Review of the New Swiss Premium Economy: Emphasis on “Premium”

Swiss, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, introduced Premium Economy as the fourth travel class on its long-haul flights just 2021. By now, all 12 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft of the Star Alliance member are equipped with 24 Premium Economy seats. Our editor Felix tested the Swiss airline’s new product on a flight from Zurich to Bangkok.

Let’s break down the flight circumstances into mere numbers:

Flight: LX 180 Zurich (ZRH) – Bangkok (BKK)
Seat: 21A

Check-In & Boarding

I completed the check-in process entirely online since I was traveling with carry-on luggage only. I used the browser version of the Swiss website, which I can’t complain about. The process was clear, easy, and fast. Seat selection was only available during check-in, and the airline charges €60 on its website if you want to choose your seat earlier than 24 hours before departure.

The boarding process was efficient and surprisingly organized, with boarding groups being adhered to. At the feeder airport in Düsseldorf, a crowd of confused to irritated economy guests quickly formed, being briskly turned away by the electronic gates, while others (business and status) guests passed through.

In Zurich, there was no such phenomenon—directly after the First Class guests, Boarding Group 2 was called, and I swiftly moved on board in Group 2 to take a few photos of the still unoccupied aircraft. Premium Economy passengers are usually in Group 3 (out of 5), but my Star Alliance Gold status made a positive difference here.

On board, I was greeted by an extremely friendly and open-minded flight attendant who asked me if I was already familiar with the Premium Economy seat. When I said no, he began with a detailed explanation (which wasn’t really necessary, as everything is quite intuitive). Although this was still part of the boarding process, it actually belongs in the next section.


In this aspect of the review, I must do my best not to fall into eulogies. The first positive aspect was that the seat introduction was offered to every passenger in Premium Economy. Since I quickly started taking photos, I suspected that I would be treated especially kindly—since I (not entirely unjustifiably) was suspected to be a journalist or blogger.

However, I couldn’t detect any special treatment. The warm and authentic friendliness of the staff was bestowed upon all guests around me. All my drink requests were fulfilled quickly and sometimes with witty humor, and all my questions about the onboard product and aircraft were answered.

Meals were served promptly and at reasonable times (about 70 minutes after takeoff and about two hours before landing). While I’m not usually a fan of being awakened too early on overnight flights, I found the timing (8:30 a.m. local time in Bangkok) quite plausible for adjusting to the new time zone more quickly. Full marks to SWISS in this category.

Cabin & Seats

Swiss’ Boeing 777s have three rows of Premium Economy, located between the Business Class and Economy cabins. While the front cabin section is separated from the Premium Economy by a wall and curtains, there is no visual separation to the rear. This makes the cabin feel more open and friendly. Since the restrooms and galleys are shared with Economy anyway, further separation doesn’t really make sense.

The seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 formation, making them significantly wider than the 3-4-3 configuration in Economy. There are two seats within a shell of hard plastic. This ensures that you don’t notice anything when the person in front of you reclines their seat. When you operate the button to adjust your seat, only the plastic wall in front of you moves closer—there is no disadvantage or reason for complaint for the person behind you. However, this has the disadvantage for tall people that it quickly gets tight when you move the seat to a more relaxed position. I (1.78 meters) couldn’t complain about lack of space though.

Regardless, I found the seat pleasantly wide and comfortably padded. The wide armrest and the small plastic privacy screen give you a much higher sense of privacy than a regular Economy seat. Even after the quite long flight, I had no complaints such as tension or similar. The seat comfort fully convinced me. Swiss states on its website that the seat width is 46 cm, and the seat pitch is 99 cm.

Each seat has its own power outlet, with a pair located in the middle console between the foot spaces. Additionally, there is a USB port in each seat’s armrest. In addition to the overhead light, which is controlled via the screen, each seat also has its own reading light. The headphone jack is located between the seat backs.

The fold-out tables can be found underneath the entertainment screen. Because the table does not take up any space there, additional storage space can be found in the fold-up armrest. The tables themselves are very spacious, even larger laptops will find enough space here. At the top of the armrest, there is an additional shelf where each passenger can place a drink.

The position of the seat can be adjusted using two buttons: one operates the foot and calf rest, the other the backrest and seat cushion. The adjustments are mechanical rather than electronic. Unfortunately, this leads to a problem: the seat cushion is attached to a rail and seems to be constantly under tension to return to its original position. To adjust the seat, you must first press the button; push your bottom and seat forward with some force, then immediately release the button. Otherwise, you will immediately snap back into the upright position.

While awake, this feature is merely annoying. However, as it was a night flight and the seat is wide enough to sleep on one’s side, I unintentionally hit the button twice and was abruptly awakened by the sudden movement of the seat cushion snapping back. This resulted in rather tense attempts to go back to sleep.

The seat has many positive aspects that are otherwise expected (in a much more detailed form) in Business Class. Unfortunately, it still struggles with some teething problems, such as the very stubborn adjustment function, which leads to a significant deduction of points: 3.5/5.

Food & Beverage

The beverage service began with a welcome drink, offering water, fruit juices, and rosé champagne, all served in glasses (unlike the parent company, which offers orange juice in plastic or nothing). After takeoff, I felt like having a gin and tonic, which promptly landed on my table.

Since printed menu cards were handed out before takeoff, I already knew what drinks were available and what awaited me for dinner. Firstly, I am a big fan of these cards on airplanes, so Swiss had already won me over with that. The content of the menu card impressed me even more: Not only were there three (instead of the usual two in Economy) dishes to choose from, two of them were vegetarian.

I myself do not follow a vegetarian diet (hence my choice for the chicken). Therefore, I also pay attention to how well meatless food requests can be accommodated. Having a selection without pre-ordering is something I have not encountered before. Thumbs up all around.

The quality and presentation of the food were also top-notch: With the large tables, the airline can use tablets with more space, which pays off as the individual menu components can be much more visually appealingly arranged. After my poor experience in AeroMexico’s Business Class, this was a meal I would have accepted a few rows further forward.

The chicken breast was good and – almost unbelievably for a piece of meat on an airplane – not unbearably dry. The red wine jus was rich and flavorful, the pumpkin and potato puree an excellent combination that I want to recreate at home. The spinach was also tasty, but could have brought along a few more friends – the portion was a bit small.

Since I came well-satisfied from the lounge, I left the salad untouched. The same fate befell the cheese, although it did not stay on the plate for other passengers. A sign of the quality of the cheese or the curiosity of my fellow travelers. The fresh roll impressed me and was served with premium butter. Until then, I was unaware of the existence of such a dairy product – now I cannot imagine life without it. At least on the airplane. In Premium Economy. On Swiss.

At breakfast, the spinach’s missing friends from the previous evening reappeared – and tasted just as good. The scrambled eggs turned out to be the traitor in an otherwise perfect ensemble of dishes and disappointed with impressive blandness. I decided to mix the egg with the hash browns after enjoying the spinach. A good decision that made both dishes tastier. Minimal deduction for the dull scrambled eggs, still 4.5 stars for Swiss.

Entertainment Program & Wi-Fi

The entertainment program unfolded on a 15.6-inch screen, one of the largest in this travel class. When the screen is so huge, there’s enough surface area to tap around on it: Probably a reason why there’s no remote control. This usually doesn’t bother me, but it led to a small curiosity. Since the lamp could only be turned on and off via the touchscreen and a non-interruptible, long commercial followed the safety video, I couldn’t turn off the light for quite some time.

In addition to the screen, Swiss offers another goodie that is not standard in Premium Economy: Noise-canceling headphones. While other airlines also provide them (such as Singapore Airlines), SAS and Lufthansa only offer economy earplugs. The headphones can be connected with a double plug, with a normal 3.5mm and a slightly thinner pin. So, there’s no chance to use your own equipment unless with a very unusual adapter. My seat neighbor was not a fan. The smallest of several problems with Swiss Entertainment offering.

The best screen is useless if the content is disappointing. The movie selection was regrettably small and not very current – at least for my taste, there were few attractive options. The selection of series was also not better, and only three games were available. There was also no live TV. This is usually not a problem, but since Germany was playing in the soccer World Cup, I would have liked to watch the game.

Ultimately, I opted for a film classic and watched Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. A recommendation follows directly: A great and stylistically hugely influential film. Otherwise, the flight map was the most entertaining thing flickering across my screen.

Even the onboard wireless internet offered fell into the line of disappointments. Swiss offers very small data packages at totally inflated prices. Still, I was willing to test the internet for you. Until both of my credit cards were declined due to a connection error. Just imagine the “Zonk” sound.

The weakest part of the Swiss onboard product, I can only muster up 2 stars.


In addition to the usual combo of pillow and blanket also found in economy, there was a small amenity kit made of environmentally friendly paper at the seat. However, its contents are hardly worth mentioning: A sleep mask, earplugs, a toothbrush, and a small tube of toothpaste. One of the few elements that rather reminded me of the Economy Class: No reason for an upgrade, but also no reason for a downgrade.

Swiss has pulled out all the stops to establish Premium Economy as a distinct travel class. The catering is fantastic and significantly more extensive than other airlines in this class. The seat is spacious, comfortable, and equipped with gimmicks that are reminiscent of the Business Class. In combination with the fantastic service on this flight, it’s a combination that overlooks the weaknesses of the product.

However, once the initial euphoria of the good experience fades, the weaknesses become clearer. The cumbersome adjustability of the seat is a significant drawback, and several minor issues with the entertainment program accumulate to a significant devaluation. Nevertheless, when booking Premium Economy with the Lufthansa Group, I would always opt for a flight via Zurich if possible at the same price. Personally, I would even rank Swiss Premium Economy above that of Singapore Airlines.

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