Swiss International Airlines, which was founded in 2002 following the collapse of Swissair, dislikes – for legal reasons – being referred to by the same name as its predecessor. Yet Swiss, a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group, still talks about having 80+ years’ experience, cashing in on the quality reputation that Swissair once enjoyed. Heavily criticized for spending over CHF 4 million on an un-inspiring “new” logo in 2002, Swiss began re-painting its tail fins in 2011 to look remarkably like Swissair.
Now profitable and flying over 16 million passengers a year, Swiss still has far too go (despite its clever “we didn’t get the poor service memo” adverts) before it can even remotely re-assert Swissair’s past prestige. This includes providing better service than most US airlines (save for Southwestern) whose no-frill economy services are of little comparison to prestige European and Far-East carriers. Swiss still offers free breakfast or lunch on most European flights – and chocolate. The American carriers want you to pay for everything from bags to drinks with some imposing unwanted ads on overhead TV screens.
However, Swiss is in danger of going “cheap”. It recently introduced a low-budget rate for travel with hand luggage only, a restriction not immediately clear on its website. To put a bag in the hold, you have to upgrade your ticket, which can make it more expensive than buying a regular ticket in the first place. If Swiss is serious about quality, it might focus more on being different – and better – rather than competing with Ryanair’s irritating strategy of separate item pricing.