Flight Test: Swiss International Air Lines

Route New York to Zurich.

Aircraft Swiss Airbus A330-300.

Seat Business, 12G.

Flight time Words no passenger wants to hear at departure time: "Ladies and gentlemen, there are 20 to 30 planes waiting to taxi in front of us." The pilot attempts to make up time in the air, but we arrive in Zurich 40 minutes behind schedule. Thankfully, Zurich Airport is highly efficient. I reach my connecting flight just as the gate opens for boarding.

Seat width and pitch 20.5-inch width, 60-inch pitch, reclining to a two-metre flatbed.

Seat configuration 2-2-1, for a total of 45 seats in business class.

Luggage allowance Two pieces of checked luggage up to 32 kilograms each and two pieces of hand luggage up to eight kilograms each.

Comfort Wood panelling and muted crosshatch seating fabric creates a cosy atmosphere. A world map on the wall with a single red cross makes sure you know which airline you're on. The flatbeds have ample room for sleeping.

Amenities The Swiss excel at making things function, but they're also attuned to detail. Socks, eye-mask, earplugs and toothbrush come packaged in a beautiful aircraft-embossed tin.

Entertainment The standard Swiss Magazine is supplemented by another, Swiss Universe. The seatback console is uniform throughout and offers movies, TV shows and audio books. At least one of the music albums is mislabelled, though there is ample variety. The standard flight map gets a dramatic 3D makeover.

Service Cabin crew are precise and attentive, cycling through several languages to make sure everyone feels welcome (Switzerland has four national languages). They're also very friendly: my attendant is aghast when I decline dessert, pleading with me to accept Swiss chocolates instead. Delicious.

Food and beverages The Swiss canton of Ticino is spotlighted in the menu, designed by chef Frank Oerthle from the Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano. I have seared Pacific salmon fillet with wasabi gremolata and creamy lemongrass sauce. A welcome addition is the under-appreciated wines (Ticino again); Bianco di Merlot is a refreshingly light aperitif.

Flight frequency Swiss International Air Lines flies daily from New York to Zurich. Return business class fare from $5690; economy from $1700. Swiss has a fare to Zurich from Sydney and Melbourne for $2220 return, including tax. Fly to Hong Kong (about 9hr with a partner airline), then to Zurich (13hr 11min).

Online See swiss.com.

Tested by Lance Richardson, who flew courtesy of Swiss International Air Lines and Tourism Switzerland.