How To Upgrade To Business and First Class on Swiss Air Lines

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Have you ever dreamed of flying international business or first class? Often deals come up with business class fares that can be somewhat affordable but first class, almost never. More times than not the price is so out of range for most flyers they don’t even consider it.

Even more difficult is that many airlines no longer offer first class, especially European carriers.

While there is almost never an option to book Swiss Air First Class with points, there is a process that is somewhat attainable. If you are dreaming of flying first class, here’s how you can do it for the cheapest price.

First of all, you need to be booked on a business class ticket. This is not great news since business class is not cheap but the good news is this can be either a cash or award ticket.

If you are paying cash we’ve found trips like the one below nonstop to New York for under $2,000 round trip. Noting that this flight can often be $4,000+ we would say this is a great deal.

Swiss Business New York to Zurich
JFK – ZRH Business Class via Google Flights

If you are paying with points you can get an even better deal, especially through a Star Alliance Partner. In this case we recommend Air Canada Aeroplan since they offer business class tickets on Swiss for 60k points and minimal taxes.

SWISS business class via Aeroplan

Have a points and miles balance is a great way to give you access to elevated luxury travel. If you are looking to boost your points balance check out the best credit card rewards for every type of traveler.

Ok now that you have a business class ticket you are eligible for a bid upgrade to Swiss First Class.

A bid upgrade is when you can submit an amount you are willing to pay 48 hours in advance to fly first class. This is great because you can now decide how much the upgrade is worth to you an it certainly will be significantly cheaper than buying it directly.

For the same flight going for less than $2,000 business class, a first class seat was a whopping $6,273!

JFK – ZRH First Class via Google Flights

Swiss first class offers a number of priority access to lounges and through the airport. However, the real highlight is the seat.

Also, as expected the food is incredible as well and First Class will give you a multi course offering not seen in Business class.

Now that you are all ready to attain first class, here is the official process.

Requirements for Bid Upgrade

Bid Upgrade is available for all SWISS long-haul flights. In order to be eligible to place a bid, a ticket must be issued at least 132 hours before departure.

There are a few exclusions due to local laws including bids from Brazil, India, and flights to and From Tel Aviv.

How To Bid Upgrade To Swiss First

You can also place your bid directly within Manage booking on Swiss website.

Towards the top of the page you will see a section for “Place your offer for an upgrade!”. This will bring you to the biddable section.

Note, you may also see a selection below it that allows you to book the upgrade outright. Here it is charging, $2,130 per passenger to confirm an upgrade to first. While this is a steep price it does guarantee you into First where the biddable section is not guaranteed.

SWISS Manage Booking

Once you click through the Bid for upgrade you will be brought to a screen to see your options. You will notice that depending on your flights not everyone will be eligible for a first class upgrade and not all will be the same price.

SWISS Bid for upgrade

On this itinerary we flew from Frankfurt to New York on Lufthansa, which was obviously not eligible, but on our return we are going from EWR to DXB via Zurich. There are two segments available for upgrade on two different aircraft types, the Airbus 330-300 and Boeing 777-300.

When you start looking into the minimum and maximum bid you will notice SWISS charges based on distance flown, with the EWR to ZRH leg being slightly more expensive than the ZRH to DXB leg.

We decided to see what the lowest we could offer was – which was 720 CHF from EWR to ZRH and 630 CHF from ZRH to DXB.

SWISS minimum bid

If we look at the maximum bid it is actually more expensive than the offer we received on the previous page.

SWISS maximum bid

You can see the maximum bids are 2,400 CHF from EWR to ZRH and 2,220 CHF from ZRH to DXB.

How to successfully enter your bid is as follows:

  1. Enter your bid per route, and follow the further instructions on the website. As soon as your bid is received, you will get a email confirmation.
  2. You can change or withdraw your bid at any time up to 132 hours before the planned departure.
  3. Between 132 and 48 hours before the planned departure time we will inform you by email whether your bid has been successful or not.

If your bid is successful, the amount will be debited to your indicated credit card. They will then send you new e-tickets and your SWISS First boarding passes at check-in. Once your bid is accepted there is no way to revert back to business class and get a refund.

If your bid is not accepted, the ticket you originally ordered and received will remain valid, unchanged.

How to get a bid accepted

Just because you are bidding on a first class upgrade doesn’t mean you will get it. Here are some tips to take into consideration to increase your odds.

  • Check the first class seat map on ExpertFlyer to see how many seats are open
  • Bid at least 100-200 CHF over the minimum bid
  • Consider the outright bookable offer if you really want to secure first class
  • Check at the airport checkin for any last minute deals

These above will increase your odds of getting first but it’s up to you to determine the value of it.

Is Bidding For First Class Worth It?

So the ultimate decision is if SWISS First Class if worth it for you or is a business class ticket almost as good.

For this trip if we paid cash and got our one way of EWR to DXB for about $1,100 USD. This means if we were to take first class upgrades on both routes that one way would come to about $2,400 USD each or about $1,800 each with First Class for one leg.

Given how much first class tickets go for I think it’s worth it for one of the legs, especially given the cash price we paid.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide but if you want to have an experience of the highest tier cabin you can fly, SWISS is a great airline to give you that.

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