Boeing 777 300 ER, a wide-body twin-engine aircraft and the most popular of Boeing's 777 series, prized as a long-distance workhorse. Swiss has 10 of these 777s in its fleet.
LX138 Zurich to Hong Kong
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Miles & More programme, Europe's biggest frequent-flyer scheme, a member of Star Alliance. The number of earned award miles depends on the price paid for your flight ticket, not the distance travelled.
Business, Seat 5A
Eleven hours, 30 minutes. Pushback is delayed 10 minutes while we wait for connecting passengers but landing is 20 minutes ahead of schedule despite a slight weather delay on approach.
Daily between Zurich and Hong Kong non-stop.
A lie-flat Thompson Vantage seat with 152-centimetre pitch, width of 52 centimetres. It's very comfy. Livery is crisp and tidy. The surrounds feel like a Swiss Army knife, purposeful and clean, with bits of faux-birch trim and cream and chocolate colours. Seat belt is a lap-and-sash and the sash cuts high across the neck which is slightly uncomfortable. A nice touch is the wooden coathanger.
Two checked bags, maximum 32 kilograms each, plus two carry-on bags up to eight kilograms each.
Seat 5A is in a small business-class section behind first and before the main business cabin. There are just 10 seats in two rows in a slightly weird configuration, 1-2-2 in row four, 2-2-1 in row five. The reading light is one of the best ever, at shoulder height just exactly where you want it. I get six hours' solid sleep in the 200-centimetre flat seat, all I want on this short-night flight.
Video selections aren't printed, only on the screen menu. Selections include a handful of recent blockbusters plus European arthouse and a scattering of Asian titles. The 30-centimetre touch screen is super responsive. There's also a remote control in the armrest. The headphone jack has one large pin and one small, like no other I've ever seen. Thus you won't be using your own headphones but audio quality and comfort of the supplied over-ear headphone is high, although they're not noise-cancelling.
Professional and friendly but they don't mollycoddle you in business class as do the Asian and Middle Eastern carriers. At breakfast for example, the crew member hands me a tray and then the various items I asked for – fruit, muesli, yoghurt, coffee. On an Asian carrier it would be done on the tray and handed to me.
Superb. The king prawns for my starter with melon and a sherry vinaigrette are sweet and tender. The other choice is pepper-crusted beef with shallots and pine nuts. Followed by salmon with potatoes and seasonal veg in my case, or there's also a beef tenderloin with polenta and baby carrots or gnocchi with spinach and cherry tomatoes. Wines are either a white merlot from Ticino or a French chenin blanc from the Loire Valley. Reds are another merlot from Ticino, an Haut-Medoc or a blended grenache-syrah plus two varieties I've never heard of from Gerard Bertrand, the star of France's southern, sunny Languedoc-Roussillon, according to the tasting notes.
ONE MORE THING
The only other airline that flies this route non-stop is Cathay Pacific and the price for a business-class seat on either is much the same. Two premier-league airlines but the style is quite different.
I'm impressed, and particularly by the fuss-free service. It's friendly and effective but I don't need constant smiles as some airlines do for business flyers. Polite and sensible because you're a grown-up, and that's the Swiss way.
Tested by Michael Gebicki who flew as a guest of Swiss International Air Lines