Sunday, 24 March 2019

Frankfurt: an airport to avoid

A few years ago my wife and I flied via Frankfurt and discovered that some big airports also 'feel' big, which means that they're terrible to navigate. I regularly use special assistance and they managed to let us wait at three transfer points, often without sanitary facilities. There were security agents that thought it would be funny to ask me if I couldn't act any faster (believe me, I'm not that slow in handling my luggage). In a few words: my first visits of Frankfurt was underwhelming.

Enter the new visits, on the way to Saint Petersburg, Singapore and back from Bangkok. You would expect some courtesy when flying first (which is not to say that I expected to be handled as cattle when flying economy, but I hope you catch my drift). But asking either Lufthansa or security staff about the location of the first class lounges did not reveal much usable information. At one of the business lounges of Lufthansa, however, there was a woman who clearly knew what she was doing.

She helped us through some of the stuff needed to get a car transfer between legs (a prerogative of first class passengers). This woman was the kind of person that you know in the blink of an eye that will help you in any situation in a very adequate manner. Such people are rare - it would be great having someone like that as a personal assistant but I guess that's above my budget.

Anyway, returning from Saint Petersburg there was indeed a giant Porsche car waiting for us. But it brought us to a terminal where we had to go through a security check because of originating at a 'dirty' airport. That's where things went wrong. Customs officers shouting at us, security personnel sending us away while specifically asking for a certain lounge. Well, Saint Petersburg was a heaven of friendliness in comparison to Frankfurt.

When we returned to Frankfurt from Bangkok, we were up for a surprise again. When my wife tried to guide me to the special assistance person working there to take a 'free ride' with the elevator, she basically exploded. 'No! Via the stairs!', she shouted at us. I explained to Lufthansa that a little friendliness wouldn't hurt - I was using my cane visibly. They compensated us with 100 euro for a dinner, which is a nice gesture - but it doesn't take away the problem.

I've the luxury of never having flown via Heathrow or Charles de Gaulle. I can imagine that they would be similar to Frankfurt. Far and middle east airports are usually a haven of hospitality (in terms of special assistance at least). We received a personal guide both on arrival and on departure in Singapore and Bangkok as part of the first class service - why doesn't Lufthansa provide that same service in their home terminal?

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