The SWISS Chronicles – My foray into 4A

I wrote about SWISS a bunch last spring, since I booked a business class award from Zurich back to San Francisco. Here’s a list of links to peruse, presented “real trip report” style as if I’m a real blogger:

The king died on the throne
And finally, a review of the flight

Quick summary – when I originally booked the flight, most of the throne seats were blocked for elites, but I managed to get one in the back. Then, in the isthmus of time between when SWISS unblocked those seats and when they started charging for them, I managed to snag seat 4A, and I was really. excited. about it. I was too clever for my own good, though, since a week later I was bumped to a middle seat, forced to pay to cash to upgrade back to a throne seat in the main cabin. It was a bummer, but to be honest, the seat is so private that I barely noticed the world outside my little cubicle, and I had a pretty nice flight.

Backing up for a sec, for those who are completely lost at this point. On the 777-300 that SWISS normally flies between San Francisco and Zurich, there are two rows of business class (4 and 5) that comprise a “mini-cabin” and then eleven more rows behind the galley. Like I said, the big cabin is fine, although all the passengers except the handful of people in first class and the aforementioned mini-cabin pass through it during boarding, so it’s a little hectic. (On the flipside, you can watch your boss from a previous job walk past you on his way to 10-abreast economy and thank your stash of points for making you look dope AF (although that may have just been a coincidence).) The seats are staggered 1-2-2, which means some seats are fantastic (the thrones) and some are pretty terrible, since they have no storage space and are right on the aisle with only a thin armrest for separation.


So, windy story short, the mini-cabin is the place to be (unless you want to be in first, but you’re gonna have to break out the lawyerin’ in that case). It’s quiet, intimate, and ahead of the boarding doors, which are all good things. Then, within the mini-cabin, seat 4A glistens like the star on top of the xmas tree, since it has even more room than the other thrones. Because it’s in the bulkhead, the foot well is bigger and [I’m to understand] there’s more room between you and the wall.

For the trip I was booking in the fall, I had been monitoring availability for all three alliances, and for a while Star Alliance showed absolutely nothing. At one point, however, a bunch of dates populated with SWISS space out of SFO. Honestly that wasn’t my first choice, since I wanted to try a new product, but I decided to book it anyway, rather than waiting it out to see if something better came along. Plus, the schedule works out well, since I can work a full day before the 8PM flight and then arrive in Rome in the evening, which should help us avoid jetlag. And if I’m lucky, the Polaris lounge will finally be open at SFO, although I’m not banking on it.

So back to 4A… As is my wont, I’m especially fixated on it because it was cruelly ripped from my grasp once already, even though I know it’s not so great. Oh and also, Justine and I are flying together, so it’s pretty ridiculous for either of us to pay extra for throne seats. (My thinking here was twofold: first, we barely talk to each other on planes anyway, so sitting in separate business class pods has always been fine in the past. Second, Justine values storage space above all else, and the throne seats have TONS of storage.) 4A and 5K were both available, so I put us at either end of the mini-cabin. Assuming I don’t forget to take pictures, I should be able to get a good comparison of the difference in space between the bulkhead and a normal seat.

No, I wasn’t jazzed about spending $400 to get the seats I wanted… especially since I don’t trust SWISS not to kick me out of the seat and put me in one of the ones in the main cabin. Still, it’s a long flight, and that’s less than the fuel surcharges on a lot of other airlines, so what the hey. This expenditure will also prevent me from dropping $1000+ to change our flight to Lufthansa First Class, should it become available a few days beforehand. Or at least I hope it does. I’m significantly more fixated on LH first class than 4A, so I’m hoping my desire not to waste $400 will prevail.

Anyone else digging on 4A? How bout other experiences on SWISS? It gets mixed reviews online, but I liked it overall. (Also, it just occurred to me that I’ve written 800+ words about selecting a seat on a future flight. Well at least you know the title of this blog isn’t an exaggeration.)

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