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Trains-Airport, Zurich, Basel

We will be traveling to Zurich in March and have a question about the best way to get from the Airport to our hotel which is very close to the main train station in Zurich. The hotel mentions subway service from the airport which sounds like it might be most efficient. My question is, do they run regularly and can we purchase tickets at the boarding point?
Also, we will need to travel r/t to Basel for three days. Is that subway service as well or are they long distance trains that need to be reserved for a specific time in advance? (That would eliminate some of the flexibility we hope to have).

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Zürich does not have a 'subway'. It is an S-Bahn, which is the German term for an express suburban railway, equivalent to the RER in Paris and other French speaking cities.
After you come through arrivals, look for signs saying "bahn / railway". Follow these and you will find the ticket selling counter. Trains run many times per hour (at least one every 10 minutes) from the airport station to Zürich HB (the main station). Buy your ticket from the ticket counter (speaking English is a requirement to work there), and just get on the next train to Zürich HB. The journey takes 11 minutes.

Intercity trains from Zürich HB to Basel run twice per hour, journey time 53 minutes. Price CHF 33 each way (CHF 66 return), 2nd class per person. Cheaper prices apply if you have a Swiss half price railcard.

There is (with a very few specific exceptions) no need to book or buy tickets in advance for Swiss trains, tickets are valid on any train. There is no price advantage in advance purchase, just buy a ticket on the day, and hop on the next train.
For more info on times and prices, see (Swiss Federal Railways).