
After I had settled in, the pilot came to introduce himself and thanked me for being a SWISS customer. He spent a few minutes talking about the flight time, routing, and anticipated trouble spots for turbulence. It’s always interesting to receive a personal briefing from the person in charge of bringing you safely to your destination. I asked if we can fly via HKG as a technical stop, but we didn’t have enough relief pilots on board.
With all the verbiage aside, here are the photos from the flight. First will be the hard product and then the meals. I suspect the photos will replace the need for words.
A view from 1K across to the port side of the aircraft
View of seat 1K
View from seated position. The Ottoman moves out via electric motor which allows for a guest to sit across from you.
Another look at 1K….
Seat control pad and remote control for the IFE system. USB power as well as the headphone jack is installed in this compartment. The IFE System was excellent. Over 80 movies and dozens of TV shows ensure there’s something for everyone on board. WiFi will be introduced aboard the A330s beginning in January 2017. I only watched one movie since I was busy sorting through nearly 13,000 photos that came back with me from Safari.
Storage for the large table. It’s a nice size especially when a guest sits in the Ottoman. The small panel in front of the tray table storage area contains the 110/220v power outlet.
A dedicated control pad for your seat provides you with complete control. The remote control allows you to adjust every angle of the seat, as well as lighting settings and seat cushion adjustment. The SWISS First Class and Business Class seats have adjustable air-filled cushions for complete control of your seat’s comfort.
The larger IFE screen is found on SWISS’ newer A330 aircraft…..
The Amenity Kit was full of useful items. Separate kits are available for male and female passengers. Pajamas are also provided and are made from a high quality cotton blend similar to high quality T-shirts.
The food aboard the flight was just as excellent as the hard product. The multi-course experience featured some outstanding options and were healthy sized portions. So well sized that I had to take a break between the Salad and Main Course to recover from a bit of a food coma.
The pre-departure snack consisted of a fresh fruit cup and almond pastry.
The Balik Salmon appetizer is a signature dish in the SWISS First Class cabin. This style of Salmon traces its roots to the Tsars of Russia and today the recipe is trusted to only a handful of individuals. Phenomenal!
Click here to learn more about the history of Balik Salmon.
Another excellent appetizer. A combination of cold cuts from some of Switzerland’s finest butchers…..
The beet and greens salad is delicious. Complimented perfectly by a Balsamic dressing.
The main course of Veal Filet literally melted in your mouth. There was no need to use a knife. Cooked and seasoned to perfection, and a nice sized portion.
I forgot to take a photo of dessert, but it was a choice of Mövenpick ice cream served either in a waffle cone or in a bowl. Other desert choices included fresh tarts, fruits, and cheeses.
Approximately 90 minutes before landing, a light lunch was served. The grilled chicken club sandwich was excellent.
Now that you’ve had a glimpse at life aboard SWISS’ First Class cabin, take a look closer look at SWISS’ beautiful new First Class lounge that opened earlier this year in Zurich.
SWISS is offering deeply discounted First Class fares for those traveling from the UK to the United States. There are a few windows on the calendar that offer the low prices.
The ‘less-better’ deal runs from mid-September through mid-November where fares to the East Coast or Chicago run at approximately $3500. The West Coast fares are priced around $4500. Not bad considering what the fares usually cost.
The better deal is for travel from London to the USA is available in 2 blocks: The last 2 weeks of November (Nov 21-29 offer the best deals) , and last 2 weeks of December (December 17 – January 2). During those blocks of time, the East Coast can be reached for only $3037.00, while the West Coast during the same time frame can be reached for $3500-$3700.
The low fares also pop up from February through mid April for the same prices so there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to booking options.
The fare sale ends on September 21……