Patrick Miller already has a twelve-hour Hong Kong–Zurich flight behind him. And he’s now got six hours to kill before his onward flight to New York. The “transit” experience can feel like an eternity if the time has to be spent on an uncomfortable seat with bad coffee to drink. Not at Zurich Airport, though. And certainly not if – like Patrick – you’re travelling First Class. First off, Patrick is met at his arrival gate and chauffeured by a black limousine to Terminal E, past the open bellies of the widebody jets that are being loaded for their next departure. There’s an elevator to take him up on arrival; and as the door opens on the third floor, there stands … a Hollywood star. Is it the jet lag? A hallucination? No, almost anything’s possible at the SWISS First Lounge. But right now, Patrick has just one thing on his mind: a shower.
Good enough to delay
The new SWISS Terminal E First Class, Senator and Business Departure Lounges at Zurich Airport were opened a year ago. And anyone who holds the right ticket (now also available for Economy passengers for the Business Lounge!) or frequent flyer status can enter this exclusive 3,500-square-metre world. In overall charge of all lounges is Bruno Schläfli, SWISS’s Head of Premium Services & Lounges and a natural-born host. “Our three new lounges offer different types of service,” he explains, “but the overall goal is the same: to make the traveller’s time with us as enjoyable as possible.” To this end, the lounges offer restaurants and showers, along with dedicated work and relaxation zones. “Sometimes we almost overdo it,” Bruno says with a laugh. “We had one guest who found our Senator Lounge so great that he kept postponing his flight!”
Steak for breakfast
Thinking of his two small children who will be waiting for him in New York, Patrick decides to grab a few hours of sleep. But he’d like to eat something first. Five-star à la carte restaurant or American diner? He opts for the latter. The sun has just risen over Zurich Airport, and the traveller seated next to him is tucking into a muesli. But Patrick’s still on Hong Kong time, and he’s in the mood for steak. He’s in luck: The full menu is available here from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. After all, SWISS’s lounges pay no heed to local time. They’re a meeting point for globetrotters travelling from and to all corners of the earth, a place where time and space seem almost to be suspended. And it’s this that gives them their unique ambience. Even the unassuming perfection of the architecture, the designer furniture and the spectacular views of the apron and the runways seem to serve merely as a backdrop here.
No wallet required
The currency issue – francs, dollars or euro – is equally irrelevant. Whether the guest selects one of the 1,000 wines, orders a four-course meal or uses one of the hotel rooms, it’s all free of charge. “Everything we offer is part of the product the customer receives when they buy their ticket,” Bruno Schläfli confirms.
Too little time again
The alarm rings on Patrick’s mobile phone. In 40 minutes LX 14 will be leaving for New York. The pile of newspapers on his side table remains unread: The lounge’s Hästens box-spring hotel bed was just too comfortable. He didn’t manage a peek through the terrace’s telescope at the distant Alpine panorama, either. Once again, his transit time was just too short!
Text: Barbara Lienhard / Photos: Claudia Link