To complete my journey to Vienna, I took SWISS A321neo Business Class from Zürich. No, intra-Europe Business Class is no great shakes. But SWISS provided friendly service on this short flight with a tasty light meal. Beware, though, the cabin itself is quite austere for a new plane. This flight represented the last segment of my Dallas to Vienna award flight, which I booked for 68,300 Aeroplan points.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series covering my visit to Austria in May, 2022. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.
SWISS (LX) Flight 1578
- Friday, May 6, 2022
- Depart: Flughafen Zürich (ZRH), Gate A85, 12:57, 12m late
- Arrive: Vienna International Airport (VIE), Terminal 3, 14:17, 12m late
- Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Seat: 2F
- Equipment: Airbus A321neo
Check-In and Boarding
Before getting into the review, I did want to point out a nice feature at Zürich Airport. In the E Gates, there is a public observation deck at one end of the terminal. Our flight from Toronto emptied into the terminal building itself, as you need to take a train to reach passport control. So I took advantage of a break in the rain to check out the observation deck. This really is an avgeek’s dream, with great views of the ramp area, and the associated planeporn. That included a way cool Edelweiss A340-300 and a rare Chair Airlines A319.
There is a seating area on one end, and even a pair of fixed binoculars to help with planespotting.
Also, there is a children’s play area, with an airplane-themed slide on a simulated runway. You better believe when we take our son to Europe for the first time, we’re flying through Zurich to show him this.
Anyway, the Air Canada agent in Dallas checked me in all the way to Vienna, so I didn’t have to do anything in Zürich. After a pleasant (if crowded) stay at the SWISS Business Lounge in the A Gates, I headed to the gate about 20 minutes before boarding. That gave me a few minutes to look for planes. The rainy weather made it difficult, but I did find a nice looking A220-300 a few gates down.
Though the incoming flight arrived on time, boarding began about 10 minutes late. I boarded in the priority group, and settled into my seat in the second row.
SWISS A321neo Business Class – Seating and Interior
This is a really high density A321neo, with 215 Geven Ezzenza slimline seats in a 3-3 configuration. As is customary for intra-Europe Business Class, the only benefit is a blocked middle seat. The seats measure 17.7″ wide with 31″ of pitch. On this flight, SWISS designated the first five rows as Business Class. As with other intra-Europe products, though, the divider can move to expand/contract the cabin based on demand. This was a pretty new plane, delivered in March of 2020, and still looked pretty new inside.
Despite the tight seat pitch, legroom wasn’t bad.
At first glance, it looks like the seats are outfitted with power ports at foot level. However, upon closer inspection, these were “dummy” outlets. Nothing was actually installed. Although aeroLOPA indicates USB-A outlets are installed at each seat, I don’t remember seeing any. Then again, on a barely one hour flight, I didn’t really look, either.
While it’s hard to judge seat comfort on a 1 hour 20 minute flight, I don’t think these seats rate highly in that regard. Padding felt quite lacking, and I suspect thigh fatigue will set in after about 2 hours.
SWISS A321neo Business Class – In-Flight Entertainment
In a word – nothing. There’s no seatback screens, no WiFi, and no streaming on the A321neo. Who cares on an 80-minute flight, but is perhaps disappointing on a longer route. The only option is the view out the window, but even that failed on this rainy day.
SWISS A321neo Business Class – Food & Beverage
The flight attendants handed out a bottle of water and chocolate bar shortly after boarding. Too bad for me, I slipped the bar into my bag and forgot about it. It made quite the mess when I found it melted a few weeks later…
At the time, we also received a disinfecting wipe, with a solicitation for donations to the Swiss ice hockey team on the back. (I watch hockey a bit, and I’m surprised how few Swiss hockey players made it to the NHL.)
About 15 minutes after take-off, Business Class received a light cold meal. This consisted of cheese, a small salad of mixed vegetables and mozzarella, bread, and tiramisu. Though small, I found everything on the plate fresh and tasty. It really makes you wonder, though. If European airlines can offer this on a 337-mile flight, why does a 900-mile flight in the US only get you a crappy snack basket?
The flight attendants were very kind and attentive. They even managed to offer drink refills, despite the barely one hour flight time. I’ve often been critical of Lufthansa Group’s cabin crews, which I’ve found brusque and unhelpful on long-haul flights. But they did a nice job on this short hop to Austria.
And that was about it. Rain made it too difficult to do any planespotting in Zurich, and our taxi in Vienna was so short (2 minutes), I had no time.
SWISS provided nice service and a tasty meal, which I guess is all you really need on a flight of this length. Business Class also gains you lounge access at Zürich, which are nice. But the cabins of the new A321neos are quite austere, and it’s disappointing that SWISS offers no entertainment at all. No, it doesn’t matter on an 80-minute flight. But SWISS can and should do better with longer flights in the system.