Tried & Tested

Swiss Avro RJ100 business class

6 Nov 2009 by Mark Caswell

CHECK-IN My flight from Swiss city Basel was departing at 1930, and after a rather convoluted bus journey from the city that took about 25 minutes, I arrived at 1830. The business class check-in desk was number 68 and there were only a couple of people ahead of me in the queue. I checked in my luggage and requested a window seat. (I was assigned 2F.)

Security was upstairs and consisted of a single lane alongside the economy line. I was through within five minutes and the minimum of hassle – simply a quick bag search. From here, I turned right and walked three minutes to the lounge.  

THE LOUNGE The lounge, located in Terminal Y, was very peaceful and light inside – in fact it was almost empty on this Sunday evening. Downstairs, it formed a circular area with potted trees and light wood floors, and upstairs, another level looking down with a huge glass ceiling above. However, I didn’t get to investigate this part of the lounge as it was closed. According to there are “computer terminals, free WLAN internet access and faxes in our Business Corner”. All in all, there is 1,700 sqm of space, 240 seats.

There were two refreshment bars downstairs (although one of these was also closed) and eight tables with wicker chairs positioned around them. Food and drink options included crisps, cakes, rolls, fruit, a small selection of spirits, wine, champagne, beer, coffee and Lipton tea. Newspapers and magazines were available, although most of them were in French or German, but there were a few copies of the Financial Times Weekend left. The facility is open Monday to Friday and Sunday 0500-2100, and Saturday 0500-1900.

BOARDING Departure screens in the lounge showed boarding started at 1910, so I promptly exited and made my way to Gate 29, which only took about five minutes. After a short wait, passengers crossed the tarmac and accessed the Avro RJ100 via a flight of steps. I was in my seat by 1920 and English-language newspapers were handed out (Telegraph and Daily Mail).

THE SEAT I was in window seat 2F. There are 21 rows on board configured 2-3 (A-B, D-E-F) although row 13 is missing (a common quirk that seems to indulge superstitious thinking). On this occasion, business class consisted of the front two rows. Seats are upholstered in grey leather and feel quite comfy and spacious, thanks to the generous design of the cabin. Seat pitch in business is 32 inches, with an 18-inch width and 4.5-inch recline.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? There is no real difference between the seats in business class on this short-haul flight except for that those passengers sitting in row one will probably be served first, and have to put luggage in the overhead bins as there is no under-seat storage.

THE FLIGHT We started taxiing at 1925, and water and wet wipes were handed out. Take-off was on time and the food and drink service began at 1945. For some reason, my vegetarian meal was not on board, despite the fact that I had ordered it. (However, this may have been the fault of the person who booked the flight for me, not the airline.) Everyone else was given a salad with prosciutto, bread, Camembert cheese and plastic cutlery, and although the cabin crew did their best to tempt me with some of the meat-free fare, I declined as wasn’t particularly hungry anyway. Champagne, beer, wine and spirits were offered followed by tea, coffee, and dessert, which was a sickly sweet apple tart and cream.  

ARRIVAL Landing at London City airport was at 1945 local time (the flight was one hour and 15 minutes). We disembarked swiftly and I would have been on my way home in no time had it not been for the fact that my priority bag took all of 25 minutes to appear – long after most of the economy class baggage had come out.

VERDICT A decent short-haul flight with friendly, helpful cabin crew and good lounge facilities in Basel. The only downside was I had to wait a long time for my priority luggage at the other end.  

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight in December from London City to Basel started from £269 with Swiss.


Jenny Southan

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