Review: Swiss 139 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Zurich

Introduction
Virgin Atlantic 207 787-9 Economy Class Hong Kong to London Heathrow
Swissport Lounge London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic 206 787-9 Premium Economy Class London Heathrow to Hong Kong
Plaza Premium Lounge Hong Kong
United Club Hong Kong
Swiss 139 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Zurich
Swiss Arrivals Lounge Zurich
Glacier Express 902 Zermatt to Andermatt
Hotel Victoria Jungfraujoch
Touring the Hotel Schynige Platte
Hotel Baur au Lac Zurich
Swiss Senator Lounge Terminal A
Swiss Panorama Business Class Lounge Terminal E
Swiss 138 777-300ER Business Class Zurich to Hong Kong


Swiss Flight 139
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 24 Dep: 23:35 (00:05)
Destination: Zurich (ZRH) Gate: E54 Arr: 06:10 (06:00)
Duration: 12 h 35 min (11 h 55 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 5B/5K (Business Class)

Even though the first class and priority passengers boarded before me, I was the first person in the business class queue, so naturally I was surprised to see a queue before boarding. Apparently the cabin manager was giving every single passenger a warm welcome, and slowly showing them to their seat. While I do appreciate that, it got annoying as economy also boarded through door 2L (door 1L was exclusively for first class), so my parents took about half an hour to get onboard.

I turned left into the forward cabin – I’d assigned myself seat 5B, which is the left aisle seat of the second row of the forward mini-cabin. I like the mini-cabin – it features 10 seats, only six of which were occupied on the flight, so it was very exclusive.

IMG_0048Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

Swiss’s 777-300ER features staggered Vantage XL seats, arranged in a 1-2-2/2-2-1 configuration. The forward cabin features 10 seats, and the rear cabin features 52 seats.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 22.59.44
Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin Seatmap

While the “throne” seats are definitely more desirable, especially seats in row 4 which feature a completely unrestrictive footwell, these seats were all blocked out for HON Circle members, so the best that I could do was get seats in row 5. While the non-throne window seats are subpar if you’re travelling alone, they’re fine if you’re travelling with a partner.

IMG_0049Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

IMG_0052Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

A crew member wanted to walk over to first class, but when he saw me taking a picture he hid behind the galley until I was done. I found that very nice of him.

IMG_0053Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

IMG_0054Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

Unfortunately in the case of row 5 there’s a missing window, though that’s a small price to pay for the exclusivity of the cabin.

IMG_0055Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seats 5A and 5B

While in theory the throne seats are the most private, I wouldn’t have a problem with a window seat of two either. It’s not too hard to climb over the aisle passenger (not that it’s easy, but it definitely could be harder), and it features a lot of head privacy. It does feature much less storage, though, but I’ll save that till a bit later.

IMG_0057Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 5A

I had a look at my own seat, 5B, which was an aisle seat (I made a seat switch at the end that I’ll talk about later, but I’ll focus on this seat for the time being).

IMG_0059Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 5B

The seat features TV screens that are pretty big and really HD. They look less clunky in real life than they do in the photo.

IMG_0056Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class TV Screens

Legroom, as you would imagine in a fully flat seat, was ample…

IMG_0060Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Legroom

…as was the foot cubby. It’s worth noting that the foot cubby isn’t restrictive here, even in the “throne” seats.

IMG_0061Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Foot Cubby

The “main” seat controls were intuitive, and there were also some extra refinements you could uncover by the remote, such as lumbar support and an (inexistent) massage function.

IMG_0068Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat Controls

IMG_0152Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat Controls

There was a pillow and blanket at the seat – I can’t find the picture of the blanket, but here’s the pillow, which was large and comfy.

IMG_0121Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Pillow

There’s a little storage compartment under the TV. Row 4 has a much larger one that I could put my computer in, though row 5’s can only put an object like a phone. The seat isn’t huge on storage space, but things like this tell you they tried, even though you can’t charge your phone through the compartment when it’s closed (it’s interesting that closing the compartment wasn’t part of the pre-takeoff or landing check).

IMG_0062Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Storage Compartment

The red bag isn’t actually the amenity kit, but a tote bag with the amenity kit in it. I can’t for the life of me find the picture I took of the contents, but the kit featured a toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, an eye mask and moisturiser. The actual package was something we found useful storing money during our time in Switzerland – still a bit cheap, especially with all the Rimowa action we’re seeing nowadays, but I was happy with it.

IMG_0095Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Amenity Kit

The final thing about the seat was that it featured a center console. It was wooden and felt very “boxy”, like the rest of the cabin.

IMG_0064Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Center Console

In the middle was a table, perfect for placing drinks, phones, etc..

IMG_0084Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Center Table

Next to the console was a water bottle holder with a bottle of water, but I had grabbed a handful (or, in Jason’s words, a plethora) of water bottles from the lounge prior to the flight, so there wasn’t a high risk of dehydration there.

IMG_0069Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Water Bottle

To the right of the below picture is the reading light, which was adjustable and rather bright. To the left of that was the headphone jack, which I actually found rather logical (you place the headphones on your ears, which are about that height), and to the left of that was a magnetic hook with my seat number on it. (The main reason the side console exists is to hold the tables, but it’s also a smart way to ensure privacy, if nothing else).

IMG_0071Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Side Console

Hanging from the nook were the headphones and a coat hanger, which I found smart (I didn’t have a coat to hang, but I sure hope the crew hangs it for you, instead of you using the coat nook yourself).

IMG_0070Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Side Console Items

The headphones were pretty high quality and I found them really comfortable, if not comparable to my own Plantronics Backbeat Pro.

IMG_0120Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Headphones

The seat also featured a coat hook, but I’d imagine it covered the TV, if nothing else. Also, I think that coats were hung on this flight (I didn’t have one), so it wouldn’t really be put to use.

IMG_0073Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Coat Hook

The armrest is also retractable, which makes it easy to get out of the seat. I like it up, as it offers much more head privacy.

IMG_0083Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Retractable Armrest

The purser, a middle-aged(ish) lady, saw me taking lots of pictures and asked if it was my first time on a 777 (the 777’s new to Swiss, but not exactly to the aviation world). I said it wasn’t, but it was my first time on Swiss, and her face lit up. She kept being this awesome throughout the flight, if a little unpolished (it makes sense, as the crew hasn’t really had a lot of time to train on the 777, and may not have had the hang of it yet). The passenger in 4F asked who I took the pictures for. As much as I wanted to sound all inspirational and go all DYKWIA, I just awkwardly said they were for “myself”.

I had a look at the entertainment system, and quickly went through the selection. As I didn’t actually go through the system (I’ll explain later), I’ll cover it on the inbound, but it seemed pretty disorganised to me.

IMG_0085Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Entetainment Screen

IMG_0086Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Entertainment Selection

I had a look back at the entryway, which was attractive, though that didn’t hide the fact that boarding was taking really long. Each person had their own welcome and boarding pass observation, and including the economy class passengers, it just made for a very, very long queue. Ultimately I appreciate their efforts, but it would be nice if they welcomed them after they got to their seats.

IMG_0076Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Entryway

I asked the purser if I could take a picture of the main cabin. While the answer was no, she justified by saying there’d be a lot of traffic as both business and economy were trying to take their seats, and I could try taking one from the back later in the flight.

I visited the lavatory, which featured an awesome sink and various amenities (not that I found the amenities very premium, but still). The aircraft was delivered in April that year, so it did have the “new plane smell”.

IMG_0078Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lavatory

IMG_0077Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lavatory Sink

IMG_0079Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lavatory

The amenities included some pads and a lot of moisturising cream.

IMG_0081Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lavatory Amenities

The junior flight attendant passed me a glass of water, and upon reminding (I don’t know if I was just young, or if she forgot about me) gave me a menu. I learned that the senior flight attendants usually serve the right side, something I’ll keep in mind for next time, as the junior flight attendants seemed uninterested and almost degrading to me (people probably less than ten years younger than her).

IMG_0087Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage

I’ll get further into the menu later, but here it is:

IMG_0088Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Menu

Further than that, there was also a hot towel, which was nice.

IMG_0091Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Hot Towel

During boarding, one thing I realised was that every “throne” seat and “enclosed” middle seat had some extra features on the “extra” console on the seat, which I’ll talk about right now, as after boarding seat 4J, 4K and 5K were all left empty. Apparently the entertainment system didn’t work, so instead of telling the three friends I had in the main business class cabin to come up, I moved to one of the seats myself, and the kid moved up to my seat, while the parents stayed behind.

IMG_0181Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 5K

Of course by “one of the seats” I mean the throne seat, which features a lot of extra storage, including a shoe cubby, some side storage and generally a lot of extra space. It wasn’t open for selection at the time, but seeing it vacant, I just moved there with the flight attendants’ permission. It also meant that the purser would be serving me, which made me much more comfortable than with the junior flight attendant.

IMG_0090Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Shoe Cubby

IMG_0103Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Shoe Cubby

IMG_0100Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Side Storage

Some side storage here includes an entire drawer that can be pulled out for storage, which I found very useful. So if you’re into space, try going for one of the throne seats (they’re not especially restrictive by the feet, either, as one of the main updates of their 777 product), or one of the D seats in odd numbered rows or G seats in even numbered rows.

IMG_0102Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Side Storage Drawer

Since the seats in front were left empty, I could basically choose whichever seat I wanted (I wasn’t going to choose seat 4J voluntarily, but it looked like 4K had a less restrictive foot cubby – more on that later).

IMG_0094Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seats 4J and 4K

Something the flight attendants didn’t realise when they let me move was that I wouldn’t be watching the safety video, as my entertainment screen wouldn’t work at all. But I know the drill, so I just observed.

Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Safety Video

IMG_0096Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Safety Video

IMG_0097Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Safety Video

IMG_0098Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Safety Video

IMG_0099Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Safety Video

At this point, a passenger from the main cabin came up and basically demanded one of the empty seats. While the entertainment system wasn’t working on 4J and 4K, the flight attendants suggested he take seat 4D, which he did. He eyed the cabin, making my mom uncomfortable, but he didn’t cause any extra hassle throughout the rest of the flight.

While I acquainted with most of the side storage options rather easily, I just couldn’t get over the one on my right. I didn’t know what it was – it fit my shoes, and it fit other things, but the door was just so hard to handle…

IMG_0104Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Side Storage Area (?)

I don’t think the footwell at the throne seats are all that restrictive. It’s definitely more restrictive than the other seats, but I tried the seat out for a while and it really wasn’t that bad. Furthermore, I always assumed that the footwell kind of slanted down, but it doesn’t – it’s just wonky photography that happens to everyone, as the cubby is actually flat.

IMG_0106Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Footwell

While the “ambience” light next to the seat was classy, I didn’t actually find it to contribute much to the flight experience.

IMG_0105Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Ambience Light

Instead I just eyed out the window, where I saw the Finnair A350 we could have been on for a bit cheaper. My parents insisted on going direct, so I guess in terms of “value” you’re not missing anything – if you think you need to know more about the product, Jason’s reviews are very articulate.

IMG_0109Finnair Airbus A350-900 Hong Kong Airport

We stayed at the gate for a bit longer than scheduled, where I caught up with my friends on my phone, especially given that I knew WiFi would be pretty bad at most of the places we were going to in Zurich. We pushed back at around midnight, where we passed some pretty interesting traffic before taking off, including some beautiful A380s.

IMG_0113Traffic Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0117Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

The cabin lights didn’t go off all the way during takeoff, so I couldn’t grab any nice pictures until we were pretty much halfway up on our ascent.

IMG_0138Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin during Takeoff

I did manage to get some good photos then, but the window still kind of reflects it. This was the best I could do, though.

IMG_0141Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

I went to check on my friends’ parents, and also went and took a few pictures of the main cabin, which was full by the front, but there were a few vacant seats by the back.

IMG_0143Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Main Cabin

I also went back to economy to see how it was there – while the seats looked fine, I wouldn’t want to be stuck between 17 inches of space for 12 hours, and a 3-4-3 configuration on a 777 really scares me.

IMG_0144Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class Cabin

IMG_0145Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class Cabin

I worked for a bit before mealtime, pleased with the option of putting my computer right next to me on the side console while doing so. The tray table is rather large, a little too much so to get out of the seat easily while eating, but ample for working.

IMG_0146Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tray Table

IMG_0147Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tray Table Half Folded

Speaking of working, each seat is equipped with a 110V port as well as a USB port, both of which were functional on my flight from takeoff to landing. There didn’t seem to be any unplugging policies during takeoff and landing either.

IMG_0184Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Power Ports

I realised that on this flight the WiFi didn’t work, even after entering European airspace. Not that 39 CHF (~HK$315/US$40) for 150MB is a deal I would take in pure sanity, but it’s still worth noting.

To the left of me was a remote, not that it worked, so I’ll cover that on the inbound.

IMG_0154Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Remote Control

To look a little closer, here’s the menu, which consists of both a “full” menu that varies on every flight, as well as an express option for both flights, which stays the same on every flight as far as I know.

IMG_0089
Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Menu

The meal service started off with a drink, which I chose a coke. The cup wasn’t big, but the purser topped my cup up every time she went past, which was really nice and something I don’t see much in business class.

IMG_0148Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Pre-Meal Service Beverage

I ordered the salmon for my starter. It looked remarkably similar to the other salmon dishes I’ve had for airplane starters, but in terms of the execution, it was pretty much spot on. The side salad was rather sad and it was interesting that the cheese course came with the starter, though I didn’t touch that until after the main course.

IMG_0149Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Starter

I mean, have you not seen something like this somewhere before? I’m not complaining, since that didn’t stop this dish from being delicious as ever – the crab seemed fresh and well cooked, and the salmon was thick, unlike some razor-thin packaged cuts I’ve seen before.

IMG_0151Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Starter – Smoked Salmon and Crab Meat Rolls with Sour Cream

It was served with bread. Swiss is an affiliate member of the Lufthansa Group, so naturally that was a good enough reason to go for pretzel bread. It wasn’t warm, but it was good – I found it interesting that we were to pick the bread out of the basket with our hands, which could potentially be unsanitary.

IMG_0150Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Pretzel Bread

For the main course I chose the veal, which was the recommendation on the menu. While the taste couldn’t be beat, I couldn’t help but feel like it looked a bit like someone vomited on the left side of the plate. Everything, including the sides, was perfectly cooked though – the only element that I didn’t love in terms of taste was the rösti, and that’s my fault as I’m not a fan of the herbs the Swiss usually put in their röstis.

IMG_0155Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Main Course – Zurich-style Sliced Veal with Mushroom Cream Sauce, Rösti, Seasonal Vegetables

I was the only one in the family that took the dessert, which was carrot cake. It was delicious but not memorable.

IMG_0157Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Dessert – Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese and Caramelised Pecans

I then went to brush, and gladly was given a plastic cup from the flight attendants.

One of the lavatories wasn’t occupied, but there was a man waiting outside. I asked the man why he wouldn’t use the other lavatory, and he said it was rather nasty in there. I opened the door, and it was – tissues were everywhere, and I think there was blood in the toilet as well, as if someone was on their period.

The male flight attendant welcoming everyone came over to the line and said that there was a vacant toilet, and I told him the situation. He immediately, gloveless, hurriedly put all the tissue paper in the waste basket, gave the sink a clean then, lastly, gave his own hands a clean. I found that very nice and subsequently brushed in the lavatory without any problems.

After I was done, another male flight attendant came over with chocolates, where I gladly took one and put in the cupboard to save for after I slept.

IMG_0158Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Chocolate

The meal service was good, but the purser impressed me. She was only catering for three passengers in the mini-cabin, so I guess service was extra personalised, but she was like a serving fly, making sure that everyone was great while trying to be courteous with us at the same time. She was obviously flustered with the new 777, as many of the crews are flying the 777 for the first or second time, but unlike the flight on my last brand-new plane, she was managing it brilliantly. So the service wasn’t all that efficient, but I know they tried their best.

For sleeping, I decided to take seat 4K. While 5K was fine with me, especially for working, the advantage of 4K was that it had a much larger footwell due to the lack of seats in front, and quite a bit of privacy as well, a bit more so than the throne seat I had. The bed was comfortable and I got comfy with the padding – it wasn’t the best-padded seat I’ve ever had (on par with Cathay’s A350, and a little behind their A340 or their economy seat), but was enough. The bed was long, too.

IMG_0159Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Bed

IMG_0160Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Bed Footwell

IMG_0161Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Bed

Between the privacy, the early wakeup time I had the day and the fact that I was jetlagged to the point where it was basically 3 AM at all times for me, I managed to get a solid eight hours of sleep, which was awesome. I woke up to an amazing sunrise, and literally just missed the breakfast orders.

IMG_0171Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Sunrise View

IMG_0178Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Sunrise View

IMG_0173Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Sunrise View

The purser saw that I was awake when she went past and I asked if I could have some breakfast, which she obliged, surprisingly. She came with a breakfast setup, and asked if I’d like each component.

“Tea?” “Yes.”
“Orange Juice?” “Yes, please.”
“Some fruit?” “That would be great, thanks.”
“Hot dish?” “Yeah, why not?”
“What hot dish would you like, sir? We have a good egg dish and the Chinese option.” “The egg sounds good, please.”
“Would you like some bread with that as well?” “No, thanks.”

I felt like I was going through immigration, and while the egg itself was weird, rubbery and overcooked, I did like the sausage. The purser was also on top of her game, but obviously flustered, unfortunately.

IMG_0168Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast

IMG_0164Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast – Scrambled Egg Stuffed Crêpe with Sausage

I may have asked for one, two, or five packets of sugar for my tea from the other junior flight attendant, who focused on the main cabin but was much more accommodating towards me than the first junior flight attendant.

IMG_0166Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast Tea and Orange Juice

IMG_0169Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast Fruit

After breakfast, my tray table wasn’t taken for a long time, but I did kind of want to work before landing. I pressed the call button, but nothing happened, so I went and handed back my tray table at the galley, where they were apologetic and took the tray table promptly. I went back to my seat and worked for half an hour or so.

At this point, purple mood lighting kicked in and we started our descent into Zurich Airport.

IMG_0188Sunrise upon Descent Zurich Airport

IMG_0199Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin upon Descent

IMG_0201Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Mood Lighting

The descent into Zurich was quick and scenic at the same time, but there were clouds that stopped the views from being breathtaking.

IMG_0204Views upon Descent Zurich Airport

IMG_0210Views upon Descent Zurich Airport

IMG_0216Views upon Descent Zurich Airport

IMG_0224Views upon Descent Zurich Airport

We touched down at Zurich Airport at around 5:55 AM, and went past some regional jets before finally parking next to a Swiss A330.

IMG_0229Arrival into Zurich Airport

IMG_0233Traffic Zurich Airport

IMG_0230Swiss Airbus A330-300 Zurich Airport

From there we were on our way out to the arrivals lounge for a couple of minutes, before we were whisked away to Täsch.

Bottom Line

In this case, I didn’t think the price was right, but if it is, Swiss has a very solid product for flying from Asia to Europe. The seats are great, especially if you can grab a throne seat in the mini-cabin. The service and food on this flight were good as well – I’ll take the junior flight attendant as a fluke, as all of the other crew members were friendly on the flight, as well as all the crew members on the return.

I’m flying Swiss again under a slightly better price in the near future, and am seated in the main cabin, so I’ll see if that’s any better.

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