Day 123: Missed Our Swiss Air Connecting Flight (again)

On our way back to Sweden from Hong Kong, we flew with Swiss Air.  We like Swiss.  We like their service (most staff are nice), they are baby-friendly (giving baby food, very accommodating to baby needs, etc.).  They even arranged my wife and I to be sitting together when we checked in yesterday, so that was awesome.  It can be confirmed without question – we like the flight from Hong Kong to Zurich.  But there’s a problem.

The problem is, the connection for the flight to Stockholm is only 45 minutes.  Last time we flew with Swiss, we sat for 2 hours on the runway in Hong Kong, so obviously we missed the flight.  We were then put on a 10:30 flight, but it was no big deal.  This time, we had 25 minutes from when we departed the plane to do the following:

  • Go through security again
  • Go through passport control
  • Go to another gate
  • Run and look stressed the whole time (that is a requirement when you have a short connection)

Security.  No problem, right?  Ha!  Have you traveled with a baby?  You know you can bring baby food and water, and all of that, right?  BUT, in Zurich, they need to scan that stuff in a special machine.  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  Piece-by-piece.  Separately.  So if there are kids ahead of you (as there were), then security is a longer process (and normally my wife and I are super quick).  And if you are in a hurry, it seems like they work at a snails pace (also known as London Heathrow Security speed).

Passport control.  Also no problem, right?  In theory.  But what if the lady at the passport control is training a new guy about how to do it?  Yep, then it takes a little longer than normal.

Going to another gate.  We did this as quickly as possible.  In Zurich, they use a train between terminals, so we rushed to the train, zoomed over to the escalator, bounded up like maniacs, and ran to  our gate.

Our connecting flight took off at 6:50, and we arrived at 6:42.  They knew we were on our way, right?  So they were ready for us to board and be on our way in time for the plane to pull away from the gate.  Nope.  The guy looked up as if he had never seen anyone show up at the gate after it closed.  I asked, “is it closed?”  He said, “yes.”  I say, “you couldn’t hold it?”  He then proceeds to tell me that they can’t hold it because it is a morning flight and then the other flights would be late all day long.  All I heard was, “blah blah, excuse, I really don’t care about you but I can justify why.”

I get it.  They can’t hold the flight.  I’ve been on a billion flights and been mildly annoyed when they hold them for people, so I understand.  It’s that 1 time that it is your turn for them to  hold it that it hurts the heart and crushes your spirit when you arrive after it closes.  The range of emotions is fascinating: disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration, relief (that it is over), anxiety (what now?!), and did I say annoyance?

So, downtrodden, we go to the “rebooking area” (which is a bit too big in my opinion – maybe Swiss shouldn’t have such tight connections – then they wouldn’t need such a big area for rebooking!).  They put us on the next flight, 6 hours later.  Awesome.  Fortunately we were given some food vouchers which we will use for meals, and my wife flies enough that we are able to use the lounge, where we can hang out and at least take a coffee or 2.  The lounge is where I am typing this.

I should note one special detail.  Apparently in Zurich they cannot land an airplane before 6:00 in the morning.  So that means that no-matter what, this connection would always be tight – yet they sell it anyway.  Because of the tailwind, we even took off later, because as they put it to us, we couldn’t land before 6:00, so why should we leave earlier than we need to? (good point after all)

I will not lie, I was pretty annoyed that we missed the flight, because we did everything by the book, as fast as humanly possible.  If there were a model of how to do it, we would have been that model.  We had our act together, so to speak, like a well-oiled machine.  If you cannot make your flight when you do that, then shouldn’t Swiss Air re-evaluate the minimum connection time?  And for me and my wife, we already discussed before today’s events about not doing this tight connection in the future, so we will not do it again.  2 flights with this route, 2 times re-booked on later flights.  Lesson learned.  So we will relax and hang out now, and soon we will be back in Sweden – just 6 hours later, surely we will not miss much in that amount of time.  Oh, is that pretzel bread they just put out at the food table in the lounge?  I better go get some.  After all, we only have 5,5 hours left until we take off.

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