|Travellers with disabilities|
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There’s a good selection of airlines that can get you to Switzerland from Australia and New Zealand, but there are no direct flights. Given the high cost of flights in general from Australasia, however, a “Round the World” fare is a good option. Destinations in southern Switzerland are also served by flights to Milan, from where you can continue your journey by land. Various rail and bus passes can be bought before you leave should you wish to extend your trip into Europe.
Fares vary significantly with the season: low season runs from mid-January to the end of February and during October and November; high season runs from mid-May to the end of August and from December to mid-January; the rest of the year is counted as “shoulder season”.
Tickets purchased direct from the airlines tend to be expensive – travel agents offer better deals and have the latest information on special deals, such as free stopovers en route and fly-drive-accommodation packages. Flight Centres and STA generally offer the best discounts, especially for students and those under 26.
Most airlines have a set fare (“common rated”) from major eastern Australian cities, while from Perth and Darwin you’ll pay between A$100 and A$200 less via Asia, or A$200–400 more via Canada and the US. Fares from Christchurch and Wellington are around NZ$150–300 more than those from Auckland.
For a scheduled flight from the Australian east coast or Auckland, count on paying A$1500–2260/NZ$1900–2800 on Alitalia or KLM; A$1900–2500/NZ$2280–3000 on Thai Airways, Lauda Air, Lufthansa or Swissair; A$2400–2850/NZ$2700–3400 on British Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, depending on the season. See the box above for a full rundown of airlines and routes.
If you want to fly to another European gateway and then travel overland to Switzerland, you’ll find lowest fares are with Britannia Airways to London during their limited charter season (Nov–March), when you can expect to pay A$1000–1600/NZ$1200–1900.
For extended trips, a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket, valid for up to a year, can be good value. Tickets that take in Switzerland include the One World Alliance “Global Explorer” (Qantas, British Airways, American, Canadian, Cathay, Finnair, Iberia) which starts at A$2400– 2900/NZ$2900–3400, and the Star Alliance’s RTW option (Ansett, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, SAS, Thai, United Airlines) which starts at A$2800/NZ$3350. These are mileage-based tickets (backtracking permitted) and can be booked through any of the partner airlines, so you should use whichever is the most convenient.
If you’re interested in activities like skiing or hiking, and prefer to have all the arrangements made for you before you leave, then seeking the help of a specialist agent is a good way to plan your trip. Unfortunately, there are few pre-packaged tours that include airfares from Australasia, but most specialist agents will be able to assist with flight arrangements as well. In turn, many of the tours we’ve listed can also be arranged through your local travel agent.
Switzerland is one of the most enlightened European countries with regard to travellers with disabilities. There’s a wealth of information available in advance to help in planning your trip, and once you arrive you’ll find most tourist facilities have been designed with everybody, not just the able-bodied, in mind.
There are many organized tours and holidays specifically put together for people with disabilities – the contacts in the box will be able to put you touch with any specialists for trips to Switzerland. Switzerland Tourism publishes a very useful hotel guide specifically for visitors with disabilities, listing and assessing hotels around the country according to their access for people with limited mobility or in wheelchairs. Mobility International Switzerland have their own list, and also publish city guides for 26 localities around the country written with people with disabilities in mind (Fr.5 each). Swiss Federal Railways publish a brochure covering train-travel around the country: all fast trains, many regional trains and the Zürich double-decker S-Bahn trains have spaces within second-class carriages to park wheelchairs, identified by a wheelchair pictogram. Once alerted that you’ll be turning up at a specific time, station staff will give you a hand getting on and off if you need it. Contact Swiss Federal Railways in London for more information before you leave. The Swiss Invalid Association also sells a map and brochure in four languages covering travel in Switzerland for people with disabilities.
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