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Flight Cancellations and Delays from Switzerland: What To Do

Flight Cancellations and Delays from Switzerland: What To Do

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
Last Updated: May 09, 2024

As a whole, Switzerland had an average of 1,229 daily flights in 2023. This is up 9% from the previous year. The country’s main airline, SWISS Air, had 409 daily flights on average in 2023, which is up a significant 21% from 2022.

The good news is that there are now lots of flights going to and from Switzerland, but the bad news is that these traffic increases provide more chances of having Switzerland flights cancelled or delayed.

If you’ve experienced a flight interruption from Switzerland, you’re in the right place. We’ll go through the ins and outs of Switzerland flight delay compensation and cancellation.

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We’ve gathered extensive knowledge on the subject since we started helping passengers like you with claims in 2017. Over 250,000 in all. So, if you need more information or need to make a hassle-free claim, read on.

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Switzerland flight compensation key takeaways:

  • Switzerland flight delay compensation is covered by EU regulation 261.
  • Flight delays must meet the minimum 3-hour requirement.
  • Cancellations made without at least 2 weeks’ notice are also compensation-eligible.
  • Compensation can be as high as €600 (CHF580) and as low as €125 (CHF120).
  • A notable compensation exception is called extraordinary circumstances.
  • You can claim for flight disruptions for up to 2 years from the incident.
  • When you need a reliable and knowledgeable partner, look no further than AirAdvisor for your next flight delay compensation Switzerland claim.

EU Compensation Rules for a Non-EU Country

Like Iceland and Norway, even though Switzerland is not technically in the EU, an EU-based regulation, called EC261 actually includes these 3 countries. Here’s what you should know: 

  1. Flight delays are measured from the actual destination arrival time. The difference between this arrival time and your originally scheduled time must be a minimum of 3 hours.
  2. Longer routes have the potential for higher compensation. For example, a short flight that’s less than 1,500km maxes out at €250 (CHF240), whereas a flight over 3,500km can earn passengers up to €600 (CHF580).
  3. Only flights that leave a Swiss or EU airport are covered by this regulation. If your route only arrives in Switzerland or the EU, you must fly with either an EU or Swiss carrier to qualify. If your flight doesn’t touch the EU or Switzerland at all, EU261 does not apply.

Flight departures at Zurich Airport

Flight Delay Compensation Switzerland: Amounts

The flight delay compensation guidelines in the EU stipulate that flights that arrive at least 3 hours late that have a Swiss or EU departure airport (or arrival airport if flying a Swiss or EU airline), qualify for payouts. But how much? Here are the details on compensation amounts by flight distance:



Delay Time at Final Destination

Flight Distance

Flights under 1500km

Internal EU flights over 1500km

Flights from 1500km to 3500km outside the EU

Flights over 3500km

Less than 3 hours

 €0

3 hours or more

 €250

 €400

 €400

 €600*

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* AirAdvisor’s goal is to consistently get the maximum airline compensation possible. Passengers should note that for flights over 3,500km with shorter delays, airlines may attempt to reduce this payout by 50%.

Switzerland Delays - Is Your Flight Covered?

We’ve learned about the rules for flight delay compensation in Switzerland, but you might still be unsure as to whether or not your trip is eligible. Check out this table that illustrates common flight routes, delay times, distances, and airlines. We use this info to calculate the compensation amount and also provide a brief explanation.

Departure Airport

Arrival Airport

Delay at Destination

Flight Distance

Airline

Compensation 

Explanation

London Heathrow

Zurich Airport

3 hours

790km

KLM

 €250

3-hour delay minimum met; EU airline arriving in Switzerland.

Zurich Airport

New York JFK

5 hours

6,300km 

Delta

 €600

3-hour delay minimum met; departs from a Swiss airport.

Madrid Barajas

Geneva Airport

3.5 hours

1,010km 

Iberia

 €250

3-hour delay minimum met; entirely within the EU and Switzerland.

Tokyo Haneda Airport

Zurich Airport

5 hours

9,500km

ANA

 €0

ANA is not EU or Swiss-based; the flight left from outside the EU and Switzerland.

Zurich Airport

Lisbon Airport

5 hours

1,725km 

easyJet

 €400

3-hour delay minimum met; non-EU airline departing from Switzerland.

Geneva Airport

Tenerife South

2.5 hours

2,835km

easyJet

 €0

Delay minimum not met

There is also a special note about any flights that depart from the UK. There is a similar regulation, called UK261 that mandates compensation. In the chart above, flights departing or arriving at London airports or on UK-based carriers like easyJet may fall under this regulation.

And if you’re ever unsure if your flight is eligible, we have a handy (and free) flight compensation checker that you can use to know once and for all.

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Flights Cancelled: Switzerland Rules

Switzerland cancelled flights are also covered by regulation EU 261. In the event of any cancellation, regardless of the notice period, passengers should receive either an acceptable replacement flight or a full refund

Airlines are also responsible for keeping passengers comfortable while waiting for their replacement flight. Aside from phone calls to re-arrange plans, passengers can expect meals and drinks, known as the right to care if the waiting period is long enough. Waiting overnight? Accommodations and airport transfers should also be paid by the airline. Here’s a summary of when you qualify:

Flight Distance

Flights less than 1,500km

Flights from 1,500km to 3,500km

Flights over 3,500km

Airport Wait Time

2 hours or more

3 hours or more

4 hours or more

Now, for cancelled flight compensation, EU261 dictates that airlines are required to pay anywhere from €125 (CHF120) to €600 (CHF580) if you receive notice of the cancellation fewer than 14 days before it’s scheduled to depart. Where your compensation falls will depend on route distance, EU/Switzerland vs non-EU/Switzerland, and how different the new arrival time is from the initial flight.

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EU261 Exception: Extraordinary Circumstances

Although we’ve already outlined a few conditions for flight delay compensation in Switzerland, one of the major exceptions is called extraordinary circumstances. In short, if the flight interruption is attributed to something outside the carrier’s control, they are not required to pay.

List of Extraordinary Circumstances

  • Political or civil unrest.
  • Security risks, terrorism, sabotage.
  • Aircraft manufacturer defects.
  • Extreme weather where flying is deemed unsafe.
  • Strikes or limitations from airport support services like baggage handlers or air traffic control.

Here are a few interruption causes that are not generally deemed to be extraordinary circumstances, and therefore, are eligible for compensation:

  • Airline strikes.
  • Not enough available airline staff to cover the flight.
  • Aircraft maintenance problems.

SWISS Air flight delayed in Switzerland

 

SWISS Air Flight Interruptions

SWISS Air is the country’s flag carrier and we know they are busy with an average of 409 daily flights in 2023, according to Eurocontrol. But how common are SWISS Air flight delays? 

SWISS Group Punctuality

Year

2023

2022

2019

On-Time Departures

75%

79%

79%

On-Time Arrivals

67%

74%

78%

Network Average Punctuality

Year

2023

2022

2019

Network Average On-Time Departures

78%

77%

82%

Network Average On-Time Arrivals

71%

71%

78%

In 2023, SWISS Group’s on-time arrival was below the network average and nearly 30% of the airline’s flights did not arrive on time. Departures we’re also on time less than the average.

So, if you’re one of the passengers affected by a delay that was 3 hours or more, head to SWISS Air to make a complaint or file a claim with our airline compensation experts.

Zurich Airport Flight Disruptions

Zurich Airport flight delays are even more common than those with SWISS Air. The airport has been consistently below average for punctuality in the 3 years we reviewed. Check this out:

Zurich Airport Punctuality

Year

Airport On-Time Percentage

Network Average

2023

55%

65%

2022

64%

66%

2019

66%

73%

In this case, nearly half of all Zurich Airport passengers didn’t depart on time in 2023. Hopefully, there will be significant improvements in 2024!

Flight Delay Compensation Switzerland - The Claim Steps

Our customers recommend our claim resolution services 92% of the time, and with a 98% success rate, AirAdvisor is the ideal flight delay compensation partner. Here’s how to file a claim with us in just a few simple steps:

  1. Go to www.airadvisor.com.
  2. Add in a few situation-specific details and any supporting documents you have.
  3. Let us review the submission and contact you with any questions.
  4. We’ll submit the claim directly to the airline.
  5. You’ll receive a notification once the claim is resolved.

For the use of AirAdvisor’s expertise, we charge a small percentage on successful airline payouts. It’s less than the industry standard and we only get paid if you do. No compensation for you = no payment for us.

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We work on a No-Win, No-Fee basis

AirAdvisor is happy to help with your claim, so you can avoid the stress of dealing with airlines and complicated laws.

Switzerland Flight Compensation Time Limit 

In Switzerland, passengers have a maximum of 2 years in which to file a flight delay or cancellation compensation claim. Just don’t wait too long or forget about it altogether. Two years can go by in a flash!

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FAQs

How long do flights have to be delayed in Switzerland to get compensation?

The minimum delay period, calculated from your actual arrival time at your destination compared to the originally scheduled arrival time, is 3 hours. Anything less and airlines are not required to issue compensation in Switzerland (or the EU).

What Switzerland flights are eligible for flight compensation?

Covered flights are ones that depart from Switzerland or the EU, provided the other conditions are met (minimum 3-hour delay, delay caused by a third party) regardless of the airline. If a flight merely arrives in the EU or Switzerland, to qualify, passengers must be flying with a Swiss-based or EU-based carrier.

What is the highest compensation amount I can get for flight delays in Switzerland?

Depending on your flight’s distance, you can qualify in 3 tiers: €250 (CHF220), €400 (CHF390), or €600 (CHF580). The respective flight distances are under 1,500km, between 1,500km and 3,500km, and over 3,500km. Just make sure your flight was delayed by 3 hours minimum and your route and airline are eligible.

What are extraordinary circumstances? How do they affect flight delay compensation in Switzerland?

Extraordinary circumstances are delay causes that are attributed to a third party and not the airline itself. This can be anything from security threats to air traffic control strikes to bad weather. Basically, if it’s outside the airline’s control, they don’t have to issue any compensation. 

What’s the time limit in Switzerland for flight interruption claims?

Passengers have up to 2 years to file their claim from the date of the interruption. Be warned, though, that if you leave it too long, you risk forgetting about the claim or losing important documents that will be required to validate it.

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