How much would one consider First Class to be affordable? There are some nice First Class fares once in a while and I had purchased a First Class return ticket on ANA between the United States and Japan for $2,800. Recently I found a fare onboard Swiss International Airlines starting at about $4,500 or about C$5,800/S$6,200.
The reason why this might be appealing is because Swiss recently has revamped their international long haul fleet to include the 777-300ERs and the First Class are outfitted with suites and it seems similar to the ones fitted in Asiana’s 777, featuring a full 32″ HDTV and full lie-flat bed. My past experience flying with Swiss within Europe was also wonderful with great service and Swiss food. Another factor is that Swiss First Class is one of the most difficult to redeem along with Singapore Airlines Suites, as they are only open to redemption by premium members of Miles & More; which is the combined mileage program of Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss and LOT Polish, or more specifically airlines which Lufthansa has a substantial stake in.
So for THB157,430 ($4,520) passengers can fly First Class between Bangkok and Amsterdam with a stopover in Zurich. The stopover can range from just slightly more than an hour which could be doable in a smaller airport like Zurich, and since you’re flying First Class, expect some sort of escort if things get tight. Otherwise there is a choice of a 6 to 11 hour layover in the city. Do take note that while this fare is available earlier in May to July, Swiss only starts flying the 777-300ER to Bangkok from 15 July and to Singapore from 2 September. Otherwise passengers would get the old First Class on the Airbus A340s.
As you can see each one-way costs about THB79,000 which brings the total to less than THB158,000 inclusive of taxes. Granted it is a lot more expensive that Economy but with Swiss putting 10 seats abreast on the 777 compared to 9 seats abreast on Singapore Airlines 777, it is best to be avoided. But with First Class having just a 50% premium over Business Class, it is a good deal. In some instances First is about 150% of Economy, as indicated on the outbound dates which makes it a good deal for a suite.
If passengers do purchase these tickets, they are highly recommended to bank the miles to Lufthansa’s Miles & More which earns them as much as 3 times on First Class as the long haul flights between Bangkok and Zurich are in ‘A’ fare class while the intra-Europe legs are in ‘J’. This means the AMS-ZRH legs would earn 2,000 miles per one way. While the long haul flights would earn 11,264 miles for the return trip. Multiply that by 3 and that earns 33,792 miles. Total miles earned = 33,792 +2,000 + 2,000 = 37,792 miles which would net the Frequent Traveller status in Miles & More, which gives a 25% bonus on miles earned. If buyers credit the miles to Krisflyer, it only gets them about 150% of the miles. The same case applies to crediting it to Air Canada’s Aeroplan.
The amount of miles earned through this journey to me are worth somewhere in the range of $500-600. Do note that 105,000 miles from Miles & More allows one to redeem a one-way flight in First Class from South East Asia to Europe. Thus earning the miles gives me about $500 in rebates, making the flights quite a good deal.
These tickets are all searchable on Swiss’ website and booking directly with the airline, there is unlikely to be any problems. Furthermore, other European destinations are available and if any reader find a cheaper one, please do share them on comments below.