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Flying from Frankfurt Airport: How early should we arrive?

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Oct 31st, 2013, 12:23 AM
  #1
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Flying from Frankfurt Airport: How early should we arrive?

We are flying Air Canada to Ottawa on Sunday Nov 3 around 1 PM from this airport.

We will arrive at FRA on Saturday and take the S bahn train downtown, for an overnight hotel stay. We will travel via S bahn to the airport on Sunday.

We plan to do online check in from the hotel, to ensure we maintain our assigned seats. I realize we should re confirm the departure gate when we arrive at the airport.

We will each have one rolling suitcase to check at FRA - small enough (22 inches?) that we might be able to carry it onboard, in a time crunch.

How long before the departure time should we be at the airport? All threads about FRA seem to be about transfers, not departures on single flights. Thanks.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 12:52 AM
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For international flights, it is recommended that you check-in at least two hours before the departure time. So you'll want to show up around 11AM. Experience has taught me that I really only need 70-80 min but I like to have a buffer of time so I am not rushed and can grab a snack and a drink in the Lufthansa Lounge.

FRA is a big airport so you'll want to give yourself enough time to get from point A to point B.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 01:33 AM
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Apart from the distances involved, where might I expect delays or bottlenecks?

Security in some airports is nightmarish, for example, whereas it moves swiftly in others.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 01:37 AM
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Checking in and security are the two bottlenecks.

Show up at 11AM and you will be fine.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 04:50 AM
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Have a good flight Ted. My own experiece with several departures is that the check-in line can be long (sometimes a little panic-inducing when you first see it but it moves along) but that security is fine.

A lot of student groups take that flght. Please tell them to quit having so much fun.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 08:09 PM
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Thanks, guys
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Oct 31st, 2013, 08:23 PM
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Check-in online is a must. Most airlines at most airports - and I'm pretty sure that apply to LH at FRA too - have a bag-drop line for those already checked-in online, with much shorter lines. Even if you don't have a printer, it's not an issue.

Don't ask me why so many travelers still REFUSE to do online check-in.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 11:10 PM
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Why do so many travelers refuse to do online check-in?
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Nov 2nd, 2013, 05:01 AM
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As well as check-in and security there is also passport control to clear. Last time through FRA (last month) it was fairly quick but I have encountered delays there.
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Nov 2nd, 2013, 06:32 AM
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Why do so many travelers refuse to do online check-in?

I can't speak for anyone else but more often than not I want to talk to an agent so I check-in the old fashioned way.
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Nov 2nd, 2013, 04:56 PM
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You still talk to an agent when you use the bag drop line at airport.
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Nov 3rd, 2013, 02:17 AM
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True but I use the first class/business class check-in line, which is normally faster than the baggage drop-off line.
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Nov 3rd, 2013, 02:55 AM
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You go through a couple security clearances there if flying international to the states and Canada so give yourself time. We ended up taking a taxi one time we stayed downtown but our flight was earlier. I did a connection through there in May and they are crazy about the bins. Everything must go in a bin, even a 22 inch rollerboard, They have an automatic bin return. Very cool.
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Nov 3rd, 2013, 03:46 AM
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You go through a couple security clearances there if flying international to the states and Canada so give yourself time.

I don't know what path you take at FRA but when I fly out of FRA to the U.S. or Canada, I only go through security once before I get on the plane.
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Nov 3rd, 2013, 04:00 AM
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sparkchaser - What I wrote doesn't apply to you then. I was talking about the long lines for economy.
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Nov 3rd, 2013, 02:25 PM
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sparkschaser, two security checks at Frankfurt and Munich.
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Nov 4th, 2013, 03:34 AM
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I must be sneaking past the second security check. I go through normal security and then somewhere after that I go through passport control, I would not consider passport control security as they don't inspect any of my stuff or xray my junk.
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Nov 4th, 2013, 04:58 AM
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Are you from England? I just know the last two times we did. My friend is into her eye glasses and her frame cases caused her two bag searches at the checkpoints. The international checkpoint we went through put us in a room that you could not leave. They had a small snack shop and that was it. I will let you know if things have changed as we go again next week.
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Nov 5th, 2013, 09:07 AM
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Well, everybody, I will report on my FRA experience just to close the loop.

We flew early in the afternoon of Sunday November 3.

Sunday midday must be a very slow time at that airport. We took the dedicated Sunday S-bahn (suburban) train that shuttles between the main train station and the airport. The Sunday train leaves from Track 22 on the Hauptbahnhof's main level, not the lower level used by other S-bahn trains. The train was almost empty. It took 12 minutes, as announced.

When we arrived at FRA, I decided to time the process of getting to our flight.

From the time we alighted from the train in the lower level of the airport station, it took exactly 25 minutes until we reached the departure gate.

We had checked in online but could not print our boarding passes, so just decided to go to a counter and deal with a live person. There was no line up for the Air Canada desk and we were out of there, having checked our bags (and looked into changing our seats), in under 5 minutes.

Security had no line-ups though the people ahead of us did hold up the line a bit, through simple cluelessness. I noticed no body-scanners in use -- they were required for all passengers the last time we traveled home from AMS.

Passport control, while unsmiling, did proceed quickly, too.

Though we had loads of time, I decided to walk straight to our gate to complete my timing exercise. The Air Canada gate (I am guessing it is a near-permanent assignment, as the Air Canada lounge is adjacent) was three minutes' walk from Passport control.

We had nearly 90 minutes left, which I wasted on Facebook (using the 30 minutes of free Internet time that is available in some but apparently not all corners of the airport -- one of us got a message "You are leaving the free Internet zone" when we tried to walk and surf).

I also looked at duty free purchases but found the prices quite high.

All in all, a painless experience.

I realize this is not the norm but it was a relief when things panned out so much better than I had expected.
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Nov 5th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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Glad to hear it was painless.


Are you from England? I just know the last two times we did. My friend is into her eye glasses and her frame cases caused her two bag searches at the checkpoints. The international checkpoint we went through put us in a room that you could not leave. They had a small snack shop and that was it. I will let you know if things have changed as we go again next week.

Nope. American. You know, one time I was sequestered in that box you're talking about but that was back in 2009. Since then I have flown maybe a dozen times back to North America with only one security check.
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