The airline with the best average rating is SWISS with 7.8/10.
The average flight time is 9 hours and 5 minutes.More information
This is the second leg of my trip to New York. The previous flight had arrived 40 minutes late to ZRH, but with 1h45 of transfer time, I can still make my connection.
Despite the delay, transfers here are very fast and efficient, following the Helvetic stereotype. The shuttle train to the satellite terminal is fast and has some sort of external entertainment, projecting images and playing sounds reminiscent of Swiss landscapes. When I get to the gates, an Emirates A380 is taxiing behind HB-JHF; the A330-300 that will take us to New York.
After a quick but stressful passport check, I am allowed to board so I walk through the tunnel towards a widebody for the first time in eight years. My home for the next 9 hours will be 30K. Legroom is very comfortable for someone my size and the window is perfectly aligned. However, it is missing the recline button; it's broken, not due to deisgn. I am a bit disappointed, but it's a daytime flight so I won't need recline, nor the provided pillow and blanket. The seats feature vertically adjustable headrests. The tray table is smaller than I would've expected.
Other defects I found were a stained seatbelt, lack of individual AC and the cup holder, which only fits small glasses and can't even hold SWISS water bottles…
I believe that SWISS cabins look elegant, but I'm not the biggest fan of the texture of the fabric. As mentioned above, in many places there are negative things to be found, displaying the age of their aircraft. They are promoting their upcoming A350 fleet but there's at least 2 years before they begin flying…
My IFE system is a bit worn down and takes a bit to react to my commands. I'm not a big fan of controls built into the top of the armrest, since it makes "resting your arms" quite uncomfortable; especially since the screens have touch controls.
The IFE has a decent movie selection, but all other content is mediocre; there are some hard to control games but the provided earphones are alright. The flight information software is also showing its age; there is no control, it shows the same as the main screens, and it even advertises watches. Ads, just when I was missing the Ryanair experience!
All seats feature USB chargers, which charge rather slowly. There are no proper power outlets in Economy seats, which doesn't seem to be standard in European airlines. They also offer inflight Wi-Fi, though at exhorbitant prices; ranging from 9 CHF for 20 MB to 59 CHF for 220 MB. I've heard good things about the speed of the internet, but I don't feel like buying 5 minutes of Twitter for 9€.
After pushing back, we take off from runway 16 at 13:30. Looking at previous departures from ZRH, I knew to book a window seat, which gives me a great panoramic view of the Swiss Alps during the Zürich twisty loopy loop.
Shortly after takeoff, we are given a small snack and water. The bread sticks are good and the water is still as tasty as in the first leg.
An hour into the flight, lunch is served. There are two options, vegetarian pasta and chicken with mashed potatoes, from which I pick the latter. The meal includes some sort of cold curry rice salad as entrée, a breadroll with a stick of butter, some sort of cinnamon mousse as dessert, a slice of Gruyère and the main course. And we have metal cutlery in economy class, which I really appreciate.
The rice curry concoction is pretty good, and so is the bread even though cold and a bit tough.
The main course blew my expectations, the chicken is neither over- nor undercooked, the gravy is delicious and the mash is a good side, even with some surpise peas inside. There is also a tasty purple mystery component, which complements the chicken well, it tastes like baked apples and probably has blueberries to explain the colour. It reminds me of Mazamorra Morada, a dessert from my childhood.
Dessert is also enjoyable, it seems like a Christmas style mousse with multiple spices and a grape sauce. The sauce tastes artificial to me, but the mousse is excellent. All in all, the best inflight meal I've ever tasted. Great job, SWISS!
The attentive reader may have noticed a lack of commentary on the cheese. I must say it was simply disappointing; it was edible but not at all aromatic, which is what I expect from Gruyère. Perhaps the cabin altitude plays a role in my perception of its taste.
Throughout the flight I have taken a very large amount of pictures from my window, some of which are highlighted here. I was looking forward to seeing Greenland, but it was completely covered with clouds when we passed by. As we enter the American continent through Canadian airspace, we climb towards FL400.
Around an hour before landing, a small meal is served. We got a hot cheesy quiche and Swiss chocolate ice cream. The quiche was hearty and tasty, while the ice cream was just alright. Afterwards, the classic Swiss chocolates were handed out.
Finally, we start our descent after a calm flight. We approach JFK overflying Long Island. I try to snatch some pictures of Manhattan from the sky, but it's too far and my phone camera can't do much.
We land at 4:33 pm on 22L and quickly taxi to our gate, where we arrive with a delay of 30 minutes; not great but not too bad. There isn't much of JFK to see, as we're led straight to immigration control. It takes around 45 minutes and an anxiety inducing conversation to clear, but after that I'm allowed into the country. I head towards the AirTrain, struggle with my bank to withdraw dollars, and take the subway to my hostel to finally sleep.
During my stay in New York I took some pictures, for example…
A cool building
Some supervillain's lair
Haarlemmermeer (didn't think we were so close to Schiphol)
I also jumped over to DC to see the skating dog here
The National Air and Space Museum was unskippable and unforgettable
Back in NYC there was this train station. From another station I took the Northeast Regional and the coach seats were fit for a king, with power outlets and free, super fast Wi-Fi… I really believe the USA have potential for way better rail, given these stations and the trains they currently have, though I'm not well educated in the subject.
While SWISS short haul have brand new A220 aircraft, their long haul, fleet feels quite outdated. Subpar IFE and some defective seats are the main offenders.
However, they absolutely compensate with their service. I may have recent experience with long haul, so all other airlines may be pumping out Economy meals at a similar level, but as far as I'm concerned, it's the best I've had so far.
ZRH is a great airport for transfers, while JFK has good transit connection to Manhattan.