Swiss First Class is notorious for being one of the hardest First Class flights to book with points. This is because Swiss doesn’t typically release any First Class space to partner airline programs.
While it may be difficult, it’s not impossible, and there are some tricks you can use if you want to enjoy one of the best First Class experiences available without having to spend a fortune.
In this guide, we‘ll dive into everything there is to know about Swiss First Class. We’ll look at the overall experience from ground to air, as well as the different types of First Class cabins and routes.
Lastly, we will look at how you still might be able to redeem points for one of these highly coveted seats.
The Swiss First Class Experience
The Swiss First Class experience has it all. You’ll start with a dedicated priority check-in desk, followed by one of the best First Class lounges in the world.
Once in the air, you can choose to sleep in a completely lie-flat bed, or dine in style above the clouds. The Swiss First Class gourmet experience showcases the best of what Switzerland has to offer, which of course includes their famous Swiss Chocolate and cheeses.
It could be argued that the most notable aspect of the whole Swiss First Class experience begins before boarding the plane, with the Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich.
As you arrive at Zurich Airport’s main terminal, there’s an exclusive exterior entrance reserved for First Class passengers, as well as members of Swiss Miles and More’s highest membership tier, HON Circle.
The entrance leads to a small lounge equipped with espresso and ice cream, where a check-in agent will confirm your flight details and direct you to your own dedicated airport screening area.
The private security area leads directly to the Swiss First Class Lounge, which is where the experience really begins in earnest.
There are two Swiss First Class lounges in Zurich, but the most impressive one is located in Terminal E.
What puts this lounge in a league of its own are the day rooms. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, the two rooms, known as St. Moritz and Montreux, are the nicest private rooms you’ll find in an airline lounge.
In the day rooms, you’ll have your own queen-sized bed and ensuite bathroom. But what really adds to the experience are the stunning views of the tarmac.
From the comfort of your bed, you’ll have your own private show of planes taking off, landing, and taxiing.
The Swiss First Class Lounge also houses over 1,000 bottles of wine and Champagne in a gigantic wine humidor, so you’ll never go thirsty. For food, the dining options are all à la carte, with plenty of options.
The Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich also has a private terrace, where you can get some fresh air and catch more planes coming and going while you wait for your flight to start boarding.
Lastly, if your flight happens to depart from a different terminal, you can get escorted to a private vehicle that will drive you to the central terminal area, where you’ll then have to make your own way to your gate.
Note that if you’re flying Swiss First Class into Zurich, you’ll also have access to an Arrivals Lounge located after customs, which is also available to other passengers in Swiss business class and Miles & More travellers.
The Swiss First Class experience is relatively similar across all aircraft that have First Class cabins; however, there are some slight differences.
The newer Boeing 777-300ER and the recently refurbished Airbus A340-300 aircraft have more privacy. The Boeing 777 comes with a private wardrobe equipped with hangers that also functions as a door, completely separating you from the aisle.
The Airbus A340 doesn’t have the same private wardrobe, although there are other places to hang your jackets. The suite also has a door that comes out to provide you with more privacy.
While the door is not floor-to-ceiling, it still provides a significant amount of privacy. On the Airbus A330-300, there are no completely private options; however, there is a partition that can be moved to make your seat more secluded.
All Swiss First Class seats come with your own personal adjustable lamp, helping create a luxurious ambiance for your journey.
The Airbus A330 First Class cabin comes with a 23” entertainment screen, while the other aircraft are equipped with a 32” screen for your enjoyment.
If you want to sleep, all First Class seats can be converted into beds, and you’ll even be given a pair of pajamas to help you get the best sleep possible.
In addition to pajamas, all First Class passengers will receive an amenity kit with all the essentials, including sleep masks, slippers, and more. You’ll also be provided with a Wi-Fi code, which comes with 50 MB, with options to purchase more data.
Food & Drink
Swiss First Class dining can be ordered anytime during your flight. In fact, you can even order your meal four weeks before and up to 24 hours prior to your flight. All you have to do is enter your booking code and name on the Swiss website.
You can get an idea of what the menu will include by heading to the Swiss First Class website. Typically, the meals include various types of elegantly prepared meat or seafood dishes, with a handful of vegetarian items available for selection as well.
Only the main meals can be chosen ahead of time, but once on board, you’ll have other options for drinks and snacks, including fine Champagnes.
Swiss serves Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Brut to First Class passengers. Unfortunately, caviar isn’t typically on the menu; instead, Balik-style salmon is commonly offered as a high-end appetizer.
Every Swiss First Class seat has an ottoman which can be used as a second seat, so you can have a guest join you during the meal service. The tray table is certainly wide enough to accommodate two.
Swiss First Class Cabins
Swiss First Class can be found on three different aircraft: the Boeing 777-300ER, Airbus A330-300, and Airbus A340-300.
The Boeing 777 is the flagship version of Swiss’s First Class cabin; however, keep in mind that the Airbus A340s have all been refurbished within the last couple of years and are more or less on par with the Boeing 777 First Class experience.
The Airbus A330 is the slightly older model of the three, but it still has many of the same features.
All aircraft contain eight First Class seats in the same 1-2-1 configuration across two rows.
If you’re traveling with a companion, then the best Swiss First Class seats would be Seats 2D and 2G on all aircraft. In these seats, you’ll have the best opportunity to enjoy the experience together, while still being one row further back from the lavatories.
If you’re traveling Swiss First Class solo, then Seats 2A or 2K by the windows would provide the most privacy, with the window seats 1A or 1K being the next best options.
Despite the similar layout, there are some differences between First Class on the different aircraft. Both the Boeing 777 and Airbus A340 First Class seats have a width of 22” and fully flat 80” bed, along with a 32” entertainment unit, and the option to have your First Class space fully enclosed from the aisle for a more private experience.
On the other hand, the Airbus A330 has the same 22” seat width, but a slightly smaller 79” bed, and just a 23” entertainment screen.
Alongside slightly older décor, another difference between the older Airbus A330 and the Airbus A340s and Boeing 777s is the lack of a fully enclosed option.
Whatever Swiss First Class cabin you fly will no doubt be an unforgettable experience. If you have the choice, then either the Boeing 777 or the Airbus A340 would be the better option.
Swiss also intends to introduce a new First Class cabin in 2025 on future planes as they plan on retiring the Airbus A340s that same year. While the exact details haven’t been released, it’s expected to be similar to Lufthansa’s new First Class expected later in 2023.
Swiss First Class Routes
If you’re flying on Swiss First Class, you’re most likely flying to or from Zurich.
In fact, almost all Swiss First Class flights run out of Zurich, with only one route between Geneva and New York (JFK), as well as a single fifth freedom flight from São Paulo to Buenos Aires.
Swiss First Class flights to and from Zurich are as follows:
Other Swiss First Class Routes are as follows:
How to Redeem Points for Swiss First Class
Swiss has a reputation for not allowing First Class seats to be booked by partner airlines, which makes it relatively difficult to book using points.
Swiss Miles & More
The only way to redeem miles for the vast majority of Swiss First Class routes is through Swiss’s Miles & More loyalty program.
However, to make Swiss First Class even more exclusive, even if you’re a member of and have miles with Miles & More, you still can’t redeem miles for Swiss First Class seats unless you’re a Miles & More Senator or HON Circle member – both of which are quite difficult to reach unless you have significant paid flying activity with Lufthansa Group airlines.
What’s more, even if you’re a Miles & More Senator or HON Circle member, the fees can be incredibly high when redeeming points for Swiss First Class. Due to the exclusivity and costs associated with booking Swiss First Class through Miles & More, your best bet might be to look elsewhere.
At time of writing, there’s an option available for booking Swiss First Class through the United MileagePlus program.
The way to do this is by booking Swiss’s fifth freedom route from São Paulo to Buenos Aires. As a reminder, a fifth freedom route is when an airline flies between countries that don’t include the country from which the airline originates.
In this case, Swiss frequently releases First Class space to be booked with United miles from São Paulo to Buenos Aires.
At the time of writing, there is plenty of availability, and you can even book an incredible six First Class seats on the same flight in some situations.
Note that this is only a three-hour flight on the Boeing 777-300ER, so while you’ll be able to enjoy Swiss First Class on the airline’s flagship plane, you may not be able to get the full experience on this relatively short flight.
Tips & Tricks for Swiss First Class
Other than utilizing the fifth freedom route, there are a few other tricks you can use to fly Swiss First Class.
Upgrade to First Class from Business Class
The first trick is to book a Swiss business class seat on a route and an aircraft that has a First Class cabin with seats available, and then pay for a cash upgrade at the airport.
Being a Star Alliance partner, you can book Swiss business class with quite a few other Star Alliance partner loyalty programs, including with Aeroplan.
If there’s still First Class availability once you get to the airport you can pay to upgrade your business class ticket to a First Class the day of. Depending on your route, it could cost you anywhere from $1,000–1,800 (USD).
While this price tag isn’t insignificant, it’s still considerably cheaper than paying cash for a First Class flight outright. Also keep in mind that it’s not much more expensive than the taxes and surcharges you’d have to pay if you were a Miles & More Senator or HON Circle member redeeming miles for Swiss First Class.
“Surprise” Partner Availability
Over the years, we’ve sporadically seen Swiss First Class seats become available with partner airlines. While this may be rare, it does happen.
For example, recently, some last-minute Swiss First Class seats have been available to be booked with United miles for some popular routes. One such example is Swiss First Class flights bookable with United miles three days before departure for flights from New York (JFK) to Munich, with a stopover in Geneva.
In this example, the New York (JFK) to Geneva segment was bookable in First Class; however, if you searched New York (JFK) to Geneva alone, no space was available.
Redeem Miles & More Miles as a Regular Member
Lastly, there have also been recent reports of all Miles & More members occasionally having access to Swiss First Class award seats, even if you aren’t a Miles & More Senator or HON Circle member.
The trickiest part here, however, is going to be earning Miles & More miles. Miles & More isn’t a transfer partner of any major North American transferable points currency, and the most meaningful way to rack up miles will be flying frequently with Lufthansa Group airlines or by signing up for the US-issued Barclays Miles & More World Elite Mastercard.
However, all of these examples go to show that things can change quickly when it comes to short-lived opportunities to book Swiss First Class, and if you dream of flying this product without paying an exorbitant amount, you may not be completely out of luck.
Swiss First Class is one of the most exclusive First Class experiences you can fly. While it may be difficult, it’s not entirely impossible to redeem points towards the best product that Swiss has to offer.
If you’re able to snag one of these highly coveted seats, you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing one of the best First Class lounges on the ground in Zurich, as well as your own bed in the sky with free-flowing Champagne to pair with your Swiss chocolate and cheese.
Booking Swiss First Class with points can often mean pouncing on a limited-time or last-minute opportunity, so be sure to keep an eye out for one, and then act quickly before it’s gone.