Donnerstag, 19. Dezember 2013

SWISS First Class from Bangkok to Zurich

Why Business Class might be the better choice...

LX 181 BKK - ZRH
Seat 2G (First Class)

As Bangkok Airport does not allow mobile boarding cards yet, I had to get one at the Check In counter. Four hours beforedeparture there was quite a small line at the Business Class counter and two people at the First Class/Star Gold counter.

Check In was a matter of minutes and a nice lady from Swiss excorted me to the security. Thanks to the Fast Lane voucher this was quite quickly done as was the Immigration part, though this time I had to take of my shoes. I got with theses shoues trough the security checks of various airports in the last years, however Bangkok wanted to scan them.

Behind the immigration the lady was already waiting again and escorted me to the Thai Royal First Lounge. There I was greeted by the nice Thai emplovees and my lady from Swiss told me, she would await me again here at the entrance about 30min before departure.

At 11.20 pm the same nice lady, which had accompanied me into me to the lounge, waited again at the entrance and brought me the short way to gate D2, where my bird already waited . Boarding had already started for First and Business Class. A man who turned out to be my seat neighbor on 2 K in had followed us from the lounge.

After the lady had said goodbye at the finger, where the lucky passengers of First Class turn left J , we entered the machine by the front door 1L and went to our seats. The Amenity Kit already waited there.  After I had stored my little backpack, I set myself up in the seat. We proved fast that it would today be full load for First Class, which in this respect was interesting when in the afternoon three places still had been free. The seat is the old Swiss seat and it is starting to show its age. I think the only advantage to Business Class is its width. You have more than enough space in Business Class, too and maybe even more privacy than in these First class Seats. The IFE if no advantage either, it's also very small and outdated. So the only real advantage of a ticket in the front of the plane should be the service. While Business is all about the seat. it's the service in First. Or should be ? Read on...
First Class Seat. Privacy?

The female Maître de Cabin introduced herself to all passengers and then went behind into the business class. I must say, she unfortunately wasn't serving First Class. She was phenomenal, but unfortunately the only one.

For First Class a female and a male flight attendant were responsible. While the lady was caring about the "kitchen part", the male one served the Cabin.  a glass of champagne for the welcoming was offered and accepted. This then came promptly with an Amuse Gueule, the menu card and a hot towel. I was lucky that he started with the distribution of the pajamas at me and I so still got one in L. The last passenger then had to settle for M or XL. Unfortunately, First Class impression also ended with the champagne for this flight and changed into a feeling of a rather mediocre business class.
Amenity Kit

Our Captain came on the PA briefly and announced a delayed start of approx. 20 min since otherwise we would arrive in Zurich before the end of the ban on night flights at 6.00 am. The flight attendant used the time to ask for the entrée choice. I decided in favor of the meat, the sir in 2 K for the fish. About details on the starter he responded, he would come with the Trolley and one can there choose, answered. He still asked for soup or salad which I was pleased to decline in view of the advanced time, though.

The champagne glass was cleared away shortly before the start while the towel remained and ran funnily back and fore during take off. I then have put it on the ottoman where it stayed until my bed was made.
Amuse Gueule
 At 00.10 am the "hairdryers" then sprang to life. The A340 had the usual long into the air over Bangkok. I still looked forward to a beautiful flight in First Class at this time.
Our flight attendant then came back again as soon as the Fasten Seatbelts sign were switched off. He wanted to check the menu order once again. Unfortunately, it turned out that he had taken the main course wrongly not only with me. This time he wanted to know also the starter choice but more than the statement, I would like to have the salmon, liked to be not possible since he had already turned around to disappear during the first part of the sentence. So unfortunately, I cannot show you the prawns which I also would have liked actually.

The service quality then continued just the same to my regret, too. The flight attendant came shortly later, set the table and asked for the drink wishes. When I ordered only water (I haven't found a wine on any flight I like), I was done for him apparently. My glass was refilled once again and that was it. I cannot say that he was not seen in the cabin. He associated very intensively with the passengers who had ordered wine and played the sommelier there, though. Not that somebody misunderstands me here, I do in no way want to criticize that he dealt with the passengers intensively and gave wine tips. He had the time to it namely, as I should see. However after he had set my table, I didn't see him for approx. ¾ hours so to speak again.

The passenger in 2A had ordered just the entrée, which he was served quickly. The other passengers were served, their first courses, soup and salat, too. Only the table in front of the Passenger in 2K and mine remained empty.
empty table for a looong time...

After a long while we at least got a bread basket, so we didn't have to starve. Together with the bread my neighbor was asked, whether I would like butter or olive oil. He chose the oil, so I got 

…exactly, the butter without any comment.  About ½ hour later I just wanted to call the FA and cancel the whole dinner, when my neighbor got the fish he ordered for main course and at which he looked quite surprised. Quickly after, I was served my salmon entrée, too. I still don't know, why the preparation of the cold entrée took so long, even with the FA in the galley preparing hot courses at this time, too. The salmon was ok, but nothing special. The blinis with sour cream, which I had received without being asked, were very good though I would have preferred them warmer.
Balik salmon
 During the meal the MdC came back to First Class and know I got to know, why my neighbor had been so surprised by his fish. He had ordered the salmon as a starter, too and this had been forgotten totally.
Steak, quite nice

I had the steak as main course which really came quickly after the starter and was exactly how I like it. However, I was extremely tiered at this time, so I skipped dessert and just asked for my bed, which was prepared quickly by a FA from Business Class (she also took the towel away, remember?). Water was not offered nor served during the night without request (other than in Business during my flight to Bangkok).
SWISS bed, quite comfortable

So I slept for about seven hours. The seat of course is wide and long, but I have to say, that I did not sleep better than in the new Business Class a week before.

It was about 3.00am German time when I woke up again, three more hours to go. In the galley one could hear the preparations for breakfast…

First of all I got out of my pyjamas and into the day clothes again. My bedding I had put onto the ottoman where it then was cleared away. On demand with the female FA in the Galley I got a pre-breakfast drink in form of a water-bottle.

The breakfast service started with blankets on the table shortly after getting up. I must say this thing is really gigantic. A meal of two travelers together would be without problems. Unfortunately, I had to state that my seat had followed the service quality during the night and passed away. The ottoman didn't move of the place anymore and the seat still could be taken to take off or lounge position but he otherwise also was on strike. Unfortunately, I also couldn't test the IFE since it didn't want to have itself delivered out of its holding place. However, what I could see of the neighbors, the screen is very small and outdated for First Class (I would say my tablet has a bigger one). About the quality I can't say anything.

The details about breakfast on the menu of Swiss are more than lean so that one depends on the information from the flight attendants. There was juice or Smoothie, then yoghurt with muesli or fruit salad, croissants, bread and one omelet with trimmings, today and of course coffee or tea. My seat neighbor on 2 K asked for the omelet, but without supplements. I asked for the same, but with ham/bacon and to this I also requested a cappuccino. 

When the roll basket was handed (the bread came from Switzerland, to what the flight attendant obviously proudly pointed), I snatched unasked a glass of the jam which also was in the basket. The flight attendant turned back to my neighbor, because he had forgotten to offer him jam or honey, too.
Fruit, bread and jam

When my neighbor got his omelet together with the (forgotten) salmon from dinner, the FA  asked me, if I would also like sausage with the omelet, which was gladly accepted. My Omelet then came along promptly not only with ham and sausage, but also mushrooms and spinach, i.e. with a "full program". The whole then proved to be very low-salt to express it carefully.  Salt and pepper unfortunately was not found on the table. Due to the salty the ham the whole was to some extent then delicious, however. By the way, ham and cheese, which I had seen in the galley, were never offered...
Omelet with side orders

If, till now, I haven't spoken about the cappucino, that's because I had no-one yet. The coffee arrived when the meal was already completed and the table cleared. Therefore there was obviously no more time then from the view of the flight attendants for a second one before the landing either.
lonely cappucino
We had a gently touchdown at 6.04am in Zurich. I left the plane quickly through door 1L into the terminal. I wanted at least see the Swiss First Class Lounge and boarding for the Barcelona flight was already in 40min.

Altogether, the flight was a total disappointment for intercontinental First Class. Primarily if one considers that Swiss claims to be a leading European Airline. The seat is comfortable, however, it gets old and outdated and it shows. In my opinion the new Business Class seat if, except for the width, be better choice. The meal was ok but this it is also in the business class. Concerning the service, this was neither First Class nor good Business Class.
I hope, I just got a bad crew, but compared to my experience on the flight to Bangkok, I would not spend the miles for an upgrade again, but for a second flight in Business Class.

There was, however someone outstanding on this flight: the Maitre de Cabine. On the flights to Switzerland the Business Class amenity kits are metal boxes with different Swiss airliners. I had asked the MdC during the flight, if I could snatch one for my nephew. Not anyone, but the box with the Avro "Jumbolino". She promised me to check, if there was one available. After I woke but she apologized, there had not been a single one on-board. However, as she told me, she had contacted the ground services in Zurich and there should be one waiting for me. And really, when leaving the plane, she brought me to a young man next to the exit, who gave me not just one, but two of the boxes as a gift from Swiss. So this gives a big "thumbs up" and special thanks to this lady.
gifted kits. Thank you SWISS

SWISS Business Class from Zurich to Bangkok

Seat 4K (Business Class)

At arrival at the gate, there were already quite some people waiting. However, boarding had yet to start, which it did after some minutes. We boarded through door 2L and I took the turn left to the "Stübli". The first impression was very nice with just two rows in front of the galley. The big cabin after the galley looked much more anonymous.

My seat 4K was the first one behind the First Class Cabin at the window. The seat looked quite well and in my opinion it as also absolutely wide enough. The seat becomes a fully flat bed, not an angled one. So there is more than enough room for the legs, too. The seat cushion can be made firmer or softer using the panel on the little "table" next to the seat. The seat also has a massage function, which I found rather basic.

The only part of the seat outdated is the IFE. Though you are sitting quite near because of the staggered seat, it is still small and or mediocre quality. I don't care about this, as I normally only use it for the "airshow" and at last it worked (other than the one in First Class on my way back).

Cushion, blanket and amenity kit already were waiting at my seat. The blanket was a very nice one with one softer side, quite comfortable for sleeping. The Fas offered newspapers and a glass of Champagne, both were accepted.

Punctually we started our short taxi to the runway where the four "hairdryers" sprung to action and got our bird after the usual long take off into the air.

10min after take off the fasten seatbelts sign went off and service began. As this was a redeye flight, the FAs tried to bring us through the dinner in a friendly, but fast and efficient way so everyone could get some sleep afterwards.

I chose the venison ragout as my main course, because I will have Thai food the whole week from now on.

The meal started with Salmon rillettes, quite cold but very good. I liked the main course, too. Others might have found it quite salty but I like it that way. Because of the night time, I skipped the cheese and went directly to the dessert. The white chocolate mousse was again quite cold, but also very good.

Main Course

After dessert I turned the seat into a bed and slept for about 6h very well. I found the seat quite comfortable in bed mode, too. I sleep on my side, so I did not have any problems with the width, either. Bigger persons sleeping on the back may find it a little narrow, though.  Concerning the cubicle for the feet I found it quite spacious. I have shoes in 10 and I could put one foot in front of the other without problems. I was not able to see the difference to the "throne" seats, though, because the Business Class was at almost full load. As a conclusion I must say, that I did not sleep worse than in the "old" First Class seats on my way back.
waking up after a good nap
I liked very much, that the crew held the cabin at a quite low temperature. It was too cold just to stay with a T-Shirt, but it allowed quite a good nap.
Good Morning

About 6h later I woke up quite refreshed and found a bottle of water next to my seat. A nice gesture during the night together with the immigration card and fast lane voucher.

The menu for breakfast on Swiss is quite basic and you have to ask the FAs.  Today it was fruit salad or yoghurt, jam, ham and cheese and as a warm option an omelet. I was not hungry yet so I stayed with the cold part and a nice cappuccino to wake up.

Shortly after breakfast our decent to Bangkok started. After landing we had quite a taxi to the gate with some heavies to see. 

Leaving the plane through door 1L and getting through Immigration to the Airport Rail Link was a matter of minutes. It was a very nice flight with Swiss in Intercontinental Business Class…