Q – My work will be taking me to Germany at least six or seven times in the next year. I missed my connecting flight last time because my nothing on Expedia seems to tell you that the lines for security can be long and that even passengers in transit may have to clear security in Frankfurt or Munich. Any advice would be appreciated as I know there are many business travelers who share my concerns. I had booked a “legal” connection.
A – This is a bit of a scam that affects thousands of travelers to Europe. When you book off a computer screen, as corporate agents and Online Travel Agencies do, as well as the airlines when you call them directly, they are looking at a computer screen that tells them what they can book for you as a “legal” connection. That means that, assuming your original flight is on time, you should, under normal conditions, be able to make your connecting flight. They want to sell you a connecting flight because you will be happy that you did not have to waste hour in an airport terminal. Many passengers demand the earliest connecting flight.
The problem is that no human is actually involved in this conversation. The headset making your booking is likely not at all well-traveled and is probably unaware of the current levels of security as German airports including Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich. The current security level often requires in-transit passengers to go through additional security lines that may include passport scans.
Cruise passengers frequently miss their assigned “legal” connections because the cruise line’s air department was unaware that their guests are subject to long security lines even when they are in transit.
Here is what we advise you do:
01 – Never book an airline ticket with an online agency. Book with airline directly as you will have direct contact with them should there be a problem. Many online air tickets are non-transferable to other airlines.
02 – Never simply accept a “legal connection”. Discuss it was a knowledgeable travel consultant or research it yourself. Always try to allow at least two-hours between connecting flights at major airports with in-transit security and passport lines.
03 – Think about your luggage. Yes, you will make a tight connection if you do an OJ through the airport (he’s slower now that he has to wear manacles) but your luggage won’t run as fast. Plan your connection time to ensure that your luggage wil join you on the second leg of your trip.
04 – Finally, specific to Germany, get an Easypass, which allows you to skip immigration booths at all major German airports in the future. You apply at the office of the German Federal Police located in both the Frankfurt and Munich terminals.
Oh, one more thing: German Federal Police Officers and Army Personnel on security duty at Germany’s major airports do not generally possess a well-developed comedic style. Act seriously when interacting with them.