The Airbus A340 and Swiss
Until a few years ago, Swiss had a fleet of long-haul aircraft, mainly Airbus A330s and Airbus A340s, with more or less identical cabins.
The airline then acquired new Boeing 777 aircraft, with upgraded cabins, particularly in business and first class. We had the opportunity to travel on board when this aircraft was positioned between Montreal and Zurich.
While the press thought that Swiss was going to withdraw its Airbus A340s – four-engine, fuel-guzzling aircraft – from its fleet, the company decided to modernize the cabins to bring them up to Boeing 777 standards. And this process has just been completed in early 2020.
At the end of 2019, we were lucky enough to travel on one of these reconfigured aircraft, positioned between Zurich and Johannesburg, as part of the start of our 5-month family world tour.
This flight leaves late from Zurich (around 11pm) and as we had already spent the previous night on the plane from Montreal, the kids were tired and sleepy.
As a result, we had them in our arms during boarding, so we didn’t take any photos of this phase.
We chose seats in the business class mini-cabin. Located between the First Class and the galleys, the mini-cabin is ideal as there are few passengers here, unlike the main business class cabin.
2 other passengers were present, and we had 6 seats for the 5 of us, enough to be quite comfortable.
As we boarded first with the kids, I was able to take some pictures of the First Class, still empty of passengers.
This first class cannot unfortunately be booked with Aeroplan Miles, as it’s only available to passengers using miles from the Lufthansa Group’s Miles & More program. So back to business class.
The cabin is configured with:
- 1 seat at the window
- 2 central seats
- 1 to 2 seats at the window
This means that some seats do not have direct access to the corridor. In fact, even though Swiss has modernized its fleet, it has not reconfigured the cabin, which is similar to that of the A330.
In normal mode
Swiss has chosen to keep the brown and beige colours, combined with wood in its cabins. I have to admit to being a little weary of seeing these shades, which I think will have trouble aging for a few more years, which is a shame for brand new cabins.
At the seat, there is a headset with noise reduction and a hanger to put an item of clothing in the closet. Also, a welcome kit which, during this holiday season, is a Christmas stocking stuffer!
Unlike the old cabin, this one has the advantage of offering multiple storage options.
There is also storage for shoes, which is nice.
Here is an example of the legroom on Audrey’s side.
Please note: the luggage compartments are spacious and easily accommodate our Away suitcases and Osprey backpacks.
In bed mode
In bed mode, the chair remains comfortable with plenty of legroom.
However, a mattress topper would be appreciated, as other airlines like Turkish or United do.
The children slept well on this flight: about 7 hours!
Wi-Fi on board
This aircraft has a Wi-Fi internet connection on board. It is not free. Up to 59 Swiss Francs for 200 MB.
But thanks to my HSBC World Elite Mastercard and its included unlimited subscription to the Boingo service, I can connect for free!
Compared to the old cabins, this is a nice improvement in this respect, with larger screens and much better quality.
We are used to travelling on Swiss in business class, as we have done so for several years. And if there is a point where we think Swiss is losing ground, it is on the service.
Of course, the service may vary from flight to flight. But for about 3 or 4 times in a row, we were really disappointed with the service offered by the flight attendants, especially when traveling with young children.
A friend of mine who also flew on Swiss a few months ago from San Francisco to Zurich found the same thing to be true with unpleasant staff (no help from the staff to put her carry-on bag in the bin, while she was 6 months pregnant).
Perhaps a lack of training: children have different needs than adults. Serving very hot milk, offering very spicy dishes, giving out the meal service way too late to respect the order of service of the cabin… In short, a flagrant lack of attention, especially when compared to the service of other airlines like Air France, Singapore Airlines or Air Transat!
Anyway, here are some pictures of the meal offered on this night flight.
One hour before landing, breakfast were served.
However, if there is one thing that could be improved quickly, it is the service. On this flight, the chief attendant took over from the (possibly inexperienced) flight attendants. But on other recent flights, our feeling was the same.
Was it just bad luck on our end? We’ll see soon enough, as Swiss remains an advantageous option for transiting to many destinations through Zurich and from Montreal thanks to Aeroplan Miles(this company does not charge a carrier surcharge on Aeroplan).