Swiss International Air Lines, the flag carrier of Switzerland, plays an important role in connecting one of the world’s finance hubs to other countries.
Situated in Zurich (ZRH), SWISS Air possesses a unique set of nonstop flights to Switzerland, positioning itself as one of the go-to airlines within Star Alliance.
One little-known fact is that SWISS Air is actually owned by the Lufthansa Group! But what is generally well-known is that its business and first class products are excellent.
Let’s take a look at how you can book SWISS Air business class with points.
A Look Inside SWISS Air Business Class
SWISS Air’s business class cabin layout is somewhat unique. When you look at the seat map, you’ll quickly find out that there’s significant variation in the quality of business class seats on a given plane.
That’s because some seats don’t have direct aisle access while other seats literally have the same amount of space as 2 other business class seats!
But what you’ll find in SWISS Air business class cabins is an elegant, understated luxury vibe with quilted stitching, wooden touches, excellent seat engineering, and practical touches.
Regardless of whether you’re flying on the 777-300ER, A330, or A340, you’ll enjoy the same business class seat. Each of these seats is a forward-facing, staggered seat with a large privacy shell, an arm table, and more.
You’ll definitely enjoy a crisp inflight TV, lots of privacy, and a good amount of personal storage.
SWISS Air’s business class lounges are solid, too. While they’re not as lavish as Qatar Airways’ lounges, for example, they are certainly a step above Priority Pass lounges like most Korean Air lounges.
How To Fly SWISS Air Business Class Using Points
SWISS Air releases an excellent amount of award space, as long as you look at the right times.
To start, the most important thing to remember is that SWISS Air releases award space 300 days before departure, making it easy to mark important dates in your calendar to book your SWISS Air business class flight.
Sure, you won’t be able to plan super far in advance (330+ days before departure), but you’ll get a consistent stream of award availability on most, if not all, of SWISS Air’s nonstop U.S. routes.
Here are all of SWISS Air’s nonstop routes between the U.S. and Switzerland:
- Boston (BOS) – Zurich (ZRH)
- Chicago (ORD) – Zurich (ZRH)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Zurich (ZRH)
- Miami (MIA) – Zurich (ZRH)
- Newark (EWR) – Zurich (ZRH)
- New York (JFK) – Geneva (GVA)
- New York (JFK) – Zurich (ZRH)
- San Francisco (SFO) – Zurich (ZRH)
In general, SWISS Air award availability on Mondays and Tuesdays is usually the most abundant, though this can definitely vary depending on the route, season, etc.
This airline doesn’t release much additional award availability closer to departure, so just keep that in mind.
SWISS Air levies huge fuel surcharges of more than $700 in each direction, making it one of the most awful airlines for fuel surcharges in the world. Not to worry — we’ve focused on avoiding these surcharges in this guide.
Avianca LifeMiles is our favorite frequent flyer program to use to book SWISS Air business class, thanks to the absence of any fuel surcharges, the ease of earning LifeMiles, and terrific redemption rates.
One of the biggest qualms travelers have about LifeMiles is the inconsistent award availability — you’ll be pleased to learn that this isn’t generally a problem with SWISS Air!
|Cabin Class||Avianca LifeMiles Cost (One-Way)||Taxes and Fees|
LifeMiles customer service, however, is a nightmare to deal with. As long as you book your award ticket exclusively on the LifeMiles website, you should be in good shape.
Any time you need to change your award ticket or cancel it, you’ll pay $150 to $200 per ticket, which is a big penalty to stomach.
Once you’re ready to book your SWISS Air ticket with LifeMiles, follow these steps:
- Visit the LifeMiles homepage.
- Change the site language from Spanish to English by clicking the flag icon in the top-right corner and clicking English.
- Click Log in in the top-right corner and enter your LifeMiles information.
- On the English homepage, click Travel in the top-left area of the main banner.
- Change the dropdown menu that says Smart Search to Swiss Airlines (Switzerland).
- Enter your flight details and click the Find Flights button.
- Select your travel dates.
- After a valid flight shows up, redeem your LifeMiles and use a credit card to pay for taxes and fees.
Earning Avianca LifeMiles
Avianca LifeMiles are incredibly easy to earn — this frequent flyer program has transfer partnerships with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, Brex Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Amex, Citi, Capital One, and Brex all transfer almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio in around 1 business day.
Amex, Brex, and Citi have also offered transfer bonuses of 20% to 30% in the past, making it a great idea to wait for one of these to come around before transferring your points.
Also, LifeMiles offers award sales every quarter or so, whereby you can get around 20% off of specific flight redemptions using LifeMiles. That means a 63,000 LifeMiles flight would now cost around 40,000 LifeMiles!
Avianca also offers co-branded credit cards with Banco Popular to earn miles directly.
The last easy way to rack up LifeMiles is to buy them during mileage sales, where LifeMiles offers these miles at up to a 200% bonus. This would allow you to basically purchase miles at 1.0 to 1.1 cents each.
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Air Canada Aeroplan
Air Canada Aeroplan has an interesting award pricing system, but for flights between the U.S. and Europe, the points price you’ll pay corresponds to specific distance brackets.
Here’s the award chart:
|0 to 4,000||35,000||60,000|
|4,001 to 6,000||40,000||70,000|
|6,001 to 8,000||55,000||85,000|
The good news is that for flights from Boston and New York to Switzerland, you’ll fall under the first distance bracket, costing you 60,000 points one-way.
No fuel surcharges are passed on here, keeping your out-of-pocket costs at around $40 one-way.
Also, if you redeem 5,000 more Aeroplan points, you can add a stopover, even if you’re booking a one-way flight.
You’ll need to factor in your stopover to the distance calculation and find award availability for each segment separately.
For example, a nonstop flight between Boston and Zurich spans 3,745 miles in flight distance, costing you 60,000 Aeroplan points.
However, if you fly from Boston to Zurich, stopover in Zurich, and continue to Geneva, the flight itinerary is 3,888 miles in flight distance, which is still under the 4,000-mile threshold. You’d pay 5,000 points extra for the stopover, bringing the total points cost to 65,000 Aeroplan points.
Simply follow these steps to book your SWISS Air business class flight with Aeroplan points:
- Visit Air Canada’s website.
- Log into your Aeroplan account by clicking Sign in in the top-right corner, entering your account details, and clicking Sign in again.
- Toggle Points in the main search box.
- Choose One-way or Round-trip.
- Enter your travel information.
- Click Find.
- After finding a suitable flight, redeem your Aeroplan points and use a valid credit card for award taxes and fees.
- All itineraries with stopovers must be booked over the phone. Call 800-361-5373 to book an award ticket with a stopover.
Earning Air Canada Aeroplan Points
Earning Air Canada Aeroplan points is easy, on account that Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy are transfer partners of Aeroplan.
Amex, Chase, and Capital One transfer almost instantly to Aeroplan at a 1:1: ratio.
Lastly, Marriott Bonvoy transfers in approximately 5 business days at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer to Aeroplan, you’ll get an extra 5,000 Aeroplan points.
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United MileagePlus is an effective frequent flyer program for a certain type of traveler.
If you already have a lot of United miles or want to deal with a familiar search engine, this may be the best program for you.
The redemption prices are actually not terrible for business class flights, and you won’t pay for any of SWISS Air fuel surcharges out-of-pocket.
Here’s the award chart:
|Cabin Class||United Miles Cost (One-Way)||Taxes and Fees|
Keep in mind that United uses dynamic award pricing, which you may observe in the form of slight variations in business class award prices (e.g. 75,000, 77,000, or 80,500 miles for the same flight).
The booking process for United MileagePlus is easy:
- Visit the United website.
- You’ll see a search box on the homepage.
- Check off the box that says Book with Miles to search for award space.
- Click Roundtrip or One-way.
- Fill in your trip details, click Find flights. Browse your flight options until you find a suitable itinerary.
- Redeem your United miles and pay for taxes and fees with a credit card.
Earning United MileagePlus Miles
Although United MileagePlus doesn’t have quite as many transfer partners as LifeMiles and Aeroplan, it does have partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
Chase transfers at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1.1 ratio in 1 business day. Plus, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United, you’ll get a bonus of 5,500 extra miles!
One of the most useful aspects of United MileagePlus is its array of co-branded credit cards issued by Chase that help you earn miles quickly and directly.
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ANA Mileage Club
ANA Mileage Club is normally one of our favorite mileage programs to use for business class flights to Europe.
Unfortunately, the massive fuel surcharges levied by SWISS Air are almost unconscionable because 100% of these fuel surcharges are passed on to travelers.
Additionally, ANA Mileage Club requires round-trip award bookings — one-way award flights are not allowed.
That means every time your round-trip business class flight will cost an extra $1,500, which significantly reduces the redemption value you get.
Here’s the award chart:
|Cabin Class||ANA Miles Cost (Round-Trip)||Taxes and Fees|
To redeem your ANA miles, we recommend following these instructions:
- Use the United.com search engine to find SWISS Air award availability.
- Note all of the flight details.
- Go to ANA’s website to complete your booking online.
- Click ANA Mileage Club near the top banner, then click International under Flight Awards.
- Then, click Award Reservation and enter your ANA Mileage Club account details.
- On the redirected search box, fill in your trip details and click Search.
- Confirm your ANA Mileage Club ticket and use a credit card for taxes and fees.
Earning ANA Mileage Club Miles
ANA is 1:1 transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and 3:1 transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy.
Currently, it takes around 3 business days for Amex points to transfer to ANA, while it takes around 4 business days for Marriott Bonvoy points to transfer to ANA.
In addition to the 3:1 ratio that Marriott Bonvoy has, you’ll also get 5,000 extra ANA miles if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at once, meaning you’ll end up with 25,000 ANA miles overall.
Asiana Airlines’ frequent flyer program is called Asiana Club.
We’d generally only recommend redeeming Asiana miles if you already have a bunch of Asiana miles or if you have a ton of Marriott Bonvoy points and you’re interested in getting the lowest redemption price, even if it comes with fuel surcharges.
Here’s the Asiana Club award chart for flights between the U.S. and Europe:
|Cabin Class||Asiana Miles Cost (One-Way)||Taxes and Fees|
All fuel surcharges, taxes, and other fees are passed on to you, so a one-way business class flight will come with $700+ worth of taxes and fees.
Asiana Club requires you to call them to book partner flights, so here are our recommended instructions:
- Use United.com to find SWISS Air award availability.
- Write down all of the flight details and call Asiana Club at 800-227-4262.
- Feed the agent with your desired itinerary, redeem your Asiana miles, and use a credit card to pay for taxes and fees.
Earning Asiana Club Miles
Unfortunately, Asiana miles are difficult to earn, based on the fact that it has just 1 transfer partner in Marriott Bonvoy.
Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio to Asiana Club in around 4 business days.
Also, if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Asiana at once, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 miles.
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Other Options for Booking SWISS Air
Other frequent flyer programs we looked at included EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles.
All of these programs pass on fuel surcharges, and many of them also have high redemption prices.
Turkish Airlines is probably the best program left off of our main list, though the redemption prices are still 90,000 miles round-trip with $1,500 in taxes and fees per person. Itsh Airlines is also transfer partners with Citi and Capital One, but the booking process is rather cumbersome.
Great SWISS Air Business Class Redemptions
SWISS Air business class is within your grasp — all you need to do is make a judgment call on how you’re going to book your award ticket.
Assuming you’re interested in a round-trip business class ticket between the U.S. and Switzerland, check out the following award table aggregating all of the frequent flyer programs we discussed.
|Route (Round-Trip)||Avianca LifeMiles Cost||Air Canada Points Cost||United Miles Cost||Asiana Miles Cost||ANA Miles Cost|
|U.S. to Switzerland||126,000 + $76||120,000 to 140,000 + $82||150,000 + $11||80,000 + $1,499||88,000 + $1,499|
You’ll see from the table above that Asiana and ANA charge the lowest price in miles, but come with a shocking $1,500 in taxes and fees. If you redeem via one of these programs, it’ll almost feel like you’re throwing away your points if you’re still liable for these huge fuel surcharges.
Rather, it’s a great idea to redeem LifeMiles for most U.S. routes. This is especially true if you only have Citi ThankYou Rewards Points or Capital One miles. In addition, LifeMiles is transfer partners with Amex, Brex, and Marriott Bonvoy.
If you’re a Chase and Amex loyalist and are flying on routes 4,000 miles or shorter, consider using Air Canada Aeroplan points. Plus, Aeroplan is also transfer partners with Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy.
United MileagePlus members may already have large piles of United miles sitting in their accounts — consider redeeming them for SWISS Air business class flights. You can top off your account with Chase or Marriott Bonvoy points transferred to United if necessary.
Here’s what each loyalty program allows in terms of stopovers:
- ANA allows 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw
- Avianca LifeMiles doesn’t allow stopovers at all
- Air Canada Aeroplan allows stopovers on one-way tickets for an extra 5,000 points
- Asiana has complex stopover rules on partner-operated flights, but 8 stopovers are allowed on a round-trip award ticket
- United MileagePlus allows stopovers through its Excursionist Perk.
Putting all of this information together, let’s go through some fantastic example redemptions you can make aboard SWISS Air business class:
- Boston (BOS) – Zurich (ZRH) – Geneva (GVA) one-way in SWISS Air business class with a stopover in Zurich for 65,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees
- Chicago (ORD) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles + ~$38 in taxes and fees
- Miami (MIA) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 40,000 Asiana miles + ~$750 in taxes and fees
- Newark (EWR) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 75,000 United miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
- New York (JFK) – Geneva (GVA) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 60,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees
- New York (JFK) – Zurich (ZRH) round-trip in SWISS Air business class for 88,000 ANA miles + ~$1,500 in taxes and fees
- San Francisco (SFO) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 75,000 United miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
How To Earn Enough Miles for SWISS Air Business Class
We outlined our favorite methods for booking SWISS Air business class using points above, but the important concept to remember is that as long as you stick to a transferable rewards currency, you should be able to book SWISS Air business class.
This is in stark contrast to other airlines like Fiji Airways, Icelandair, or Air Tahiti Nui that don’t offer accessible ways for people to earn enough points for business class award bookings.
The complication with SWISS Air business class is that huge fuel surcharges of around $700 one-way are levied, so choosing a frequent flyer program that doesn’t pass on these fuel surcharges could literally save you thousands of dollars per trip if you’re a family planner.
From a mileage perspective, ANA Mileage Club and Asiana Club have the best redemption rates, but both of these loyalty programs pass on enormous fuel surcharges, which is why our favorite options are Avianca LifeMiles, Air Canada Aeroplan, and United MileagePlus.
Here is the comprehensive list of transfer partners and their included airlines:
- American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Avianca LifeMiles, Air Canada Aeroplan, and ANA Mileage Club at a 1:1 ratio. Avianca and Aeroplan transfer almost instantly while ANA transfers in 3 business days.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Air Canada Aeroplan and United MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards Points transfer to Avianca LifeMiles at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.
- Capital One miles transfer to Avianca LifeMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.
- Brex Rewards transfers to Avianca LifeMiles at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.
- Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio to Avianca LifeMiles (1 day), Air Canada Aeroplan (5 days), Asiana Club (4 days), and ANA Mileage Club (4 days). Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1.1 ratio to United MileagePlus (3 days).
Transfer bonuses happen quite often with LifeMiles (15% to 30%), sometimes with Aeroplan (15% to 25%), and almost never with United, ANA, and Asiana.
When Should You Search for Award Space
Generally, SWISS Air releases business class award space starting at 300 days before departure. At this time, it may make 2 to 6 business class award seats available.
That said, SWISS Air does not reliably release award space closer to departure, which means your best shot at snagging SWISS Air business class is through advance planning.
If you can mark your calendar to check for SWISS Air availability exactly 300 days before your desired date of departure, you’re in good shape.
Why SWISS Air Business Class Is a Great Redemption
SWISS Air offers a consistent business class product on an assortment of long-haul aircraft, including the A340, the A330, and the 777-300ER.
And while SWISS Air won’t come with the bells and whistles of Emirates or Qatar Airways business class, like dining on-demand and top-shelf drinks, you’ll still have a fun time on the flight.
Let’s look into why you’d want to book SWISS Air business class.
Lie-Flat Business Class Seats, Including Throne Seats
SWISS Air’s business class cabin layout is such that the cabin alternates between a 1-2-1 and 2-2-1 configuration. And some of the window seats are what’s known as throne seats.
Throne seats occupy the same amount of space as 2 seats, have 2 arm tables, and feel much more private.
Because these seats only exist on a few airlines, reserving a throne seat on SWISS Air means an exclusive, unique experience that’ll make you feel like you’re sitting on a spacious throne, hence the name.
SWISS Air’s service is generally known to be responsive, professional, and polished.
Meal services are typically performed efficiently, and ad hoc requests are taken care of promptly.
Additionally, the crew is always happy to serve you and is overall trained to make you feel welcome.
Great Award Availability and Nonstop Service to Switzerland
SWISS Air enjoys the honorable privilege of connecting U.S. travelers to Switzerland via nonstop services from most international gateways.
If heading to the Swiss Alps, tasting some Swiss fondue, or experiencing the unique culture of Switzerland is on your priority list, flying nonstop means more time to explore!
SWISS Air has excellent award availability in business class, often with 4 to 6 business class seats on the same plane.
Generally, you’ll find better availability from cities like Chicago or New York, but it’s pretty easy to find availability from Los Angeles and San Francisco as long as you’re an advance planner.
SWISS Air releases plenty of award availability far in advance, but not so much for flights closer to departure.
Good Food and Beverage Options
Although SWISS Air’s inflight catering isn’t at the same level as a first class airline’s or even a Gulf carrier’s business class program, it’s still noteworthy.
Each meal generally has 4 courses, including an appetizer, a main course, a cheese selection, and a dessert (including the popular Mövenpick ice cream).
The wine selection typically consists of 1 Champagne, 2 white wines, and 3 red wines. There are also spirits, non-alcoholic drinks, Nespresso, and chocolates.
Overall, this variety of food and beverage choices will leave you satisfied but isn’t mind-blowing.
When you fly SWISS Air, you’ll enjoy a comfortable, lie-flat business class seat and superb amenities.
One of the biggest selling points of SWISS Air business class is the abundance of award availability, as well as the ease of booking (regardless of which transferable currency you have).
Just remember that fuel surcharges of ~$1,500 are levied round-trip, which can definitely be painful.
Avoid these fuel surcharges by booking through Avianca LifeMiles, Air Canada Aeroplan, and United MileagePlus.
If you want to redeem the fewest points possible and are comfortable with paying for fuel surcharges, you can also use ANA Mileage Club or Asiana Club.
Hopefully, you’ve found this guide useful to help you plan your luxury trip to Switzerland!
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