Travelling amid a pandemic from Dubrovnik to Zurich


Written by Jacob Wootten

In July I spent eight days in Croatia with friends from across Europe. I wrote an earlier trip report on my experience from the US to Croatia. This report will cover the flight from Croatia to Zürich.

After spending a wonderful time in Croatia, it was time to head home. As an American without European residency I had a complex routing (DBV – ZRH – IST – AMS – EWR) to ensure that I was able to transit successfully and that my bags would be checked through to my final destination.

First Leg
Croatia Airlines OU4466
Dubrovnik (DBV) – Zürich (ZRH)
Sunday 12 July 2020
Class: Business
Aircraft: Dash 8 Q400 (Reg 9A-CQA)

Arriving and checking in at Dubrovnik Airport was a breeze. We returned our rental car and made the short walk to the terminal. There were signs on the doors that only passengers should enter the terminal and that everyone must wear a mask, upon entering compliance seemed to be at nearly 100%.

I had checked in online prior to arriving, which was simple, but odd. I’ve never seen the airline turn control of the ticket over to the airport, or rather the airport service provider. This meant I had to check in through Niko.

The airport was quiet, very quiet - almost in eery quiet to be honest. There was no one in the check in queue, so I simply walked up to the agent and she verified my documents and printed proper boarding passes for me. Because I was travelling on two separate tickets, I had to ask that my bags be checked through to Newark (EWR) so that I didn’t need to collect them in Amsterdam. They happily obliged and printed my bag tags for me.

After dropping off my bags, I headed up to security. At this time the escalators were out of service, so just a few flights of stairs to the next level for security. There was no one in the queue for security and I made it through in less than two minutes with a very friendly staff. Next after security, a quick passport check and stamp and then to the boarding lounge.

With most of the shops, cafes, and the airline lounges closed, I grabbed a quick snack at the café after security. The staff was very quick to wash and disinfect the table after each guest left.

A quick moment of disappointment as my eyes caught glimpse of the American Airlines boarding sign a few levels higher, left over from the (now cancelled) direct flight to Philadelphia (PHL) in the US. After all the coronavirus madness ends, I do hope that the North American airlines bring back their direct service to Croatia.

Before boarding, the gate agents made the announcements that are so customary today; masks are required throughout the trip, customers must maintain distance, etc. I didn’t get the exact passenger count, but the flight was maybe 25% full and only one passenger in Business Class (me).

The bus ride was quite short, and we were then able to board. I do enjoy boarding via airstairs and when the bus ride isn’t too long like it is in large hubs like Frankfurt or Munich. Upon boarding the cabin crew gave each passenger a small bottle of water and an antiseptic wipe.

Business Class was blocked to just the first two rows of the aircraft rather than the typical three, even though Economy wasn’t even half full. I’m impressed that Croatia offers a Business Class product on a turboprop aircraft, but there wasn’t any service inflight. I’m not certain if this was due to measures surrounding Covid-19, so maybe a more frequent flier can share their experience.

One of the things I enjoy about turboprops is the lower flying altitude, it seems to give you better views of the land and flying from Croatia to Switzerland made for some great views. The terrain is simply beautiful!

Switzerland requires all passengers to complete a health form prior to arrival for contact tracing should someone later test positive with coronavirus. The form was two-sided, one side in English and the other in German.

The landing in Zürich was uneventful and with a short taxi we were at our remote stand. After a short bus ride to the terminal we arrived at the non-Schengen D Gates. Due to the current situation, there is limited service at the airport including the closure of the SWISS Lounge in the D Gates, this made for a very long and boring layover (over five hours). Luckily the Wi-Fi is quite fast and there were shops open in the lower level.

Overall, the flight was comfortable and uneventful. I was disappointed with the lack of service, especially in Business Class, but I don’t feel that Croatia is alone in doing this and hope that carriers return to normal service rather than using this as an excuse to cut costs. The cabin crew was friendly in the few interactions I had with them and Dubrovnik Airport was easy to navigate with friendly staff throughout.

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  1. Anonymous10:09

    Nice trip report. OU service has been downgraded. Usually you would get a full meal in business class.

  2. Dubrovnik - Zurich - Istanbul (?!?!) - Amsterdam - US ?? I understand there are some limitations and complications, but to fly to Amsterdam via Zurich and Istanbul???

    1. Crazy routing, I know, but it was an award ticket and I also wanted to test out the Business Class service on Turkish.

    2. Business class on Turkish is second to none!

  3. And you stayed 5 hours in the airport? Why didn't you go a for a coffee or some food to the city? It was only 10 to 15 minutes by train to get to the city.

    1. Usually I would make the journey into the city, but as I was travelling on a US passport I was not permitted to cross the Schengen border.

  4. Anonymous02:16

    Nice report. I wonder if DBV-BEG-JFK was available for your travel date. In a couple of years you might have an option to fly Trebinje-Belgrade-New York!

    1. Anonymous07:20

      It wasn't because DBV arrives at 16.00 and JFK departs either at 07.30 or 13.15. This year, before corona, JU scheduled a morning departure to DBV at 07.30, right between an arriving and departing JFK.
      Unfortunately corona killed those plans so no connections are available right now.

  5. Great report. Planning a trip to Croatia in December. Trying to confirm, it sounds like Croatia Airlines will check your bags through to final destination as long as separate ticket is on Star Alliance carrier?


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