3 January 2005

Travelog: Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport is apparently the second largest in Europe but is ancient, dated and grubby for the most part. By some cruel accident of fate I was stuck with a little over two hours in transit. Not long enough to sleep nor leave, so I set about exploring. Alluring signs promised the hope of endless high class shopping, but it was 6 in the morning and they seemed only to lead, via long stationary travelators, to austere polished granite corridors with a few closed and barred shops. The slightest hint of stale cigarette odour hung delicately in the empty corridors, something I was to encounter regularly in Germany.

Frankfurt airport

As a child I remember being completely overwhelmed with excitement at the solitary bleakness of such airports. But that was the late 1960s in Calcutta, Bahrain, Damascus. In 2004 Germany it was less impressive.

So I set about finding departure lounge A18 for my flight to Berlin. Being an EU passport holder, I lined up in the ‘express lane’ with a slight buzz of excitement—this was the first time I was, as it were, using my EU passport in anger. The only problem was, everyone else there was an EU passport holder as well, so the express lane moved like a drunken bratwurst, while the non-express lane was empty.

Finally I was waved through with the reluctant instruction to “go to left, one hundred meters, red door”. If I had hoped this would take me to my destination I was sadly mistaken. It took me instead to a 500 m corridor with static travelators, which took me to another, then another, before I finally arrived at a small lift well. This took me up two floors to a (you guessed it) 500 m corridor with static travelators, then another, before another lift took me back down two floors to another corridor and series of gates which led me to a (yawn) corridor with…

You may be forgiven for thinking I am exaggerating the extent of my tour of the Frankfurt sites, but I assure you, it’s not far off the mark. This sojourn finally took me to a far more modern corridor with actual people and a coffee shop and stuff, and lo and behold, my departure lounge! This was clearly a much newer section of the airport and was actually quite modern and attractive in a slightly austere way.

I alighted atop a stool with a good cup of German English Breakfast, and watched an interesting transaction between the waitress and a whining young American tourist. He was already the third I had seen who seemed to think Germany backward because he was having difficulty understanding the money, menus and language. Whining Americans are a site familiar to most travellers, I imagine. It seems there is a conscious attempt on the part of some of them to give the US a bad name, as if US foreign policy were not enough. They should be given a crash course in Cultural Respect 101 before allowing them to leave the country.

My Lufthansa flight was much in keeping with Frankfurt airport—rather old and jaded, inferior even to a cheap Australian domestic flight, though the service was fine, and the plane had Recarro leather seats, stylish in a car, not much good for mass transit, especially for those of us with no hair! Never a fan of the touch of cold, clammy leather on the back of my head, I had to lean slightly forward for the entire flight, so was thankful to finally alight in Berlin just before 9 am.Go to eebahgum!


Anonymous said...

Buy a hat.

eebahgum! said...

Sage advice indeed, but wearing a hat on an aeroplane would be just a tad uncool, don't you think?