My BF flies on Monday Athens-Zurich-Miami, with Swiss. He recently received an email saying that his flight details have changed, and he finds out that Lufthansa, ATH-ZRH operator, will most likely cancel the flight due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The other flight is scheduled.

He went to the airport, but the booth told him that they assist only with today's flights, and gave him the central contact number. He calls, but fails getting through, most likely because of the heavy load of calls these days... He'll email them too, but with weekend ahead, it'll probably go without an on time response.

Any ideas on what'd be his next realistic steps? He's really stressed!

  • 3
    Are all the flights on the same ticket? They weren’t bought separately?
    – user29788
    Mar 6, 2020 at 9:54
  • 4
    Did the "flight details have changed" e-mail contain a new itinerary? Mar 6, 2020 at 9:57
  • 1
    In theory, he could take the train to Zürich. Ferry + train through Italy. Trains are probably pretty empty. Normally I would recommend it, but today there may be some issues with an Italy route. Train through the Balkan also exists. Realistic? Only if trains are running.
    – gerrit
    Mar 6, 2020 at 9:59
  • 2
    Realistically there’s nothing he can do except wait it out. If the flight is cancelled, compensation rules kick in. If he booked both legs on one ticket (one PNR) the airline is obligated to get him to his final destination.
    – Traveller
    Mar 6, 2020 at 9:59
  • 2
    I assume ZRH and not ZUR (which I cannot find), right? Mar 6, 2020 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


He shouldn't get stressed too much. Lufthansa/Swiss are rearranging their schedule a bit, due to decreased demand. And yes, this will mean that some flights are cancelled. That does not mean that all flights are cancelled or that they won't take him at all.

He has a ticket with Swiss, and they have to transport him to his destination, even if on a different flight. He does not have to worry about being "left behind" if he doesn't make his first flight.

Is the flight cancelled?

Currently, he does not know. He can (and should) check the flight status online (Swiss timetable and Lufthansa Flight Status).

As long as the flight isn't officially cancelled, it makes little sense to call or go to the airport - they can't tell you much. Also, it makes little sense to re-book if you don't know which flights are going to operate.

What happens if it is cancelled?

If the flight is cancelled, the airline will offer to re-book him on a different one: There are multiple flights from Athens to Zurich, but they could rebook him completely (e.g. going through Frankfurt on Lufthansa). If isn't happy with the new itinerary, they will usually offer other options. He could also get a refund, but it seems like he wants to travel.

If he booked it through a third party (e.g. Expedia), he'll have to go through them for any re-booking.

If the flight isn't cancelled, he should be at the airport early so that he can directly talk to the agents in case of a last-minute cancellation.

Other things

On their information page Swiss currently informs passengers that they can freely re-book all tickets bought before March 5th. (However, it seems like your BF wants to travel).

In case of a delay or cancellation your BF may also have a right to compensation under the EU rules - at least in this case, when the outbreak directly the reason for the cancellation.

  • Pfffh, this is why I don't fly with swiss or air france anymore, and I am swiss. ;)
    – Quandary
    Mar 9, 2020 at 9:37
  • @quandary a bit of a dramatic comment if you ask me. Lufthansa was the monolith here. With the help of Aegean Airlines everything was resolved eventually, and he will fly tomorrow. Moreover, he just told me that he had booked through "an agent" (I guess airtickets or similar), and nevertheless, Swiss resolved the issue after talking with him directly! Although he'd have talked with the agency site instead!
    – gsamaras
    Mar 9, 2020 at 19:12
  • @gsamaras: Well, that is of little use if you miss a connecting flight by another company. I expect flights to actually fly, fly to the indicated target destination, on time, as scheduled, and that there are no technical issues delaying the start, and no strikes. That is, if there's no black plague looming at the target destination. SARS-Covid-19 hardly is anything more than the common flu, which makes flight cancellations ridiculous, and so are all the so-called quaratine measures, which are worse than doing nothing.
    – Quandary
    Mar 10, 2020 at 6:33
  • @Quandary: Swiss Airlines is actually one of the few airlines that break a leg trying to get their passengers to their destination on time on multi-hop routes. Especially if you're booked in C/D or A/F. I fly over 200 legs with LX per year and I have probably missed about two or three legs per year on average over the past 20+ years. Not sure where your experience stems from, but certainly not from frequently flying Swiss or Lufthansa. I easily lose five to ten Delta/United/AA flights per year.
    – ikaerom
    Aug 10, 2020 at 22:03

If it is the same ticket, and one flight is cancelled, you have the right to cancel all flights and get full refund. Switzerland is fully considered like an EU country in the EU passenger right directive.

The problem: the flight is not yet cancelled (just "probably"), so it makes harder to change and get refund, until there is a true cancellation. So you should probably wait. When the cancellation is official, more staff can change/refund the flight (and possibly you can do it online).

For email: my experience: they are slow to answer, but on weekend you may get more answers: there is always staff, and on weekend they are less busy, but phone is often the best way (but don't be surprised if staff lacks in geography and so they may propose you unrealistic changes), and unfortunately often one should try several time.

Just look online for alternative, and prepare all options on the table: if they offer you a choice, you want to take it immediately, and not wait to decide and call them back. So be prepared.

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