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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Switzerland Day 6

Homeward Bound

For breakfast I had granola, pineapple, and water - something simple as it was likely I’d be able to eat in the airport lounge when I got there. However, on the train there a complication arose - James’ flight had been cancelled, or at least it appeared to have been, and he’d been booked onto a different one that left in just over an hour. It was impossible for him to make that one. It'd started snowing, and this was making a big impact on the flight schedules.

When we got to the airport they didn’t think the flight had been cancelled, but claimed they couldn’t put him back on his original flight. This annoyed him considerably, but they changed his flight from a United Airways one to a different Swiss one - his original outgoing airline; but had downgraded his seat class. To say James was unhappy was an understatement.

After this I went on a bit of a trek to check-in at the airline desk in the adjacent building. This was nice and easy, and so I made my way back to where I was going to meet James. He was nowhere to be seen, but then I found he’d been sent to ticketing which was two buildings along and up two flights of stairs - beyond where I’d just come from.

He was sitting at the business ticketing office, and in this time they’d moved him back onto his original flight with the caveat he may miss his connecting flight in Montreal; but James wasn’t too worried by that. I said farewell and made my way to departures for my flight.

Security was nice and quick, though to find the lounge was quite a trek. In this airport there’s no specific lounge for this airline, it is instead a shared one - just it’s not very good. The food options were fewer than what the hotel had for breakfast, but at least one of the differences here was that I could have a cup of tea. The Wi-Fi though was limited to two hours of usage according to the signs outside the lounge. At least my flight was still on time as snow continued to fall, and most of the immediate flights were showing as delayed or cancelled.

Lindt, Swiss chocolate

I left the lounge with plenty of time so I could look around the airport shops, and get through passport control. From the gate it was a short bus ride to the aircraft, and a dash across the tarmac to avoid the snow. Ten minutes passed, then twenty, and then forty - but we’d not moved an inch.

Eventually the Captain told us that the runway had been closed so it could be cleared of snow, and there was a queue in front of us. By the time we took off we were eighty minutes late - maybe we could make up some time in the air. I was now going to be short on time in London, but was able to move my pick-up time to an hour later.


Visibility was poor during take-off, but once above the clouds we were out in the bright sun. Lunch was served shortly after, but it wasn’t anything I liked so I decided to wait until I reached London. Of course, I was thinking this was the end of the delays.

The aircraft had passed the start of the runway, seconds away from touching down, when all of a sudden the Captain accelerated to full speed and pulled up rapidly due to another aircraft on the runway. It threw many of the passengers into a panic, with many wondering what was going on. A lady across the aisle from me was a nervous flier, and was about in tears - she’d struggled through every bit of turbulence we’d encountered and this was too much.

After rising above the clouds we circled around and ten minutes later repeated the approach - this time touching down. Ten minutes later I was off the plane, through immigration, and waiting at the baggage carousel. Ideally my luggage with the ‘high priority’ sticker from the airline on would have appeared minutes later. However due to a combination of another flight using the same carousel, and some skis getting stuck on the conveyor it was another fifty minutes before my bag arrived.

I dashed across the airport as quickly as I could - I was hoping I could make up a few minutes by doing so. At the underground station I found this had been a waste of time - the next train had broken down and it’d be almost thirty minutes before a working one arrived.

Having moved my pick-up time to 19:00 should have meant two hours in central London, but between the baggage carousel and the underground train it meant that I’d got an hour from arriving at Baker Street.

One meal at Nando's later I was back on the underground and on my way to Stanmore to be picked up by my Dad for the last leg of the journey home.

Tags: helvetia switzerland travel trips zurich

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© David G. Paul