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Any connecting airport I should avoid, desire?

Any connecting airport I should avoid, desire?

Jul 2nd, 2009, 05:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 191
Any connecting airport I should avoid, desire?

I am starting to look at flights to Athens. Looks like I can connect through Munich, Frankfort, Warsaw, Zurich, etc. Does anyone have an opinion about which cities to avoid or seek?

I read some notes about Munich airport which said it was friendly and efficient. Another note said that Frankfort was neither.

Can anyone give me an idea of the optimal length of time between flights? We will be coming from the US so it will be our first EU port. How much time do you plan to get through Customs and Immigration?
lynclarke is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 05:40 AM
Join Date: May 2006
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First, you won't go through customs if you're just transiting in those cities for your flight to ATH. You'll go through passport/immigration control (sometimes more than once), but we've always found it to be rather quick.

As far as the airports, I can only speak for FRA and MUC. MUC is much better than FRA - newer, more efficient, nice shops, not nearly as spread out as FRA, etc.

That said, I usually look at price and schedules. For us, it's usually easier to go through FRA and often means 1 less stop (which is a big issue IMO). We've always found FRA to be very manageble with good signage, etc. It can be a LONG way between gates when coming from the US, but we've never had any problems to the point where I'd go out of my way to avoid it.

For either airport I prefer about 2 hr connect time. When we went to ATH last Nov, we had 2.5 going and 2 coming back and it worked out just fine (both were through FRA).
dfr4848 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 05:56 AM
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I only have recent experience with FRA which was HORRIBLE. We flew PHL-FRA-VCE and had to clear security (twice!) and immigration and we never left the airport. There was a lot of construction going on (2 yrs ago) and the signage was non-existant. We had a long layover and had planned to head into the city but were so exhausted and frazzled after the ordeal that we just sat at the gate for 3 hrs. I have lived in Europe and travel transatlantically (is that a word?) at least once a year, so I'm not a newbie at this and it was an unpleasant experience.

My vote would be for MUC or even Heathrow. Last year we transferred from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 just after 5 had opened and it was seamless and easy.
telechick is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 06:13 AM
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Both Zurich and Munich are newish/remodelled airports and transfer is smooth and hassle-free. Frankfurt is ok, though crowded and a bit chaotic with all the building work going on. No experience of Warsaw, but as it's a smaller airport I don't expect much of a problem.
Minimum connecting time from longhaul to intra-Europe flight is around 60 in, but I'd be happier with 90 min to 2 hours.
Alec is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 06:42 AM
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Great! thanks for your help. I will start looking at specific flights.
lynclarke is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:13 AM
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On this forum and many others CHARLES DE GAULLE (CDG) is known as the Airport From Hell. Not only must you go by sluggish BUS from wing to wing... No one will help you; the staff at the Info desks pretend not to understand English, or if you speak in French to understand your accent. We were so frustrated with the bus, we got off it and RAN through 3 wings and were the last ones admitted to our plane. As we taxiied out, we looked out the window, and the bus was just arriving at that gate.

NEVER attempt a connection here with less than 2.5 hours. You must LEAVE the secure area to get to your new gate, then (if u get there) go through security again.
travelerjan is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:56 AM
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When we flew from the west coast of the USA to Athens a year and a half ago, we connected through Schiphol airport, Amsterdam (KLM). I have also connected through Frankfurt and Munich.

I think Schiphol is one of the easiest airports in which to to make connections. If you have a layover, it's got very comfortable seating, great shops and even a museum, and is easy to navigate. Also - if you happen to have a very, very long layover, the rail station is located directly below the airport, and the train takes only about 15 minutes right into the old downtown area of Amsterdam. There are also inexpensive lockers in which to store your bags.
scdreamer is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 07:22 PM
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Is it possible for you to fly non-stop from the U.S. to Athens? I am going with Delta non-stop from Atlanta to Athens in September.
Marsh is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 07:34 PM
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Please stay away from CDG or Heathrow Terminal 5--which my wife and I call the Terminal 5 "Obstacle Course." Amsterdam Schipol and Munich are by far the best for connections. CDG and LHR Terminal 5; well, for the former, best of luck; for the latter, I hope you are in very good physical shape for there is some running and scaling of high escalators required.
Franto is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 09:29 PM
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Of the cities you mention, Zurich's airport is very user friendly. Remember, euros are not the official currency in Switzerland, althought there are widely accepted. There is a mall connected to the airport, so if you have a fairly long layover there's plenty to keep you ammused.

I didn't care for FRA, albeit, it is a better option than CDG, so is and any other airport for that matter. As others have already mentioned, avoid CDG like to plague.

I will mention MAD is a very user friendly airport.
SWillams is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 09:49 PM
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Frankfurt can be a mess. And although CDG is not on your list, try to keep it off as it's beyond a nightmare. I've been doing that one almost annually since the mid 70s and it just never seems to really get ant better. Forget about passenger service, it's as good as non existent. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2009, 05:28 AM
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In addition to the DL flight mentioned, CO flies non-stop from EWR to ATH, but it's seasonal service.

lyn - the other comment I'd make is that for us, at least, the choice of schedules, price and airline is often more important than the connecting city. I don't know what your choices are, but for ex, our experiences on LH have been much better than KL. So while AMS is certainly a more user-friendly airport than FRA, I'll choose FRA (or MUC) just because of our preference for LH. I know these decisions are very personal, but thought I'd pass it along. And like others have said about CDG, I'll certainly take FRA over CDG any day.
dfr4848 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2009, 04:45 AM
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Thanks all. The reason why I can not fly direct or nearly direct is that I will be using United miles next year and alas they do not have direct flights--- at least not at this point. I have not bought our tickets yet, I am still a couple miles short but our United Visa will take care of that problem vry shortly!!
lynclarke is offline  
Aug 21st, 2009, 04:55 AM
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We just went through Zurich this week. They will take any money you offer them. Even Canadian money though we didn't take them up on their offer. I would avoid Frankfurt as well.
colduphere is offline  
Aug 21st, 2009, 11:59 AM
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I really don't like transiting through FRA (that airport just makes me hostile for some reason), but I often can't avoid it when I'm using my FF miles (for a Star Alliance airline). However, when we went to Greece last October using FF miles, we were able to connect through ZRH on the way there, and it was vastly preferable to FRA. ZRH was a very nice airport, efficient and user-friendly. We had to connect through FRA on our way back from ATH and it made me cranky because I now knew how nice ZRH was in comparison. I've also connected through LHR a few times and am not crazy about connecting there either, though I didn't personally have any problems. All things being equal, I'd pick ZRH. At the end of the day, though, even though I don't like transiting through FRA, my primary consideration when I'm using FF miles and have a choice of flights is flight / connection times that fit my schedule and preferences, so if that means FRA, I'd put up with it. However, if a connection through ZRH was reasonably comparable and available, I'd definitely pick ZRH.
travelgirl2_99 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2009, 06:53 AM
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Well, we have our FF flights at last! We were able to get good schedules through Munich both ways. We are going to stop in Munich on the way back for a couple of days to visit with some friends in Stuttgart. Now, I am really getting excited!
lynclarke is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 09:51 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 3,221
Good choice. Glad it worked out and thanks for letting us know. Some great shops at MUC.
dfr4848 is offline  
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