Friday, 30 September 2022

Flying The Swiss Way (Part 2: ZRH-SIN)

 Welcome to my final trip report of my U.S/U.K Flying Adventure of 2022! 


Photo: Thomas Tse 

Introduction 

I have to say say how lucky I was to get to experience both the airline's A340-300 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Swiss operates A330, A340 and B777-300ER on mostly medium to long haul routes but as the A330 doesn't have the range to fly on ZRH-SIN route with full payload so this aircraft appearing on this route is very unlikely. 

The airline's Boeing 777-300ER that I am flying on (HB-JNK) features the new Premium Economy Class seats and I had an offer to upgrade for almost S$1000, if it was half of this pricing, I would have gone for it. The 3-4-3 configuration class on the Boeing 777-300ER is absolutely dreadful for the passengers especially with full load so for this flight, I chose the aisle seat to make myself more comfortable. 

I noticed that the airline began operating the 777-300ER from 31st May and at this point of time this aircraft (September 2022) is currently operating on ZRH-SIN route. The aircraft type is likely to stay as it is until next year's summer time when the airline will announce its future plans and this all depends on the demand worldwide.


After successfully doing my online check-in before my previous flight (ZRH-LHR), I had one thing else I need to do was to show my vaccination status to the airline agent at LHR Airport. I didn't know there would be a 2nd check at ZRH airport until arrival at the airport. 

You check out my previous trip report over here. (LHR-ZRH A320NEO)


The day of departure 

After arriving from Zurich on my previous flight, I had about 20 minutes to connect to my next flight. Fortunately for me, my connecting flight was delayed and some of us who are connecting to that flight won't need to rush. However we needed to queue up at the counter to get our passport and Covid status verified before being allowed to board. I was wondering, why do we, the connecting passengers have to do so again, you don't trust the departure airport's judgement? It was a waste of time especially the queue was quite long. 

At this time, pre-test covid is not required for most cities for vaccinated passengers but still you need to verify your status to the airline to ensure that you are cleared to travel. 


These passengers were waiting for boarding.  


This was the assigned gate of my flight.


Look at the majestic Boeing 777-300ER! 


Soon, it was time to board. 


I always love jetways with glass panel, you get a view of the aircraft. 


Another Boeing 777 ride off my list. 


My ride: HB-JNK (Photo: Kurt Gruel) 


Aircraft owned 
Name: Luzern W
Configuration: F8 C62 W24 Y226
Engines: Delivered on November 2019
Line number: 1631
Age: 2 years old (June 2022)
Built in Everett (PAE)

My flight route: ZRH-SIN 


Miles: 6,405 

Date of departure: 14 June 2022
Airline: Swiss Airlines
Flight: LX176 
Route: ZRH-SIN
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
Registration: HB-JNK 
Departure terminal: 2 
Departure gate: E46
Seat: 37H (Aisle seat)
Schedule departure: 2240 
Boarding: 2206
Pushed back: 2259
Engine start up: 2259 
Take off: 2310 
Take off roll: 41 seconds 
Announced flight time: 11hr 55 mins 
Actual flight time: 11 hr 51 mins 
Scheduled arrival: 1655
Actual arrival: 1700
Departure runway: 34 
Arrival runway 20R 
Arrival terminal: 2 

As this was a full flight, it was expected that boarding took longer than usual especially with a cattle class of the infamous 3-4-3 configuration, popular with the bean counters but unpopular with the passengers. For this flight, I chose the aisle seat instead of the window seat to increase the level of comfort on this almost 12 hours flight. 

The mood lighting of the beautiful Boeing cabin greeted us as I entered the aircraft with the purser welcoming me on board. 


I took a little glance at the front Business class and it was certainly a better way to travel on long haul flights. 


For the First Class review, you can check it out over here (The Points Guy) 

Business Class 

This Business Class features with around 5 different seat configuration as the cabin alternates between 1-2-2 and 2-2-1 configuration which is quite bizzare in my opinion. The one-seater is suitable for single travellers with lots of space and privacy. 

For the Business Class review,  you can check it out over here (Thrifty traveller)




Amenity kit was provided with a headphone, a blanket and a pillow. This is the lie-flat bed so you can convert this into a bed during the flight. 






The is the single seat which has more advantages than the double seat especially travelling by yourself. However, these seats cost extra unless you have a status with the Miles & More Programme. Selection of these seats is available 24-48 hours before your flight departure. 




Premium Economy Class 

Swiss Airlines in 2022 introduced the Premium Economy Class which would first be featured on the Boeing 777-300ER. The airline re-configured this aircraft type by removing some Economy Class seats in place of 24 Premium Economy Class seats. This semi-private cabin offers wider seats, IFE system and more importantly better legroom space in a 2-4-2 configuration. 

(Don't mind the thrash in some of the photos below)





I gave the seat a try and it was very roomy. Of course, I would prefer my seat by the window. 


I find it strange not to have a divider between the Economy Class and Premium Economy Class. As for the Economy Class passengers at the first row, the IFE system is stored at the arm rest which can be incovenient as you need to store them during take off and landing. However, the legroom space makes up for the inconvenience. 



So what do you think of the Premium Economy Class product? 











My opinion: After giving it a try briefly, I would like to see a divider seperating both (Economy Class and Premium Economy) for more privacy. Anyway, I find the seats to be quite comfortable with very good legroom space and larger TV screen than the Economy Class. I thought Swiss has done a great job with this product, not the most glamourous but at least it offers passengers more comfort. I would give this a rating of 7.5/10 

Economy Class 

The infamous 3-4-3 Y class cabin which you can avoid by upgrading to another class if you have miles or take advantage of the airline's offer (usually will mail to you a few days before your flight). As I like to review the Economy Class product, I decided to turn down the offer. 



This was my seat, I was fortunate to be sitting with a petite lady so no issue with the seat width space. 





It turned out later to be a full flight in Economy Class but no matter what I was glad the aircraft was not changed to the A340, you can imagine how upset I would be if that happened. 





More photos of the Economy Class Seats 



The spacious cabin makes this a favourite for both crew and passengers and the mood lighting enhance the travelling experience. 


The lovely Boeing style cabin is definitely a favourite of mine. 


I noticed there was no aircon ducts, just the reading lamp. 



Tight legroom space, but it was bearable. 


Drink holder 


What's provided for each passenger in Economy Class?

A small pillow 


Earphones - acceptable quality 


Blanket was provided 


In-Flight Entertainment

WiFi was available om this flight 



In-Flight Entertainment System 

The A340-300 also uses the same IFE system as the Boeing 777. 






In-Flight Meals and Snacks 

A bottle of water was distributed during the flight. 


For the dinner service, I had coke for my drink.


There was a choice of either Indian Vegetarian or Chicken meal and I chose the latter.


After the meal service, I decided to explore the cabin.


Some light refreshment was available for passengers. I had a nice chit-chat session with a couple of passengers and we chatted for an hour before I made my way back to my seat. 


As for the breakfast meal, we had no choice. This is the omelette with vegetable and potato, fruit salad, yogurt and comes with a bun. Drink service came after this meal was served and I had a cup of orange juice. 


How did I find the meals? I find them to be a bit salty but it was ok overall. I rate them around 6.5/10 for the score. 

As usual, we were given a piece of chocolate, part of the Swiss Airlines' tradition. 


My flight review by Flight24radar



Arrival at Changi Airport 


My in-flight experience 

Boarding process was slow due to the full load. At that time, the ground staff had to double check our passport and clearance for us to get on our way to Singapore. The traffic at Zurich Airport at that time was busy but kudos to the ground staff and flight and cabin crew for their hard work to ensure that our aircraft took off as quickly as possible. 

Once on board, I was greeted by the experienced and energetic set of crew and made my way to my seat. As this was was a full flight, it took a while for everyone to get settle down. The 3-4-3 configuration is definitely not an ideal way of flying but comparing with the A340-300, it was nice to experience something different. 

Once our plane was ready, our captain informed us of a short delay due to the heavy traffic and after 15 minutes of waiting, we were on our way. The wonderful GE90 engines broke the silence in the cabin as they started up, roaring loudly to make its presence known. I notice that our IFE system was not functioning yet as it was still displayed in the main screen. After take off, advertisments were shown on the screen and once we passed 10,000 feet, we were allowed to use the entertainment system, that was quite strange. Service from this point seem to go downhill but I guess due to the nature of the flight, the crew were kept very busy.

Some obversation I took note of on this flight was majority of the passengers on this flight were Asian (possibly mostly Singaporeans), wearing of mask was mandatory on this fligh and mandarin language was included in the announcement. 

I managed to catch a few hour of sleep on this flight, and fortunately for me, I manage to wake up in time for breakfast. We touched down smoothly at Changi Airport and that was the end of my flying adventure for 2021/2022. Time certainly flies fast especially when you are having fun. 

Overall rating 

Airline's website: 2/5
Airport Staff (ZRH): 3.5/5
In-Flight service: 4/5 
Seat comfort: 2.5/5
Cabin interior: 4/5 
In-Flight Entertainment: 3/5 
Cleanliness: 5/5 
In-Flight meals: 3.5/5
Punctuality: 4/5
In-Flight Experience: 4/5 
Overall rating: 35.5/50
Percentage: 71%
Verdict: Great!

Conclusion 

Swiss Airlines offers good connection especially getting you from point A to B and sometimes connecting at ZRH airport is required and so far on my flights, they have been smooth and easy. The only troublesome part was getting the stamp which is required for boarding at ZRH airport. (At this time in May/June 2022). While the airline doesn't offer the best Economy class products, there are some positive vibes about the airline. First, it is a member of the biggest alliance in the world, the star alliance so flying with this airline help you earn mileage points with other carriers in the alliance. Secondly, stop over in Zurich is a good experience as its small and connecting from Terminal 1 to 2 and vice versa doesn't take too long. As this airline belongs to the Lufthansa group, the stability of this airline is strong with the CEO of the group offering strong backing to this airline. While the airline in my opinion is lacking of the "Wow" factor, I enjoyed my flights all all 4 sectors and which sector was the most enjoyable? That would have to be my A320NEO flight as not only I got to experience sunset at Zurich airport, flying on the excellent A320NEO aircraft for the first time. What I dislike about the airline is the awful website experience I had. Some of the airlines with the worst websites have to be Jetblue, Swiss and Latam and a few others and they certainly increase the stress level especially when things go wrong. I hope the airline can work on improving both of the airline's website and mobile version. 

I hope you enjoyed this trip report. Coming up soon would be my trip report with Singapore Airlines' Boeing 737-800 from Singapore to Phuket. 

For my other Swiss Airlines trip reports: 
(Airbus A340-300 SIN-ZRH) - click here
(Airbus A220-300 ZRH-LHR) - click here
(Airbus A320NEO LHR-ZRH) - click here

Have a good one and stay safe! 
Charles

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