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Review: SWISS Business Class to Dubai on an A330

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This is our review of SWISS Business Class to Dubai on an Airbus A330.

It is the third part of our review series looking at the SWISS Business Class experience. You can see our review of the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2 here and our review of the SWISS Senator Lounge at Zurich Terminal E here.

So far I have been fairly impressed with SWISS. Whilst the food in the lounges has not been the greatest, I liked the style and brightness of the Zurich lounge in particular.

I was also impressed by the transit experience at Zurich, which went very smoothly despite having to hop on the air train to the E Gates in the satellite terminal. The terminal building is very Swiss – pristine, clean and nice and airy.

So far so good – but how does the SWISS Business Class experience compare?

SWISS A330 nose

Boarding my SWISS A330

The boarding experience was, to put it frankly, a little chaotic. Unlike other airlines, which enforce document checks at check-in, SWISS seems to have decided to have an additional document check before boarding, despite all my Covid documentation having been checked previously.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem but the airline staff went about it in a completely chaotic way, setting up three temporary trolleys to process passengers. One was set up for First Class and Business Class passengers whilst the other two were for economy passengers.

SWISS document check

Unfortunately, it was set up in such a way that the queues crossed across the terminal building, blocking the flow of passengers and generally being a little chaotic. Not very Swiss at all! And all for a little stamp on by boarding pass that, as far as I can tell, is only for SWISS use and not for the UAE authorities.

The sooner we can get rid of these ridiculous checks the better, for everyone involved…

Business Class on a SWISS A330

The A330 forms the backbone of the SWISS long haul fleet with fourteen aircraft. All the A330s have the same seat map:

SWISS A330 seat map

As you can see, there are 8 First Class seats in a 1-2-1 layout across two rows. Behind this is a very small Business Class cabin made up of just two rows, followed by a larger Business Class cabin made up of eight rows. In total, there are 45 lie-flat Business Class seats.

SWISS have opted for the Thompson Vantage business class seat. This is similar to the Malaysia Airlines business class seat and features an alternating 1-2-1, 2-2-1 layout as you can see in the seat map below:

SWISS A330 Thomson Vantage

As a consequence there are a number of different seat options to choose from which can making seat selection a little complicated.

The best seats by far are the ‘throne’ seats. These are the even numbered A seats, so 4A, 6A, 8A and so forth. These have consoles on both sides, affording better privacy and more storage. You can see one on the far right here:

SWISS A330 business class cabin

Second best – if you are a solo traveller – are the single seats on the right hand side of the aircraft, ie. 4K, 5K, 6K etc. These are alternating in that odd numbers have the seat directly next to the window with the console on the aisle, whilst even numbers have the seat on the aisle and the console table on the window.

SWISS A330 business class K seat

Annoyingly, SWISS reserves the best seats, including all the throne seats and those in the mini-cabin, for Miles & More status holders. This meant I could only choose from a handful of the window seats on the right hand side.

I reserved seat 11K for myself but at check-in seat 9K had come up. Why not, I thought – get a bit further forward. What I had stupidly forgotten in my rush to select them is that there are missing windows in row 9 so that – even if you are sat by a window – you only really get half a window. To be fair, SWISS does warn you about this when you select them …. but let this be a lesson – don’t ever pick row 9.

9K – my Business Class seat

The SWISS Business Class seat are not hugely private, and I was glad to have a window rather than aisle seat:

SWISS A330 9K business class seat

The seat comes with a reading material pouch, coat hanger (although I don’t think I saw anyone use this on my flight) and in flight entertainment screen:

SWISS business class seat back

Under this is the foot cubby hole, which is common these days. It was pretty standard in terms of size although I was surprised with how deep it went:

SWISS business class foot cubby

Just to the right is a little storage slot that is also very useful for storing shoes during the flight.

You then have your console table, which is useful for boarding drinks, amenity kit etc:

SWISS business class 9k seat

Inside the console is your tray table which pops out in two leaves.

SWISS business class table

I like airlines which have flexible table sizing as it means you don’t need to have a massive table out just for a small drink or similar.

SWISS business class tray table

You also get a personal reading light, in addition to the overhead lights, as well as an international plug socket (there is also a USB socket under the IFE screen), plus your seat controls:

SWISS business class reading light

Finally, tucked away in the armrest, is a little remote control:

SWISS business class seat remote control

Ready and waiting at my seat was a Victorinox amenity kit, a pillow and a blanket, unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. You also get a set of headphones and a bottle of water in the little cubby hole under the screen:

SWISS business class water bottle

Let’s take a quick look at the amenity kit. This was a soft pouch with a mesh on one side, so partially see-through:

SWISS business class amenity kit victorinox

It contained a pair of red socks, ear plugs, eye mask, tooth brush and toothpaste:

SWISS business class amenity kit contents

I wasn’t hugely impressed by the amenity kit – the bag itself felt more like a school pencil case than a Business Class product. Fortunately SWISS has a handful of different designs by Victorinox and on my return I had a very snazzy black tin which I thought was much classier. The contents were the same but it felt much nicer, and the tin is very useful to have.

Whilst waiting for boarding to complete the crew came round with the Business Class menu and a drink, either champagne or a non-alcoholic option:

SWISS business class menu

In flight entertainment and wifi

This is one thing where the SWISS Business Class seat really suffers: in flight entertainment. There is a fixed screen, although you can angle it up or down to suit your needs:

SWISS business class ife selection

As you can see, it is very small – possibly the smallest Business Class screen I have seen. It is about the same size you would expect in economy or premium economy. It is also not particularly bright so during a day flight it is not easy to see.

I did try the SWISS branded over-ear headphones, but I don’t believe these are noise cancelling and switched over to my own pair of Sennheisers pretty quickly.

SWISS business class headphones

In terms of content the variety wasn’t bad, particularly given the dearth of cinema releases in the past year. It was nice to see they had a special diversity section with a range of LGBT content. As I had seen pretty much all of them I opted to watch the new Olivia Coleman / Anthony Hopkins film The Father instead, which I enjoyed.

The aircraft was also outfitted with wifi and, in the interest of a complete review, I thought I should test it out 😉

Four packages are available:

  • 20 MB for 9 CHF (£7)
  • 50 MB for 19 CHF (£15)
  • 120 MB for 39 CHF (£31)
  • 220 MB for 59 CHF (£46)

Whilst it worked fine, it isn’t exactly cheap and with 220MB being the upper limit you won’t get much use out of it. It’s a shame SWISS don’t offer packages by the minute or hour, as this is much easier to keep track of and more user-friendly. At least you know when your time is up.

Dining in SWISS Business Class

SWISS has a reputation for its meal service and I was excited to try it. As mentioned previously I was given a menu after boarding.

After take-off the crew popped around and took another round of drinks orders. I stayed on the champagne, which is the Duval-Leroy Brut which retails for around £35:

SWISS business class aperitif

For my starter I had the Balik salmon sashimi with avocado, cucumber and ginger with wasabi vinaigrette, which was good:

SWISS business class salmon sashimi

I moved onto the beef tenderloin, served with wholegrain mustard sauce, Valle Maggia polenta and root vegetables. I’m normally quite sceptical about having steak on flights because I’ve had some pretty bad ones in the past but the cabin crew assured me this was their favourite. I was delighted to find it was very tender and delicious:

SWISS business class beef tenderloin

The polenta was an interesting choice and the root vegetables were a bit too small – I would have liked something a bit more chunky – but it tasted good.

There is only one option for dessert, the cheesecake with chocolate sponge, but you can also have a little selection of cheese:

SWISS business class dessert

In total, the meal service took 2-3 hours from take-off before all was said and done. This was not particularly fast, but not a problem since this was a day flight.

You can opt for ‘casual dining’ where your starter and main are brought out at the same time. This saves time and would be convenient if you plan to sleep as soon as possible.

After dinner it was time for bed and the cabin lights were dimmed. I made my own bed – SWISS don’t offer a bed making service as far as I can tell and there is no mattress pad or sheet like you find on other airlines, so you make do with your (fairly mediocre) pillow and blanket:

SWISS business class bed mode

At some point a bistro menu was handed out for the optional second on-demand meal service. The headline options include a beef burger, soups, salad, rosti and sandwiches as well as a range of sweet and salty snacks. Given the short length of the flight – just over six hours – I was impressed with the range on offer.

At some point whilst I slept they also brought around a little Lindt chocolate:

SWISS business class Lindt

Just before landing, you get the classic SWISS goodbye chocolate, plus a card for the fast-track immigration at Dubai Airport:

SWISS business class chocolate


I was, overall, impressed with the SWISS Business Class experience. The hard product is admittedly tired on the A330s – the seats are showing their age and the IFE screens are tiny. They also offer far less privacy than many new Business Class seats.

It’s worth noting that, if you get a SWISS A340, you will get a newly refurbished cabin. The layout is similar but there are a number of improvements, including far larger IFE screens.

Despite that the crew were phenomenal, with great, friendly service and good food options too. Without these I think the experience would have been poor but it’s hard not to like an enthusiastic crew chatting away in Swiss-German.

The next batch of reviews from this trip will look at a variety of Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Dubai.

Comments (25)

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

  • Drew says:

    I flew Swiss recently and also found the boarding process to be chaotic, however if the gate has the electronic, self scan option then scanning your boarding pass allows you to pass, without needing to queue for the annoying document checks

  • His Holyness says:

    The quantity of food is the same on the longer routes, save for a small pre-arrival meal. It’s not great.

  • Alan says:

    I’m afraid I totally disagree re the throne/Kirk seats being the best – the foot cubby is incredibly cramped and I found it difficult to sleep as you were unable to just turn over on your side – I’d recommend one of the side seats instead which isn’t so restricted.

  • Scott says:

    Haven’t flown Swiss since moving to OneWorld when BMI succumbed – but we used to love flying with them. Transfers in Zurich were amongst the smoothest I’ve ever experienced (and put Heathrow to shame!). However travelling in First to Boston they lost my luggage and weren’t exactly stellar in their handling of this. Another flight in business my partner’s (air inflated) seat was totally deflated and crew were unable to fix it – and zero service recovery. On another we had seats in the minicabin but the moving parts were dysfunctional so had to move elsewhere in cabin. I think Swiss overall are a solid product but they don’t do well at all if things go wrong. I think for business class Swiss beats Lufthansa on ground and in the air, for first class Lufthansa is much better on the ground and possibly in the air. And agree that it’s better than CW!

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

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