SWISS Has Good Taste
By Susan Farewell
You know that sinking feeling. You’re about to get on a plane and you dread what the next four to eight hours might be like. Flying has become the least desirable part of the travel experience. But it’s not across the board. At Farewell Travels, we pride ourselves on finding select travel experiences in the air as well as on the ground. Keep an eye on this new “In the Air” department, where you’ll regularly find out about new aircraft, services, routes and other airline news that can help you decide how you want to fly. First stop: SWISS Business Class.
The last thing I ever expected on a plane was that I’d ask a flight attendant for a recipe. But I found myself doing just that while recently flying SWISS International Air Lines round trip between JFK and Zurich.
I was flying business class and reaping the benefits of the airline’s "A Taste of Switzerland," which is an on-board culinary program that highlights the menus of celebrated Swiss chefs from various regions around the country. A new chef is featured every three months.
The lunch menu of Executive Chef Jan Leimbach--who has 17 Gault Millau points to his name--was featured on my flight, Zurich to New York. Chef Leimbach and his team have been preparing the cuisine for the 5-star Lenkderhof Alpine Resort in Lenk for the last five years. What a treat to sample his creations which--after much agonizing over several options--for me included smoked salmon with avocado cream mousse, Aronia berry jelly and cream of wasabi (pictured here) followed by cod wrapped in parma ham, tomato coulis and caponata Bacalao brandade. Dessert was Gianduja mousse, passion fruit and banana crème (the recipe I had to have). Swiss wines that you can’t even find outside the country accompanied each course.
On top of that, there were—of course—Swiss cheeses, Lindt & Sprüngli chocolates and later during the movie, Mövenpick Ice Cream (which you can’t get in the US. Translation: I have to go back to Switzerland).
While a real centerpiece of the journey in both directions, the dining was really just one of the things I appreciated en route. I also found myself seriously comfortable the entire trip, as the seats not only fully reclined to flat beds, but measuring 6 feet, 6 inches, they were plenty long. Most exciting however, was that I could actually control the firmness of the cushions. This new design—which uses air pressure to adjust the seat--was developed by a Swiss company and Swiss is the first airline to introduce it. When sitting upright or just reclining, I was also very comfortable with plenty of legroom and a little desk area to my side complete with a LED light, where I could put all my reading materials. The seat also had a built-in back massage feature, which was dreamy.
It’s this attention to detail that really distinguishes SWISS and is especially noticeable in these times when flying can be so challenging. The airline is young—celebrating its 10th anniversary in April. It replaced the original iconic SwissAir that many people will remember declared bankruptcy back in 2002. And while it took SwissAir’s place as the national flag carrier for Switzerland, it’s an entirely new airline and since 2007, it is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group.
It’s rare to look forward to a flight these days. In fact, usually, it’s with a fair amount of dread that I have come to associate with flying just about anywhere. I’m just old enough to remember that flying used to be a special experience. One would dress up a bit and look forward to stepping on board, meeting the captain and the crew. I found myself re-living those days on these SWISS flights. The flight attendants were genuinely friendly and never impositioned, even slipped me a few extra tabs of chocolate when they saw my face light up after the first bite.
On my last day in Switzerland, I found myself anticipating the fabulous dinner and pampering that awaited me. For the first time in memory, I was actually looking forward to getting on a plane.