Air Travel

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. Be sure to check your airline's limit on checked and carry-on luggage; most airlines accept one carry-on item, while Swiss and other national carriers will turn a blind eye to two.

For 22 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 can only be done less than 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 about 1 hour from London, 8 hours from New York, 9 hours from Chicago, 11 hours from Los Angeles, 11 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.

Airports

The major gateways into the country 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. The EuroAirport on the outskirts of Basel is used by many airlines as a stopover and has low-cost flights to numerous destinations across Europe. Its proximity to Zürich makes it very convenient.

International Airports

Cointrin Airport. 022/7177105; www.gva.ch.

EuroAirport Freiburg-Basel-Mulhouse. 061/3253111; www.euroairport.com.

Zürich Airport. 043/8162211; www.zurich-airport.com.

Flights

Swiss International Air Lines, the national carrier more commonly known simply as Swiss, flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Montréal, and New York to Zürich, as well as from New York and Montréal to Geneva. United flies from New York, Newark, Washington, and Montréal to Geneva and from Washington, Miami, Chicago, Newark, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto to Zürich. American Airlines connects New York with Zürich, while Delta flies from New York and Atlanta to Zürich.

Low-cost airlines flying into Geneva include easyJet (from London and many European cities), Etihad Regional (from Lugano, Florence, Venice, and other European cities), and flybe (from Exeter, the Isle of Man, and Southampton). If you're headed to Zürich, then easyJet (from London Gatwick and Luton), bmibaby (from Edinburgh), Helvetic Airways (from Cardiff, Bristol, or Inverness), and Air Berlin (from London, Ibiza, and other European destinations) are among the low-cost carriers.

When looking to continue your travel from Switzerland, easyJet flies to around 50 European destinations from Basel's EuroAirport.

Airline Contacts

American Airlines. 800/433–7300; 0848/000730; www.aa.com.

British Airways. 0844/493–0787; 0848/845845; www.britishairways.com.

Delta Airlines. 800/221–1212; 800/241–4141; 0848/000872; www.delta.com.

Swiss. 877/359–7947; 0848/700700; www.swiss.com.

United Airlines. 800/864–8331; 022/4177280; www.united.com.

Low-Cost Carriers

Air Berlin. 866/266–5588; 0848/737800; www.airberlin.com.

bmibaby. 0844/4172600; 300/3337998; www.bmibaby.com.

easyJet. 0848/282828; 0330/3655000; www.easyjet.com.

Etihad Regional. 091/2087080; 0122/3851480; www.etihadregional.com.

flybe. 0371/7002000; 0139/2683152; www.flybe.com.

Helvetic Airways. 044/2708500; www.helvetic.com.

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