Overseas Travel in Comfort

Tamás Varga
December 12, 2011

The Business Class of Swiss Airlines has been awarded the title 'Best Business Class in Europe' at this year's World Travel Awards. Our travel expert, Tamás Varga took the Zurich-Chicago route to experience what this class has to offer.

Boarding: Zurich airport is an excellent transit airport to overseas travelers. Everything takes place with the precision of a Swiss watch. The Business Lounge – that has the world's longest airport bar – offers a wide range of services. Gastronomic delicacies, Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, in addition to showers satisfying all requirements, are all at the guests’ disposal. In case of flights to the United States, the papers required for entry are checked  at the gate. It's quick and very friendly.

On board: We are excited to try the Swiss Business class that received the "Best Business Class" award for European airlines at this year's World Travel Award. In the 45-seat business class, you feel as if you stepped from the airplane into a mixture of a hotel room and an extremely comfortable office – with some small compromises, of course. Eight of every nine seats are next to the aisle.

You can ask for an entirely solo seat with two armrests and a desk. It is worth trying the device, located on the side of the seat and seems to have been born from the marriage of a desk and a bedside table, has to offer: not only a folding board on which laptop or tablet PC can be placed (iPod, USB, 110-volt outlets available), but also space for newspapers, books, small bags, drinks, or snacks.

The seat in which the traveler prepares to sleep is similar to a spacious armchair. In the toiletry set, designed for the newly created class, you can find sanitary equipment, pillows, blankets, and a sleeping mask so that the traveler may relax. The seat  not only inclines backwards as usual  but is a motor-driven chair-bed, specially designed to  slide into the spacious leg space forward, and backward into the thick-looking backrest. Moreover, if the traveler’s relaxation is best served by some back massage, the bed can also provide that.

Entertainment: Before going to sleep – if you wish – there are movies or video games, TV quiz shows or music on individual monitors. If you are only interested in the current location of the plane, you can follow your own journey on the screen in 3D. Of course, you can choose from a wide range of entertainment according to your own individual needs.

Food and beverage: SWISS uses long-distance flights to promote Swiss cuisine, enabling the traveler to taste with pleasure the cuisine of each region in Switzerland. It is because a given region is always presented in the spirit of the principle ‘Taste Switzerland at SWISS’. This fall, the featured region is Fribourg canton, and their method is very practical. This flight, the menu was designed the chef and culinary director of the 14 GaultMillau-point – that is cutting edge – Le Vieux Manoir hotel, Franz W. Faeh. He says these are pieces of contemporary haute cuisine with some Asian hint.

The specialties are rose tea smoked chicken breast slices with grilled vegetables; the choice for main dish is either pot beef slices with red wine-Welsh onion sauce, which is garnished with risotto, broccoli and baby carrot, or corn grown, farm chicken breast with rosemary cream sauce, oven baked potatoes and mixed vegetables. Fish fans may request zander and small (datterini) with tomatoes and saffron potatoes. If you are traveling above the clouds, and still want something light and meat-free, you can ask for tomato ragout and fennel with green olives and long grain rice prepared according to the recipe of the more than one hundred and ten years old vegetarian restaurant Hiltl in Zurich.

Of course, you cannot travel far enough from the country of cheeses that there would not be a selection of them offered – with fruit bread! Swiss chocolate appears among the desserts - and even ice cream can be ordered from the cabin crew.

The wine recommended for the main meal, in part also came from near Fribourg, from the slopes of Vully around Lake Murten. The traveler can page through the carefully detailed drink list, and consume some Bordeaux Clarendelle to accompany the beefsteak, and when reading, might ask for a fragrant, white Chasselas to keep Swiss flavor on the gums.

Arrival: Probably, it happened for the first – and also – last time that I entered the territory of the United States so quickly since we could use the Diplomatic Corridor as the guest of SWISS. By the time the baggage arrived, the other passengers had also passed the passport control.

Return: The flight leaves for Europe in the evening, and passengers who want to spend flight time with relaxation should arrive at the airport in time to visit the SWISS Business lounge. Before departure, a wide choice of cold and hot dishes awaits passengers, so, it is possible, say, to have a complete main meal, and go to sleep right after take-off.

Conclusion: Compared other European and Asian airlines, which are known to provide outstanding service on first and business class, it was not by accident that the newly created SWISS Business Class won the first prize in its category.

Tamás Varga

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