SWISS To Refit A340s With New First, Business & Economy Class Cabins

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Airbus A340 aircraft are not exactly the rage nowadays thanks to their inefficient 4-engine setup so it’s a little bit surprising to hear of a European airline retrofitting these aircraft with state-of-the-art cabins…but that’s exactly what SWISS is doing. What makes it more surprising is that the airline is in the process of phasing out the A340 in favour of the more efficient Boeing 777-300ER.

According to Australian Business Traveller SWISS has made the decision to retain 5 of its Airbus A340 aircraft and refit them with the same premium cabins as you’ll find on the airline’s 777-300ER aircraft. The refit won’t be happening until 2018 but it looks like this is a stay of execution for the SWISS A340.

I’m going to be completely honest and admit that I have absolutely no idea why SWISS is doing this.

While the First Class cabin on the A340……

SWISS A340 First Class

…doesn’t look nearly as nice as the First Class cabin that will be replacing it….

SWISS 777-300ERSWISS 777-300ER First Class

…the other cabins on the A340 don’t have too much wrong with them.

The Business Class cabin on the A340 has the same staggered layout as you’ll find on the 777-300ER:


And is there that much difference between this Business Class seat on the A340….

swiss-a340-business-classSWISS A340 Business Class Seat

…..and the Business Class seat that will be replacing it?

SWISS 777-300ERSWISS 777-300ER Business Class seat 

When I look at the Economy Class cabin on the A340 I find myself asking similar questions – is this….

swiss-a340-economy-classSWISS A340 Economy Class

swiss-a340-economy-classSWISS A340 Economy Class

…really going to be improved but what SWISS is calling “all-new seat”?

The A340 Economy Class doesn’t exactly look ancient and, if you take a look at how much space passengers get in the cabin, it’s hard to see what exactly SWISS thinks its going to get out of the refit.

The SWISS A340 Economy Class cabin already offer seats that are 17″ wide (so the airline isn’t going to squeeze any more seats into each row) and a seat pitch of 32″ (so there isn’t much room to add more rows) so what’s the point of ripping out these seats and adding new ones? Is there a weight saving to be made?

I genuinely don’t get it.

UPDATE: The Economy Class photos above are from the SWISS media centre and labeled as A340 Economy Class…but a reader has mentioned that they look like the seats in the A330s – can anyone shed more light on this?

While the youngest of the SWISS A340s are only 8-9 years old the aircraft is already out of date – a fact that SWISS had admitted by ordering the 777-300ERs to replace them – so why refurbish out of date planes if they don’t really need refurbishing?

If SWISS wanted to rip out the First Class cabin and refit the aircraft with more Economy Class seats or a larger Business Class cabin than that would make a bit more sense to me. But refitting an aircraft that you know is on its way out with seats that are, at very best, only a slight improvement over what’s already in place doesn’t seem like a very sensible business strategy….but perhaps I’m missing something.

Anyone out there know what SWISS is thinking?

All images courtesy of SWISS


  1. I might be wrong, but I flew the SWISS A340 a couple of times in economy and the seats were not the same as on this picture. This looks like economy class on the A330.

    • Thanks for the info. I got the photos directly from the SWISS media centre and they’re definitely labeled as A340 seats…but it looks as if they show the same seats under their A330 images as well.

      What were the seats like on the aircraft you flew (presumably they were older) and how long ago was this?

      • The seats were definitely older, especially the IFE. But that was 2 years ago. I think it was the same seat as on one of the photos on seatguru (next to the seatmap).

        • When I get a spare moment I’ll dig around to see if I can find out any more information…I wonder if SWISS updated a few of it’s A340 in the past 2 years and is now re-doing them all over again? Seems unlikely but not entirely impossible 🙂

      • I flew a swiss A340 last year from SFO and the economy seats definitely need a refit. Just look at the reviews on SeatGuru.

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