As the go-to lounge for SWISS and Star Alliance business class passengers taking long international flights from Zurich Airport, the SWISS Business Lounge E is a refreshing place to await your flight.
Offering an outdoor terrace with views towards the Swiss Alps, a live cooking station with dishes prepared to order, a variety of zones for working, dining and relaxing and super-fast WiFi, Australian Business Traveller put the lounge through its paces on a recent visit to Switzerland.
Location & Impressions
Located beyond international passport control, you won't be able to visit this lounge if you're flying within Europe's Schengen Area, and it's quite a task to come here and back from Dock D if you're flying to places like the UK, Russia or South Africa which use that pier, also 'outside' of passport control.
As such, the most likely guests stopping by will be those taking long-range SWISS flights to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, USA, Canada, Brazil, India and Israel – all of which use Dock E – and other non-Schengen international flights on SWISS' Star Alliance partner airlines.
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Assuming your journey takes you through Dock E, simply wander along the departure concourse until you spot an arrow pointing you upstairs to the SWISS Business Lounge:
Once inside, the lounge is undeniably Swiss, particularly when you're greeted by an Omega clock with a view towards the flag of Switzerland (as seen on a SWISS aircraft tail):
But while there's 'inside', there's also 'outside' – here, there's a terrace that provides a good view across the airport and towards the Swiss Alps...
... but the roof here is no ordinary ceiling – instead, a series of solar panels that protects you from the sun's harsh rays while harvesting their energy: quite clever!
Back in the air conditioning, the space is divided into a variety of zones, including a quiet zone up the far end of the lounge...
... with a world map closer to the entrance – although as an Aussie, I can't help but notice that Tasmania is missing from the picture (ditto entire countries like Fiji and New Caledonia):
The SWISS Business Lounge E opens daily between 6:30am and 10:30pm.
As SWISS operates nine lounges at its Zurich Airport home hub, the Business Lounge at Dock E primarily caters for the following guests taking long-distance international flights to destinations outside the Schengen Area:
- Business class passengers of SWISS and its Star Alliance partners Air Canada, Air China, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United, who don't also hold Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status.
- Miles & More Frequent Traveller (Star Alliance Silver) members booked to fly with the Star Alliance airlines above or on an eligible codeshare flight, although this is not available to other Star Alliance Silver frequent flyers: only those in the Miles & More program.
- SWISS, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Edelweiss Air economy passengers who purchase and print a lounge pass via the SWISS website prior to travel for 49CHF (A$69) per person.
- United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide members prior to Star Alliance flights.
The following travellers can also visit this lounge if they desire, but are better-accommodated at the higher-tier lounge their status or boarding pass provides access to:
- SWISS and Lufthansa first class passengers, including passengers connecting to or from a SWISS or Lufthansa first class flight (although the SWISS First Lounge awaits).
- Other Star Alliance first class flyers (who'd otherwise use the Senator Lounge).
- Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers travelling with a Star Alliance airline (who also have access to the Senator Lounge).
There's a variety of buffet fare here, and overall, the selections feel a little more generous than offered in SWISS Business Lounge D at the same airport, beginning with simple bites like bread rolls and focaccia...
... fresh salad ingredients with dressings...
... portioned fruit salad with sweeter options aside...
... more fruit, found over near the wine...
... jars of biscuits and lollies...
... a selection of spirits beside the salads, and a good range of oils and vinaigrettes above the salad for adjusting to taste...
... plus more wine, still and sparkling water, and machine-made espresso coffee nearby, along with a DIY beer tap...
... and as seems to be a staple of every SWISS and Lufthansa lounge I've visited, an ice cream freezer, fittingly stocked with Switzerland's own Movenpick:
But the highlight here has to be the chef station, where you can order a variety of items prepared fresh to order right in front of you:
Here's what was on offer during my late afternoon visit:
I opted for the 'Asian chicken wok' for an early dinner, paired with a nice glass of white wine and enjoyed it outside on the terrace:
Of course, there are dining tables indoors if you'd prefer to sit in air conditioning – or recharge your devices via the handy power points nearby...
... but given how many airport lounges I visit (this being the 11th in the same week), I'm always looking for something different: and being able to sit outside enjoy a meal while looking towards the Alps was a most refreshing change.
Speaking of the Alps, if your visit here finds you 'on the clock', you can set up your laptop at these working benches to enjoy that same backdrop...
... where you'll find a good range of power connectors, including the standard rounded European along with its similar-looking alternate (as is standard in Brazil), joined by UK-style plugs (as also used in places like Singapore and Hong Kong), three-pin USA-type outlets, and failing that, two USB slots at each power bank:
For any serious work or computer access, there are dedicated booths further inside, albeit without the views you'd get from the benches...
... with wireless Internet available throughout the lounge, albeit provided by Zurich Airport rather than having a separate network for the SWISS lounge.
There's a registration procedure requiring either your mobile number or your passport details for access – reception staff can help, if needed – and once online, I measured average download speeds of 42Mbps and average uploads of 52Mbps: lightning-fast and suitable for everything from basic emails and browsing through to HD video streaming.
People don't just need access to power when they're working, so fortunately, almost all the other seats here provide easy access to charging ports.
If in doubt, look for the lamps, as below them, you'll find the full suite of charging ports as also offered at the business benches:
Throughout the lounge, various comfy chairs help you take in the views...
... or kick back with a newspaper of magazine, selected from a wall of reading material:
For longer stays or a pre-flight nap, set up camp in one of these day beds, with shower suites also at-hand nearby:
However, I spent most of my time out here on the terrace...
... where you'll find chairs for admiring the view and tables for drinks and dining, as I put to use:
As far as SWISS Business Lounges go at Zurich Airport, this one would be my pick of the lot – to the point that having arrived early for a flight to London from Dock D, I went through security three times to come over to Dock E for a visit (once after check-in, once more on arrival at Dock E, and again when returning to Dock D, given the layout of Zurich Airport).
Most business travellers wouldn't go to that trouble, but if taking a long SWISS international flight such as to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan or China (connecting to an onward leg to Australia, perhaps), they wouldn't need to, and could come straight here after check-in until their flight is called for boarding.
While I'm also generally not in the habit of arriving hours early just to relax in an airport lounge, this is one place where I'd make that exception, even just to enjoy the view outside for one last look of Switzerland: if my schedule didn't allow for more time in town, of course.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Zurich as a guest of Star Alliance and SWISS.