ZRH (Zurich) – YUL (Montreal)
3 SEP 2012
Seats 2D, 2G
After being dropped off by our luxurious Volkswagen van, we walked through the terminal and to our gate. We were called first to board and entered through Door 2L (in the middle of Business Class). The FAs were still prepping everything, pouring orange juice and champagne for the Biz passengers. One smiled at us and took a look at our boarding passes, instructing us to turn left towards the front of the plane, through the mini-Business Class cabin and into First Class.
We got to our seats and started to put our carry-ons in the overhead bins. There are only bins above the window seats, none in the middle section. It definitely helps when airlines do that; it makes the cabin feel roomier.
I chose the two middle seats for us, which are the best for couples in this configuration. Joann was in 2G on the right and I in 2D on the left.
The lead FA introduced herself to us and asked if this was our first time in Swiss First. We replied that it was and she was excited for us and assured us that we’d have an amazing time, starting off with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne and a canapé.
On the armrests of the suites were unisex amenity kits by Bally’s. The bags themselves were good quality and sturdy. Inside, the best part was probably the La Prairie skin care products.
As far as the amenity kits go on this trip, Thai’s Tumi bag was nicer, but the contents of Swiss’ Bally’s kit were better.
We loved the seats! Granted, Joann and I haven’t been in the sought after Singapore A380 suites or the over-the-top Emirates A380 suites, but we know what we like and we felt these were perfect for us.
The navy blue seats with white accents and light wood trim matched perfectly with the rest of the cabin. Like the Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich, the clean and modern simplicity resulted in an elegance that we fell in love with.
The seat is actually an adjustable air cushion which, I think, is good in theory but not executed well. It just doesn’t have the same feel as a traditional seat cushion. I deflated it as much as possible, but it never really felt “soft” to me… more like I was sitting on a half-inflated air mattress. That was about the only negative I could think of and it was a stretch.
There’s an ottoman similar to the Thai First Class one. Like that one, it also moves closer to you; helpful for short people like us. It also has a seat belt and is very wide in case you want a visitor to join you for meal service. Since it’s so wide, it’s actually much better than Cathay’s visitor seat which tapers so the shoulder room isn’t great.
All the features of the suite are controlled by a nifty little LCD touchscreen remote – seat cushion air, recline, privacy wall, lamp. About the lamp, it feels like an unnecessary feature, but it really adds a nice homey touch to the suite. It’s dimmable and suitable enough for a reading light. The privacy wall is also an important feature if you are traveling solo and stuck in the middle seat. It rises up as high as the top of the suite so you have all the privacy you need.
If you asked me right now which seat/suite is better, Cathay or Swiss, I think I’d say Cathay but Swiss puts up a REALLY good fight. While the seat isn’t as wide or as private, I really do like the styling, usable ottoman, and ability to easily communicate with your partner much better on the Swiss suite. Getting to experience either one is a W in my book.
Once the boarding doors closed, the captain made his announcement of about a seven hour flight time (too short!) and we started taxiing to the runway. Joann and I then realized that we were sharing the cabin with only ONE other passenger in 1A. Awesome!
I could go on and on about the food on this flight. It was simply delicious. Every course was great and it made for a wonderful eating experience. From beginning to end, the food and the service from both FAs were outstanding.
We started out with some mixed nuts and drinks of choice (white wine for Joann; red for me). Along with that, the FA brought out a hot bread basket that consisted of three different kinds of bread all baked together.
While we were munching on that and watching The Hunger Games, the FAs must have been in the galley preparing this spectacle:
An amazing cart full of air dried meats and shellfish! Being the avid meat eater that I am, I couldn’t wait to get into charcuterie. Joann fell in love with this cart as well because she, too, loves cured meats along with shellfish… and not to mention the smoked Balik salmon that they were very generous with as well!
The gazpacho came next. I’m not usually a fan of it usually but it was seasoned beautifully so I finished it.
The FA urged me to try the salad when I declined, assuring me it would be delicious. She was right. It was pretty good, but it was still just a salad.
Give me the good stuff! Per the FAs recommendation, I tried the bratwurst with potato salad that wasn’t on the menu and it was great. I was tempted to ask her for another serving, but I decided to save Joann the embarrassment. 😉
Joann had the “Zurich Geschnetzeltes” which, I think, was the dish that I had on the Thai Airways flight to Zurich. Luckily for her, the Swiss know how to prepare their own meals so this was delicious. The veal was fork tender and the roesti was buttery good.
We always stuff ourselves with the entrees and forget about what comes after. Joann never says no to the cheese plate.
I was surprised to see two desserts on the menu. Obviously, we had to try both. Lots of flavors – sweet, sour, even a little pepper. Kind of weird but it worked… and it was perfectly light after that hearty meal.
The In-Flight Entertainment was very nice. A huge, clear screen situated directly in front of you. It’s actually built into the seat in front of you, enclosed wood and plastic. It looks very elegant, but there was glare during some points of our flight.
The selection was extensive and recent; that’s all I could ask for. We got to watch The Hunger Games while we ate and then a few episodes of some sitcoms before sleeping.
The IFE was controlled by a remote, not the touchscreen LCD that the controlled the suite, but an old style wired remote like most airlines have. It’s probably the oldest thing in the First Class cabin. The noise cancelling headphones worked well, but never as good as Joann’s Bose QC15’s.
After dinner, it was clearly time for some rest. The FAs pulled down all the shades and offered to make our beds.
At this point, we both realized that we didn’t have pajamas to change into. I wondered if this was a change or something, but leave it to Joann to be proactive and ask the FA. She apologized about forgetting them and brought out a few different sizes to make sure we’d get the right one.
No worries on minor oversight, as long as I got my pajamas! We went to change and came back to fully flat beds and bottles of water.
A cool feature of the suite is that there is a button on the touchscreen remote that slides a panel out on the aisle side of the suite. It covers up about 18 inches so it gives you just a bit more privacy. Nice touch.
After a few hours of great sleep, we woke up about an hour out of Montreal. The FA immediately asked us if we’d like any snacks before arrival. Joann wanted to try the salad and I just went with some ice cream and coffee.
We just can’t really sing enough praises for what we experienced from Swiss on our all-too-short hop from Zurich to Montreal. It was the best overall flying experience to date. The hard product was just a little behind Cathay, but the particular pair of flight attendants we had just put us over the top in favor of Swiss.
If something tops this, I can’t wait to find out what it will be! A truly memorable experience.