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I'm arriving from NY to Geneva in June, then immediate train to Zurich. Would there be enough time to get a noon train to Zurich after customs, baggage claim, etc and are there porters at the airport to help with luggage?

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  • Do you have a Swiss/EEA passport? Will you be waiting for a checked bag? These might make a difference to how quickly you get out of the airport?
    – Joe Malt
    Apr 15, 2023 at 18:53
  • This site shows that up to 20% of flights are delayed by 15 minutes or more. Even if it's possible to make the train in normal circumstances, it might be unwise to rely on it. Although those figures are for dosmetic US flights, international flights are often delayed too. Apr 15, 2023 at 19:11
  • Although airlines have introduced "padding" into their schedules, this BBC article states: “On average, over 30% of all flights arrive more than 15 minutes late every day despite padding,” says Captain Michael Baiada, president of aviation consultancy ATH Group citing the US Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report. The figure used to be 40% but padding – not operational improvements – boosted on-time arrival rates. “By padding, airlines are gaming the system to fool you.” Apr 15, 2023 at 19:20
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    Different airport but one where I would normally walk out into the train station in 20 minutes I had a wait time at passport control for over an hour, due to a system not working properly. This can happen to you as well.
    – Willeke
    Apr 15, 2023 at 21:11
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    Almost certainly, yes, but as jcaron's answer shows, not definitely. But since the there is a train every half an hour, it's not clear why it matters which train you take -- why not just take whichever one you happen to make? Or indeed why not just fly to Zurich, which is the hub airport and should be less expensive to fly to?
    – phoog
    Apr 15, 2023 at 21:33

1 Answer 1

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Can you make it? Certainly, the train station is right next to the terminal. Turn left after customs (you’re still inside the terminal), reach the end of the terminal (less than 150 meters), turn right, oh! You are in the train station. Even if you have to take a lift down to the platform it should not take more than 5 minutes once you have exited customs (if you already have your ticket and don’t have to queue).

If all goes well, you should be able to make it in time, probably without much margin to spare, though.

Will you make it? Hard to say. Flight delay, long time exiting the aircraft, queue at passport control, delay in luggage delivery… There are a hundred reasons why you could miss your train.

DL100 is routinely up to one hour early, but it can be well delayed as well. Like all transatlantic flights, it is very subject to the variations of the Jet-stream, which is often extremely favourable in this direction, but has the occasional unpredictable day off (or more likely, an unfortunate routing on that day). Also departures from JFK can sometimes be challenging.

Odds are better if you fly in a premium cabin (getting out of the aircraft quicker), have an EU/EEA passport, have status for priority delivery of your luggage (or no checked luggage at all)… Odds are worse if you are at the very back of economy, carry an “exotic” passport, have lots of luggage, have difficulty walking… but even at the two ends of the spectrum, whether your flight will be on time or not is hard to predict and is probably the biggest factor.

If your train ticket is flexible, sure, plan for that one, but be ready to have to ride on the next one (or even later) if anything goes wrong. Most trains in Switzerland run at hourly intervals (sometimes half-hourly), so for most destinations this isn’t a problem, unless you have a connection further away to one of the few less frequent trains (e.g. Glacier Express).

To Zurich there are two trains per hour, one at :05, the other at :32. Note that the train at :05 runs on the ligne du pied du Jura and uses tilting trains to make up for the longer routing and lack of relatively straight stretches. If you are subject to motion sickness, get your medication ready (though it should be easier in day time, but don’t expect to be able to read anything), or prefer the other train.

If your ticket isn’t flexible, then you must be prepared to buy a new ticket if you miss your original train. That will add a bit more time to buy the ticket, and of course additional costs.

On a final note, if you need to get to Zurich, why not fly there directly?

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