BA versus SWISS : A surprising resultBack to Forum
Anonymous10 Mar 2013
I recently needed to travel to London from Zurich for a 2 day business visit and had to decide who to fly with. It is a journey I do very frequently and have used both BA and SWISS but before selecting the carrier for my next journey, I decided to set down the various merits of BA and SWISS and make a logical decision.
On the days in question, both charged similar fares so price was not a deciding factor.
I am a Silver member of both frequent flyer programs so would be entitled to quite similar benefits.
I needed to fly into LCY and return from LHR and given both operate good frequency to both, again this did not really factor into the decision. Hence it boiled down to Service.
Aircraft : SWISS operate off the pace aircraft, namely old AVRO 4 engine jets to LCY as opposed to BA’s new Embraer aircraft which are a pleasure to fly in. Similar A320s are used out of LHR for both BA and SWISS.
Bus Transfers : The SWISS Avro are usually parked in the middle of Zurich airfield and may require a bus transfer. SWISS seem to have moved some of their London services to eliminate bus transfers but there is no guarantee. BA are generally located in terminal E and hence have always had an air-bridge every time I’ve used them. At LHR SWISS always seem to have an air bridge but occasionally BA bus passengers to the aircraft.
In Flight Food/Beverage. SWISS usually offer some sandwich as opposed to BA offering Nuts/snack/savoury. Bar service is very similar.
Lounges in own Home base: BA offer comprehensive (often hot and quite varied) food service in Galleries T5 and SWISS have less of an offering in their own lounge in Zurich.
Lounges in non-Home base: BA offer silver members access to the Sky view lounge in Terminal E in Zurich. Swiss recently ceased providing lounge access to its Silver members in locations such as London and Dublin.
Baggage Allowance : Silver members of both BA and SWISS programs can take 2 checked bags at no charge. However with BA, if you are travelling with another person on the same booking, you get 4 bags but with SWISS the other person does not get an extra bag allowance.
Seating : Interior of the SWISS Avro jets are somewhat dated. Also, BA allows you to select your seat at time of booking as a Silver member whereas SWISS does not allow this and you can only select a seat when you check in.
Terminal layout. SWISS gates in LHR T1 involved a very long walk from the main terminal. At T5 the Zurich flights usually depart from an A gate.
Flight booking conditions: I purchased a return but BA did offer my tickets on a 1 way basis hence offering quite a degree of flexibility. SWISS only offer competitive fares on a return or open jaw basis. One way tickets with Swiss are always priced very unfavourably
Other Privileges: With a BA Silver card, a fast track security channel is provided in T5. Silver with SWISS provides no Fast Track security clearance in any Airport.
In all but one of the above, the SWISS offering was inferior to BA.
In making my purchasing choice, the main items that went against SWISS were
1. Avro Jets to LCY
2. No lounge access in LHR
3. Long walk in LHR T1 to get to Gate
4. No advance seat selection
Conclusion, in a head to head comparison on a main Trunk route from their respective hubs, BA offer a significantly better service to a Y traveller compared to SWISS and even more so if they are a quite frequent traveller.10 Mar 2013
All the above is fair comment, BUT
Swiss cabin crew are more consistent than BA
Swiss aircraft are immaculately clean, BA may be
If you can bag the AC seats on the RJ, there is much more space than on BA ET
Different strokes for different folks.10 Mar 2013
A bit of a confusing comparison. I had to read it a few times to comprehend.
If you kept LCY and LHR separate in this comparison your ultimate result, BA, may have been the same, but a number of your arguments would be invalid.
I concur with you that on the LCY – ZRH flights the BA product looks superior to Swiss, except for the catering. Aircraft and airbridge at ZRH are better solutions.
On LHR to ZRH the equipment is the same.
Lounge access for Y passengers depends on the FF status of the passenger. BA has the advantage here. But most Y passengers have no access at all.
Your rule on baggage allowance looks a bit far fetched. Again based on your FF status, but to throw in a second passenger to upgrade your baggage allowance? Strange.
Having had the LHR experience with both airlines as well in the last year I would say BA offers a slightly better product if you are a FF member, but not that much. With the LCY product I totally agree. The Avro should have been ditched a long time ago.
And as FormerlyDos indicates: there may be a few more points to compare.10 Mar 2013
I am with FormerlyDoS; the crew make or break a trip in economy for me if the journey is as short as the London (Heathrow or City) to Geneva hop. Even though marginal the ‘luxuary’ over a tiny packet of something savoury is welcome as I often find that time is tight and I do not manage to get to otherwise eat at the end of a working day – more often than not I have been offered a second two (and more often than not I would even think twice about asking the crew on BA fearing a scene that is a modern day equivilent to Oliver Twist would ensue. But as has been commented elsewhere, each to their own.10 Mar 2013
All being well, I will be flying Swiss for the very first time next month from Newark to Luxembourg via Zürich. I am looking forward very much to comparing the 2 airlines. I’m afraid the ZRH-LUX sector will probably be on one of these Avros, an aircraft I detest!10 Mar 2013
When you fly Newark-Zurich-Luxembourg bear in mind that the Newark-Zurich flight is not operated by Swiss.
Instead this route is flown by a Swiss subsidiary called Edelweiss.
It’s only the JFK-Zurich route which is flown by Swiss itself.10 Mar 2013
Thanks for that LondonCity
I have just checked my itinerary and the flight is LX19 operated by Swiss. At the time of booking I did notice that some services were operated by Edelweiss, but decided to book a Swiss-operated service.
Any clarification very welcome.10 Mar 2013
The Swiss crews are unfailingly brilliant.
There is, though, another factor: the bizarre hand baggage obsession of Swiss staff at outstations (not at Zurich). As a business class passenger, you can have two cabin bags; in economy, you can have one. *BUT* no cabin bag can weigh more than 8kg or be more than 20cm wide. From LCY (on those ancient AVROs), I could just about understand this but on a modern Airbus from LHR? The ground staff quite often weigh and measure bags at the gate, Ryanair-style (although they don’t sting you with a massive fee when they check them into the hold).
BA, by contrast, gives every passenger a full-sized cabin bag (up to 25cm wide and the usual 56 long) and a briefcase or equivalent. If you can lift it, it can weigh up to 23kg. They only pull up those who are abusing the rules. On your two-day trip, I would tend to pass up 45 minutes at a luggage carousel either end, however lovely the attitude of the cabin crew.10 Mar 2013
Quite correct, alexpo1.
The last time I checked Edelweiss was operating into Newark. But there must have been a change and I now see that LX19 is indeed operated by Swiss. Edelweiss has taken over one of the twice daily Swiss flights into JFK.
Sorry for the confusion.10 Mar 2013
LondonCity, you were perhaps thinking of the two flights that used to be operated by Privat Air into Newark and now (sadly) discontinued and operated by Swiss?
Alexpo, enjoy the flight and let us know how you found it. I’m flying Swiss this coming Sunday from JNB.
SwissExPat, I’ll concede some of your points on Short Haul, but Long Haul I still think Swiss are a clear winner. You’re right about the stands, this also annoys me, and the older Avro’s though they will soon be replaced. However I find the Recaro seating very comfortable with enough space for a short hop and especially if with a companion in seats AC. If alone I’ll book F as often the middle seat will be free.
Mark, fully agree about the crew, but concerning hand baggage, I’ve never been hassled by staff at outlying airports and my bag will weigh about 12 kgs. Not sure if the Senator tags help but if its the right size it goes on with me.11 Mar 2013
As to Silver status, the benefits have been getting less and less. Was a time when a companion could join you in the lounge but now no more. The only real benefit now is the extra baggage allowance and 25% bonus miles.
I also expect less people with get renewal on Silver as the mileage rules on Y fares have changed for the cheaper tickets. On a recent ZRH – JNB flight our boys ex Nanny only got 500 miles each way and has now lost her Silver card. Before she got 7,500 I think but anyway enough for her to get her the 35k she needed on the few trips she flew.11 Mar 2013
Agree about the lessening of silver on SWISS but note that in 2013, you can renew or obtain silver with 30 flights on Str alliance carriers in the year.
Copied from site…..
The Silver Promotion 2013: 30 flights to become a Frequent Traveller
In 2013, too, Miles & More will be offering you a simple way to become a Frequent Traveller or to maintain your Frequent Traveller status — with the Silver Promotion 2013.11 Mar 2013