I just got back from an incredible extended weekend visiting south France. I got to spend time in Nice, Cannes, and also squeezed in a night in Monte Carlo, (I even won money in the casino, yessss).
I booked the trip back in April when United had those~$1500 business class fares (I am still unsure if it was a ‘sale’ or a mistake). Yes, spending $1,500 on airfare is usually not my cup of tea, but even in economy, heading to Europe in the heart of the summer is pricey to begin with. Plus, I was going to be with good friends, and that’s always a guaranteed great time.
Don’t let me forget to mention that I’ll be receiving a nice boatload of miles too.
My EWR-TXL BusinessFirst flight on United was fine – great service, flat bed seat, nice amenity kit, and a nice big TV all to myself. I am so glad I stuck with my BF ticket instead of using miles to upgrade to GlobalFirst.
Coming home though, there was a bit of a hiccup. I boarded as scheduled on my Zurich-Newark flight and immediately made my seat into a bed and fell asleep (because who sleeps on vacation?).
As I was drifting in and out of sleep, I realized that we had been on the ground for quite a bit of time. I must of slept through the first set of announcements. When I finally caught the next announcement, 90 minutes have passed from our scheduled departure time, and we were still on the ground because of a re-fueling problem.
After 2.5 hours, we were told to get off the plane until further notice. We were given meal vouchers and were told to check back at the gate every so often for the next update.
I had a funny feeling that this issue would result in a flight cancellation, so I asked the gate agent to protect me on another flight later on just in case this one wasn’t going to ever leave Zurich. The agent booked me on a Swiss flight that was scheduled for later in the evening, while still blocking my seat on my original United flight incase we were departing after all.
After nearly 6 hours of delays, the United flight cancelled, and the stars aligned for me to fly Swiss business back to Newark on their A330.
I had the opportunity to fly Swiss business class last June en-route to Dubai and it was a pretty pleasant experience, so I held the same expectations.
Over all, the flight was fine – friendly service, a flatbed, an amenity kit, and good catering.
Overall, I enjoyed experiencing Swiss business class for the second time; however, I might get slaughtered for saying this, but… I would have preferred my original United BusinessFirst seat home.
Here’s why: first of all, as I mentioned earlier… I had a very action-packed weekend. My primary objective was to sleep, kick back, and sort of “wake up” in Newark. The United seat seemed roomier to me and was much more comfortable.
I also liked my United blanket better; it was a soft duvet as opposed to a thin flannel blanket on Swiss. I am one of those people who freeze to death on airplanes, so staying warm and cuddly is definitely important to me.
The entertainment on my United seat was better as well… bigger screen and a better movie selection. When it comes to comparing amenity kits, I personally enjoyed the United kit better because it had Philosophy products inside, better socks, and better toothbrush/toothpaste. The Swiss amenity kit seemed “cheap”, but the bag itself was larger though, so I will definitely be using it as a toiletry bag on future travels.
The one department that Swiss takes the cake in is their catering. My food was tasty (ok, the beef was so-so), and the wine selection was great. I enjoyed the main meal service and slept through the “movie snack” (ice-cream) and meal upon landing.
While I was a bit disappointed that my return flight got cancelled in the first place, it is definitely a learning experience. It looks like I’ll also be generously compensated in other ways than just an airline “goodwill” travel voucher (already received). Under European law, airlines must pay between 250 and 600 Euro for significant delays and cancellations. My particular situation mandates the full 600 Euro. I will keep you updated once (if) I receive that.
Anyway, am I crazy to say I liked my United experience a bit better than Swiss? Would love to hear your thoughts! I’d also love to hear from those who have experienced similar delays/cancellations with flights originating out of Europe.