Zurich Airport

I'm going to be traveling home from Murren to Zurich with a change of planes in Frankfurt to Chicago. I have never been to the Zurich Airport and wondered how early I should try to arrive at the Zurich Airport prior to departure. If the airport is as efficient at the train network in Switzerland, I would think 90 minutes prior to departure should be more than sufficient. Would that make sense? Thanks.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Hi Tom, As I'm sure you know it really depends on when you are flying and in which terminal you need to check in (there is a fair walk form the train station to one of the terminals). In mid July my family took a flight from Zurich to Dublin and we used your 90 minutes rule - it was just about enough! One alternative to look at is the "SBB Fly Rail Baggage" - this allows you to check in your baggage at the local railway station the evening before and receive your boarding passes etc... Then the following morning you can head right to the boarding gates from the train, no need to do anything at the airport. We always use this option when travelling with the family as it takes a lot of the hassle out of the trip. Have a safe flight, Jim

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

It depends a little bit on time of day. It would be a domestic flight to an international flight, I would assume it is fairly early in the morning so 90 minutes, and certainly two hours, would be fine. The train arrives in the lower level of the station. Our flight was a short walk.

Posted by Tom
Oak Brook, IL
160 posts

Frank, Actually, it is a 2:45pm flight from Zurich to Frankfurt, arriving 3:50pm with a 5:25pm departure from Frankfurt to Chicago

Posted by Tom
Oak Brook, IL
160 posts

Jim,. Thanks so much. I was not familar with SBB Fly Rail Baggage

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17736 posts

Tom, I travelled through Zurich about a month ago, and I'd suggest arriving at least two hours prior to your flight. That will allow some time for any unexpected delays. Although the airport layout reflects typical Swiss efficiency, it's a large building so it could take some time to get to your departure gates. As others have mentioned, the time-of-day could be a factor too. Happy travels!

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Hi Tom, The flight to Frankfurt will be an internal flight so you should not have to go through passport control in Zurich. However, as Frankfurt is your exit point from the schingen area, you can expect to have to it there. Jim

Posted by Tom
Oak Brook, IL
160 posts

Jim, Do you suggest, since it is an internal flight within Western Europe, I might safely reduce my planned lead time to something less than 2 hours?

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

In April this year it took us 45 minutes from check-in to departure lounge for our international flight.

Posted by Tom
Oak Brook, IL
160 posts

Thanks Judy, 90 to 120 minutes should be safe. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
307 posts

We flew home from Zurich a couple years ago and used every bit of 2 hours to make it to the gate. There seems to be 3-4 lines you have to go through.

Posted by Connie
SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX, USA
251 posts

Zurich is a large airport and I didn't find the signage to be helpful. I would give yourself plenty of time. It would be very helpful to print a map of the airport before leaving home. The trains come in on the ground floor.

Posted by Joseph
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
126 posts

I traveled to Rome via Zurich early this month and returned by that route to Chicago just lat Thursday; the Zurich and Rome airports were more difficult going than returning. Because of that, I'd urge you not to under estimate the length of time you may need. You, as I had to, may need to take the airport train to another terminal. And, your flight from Zurich may not be posted until one half hour before the flight--the significance of which is that you may be holding fire on which terminal to go to. Best wishes.

Posted by Tom
Oak Brook, IL
160 posts

All, My thanks to all. Given the comments, I'll plan on having a 2 hour pre-flight lead time. Prior to my post, I thought an hour and 15 minutes would have been enough time given that my first leg is 'within Europe' to Frankfurt. I'm glad I asked!!
Thanks again. Tom

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

I know some may consider ZRH to be a big airport, but it's nowhere near as big as FRA or ORD...not even sure it's as big as MDW if that helps. If you need to take the airport train from one terminal to another, you'll spend more time waiting for it than the actual ride itself. It is s super-efficient and easy to navigate airport. Personally, I would like to have 2 hours. You might get through in 1 hour, but it's better to have an extra hour and not need it than to need an extra hour and not have it. It's been a couple of years, but check for the cow and milk maid holograms if you get a chance to ride on that airport train...very cool.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17736 posts

Tom, Someone else mentioned that.... "Zurich is a large airport and I didn't find the signage to be helpful." I also found that to be the case. As might be expected, Swiss Air is in a prominent and easy-to-find location, but it took me awhile to find the correct departure gates for my KLM flight. I tried to follow the signs but they weren't clear (at least to me). I ended up climbing about two levels from the entrance and after about a 10-15 minute walk (seemingly going around in circles at one point) I found what I was looking for. Cheers!