On Friday, January 29th, 2016, SWISS, the Swiss flag carrier – a member of the Lufthansa Group and Star Alliance – celebrated the delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER. The aircraft landed at Zurich airport, fresh off the Boeing final assembly line in Everett, WA.
The newest and largest member of the SWISS fleet features an overhauled interior with enhancements in all three classes of service, as well as satellite Internet access. The airline’s new flagship will be assigned to long-haul routes between Zurich and Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv, starting this summer. These routes operate from Concourse E (also called Dock E) at Zurich airport – the newest terminal which opened in 2003.
Until now, SWISS did not operate any lounges at Concourse E. Passengers would use one of the SWISS lounges in Concourse D, then take the Skymetro automated people mover to the remote Concourse E. The setup was mildly convenient, and other airlines including fellow Star Alliance members grant their passengers access to the Panorama Lounge by Swissport in Concourse E.
With the increase in capacity that the Boeing 777-300ER affords, SWISS is creating a true premium long-haul travel experience out of Concourse E, and has unveiled three new gorgeous lounges: the SWISS Business Lounge E, SWISS Senator Lounge E, and SWISS First Lounge E.
Prepare to feast your eyes, as SWISS is raising the bar.
A refreshed design, stunning location, and enhanced catering
The new lounges stretch across over 3,300 square meters (35,500 square ft.) along a wide open air terrace. Accessible from all three lounges, the open deck features beautiful panoramic views of the airport grounds, runway 28, and the Swiss alps. It is sure to become popular with aviation lovers, and is an exciting addition to the traditional lounge environment.
The interior design is a modern take on SWISS‘ traditional décor, yet it shares its DNA. The airline’s signature touches such as the wall made of Jura limestone and posh Vitra furniture are still there. But while SWISS’ lounges sometimes feel too minimalistic, the new design has a genuinely warmer vibe with a more expansive color palette, gorgeous woods and finishes, curves, and elegant hardwood floors.
Catering got an upgrade, too – and a significant one. SWISS has partnered with LSG Sky Chefs to offer a generous cold buffet, in addition to a new concept dubbed “front cooking”: live cooking stations with chefs preparing hot entrees on demand. The feature is available in both the Business and Senator Lounges, and represents a major upgrade over the legacy lounges in Concourse A (Schengen) and D (non-Schengen.)
The three Concourse E lounges offer separate zones for relaxation, work, and dining. The design emphasizes privacy with secluded, semi-private workspaces and private relaxation pods with cozy lounge chairs facing the windows.
A rare convenience at airport lounges: the ubiquitous power outlets are universal and do not require an adapter.
SWISS Business lounge – ZRH Concourse E
At 1,200 sqm. (13,000 sqf.), and with seating for 200 guests, the new SWISS Business Lounge is the largest of the three new lounges at Concourse E. Logically, the Business Lounge also has the most generous access rules: it welcomes all premium passengers departing on long-haul SWISS and Star Alliance flights, as well as Miles&More elite members, Star Alliance Gold passengers, and United Club members and Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Worldwide members. (See our dedicated page for detailed access rules.)
The Business lounge features comfortable seating in elegant surroundings, with panoramic vistas and access to the open air terrace.
Patrons will enjoy a large selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks in addition to a cold buffet and the “front cooking” service, featuring hot dishes cooked to order.
Four well-appointed shower suites are shared with the adjacent Senator Lounge. Towels and bath amenities are provided.
SWISS Senator lounge – ZRH Concourse E
Slightly smaller at 1,100 sqm (12,000 sqf.) and with 170 seats, the Senator Lounge caters to Miles&More Senator passengers, though the lounge also welcomes Star Alliance Gold customers as well as First Class passengers departing on Star Alliance carriers. (See our dedicated page for detailed access rules.)
The Senator Lounge boasts a gorgeous design with an open layout and comfortable seating. Numerous individual relaxation pods are available by the windows, as well as secluded workspaces.
Plenty of space is allocated to the dining area, an expansive and somewhat minimalistic space with the “front cooking” station as the focal point. Patrons in a hurry will also find a generous buffet.
Catering is superior at the Senator Lounge compared to the Business Lounge, though the most marked difference is in the selection of alcoholic beverages. The Senator Lounge features a whiskey bar – in a dedicated room, no less – with 120 varieties from all over the world.
Four well-appointed shower suites are shared with the adjacent Business Lounge. Towels and bath amenities are provided.
SWISS First lounge – ZRH Concourse E
The SWISS First Class Lounge is the airline’s most exclusive lounge, offering a luxurious environment to a lucky few.
No frequent flyer card will get you in – to enter the haven, you’ll need to fly First Class on SWISS, or hold the prestigious HON status which is granted to the Lufthansa Group’s top spenders. The First Class lounge is off limits to First Class passengers flying on other Star Alliance airlines, who will be directed to the Senator Lounge instead. (See our dedicated page for detailed access rules.)
Despite the restrictive access rules, the space measures a generous 750 sqm., or 8000 sqf., with seating for 80 guests, ensuring patrons the ultimate in privacy.
The entrance sets the tone with a wine humidor showcasing a collection of over 1,000 bottles. Throughout, the refined design builds on the living room experience which is the hallmark of SWISS’ legacy First Class Lounge in Concourse A, but with more elegant finishes and enhanced privacy. Cozy mini living room separated by mobile partitions come complete with comfy seats, couches, a coffee table, and large flat screen TV – not to mention the ever present view on the Swiss Alps.
There is a subtle continuity between the décor of the First Class Lounge on the ground and the design of the refreshed on-board SWISS First suite, which gives the product a strong character unique to SWISS.
The dining experience is a highlight. Guests benefit from a full service a-la-carte restaurant, with all menu items available at all hours. To accompany their meal, patrons may request Champagne from the Champagne bar, or sample the massive wine collection.
SWISS will serve traditional raclette and fondue on the open air terrace – a truly unique experience unmatched by any airline lounge worldwide. The only catch? These specialties with a distinct flair are to be consumed outdoors only, out of consideration for other guests.
The SWISS First Class lounge features two hotel-grade day rooms, with double beds and an en-suite bathroom and shower furnished with Bvlgari amenities. These exquisite private retreats benefit from floor to ceiling windows with panoramic views. The rooms are available on a first come, first serve basis and are bound to be coveted, so time will tell if there is a realistic chance of ever enjoying one.
In addition, three shower suites are available. Other amenities include a conference room and extensive press selection.
We’re drooling. SWISS‘ new lounges look spectacular. Time will tell how the pretty generous access rules work with increased traffic out of Concourse E, but SWISS offers an excellent ground product at an airport that is already famous for its sleek and convenient design.
Perhaps the most newsworthy item is the opening of a new First Class lounge with such high-end amenities and elevated service standards, given that SWISS already runs a lower key, but perfectly serene and elegant First Class Lounge in Concourse A with private transfers to the aircraft in luxurious vans.
Many European and American airlines are downsizing First Class, yet SWISS is raising the bar. The airline is not afraid to admit that First Class isn’t necessarily a profit center, but it’s a key component of their brand. The luxuries of First Class have a halo effect on the overall SWISS product, and with strict lounge access rules and limited mileage redemption opportunities for frequent flyers, the airline is keen to protect the integrity of its top class of service.
The Lufthansa group is firing on all cylinders. In a few months, Lufthansa will unveil five new lounges at their Munich hub, including – again, a new First Class Lounge. It’s a good time to be flying Lufthansa and SWISS.
Have you visited the new SWISS lounges? Share your experience!
Photo credit: rcs at vielfliegertreff.de. We would like to express our thanks to Ralf, a member of the vielfliegertreff.de German frequent flyer community, who kindly shared his pictures with us. See more pictures as well as his review in German at vielfliegertreff.de.