SWISS A321 Economy Class Review – Zurich To Dublin

On my one day trip across the Atlantic and back, I had the chance to fly SWISS’ short-haul economy class product. Here are my thoughts on the flight.

LX a321 1
This six and a bit year old Airbus A321 would take me to Dublin. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying

Zurich Airport

After my flight from Montreal (PLUG), I decided to continue a tradition of mine and went for coffee at the Center Bar, located in the AB gates. Though somewhat on the pricey side, the bar features amazing views of the gates, while maintaining a comfortable atmosphere.
LX A220
Once at the bar, I caught a glimpse of the beautiful A220. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
I enjoyed a nice breakfast for 9CHF, consisting of coffee, a croissant, and fresh orange juice. While nine Francs for a simple breakfast might seem dear, this is Switzerland my friends!
Center Bar Breakfast
Nine francs for breakfast is a bit expensive. That said Switzerland is expensive, and any large coffee chain would likely charge just as much. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
According to UBS research, Zurich is the most expensive city in the world, but also ranks as the second-highest in purchasing power. Oh well; my wallet suffered, but my taste-buds didn’t.
Center BAR view
When I first arrived at around 6:45, I was treated to a beautiful dark blue morning sky. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
As I made it back to the D gates for my flight to Dublin, I received an unfortunate email. The email read:
“Bonjour Monsieur Hayden-Lefebvre 
Votre vol LX400 [Date] de Zurich (ZRH) à Dublin (DUB) est retardé.
Nous vous prions de bien vouloir nous excuser pour la gêne occasionnée. ” 
Great, my flight was retardé…
Knowing that I was in no rush, I slowly made it to my gate, D34. At half-past eight or so, secondary security screening started. Though every passenger needed to get their boarding pass stamped, this didn’t take too long.
Since I spent most of the previous day seated in planes, I decided to go for a walk and make the most of my delay. And I must say, I do like Zurich airport’s aesthetic.
ZRH
Zurich airport is a wonderful time to spend a layover. It’s very clean and organized, if not a little calm. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
Clean lines, and warm wood tones contrasted by cold stone and dark leathers made for a visually pleasing and comfortable space.
At 09:05, boarding finally commenced. As is standard across Lufthansa Group airlines, passengers with priority boarding were asked to board through the counter. Economy class passengers, on the other hand, were asked to use the electronic gates.
Even though I was flying economy, my boarding pass indicated that I had priority boarding, so to the counter I went. A few moments later, I found my seat, numbered 22B, towards the rear of the aircraft.

The seat

SWISS uses the standard Lufthansa Group Recaro NEK seat on its A320 family jets, and this A321 was no exception. That said, the Group has started to introduce a new short-haul seat manufactured by Geven.
LX A321 Seat
Though slimline, these seats are comfortable enough for short flights. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
Though undoubtedly slimline, seat pitch is more than adequate. Indeed, while the seat is generally quite comfortable for hops under three hours, the lack of a headrest could make longer journeys uncomfortable.
LX A321 Seat 2
Pitch is certainly sufficient, and the cabin was very clean. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying

Unlike some other Lufthansa Group airlines, SWISS has overhead screens, placed above every third row. The screens are of decent quality and show the safety briefing before the flight and a moving map during it.

SWISS’ A220s have a similar feature, albeit iterated in a slightly different manner. As for cleanliness, the cabin and passenger areas were immaculate, bar a few scuffs, of course. Kudos to SWISS.

More delays…

At about 09:30, the captain welcomed us onboard and informed us of our immediate push-back. A few moments later, however, the captain came back on to the speakers to inform us that they were facing a possible issue with the brakes.
Unfortunately, we had to go back to our gate for a technical inspection. A delay which the crew estimated would last 15 minutes.
LX A321 delay view
I spent the delay looking through the window and admiring the hills in the background. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
During the delay, the cabin crew handed out chocolates, which I found to be a well-intentioned and very human gesture.
At 10:05, the captain informed us that the breaks had overheated and that cooling would take another ten minutes or so.  Seventeen minutes later, we eventually made it towards the runway.  Rather tried, I fell asleep at this point.

Service

At 10:45 Zurich time, I was woken up by the sounds and smells of the inflight service. Seeing that I was still half asleep, the crew gently asked me if I wanted a salty quiche or a cherry pie.
I opted for the quiche and asked for a coffee and sparkling water to drink.
LX 400 snack
Breakfast number three of the day is served! Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
Though perhaps slightly on the soggy side, the quiche was rather tasty. It was decently rich and had notes of fennel and broccoli, if I’m not mistaken. Considering that this was a two-hour flight, the meal was sufficient and very well appreciated.
I truly wish more airlines offered this type of service, especially airlines that have a lot of connecting passengers.
LX 400 Snack 2
The quiche was tasty, but perhaps a little soggy. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
Indeed, nothing sours the airline experience more than feeling cheated. For example, having to rush between tight connections and later having to fork out cold hard cash for a snack.
All in all, I beg SWISS to keep the service as it is. Not only does it help create a premium brand image but differentiates the airline as well.

Observations on the crew

Once awake, and with a full tummy, I started observing the cabin crew as they were serving passengers a few rows in front of me.
As I did, one thing came to my attention – they all seemed to really enjoy their jobs.
When interacting among themselves, or with guests, not one crew member showed signs of tiredness, negative stress, or misery.
SWISS 777
I have no clue if SWISS employees really enjoy their jobs, but the airline did celebrate its staff with the “Faces of SWISS” livery. Photo: BriYYZ / Wikimedia Commons
Instead, it was all smiles, chit-chat, and small laughter, which all came across as rather genuine.
For example, 30 minutes or so after the drinks service, I asked a passing-by crew member for some water. Instead of bitterly abiding by my request, which seems to be the norm on some airlines, he said something along the lines of “why of course sir, it’s important to stay hydrated on the plane”.
A minute later he came back with my glass and a smile.
Naturally, I don’t actually know if SWISS crews are happy and enjoy their jobs. But at least I left this flight with the perception that they do.

The final phase and my final thoughts

As we approached the Isle of Man, our Airbus started to descend. We eventually touched down at 11:15 Dublin time, putting an end to my pond hopping.
According to flight data, we left Zurich with about an hour and ten minutes of delay and arrived in Dublin 50 minutes behind schedule.
Cold dublin morning
I arrived to a gloomy and cold Dublin summer’s morning. Photo: Thomas J. Hayden-Lefebvre / Simple Flying
The delay aside, this was a very pleasant flight. The seat was comfortable enough for a journey of this length, the crew was lovely, the cabin clean, and the food, highly appreciated.
Based on this experience, and others as well, I think SWISS offers one of the best short-haul products flying around  Europe’s skies.
Have you flown SWISS’ short-haul products before? Did your experiences match mine? How important is a happy crew? Let us know in the comments.
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