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Why SWISS short haul Business Class makes BA Club Europe look good

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This is my review of SWISS Business Class between London Heathrow and Zurich.

Critics of British Airways Club Europe – and whilst a fairly heavy user I am not the biggest fan, mainly due to the food – have a problem.  Whilst it is possible to point to many airlines as offering a superior long-haul business class experience, there really isn’t much to offer in terms of short-haul benchmarks.

Criticism of Club Europe generally centres about value for money compared to Euro Traveller – especially if you have BA status and can pre-book an exit row seat with more leg room than CE – or with low cost carriers such as easyJet.  You don’t hear many comparisons with superior European business class products.

SWISS business class review heathrow zurich

You would think that SWISS would be able to set an example, with their aircraft packed full of expense-funded travellers.  On my 6am departure on Tuesday (the first flight out of Terminal 2 that day) there was FIFTEEN rows of Business Class but only 62 people on the aircraft in total!  I actually thought that SWISS had removed the curtain between Business and Economy until I was getting off and noticed it was actually 2/3rd of the way down the plane.

SWISS Business Class, however, proved to be dire.

In no particular order, let’s see why:

1C stuck out into the galley

Because of the way the cabin is laid out, 1C stuck out into the galley.  Having boarded fairly early, my feet and indeed my entire body were targets for the feet and bags of everyone else boarding after me.  Not fun.

No wardrobes

Whilst rarely seen on on low-cost carriers, British Airways is retaining Club Europe wardrobes.  They won’t take many coats in the future, because all of the emergency medical equipment is being moved into the wardrobes in the current refurb, but they will remain.  SWISS has got rid of theirs.

Super thin seating

SWISS has the ultra-thin seating that British Airways is introducing which runs throughout the entire plane.  You can see the width in the picture below.  If I’m honest it wasn’t hugely uncomfortable but not ideal.

The photo makes the seat look fatter than it is, because the back panel is partly covered in the same leather as the seat.  This optical illusion does work.

No middle tray table

Like BA, the middle seat is blocked in Business.  Unlike BA, they do not have a purpose-built table to slot in the space for the benefit of passengers.

Unappetising food

This is what we were fed – a vegetarian omelette with a slice of cheese thrown on top and some mushroom sauce.  Not great.  There was no Plan B.   Amusingly, the guy next to me – who had ordered vegetarian – refused it after taking one look.

Swiss short haul business class food

It wasn’t all bad, of course:

Boarding was efficient, albeit with only 62 passengers it wasn’t a major strain

The first couple of luggage lockers were clearly marked ‘Business Class Passengers Only’

Bottles of water were offered before take-off

SWISS still comes around the plane with chocolates before landing

What does confuse me is why SWISS bothers to pay for a full crew to stay in London overnight, plus the parking costs of the aircraft, just to depart at a time so early (6am) that it only has a token passenger loading.  Tuesday is generally one of the busier days of the week too.


If there is a solution to the problem of European short-haul Business Class, SWISS has not found it.  Given a straight choice between British Airways and SWISS I would take BA although, as I will cover separately, the Lufthansa lounge in Terminal 2 isn’t bad.

If you’re wondering whether SWISS long-haul is any better, that review will also follow in a few days.

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Comments (55)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Metty says:

    Connected via Zurich on Swiss last week to Thai > BKK and separate PNR to Chiang Mai.
    Have asked the wife for an opinion on the Swiss leg LHR-ZRH, bearing in mind that she thought her last business class trip Venice-LGW in Club Europe entailed a lay flat bed. So she is fairly ‘vanilla’.

    Check in at T2 miles better than BA/T5, agent rather good, explained all the lounge (and boarding gate) options and their relative merits. Bags checked through on separate PNR no problem. She even spotted my out of date status matched TK Gold tag and said that my FF number wasn’t in the system.

    Aircraft 1 hour late. Not Swiss’s problem as weather at LHR was terrible. On board, positive was the nice clean aircraft whereas BA’s are disgustingly dirty, negative was the cool CSD equivalent who seemed to have had a humour transplant. Food was equal to BA although it didn’t contravene the Trade Descriptions Act or whatever it is called these days….the omelette was cold but distinctly average, BA’s ‘Ploughmans’ is just a complete joke offering.

    Best was the connection info shown prior to landing. Like it or not, those on connections who had been rebooked were shown and those who hadn’t knew before landing, And after landing, all the way to the boarding gate for the next flight, the staff shepherded us in the correct direction.

    Overall consensus was Swiss no worse than BA and the airport staff either end made it feel like a better experience.

  • KH says:

    Afraid I’ve had a rather miserable experience with SWISS without even leaving the ground. Booked flights for June to LHR-CFU via ZCH in P Class (promotional business class, restrictions ++) 11 months out. They emailed in Dec to say they had made changes to schedule – ok, this happens – but which, on checking, meant they had rescheduled us to fly out on different airline nearly 48 hours later to MUC, with a 40 min connection time, and returning on a day earlier, now with a random 2 day stopover in ZCH, on a different airline, on a mixed class ticket. Now this is what I would classify as a substantial change. I called them to say this wouldn’t work, suggesting sev. alternative schedules I had found (second legs in economy), and the agent refused to change on the basis that my alternative would feature a mixed class ticket. Called another agent who also refused to change on the basis of P fare class T&Cs. Throwing in the towel and admitting defeat on the trip, called a 3rd time to cancel tickets and this agent refused to refund on the basis of P fare class T&Cs. Finally a 4th agent agreed to cancel and refund … so the tickets are now gone. Still awaiting any refund however, 27 days later, despite calling to chase the money twice. I’m assured it might be with me any moment.

  • Anthony Dunn says:

    I’ve not flown Swiss for yonks but recent food offerings on BA to/from VIE and PMO have been really rather good and I do not make the comment lightly. As I routinely use the hand wipe then to clean my table/middle table, arm rests and window surround, I have also noticed that I am now seeing rather less grime than used to be the case. Perhaps the CC, having been no little embarrassed at the evidence I have shown them, have passed this onto the fleet maintenance and cleaning teams.

    I was one of those who routinely slated the utterly appalling crap-in-a-wrap alleged food offering in EuroTraveller; the volume of waste was ridiculous and an affront. Far better to give people the option of pre-purchase/bring onboard or M&S BoB in my mind.

    Oh, and one other comment. I recently cocked up a flight+hotel (for a part of the time) booking on Got through to the BAEC Silver line and they made the changes for me immediately and at nil cost.

    There are some for whom BA is, apparently, the airline equivalent of the anti-Christ. Personally, I find them occasionally flawed and their LH product is woefully overdue a revamp, but, for the most part, pretty reliable. Of course, my fave remains CX, but that’s another thread.

  • Kev says:

    I also flew on the 0600 flight in 1C with the plane nearly empty. Good for daytime connection to Tel Aviv but I agree the food was poor on board. Staff very pleasant but I snoozed most of the way. Plenty of chocolate bars available!
    Interesting that in the *Gold business lounge at Zurich there is a Whisky bar with loads of different whiskies to try (but not really my option at 9am) but no champagne just prosecco! Only in the First lounge I was told.

  • DPS says:

    Last year I flew LX Business Class LHR-ZRH-DME and DME-ZRH-LHR for less than half the lowest WT (or even WT+ where available) fare BA wanted for non-stops on the A321, 777.or 747.

    The T2 lounge was no better than T5 and the seat and breakfast LHR-ZRH no better than CE, but the connection in ZRH was smooth (leaving from the adjacent gate) and the LX lounge notable for excellent soup, unlimited chocolate and a better choice of international press than I’ve ever fouind outside CX lounges in HKG! On the return, however, the LX lounge at DME was drab and the food unimaginative compared to the Navigator Lounge BA uses, the dinner on the DME-ZRH sector was lukewarm (although promptly replaced) and the ZRH-LHR picked up a delay of 2 hours that illustrated the downside of flying indirectly regardless of the huge saving in fare. On the plus side, arriving at T2 Gate A17 meant I was in my car far sooner than possible when BA parks at T5C!

  • Alex Sm says:

    I think your review is slightly subjective – if you don’t like people bumping at you, why on Earth would you choose an aisle seat? I was on the same flight some time ago, chose 1A and didn’t have a wrinkle of a problem you described. The food was great – prooflink here: But the most important factor was price! It was a midweek flight to Moscow and back, with Swiss in Business it was £450 return while BA ‘To Fly, To Serve’ Economy (!) would have set me, or rather my employer, back eye-watering £600! Because of this stupid remnant Sat night stay rule with a mere egg sandwich and a liliput KitKat. So, I am saying that not because of Swiss but just to highlight that everything depends on individual priorities and preferences, honestly… and you could have reflected it a bit fairer.

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