We originally wanted to fly back to Switzerland via Lisbon. But because of Corona it is very difficult to know if we will be allowed through the transit of the respective airport on the desired date. Nobody, neither the embassies nor the airlines could give us any reliable information. That's why in May we changed to a flight with Swiss, which goes from the USA directly to Switzerland. Unfortunately, Swiss cancelled the booked flights 14 days before departure and after a long back and forth, rebooked us on other flights. But it remained exciting until the end, on which way we would fly back to Switzerland.
Early in the morning at the check-in
After several phone calls Swiss had rebooked us on the following route: We were to fly from Seattle to Denver and then from Denver to New York. From there a Swiss plane should bring us directly back to Switzerland. The day before our flight we wanted to check in online, but this only resulted in an error message. We didn't think too much about it, because we couldn't check in the flights from Zurich to Washington online. Nevertheless, we went to the airport very early in the morning to make sure we had enough time. The first flight was supposed to take us from Seattle to Denver at seven in the morning. At the check-in we again only got an error message from the monitor and a United Airlines employee then took care of our check-in. It took us half an eternity, and we were glad that we arrived at the airport so early. At some point the employee informed us that Swiss had cancelled one of our reservations. We were never informed about it. But it was not a problem because she had found another connection for us.
Many ways lead to Zurich
The new plan was that we would fly half an hour later from Seattle to San Francisco, then from San Francisco to New York and late in the evening from New York to Zurich. For us that was so OK, although we were a bit skeptical, because in San Francisco there were only 45 minutes to change planes. And so we left at half past seven in the morning to go back to Switzerland.
Umsteigen in San Francisco
When we heard that we only had three-quarters of an hour to change planes in San Francisco, we saw ourselves running through the airport with two children. Fortunately, an entire gate area in San Francisco belongs exclusively to United Airlines. We got off at one gate and a few gates further on we could wait for the boarding. We could even have changed planes in ten minutes. And so we were now very confident that the journey home would go smoothly.
In-flight catering during Corona times
On United Airlines you get a pre-packed bag with a water bottle and two small snacks. During the flight, more bottled water is offered, but that's all. For us this was perfectly ok and is also reasonable in times of Corona. We had some snacks with us and knew that we had enough time to eat something in Newark. Unfortunately all restaurants at Newark airport closed before we landed. We only stood in front of closed restaurants and snack bars. There was absolutely nothing to eat at the whole airport! Fortunately, after asking around for a long time we found someone who knew that there was a food truck outside the airport. We enjoyed the first real meal of the day late in the evening and the gyros were just super delicious! By the way, Swiss served food and drinks as if Corona didn't exist.
Differences in boarding of the different airlines
United Airlines has adapted its boarding procedure as a result of Corona and after Business Class the aircraft is boarded in 5 rows from back to front. There is no crossing in the aisle and the boarding is fast and with a safe distance. In the same way, simply in reverse order, you get off the plane. At Swiss, we boarded and disembarked in the same way as if Corona did not exist. In addition, contact information would have had to be provided on board to make tracing possible. But many passengers refused to fill in these forms. Mostly with the excuse that they would not understand the form.
Back in Switzerland
The Swiss flight from Newark to Zurich was then quite delayed, but shortly before midnight we could actually take off for Switzerland. To our astonishment, the plane was full, which in Corona times is anything but pleasant. But as we slept most of the time, it was quite OK. And so we actually arrived safely in Switzerland after almost 30 hours. At the time of our entry there were no restrictions for travelers from the USA, we were only advised to inform ourselves about the Corona recommendations.