Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH

Return to International Travel – Introduction
Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH
Lodging Review: Sina Villa Medici, Florence, Italy
Our Time In Florence, Part 1
Our Time In Florence, Part 2
Lodging Review: Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris, France
Our Time In Paris, Part 1 (Louvre, Sainte-Chappelle, Arc, Eiffel Tower)
Our Time In Paris, Part 2 (Versailles)
Our Time In Paris, Part 3 (Catacombs, Musee d’Orsay)
Viking Kari and an Afternoon in Montmartre
Our Time in La Roche-Guyon and Vernon/Giverny
Our Time on the Normandy Beaches
Our Time in Les Andelys and Le Pecq
Lodging Review: Renaissance Republique, Paris, France
Review: Air France A350 CDG-ORD

For our flight to Florence I wanted to try an airline I’d never flown while still paying a reasonable price. The SWISS flight from Chicago to Florence via their hub in Zurich fit the bill perfectly. At the time of booking there were two ORD-ZRH flights and only the earlier flight had open economy award space for my friend to use. But that flight was much more expensive than the later one so she booked a long layover in Zurich so we could be together on the final leg into Florence. But a few months out SWISS changed her to the evening flight with me, which worked out great for us.

Our Experience in O’Hare T5

Even though our ORD-ZRH flight did not leave until just after 7 PM, I booked my Memphis-Chicago leg to arrive around 1:30 PM. At a mid-sized airport like Memphis I always take irregular operations into consideration. If there was something wrong with my plane I’d still have time to take a later United flight and still make the connection. If that flight was full there was at least one if not two American Airlines flights that United could have put me on to ensure I made the flight to Zurich. I was willing to wait at O’Hare a bit longer than I had to if it meant I was on the long-haul flight since that was SWISS’s last flight of the day.

The last time I’d flown out of O’Hare’s international terminal (T5) was my flight on LOT Airlines to Vienna via Warsaw in 2019. Back then, while the O’Hare train between terminals was out of commission, I was able to go to one of the American Airlines concourses and catch an airside bus over to T5, thus avoiding the hassle of security again. While I checked for that this time, it seems it’s been discontinued since the train is once again working. That’s a real shame in my book.

So it was that at about 2:30 PM or so I met up with my friend in the lobby of T5. While I could have gone through security at that time, we learned that the SWISS counter only opens two hours before the flight so there was no way for her to check her bag. As there’s not a lot of seating on the departures level, we went down to the baggage claim area and found a quiet space to hang out as we passed the time. Fortunately I’d had lunch in the terminal in Memphis and she’d eaten before coming to the airport so we were able to just sit and chat until the counter opened.

Once her bag was checked we went through security and to the Swissport lounge which serves both SWISS premium cabin passengers/elites and is the Priority Pass lounge. Unfortunately on that day it was not accepting Priority Pass customers. I’ve since learned this is pretty normal in the evenings as there are a number of airlines who use this as their primary lounge.  Since my friend was traveling in economy she had no other lounge access and we skipped it altogether. We ended up buying sandwiches and drinks in the terminal and eating them in the gate area. I knew it would likely be 8 PM or so before we were served dinner on board and knew I’d have a headache if I waited that long to eat. As it turned out my friend slept through both meal services in economy so it was a good thing she ate when she did!

SWISS flight LX 9 – A340-300

Our flight departed from the far end of T5 which is either new or has been completely renovated, I’m not sure which. While there are no services near the gates in the gate M33 area, there are large restrooms and not a lot of people. The ceilings are high and the windows are huge, giving the whole area a light, airy feeling. I look forward to returning at some point when construction is complete in this section.

SWISS A340-300

LX 9 ORD-ZRH A340-300
Departure: 7:10 PM (scheduled) 7:04 PM (actual) 7:18 PM (takeoff)
Arrival: 10:20 AM (scheduled) 10:12 (touchdown) 10:17 (arrival)
Duration: 8h 18m (actual)
Seat: 11K (Business Class)

We boarded via door 2L. I crossed through the galley and turned right. As a single traveler, one of the exciting options on this plane is the “throne” seat. On the port side of the plane, the seats alternate from two seats on one row to a single seat with storage areas on either side on the next row. SWISS charges extra for these seats for non-elite flyers. However, if there are any of these seats available 48 hours in advance, they can be booked for free by anyone in the business class cabin. I was looking forward to trying one of these but forgot to check in advance and by the time I looked they were all taken. No matter, I’d made sure I was happy with the seat I’d selected, 11K.

On the starboard side of the plane the seats alternate with the odd rows having the seat closer to the window and the armrest on the aisle while the even rows have the seats on the aisle and the armrest against the window. Sadly there were no air vents but I was neither hot nor cold. I did find that the overhead bins on this side of the plane were fairly narrow. My small roll-aboard, which is about two-thirds the height of most roll-aboards still had to be turned sideways to fit. Fortunately there was still plenty of room overhead.

Waiting for me in the seat was a pillow and a blanket.  On the armrest was the amenity kit. It’s a metal box from Victorinox and contained only the very basics: eye shade, compression socks, toothbrush and toothpaste and earplugs.

The magazine compartment had the safety brochures, some literature and a wooden hanger that I didn’t use and was later taken by the flight attendant. The footwell was incredibly deep. I’d brought slippers to wear while on board and forgot to kick them off when I converted the seat into a bed. Trying to retrieve one of them the next morning caused me to have to contort myself quite hilariously to grab it.

On the shelf under the screen was a water bottle, some headphones and the electrical and USB outlets. The monitor wasn’t huge but it was fine. I watched “Maverick” the new Top Gun film which lasted through dinner and then I turned it off. While watching the airshow over breakfast I liked that as we flew over/near a city it would display information about that city. One thing I found odd: if there was a remote control for the TV, I never found it.

The tray table popped out from the armrest and then spun 180 degrees to line up in the proper position. It then unfolded to the full size.

The seat controls were easy and intuitive. I wish I’d looked at them more closely as I’d like to try out that massage feature!

Before departure we had our choice of champagne or a non-alcoholic drink called a fleurette which I tried. As its name suggests, it was quite flowery tasting and I didn’t care for it.

Pre-Departure Beverage – Fleurette

The menu was as follows, including the breakfast selection form:

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I had the short ribs and it was quite good. The bread was soft and tasty.

LX9 Dinner

I skipped the dessert but asked for the chocolates. I was disappointed that it was only milk chocolate balls from Lindor. They’re fine but I’d hoped there would be some dark chocolate available too.

Lindor Chocolates

I slept reasonably well and we were awoken over Great Britain for breakfast. I’d already consumed all my OJ (which wasn’t great) by the time I remembered to take a photo:

LX 9 Breakfast

The pastries were quite good but I don’t think I ate all of them just because I knew I didn’t need that much bread. I’m not a huge fan of Greek yogurt so I wish that had been specified on the selection card so I’d at least have known that’s what I’d be getting.

The crew was friendly and efficient and seemed to enjoy their jobs. We arrived at our gate just a few minutes early. I would be happy to fly SWISS again based on my experience on this flight.

Marhaba Lounge – Zurich

Once we got through immigration, we turned right and the Marhaba Lounge was just a few steps away. This is a third-party lounge we were able to access due to our Priority Pass cards. While the lounge is small and was probably half-full when we arrived, a short time later it was nearly empty and became a nice quiet place to relax between flights.

There were several different seating areas with comfortable seats. We sat at a table where we were able to recharge our electronics. Of course the wi-fi was free. There are no restrooms in the lounge itself but they are just outside the door in an area that is shared by another third-party lounge.

There were some private areas with lounge chairs those these were only separated from the main area by a curtain.  Still, you could keep the area dark and have some privacy if you chose to nap.

Marhaba Lounge Privacy Suite

There was also a small selection of food and beverages. The soft drinks were in bottles that had the old-style caps that must be removed with a bottle opener. It had been years since I’d seen one of those! We both had soft drinks and I only had a little bit of food since I’d just had breakfast on the plane. My friend, who’d slept through both meal services did have a bit more to eat.

Marhaba Lounge Cold Drinks

This was a pleasant place to stay until it was time for our connecting flight to Florence. We were fortunate that it was not over-crowded and we enjoyed our rest there.

Categories: Airline Clubs, Europe, Flight Review, Star Alliance, SWISS, Switzerland, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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