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The last time I flew with Swiss Business Class on the Boeing triple sevens from LAX to Zurich, I was lucky to score a “throne seat” for free. Unfortunately, the flight had to divert and return to LAX. So, I did not get a whole experience onboard.
This time, I decided to redeem United miles for the same Swiss aircraft and business class from Chicago O’Hare to Zurich, but I could not score a complimentary “throne seat.”
Schedule and Aircraft
- Route: Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Zurich (ZRH)
- DEP 7:10 PM ARR 10:45 AM
- Duration: 8h35m
- Flight number: LX9
- Seat number: 7G
- Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
I checked in online 24 hours before departure, hoping to change my seats to a throne seat, but all seats were taken or blocked. Oh well!
Another reason I checked in online was so that I could get a mobile boarding pass to go through the TSA security at Chicago O’Hare airport a few hours before the airport check-in counter opened. The intention was for my travel companion and me to go check out the United Polaris Lounge ORD.
The United Polaris Lounge Chicago ORD is the best lounge for Star Alliance business class passengers. But the lounge is in Terminal 1, and Swiss Air leaves from International Terminal 5. Therefore, I wanted to make sure we got there early using the mobile boarding pass because it can take time to travel between T1 and T5, as detailed in this blog post. You do not need to exit T1 and re-enter security at T5.
If you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, make sure to enter it on your reservation because Swiss Air partners with the TSA PreCheck program for priority security access.
Moreover, it’s vital to know that you must have the gate agent verify your travel documents before boarding if you did not check in at the counter and use the mobile boarding pass. The agent will then print out the paper boarding passes for you.
As I mentioned above, if you have a long layover or have time to get to Chicago O’Hare much sooner than Swiss Air’s check-in counter opens, go to the United Polaris Lounge with a mobile boarding pass at T1.
Otherwise, if you are staying at T5, where Swiss Air departs from, there’s a Swissport Lounge, which is also a Priority Pass Lounge, and a SAS Lounge at T5. Both lounges are small and very underwhelming. I’d pick SAS Lounge between the two because it’s slightly better, but not much!
In short, United Polaris Lounge Chicago ORD is the best lounge for Star Alliance Airlines business class passengers such as Swiss Air. But the lounge is at T1, which is not connected with T5. If you do not have sufficient time, then go to SAS Lounge at T5. The boarding gate for the Swiss flight is next to the SAS Lounge.
Swiss Air business class passengers boarding in Group 2. Swiss Air’s Boeing 777-300ER has first class, so they board first in Group 1.
Seats and Cabin
There are two business-class cabins on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft—the mini-cabin behind First Class and the big cabin with several business-class seats. I have a love-and-hate relationship with the Swiss Air Business Class.
First, Swiss Air makes all their best solo “throne” seats not available for free selection. Yes, even if you have a business class ticket, you cannot select those seats for free until 24 hours before departure. So, by then, those seats are sold out or taken by elite members. That’s what happened in my case. So, while I fortunately got two seats together with my travel companion, I ended up in seat 7G which is open and exposed to the aisle. My travel companion seat is 7D, but it is not as exposed as mine. However, we each have direct aisle access.
I feel bad for those who have window seats, sitting with strangers and having to climb up the aisle seats passengers to go to the bathroom.
Swiss Air is in need of an update. The seats are not as comfortable as competitors. The lack of compartments is also a big issue for me if you are not sitting in the throne seats. The seat has a tight space and is uncomfortable to move around while in the sleeping lie-flat position. The seat has multiple controls for lumbar support, massaging, etc., but it is annoying that the seat controls are on the middle section, so I tend to press the button with my shoulder accidentally. I also dislike the shoulder strap seat belt.
I find Swiss Air Business Class’s lie-flat bed is not as comfortable as I anticipated. The main issue is that the space is too tight for side sleepers to toss around. Fortunately, the armrest can be lowered if you sit in one of those pairs of seats that are exposed to the aisles. You need to wiggle the armrest and push it down or ask a flight attendant for assistance.
Drinks and Food
My Swiss flight was an evening flight, so they were offering dinner. The dinner consists of the following. I picked the halibut, short ribs entree. It was delicious!
For breakfast, the flight attendant handed out a piece of paper and a pen for business-class passengers to select and check off for what they wanted. See the picture below.
While Wi-Fi is available on the Swiss flight, it’s not complimentary. However, messaging is free for the duration of the flight.
Kudos to the crew on LX9 from Chicago O’Hare to Zürich for my flight that day. The crew is friendly and nice, especially since they provide swift service during meal and beverage services in the Business Class cabin.
Swiss Air’s amenity kit is mediocre. For starters, I don’t like the hard case that they provide as the amenity kit. Inside the case are the typical items such as an eye mask, earplugs, bright red socks, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
How Did I Book?
I redeemed 70,000 United miles plus about $48 in taxes and fees. Unfortunately, getting that kind of low redemption with United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles nowadays is impossible because of the United MileagePlus award devaluation. United Airlines now requires at least 80,000 miles one-way for a Star Alliance Saver Award Business Class ticket.
However, do understand that Swiss Air is a member of the Star Alliance so you can use other partner airlines miles for redemption. The award rate may be more attractive than using the United Mileage program. However, you can use the United website’s calendar to find the Saver availability and use other partner airlines to book. Look for the fare code letter I.
PROS: Friendly crew, fast service, free messaging, lie-flat bed, delicious meal.
CONS: Not cutting-edge seats, dislike pair seats, tight seats for sleeping, seat selection not free for solo throne seats, seat map is locked 48 hours before departure.