Swiss Air flyers will soon be able to connect to Interlaken and Lucerne on a single ticket. The airline will expand its “Air Rail” partnership with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to the two famed destinations in Switzerland from December 11.

The expansion comes as airlines as increasingly relying on rail partners for local, or regional, connections on the ground. This is especially popular in Europe where many major airports have intercity rail stations, including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris Charles de Gaulle. And, in July, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn unveiled plans to join the airline confab, Star Alliance, as its first intermodal partner.

But for all the fanfare given these partnerships, many hurdles remain. A lack of signage at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport adds an unnecessary layer of difficulty to flight-train transfers. Elsewhere, airline executives speak of issues integrating reservations systems and other technology challenges. And then there is the simple challenge of physical infrastructure: Trains can only go where tracks exist.

The Swiss and SBB Air Rail map from December. (Swiss International Air Lines)

The expanded Swiss and SBB partnership includes a new direct train — no transfer required — between Interlaken and the Zurich Airport. The airline touts “seamless” connectivity under the pact, including the ability of travelers to check in once — for example, on the Swiss app — and receive boarding passes for both the air and rail portion of their trips. Travelers can also earn points in Swiss’ loyalty program for the rail portion of their trips.

The addition of Interlaken and Lucerne comes just months after the airline and rail operator expanded their partnership to Munich in July.


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Tags: airlines, swiss air, switzerland