Let me see if I can answer some of your questions:
portion obviously is going to be operated by American. American operates out of Terminals B-D at Miami, so you will want to check the gate when you arrive at Miami and make your way to Terminal A.
When you get to Terminal A, you will check in with Swiss, then proceed through security to one of the gates at Terminal A. Please note that Terminal A is quite large, so do not be surprised if you have quite a walk. However, I do believe that moving sidewalks have been installed in Terminal A, so that should shorten the time it takes to get to your gate.
As far as the loads on those particular flights, I would consult Swiss on those points; as they would be able to give you the most accurate picture of the situation. Even then they will not tell you exactly the situation. The airline does not give out that information.
However, there are a couple of tricks: If you find a travel agent with a GDS display, have them look in the direct link to LXs computer system for the display for those flights on those dates. If any of the classes immediately next to Y class are sold out, then you can assume the flight is overbooked. If there is one class of service to the right of Y class, then same thing. In fact, in the summer, you will find that close to departure, there will be zero seats in inventory unless the flight is empty or has more than 20-30 seats left to sell in Economy...which may be the case eastbound this year. Westbound, forget it. The flights will be full all summer, and I mean overbooked to the moon.
So, check in early, if American can give you a seat assignment on Swiss, so much the better. If not, then immediately upon arrival in Miami, go to Swiss and get your seat assignment. At this stage, you will likely end up in a middle seat if you do not have an advance seat assignment. That's the bad news. The good news is that you are flying on an A330-200, so you are never more than one seat away from the aisle.
Miami to Zurich is about 8:30 more or less, so you should arrive mid morning in Zurich. The connecting flight to NUE
is on a ERJ145 (regional jet), so you more likely than not will arrive and depart from Terminal A. However, I will warn you now: Swiss operates from Terminal A and Terminal E (midfield terminal). Depending upon the traffic flow, you could end up at either one of those terminals. However, do not be concerned about the transfer at Zurich.
a) Swiss efficiency and b) everyone speaks English You should have no problems making the connecting flight.
Once you arrive in NUE
, please make sure that you give them your local contact information, so if there is any irregular operation, they can contact you and advise of that information in advance of the flight. You are much better served if you are made aware of a situation in advance of arriving at the airport and you have yourself completely rebooked than having to deal with it at the airport.
On the return, you will do the exact reverse.
You will transit Zurich the same way you came through on the outbound journey. You should receive your connecting boarding pass in Miami for your flight to NUE
. Conversely, you should receive your connecting boarding pass for your flight to Miami when you check in at NUE
. Once you are on board the flight to Miami, it is 9:30 to Miami. IMPORTANT: Make certain you have your customs declaration complete and accurate and signed when you arrive at customs. If you screw this up, you will be in customs for awhile. Miami is the toughest customs entry point because of the proclivity of the agents to sniff out drugs of ANY kind...so if you have prescription medication, please declare it before you arrive and don't make them go through your bag.
Clearing immigration and customs if you have a bag should only take around 30 minutes if you have nothing to declare. Just complete the customs form, give it to them on the way out. When your bag is checked at NUE
, they should check your bag all the way to ATL
, via ZRH
. When you get to MIA
, you will claim it, go through customs and once you are out of the customs area, you will put it back on the bag belt and it will be distributed to the correct ongoing flight. You are then free to go up to your connecting American flight to ATL
, you will have to check the terminal when you arrive in Miami and go through security one last time, but that is the reality of MIA
As far as Swiss service is concerned, they are very good. They place very high in the airline service award categories for their food and service, as well as their efficiency in getting things done. I would check airlinequality.com and seatguru.com if you have questions about swiss.
Have a great trip, write a trip report in the appropriate forum and do let us know how it went.
All the best,
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998