Breaking: Minutes after publishing our trip report, by coincidence SWISS has grounded it’s entire Airbus A220 fleet. Read the latest here.
Swiss is one of the only European carriers to operate the new Airbus A220 (alongside airBaltic) and when it appeared in Central Europe, you bet Simple Flying was there to give it a go.
Full video review:
Flying across Europe has been the mainstay of low-cost-carriers, with the likes of Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air dominating most travel from small airport to small airport. However, when looking for a departure from Krakow, Poland, full-service carrier SWISS actually offered the excellent A220-100 on this route.
Thanks to the smaller size of the A220 and the fuel efficiencies it provides, SWISS was actually the cheaper option on the route (after baggage and all extras required by the other carriers). Not only was baggage included, but a meal and seat selection too.
Boarding was simple, with a bus to the aircraft at a standalone stand. The icy conditions actually made this reporter slip on the first step of the stair car but luckily following the age-old advice of always holding onto the handrail paid off.
The aircraft was boarded on both ends and was quick to get the 100 passengers or so boarded. For some reason, the entire aircraft was full apart from the back row. From the seat selection when booking online it was apparent that there were no spare seats, but these five passengers never seemed to make it.
The entire A220-100 is an all-economy cabin (with a movable curtain separating the economy and business class sections; the latter is just a blocked middle seat design) in a 2-3 configuration. This means that the aisle is slightly offset from the center of the aircraft, but it was unnoticeable. The cabin ceiling is very high on this aircraft, and it felt quite large inside.
Economy seats have 30-32 inches of legroom, but generally felt quite comfortable thanks to the space given to knees. This design is a bit hard to explain, but imagine that the seat in front is thick in the middle then has little alcoves for the passenger behind’s knees. This means whilst the actual pitch is only 30 inches it feels more like 34 where your legs are concerned.
SWISS has not skipped looking at the width of seats either, pushing 18.5 inches for every seat in economy.
The seat is covered in rich leather with a nice attention to detail in the stitching. It was very comfortable and didn’t feel cheap. The tray table, although on the smaller side, was rock solid. There was plenty of storage space with two small netted pockets and lots of room under the seat in front.
The only problem that I had with the seat was the height. This reviewer is six foot and yet the seat only seemed to reach the middle of the head, not covering the top.
The first thing I noticed about the A220 was the noise. Or rather, the lack of it. The engines were so quiet (even during take-off) that I could listen to music and actually hear my fellow passengers.
The second most noticeable fact about the A220 was the steep attack angle when we took off. The aircraft launched like a rocket ship and felt like it was flying right up to the stars. This was a little uncomfortable but was so quick that it was over before we knew it.
A light lunch was served, consisting of one drink (including wine and beer) and a cold ham sandwich. The meal was honestly a little disappointing and there was no follow up snack. This was the weakest part of the experience and it made me wish for the range of options found onboard a low-cost-carrier. Even the Wizz Air sandwich was better.
There was no onboard entertainment, but the flight was only two hours so I was not that fussed.
The A220-100 is a superior aircraft and SWISS has put it to good use. The inflight service could do with some work (especially the food department) and they need some entertainment if they ever consider further destinations, but overall they are doing a good job.