Most of the flying content of my blog revolves around British Airways because that is what I do most of; the route network and hub at Heathrow suit me very well, and I currently have Silver status, so the perks add an additional sway.
However, changes recently to the brand have left many travellers with a sour taste in their mouths, so I was happy to have an opportunity to try another airline.
Last year I was able to status match my BAEC Silver Card with an Alitalia Freccia Alata card and, I matched this to Avianca giving me Star Alliance Gold status. At the time it was more an abstract exercise as I had no plans to fly with them, but I am glad I made the effort.
A friend and I decided that we would go away for a coupe of days during half term, and settled on Switzerland as a suitable destination. We wanted to climb a mountain and Lugano was the closest airport; a quick search revealed flights from Heathrow via Zurich on Swiss so we booked.
I had entered my Amigo frequent flyer number during booking and was able to select seats for free. I don’t know if this was as a result of the gold card or just how Swiss work, but either way we were grateful; I’m 6ft3 and he is 6ft6 so the exit rows were very welcome.
I have never flown Swiss before so can’t make a fair comparison but I didn’t notice any preferential treatment on the plane. It didn’t matter, though, as it was so good.
What was noticeable was the ground experience. My friend has been used to travelling Ryanair to the south of France with his kids, so the trappings of status were a real treat.
Fast track security saw us through into Terminal 2 departures within a couple of minutes. It was really early, so not generally busy, but I can imagine that it would be very welcome.
We immediately turned right and made our way to the Lufthansa lounge. I handed over boarding passes and the gold card and were given a QR Code for the Senator Lounge. Clearly the host thought I was a regular as she didn’t explain what the code was for. We were about to sit down when we saw this door.
The QR Code allows access to the inner sanctum. It was noticeably quieter and had upgraded spirits, wines and food on offer.
We had breakfast and enjoyed the space – it is well designed and has a range of different areas for work, eating and relaxing.
After a while, with about 45 minutes before boarding, we decided that we would head over to T2B for a look at some of the other lounges. This was a long trek, and we knew that we wouldn’t have long, but it was fun.
We ended up in the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge – I visited on in Frankfurt and was impressed – and my impression was no different. I mean where else can you get someone to make you fresh-to-order waffles and pancakes for free?! The coffee was also good.
The Gold card allowed us priority boarding too, which was welcome given we were travelling with hand baggage only, so getting it in the locker above our heads was helpful.
We also visited the lounge in Zurich on the way out and on the return and were really impressed.
Overall it was a breath of fresh air to see life in another alliance and not just what British Airways has to offer. I really enjoyed Swiss, and it makes me excited to think about the other experiences I have coming up flying transatlantic with Iberia and American, as well as with Finnair on the A350 to Helsinki that are a little outside of my usual flying.
Finally, it is also a reminder that it is worthwhile jumping on any free status matching opportunities regardless of whether or not you plan to use them, as you never know what is around the corner!