Swiss Business Class is one of the nicest ways to cross the Atlantic in a fully-flat bed, and it’s definitely a product I’m anxious to try. Here’s Swiss’s promotional video:
Swiss flies to eight cities in North America, and award space is widely available with your United and US Airways miles in business class if you know where, and more importantly, when to look.
How can you get in Swiss Business Class?
Swiss is a member of the Star Alliance, and its flights to the US and Canada fly to and from its main hub of Zurich.
Swiss flies to:
- Los Angeles
- New York-JFK
- San Francisco
Four of those are United hubs–Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco–one is an Air Canada hub, and the other three aren’t Star Alliance hubs.
Swiss flies A330s and A340s to North America that are configured 1-2-1, 2-2-1 in business class with fully flat two meter beds.
Let’s take a look at award space on the eight routes this month. Keep in mind a few things:
- Swiss never releases First Class seats to its partners outside the Miles & More program. To book Swiss First Class, you’ll need (Lufthansa) Miles & More miles.
- Swiss releases a little, but really not much, award space on its US routes eleven months in advance of departure.
- Yellow-shaded days have at least one economy award seat.
- Blue-shaded days have at least one business award seat.
- Green-shaded days have at least one economy and one business award seat.
Boston to Zurich has award space in business class six days in the next two weeks. It’s the shortest flight, but at least it has a late enough departure to get some sleep.
Chicago to Zurich only has award space for the next four days with both economy and business class award availability. The flight time is a bit longer than Boston’s at 8hr40min, but it takes off so early, I don’t know how one could sleep.
There is no award space this month from Los Angeles to Zurich on the Swiss flight.
Just like the Chicago flight, the Miami to Zurich flight only has space in the next few days. Unlike the Chicago flight, this 9hr20min of bliss takes off late enough to get some sleep.
Montreal to Zurich is a short, early flight, but it has the best award space of any of the North American routes, and it is the only one with award space released three weeks in advance instead of two.
The flight from New York to Zurich has good award space for the next two weeks in economy, but only has business class for the next two days.
Newark to Zurich has the most economy award availability of any of the routes with a few days of business class availability sprinkled in. Take the calendar with a grain of salt, though, since it aggregates the Swiss flight with the United flight from Newark to Zurich.
I much prefer this flight’s later flight time to the JFK flight’s time. This flight would also be much easier to connect to when booking an award with United or US Airways miles since Newark is a United hub, and United only flies to JFK from a few cities.
The San Francisco to Zurich flight has one economy seat today, and that’s it.
What I See
- The California routes have the worst award availability with one total economy seat between the two of them.
- On most routes, business class seats open up three days in advance.
- On the Newark and Boston routes, business class opens up two weeks in advance.
- The best award availability is on the Montreal route, with award space opening up three weeks before departure.
If you’re determined to fly Swiss Business Class, it should be relatively easy for you as all the North American routes–except those from the west coast–reliably open up business class award seats at the last second.
How to Book the Award
Search for the award space on united.com. If you are booking with United miles, book there. If you are booking with US Airways miles, call US Airways at 800-622-1015. They will have access to the same award space.
If you don’t live in a city that Swiss serves, you can search from your home airport and hope that there is award space on United domestic flights to a Swiss gateway.
But keep in mind that united.com will not show routings with connections in Miami or Boston.
United.com is looking for connections it expects to see through Star Alliance hubs. That means if you live in Houston, it will display Houston-Newark-Zurich or Houston-Chicago-Zurich, but not Houston-Miami-Zurich. Search segment-by-segment and if Houston-Boston-Zurich has award space on each segment, call in to book.
Getting the Miles
United charges 50k miles each way in business class from North America to Europe. US Airways charges 100k miles roundtrip for business class.
If you’re sitting on US Airways miles and want to fly Swiss Business Class, redeem the miles soon since US Airways’ disappearance into American Airlines this year during the merger will also mean the end of the opportunity to use US Airways miles for Swiss Business Class.
To top up your US Airways account, you can get the US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase, also soon to disappear during the merger.
- Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles on qualifying transactions
- EXCLUSIVE: Redeem flights for 5,000 fewer miles
- Zone 2 boarding on every flight
- Enjoy 2 miles per $1 spent on US Airways purchases
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else
- Annual companion certificate good for round-trip travel for up to 2 companions at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
- First Class check-in
- Please see terms and conditions for complete details
Application Link: Barclay’s US Airways Premier World MasterCard
To get the United miles, you have more options including the United card and any Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards. The best United card offer is for 50k bonus miles and is available at Chase bank branches.
If you’ve wanted to fly to Europe this summer in style, your best bet might be Swiss Business Class. Flat-bed business class award seats are widely available a few days to a few weeks before your departure date.