The entire country of Switzerland is smaller in area than the state of West Virginia, so flying from one region to another is a luxury that, considering how efficient the trains are, few travelers require—unless there's a convenient connection from your intercontinental arrival point (Geneva, Zürich) to a smaller airport (Basel, Bern, Lugano, and Sion).
In Switzerland you will not usually need to check in more than an hour before boarding. If you are catching a connecting flight, make sure you have at least an hour to transfer, especially on Sunday in Zürich, where delays are frequent. Be sure to check your airline's limit on checked and carry-on luggage; Swiss and other airlines often accept one carry-on item.
For 20 SF per bag round-trip, passengers on Swiss and partner airlines with tickets on Swiss Federal Railways can forward their luggage to their final destination, allowing them to travel unencumbered. Baggage check-in and airline boarding passes can be arranged at more than 50 train stations around Switzerland, but must be done 24 hours in advance. An English-language "Fly-Rail Baggage" brochure is available free of charge from the Swiss Federal Railways.
Note that many budget airlines such as easyJet charge for food and drink during flights.
Swiss even stocks Nicorette gum. Flying time to Geneva or Zürich is just under two hours from London, seven hours from New York, 10 hours from Chicago, 14 hours from Los Angeles, 12 hours from San Francisco, and 23 to 25 hours from Sydney.
In Switzerland there is no longer a need to reconfirm your flight, though it won't hurt to do so. Swiss and other airlines now send electronic delay messages to passengers who provide cell phone numbers.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov.)
The major gateways are the Zürich Airport (ZRH) and Geneva's Cointrin Airport (GVA). Most Swiss flights will fly via Zürich Airport, the airline's hub. Be sure to allow yourself at least an hour to transfer to your connecting flight. Delays are especially common on Sunday. The EuroAirport near Basel is used by many airlines as a stopover. Its proximity to Basel and Zürich makes it very convenient.
Cointrin Airport (022/7177105. www.gva.ch.)
Zürich Airport (043/8162211. www.zurich-airport.com.)
EuroAirport Freiburg-Basel-Mulhouse. Basel: EuroAirport Freiburg-Basel-Mulhouse. 061/3253111. www.euroairport.com.
Swiss International Air Lines, the national carrier more commonly known simply as Swiss, flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and New York to Zürich, as well as from New York to Geneva. Continental flies from Newark and Washington to Geneva and Zürich. American Airlines joins New York with Zürich, Delta flies from New York and Atlanta to Zürich, while United Airlines connects Washington, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles to Zürich.
Low-cost airlines flying into Geneva include bmibaby (from Birmingham and other cities in the United Kingdom), easyJet (from London and other European cities), Flybaboo (from Lugano, Florence, Venice, Prague, London), and flybe (from Southampton). If you're headed to Zürich, then Helvetic (from London) and Belair (from Mediterranean islands as well as Dubrovnik and other cities) are among the low-cost carriers.
American Airlines (800/433-7300 in the U.S.; 0848/000730 in Switzerland. www.aa.com.)
British Airways (0844/493-0787 in U.K.; 0848/845845 in Switzerland. www.britishairways.com.)
Delta Airlines (800/221-1212 for U.S. reservations; 800/241-4141 for international reservations; 0848/000872 in Switzerland. www.delta.com.)
Swiss (877/359-7947; 0848/700700 in Switzerland. www.swiss.com.)
United Airlines (800/864-8331 for reservations; 044/2124717 in Switzerland. www.united.com.)
bmibaby (0905/8282828 in the UK. www.bmibaby.com.)
easyJet (0843/104-5000 in U.K. www.easyjet.com.)
flybe (0871/700-2000 in U.K. www.flybe.com.)
Helvetic Airways (044/2708500 in Switzerland. www.helvetic.com.)
Air Berlin (0848/737800 in Switzerland.)
Darwin Airline (0848/177177 in Switzerland. www.darwinairline.com.)
EuropebyAir offers passes for travel that connect Basel, Geneva, and Zürich to other European destinations. For one (variable) sum, you can buy up to 20 flight segments, which makes each one only $99-129 each, not including fuel surcharge and taxes. Unless you plan to make many trips to major cities outside Switzerland, this type of pass probably will not be a value.
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