Those of you who have been reading here for a while already know that our flight to the USA did not go according to plan. And that was before the Corona Pandemic. Originally we would have flown back at the end of July. At the beginning of May we decided to move our return flight forward by three weeks and fly back to Switzerland at the end of June. There were two reasons for this: firstly because of Corona and secondly because I'm starting a new job in August and need time to prepare.
New plans - new flights
We booked new flights with Swiss at the beginning of May. Our flights at the end of July would have been with TAP. They each have a stopover in Lisbon. But we didn't dare to do that because of the travel restrictions of the different countries. We wanted a flight that goes directly from the USA to Switzerland. And so we booked a flight from Seattle via Chicago to Zurich.
Almost exactly two weeks before departure, the cancellation came from Swiss. It was simply an email informing us that the flight from Chicago to Zurich was cancelled. The flight from Seattle to Chicago was still as booked in our login. Alternatives were not offered to us, you have to call for that. So we called Swiss, which is currently associated with extremely long waiting times. We are talking about hours rather than minutes on hold.
Via Canada and Great Britain to Switzerland
The first alternative offered to us by Swiss was a flight via Toronto and London to Switzerland. But the employee of Swiss could not tell us if we could do that as Swiss citizens. We had to clarify that ourselves. According to the IATA site, Canada was not possible for us. To be on the safe side, we wanted to contact the Swiss embassy in Canada, but we never got through there and the Canadian embassy in the USA is currently only dealing with requests from Canadian citizens. Unfortunately, the FDFA could not help us either, and since nobody could tell us for sure that we could travel through these two countries without quarantine, we decided against this solution.
Next attempt with Swiss
Next we were offered a flight a few days earlier. We had to clarify this first, because we did not know if we would be able to drop off the motor home earlier. The employee of Swiss said he would reserve the flight for us because it was the last four seats. When we looked again in the login of Swiss, this suggestion was in as booked, but with the wrong date. It was the 28th, but not June, it was July.
So we called again. And then they started getting snotty. They said that we already have an alternative now. One that was a month late! That this was not our fault was only accepted with a grumble. Then we were offered a flight three days later than planned, on the original route. But the flight was still very empty, and we couldn't be told if the flight would be carried out. For us it sounded more like this connection would be cancelled as well. But they could not tell us that directly. Three days later would have been ok for us, but not if this flight would have been cancelled as well.
Then we'll search ourselves
We then searched for alternatives ourselves and found a suitable flight with both Lufthansa and United Airlines. One last time we wanted to call Swiss. If they couldn't find a suitable alternative, we wanted to cancel and rebook with another airline.
The employee we got now was not only friendly but also very helpful. She found us a flight two days earlier than originally via Denver to New York and from New York to Zurich. We thought that was great because the New York flights are more reliable than those from other cities.
Whether this was the last chapter on the subject of flying home remains to be seen. But we hope that it now works out that way!