We're flying from Montreal (YUL) to Rome (FCO) via Zurich (ZRH), both on Swiss Airlines.

We have 1 hour transit time.

From what I can see, we'll have to change terminal (terminal 2 to terminal 1)

Obviously we'll tell the staff when checking our bags (cannot do only carryon) and tag the luggage as "priority" and tell the staff on the plane before landing to see if we can deboard before other passengers.

Are we screwed ?

Addendum : first flight is delayed 40 minutes... it's going to be a long day...

Final: first flight delayed too long to make original connection, we were rebooked on ITA a couple hours later. Thanks to Zurich airport staff.

  • 2
    There's always a chance of missing a connection, particularly if the first flight is delayed. Whether you're screwed is another matter. Swiss would not have sold you the ticket if they didn't think you could make the connection with everything being on time. How much delay constitutes "screwed"? Swiss has four flights a day from Zurich to Rome. You probably won't have to stay overnight in Zurich even if you don't make the connection.
    – phoog
    May 10, 2023 at 0:05
  • Another bit of info (not enough for a separate answer): Both times I did this, the queue at border control was crazy long and felt way worse than many other airports in the EU but it did move quickly and we made our (short) connection.
    – Relaxed
    May 10, 2023 at 6:45
  • 1
    They announced a delayed departure because the incoming flight (LX86) is running late. But they have a bit of buffer, they could end up turning it around a lot faster and still depart earlier than announced. Also there’s a lot of buffer on arrival so you may end up arriving exactly on time.
    – jcaron
    May 14, 2023 at 13:28
  • Also remember that the estimated delay on departure does not change the check-in/bag drop deadline, which remains based on the scheduled departure.
    – jcaron
    May 14, 2023 at 13:59
  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/q/104959/4171 May 15, 2023 at 16:38

3 Answers 3


Provided both flights are on the same ticket, the airline thinks you can do it. If you don’t, they may be liable for compensation (a pretty large amount compared to the likely cost of the ticket), so they have a strong incentive to make sure you do.

Airports and airlines define a “minimum connection time” (MCT) for various types of connections (e.g. domestic-to-domestic, international-to-domestic, etc.), and airlines won’t sell a connection below that MCT.

While tight, the connection is quite doable. If Swiss think it may become difficult, they will probably send someone to your gate to escort you to your flight and possibly jump a few queues.

They are also likely to hold the onward flight for a short while if needed. Traditional carriers like Swiss make a lot of their business on connecting flights like this one, it should be a pretty well oiled machine.

The two most time-consuming parts of the connection should be going through passport control and through security (in both cases dedicated to transfer passengers). The rest is just moving around, either short distances, or using the automated people mover. You won’t need to retrieve your bags or check them back in.

If you end up missing your connecting flight, Swiss have to rebook you on the next available flight, which will be later the same day.

Also remember that depending on the reason for the delay (and the actual delay), you may be owed compensation.

Of course if you did not book the itinerary as a single ticket but as two independent flights, then the situation is completely different and the connection is just impossible.

  • 1
    In this case however the passenger will not need to go through security. Arrivals from the US and Canada are considered "clean" and the passenger can thus proceed directly to their gate after passport control. May 12, 2023 at 6:12
  • @KristvanBesien I wondered about that but I’m not familiar enough with ZRH (especially in transit), but I wonder… how do they segregate “clean” and “non-clean” arrivals? Are there two separate passport controls?
    – jcaron
    May 14, 2023 at 14:10
  • for example the little train between E and the rest has two separate sections, and the passport control that you get brought to has as well. May 23, 2023 at 4:07

I don’t see an issue with this connection if it is a legal connection. I’ve done shorter in ZRH (BRU-IAD) although there was no customs. It is stressful because the only viable way between the two terminals is with this underground train, so when you just miss one waiting for the next seems like eternity.

The checked luggage can be loaded very late, after boarding has ended. If you make it to your flights, the odds are your luggage also made it (unless this is YYZ).

Of course you can always ask a flight attendant (if your arrival is delayed) if you can deplane first but Swiss is usually ontime and if not they will re-accommodate you on the next flight.

  • 2
    But the train is entertaining!
    – phoog
    May 10, 2023 at 0:06
  • 1
    @phoog this is truly a matter of perspective. If you are constantly looking at your watch, the tunnel isn’t so groovy. May 10, 2023 at 0:07
  • 2
    What's the point of looking at your watch in the tunnel? If I'm in a hurry, I look when the train arrives at the destination so I know how fast I need to run. Before that, nothing I can do will make a difference.
    – phoog
    May 10, 2023 at 0:11
  • 2
    I would also add that OP is doing the long leg Montreal-Zurich first. So even if things do go wrong, connections Zurich to Rome are probably fairly frequent and the delay is only a few hours instead of an entire day.
    – quarague
    May 10, 2023 at 8:11

You do not have to change terminals. There is only one terminal in ZRH.

You will have to get from the E dock to the A or B dock, wich will involve a short train ride. Then you will have to go through passport control. Your luggage will be transferred for you, you will not see it till Rome. In Rome you then just walk of the plan and to luggage retrieval, there will not be an additional passport check.

1 hour is perfectly fine to do this, so do not worry.

(Note about the two "terminals" some people think exist: There is only one terminal. There are four docks: A and B for Schengen flights, and D and E for non Schenge flights. There is however only one terminal)

  • 3
    It rather depends on what you mean by a "terminal" (and it's really not worth getting hung up on the terminology). flughafen-zuerich.ch/en/passengers/practical/guidance/… shows the layout - and google.com/maps/place/Zurich+Airport/… shows the actual buildings. There are definitely two buildings. May 10, 2023 at 9:29
  • Yes, but the "terminal 1" and "terminal 2" dates back to when SwissAir indeed had their own terminal. What since has happened is that they have been both joined. Security is now in the middle of those two buildings, and on the airside there is one large concourse. Has nothing to do with the new E dock. May 10, 2023 at 10:00
  • 2
    I agree that focusing on terminology is not helpful. I've been to airports where in order to transit between two gates in the same "terminal" you have to leave airside and re-enter security. In others, there's gates in different terminals which are a shorter distance to each other (and no more hassle to get to) than to the furthest gate in the same terminal.
    – R.M.
    May 10, 2023 at 13:32
  • 1
    Given that OP "can see" two different terminals on his booking (or ticket?), IMO "the terminals have been joined" is a much better note on the current situation than "there is only one terminal". With the latter, an inexperienced traveller might think there is something wrong with his ticket.
    – Sabine
    May 10, 2023 at 18:20
  • What tickets to ZRH often mention if you will exit through Arrivals 1 or Arrivals 2 for this particular flight. That is relevant if you are being collected, but not when transferring. May 12, 2023 at 6:14

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