Frankfurt Airport, a transfer point for many incoming Star Alliance flights from North America to Europe has made recent changes that make air travel more manageable if not stylish. Over the last ten years the airport has gone through many transformations and its lengthy terminals can leave passengers not accustomed to a built in hike, after their long haul flight, a little exasperated to say the least. Now a little bit of tender loving care in the form of cafes, bistros, concession stands and airline sponsored cafes near the Lufthansa gates can make the foot trek more worth while.
Beginning at 7 a.m. frankfurter and pretzel stands are open. These are no Target hot dogs and pretzels but the real thing. No offense to the beloved American discount store but when an opportunity to enjoy real local culture appears in the airport it’s best to jump on it. There are also Italian caffeterias, wine-tasting shops, German draft beer concessions, and smart little bakeries with fresh bread. For a tobacco fix there are even individualized smoking rooms.
Behind each Lufthansa gate in Terminal 1 near Gate 22 past the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge and Senator Lounge cafe tables and a free capsule coffee/tea machines offer less high mileage fliers a respite from the constant din of concrete and flourescent lighting. Next to the arriving planes, lighted by the full-length glass windows along side a rack of international newspapers in three languages this is an oasis in the desert that was Frankfurt Airport. For longer layovers the Day Pass/Priority Pass lounge on the second floor above check-in has showers, light fare, business cubicles, television and periodicals for guests during business hours usually beginning at 8 a.m.
Due to increased security and for passenger convenience, passengers from U.S. flights must exit the gate area after passport control to re-renter the airport for the next flight. The advantage to the passenger is that you can visit the lounge on second floor in between flights and promenade through the newly vamped luxury good stores on the way to passport control. Be aware that lines through security can be long upon re-entry so be sure to time your side trips well.
For a more active long layover, a train trip into Frankfurt’s Historic walking district is well worth the trip, especially in summer for frequent street festivals. Ask for a train time table at the information desk near the flight board in the check-in area. Computer kiosks located near the escalators can also be helpful for airport maps and timing distances.
Once to be avoided due to its unfriendly atmosphere, endless walking lanes to gates, confusing signage, great snow delays and the absence comfort in the form of economy class lounges, cafes, and helpful people in uniform, or otherwise, now Frankfurt offers a warm welcome that makes for smooth travel between the North America and Europe.