Family Friendly: Zurich Airport

On our return trip from India, we had an 8 hour layover in Zurich.  On our inbound flight we discovered the treasure trove of duty free shops and resturants that exist at Zurich.  We knew that we would have plenty to do to entertain ourselves (at least the adults)

We landed in the E terminal (an international terminal), and from our exploration on the inbound flight, there didn’t appear to be a lot of entertainment in this terminal.  We headed out and ended up going through security and into the international portion of Terminal A.  There weren’t any stores or resturants in that terminal, but there was a nice little playground.  After 8 hours on a flight, the kids were more than excited to spend some time running around and streching thier legs.

IMG_1113While the kids streched their legs, I found an internet spot near-by.  The whole airport has free WiFi if you have a cell phone that recieves text messages to get the code needed.  Unfortunately, I could not get text messages on my phone in Zurich. There were computers and it was possible to purchase access to the internet for 30 minutes.  While the kids played, I got online and took care of a few emails.

Once we got hungry, we knew we neeed to go to the domestic half of Terminal A, where all the good shops and restaurants were.  However, that required us to go through passport control.  Immigration was amused that we were going through for only a few hours.  But once we were through, we knew we made the right decision.  We spent the next hour or so walking thorugh all the shops.  The kids and my favoritie was Sprungli, where we picked up chocolate for gifts to people at home (and ourselves of course).

Afterward we found a cafe right near the windows, with a kids table.  While the kids sat drawing, playing with blocks, and watching planes, we ordered some coffee, tea and croissants for breakfast.  Afterward, as we walked around shopping, my husband noticed a sign that said family services.  He said, I’ll take the kids there, while you shop.  After I was done, I headed over to the sign.

IMG_1114-0Behind the door was the biggest surprise of the airport.  The baby care area is unlike an baby care area we’ve ever seen.  There were a room in there with changing tables and sinks.  And microwaves and bottle warmers for the food.  And a quiet room to nurse with a playpen to lay a bably to sleep.  That was just the baby area.  There was also a huge array of toys to play with.  Baby dolls, play strollers, riding toys, trains, blocks, puzzles, books in 3 language, and best of all a foosball table.  If we thought the kids were done with the playground we were sorely mistaken.  The kids spent 90 minutes in here just enjoying the kids wonderland.  I was able to sit and relax while the kids entertain themselves.  We even found plug points and were able to charge our elecronics for the next leg of the trip while the kids played.

IMG_1112The area also had a rest room just for families, so I was able to take the kids to a clean rest room with stools for them to reach the sinks.  we were able to park our stroller and luggage in a safe stroller parking area while the kids played.  From the room, you could look out and see all the planes coming and going.  When the time came for us to leave, the attendant manning the front desk gave the kids color books and crayons for the next flight.  We thanked her, and headed to find passport control.

Passport control was mercifully fast and efficient,  allowing us to quickly got through and get to our gate in plenty of time to pre board with the families.

After leaving I found out there was a playground and family services area in the E terminal as well, so one never needs to go through passport control to use these facilities.   Even knowing that now, I still think we would have left so I could shop and have better variety in food.  But it is good to know that’s an option for someone with a shorter layover or traveling on a passport that doesn’t have as easy access.

Even after we came home, the kids were fondly remembering the fun.  I think if we flew Swiss Air again, they would be more than happy.

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