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Tight connection in Frankfurt

San Jose, California
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Tight connection in Frankfurt

We have a flight from San Francisco to Madrid with a 2 hour connection in Frankfurt. I know this is tight since we will have to go through immigration in Frankfurt before getting our connecting flight, but we are flying on miles and this was one of the only choices with only 1 connection, so I took it.

Does it seem reasonable that we will make this connection? We are flying Star Alliance - United SFO-FRA and then Lufthansa FRA-MAD, so no need to check in or anything - should be quite smooth. There is another Lufthansa flight to Madrid later that evening, and then worst case scenario is spend the night in Frankfurt and go to Madrid in the morning - so I am not overly concerned about making this connection, just curious about the likelihood (i.e. should I have an alternate plan in my back pocket?).

I've never connected through FRA before - do we have to go back through security after immigration or can we stay on the secure side and just go to our connection? Do we have to collect luggage (if we have any checked) and go through customs at FRA or would it be checked through to MAD?

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

You won't collect luggage. It'll definitely be checked through to Madrid and go through customs, which is very simple, when you arrive.

Whenever I've transferred through Frankfurt, arriving from the USA, I've always had to go through immigration and security to get to my connecting flight, but it's been a couple years so maybe it is different now. Even so, 2 hours should be plenty. It's a big airport, but not that difficult. And you already said you're Ok with the alternatives of missing your flight and catching a later one if it happens. I'd only suggest leaving more time if you had some critical meeting or reservation in Madrid that you absolutely had to make that day.

Garden Bay, Canada
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2. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

You will have no problem with a two hour connection. FRA is relatively easy now, much better than it was even a few years ago. Passing through it maybe ten times in the past year, my shortest plane to gate time was 17 minutes and the longest was 45. You will do immigration and security.

Edited: 12 August 2013, 19:51
San Jose, California
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3. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

Thanks. I've been to Frankfurt airport before, so I am reasonably familiar with it, it's been my final arrival point or my departure point - never connected through so I was unsure of the procedure.

It's good to know that there is a reasonably good chance we will make our connection - and we are seated pretty close to the exit on that flight, so we should be one of the first people off the plane. To be on the safe side, I will make a cancellable reservation for our 1st night in Madrid in case we don't make our connection and aren't able to get on another flight to Madrid that night.

My husband, who loves Germany, will probably be secretly hoping we miss our connection and have to spend a night in Germany drinking German beer :-) We actually have another tight connection through FRA on the way home 3 weeks later, so we have 2 opportunities to get stuck in Germany - LOL.

San Jose, California
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4. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

GeoMedic - I just saw your response - I am feeling much more comfortable about this connection :-) I see you are from Houston, and as it happens on my last few international trips where I had a connection, I connected through Houston on the way back to the SF Bay Area (SFO or SJC). It took absolutely forever to get through immigration and security - customs was quick, but everything else was a zoo. There is no way I would ever expect to be able to make a connection with only a 2 hour window there.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

US immigration is a whole other ball game. Until I signed up for global entry, I consistently waited a lot longer to get into the US as a US citizen than at immigration in any other country. My wife would not even bother coming to the airport to get me until 1hr after arrival and she was still always waiting before I'd get through.

Garden Bay, Canada
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6. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

" It took absolutely forever to get through immigration and security - customs " - yes, before Global Entry I might wait up to 45 minutes to clear Immigration. Most of the time it is fairly easy to get through... unless you hit mid to late afternoon when all the European and Asian flights arrive. GE is a breeze and One-Stop is a moderate wind. Houston is by far the best airport in the US to connect international to international... baggage is auto transferred to your next flight and you might have to wait for 5 people to go through ahead of you at immigration.

Geneva, Switzerland
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7. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

FRA is the worse hub in Europe with no doubt. That said, two hours should be enough. Be ready though to walk for miles (less than 30 minutes walking is very seldom) and queue for hours (not literally) at the Schengen immigration. Security recheck is possible: it all depends on the gates. Last but not least: they love busses at FRA.

In short, you should be all right but don't expect to have any shopping time between your flights.

Nashville, TN
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8. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

"FRA is the worse hub in Europe with no doubt"

Actually FRA isn't that bad at all. There are much worse airports. We went through FRA last year and had no problems. It's one of my GF's favorite airport's (she's a smoler and they have smoking booths in the terminal). It's a lot easier than it used to be.

South Pole
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9. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

all I can say is I have been travelling thru FRA since the late 1960s.

imo, over the years, it has become a monument to chaos and disorganisation which is very ungerman like.

tbh, i would rather transfer thru LAX.

now, with age, i never plan anything less than a 3 hour transfer time thru FRA.

overkill?

probably, but have never missed a connecting flight under those circumstances.

Edited: 13 August 2013, 00:36
Gambrills, MD
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10. Re: Tight connection in Frankfurt

I missed a connecting flight last month in Frankfurt. The connection time was 65 minutes, but the flight from Kiev was late, and the one in Frankfurt couldn't wait. Lufthansa provided simply excellent customer service. It took each person about ten minutes at the counter. At the end of my turn I had a confirmed flight for the next day, a new boarding pass, rerouted luggage, a hotel voucher, directions to the hotel shuttle. The agent emailed the new itinerary to my husband and even let me use her phone for two short calls, home and to the office.