I recently flew with the renewed Swiss International Airlines and was fortunate enough to be on their very new Business Class.
The product is amazing but, quirkily enough, the longer I sat there the more I felt inclined to stick to economy class, or not fly at all.
Next time I will just walk to Europe! Here are a few reasons why:
1. It doesn’t feel like you are flying. The scattered and seemingly-chaotic-at-first seating order confuses you even as you board but the wooden facade just makes the whole place feel like a living room.
It lacks the steely coldness of most business class, instead opting for this rather retro-nouveau look. Like the living room of your parents, except as if they were extremely hip and with it.
2. European carriers had this old school charm where they segregate and distinguish people and serve you according to your origin. We the browns were always lesser people than the Caucasians and were treated so. I think in lesser educated circles it was blatantly termed racism. The intelligentsia knew better, calling it “European Standards”.
Swiss has done away with this, allowing other nationalities to fly as air crew thereby making the experience warm and friendly, speaking many languages, actually caring as if they were an Asian airline.
Whatever happened to that little S&M that we as Indians had come to expect of European carriers? If all we wanted was good service we could have easily flown to Singapore, or Dubai.
3. Business is expensive and that is no genius insight but, I realised, if you book them early and are date flexible, you can get some pretty competitive rates; even enough to match Emirates and Qatar. Air France and British Airways are comparably mostly much higher. So I can now fly better and also save money. However my accountant seems to disagree.
To him, this could be a major setback to my travel budgets as, according to him, I will be spending more than before on my economy travel. Maybe I should fire him.
4. Business class gives you meal options, something that is never good. The only option with food that my mom gave me was, take it or leave it, and if you took it and then left it, you always got scolded. With food choices I can never decide what I want yet I always end up munching. And when you have meals from Hiltl, that famous Swiss vegetarian paradise, (think of it as a really upmarket Udipi, or Shiv Sagar, or Rajdhani, but really seriously upmarket) few people can say no, or leave anything on the plate. This is when it dawned on me why business class seats are wider and bigger – because only fat people fly in them! The kind who order and finish their food every time. The more I fly then, the more I could risk my fitness and supple catlike nimble agilities.
5. Now this last one can ruin travel for many others, even on other business classes. Swiss has tied up with Lantal (that major company making transport interior fabrics) and developed this funky new seat design that (a) adjusts the firmness of the cushion and (b) can convert into a fully flat two meter long bed.
Now that is more luxury than any man flinging his body at a speed close to that of sound should be allowed or should expect.
I spent a good part of my flight playing with the firmness-softness buttons. Some other time I spent fiddling with the massage option even though, in the end, I didn’t feel any more relaxed.
Economy, cramped as it is, is boring. Given the lack of general such options, you get driven to sleep out of sheer boredom, even if you have to contort into a special shape to fit the space.