Because my last two American Airlines Systemwide Upgrades (SWU) were about to expire, I booked a flight to Zurich, Switzerland back in December. I called the airline hotline to find availability before my SWU’s were about to expire. The best price, availability, and dates were for a trip to Zurich from Seattle, WA. With a Systemwide Upgrade, you can upgrade one class higher and get it confirmed right away. In my case, I booked Economy Class and was upgraded to Business/First. My inbound flight to JFK from Seattle was on a Boeing 737 on which I got upgraded to domestic First Class.
Before I boarded my flight from JFK to ZRH I had enough time to use the American Airlines Flagship Lounge. JFK was the first airport in which American Airlines added the Flagship Lounge. About 15 minutes before departure I headed over to my gate in Terminal 8 and got ready to board. The flight would be on a Boeing 767 and the highest class of service is Business Class on this plane besides Main Cabin Extra and Economy Class. I have been aboard this type of plane before as American Airlines uses the same plane for frequent flights from MIA to DFW and SFO to MIA.
The plane was boarded on time and by group number. I was in the first group to board the plane as I was flying the highest class aboard this plane. I headed to my seat and stored my carry-on bags. Every seat came with an amenity kit. Shortly after that a guy came up and asked me if I was in the right seat, unfortunately, I was in the wrong seat. This happened because my “real” seat was taken by a lady who boarded just before me and the first row of the plane is row 2 instead of 1. I talked to the lady in my seat and as she was already settled in, I took her seat instead. I didn’t really care and it brought me up to the second row of the plane, which would get me off the plane quicker. The business class seats are pretty spacious and have an alternated layout. So one seat is positioned at the right while the table and storage area is to the left. The following seat is to the left and table and storage to the right and so on. My seat was a window seat but positioned closer to the aisle. If you want more privacy, go with a seat which is at the window and has the table and storage area towards the aisle. On this plane, it would be the rows with an even number.
Before departure, the flight attendants came through the aisles and offered a pre-departure drink, newspapers and offered to hang coats if needed. As this plane has no installed in-flight entertainment system, there were Samsung Galaxy Tab 4s distributed to every seat for entertainment. The tabs had pre-loaded movies and TV shows. Some of them had issues with the charger and the crew had enough spare once on board to replace the tabs with issues. The monitors on the bulkhead of the cabin displayed information about the flight. Just before we pushed back the flight attendants came through the isles again to take our food choices for this flight.
Shortly after that we pushed back and taxied to the runway to get on our way to Zurich. In Business Class all the Entertainment Tabs come with noise-canceling Bose headsets. The tabs have one big advantage and disadvantage. You won’t get interrupted by announcements from the crew or captain but you will also miss some important announcements. The tabs have a big selection of movies.
A short while into the flight the crew started their service. For some reason, the wine list was missing on the menu. Even the FAs were surprised about that. On my return trip from Zurich to JFK, they added an extra sheet with the wine selection.
I like the food American Airlines offers in Business and First Class in general. This flight was no excuse. As usual good food and well prepared.
After the meal service, I took some time to take a nap and about 3/4 into the flight I felt kinda hot. The downside on this plane is, that it has no separate air vents above your seat as you might be used to from other planes. It seems the cabin heated up a little bit throughout the flight. That’s at least how it felt for me. The seat controls are right next to the seat itself and are touch sensitive. If you try to use them, they sometimes don’t work very well. However, if you put your arm on the console with the controls, the controls work and you might activate them accidentally. If you use the blanket when you take a nap, put it between the controls and your arm and the seat controls won’t respond anymore as they are capacitive.
Just before we started the descent to Zurich, we got a light breakfast served. After that, the crew started to collect the entertainment tabs and headsets. Unfortunate but it seems some people thought they were theirs to take and took it.
We started our descent to the clouds into Zurich. The sun was just rising over Zurich and dawn broke. We started to descend through the clouds but before we even could make it out of the thick cloud layer you could feel the plane speeding up and pulling up again. Shortly after we broke through the clouds again. You could see the Swiss Alps peaking through the clouds. We cycled around and did another approach to land and this time we touched down.
After a short taxing to the gate, we all headed over to customs and immigration. As an EU citizen passport control was quick and easy for me, even so, that Switzerland is not part of the EU but they have a treaty with the EU. From there we went to the baggage claim and waited for the luggage to arrive.
There was a black line on the ground just a few feets before the baggage claim conveyer belt. Everyone stood behind the line and was waiting for their bags to arrive. This is how it should be even without a line on the ground. But the experience in the U.S. is way different. Everyone piles up right in front of the baggage claim without leaving space in between. This makes it harder for people to see if their bags are on the belt and to grab them.
After I received my bag, I headed through customs and was out in the main terminal area of Arrivals 2. As everything went so smooth and quick, I rearranged my pickup service, which would take me to the Park Hyatt in Zurich.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.