Business Travellers: Avoid Frankfurt Airport

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  LuganoPirate 9 Sep 2019
at 14:33
.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

  • Sebastianluxe
    Participant

    Until the new Frankfurt Terminal 3 for Lufthansa opens in 2023 (let’s hope, there is not repeat of the Berlin airport experience), business passengers should avoid Frankfurt Airport for international connecting flights. Whilst in the past, the airport managed to guarantee a 45 minutes minimum connection time; it is now more like 75 minutes plus.

    There is no fast track service helping premium passengers through a connection at Frankfurt airport. Security and passport controls are notoriously under-staffed – and notoriously unfriendly (on my last connection in Frankfurt, arriving from Bangkok to to on to Malpensa, there was only one of 4 passport lines for European passports open!).

    Why do Lufthansa and Frankfurt Airport not offer a direct bus service for premium passengers between terminals and give access to fast track passport controls?

    Anyhow, avoid Frankfurt or choose Munich over Frankfurt if you have to connect in Germany.

    5 users thanked author for this post.

    capetonianm
    Participant

    It’s a mess. I stopped using it about 3 years ago after a missed connection due to the chaotic signposting and unhelpful staff. I hold Germany and the Germans in very high regard, but FRA is a very poor advertisement for such an efficient and well organised country. Two lots of friends of mine this week have misconnected for the same reason. Here’s part of the email from one of them :

    I was due to return from London to Joburg on Sunday evening via Frankfurt (Lufthansa was the cheapest and most convenient business class option for my itinerary).

    After boarding at Heathrow we were told that we would be delayed. We sat on the ground for 2 hours before taking off.

    We arrived in Frankfurt 15 mins before my connecting flight to Joburg was due to take off at 22.05. Passengers to other destinations had been informed of flight changes, but nothing concerning Joburg. So before disembarking I asked the chief steward what I should do. He said as there was no information to the contrary I should proceed to the departure gate. Of course by the time I had been bussed to the terminal, gone through passport control and security, and navigated to the gate in Z wing via a maze of corridors and then the usual mile-long walk to the last gate in the terminal, the flight had departed.

    I then tried to find out what to do next, but the Z wing had closed for the night and I had to seek the help of cleaners to find my way back to the starting point. There was no Lufthansa desk and I had to find my way through corridors and a shuttle train to another terminal where there were hundreds queuing at a couple of Lufthansa desks. By now it was midnight and I was tired, hot and sweating from the miles of fast walking through the terminals, and I vented my feelings to a passing Lufthansa staff. She took pity on me and spirited me off to an office where she calmed me down very nicely and gave me fresh boarding cards for the following day, and vouchers for a Marriott Hotel and taxis there and back.

    These are the (edited!) notes I made when I missed a connection there. I was particularly annoyed as I should have arrived on a Saturday morning and was due to host a dinner that evening in CPT. I ended up getting to CPT after midnight, minus luggage.

    Missed connection in FRA. Departed from LHR 1910 and landed FRA 2120 but sat on tarmac until 2155 before we could get to the jetway to disembark.
    LH airport staff as much use a as a fart in a thunderstorm.  No information given on board or on arrival about connection flights, so several people tried to dash to zone Z where mine and others went from, as it still showed ‘gate open’. Having gone down miles of corridor following confusing signs to Zone Z it turns out to be served by a train which wasn’t running.  Back to central area where the type of German who gives them a bad name refused to allow anyone else access to the ticket desk until he had finished his argument with a Colombian about a visa. When I got to ticket desk they ‘didn’t know’ if the CPT flight had left yet but as it was 10 minutes after it’s scheduled departure time they ‘assumed’ it had.
    Was redirected to transfer desk and offered hotac and ticket on same flight next day. I said I wanted FRAV to CPT and that would be on KLM via AMS at 0700. Very nice but poorly trained lady said there’s no such flight, until I pointed it out to her on her screen, then said she couldn’t book it as it wasn’t Lufthansa and I had to continue on Lufthansa. I said this was wrong, flight disruption their fault and their duty is to get me out on FRAV. Eventually that got done but in economy class as KLM don’t have premium economy, …………….

    Got airside to security showing just the PNR printout they’d given me (no Eticket, no boarding pass) and through security with a litre bottle of dutyfree gin from LHR because it was in the sealed packet and hadn’t been opened. Luckily terrorists wouldn’t be able to heat seal a plastic packet and forge a receipt, so airport security keeps us all very safe, as long as our toothpaste is in a plastic resealable packet and take our belts off.

    Lovely lady at the gate changed my seat for me in the system and took payment. Boarded the packed Embraer 195 to AMS and sat on the apron until 0810 due to ‘heavy traffic and loading delays’. Took off over an hour late and arrived 0850 for a 1000 connection. Cabin and cockpit crew, unlike LH, kept pax fully informed about onward connections and boarding gates. Further delay in disembarking as the transfer bus wasn’t available, but made it through very busy passport control area where they were marshalling people through a special ‘short connections’ queue.

    Conclusion. The Germans are fine until something goes wrong. The Dutch just deal with it.

    5 users thanked author for this post.

    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Now one can understand why Lufthansa is transferring more of its long-haul operations to MUC.

    One suspects MUC will be the home for the last of its A380s.

    Lufthansa to increasingly concentrate on Munich

    Lufthansa to transfer more A380s to Munich

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    But Munich can also fail. This morning’s news:

    A security breach heavily disrupts air traffic at Munich Airport, Germany


    LetsGoOutside
    Participant

    Each time we connected in Frankfurt (usually from LH to United Airlines) we had a very, very long walk between the arrival gate and the departure gate (like a 20+ minutes walk or so, I believe with security checks in between). I would never try to connect in Frankfurt with a schedule offering less than two solid hours to do so.


    kossakk
    Participant

    Was there yesterday connecting through T1 B on LH. Can confirm it remains shocking. Dreadfully managed – took 90 minutes. Way understaffed. A real shame as I used to hold FRA in my top 3. What a fall from grace…


    capetonianm
    Participant

    Many years ago LH was my top airline and I used them so much that for 2 or 3 years I had the Senator card. I used to enjoy flying with them and even enjoyed transits at FRA, doing a bit of shopping, going to the viewing gallery, or maybe if there was time in transit, taking a train to Mainz or Wiesbaden for lunch.

    Sadly that is very much a thing of the past and I now strenuously avoid FRA and LH. As kossakk says, what a fall from grace. It’s even more of a shame as I speak German and I enjoy Germany and its people.


    Maaki
    Participant

    I´m a LH SEN since the year 2001, but I try to avoid FRA wherever possible. Rude staff, silly signage, over-crowded lounges and erratic “Help” people.
    Fortunately my home airport is MUC and nearly all destinations globally can be reached from this airport as well.
    By the way – LH itself became worse and worse and I try to fly SWISS or AUA on an international flight, wherever possible. The simple reason is, that LH has one of the worst BC cabins of all airlines. Not the staff, but the nonsense arrangement of seats, which are not suitable, if a person is bigger than 1,65m to 1,70m.
    FRA Airport is a total mess and I really feel sorry for people, who arrive in FRA and experience so rude and unprofessional personnel. Very bad impression of German professionalism (Which is really exisiting in many other areas than FRA) …..


    canucklad
    Participant

    Not sure if its relevant, especially because I wasn’t transiting as a premium passenger but I wonder why its seems easier to transit short haul to long haul rather than the other way around ? Or is that just a misplaced perception caused by fatigue ?

    Of course the use of remote stands set it on a par with CDG , just about !


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    Not sure if its relevant, especially because I wasn’t transiting as a premium passenger but I wonder why its seems easier to transit short haul to long haul rather than the other way around ? Or is that just a misplaced perception caused by fatigue ?

    Of course the use of remote stands set it on a par with CDG , just about !

    FRA is a lottery game. If both flights are in the same zone and no passport control is involved, the experience can be all right. But this is a big if.

    CDG: Excepted when 2G is involved (i.e. a small aircraft like an ATR or an Embraer), it became one of the easiest hub in Europe (when flying on AF)!


    Sebastianluxe
    Participant

    Quick update: connecting in Frankfurt today on my way from Leipzig to Milan (booked long ago): our flight Leipzig to Frankfurt is one hour delayed (and who knew Cityjet is now flying for Lufthansa…?), connecting time in Frankfurt is just 30 mins. The very helpful Lufthansa lady at the Senator Lounge at Leipzig airport calls ahead to make sure our group of 4 maybe gets a direct transfer (she should see we would have an apron position). Upon landing in Frankfurt, we taxi 10 mins to an apron position (small delay because the airport does not seem to be prepared for us, valuable time lost). It then takes 10 mins with a reckless bus driver to get from the apron position to the terminal building. All in all, including the time it takes for everyone to get off the plane, we spend almost as much time between the airplane touching down and entering a Fraport terminal building than the original flying time between Leipzig and Frankfurt before: 40 mins. But this is not where the craziness ends. Lufthansa loves to put the Milan flights onto Gate 68 – the last gate in the recently added A/Z-Terminal. Gate 68 always turns out to be a bus gate position. Running another 10 mins from Gate 1-5, where the bus drops passengers off to climb up a very narrow staircase into the terminal building to Gate 68, we have finally lost our connection… This is infuriating. Someone either at Lufthansa or Frankfurt airport (or both) seems to be keen to demonstrate that the new extension actually has traffic. But putting bus gates at the end of that terminal extension just does not make sense. Particularly not when passengers are running past empty gates 50 – 58. Please stop that nonsense!


    LuganoPirate
    Participant

    I too used to dislike FRA until the day I had an 11 hour stopover, arriving from JFK and continuing to JNB that evening. Having nothing better to do and with APP in hand, I set off exploring the airport and discovered so many short cuts, going through doors that lead to other levels, going to another terminal and clearing immigration there, then coming back on the train. Instead of going direct from Intercontinental to European, if there are lots of people, I exit the airport, into the terminal, then back in through fast track security which in the early hours is quite empty. Last time I did this it took 7 minutes from arriving at immigration, then making my way back to the transit terminal via the main departure hall. I was through security in minutes but could see the massive queues I had avoided going from IC to Schengen.

    So pleased am I with this knowledge, I no longer dread FRA!

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