Been meaning to do this for sometime now, but having recently flown BA in new F I thought it would be interesting to make a comparison between them and Swiss. I’d be interested to see if others agree – or not?
This was a last minute ticket from CPT – LHR and I wasn’t sure if I’d make the flight so BA made the reservation without my having to pay in advance and held it till I arrived. That was great and something Swiss do not do, although they will refund the ticket.
It wasn’t clear where I had to go to pick up the ticket but eventually found the BA desk at the other end of the airport, to find it was domestic only and I had to go to the Menzies ticket office all the way on the other side of the airport. Eventually found and all very smooth.
Check-in was fast but they would not accompany me past the crowds for security and immigration, so had to queue. Took about 30 minutes. A negative here as Swiss First always accompany you through the VIP/Diplomatic lane so it rarely take more than 5 minutes.
Off to the lounge which was the old SAA/Star F and Business lounge. No separate lounge and the seating was the old SAA ones, and it showed. Food offering was mediocre and the hot dishes looked very unappetizing. Swiss at JNB win hands down here with both the lounge, actually the VS lounge and the food with waiter service as opposed to self service at CPT.
Boarding. We were called and all for the first flight got up together in an almost Mexican Wave formation and headed to the gate. I stayed behind 10 minutes then headed off and joined a long queue. After 5 minutes I notied people going down a parrallel lane and discovered that was the F/C/Gold lane so I swapped, quickly processed and into the tube – where I had to wait and slowly shuffle along as all classes are funneled here. Not at all impressed now, as Swiss come and get you when the queue has gone so you board without waiting.
So far not getting my £5,000 (single) worths!!!
Finally crossed the threshold and had my seat pointed to me. Again not accompanied and no-one to greet or seat me. Left to fend for myself with baggage, jacket etc. with FA’s looking on as I folded my Barbour and put it in the luggage bin above. Only discovered the wardrobe about 2 hours into the flight! Another negative over Swiss I’m afraid.
The seat. Reasonably comfortable but not much bigger than Swiss Business. It had more gadgets to help you adjust it and I was impressed as I played with the buttons. However, and this is probably down to personal taste, I don’t particularly like the way the seat is angled with your feet funneled down to a narrow space at the end. The Swiss seat is roomier and I think longer when made into a bed. If I remove the bias of my preference Swiss win narrowly here, and by a long margin if I add in my preference for seats that go straight.
Sleep. It did go flat and the bed was made for me when I was ready for sleep, which I did and did very well, not waking for the usual turbulence over Central Africa. Sleep quality on a par with Swiss, but then I sleep very well on planes in general.
Food. Quality and quantity both more than adequate and on a par with Swiss. However the port was superior on BA but the tea is superior on Swiss. Cannot comment on the wines as I don’t drink them.
The plane. A wonderful Boeing 747-400. I love them and here BA wins over Swiss’s A 340’s.
Cabin Crew: Friendly, smiling, but not very attentive. They looked after me, so no complaints there, but somehow Swiss seem to go that little bit extra. Despite pointing out it was my first time in BA New First and first time for several years with BA, only the blinds and seat were shown to me. Not the wardrobe or even the small bar in the middle of the cabin which I only discovered at the end of the flight. Swiss win here.
I did have a very nice chat with one of the male cabin crew however and he was very friendly. In that respect BA wins.
Arrival. Disappointing. I’d asked to be accompanied on arrival, as Swiss do, but the CSD informed there was no-one available and “helpfully” pointed out it’s quite simple and just follow the signs!!! Point was I wanted to avoid the immigration queues. In the event I was through quite quickly and would^have been quicker if I hadn’t got into the wrong lane. My fault there but of course if I was accompanied that wouldn’t have happened. So another neg. to BA.
So overall, Swiss First wins hands down in my opinion. Would I fly BA again. Absolutely, but only if it was convenient and provided Swiss were not flying the route.