Thought I’ll share about my flight to Sweden using Swiss Airlines. This airline gave me the most pre-flight anxiety ever! Were my anxious nerves unfounded? Read on!
Flying Swiss Airlines to Europe with Just 40 Minutes to Transit
Last Oct, a good ten months before my trip to Scandinavia, I purchased return tickets from Singapore to Stockholm (read my top travel tips for Stockholm!). It was pretty much a spontaneous decision, as the promotion was too good to resist. Little would I have known, before I fly, I’ll develop so many worries about the airline! You bet I was well-prepared for it! The most pressing worries I had about my Swiss Airlines flights were all before flying:
| Also read: My top travel tips for Stockholm! |
1st Worry : Long Flights
My journey will be 2 segments each way:
i) Singapore to Zurich (Switzerland) // 13 hours
ii) Zurich to Stockholm // 2 hours 20min
i) Stockholm to Zurich // 2 hours 25min
ii) Zurich to Singapore // 12 hours 10min
I can’t remember whether I’d noted the flight length of each leg when I was booking, but afterwards, I got nervous thinking about it. I’d mostly flew to Europe with Qatar Airways, so it’s always 7-8 hours for each segment. These days, I feel an ache in my knees if I stay seated for too long in a plane.
I’m not sure if the ache’s psychologically induced, but I’m not taking a chance!
How I Got Ready for My Long Flight
- Bought and wore compression socks on the plane.
- Brought things needed for a comfortable flight:
– neck pillow
– a small pillow to hug
– an inflatable lower-back pillow if needed
– eye shades
– a face scarf that blocks light out
- Wore comfortable clothes:
– Uniqlo’s Airism bra tank top
– a sweater
– yoga pants
– either sneakers or low boots that I can remove easily
- Strategized my first flight’s seat to be an aisle seat in the middle section of the plane (Boeing plane with 3-4-3 seat arrangement. That way, I’ll only need to stand up for one person instead of two. And also, I can stand up, take a walk and have a stretch anytime I want!
- Filled up my water bottle after security scans, before boarding the plane. The air is dry, stay hydrated.
- Did simple stretches before boarding the plane.
2nd Worry: Tight Connections
I’d only 40–45min to transit between flights at Zurich’s airport.
40 minutes was the time from the first leg’s scheduled landing time to the next leg’s take-off time, which in my opinion should be defined as “some kind of madness“. How am I going to make it? What if the first plane is delayed? Or if the airport is huge? What happens if I lose my way?
How I Prepared Ahead:
- Checked with Swiss Airlines via email about the short connection. An agent replied that they’ll protect my rights because it was one through booking, not separate bookings. Which means to say, if I miss the connecting flight due to the airline’s delay, they’ll guarantee my next flight at no extra fees.
- Went to check up the next flights’ time should I miss my connecting flight, so I know how many hours I need to spend at the airport if I really missed the flight.
- Paid to book an aisle seat towards the front, so I could leave the plane in the shortest time possible. Although Swiss Air isn’t a budget airline, you cannot preselect your seat during booking. You’ll have to pay more for each booked seat per segment (S$42) or choose your seat when online check-in opens 23 hours before the flight.I didn’t want the risk, so I reserved a seat for the very first flight (from Singapore to Zurich).
- Packed 2 bags:
i) handbag with essentials like passport, wallet & things I need on flight → this will go under the seat;
ii) backpack goes into the overhead compartment.In this way, I could put all the things I needed on the plane back into the handbag before landing, grab my backpack, and deplane.
3rd Worry: Delayed/Lost Luggage
From Swiss Airlines’ Facebook Page, I read plentyyyy of Visitor Posts complaining about delayed / lost luggages by passengers. Of course, when an airline flies so many flights internationally at any one time, the probability is something to be noted. However, a few months before me, my friend flew to Manchester with Swiss Airlines with a tight connection just like mine. Her luggage was delayed, only delivered to her at night.
Stockholm will be less than 10 degrees when I arrive.
I can’t take a risk and arrive in Stockholm without sufficient warm clothing. So I contemplated packing a smaller cabin suitcase for my clothing. And wondered how it’ll be like to struggle with two suitcases pulling them over Europe’s cobblestone flooring. Let’s not forget that many places in Europe do not have lifts. I’m flying alone, will I make it?
How I prepared ahead:
- Put a piece of paper with my contact details inside my check-in luggage in case my bag tag fell off.
- Take photos of my checked-in luggage. Photographic information might be useful for quick identification should my luggage get shipped elsewhere.
- Finally decided on a backpack with sufficient warm clothing, a winter jacket and essentials to last me for the day at least. If my luggage is delayed and reached me at night, I’ll still be fine. Anything worse than that and I’ll be screwed.
Actual Flights: Flying from Singapore to Stockholm
Flight 1: Singapore to Zurich
The flight was smooth. It was a full flight on a Boeing777. Flight crew’s service was ok, so was the in-flight food (they served dinner at 1am). I know, this is the most generic flight review ever you’ll read on a travel blog, ha!
I didn’t really sleep though. It didn’t help that the lady beside me kept chatting to her new friend on her other side in a foreign language (managed to solve this problem with my ear-plugs). She also kept nudging/knocking onto me and I’ll open my eyes thinking she needed to get out of her seat, but she didn’t! She was just being unmindful about her surroundings, sheesh.
The Rush After Landing
The plane landed on time, but everyone was in a rush because it seemed that many people also had short connections.
I got off the plane, checked the connection gate number, had my bags and myself go through security scanning (my bags raised alerts so they had to do further quick checks). Was pretty dismayed to realize I had to take a fast train to another side of the terminal, go through customs (thank you Zurich Airport’s customs officers for efficient and fuss-free customs). Then, off I rannnnn to my gate.
Very relieved I made it, it was 10 minutes before take-off. Only one other person boarded after me, we were the last passengers!
Flight 2: Zurich to Stockholm
It was a pretty empty flight. With 3 seats to myself, I managed to catch a power nap. The crew was cheerful and we were served snacks and drinks.
Arriving in Stockholm: Did My Luggage Arrive?
Yes, my luggage arrived with me!
It felt like a miracle, what with having to take the train at Zurich’s airport and all, but I was really amazed to see my checked baggage appear on the carousel when I reached Stockholm! Thank you Swiss Airlines and your cargo handlers for the efficiency!
Going Home: Flying from Stockholm to Singapore
Flight 3: Stockholm to Zurich
I’d chosen my seat during online check-in and chose a middle seat towards the front of the plane, knowing I’ll need to rush out once the plane touch down. At Arlanda Airport (Stockholm), it was crowded at the gate. The flight was delayed (#omg will it turn into my nightmare) and was a full flight. I took snapshots of the crowd and boarding time so I’ll have evidence that the flight was delayed (just in case!).
A very pleasant Swiss lady sat on the aisle seat next to me and we had good chats on the flight! Again we were served snacks and hot drinks. Flight crew was prompt and with good attitudes too.
Despite the delayed take-off, we managed to reach Zurich in good time. Before landing, flight crew announced the gate numbers for connecting flights, and reminded passengers to let those rushing for connecting flights to leave first. I really appreciate these gestures!
The Rush After Landing
Upon landing, my new Swiss friend, who had been as concerned about my connecting flight, quickly got out of her seat so I could leave. Thank you lady!
Flight 4: Zurich to Singapore
Again, I had to go through security-scanning and customs, take the fast train, and runnnn to my connecting gate. This time, the distance was significantly longer. It was 10+pm and Zurich Airport was quiet. I made it in good time; they were boarding passengers when I reached the gate.
Empty Flight — My Best Flight Ever
The flight was very empty. I’d chosen an aisle seat in the middle section, not knowing the flight will be empty. The best part was when the crew announced cheerfully when boarding is completed. I got the whole row to myself, whoop whoop! My first time this lucky!
Flight crew were obviously in good moods and I enjoyed excellent service. I also laid down and slept for at least 7 hours straight, waking up for movies and breakfast #BLISS
Will I fly Swiss Airlines again?
After this trip, I have more confidence in flying with Swiss Air in the future (but I’ll still strategize it the way I did – book seat ahead, be prepared for delayed luggage.) I’d mentally prepared for the worst, but Swiss Air managed to show me that they take pride in their work and will do their best. Also, I learned how I should always be prepared no matter what airline I’m taking.
Thank you Swiss Airlines!
Tips to flying long-haul flights with tight connections!
- If possible, book or choose aisle seats near the front, for you to deplane quickly, even if you need to pay to book the seat.
- If you didn’t book a seat, check in online as soon as it opens. Download your airline’s app and switch on its notification function. The app gives you easy access to your booking. Switch on email notifications so you’ll be alerted to check in if the airline has an emailing system to email you once online check-in opens (airlines like SIA and SAS do it).
- Transiting: Be prepared for security-scanning procedures even before your first flight ends. No water in bottle, no metallic objects on you, etc.
- Proceed to the connection gate immediately once you leave the plane. You can go to the toilet on the next plane.
- Don’t book separate airlines with tight connections. If you miss your second flight, it’s a huge hassle which you don’t really want to deal with.
How about you? Have you taken Swiss Airlines before? Or did any ‘bad airline’ give you good experiences instead?