Executive summary - we will arrive in Seattle Friday night rather than Thursday night because our UA flight ZRH-IAD "went mechanical" even before it left Washington-Dulles.
Detailed version - we were awakened by an incoming text message from United Easy Update on our cell phone this morning. Our flight had been cancelled. Our notebook computer is just about finished and, besides, we read that the dial-up at our hotel was very slow and would not support Skype.
Fortunately Brian had recorded the Swiss phone-access code for our MCI calling card and Kathy called United. Unfortunately our minutes ran out in the middle of the call and it took 10 minutes to add time before calling the UA 1K Line back. We also learned that it is cheaper to buy a new card since there is a 15% recharging fee, bring our 30 dollar fee for 80 minutes up to 37 dollars. Still, it was significantly cheaper than using our wireless phone. The best news was that we're getting out tomorrow and we have retained our upgrades on both legs, ZRH-IAD and IAD-SEA. Hurray!
There were long lines at the airport but the fellow guarding the line told us where the special line was to get our hotel voucher, since we had already been rebooked. We tried to get through Boarding Pass Control to the lounge at this fellow`s suggestion but the very nice man even checked with his supervisor and said we would need a boarding pass.
We returned and eventually got to talk to the busy man who we think is the one official United employee (all of the others work for Swiss Airlines). He got us our BPs and even tried to get us the Hilton (free Internet) but they are full and we are at the ZRH Airport Mövenpick tonight.
We then returned to Boarding Pass Control and another nice man let us through - do not even need ID. We then arrived at the Swiss Lounge and the employee initially would not let us in - entry privileges are limited to the same day. We explained that, had we entered the lounge this morning with a BP before the flight had been cancelled that the result would be the same. She agreed that was "logical" (the Swiss clearly like logic), she consulted in German with her colleague with Mom evesdropping, she let us in with a smile and we are now sitting in the Lounge.
Our summary thoughts of Zurich are that it is a wonderful place to wander around but it is hard to imagine how even well-paid Swiss manage to live here. We spent a little time in a supermarket and also strolling through a department store. A general rule of thumb would be to double and triple prices. That is why our pre-paid rate of a little over 100 dollars per night at the Holiday Inn Express, complete with breakfast and free shuttles both to airport and to downtown, seems like an excellent way to go.
We'll hang around this lounge for some time, and eventually get a ride to the Movenpick, UA's voucher hotel of choice. The voucher includes breakfast and dinner so we will not be suffering while we're waiting. Finally, it's a pleasant relief to retain our upgraded seats for tomorrow's flight.