Zurich Airport: kids questions answered
As a kid growing up, going to the airport was a magical experience for me. We usually visited the domestic terminal in Brisbane, which still today allows you to go all the way to gate to greet or say goodbye to your loved ones. I only flew a hand full of times in my childhood, so seeing those people coming and going was always exciting, dreaming of why they were flying and what adventures awaited them. Flying was a rare treat and going to the airport promised fun trips to faraway lands, or greeting friends and family whose we haven’t seen for ages.
Even though my kids fly a lot more than I ever did, they still find airports a fascinating place. So when I was recently invited to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Zurich Airport, I asked my kids and some of their friends if they had any questions they would like me to ask.
1. Does the Airport ever close? Alexandra, 12
No the Zürich Airport doesn't officially ever close, but flight traffic does. Planes land and take off from Zurich Airport between 6am and 11pm ever day. The shops around the airport also close, but the airport hotel is always open as are the airport grounds in general. The cleaning staff also work after hours.
2. Where does the luggage go after check in? Adrian, 9
Once you have checked in, you luggage travels along the over 20km long baggage sorting system. There are 12.5 kms of conveyor belts and 7.5 kms of tilt conveyors which are run by many engines. Along the way 4600 sensors help get your luggage to the correct plane. The baggage all goes through X-ray machines to make sure you haven't packed anything you shouldn’t have. Up to 30,000 pieces of luggage pass through the baggage system each day!
3. How does the luggage get sorted and get to the right place? Dylan, 9
Each piece of luggage has a bar code that is unique to that particular piece of luggage. The scanners scan the bar code and direct the luggage along the conveyer belts to the correct sorting area.
4. How many planes land per hour? Amelie, 6
Just like on the roads, the airport as has peak times when it is busier, and slower times when fewer planes take off and land. The peak time for planes landing is midday, and usually around 36 planes will land during this time. However Zurich airport can take up to 40 planes landing per hour.
Examining the day of August 3rd, 2017, for example, 7,348 planes landed at the Zürich Airport and 351 took off between 5am and 11:30pm which makes for an average of 20 planes per hour.
5. Why are flights always delayed? Matthew, 4
Luckily planes aren't always late, they are more often on time. Planes are delayed for various reasons including, bad weather, waiting for late arrivals or departures as well as technical problems.
The airport has many moving parts to make it work, and if one of those parts doesn't work on time, it can lead to delays.
6. How many people on the biggest flight? Abby, 11
The biggest series-produced passenger aircraft in the world is the Airbus A380 which lands three times a day at Zurich Airport (twice with Emirates and once with Singapore Airlines).
Each airline is able to create the inside of the plane itself, so the number of seats is dependent on the airline. But on the 4th of August, Emirates landed an A380 with a 517 passenger capacity and Singapore Airlines with a capacity of 379 passengers.
A big thanks to the kids for providing me with such insightful questions for me to ask at Zurich Airport. And another big thanks to Zürich Airport for inviting me on their new behind the scenes passenger tour.