Today we’re going to be looking at the differences between SWISS and Lufthansa, two powerhouse companies in the European airline market.
I’ve spent the last five years traveling all over the world, experiencing the best and the worst airlines on the market. Two airlines that come up often are SWISS and Lufthansa because they are very similar airlines. In fact, they’re owned by the same people (Lufthansa Group)!
Since I’ve ridden both numerous times, I figured I’d break down my experiences in riding each airline. I can help you point out the subtle differences between the two, so you can make a more educated decision next time you’re thinking of flying in Europe.
By the end of this article, you’ll know the exact differences between these two fairly similar companies, understand their key features, get some decision-making tips, and see some competitive alternatives. Let’s dive in!
Bottom Line Up Front
The bottom line is that both SWISS and Lufthansa are owned by the parent company Lufthansa, so they are extremely similar services. However, they are different brands, so there are a few subtle differences, like the perks of the Business and First Class seating areas.
In my opinion, Lufthansa is the way to go. They fly to more destinations and have a generally cheaper price. They’ve also been around for several years longer than SWISS and have had the time to perfect their airlines. However, both brands use the same rewards program (Miles & More,) so it won’t affect your brand loyalty if you switch between the two.
Despite being owned by the same company, there are a few key differences between SWISS and Lufthansa.
- SWISS is based out of Switzerland, whereas Lufthansa has a bigger presence across Europe.
- SWISS has better, more award-winning foods in their Business and First Class sections, whereas Lufthansa has fewer choices. Trust me when I say the food on SWISS will change your life.
- SWISS is a smaller company and doesn’t have nearly as many nice reviews, whereas Lufthansa has been around longer and has a better online reputation for service.
- Lufthansa flies to more destinations across the globe than SWISS, which to me is the main reason I prefer them.
- Lufthansa has a slightly larger selection of films and tv shows on their monitors than SWISS, which keeps me invested.
- Lufthansa has free wifi on their flights, while SWISS charges for it if you’re in Economy or Premium Economy. There’s nothing I love more than free wifi.
Let’s start by going over the key features of SWISS and Lufthansa.
SWISS is the primary flight company in Switzerland, which started back in 2002. Today they have about 90 fleets and make about $20 billion per year in revenue. This is a massive amount compared to other European airlines! Its parent company is actually Lufthansa, which we will also be going over in this article. However, each brand has its own perks… Let’s check out SWISS.
As of 2022, SWISS flies to over 100 destinations in over 50 countries. Overall it’s a pretty solid flight for international travel. It also services two domestic locations in Switzerland, the country where it’s based. You’ll have an easier chance of getting a flight to one of these countries if you’re based out of Switzerland. In terms of the United States, SWISS only goes to the big cities, like Los Angles, Chicago, Miami, and New York.
Whenever I search for flights, I keep in mind that SWISS might not be going exactly where I want, but it’s such a good airline I’ll often wait a few days just so I can fly with them.
With SWISS, the rules for bag fares depend on where and how far you are flying. If you’re flying intercontinental, you’re allowed one free bag if you’re Economy Class, two free bags if you’re Premium Economy or Business Class, and 3 free bags if you’re First Class.
However, if you’re flying in Europe, you’ll have to pay extra for a bag if you’re in Light Class, but you’ll be allowed two or three free bags if you’re Classic & Flex or Business Class. The bags cannot exceed 158mm in total length, width, and height, or else they’ll be charged as excess baggage. In all classes and flights, you’re allowed to have a carry-on bag.
Or, if you’re like me, you can simply pack a single carry-on and avoid checking your bag! You’ll save lots of time and learn about yourself in the packing process. I love being minimalist in my travels because it forces me to focus on what I’m prioritizing.
Swiss Air Classes
Each flight with SWISS has four different classes- Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First Class. Economy class is the cheapest tier, but it’s actually pretty solid compared to a lot of other airlines. They have reclining seats, two free meals to choose from, a tv with built-in entertainment, and checked bags are included.
Premium Economy is a step up, as they include a bit more space and bigger tray tables, a free welcome drink at takeoff and landing, a wider food selection, and a better monitor to watch entertainment on.
The two upper classes are Business and First Class. Business-class has award-winning dining, adjustable screens and extra magazines for entertainment, a special lounge in the airport, priority boarding, and a “comfort kit” to ensure your flight is everything you need it to be. The top tier class is First Class, which has everything the Business class has, plus chairs that you can recline and sleep in, plus a toiletries kit.
The staff on SWISS has mixed reviews online. It seems to be entirely dependent on the day and the flight that you’re traveling to determine if the experience will be positive or not. When I fly SWISS, I’ve had positive experiences, but I’m also not too picky of a customer. I wouldn’t let a possible bad staff experience deter you from picking SWISS if it’s convenient for you. Bad staff experiences can happen on any airline; it just depends on the day!
As discussed earlier, SWISS has four different classes of seats- First Class, Business, Premium Economy, and Economy. Depending on which section you’re in, you’ll be offered a different menu with increasingly delicious food. First Class and Business meals are crafted by award-winning chefs and are well worth saving your stomach for. If you’re taking a long-haul (intercontinental) flight, your food and drink will be free.
I’ve only ridden on First Class once, and believe me when I say it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, which is saying something for being on an airplane!
Swiss Air Entertainment Options
The good thing about SWISS is that their flights are packed with entertainment, no matter what class you’re in. Each seat has a monitor loaded with over 90 movies and 150+ TV shows, so you won’t have to download any media in preparation for the flight. This is a plus for me because my phone is always so full of apps I barely have room for excess movies and shows.
In addition to movies and tv shows, they also have wifi for sale, which is priced by speed. You’ll also find the award-winning Swiss magazine on board, which is a favorite for browsing travel photography and articles. One bonus thing SWISS has that a lot of other airlines don’t have is eJournals, which are essentially collections of popular newspapers and magazines that you can download onto your mobile device or laptop.
I’ve been trying to get more into reading lately, so the eJournals are a good incentive for me to keep my daily reading streak up while flying!
Swiss Air Rewards Program
The frequent flyer miles program by SWISS is known as Miles & More. You can rack up miles to be used on flights, discounts at the Lufthansa WorldShop, and even get free upgrades. The cool thing about SWISS is that they also have a credit card that links with your Miles & More account to earn even more points. If you join the program, you’ll get a plethora of welcome miles to get your journey started.
Lufthansa is one of the biggest airline companies in the world and is the second biggest company in Europe. They own Austrian Airlines, SWISS, Brussels Airways, and Eurowings. It was founded back in 1953 by Deutsche Luft Hansa, and a little-known fact is that the company actually used to be tied to the Nazi Party in Germany. However, those days are long gone, and the company has a strong reputation in international travel.
In general, they’re my go-to airline for European travel. Almost anytime I’m booking a flight somewhere, I’ll see them on the list and keep them in my back pocket unless I find an insane deal.
As of 2022, Lufthansa services over 200 destinations in more than 70 countries across the globe. This makes them an absolutely massive company, and their headquarters are primarily in Europe. A reach like this makes them a fairly accessible airline price-wise because they have so many headquarters and connections.
Like I said before, they feel like they’re everywhere. You would be hard-pressed to meet someone from Europe who hasn’t flown on one before!
Lufthansa Baggage Policy
In terms of baggage, every flight with Lufthansa allows a free carry-on item (55 x 40 x 23 cm,) and if you’re in Business Class or First Class, you’re allowed two free carry-on items. Checked luggage fees depend heavily on the flight and destination you are going to, but you can figure out the details here (https://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/excess-baggage) with the free Baggage Calculator.
Lufthansa Seat Classes
The classes of Lufthansa are the exact same as SWISS, which are Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class. As they are owned by the same company, the perks are nearly the same as well, but I’ll do a quick review.
Economy seats have built-in tv monitors, free snacks, and a small menu of choices to choose from on your flight. Premium Economy seats get up to 50% more space than Economy, a free travel kit, larger monitors with built-in entertainment, and a bigger menu served on fine china.
The two upper-tier classes are Business Class and First Class. You’ll get lounge access, priority boarding, and more comfortable (and in some cases fully reclining) seats. In terms of First Class, you’ll get valet parking and/or limo service, a special menu, the most comfortable seats on the plane, and even a dedicated personal assistant. If you’re looking to fly in luxury, Lufthansa is the way to go… They take their first class seriously.
Further Read: Lufthansa Economy vs Premium Economy.
In general, the flight attendants and staff with Lufthansa are relaxed, helpful, and a rewarding crew people. You’ll find them willing to help solve your problems respectfully, which is a refreshing breath of air when traveling. There’s nothing worse than getting an attitude from an employee while on vacation.
All of my experiences with Lufthansa have been overwhelmingly positive. I specifically remember one flight where I had just broken up with my girlfriend and was in a foul mood. The attendant’s smile gave me a temporary reminder that the world isn’t ending!
Overall, the food and drink of Lufthansa flights are fairly solid. If you’re in Business Class or First Class, it’s well worth it- there’s a whole different menu with more inspired choices. However, if you’re in Premium Economy, you’ll get two free non-alcoholic drinks and get your food served in fine china. Sometimes it’s nice to feel fancy. Economy class has a few basic meal choices but nothing to write home about.
My recommendation is to get the turkey sandwich! You won’t regret it.
Lufthansa Entertainment Options
The good thing about Lufthansa is that no matter which class you’re in, you’ll get a monitor to watch entertainment on. These screens are loaded with over 150 films and 200+ tv shows. There’s also a wide range of audiobooks (more than 60) and music playlists (over 50) if you’re simply in the mood for an audio experience.
Another benefit to point out is that Luftansa utilizes the FlyNet portal for internet connection, which means you’ll have free wifi on any flight. This is a huge deal, as most airlines charge for certain amounts of data. For me surfing the internet is almost more fun than watching a movie nowadays!
Lufthansa Rewards Program
Lufthansa utilized the Miles & More program, which is the same reward program utilized by SWISS. The good thing about this is that if you get points with them, it’ll cross over across multiple airlines.
Decision Making Tips
Still not sure which brand to choose for your next flight? Let’s take a look at some decision-making tips.
How Far Are You Going?
In general, if you’re trying to get further, you’ll find more destinations available with Lufthansa. You can go to almost double the number of locations you can go to with Lufthansa. This means you’ll often find more discounted deals with Lufthansa, although the prices are fairly similar between the two brands.
What Kind of Experience Are You Looking For?
If you’re looking for a solid Economy or Premium Economy experience, it wouldn’t make too much of a difference which airline you’re going for — they’re both very similar experiences. However, if you’re looking to take your Business or First Class experience to the next level, I’d go with Lufthansa. From personal assistants to better lounges to more comfortable seats, they know how to make luxury feel like a real experience.
Swiss Air and Lufthansa Alternatives
Here are some alternative airlines to consider if you’re still not sure what to choose.
Ryanair: Best for European Budget Travel
Coming in at the number one aircraft in all of Europe is Ryanair. They primarily have hubs in Ireland, Malta, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Known as a low-cost European airline, it’s a good option if you’re trying to travel on a budget and don’t mind fewer comforts on your flight.
You might also have to deal with poor customer service, delays, and a variety of public controversies. The one time I flew it, I had multiple delays, which was annoying. However, if you know what you’re getting into, it’s not too big of a deal for the amount of money you’ll be saving.
Delta: US to Europe Options
If you’re looking for an aircraft company that is essentially the United States equivalent of Lufthansa, look no further than Delta. You’ll find world-class meals, comfortable seats, and all sorts of features that truly make your flying experience great. They also service almost as many destinations as Lufthansa- except they are primarily based out of the United States.
Full disclosure, they are my favorite airline in the world, so I may be a bit biased there.
Air France & KLM
Air France and KLM are technically now the same company, so I’ve grouped them together as a near peer option.
Air France / KLM often has similar routes and coverage to Swiss Air / Lufthansa so it’s worth checking competitive routes for the best fare options.
Aside from price some variable price differences, the two “groups” have very similar amenities and flight experiences.
Air France / KLM also has a partnership with Delta Airlines, so it can be a great option for multi-leg US / European flight itineraries.
Further Read: Air France vs KLM Compared.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Yes, SWISS is a subsidiary company of Lufthansa, which is one of the biggest airline companies in Europe. You’ll find that many of their features are similar, and they even share the same rewards program- Miles & More.
Answer: In digging through reviews online, you’ll find that SWISS and Lufthansa both have some of the top reviews in Europe. Therefore I would argue that these two airline brands are some of the best flights to fly within Europe. Plus, they go to over 200 destinations across the globe.
Answer: In general, SWISS is a luxury airline that has a bit heftier price than its competitors. However, if you’re looking for a comfortable flight experience with little hiccups, I wouldn’t hesitate to book SWISS- even if it costs a little more. A vacation is a vacation for a reason, right?
Conclusion: Lufthansa or Swiss Air?
Overall, I hope this article has been helpful to you in pointing out the differences between SWISS and Lufthansa. They are both high-quality flights that can get you almost anywhere in the world- especially if you’re in Europe.
If I had to choose between one or the other, I’d pick Lufthansa! They have far more destinations available, and I’ve had nothing but positive experiences flying with them. However, if you can’t find Lufthansa, you really can’t go wrong with SWISS.