It’s been a long-held ambition of mine to visit South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Hours of planning went into my tailormade safari to get up close to some of the most intensively wild animals on the planet. This was not a trip for the fainthearted. Nor was it one that called for stinting on the travel arrangements! Getting ‘in the zone’ for my safari adventure holiday made investing in Business Class travel a must.
After contacting Just Fly Business for cheap business class flights to Johannesburg, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was my ‘indulgence’ affordable, it also gave me a chance to try an unfamiliar airline. I got a great deal on the cost of my London to Johannesburg flights with Swiss International Air Lines, commonly referred to as SWISS.
This modern Zurich-based airline flies to 100 destinations in 50 countries with some of their most popular long haul destinations including San Francisco, Nairobi, Sao Paulo and Bangkok. SWISS (or Swiss from hereon in) is part of the Lufthansa Group and a member of the Star Alliance, code sharing with multiple airlines. That means it operates within the largest network in the world and can be combined with airlines such as Singapore Airlines or United Airlines to extend their reach even further.
All very promising, but what’s the reality of an airline that has been categorised as four-star, and which regularly wins travel industry accolades as best Business Class airline in Europe?
Arriving at Heathrow, I always find Terminal 2 a little more chaotic than some of the others for some reason. Importantly for my state of mind though was the chance to pass through the airport’s check-in and security areas swiftly and with minimum fuss. This is definitely one of the key perks of business class travel with any airline, and Swiss delivered.
Waiting to board in London, I spent my time relaxing in the comfort of the business class lounge, and although Swiss doesn’t have one of its own in Terminal 2, the choice of one I could use was increased by their affiliation with the Star Alliance. In my case, the Lufthansa Business Lounge was the most convenient and provided fantastic facilities. From ample and comfortable seating to the complimentary Wi-Fi, food & beverages available, I was sufficiently in the holiday mood and ready to fly.
My Swiss business class flight to Johannesburg naturally had Zurich as its connecting airport, and it placed me on a modern A340-300 aircraft for the long stretch between there and J’burg. The ability to stretch the legs and relax in the Swiss airport lounge proved ideal and I found breaking up the journey was less of an inconvenience and more of a bonus as I got to compare the brand new Swiss Lounge to others I’d previously visited.
The choice of food was truly fantastic with both international and local delicacies on offer. Having eaten only a short while ago, I chose a simple small plate of fresh fruit and yoghurt and settled in comfortably surrounded by natural wood architectural features. There was even a spa area and live cooking station that looked highly tempting but I tried neither as my flight was on time.
You could well have heard the words ‘efficient’ and ‘reliable’ applied to the level of service you can expect flying with Swiss and to be honest, in my experience, there’s nothing wrong with that! When you pay for the privilege and luxury of a business class seat, being able to trust and rely on the standards equals peace of mind. I suspect that it is this consistency that has earned Swiss its accolades, as the Business Class cabin was fabulous, although lacking some of the flair of its competitors.
The seating configuration, décor and entertainment equipment were modern and stylish. The continuation of the wood grain from the lounges into the cabins creates a sense of ease and allures to the levels of comfort that are on offer. The newer Swiss Business Class layouts offer great workspace seats, which convert into a 2-metre wide flatbed swiftly, so whether you are travelling for business or leisure, Swiss is a great choice. With good quality pillows and bedding in the business class cabin it makes for a great night’s sleep… a must on the overnight flight. The seats also have an integrated massage function if long haul gives you aches and pains!
Once settled into this spacious and comfortable seating, Swiss Business Class cabins offer good light and sound control for sensory support on long journeys. The crisp, clear entertainment screen and controls were also easy to use and made the time pass quickly as I explored the different movies, shows and music on offer.
Throughout the flight, my comfort was thoroughly taken care of. This included abundant and good quality refreshments and amenities, all provided with discreet excellence from soothing staff. The amenity kit, or how Swiss Air Lines call it the ‘comfort kit’, was designed in collaboration with Victorinox, best known for making “Swiss Army” knives. The comfort kit included high-end facial and body products, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste and very bright Swiss red socks.
As my ultimate destination was the Kruger National Park, with its massive focus on conservation and protection, I opted to go for a vegan selection of meals (rather than my usual vegetarian). It was also a test to see how well Swiss delivers on delicious meals to suit all tastes and preferences in Business and First Class.
The verdict? As with most airlines, the choice was not expansive for my particular proclivity, however, the whole process of selecting the right light snacks and meals for me was effortless and I ended up thoroughly enjoying the truly imaginative vegan food during the two connected flights which included absolutely delicious gnocchi with asparagus and a saffron sauce on the flight from Zurich to Johannesburg. The novelty of a Swiss white wine to accompany it was too good to miss, and that too didn’t disappoint.
Although restaurant-quality, the choice left me thinking that more could be done for people with certain requests. Maybe the approach that other airline’s offer of preselecting meals before the flight? My opinion, maybe this additional choice would make everyone’s journey just a little better.
The thing for me that truly stood out was the coffee. It has to be said that most inflight coffee leaves a lot to be desired and I’ve not had the best experience of my favourite beverage on a lot of different carriers, but Swiss serves up a superb cup of java with a delicious Lindt chocolate on the side! (I had already enjoyed a smooth blend and the perfect latte in the airport lounge too.) Coffee and chocolate service on Swiss Air flights – with items of that quality – really ‘perks’ me up and shows some of the smaller and often less noticed benefits of booking a business class seat!
Although Swiss may not be the flashiest of airlines, they certainly know what they are doing. My business class flight to Johannesberg was flawless and relaxing, with more than enough added extras to provide luxury and comfort.
Not only did not flying direct provide me with a great deal but connecting at Zurich on flights with Swiss proved to be smooth and stressfree. The staff were helpful and guided us with clear instructions on how to transfer, and Switzerland’s largest airport proved easy and convenient for a brief stopover.
Perhaps the most crucial fact from this review of Swiss Business Class travel though, is that I would jump at the chance to fly with this airline again (not least for that coffee and chocolate combo). With the quiet and unimposing level of customer service and understated excellence in the product offered, it was just what I needed to arrive refreshed and ready for the adventures ahead. Particularly as it was topped off by a priority service for my luggage on arrival.
To learn more about Swiss Air Lines business class, the services they provide and the amazing business class deals from our experienced travel consultants, call us on 020 8417 1366 or enquire online. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about other airlines, check out our cheap business class flights here.