BACKGROUND Swiss relaunched its London City to Basel route in May (see online news April 24) with a twice-daily service operated by RJ100 jets. Once in Basel Felix Rodel, Swiss manager for the UK and Ireland told Business Traveller that the RJs will soon be replaced by the quieter, more fuel efficient 115-seat Bombardier C-Series aircraft.
Besides the new Basel service, Swiss already flies from LCY to Zurich up to seven times a day and to Geneva up to four times a day but no longer serves Basel from London Heathrow.
CHECK-IN I arrived at London City (LCY) via the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) at 0740 for my 0825 departure to Basel in business class with Swiss. I used the machines outside the terminal building as there were no queues, entered my booking reference and scanned my passport and my two tickets were printed immediately. I only had hand luggage so did not have to use the bag drop which had a modest queue at this time.
I met a couple of colleagues at the information desk landside before going up to security at 0750. There was no queue here also and I scanned my ticket to get through the barriers. There were three security lanes open and two people in front of me so I placed my items in a large tray, laptop out, shoes on, and was airside by 0800. Seating in departures is all black and brown leather and very comfortable.
The area was very busy at this time but I still had time to grab a coffee from Caffe Nero and sit at a high table until my gate appeared on the board. There are a couple of duty free shops, City bar and grill, WH Smiths, a luxury clothing outlet and an espresso bar in the small departures area also. You can even get a complimentary shoe shine while you wait. There is no business lounge here so some of the seating has power points, particularly near the City bar and grill towards the rear.
BOARDING I made a move for gate 2C at 0820 which can be found down a flight of stairs. Boarding had not commenced so I sat on one of the black leather stools surrounding the walls until the doors were opened at 0830 for the short walk over to the aircraft.
THE SEAT I was in 2F, a window seat with the middle seat left unsold in business class. However once boarding was complete and it was clear that there were only three passengers in business class, I moved forward to 1F as it offered some extra space. The cabin is looking a little tired but is soon to be replaced when the new aircraft comes online and the seats are dark leather and comfortable enough for this short flight.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The RJ100 is configured 3-2 so if you want added space choose to sit in C or F as AB are both sold in business class. The front row is certainly preferable as it has added space and you are the first to be served, therefore I would opt for 1F or C, depending on your preference of aisle or window.
THE FLIGHT We pulled back late at 0840 and cabin crew came to collect jackets and hand out bottles of water, freshener towels and a choice of English newspapers, either The Independent or Daily Mail. We took off 20 minutes late at 0845.
Breakfast was served at 0900 (to see a picture visit our Pinterest page here) and consisted of a cherry yoghurt with granola, a strange cross between coleslaw and cottage cheese with a slice of Swiss cheese on top and a selection of warm bread rolls and croissants brought round separately in a basket. Swiss has recently revamped its food offering for business class passengers on European routes to consist of more traditional Swiss items, which could clearly be seen on my two flights.
Service in business class is individual not from a trolley so I was asked what I would like to drink and was served an orange juice in a glass and a coffee in a mug with pre-packaged milk and sugar. Everything was delicious apart from the odd cottage cheese mix which I mostly left. This was taken at 0915 and another drink was offered as well as a small Swiss branded chocolate which I hid away for later.
ARRIVAL We began our descent at 0940 and landed at 0955 and I had my feet on solid ground by 1000 for a short bus transfer to the terminal. There are queues for EU and non-EU passports for both the French and Swiss side of the border in a narrow hallway. I joined the Swiss queue but soon found myself stuck in the slower non-EU line so had to be patient. I was through by 1015 and as I had no luggage to collect was on a bus to the city centre within seconds.
VERDICT Having flown quite a few European sectors in business class as of late I would say that the personal benefits of flying from London City, as well as some of the nicer touches like fresh warm croissants and Swiss branded chocolates set this carrier apart from its competition.