The airline with the best average rating is SWISS with 7.8/10.
The average flight time is 8 hours and 52 minutes.More information
Greetings Flight Report community and welcome to the fifth installment of the "Great Swiss First Coup" series. Please feel free to visit the LAX-HKG segment for more detail on how our own Rewardflying contributor worked his magic and turned Swiss F from a dream into a reality.
Our arrival in Mumbai and transit were not exactly smooth. Once at the gate there were "administrative" issues (diplomatically stated by the SQ captain) preventing us from having the jet way hooked up, so we waited for about 15 minutes.
The transit was more complicated than it needed to be. First, there was an airline representative holding a sign with several names on it, mine included. He said he would be my escort though the transit process. That's a kind gesture from SQ but we had to wait for most of the airplane to disembark before we could leave as there were non-F passengers utilizing this service. The idle time there was frustrating. I suppose I could have gone to the transit counter myself but my experiences doing connections here that were offline gave me pause. Previous visits tot eh transit counter have left me with the impression that no one there is quite sure what to do with a transit passenger. In the end it was all completed in the hap-hazard, nonsensical, and cumbersome manner I've come to expect transiting BOM.
The silly transit was a distant memory once I made it to this lovely facility.
I presented my boarding pass and that created a lot of activity. I was asked to wait, radio calls were made, and finally a different contract representative arrived. She welcomed me to the lounge and explained the services. She also discussed my set change with me from 2K to 1K. I never figured out if this was the standard handling of LX F customers or if this was just their way of handling the seat change. I also considered that it was a way for them to know your appearance so when they return to escort you to the aircraft they know who they're looking for.
The lounge is a long rectangular space. The lattice breaks up the open area in to nice compartments consisting of a bar, various seating areas, dining, and a spa.
Looking in the direction of the buffet. The roped off area to the left is the first class a la carte dining area.
The staffed bar.
Business center and rest area.
I decided to take advantage of the complimentary spa treatment. I 30 minute service is offered and I selected a foot massage. They woman was very good and had strong hands. I left her a gratuity in USD, which I think she appreciated.
Next stop was the dining room.
I was presented an extensive menu. A fantastic selection of global flavors that could keep me interested for a long time.
I requested Champagne and water to start.
I wasn't exactly hungry, having feasted with SQ about 5 hours ago, but I wanted a taste of India. I requested the Chaat sampler and it was beautiful and scrumptious.
The mint and coriander water with puffed rice spheres.
Dahi papdi topped with potatoes.
Warm samosa with yogurt and tamarind chutney.
After snacking I retired to the seating area by the windows an observed the torrential rain. Shortly thereafter I was summoned by the LX contract staff that it was time to make the journey to the gate.
Mumbai airport is absolutely beautiful. the Design of the lighting and the high ceilings are very fetching.
My escort was walking very briskly leading me to believe that boarding was underway or even wrapping up but no. We arrived at the gate well before boarding commenced.
Eventually boarding started and the F passengers were among the first to board.
In a final segment of hilarity, upon scanning my boarding pass there was a beep and a red light. Apparently no doc check had been performed even though my passport and boarding pass had been reviewed by no fewer than 20 staff. Oh well, it was sorted out after a few minutes and I was on board with the most excitement I can remember for a flight in some time.
I've gazed affectionately at countless photos of the LX F cabin and now I was here. I could touch it and soak it all in. It's a beautiful display of restrained elegance and clean design. It exudes luxury without shouting.
My reassigned seat of 1K was stocked with various amenities upon my arrival including slippers, headphones, and amenities kit.
The LH F slippers are superior to these.
A look at the seat controls and storage.
The headphones are rather disappointing when compared to LH.
I was presented menus and a hot towel by one of the flight attendants who failed to introduce herself. In fact both crew were rather cold and standoffish. I wasn't sure if it was a language barrier issue, a late night departure, or something else. It took me a while to break through and make a connection but when I did they became two of the most lovely and generous hosts I could imagine. Champagne was not offered on the ground so I enjoyed some water.
A pre-takeoff amuse was served. A Vegetable samosa in a gloriously spicy spinach puree. A fantastic burst of flavor.
A look at 2K that was supposedly "broken" but would mysteriously become occupied after takeoff.
The captain visited with each customer in first, as is apparently the protocol on Swiss.
The IFSM, Manuela, stopped by to offer a voucher for free wifi. She didn't introduce herself either. Maybe it's a cultural thing?
The video monitor is ample size.
A pilot recruitment video played, something I can't recall seeing on board any airline before.
The cabin was secured and our push back into the rainy Mumbai night ensued. Taxi was expedient and we wre number 3 for runway 27 after an LH A350 and an Air India Express 737-800.
Our route this early morning.
Unfortunately there was only 1 lav. available to passengers in first, the other reserved for crew, I guess. This is a rather poor ratio of 8:1 when compared with the majority of other similar products.
La Prairie amenities on offer.
Of course many passengers went directly to sleep after takeoff, a sensible approach to a flight at his hour. I had other objectives and sensibility didn't factor into my scheming.
The menu for this morning was as follows.
The cheese receives a proper page of information and description, reinforcing the significance on the Swiss table. This selection highlights the French speaking canton of Vaud, with proximity to France, would logically carry similar traditions.
The wine and beverage selection.
It was after takeoff that my interactions with Sonia and Mireille, the two spectacular first class flight attendants, turned. I finally asked their names and introduced myself and let them know how elated I was to be on board and had been looking forward this flight, my inaugural Swiss First Class experience, for almost 1 year. They took this information to heart and made sure it was an experience to remember for a long time.
The table was laid precisely and a lovely glass of the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle was delivered. Sonia is providing the majority of service in the aisle with Mireille in the galley.
A basket of warm bread was positioned on the tray along with some lovely grassy Spanish olive oil. I'm tickled by the tri-color roll for the efficiency and presentation. I guess I'm easily amused.
The exquisite Balik smoked salmon is served to start. The light smoke and supple texture is a treat for the senses.
Sure a dollop of caviar would guild the lily but there was no lamenting the absence of anything here.
Sonia is a tad disappointed that I won't take any more of the unctuous salmon so I share with her my marathon strategy of enjoying as many flavors as humanly possible.
The lobster starter is offered next. Substantial hunks of marinated lobster over a crunchy and flavor salad. I appreciate the inclusion of the namak pare as nod to the Indian Subcontinent.
THe beet hummus, while visually arresting, was unremarkable with the earthy beet flavor somehow muted.
Much to Sonia's delight I'm in for the full experience so we move on to the "cold meat specialties." I think it was at this time that Sonia shared how delighted she and Mireille were that someone wanted to stay up with them and experience these delicacies. We made a good team, my penchant for gluttony and experiential yearning and their satisfaction in making a special experience in delighting a guest.
The creamy pine nuts, sweet watermelon and acidic bite of balsamic made for a refreshing salad.
Keen on the Swiss products I opted for a glass of the Chasselas.
The pumpkin soup was warmly spiced in what could be interpreted as an Indian preparation.
For the main dish I took Sonia up on her offer of an off menu Swiss Nation Day dish of Saucisson, potato, and lentil. Swiss National Day is 8/1 and our midnight 8/2 departure was catered as such. The decadent sausage, well dotted with rich pork fat, was a delightful experience and keeps with the "Swiss-ness" of flying with the Swiss flag carrier.
Sonia offered a late harvest wine to pair with the rich meat and it was an exciting match.
At this point I failed my hosts in that I was unable to continue through dessert and most importantly, the cheese. Sonia pointed out that the cheese will be here in the morning so I can opt to enjoy it then, if I desire. Good plan.
Mireille wasn't' giving up that easy and she arrived with the alluring box of Swiss chocolate as well as a bowl of other Swiss treat she had cobbled together.
Those empty spaces are not all of my doing.
The bed came near the Pakistan / Iran boarder. It's a luxurious arrangement with thick pad and premium duvet and pillows.
Mireille left water and a snack, Sonia having gone to her rest break by this time.
I didn't want to impose for a picture, the F/A rest area was unlike any configuration I've seen. A curtain, which you can see stowed here, closed around the space immediately in front of the exit. The jump seat then folded out into what was a terrible looking angled bed. I was quite surprised at the arrangement and Sonia and Mireille indicated in non-verbal queues that it wasn't the best. The noise of the galley and the chill of the exit door are not conducive of good rest.
It's a rather short overnight flight, unfortunately.
The ads were rather prominent in both the moving map display and before any video entertainment.
Night lighting in effect.
My sleep was limited to a couple of naps as I was too excited for sleep. I awoke to a lovely sunrise over Eastern Europe.
The galley was being setup for breakfast service.
I started the morning with a cappuccino, some rich Swiss yoghurt, and small taste of the cheese and cold cuts.
The heart on the cappuccino tells you everything you need to know about these two lovely women.
Sonia kindly subbed the cheese offering from last night as the main breakfast plate. A winsome display of Swiss artisanship. I managed to sample everything on the board, of course.
After the breakfast was cleared Mireille stopped by with a gift. As yesterday was Swiss National Day the inboud flight from Zurich had a special wood platter for the cheese service that was meant to be taken home as a keepsake. She said there was one leftover and offered it to me. I was touched by the sentiment.
A new day over Europe.
In another display of generosity both Sonia and Mireille presented this lovely box of Swiss chocolate to me with a kind note. Rest assured I enjoyed it very much. I asked if they had a feedback card and I left a rather effusive note.
On the downwind leg for ZUR.
Always a tinge of sadness for me when a great flight experience draws to a close. This was of course muted by the knowledge that I had nearly 7 hours to enjoy the spectacular Swiss First Class Lounge facility.
The Ground Service: The transit was mad but that's not likely on Swiss. The escort to the aircraft is a nice offering.
The Lounge: It's by far the most lavish and well appointed contract lounge I've visited. The first class dining is fantastic and offers something to suit a vast array of tastes, all served a la carte.
The Cabin: I'm a fan of the clean reserved aesthetic offered on Swiss. The seats are spacious, semi-private, and make for excellent sleeping platforms.
The Crew: After an understated introduction I really connected with Sonia and Mireille and I felt their warmth, generosity, and pride in the Swiss offering. I feel very fortunate to have been there with them that night. The IFSM Manuela never did express any hospitality. The notion that I was moved to 1K from 2K yet 2K became occupied irritated me. I asked Manuela about the issue and she acknowledged that she received the same information, that 2K had a broken seatbelt, but the crew couldn't discern anything wrong with the seat so they allowed for someone to sit there. There was a language barrier but she assured me that the seat being occupied "wasn't meant to mock you" which I discerned to mean wasn't meant to be disrespectful. Still, I would have preferred to have been given the option to occupy the seat myself if it was determined to be airworthy. It was a minor blemish in an otherwise perfect experience.
The Food and Beverage: I'm enchanted by the Swiss-ness of the experience. It's seems like such a natural way to differentiate your product but it seems few airlines truly exploit this option. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the food and beverage experience. My affection for Sonia and Mireille probably cloud my judgement but so be it.
Overall: One of those rare instances in life where the event matches the anticipation and expectations. The Swiss reputation is exemplary and for very good reason. I am grateful to Mark from rewardflying.com and his keen ability to locate the award space to make this experience possible. Thank you for reading and happy flying.