It’s always good when you show up to an intercontinental flight on no sleep, coming almost directly from a bar. It was around 10:30am by the time I got through the border and out of Japan. I went to the ANA Suite F Lounge near the ANA gates (not the satellite location closer to the LX gates) and took a place in the dark, cubicle room. I asked for a glass of water, then set the alarm on my phone for 11:30am. Boarding would start around noon, so I figured this would be give me ample time to take a power nap, wakeup and get to the gate before first call.
Against all odds my plan worked…or rather it sort of worked. I didn’t actually manage to fall asleep, but my alarm did go off on time, and I got going towards the gate. I was desperate to get on board and get some sleep.
I got over to the other end of the terminal, where the UA, TG and LX flights depart from in very good time. I was left with close to 20 minutes before boarding. I found a chair and scanned over the people milling about the gate. About ten minutes prior to departure, a guy who looked familiar was escorted over to the gate. It took a minute to click, then I realized it was Ralph Lauren aka Ralph Lipschitz. He was with a woman who I assume was his wife. She looked to be in her 50’s, tall, blond and still very attractive. I wondered if they would be in F or J.
Mercifully, boarding was on time. I fell into seat 1A (Ralph and his wife were in 2 D&G). I figured since I still hadn’t slept, one more glass of champagne before departure couldn’t hurt. Around the same time as the champagne, a pre-departure snack arrived. I accepted this, but told the stewardess I wanted to sleep after take-off and would postpone my lunch until I woke up. She said that of course this would not be a problem.
After we got airborne, it was lights out. I woke up about three hours later feeling much more like a human being and began the meal service. For convenience, I will put pictures up from Pre-Departure beverage through the first meal service all together, even though there were about three hours of sleep in between.
First Meal Service:
During the meal service, I watched The Iron Lady which I rather enjoyed. Swiss always get high marks for their catering. While it was certainly a cut above TG, I saw nothing to differentiate them from the likes of SQ, LH, OZ, NH, Etc… The balik salmon was excellent, the soup and salad were unremarkable. The rabbit stew looked rather unappealing, but was salty and good. Still, I would choose the catering on Lufthansa and a number of other airlines over the vaunted Swiss cuisine.
After the movie, the tiredness washed back over me, and I went back to bed for a few hours. I woke up as we were nearing Switzerland, just in time for the second meal service.
Second Meal Service:
I looked at the European countryside passing below me for the final hour or so of the flight, and thought back on all the experiences I’d had over the past few months, and the new friends I’d made. I couldn’t believe that shortly I would be back on European soil, and it would all be over. It had been a grand adventure, but I still had one more night in Zurich before returning home.
We pulled up to a jetway, so there was no car transfer from an apron position to the terminal for F passengers. Overall I can’t say I was “disappointed” with Swiss, because truly they didn’t lag in any area. However, they are not quite as good as their reputation. The food while good, was just a tad below the level of the other top tier carriers. The IFE screen is very small, and the choices are limited. The seats are not particularly comfortable and offer almost no privacy. I went out of my way to fly BKK-NRT-ZRH-CDG in order to try Swiss (and get a night in Tokyo), it if had not been for the very fun night in Tokyo, it wouldn’t have been worth the effort.
While Swiss offers a better soft product, better catering and (hilarious as it is) nicer pajamas, I find the TG hard product (and amenity kit) to be superior. The TG 77W’s are much more private (obviously with closing doors), have huge IFE screens with a great selection of movies, and offer more comfortable beds. I would be happy to fly Swiss F at any point in the future of course, but I would not go out of my way to take them longhaul if other suitable options existed, and in fact if given a choice between Swiss and SQ, TG, NH, OZ and even LH on the same route, I would likely opt to skip Swiss and go with one of the other airlines.