The airline with the best average rating is SWISS with 7.8/10.
The average flight time is 2 hours and 2 minutes.More information
Since SWISS is amongst my very favourite carriers within Europe, it is often my airline of choice. I've been trying to fly in their Business class to celebrate my 100th flight in September 2020. Since then, they cancelled my flights 10 times and I kept rebooking them 10 times as well. Finally, in June 2021, after nearly a year, I was finally able to take a flight with my beloved SWISS, though one leg was operated by Helvetic. Did they keep up to my high expectations? You'll see in this and the next report. The flights back from Rome were on Lufthansa which I will review in following reports.
This report contains: my experience at Warsaw airport on a busy pandemic Saturday, a flight on a brand new Helvetic E290 in Economy, the review of some SWISS Saveurs items (new catering concept) and the arrival (connecting) experience at Zurich Airport.
Flight number LX1343
Route Warsaw Chopin - Zurich
Flight date 12th June 2021 0905-1110 (actual 0931-1104)
Scheduled flight time 2:05 (actual 1:33)
Aircraft model Embraer E190-E2 (operated by Helvetic)
Aircraft registration HB-AZD
Seating configuration Y110
Aircraft age (at the time of flight) 1.1 years
Seat number 9A
Departure gate 29 (bus gate)
Arrival gate bus gate at ZRH
Load factor (approx.) 85%
Flight price 300 PLN/65 EUR for WAW-ZRH-FCO (Eco basic)
Boarding passes for both flights that day.
To start with, I'll briefly talk about my experience at Warsaw Chopin airport that pretty busy pandemic Saturday. The weather was brilliant and I had a very positive attitude to my journey. SWISS and the whole Lufthansa Group have their check in in zone C in Terminal A at WAW.
At the entrance, usual temperature checks are carried out but that's it - no document check. The airport was quite busy, I could see, quite a few charter flights departing to summer destinations, but not only. It's sad to see the big departure board turned off.
Because of the pandemic, and the need to check PLFs and negative COVID tests or vaccine certificates, each passenger must go to the check in desk to receive their boarding pass when flying with Lufthansa Group. Online, you are only able to do a pre-check in and select your seat (free of charge for all passengers). But the airport check-in experience was smooth anyway, and everyone seemed to have had prepared all required documents beforehand.
Security was on the other had very crowded and I had to wait around 15 mins which was very unexpected for COVID times. It looks as if Europe was waking up… in fact Polish government now started a campaign to promote flying for holidays - abroad! The airside might not seem too busy but that's probably because most people were seated at their gates. I visited a few duty free shops, took some pictures for you and soon our boarding was called. I also noticed, Warsaw Airport renewed the toilets in the terminal, which of course was a great surprise.
FIDS will objectively tell you how busy it was.
Our boarding gate that day was 29, quite central but that is a bus gate anyway. And even though boarding was carried out in groups, we were all packed into 2 rammed busses, with me in bus 1. I am pretty sure, Business class passengers were in the same bus (but not 100% sure).
After a long-ish bus ride (with some nice views though) we arrived at our parking position. HB-AZD, our E190-E2 was already there since the previous evening. SWISS started having layovers in Warsaw not too long ago (after the pandemic started) - I am curious what the reason for that was. Next to us, was a "new" aircraft based in Warsaw - Luke Air which is used as a charter aircraft for flights to the Caribbean etc. - the aircraft was previously flying for Qatar. What do you think about the livery?
And now it's time to reveal our cute Embraer. It was my first time on the E2. And first time on Helvetic Airways too.
First impression on board? Cute cabin, and a cute Maitre de cabine who greeted me with smile. She also handed disinfecting tissues. So far so good. The aircraft is maintained in grey-red colour scheme, which I liked, and the floor in the galleys imitates wood. Since I was in the first bus of two, the cabin was still not full and I was able to take some pictures of this brand new jet.
It looked fresh and smelled fresh and overall it was nicely designed. However, I am not the greatest fan of these new seats. I much more liked the old Embraer seats (the ones that for example LOT uses). These ones here are very slim line (though quite comfortable for a slimline seat) and also quite short - don't provide any head rest for people my height.
I must also comment on the windows - which are big and let a lot of light into the cabin which makes it feel more spacious and bright. However the window alignment is appalling. It's hard to find a seat row with a properly aligned window, especially at the front. There was no cabin divider between business and Economy on this particular E290.
One quick look at the legroom, which is constant throughout the cabin. It is quite tight, but bear in mind I am quite tall, 1.87m, so I should probably say the legroom is fine for a regional jet in 2021… It's probably around 29".
The seat backs look quite modern, as does the whole aircraft. They contain a seat pocket and a separate literature compartment, which always comes handy. The tray table is on the other hand a bit small, a bit too small I'd say. But I was happy to see how clean the whole aircraft was - carpets, seat pockets, tray tables etc. Only the window wasn't the cleanest.
Literature pocket contents were a SWISS Saveurs menu, a safety card and a COVID measures card. Additionally, as a SWISS guest, you can download for free some press and magazines before departure - the choice was quite extensive.
Each 2 seats also contain 4 USB ports, which obviously is great BUT… I'd appreciate 2 power sockets instead of 4 USB ports because most of new Apple devices don't use the old USB anymore. They rather use the USB-C, so these ports on the E290 are totally useless :(
Meanwhile the second bus with passengers arrived and so I finally took my seat 9A. Next to me was seated a nice gentleman who I started to talk to. He turned out to be an orthodontist from Brazil and he actually knew my orthodontist! (what a coincidence) We made friends after all :)
A few moments later, Ryanair (BUZZ) docked next to us - such an unusual view at Warsaw Chopin Airport. We don't have FRs here too often anymore.
As remaining passengers were boarding, captain made an announcement about a little departure delay, since the luggage were still being packed into the hold. We were quite a busy flight! But he assured we should have an on-time arrival in the sunny Zurich. We started taxi at around 9:25, and the crew conducted manual safety demo.
Departure was at 10:31, from RWY 29. The PW engines are the same as in A220s, and make the same exact howling sound when spooling up. I love it! It's so characteristic of these engines. The wing look quite futuristic too. If A220 is a small A350, then E2 is a small 787.
Soon after departure there was an announcement from the Maitre de cabine about safety on board, COVID measures and the SWISS Saveurs service. And in a few minutes the service started - Buy on board in Economy and a meal and drink service in Business (from what I saw, there was a warm breakfast served on that flight though I might have seen it wrong because this route used to just have cold cuts). But before the paid service, the two ladies from cabin crew from the back handed out bottles of water. These (and chocolates) are free of charge in the new catering concept from Lufthansa Group.
I like it so much that the water is branded! It was quite tasty too, those of you who read my previous reports know I am also a water-geek haha
The altitude was already much more than 1150 at that time…
Since it was my first time trying out the new catering concept from Lufthansa Group and because I was quite hungry, I decided to eat a generous breakfast and went for: a chicken sandwich, a blueberry muffin, a salted caramel cookie and a cup of black tea. The ladies that served me were super kind and professional and also had a quick chat. Bear in mind that you can only pay by card - I actually had to help them with changing the terminal paper roll for a new one.
The sandwich and the muffin were very tasty, but to be fair nothing really special for their price. But I guess these are Swiss prices… The cookie, on the other hand was not my cup of tea. But everything, I must say was of good quality. The presentation was also fine by me.
The bread was very soft and there was plenty of chicken, tomatoes and mayo inside.
After I've had my generous meal, I went to explore the back galley of the aircraft and the lavatory. They looked very modern and spacious. A big plus here for Embraer.
You can also tell, the lavatory was inspired by the one on the A220, they look pretty similar. But I like it! There weren't however any amenities in the toilet, just the soap (but at least that! - see my later Lufthansa review).
I also took a picture of the cabin from the back. Doesn't it look nice and fresh? I also forgot to say how spacious the overhead bins were comparing to the ones in old Embraers.
I spent the next 20 mins or so chatting to the crew members in the rear galley. The Maitre de cabine joined us once she handed out SWISS chocolates in the cabin. These ladies were so nice, they were genuinely good people. And had an amazingly good level of English language too. A golden crew!
Because I told the Maitre de cabine how much I love SWISS, and how hard I've been trying to fly with them in the previous year, plus that I promised to bring some chocolates from on board to my friends, she gave me a whole bag of the chocolates, 30 or so - I was on cloud nine.
It turned out, my neighbour took another chocolate for me, whilst I was absent when they were handed out :-)
This chocolate is a must when flying SWISS. Honestly, one of the best chocolates in the world in my opinion.
It was soon time to commence our descent into Zurich Kloten. The captain informed about landing conditions at ZRH, said that we'll land at RWY 14 and thanked us once again for choosing SWISS. The crew then made a final safety announcement and also gave gate information for destinations with shortest connections (<1 hour). I can't stress how picturesque the landing was, around the hills and mountains - especially in that perfect weather we had that day.
We parked at one of the remote stands but it was actually a very short ride by bus to the terminal. There were 3 busses, including one for just business class guests. As I was leaving the aircraft, Ms Sabrina, the Maitre de cabine gave me a small bag, SWISS branded, with a bottle of Duval-Leroy champagne inside. I was so shocked and positively surprised that didn't know what to say. I remember I asked her "Are you sure?!" and she replied "Yes, you deserved it. Thank you for the flight!". It was such a great gesture from her, I can't possibly stress how honoured I felt.
My gift from Maitre de Cabine. How can I not love SWISS, they keep convincing me they're one of the best airlines in the skies.
The bus dropped us at the terminal from where we went straight into the departure gates area. No additional controls and checks, everything was very smooth and convenient - as always at Zurich Airport. We went with my airplane neighbour to one of the cafes… and I will continue from there in the next report. But for now, thanks for reading about my amazing experience with SWISS (operated by Helvetic).
I was really excited to finally fly with SWISS, and they definitely lived up to my expectations. A strong 8 out of 10 for that flight!
Cabin: It was modern, fresh, sleek and clean. Decently comfortable for a short hop, but the legroom was a bit limited and the seat backs are a bit short. The seats did recline. The lavatory was quite large and clean. Some features are better on the E2, but some of them I actually prefer in older Embraers.
Cabin crew: Honestly, a gold crew, nothing to complain about. Professional, with perfect English, courteous, kind and helpful. And I really appreciated the extra gestures - they went all out.
Entertainment: It's definitely a weak point. Press downloads were available for free and also USB ports were present on board. But I would of course liked it if there were overhead monitors or WiFi present.
Meal: While it's a shame, that LH Group removed free catering from short haul economy, I am grateful that they left water and a little chocolate for free, I think this little something makes a difference to passengers. The paid catering offer was quite extensive and all my options were available (great!). The food was of good freshness, quality and quantity but had very high (Swiss) prices.