I’ve recently flown both SWISS and Lufthansa First Class. Which product is better?
Certainly there is subjectivity in what I value and how I compare the two products, but I’d like to think this is not an arbitrary comparison. I will compare SWISS and Lufthansa in ten different categories.
1. Ground Services
In the interest of fairness, I will focus on hubs. In Frankfurt, Lufthansa offers a very personalized check-in experience in the First Class Terminal. Upon arrival at the First Class Terminal, a representative will come out to assist with your baggage and escort you through security. You will be assigned a personal escort and will be driven to your aircraft in a Porsche or Mercedes.
Meanwhile, SWISS offers chauffeur pick-up service in the Zurich area for full-fare passengers, but you are largely on your own in terms of proceeding through security and walking from the lounge to your gate. Upon request, SWISS does offer chauffeur service for all first class passengers in Zurich from the A-Gates to the E-Gates so you don’t have to take the train. SWISS also surprised me when a representative was waiting for my family with our luggage already on carts when we reached LAX. In my experience, Lufthansa does not offer this for first class passengers.
At many outstations like LAX and JFK, on both SWISS and Lufthansa you will be escorted through to the front of security line and to the lounge. Later, you’ll be picked up at the lounge and escorted directly onboard your aircraft.
While SWISS provides a number of nice perks, Lufthansa has the edge due to its more comprehensive ground service.
Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and First Class Lounges in Frankfurt and Munich are exceptional. All feature comfortable seating in a quiet environment. Food is tremendous (both buffet and á la carte) and a huge selection of alcohol is available. Service is excellent and shower and sleeping rooms are available.
The SWISS First Class Lounge near the E-Gates in Zurich is beautiful. Full of natural light and beautiful woodwork, I cannot think of a more beautiful lounge. Delicious food is available from an á la carte menu and a patio provides beautiful views of the tarmac. But the best part of the lounge is a trio of sleeping rooms available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have a long layover extra time before your flight, these rooms are essentially upscale hotel rooms…with the best mattresses in the world.
With an exceptional SWISS culinary experience, comfortable rest rooms, and a beautiful terrace, I’d give a slight edge to the SWISS lounge to Lufthansa’s.
The Lufthansa seat is not enclosed, but extremely comfortable in every position. If you are traveling solo, privacy dividers do extend up.
While the SWISS seat is not fully enclosed, the closet door extends to give the feeling of a closed-door suite. The seat itself is identical in size to Lufthansa and has both leather and cloth components. Like Lufthansa, an ottoman provides in-seat storage and a guest seat for shared dining experiences.
SWISS wins because of the “doors” on the 777-300ER.
I’ve never had a bad flight on either SWISS or Lufthansa, but have flown Lufthansa First Class much more often than SWISS.
What I love about Lufthansa First is the consistently superior experience. Crews are amazing and combine friendly charm with impeccable professionalism. FAs encourage you to use your FA call button and when you press it, a FA appears within seconds.
SWISS crews are also excellent. I’d say they are little less formal and sometimes therefore friendlier than Lufthansa crews. On my recent flight from ZRH-LAX, charming and excellent as the crew was, the FA call button was ignored and it took a bit longer than it should have to clear away dishes.
SWISS is great, but Lufthansa edges out SWISS thanks to their prompt attention to the FA call button.
While Lufthansa is world’s largest buyer of caviar and always makes a good effort at lunch and dinner, I am routinely disappointed by main courses. It seems impossible to ever receive a piece of red meat cooked anything other than well done on Lufthansa. Do yourself a favor and avoid red meat.
Breakfast, however, is always a delight on Lufthansa. Eggs are still cooked to order.
SWISS prides itself in using Swiss ingredients in its onboard first class menu. Unlike the overdone Lufthansa steak I routinely encounter (hopes springs eternal…), the steak I had on SWISS was the best airline steak I’ve ever had and cooked a perfect medium rare. No caviar on SWISS, but you do receive Balik Salmon.
SWISS easily wins this category. If other airlines can offer a nicely cooked steak, so should Lufthansa be able to.
Both Lufthansa and SWISS offer a separate wine menu.
Lufthansa offers a selection of wines from around the world, including rosé, my personal favorite. Hard drinks are available and the champagne selection varies based upon flight and season.
SWISS has a wine list featuring many Swiss wines. A very nice Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne is offered as well many additional hard liquor items.
I’m honestly not a big alcohol guy, but since a glass of rosé is my favorite type of wine and only Lufthansa had it, I’d give the edge to Lufthansa. You can compare the specific wines served by checking the menus in my Lufthansa and SWISS trip reports.
7. IFE + Wi-Fi
Lufthansa offers T-Mobile supported wi-fi for a flat fee, 17.99EUR on my last flight. It is slow, but stable and allowed me to stay on top of email and iMessages during the flight.
The IFE selection contains about 50 movies and many TV shows, music, and games.
In terms of IFE, SWISS and Lufthansa are a draw. SWISS also offers about 50 movies as well as games, music, and TV shows. SWISS also offers wi-fi access onboard, but it is very costly. First Class passengers are given a free 50MB voucher, which lasts only a few minutes. Want more? You will pay dearly for it.
8. Amenity Kits
Lufthansa offers a Rimowa-branded amenity kit (though sometimes you find inferior substitutes) with a collectible hard shell case that you can sell on eBay for sometimes in excess of $100 (or keep on your desk, like I do). Contents are fairly basic and include a comb, socks, shoehorn, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, and la prairie lotions.
SWISS offers a more simple bag that also includes pricey la prairie lotions, Ricola lozenges, a wooden comb, tissue, earplugs, socks, eyeshades, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.
While the contents are about a draw, I love the Rimowa case so Lufthansa wins.
Both carriers offers pajamas and slippers.
Lufthansa offers pajamas from van Laack, which are soft and somewhat silky.
SWISS offers pajamas from zimmerli, which are similar in style and fabric.
I actually prefer the pajamas on United, British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and JAL better than either SWISS or Lufthansa.
Onboard the Lufthansa A380, two huge lavatories are available on either side of the staircase leading to the lower deck. Here you have plenty of room to move around. The Lufthansa freshly-cut rose is always a mark of quality and full-size la prairie lotions are available.
The lavatory aboard the SWISS flagship 777-300ER is roomy, but only about 1/3 the size of the Lufthansa A380. It also features la prairie lotions.
Final Verdict: Lufthansa Edges Out SWISS
This is by no means a knock on SWISS, but Lufthansa outshines its step-brother (both carriers are owned by the Lufthansa Group). All else equal, I’d choose Lufthansa every time…even while I would not hesitate to fly SWISS again at a moment’s notice.