LX Business Class on short-haul - is it worth it?
If you were wondering whether paying more than double the price for a short haul flight just to get a regular economy seat in front of the plane with a guaranteed free seat next to you, you might be interested in this report.
Is there more to Business class for a European flight with Swiss?
The flight I took was Zurich (ZRH) - Hanover (HAJ) at Thursday evening and return on the next Sunday afternoon. I actually booked an Economy Light fare, but upgraded during the payment process. For the uninitiated, this means that the baggage allowance does NOT get upgraded to the ones of a Business fare. That is also why this kind of upgrade ends up to be a little cheaper than booking Business Class in the first place.
This was fine for me since I only needed a carry-on bag and a suit bag (which is additionally allowed, even in Economy light). Though, I have to admit that finding a place for the latter in a full Economy class is nearly impossible. In Business it was also not as easy, they don't even have a hanger or closet for a suit in those small planes. I had enough space in my overhead compartment on top of my bag.
At ZRH airport
Disclaimer: I really like Zurich airport. Small, well kept, intelligent routing, relatively good food.
After mobile check-in, I could just go through security via the Business lane. I was in the lounge in no time.
When I entered the LX/LH Business lounge at ZRH near the A gates I was a little shocked. There were so many people, it was like a bazaar. Outside of the lounge felt much more exclusive than inside. ZRH airport is very nice, but this is not how it should be. Swiss is planning to refurbish this lounge soon, but if they don't add more space, I am not sure if it will improve the feeling of this lounge much. I could have gone to the nicer E lounge, but I didn't have enough time.
The food was so-so, but the coffee was really good. I took a New York Times and went back and forth with a little bit of everything from the buffet. Service could have been a little faster, but it was still on a reasonable level.
In the air
The plane was a A320 with relatively new seats. I like the understatement and use of natural colours and materials of the Swiss interior design - especially in their long-haul Business and First class (review will follow). But also in their regional planes, a little bit of this design can be seen, e.g. the brown (artificial) leather seats. My seat was 2F by the window and I felt very comfortable with the seat next to me being free. There were about five other PAX in the Business section that was just separated by a small curtain. As usual on regional planes, the Economy seats were exactly the same as the Business seats and the curtain could be moved back and forth depending on how many Business tickets were sold.
The flight attendants were very friendly throughout the flight. The food served on the short one-hour-flight was surprisingly good. A cold cut of roast beef with a delicious cream cheese, some vegetables, bread, a small Swiss cheese selection and a white wine. The small dessert topped it off quite nicely. It was a good light meal appropriate for the time.
At HAJ airport
After only a few days stay I was on my way to catch the return flight back to Zurich. At HAJ Swiss only has a small check-in area and a mobile check-in didn't work. Later this year they will (again) share their check-in with the Lufthansa counters. This will definitely improve the situation, since the current counter is too small.
Speaking of which, at the check-in there was another "shocker" for me: the aircraft was changed. It was supposed to be a Helvetic Airways run Fokker 100, but it changed to a much smaller Austrian run Bombardier Dash 8 - 400. More about that later. The nice lady at the counter didn't look all too happy at me and she wasn't sure whether I could get on the plane. I pointed to my seat number, which was actually 1A. If I can't get on the plane, who is?
The Lufthansa Business lounge at HAJ airport was actually pretty good for this very small airport. Not too many people, a runway view and very close to my gate - then again, anywhere in this airport you are close to the gate. I just had coffee with cookies and a fruit. I haven't tried any of the warm food offerings. I think it was wiener sausage.
In the air again
Now back to our changed aircraft. The Bombardier Dash 8 - 400 only carried about 70 passengers, while the original Fokker 100 could have carried about 100 passengers. This resulted in several passengers that couldn't fly with us and that my seat changed from 1A to 2F. This was fine by me, but I really didn't like the dated interior of the Austrian run plane.
The food and service were similar to that of the flight from ZRH. Unfortunately, the bread was not warm this time, so it tasted a little less fresh. And the flight attendants were slightly preoccupied with the aircraft-change-crisis.
On arrival in Zurich we didn't get a gate, so we had to take the bus from somewhere on the airfield. Here was another cool thing for flying Business class: the Business passengers get their own small bus, which had comfortable seats and left long before the Economy bus.
Verdict - is it worth it?
|Class||Business Class (Z/P)|
|Flight No.||LX 828/817|
|Route||ZRH - HAJ and return (about 1 hour)|
|Price||CHF 453.50 (~ 476 USD)|
Considering the above, I will still fly Business on short-haul at times, especially when I have the need to bring more hand luggage and can't be bothered with long lines at checkin, security and boarding. The lounge or food though are definitely not worth the price tag (the price for the Eco Light was about 200 CHF, so about half of the upgraded Business rate).