Our recent family trip to Geneva was full of firsts. The first time I had a city break with the kids alone, the first time the children saw Switzerland and also the first time we flew with the Swiss national airway: Swissair.
Flying with kids always requires more planning and elicits more worries than flying alone and an unfamiliar airline can add to the stress of the trip. Therefore I thought of sharing my experience and impressions on Swissair and my observations about its services for families.
Flying with kids: Swissair review
Overall impression: Swissair is excellent for families: from the booking system to boarding procedures and customer care on board, we were very happy with them and I would have no hesitation to travel with them again for both short and long haul.
Swissair airline review: the booking process
I booked our tickets directly from the Swissair website, after comparing cost and times of flights with the ones of many other carriers covering the same journey. Their website is clean looking and easy to navigate: I have my go-to resources to book flights and I am very used to the interface of Skyscanner so I was, at first, a bit nervous about this unfamiliar website.
The step by step booking instructions, however, were easy: I was able to put myself and the kids on the same booking, I gave my email address for all of us (they ask for one address per person) and was able to book three seats one next to the other.
Before finalising the booking, Swissair gives you the option to choose how to receive your booking documents: posts and SMS are one of the choices and also email, which is the paperless way we chose.
It was nice to discover that, unlike other carriers serving the same journey, Swissair offers discounted kids fares that made a difference into making this family trip more affordable.
Swiss air seat selection
You can select seats at the time of booking or up to 48 hours before your flight: standard seats are included in the classic fare while extra legroom seats are available at an extra charge. At the time of writing, the seat rules are the same for children and adults while infants under 2 years of age travel for a fraction of the price (about 10% of the adult fare) and can seat on the adult’s lap secured by the dedicated infant harness. infants less than one week old need a doctors’ certificate before flying. If you travel with an infant and have booked a seat for them, it is allowed to carry a car seat: they need to fit swiss air seats (43 x 43 cm) and they must be fitted by the parent (airline crew can help, but it is clearly stated that it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to take care of this aspect of the journey)
In hindsight, I can say that check in procedures are easy and straightforward with Swissair, but this is not how I felt the day before my flight.
Since I was flying alone with the two kids, I wanted to have my check in done electronically in advance and to skip waiting time in the airport, so I logged into the Swissair website to get it done from home. Here is when the trouble started: first, despite being 20 hours before the flight, the Swissair website kept preventing me from checking in saying that the service ‘wasn’t available yet and would open 23 hours before the flight’. Thinking of a website glitch, I clicked on the check-in online support button, only to discover that there is no online support! The link brought me to al list of international phone numbers that I could ring at my expense to get the problem sorted. I was starting to get annoyed. Thinking I might have missed something on the website, I went to check if it was possible to sign up for automatic check-in but that option was given as not available to my flight – I was incredibly frustrated.
Having spent the best part of an hour trying to get our boarding card, I resigned myself to going to the airport at the crack of dawn to get checked in there, when suddenly the incredible happened: my boarding passes came in by email!
It turns out that Swiss air is ahead of the game and if you sign up for receiving electronic documents this includes an automatic delivery of boarding passes straight into your inbox about 12 hours before your flight. This is a great service and one I am delighted to use again but it would have been nice to be told: especially if booking very much in advance, you might not remember what kind of delivery you selected and being able to double check it logging into your booking account would go a long way to making pre-flight hours easier.
I hope Swissair makes it clearer to first time users that this is how they operate and that this silly experience of mines helps other wasting less time on paperwork!
All aboard: boarding procedures
We got to Dublin airport in good time and we swiftly pass security: we secured out place at the gate and very soon we were ready to board. Swissair has a family friendly policy that makes families with young children go first and they went out of their way to make sure everyone travelling with little ones made the most of the service.
Parents travelling with a buggy or strollers were able to bring it to the gate and, for the Dublin–Geneva leg, were able to retrieve the buggy at the aircraft door on arrival. Please note: while this was the case on this specific journey, in different destinations the pick up at the door might not be available and you may have to wait for the buggy or pram at the main luggage carousel: make sure you check with the airline what scenario applies to you, to make sure you don’t have last minute surprises. Duble strollers and travel systems must be checked in.
On board experience
We were travelling short haul and the service we had was excellent. The plane was spotless and the crew offered the kids some toys to choose from: the selection included colouring and activity books for different ages and a puzzle game that the kids couldn’t get enough of. Those, in addition to the toys for flying we had brought from home made for a smooth onboard experience.
Flying in the morning, we were offered a choice of complimentary sweet or savoury snacks, along with tea, coffee and soft drinks. Kids meals are available and can be booked online up to 24 hours before your flight, but on European flights, this service is available in business class only.
Bassinets are available in all flight classes on long-haul flights and in Business Class on European flights. They are approved for babies of up to 8 months and weighing a maximum of 11 kg. Due to space constraints, bassinets should be booked in advance, so make sure you contact customer service as soon as you know you are flying to secure yours.
Swissair baggage: European and intercontinental routes
Swissair has several options when it comes to hand luggage.
On European routes, they offer 3 tiers of checked in luggage: light, flex and business.
- Light: no checked luggage included
- Classic and flex: up to 23 kilos included in the airfare
- Busines: up to 32 kilos per bag, maximum 2 bags (64 kilos)
- Infants under 2 years of age are entitled to a foldable pushchair/buggy in all fares. Classic, Flex and Business also give infants an allowance of 1 item of baggage weighing a maximum of 23 kg.
On intercontinental routes, all fares include at least one item of baggage per person.
- Economy: 23 kilos
- Business: 32kg for a maximum of 2 bags per person (64kg)
- First class: 32 kg for a maximum of 3 bags per person (96kg)
- Infants under 2 years of age are entitled to 1 item of baggage weighing a maximum of 23 kg and a collapsible pushchair/buggy in all classes.
Overall experience: We are very happy with the service we experienced on Swissair and we will definitely choose this airline again for short and long haul flights with kids or without. The customer service and the overall quality of the flight were excellent and their automated check-in, despite my first-timer nerves, is a fantastic, time-saving system that I can easily get used to!
Please note: this review is unsolicited and unbiased and I did not receive compensation for it. The information provided is based on our personal experience and on additional information we got from the swiss air official website www.swiss.com