Swiss introduces “throne” seat reservation fee

Swiss business class

Swiss is introducing a fee to pre-reserve one of the popular solo business class seats on its A330 and B777-300ER aircraft.

Until now the carrier has offered these “throne” seats to business class passengers free of charge.

But from the end of March the airline, a Lufthansa group member, will be charging a stiff price for anyone (except high tier loyalty club members) who wishes to pre-reserve a throne seat.

The seats are available on long-haul flights on the carrier’s A330 and B777-300ER aircraft all of which have a staggered business class configuration.

See the entry displayed on seatplans.com for Swiss’ B777-300ER.

Throne seats are much sought after by knowledgeable solo passengers because of the privacy they provide.

However there is only a limited number of throne seats available on every flight and preference is given to loyalty club members holding HON Circle and Senator status.

At present they remain free-of-charge to ordinary business class passengers. But crucially they can only claim a throne seat very close to departure by which time they may already have been released.

With Swiss charging a fee it means all business class passengers qualify for access to a throne seat.

But (except for the above-mentioned loyalty club members) this fee wll range between Sfr 99 and 199 (£79 to £159) depending on the flight and route.

In a notification to eligible loyalty club members, Markus Binkert, CCO of Swiss, said, “With the remodelling of Swiss business class on long-haul routes we have introduced exclusive single seats that are marked by more space and discretion.”

“Due to the overwhelming demand concerning these ‘Privacy seats’ we will be giving our guests the opportunity to reserve these seats for a fee starting at the end of March.”

“As a token of our appreciation we are delighted to continue offering these seats to you at no charge, as long as they are available at the time of booking.”

This move by Swiss is designed both to raise extra cash but also to enable solo passengers to gain access to some of its better business class accommodation.

The move follows the carrier’s recent decision to allow economy passengers to access its Zurich/Geneva business class lounges for a fee.

swiss.com

Swiss economy passengers can now buy lounge access

Swiss B777-300ER

Swiss is now selling Business Lounge access to  economy class passengers.

The offer is being made available to all economy passengers flying Swiss and other members of the Lufthansa group.

It covers the Business Lounges in Zurich and Geneva airports.  And, as one might expect in Switzerland, lounge admission (for one person) will set you back CHF39 (Euros 36).

Full details of lounge amenities, how to locate and book access and so on can be found on swiss.com

https://www.swiss.com/de/en/book/swiss-choice/lounge-access-voucher/info

It would appear that lounge access is being made available to passengers taking either long- or short-haul flights.

The publicity blurb states that Business Lounge access is available to passengers who have “booked a valid ticket for a Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian or Edelweiss flight.”

Swiss.com

Swiss now serves Zurich–Singapore route with B777-300ER

Swiss has started deploying its B777-300ER on the Zurich–Singapore route.

The Star Alliance member currently serves the Lion City once a day, and uses the Boeing aircraft on three of its seven weekly services. The remaining four flights continue to be served by the A340-300, but the B777-300ER will take over all operations from March 2017.

Swiss’ B777-300ER has been outfitted with a three-class configuration, with eight seats in first, 62 in business and 270 in economy. In-flight internet is offered throughout all three cabin classes, with prices starting at CHF 9 for a 20MB data package. First class customers however are offered 50MB of data for free.

Flight times will differ during the Summer and Winter travel seasons. See below for the schedule:

Summer

Flight no.OriginDestinationDepartsArrives
LX178ZurichSingapore2245 (B777)

2245 (A340)

1655+1

1755+1

LX179SingaporeZurich2310 (B777)

2245 (A340)

0610+1

0610+1

Winter

Flight no.OriginDestinationDepartsArrives
LX178ZurichSingapore2245 (B777)

2245 (A340)

1755+1

1810+1

LX179SingaporeZurich2330 (B777)

2350 (A340)

0610+1

0610+1

“This is an important milestone for us and we are very proud to bring the new Boeing 777-300ER to the Singapore market,” said Markus Binkert, chief commercial officer for Swiss. “We want all our guests, in all three classes, to enjoy the renowned Swiss hospitality, quality and service onboard, even before they actually arrive in Switzerland.”

For more information, visit swiss.com/us/en

Clement Huang

Swiss to quit Geneva?

Swiss A320

Such a decision would have been unthinkable a few years ago. But today’s airline business is more hard-nosed than ever and weekend reports in the Sonntagszeitung suggest that Zurich-based Swiss may withdraw from Geneva in 2018.

Why? It is because national airline Swiss continues to lose money on its Geneva short-haul operations. And Swiss, which is a member of the Lufthansa Group, is under pressure to save money wherever it can.

According to the airline’s staff in French-speaking Geneva, a business plan is being drawn up which would see its operations being taken over by Lufthansa’s subsidiary Eurowings with its lower [than Swiss] operating costs.

Lorenzo Stoll, the local Swiss chief [for the Geneva region] is quoted as saying, “Our goal to be profitable on the short-range [routes] has not been achieved despite extensive efforts.”

The problem that Swiss faces in Geneva is that its market share is small compared to its budget rival Easyjet. And Geneva is Easyjet’s base in Switzerland.

Rts.ch claims that Swiss holds only 15 per cent of the Geneva market compared to Easyjet’s 40 per cent share.

Easyjet’s low fares mean that Swiss is under considerable pricing pressure in the Geneva market.

Indeed, as we reported on this website in 2013, it was Geneva where Swiss first trialled cheaper HBO (hand baggage only) tariffs in a bid to compete (on price) with Easyjet.

But if Eurowings (with its standard fleet) were to take over short-haul routes from Swiss then what would happen to the latter’s services to London City which require specialised aircraft ?

And would Swiss continue to maintain its sole long-haul route between Geneva and New York?

In a press office statement, Swiss says “We are very confident that we can continue with the current set-up in Geneva.”

Lufthansa’s Eurowings faces long-haul headwinds. Lufthansa now finds that long-haul, low-cost is not as easy to achieve as it once might have thought.

Its Cologne-Boston route (which started only on May 30) will come to an end on August 28, some two months earlier than planned. While another route, one linking Cologne with Dubai, planned for December 15 will not now go ahead.

swiss.com, eurowings.com

Swiss latest carrier to suspend Istanbul service

Swiss A320

Swiss has become the latest in a growing list of airlines who have decided to either suspend, cancel or reduce capacity to Istanbul.

According to routesonline.com Swiss International Airlines will temporarily suspend its six-weekly Zurich to Istanbul service between October 30 of this year and March 25, 2017.

Swiss, which is a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is following at least another four airlines who have either suspended or completely cancelled their Istanbul services.

The recent terror attacks both in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey have led to a decline in passenger traffic.

A couple of months ago both Iberia and US carrier Delta suspended flight operations and they were followed this month by China Southern.

And last week The Taipei Times reported that the Taiwanese carrier EVA Air has just suspended operations to Istanbul.

And yet this is a route which EVA Air launched only a few months ago with high hopes of expanding its global presence.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued an “orange alert” for Turkey following the failed coup in Ankara. The orange alert means that visitors coming from Taiwan should be highly cautious and avoid unnecessary travel to Turkey.

With Asian travellers notoriously cautious when overseas it would appear there will be little demand for EVA Air’s service.

On top of this Emirates says it is to reduce capacity to Istanbul by withdrawing flights to the city’s secondary Sabiha Gokcen airport, even though they were started only last December.

In a statement emailed to Business Traveller, Emirates says “We are suspending services to Sabiha Gokcen from August 1. This decision was made as part of our routine operational review, to ensure that our capacity is deployed to best serve customer demand across our global network. We remain committed to Istanbul and will continue to serve its main airport with 11 weekly flights.”

One would suspect other foreign airlines may well adjust their Istanbul flight schedules in the months ahead.  Much will depend on the future situation.

Swiss is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group and a fair number of its passengers will be connecting off long-haul Swiss flights from North America, Asia and so on.

So some passengers will be inconvenienced. However, judging by past experience, in such a situation Swiss passengers will be protected on flights operated by other members of the Lufthansa Group or fellow Star Alliance carriers.

For now Turkish Airlines continues its regular operations. But one must remember that Turkey’s national airline is a major sixth freedom carrier and therefore many of its passengers are flying through, rather than to or from, Istanbul.

swiss.com, evaair.com, emirates.com, turkishairlines.com

Save £25 on Swiss flights to Geneva

Swiss has released a promotional code offering £25 off flights from either London City or Heathrow to Geneva.

The offer is valid for bookings made by June 30, for outbound flights taken by August 31, and inbound flights by September 30.

The discount is valid on LX flights departing London City or Heathrow airports – codeshare services are excluded. The minimum ticket value to be eligible for the discount is £95.

Customers should book flights as normal here, and then input promo code SWISSUKGVA25 on the payment page (see screen grab below).

Full terms and conditions for this offer can be found here.

swiss.com

Swiss promo code