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Clearing customs at ZRH?

We just booked a trip to Germany in May. We're landing in Zurich at 7:55 AM. The direct train to Munich departs at 9:28 AM. Do we have a chance to make this train or should we just plan on going later? I love the idea of no changes since we'll be jet lagged and I'll be cranky but we can do it if necessary.

Posted by
31464 posts

Barbara,

Just to clarify, you'll be clearing Immigration & Passport control. The time for that will depend on a variety of factors including how many flights arrive at that time, how many staff are on duty, etc. The Swiss are very efficient and since there's a rail station at the airport, you should be able to connect with a 09:28 departure.

I don't know whether a pre-purchased ticket will be any cheaper (haven't checked). You could also buy a ticket at the airport station. One point to note is that there are two different ticket offices, one for domestic trains and one for out-of-country trains. I was there at the end of September last year and had to use the latter ticket office to buy tickets to a destination in Italy.

In the same situation, I'd just buy a ticket for the next train when you arrive at ZRH. That way you'll be able to connect with the first available train, without having to wait for departure of a pre-booked train.

Posted by
21704 posts

You are OK IF, big IF, everything is on time. If you plane is 30 minutes late, you could have a problem. I would wait till I was in the airport before buying the ticket.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for the replies. I understand it's all contingent on the flight being on time. I just didn't know if I should get my hopes up at all for making that train. I think we'll keep our fingers crossed and if not, we'll consult the timetable and figure it out from there.

Posted by
13041 posts

Unless you are flying First or Business class, it can take 10 or 15 minutes just to get off the plane.

We have only flown into Zurich on an intra-Euro flight from London, so I have no idea which terminal the international flights from the USA use. But some flights do de-plane out on the Tarmac and bus the passengers in. And then you have the train ride with the charming Swiss milkmaid hologram and cowbell sound effects. Then you go through passport control, which is usually pretty quick, but one time it was not.

Frankly I would not want to stress about making that 9:28 train. Nor would I want to jump on a train for a four-hour ride right after the long flight from the US.

There is another direct train to Munich that leaves the downtown main station at 13:16. You can get the €44 on that train by buying tix now on Bahn.de. (Full fare is €76 from the airport station).

If I were doing this trip I would take the train the short hop into Zurich, stow luggage in a locker, and go outside for a walk and some fresh air, then get an early lunch or buy items for a picnic on the train. There is a Coop supermarket with a good selection of "grab and go" salads and sandwiches right close to the train station. You would arrive in Munich at 17:28, more refreshed from the walk, nice lunch and a little nap, in time to check in to your hotel, shower, and explore Munich a bit before dinner. Remember the goal is to stay up until bedtime on local time.

Posted by
5 posts

I hear what you're saying Lola. I think our initial thought was to get to Munich as quickly as possible but I see the advantage of walking around before getting on a train for another four hours. Plus it would eliminate the stress of trying to make that quick connection.

I do have a question about the train tickets. I'm a novice at this, we've never used trains in Europe before. When I look on bahn.de I can find the trip you referenced but for €68, not €44. What am I missing?

Posted by
31464 posts

Barbara,

A couple of other options for buying train tickets.....

  • You may be able to buy on the sbb.ch (Swiss Rail) website (at least for the Swiss portion of the trip).
  • You could also try www.capitainetrain.com (they sell tickets for German rail but may also include trips out of Switzerland to Germany). The cost is the same as if buying from the rail network websites, with no added service charges.
Posted by
13041 posts

On bahn?de, I start with this page and fill in the information, making sure to select two passengers:

http://www.bahn.de/p_en/view/index.shtml

When it shows the trains, there are two columns for the price, a lower Special price ( Sparangebot) and a higher regular fare. Note that the special fare is for the specific train only. I just tried a different date in May (12 May) and got an even lower special price of €34 per person. Before I was looking at 13 May so the special prices go up as they sell out. There is an additional charge of €9 if you want reserved seats (I would).

And as Ken states! you can also buy them on the Swiss train site, sbb.ch ( look for the button to switch it to English). I did not mention this before as the last time I bought Swiss tickets online they had to be picked up in Switzerland, which means standing in line at the ticket counter. But I see now they have a "print at home" option so that is good. The Swiss site may be easier to use.

To see the fares on SBB.ch, pick the specific train you want, hit the red Purchase button and work through the following pages, which ask about ages of the travelers and Railcards you may have. The price page will show the regular far above and a Special Offer price below. For the date I was looking at, the bahn.de price was €44 and the Swiss price was 46.50 CHF. Their reservation fee is 10 CHF for the two seats.

I don't know how those two fares compare as I did not look at exchange rates between euros and Swiss francs.

Posted by
2556 posts

one of the (many) advantages of flying up front is getting off the plane first and then jog/running to customs before everyone else. You don't realize just how many people a plane holds until you see them all lined up at once to do customs. And if more than one plane lands at a time, oh boy.

Also note that the train station at Zurich airport is part of a shopping/eating mall, so if you have an hour or two you could just stay there and have a meal.

Posted by
5 posts

Ken, I checked Swiss Rail and it's the same price as DB. Lola, I think I misunderstood your previous post's pricing. I thought you were seeing €44 total for two people, I found €68 for two from the same starting page so I think I'm good. And phred, yes, I'm trying to get to the front of the plane! We're flying on FF miles and actually using first/business class awards to get there so if anything opens up I'm ready to pounce. Thanks again for all your help! Now I just have to figure out the rest of the trip...