Trip Report: Newark to Valencia via Zurich in SWISS Economy
I booked my ticket to New York at the last minute using miles, and within 24 hours of booking, I saw that a flight on SWISS departing from Newark at 9:55pm opened up for award bookings, so I was able to switch to that flight free of charge thanks to United's flexible booking policy. This really helped me maximize my short time in NY, by leaving late at night!
My trip back to Spain started in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at Newark. It did have a separate Business Lounge side, but within the Senator Lounge there were tables in the dining area reserved for First Class and HONS members; how hierarchical! These were specially decorated with roses, and I didn't see anyone in this zone.
I was pretty impressed by the food spread, because it looked like you could have a full meal hear, with chicken breast, pasta, meatloaf, and vegetables in the hot buffet. Some looked a bit dried out, though.
There were some picked-over sandwiches in the cold spread.
I had stuffed myself with a huge bagel sandwich earlier in the afternoon, so I just had a small bowl of vegetable soup.
They announced a slight delay in boarding after getting to the gate (just outside the lounge), so I went back to the lounge for a bit.
Now, this was my first time flying across the Atlantic in SWISS Economy. I've flown on other airlines in economy transatlantic, and SWISS in business class once, but never before SWISS economy. I must say, besides this nice fabric-covered pillow, and one of the flight attendants being quite friendly, I was disappointed by the experience.
In particular, the food was quite cut-rate, I thought. There was a choice of chicken or pasta, and I chose the chicken which turned out to be a few small morsels in a sweet and sour sauce. Appetizer was just a very small lettuce and carrot salad, and dessert was a small package of Oreos. That gave a particularly budget feeling to the whole meal. There was fresh bread and cheese, though, and they came around with the bread basket offering seconds.
For the beverage service, I saw the flight attendant pouring water to the rows in front of me from large bottles. When she came to my row, my seat neighbor didn't want dinner and just asked for water and another drink, so she gave him an individual bottle of water. When she asked what I wanted, I said water, pointing to the bottle she gave to my neighbor, so she obliged. But I could see they didn't have enough bottles for the whole plane, so I assume she was rationing.
Things looked up a bit for breakfast, because in addition to the warm croissant, we got a pot of Chobani yogurt. This is indeed a few steps up from that additive-laden, sugary, corn starchy Upstate Farms yogurt that United serves.
At the end of the flight, instead of the usual SWISS chocolate rectangles, we got Easter eggs for Easter!
We then landed in Zurich in clear skies, and a crisp, early spring air.
A 5-hour layover in the delightful SWISS Senator Lounge in the E gates perked me up after the flight (to be covered in my next post!), and then it was time for my last leg home on a SWISS A320.
SWISS is extremely consistent with what they offer. Besides a period when they served hot quiches, it's always been a roll with chocolate chips for breakfast, and a sandwich of cheese or a mono-layer of cold cuts outside of breakfast. I got the "chicken," which were small circles of chicken cold cuts and a kind of herb spread.
The flight attendant happily obliged with both apple juice and water. I saw that she really surprised the old Spanish couple in front of me when she told them that their beverages were free and they could have as many as they wanted!
This flight ended with the traditional chocolate rectangles. I actually slept through this service, so I went up to the flight attendant still in the aisle to ask for mine. She said, "Take two!"
SWISS reliably provides professional, friendly service, but I must say that I was quite disappointed with the food in Economy class across the Atlantic. (The repetition of their European catering also puts them under Lufthansa, in my opinion.) In the future, I'll probably stick with United and Lufthansa on transatlantic flights; United for the better catering, Economy Plus legroom, and Million Miler miles, and Lufthansa for the pleasant flight attendants and best catering of the bunch.