Review: SWISS A220 Business Class (GVA-FRA)

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To start our journey back to the US, we flew SWISS business class from Geneva to Frankfurt on the Airbus A220 (one of my favorite planes). Let’s see what that experience was like.

How I booked our SWISS business class tickets

I booked our flight from Geneva to Frankfurt as a separate ticket to our Singapore Airlines flight from Frankfurt to New York the next day. Specifically, I booked the following in business class for 15,000 Aeroplan points plus $64.30 per person in taxes and fees:

04/06 LX1086 Geneva to Frankfurt departure 6:45 p.m. arrival 7:55 p.m.

Admittedly, this is a short flight, so some might not find it worth swapping it for business class (I booked business class largely because I wanted to review it). In this case, Aeroplan would have charged 7,500 points for economy class, so the price was double.

Aeroplan points are easy to find, as the program partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards. On top of that, in the United States there is the new Aeroplan® (balance) credit card, which is quite lucrative.

SWISS boarding in business class

In the last episode, I reviewed the SWISS Senator Lounge Geneva. Our flight was departing from gate D25, which is about as far from the security checkpoint as you can get.

Terminal at Geneva Airport (GVA)
Terminal at Geneva Airport (GVA)

This is a unique configuration, as it is essentially a circular terminal with no reaction bridges. Planes are instead parked outside with stairs, and you can walk to them. It’s kind of a cool view with the floor-to-ceiling windows, if you ask me.

Terminal at Geneva Airport (GVA)

Boarding for our 6:45 p.m. flight began at 6:20 p.m., with business class passengers being asked to board first. It was only a short walk from the terminal to the plane stairs.

SWISS A220-100 Geneva Airport (GVA)

The A220 is such a beautiful aircraft, and I loved the opportunity to walk up to it.

SWISS A220-100 Geneva Airport (GVA)
SWISS A220-100 Geneva Airport (GVA)
SWISS A220-100 Geneva Airport (GVA)
SWISS A220-100 Geneva Airport (GVA)

SWISS A220 business class cabin and seats

We were flying a SWISS Airbus A220-100, which is the smaller of the two A220 variants. The SWISS A220 has 125 seats, spread over 25 rows in a 2-3 configuration. Not only is the A220’s cabin incredibly modern and spacious, but you have to like the 2-3 layout from a passenger comfort perspective, as there’s only one center seat per row.

As is the case on intra-European flights, economy and business class seats are identical, so the difference comes down to seat blocking. On this particular flight, the first eight rows of the aircraft were business class.

Business class cabin of the Airbus A220 SWISS
Economy class cabin SWISS Airbus A220

I assigned us seats one behind the other on the left side. Since intra-European business class usually has a blocked middle seat, this works particularly well on the A220, as you get the whole two-seat set for yourself. So I had seats 7A and 7C, while Ford had seats 6A and 6C.

SWISS A220 business class seats

On the right side of the plane there are three seats, so in business class the middle seat is blocked.

SWISS A220 business class seats

The A220 is so elegant on every level, including the seatbacks.

SWISS A220 business class seats

While the A220 sits somewhere between your typical regional jet and your typical main jet, the overhead compartments are a good size, large enough for standard hand luggage.

SWISS A220 upper compartments

The back of the seat had a literature pocket and two pockets, which could be used for a water bottle, a pair of glasses, a smartphone, etc. (but on my seat, one of the pockets was missing). Then there’s the tray table, which folds out from the back of the seat.

SWISS A220 business class seats
SWISS A220 business class tablet

Another interesting feature of the Airbus A220 is the windows, which are quite large, larger than those found on a standard jet.

SWISS Airbus A220 windows

I also like the A220’s overhead consoles, which have reading lights, individual air vents, and even small screens that display security video and a flight map.

Overhead console SWISS Airbus A220

Now, while SWISS’ Airbus A220 cabins are modern, there are two major downsides:

  • SWISS does not have power ports on the Airbus A220s
  • SWISS does not have Wi-Fi on the Airbus A220s

Both of these are standard equipment on newly delivered jets these days. In all honesty, that’s not a problem on a 55-minute flight from Geneva to Frankfurt. I would consider that a problem on a longer flight, though.

This flight was mostly full in business and economy class. Of the 24 business class seats, only three were empty.

SWISS A220 business class cabin

A bottle of water and a cold towel were waiting at each seat upon boarding.

SWISS A220 business class water bottle and cold towel

There was also a lavatory in the front of the cabin, which was spacious and well appointed (and so much nicer than the new lavatories you’ll find on many 737s).

WC SWISS Airbus A220

Departure SWISS from Geneva

At 6:35 p.m. boarding was complete and at that point the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our 55 minute flight time. A few comments:

  • All announcements were made in French, then in English, then in German
  • Why do the sound systems on the A220 constantly sound like someone is talking in your ear? They are so clear and crisp but loud

At 6:40 p.m. the main cabin door was closed and at that time the cabin attendant made the welcome aboard announcement. At 6:45pm we started our engines and started our taxi (the A220 engines are so loud and whiny on start). Due to the position of the pits in this part of the terminal, there is no need to back up, but you can just drive straight ahead.

Departure gate at Geneva airport (GVA)

We rode fast, but it still took us a while to get to the track.

Drive to Geneva Airport (GVA)
Drive to Geneva Airport (GVA)

About 10 minutes later (at 6:55 p.m.) we were short of runway 22, where we were cleared for takeoff.

Drive to Geneva Airport (GVA)
Take-off from Geneva airport (GVA)
View after take-off from Geneva Airport (GVA)

We had beautiful views of Geneva during our ascent…

View after take-off from Geneva Airport (GVA)

We encountered some pretty serious chop after the start, given the thick clouds combined with the mountains. In particular, we hit a fairly large air pocket that made some passengers gasp.

View after take-off from Geneva Airport (GVA)
View after take-off from Geneva Airport (GVA)

Luckily it was a totally different story above the clouds, and about 10 minutes after takeoff the ride calmed down, at which point the seatbelt sign was off.

View after take-off from Geneva Airport (GVA)

After the panel went out, the crew first closed the curtains between the cabins, and moments later the service began.

Business class cabin of the Airbus A220 SWISS

SWISS snack service in business class

About 20 minutes after takeoff, a light snack was served. There was no choice, but instead each passenger was offered a tray with two finger sandwiches (one had pork and cheese, while the other had beets…I think?) , Plus a dessert with berry compote and crumble. It wasn’t really a snack, especially since I don’t eat pork.

SWISS snack service in business class

A separate cart was then brought in with drinks. I had a coffee and sparkling water.

SWISS beverage service in business class

After that, chocolates were handed out, as is the norm on SWISS.

SWISS chocolate in business class

The crew was friendly and efficient, and quickly cleaned up service items as people finished.

Arrival of SWISS in Frankfurt

20 minutes before landing, the first officer informed us that we were starting our descent to Frankfurt and that we had to land at 7:50 p.m. It was a beautiful evening above the clouds, and it was nice to see some sunshine again.

View on approach to Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

Just like at the start, it was a different story under a layer of clouds, however. Not only was the sun setting, but the evening wasn’t particularly clear either.

View on approach to Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
View on approach to Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
View on approach to Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

We ended up landing in Frankfurt at 7:50 p.m.

Landing at Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

From there we literally took a one minute taxi ride to our remote stand, which might be a new record for me.

Taxiing at Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

Although I’m not usually a fan of remote stands, I was impressed that there was a separate bus for business class passengers so there wasn’t a long wait for the bus is filling up, and besides people weren’t crowded into the bus either.

Arrival stand at Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
SWISS Airbus A220 at Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

A few minutes later we find ourselves in the terminal. We only had to wait for our checked bag, which showed up within about 20 minutes.

At the end of the line

The Airbus A220 is a pleasure to fly because it is such a comfortable and spacious aircraft. In particular, you have to like the 2-3 layout, because in intra-European business class it means you can have both an aisle and a window seat.

This flight was punctual, and the crew was friendly. My only real criticism is that SWISS has not really invested in the passenger experience of these aircraft beyond the characteristics of the A220 as such. There are no power ports and no Wi-Fi. Not a problem at all for such a short flight, but on a longer flight that would be a different story.

If you have flown the SWISS A220, what was your experience?

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