Berlin Tegel airport questions

Jun 11th, 2007, 12:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Berlin Tegel airport questions

Hi all,

I'm getting ready to go to a five-week study abroad program in Germany and had a few questions about Berlin's Tegel airport. I will be arriving in Berlin from Los Angeles via Heathrow at 8:45 pm on Sunday, June 24. I need to get to my hotel, which is apparently near the city center, by 10 pm as they close the front desk at that time. I'm an American citizen and don't think I have anything to declare at customs- I will be taking my 2-year-old Dell laptop, but as it is missing keys and is visibly worn, I have been told it won't be a problem. Is this accurate, and how long does the customs process at Tegel usually take? Furthermore, is there anything I should look out for when choosing a taxi (I'm a 20-year-old female who will be travelling alone)? Overall, is is it likely that I will be able to go through customs, catch a taxi, and arrive at the hotel before 10 (provided my flight is on time)? I've taken German for the past seven years and should be able to read and communicate adequately well, if that makes any difference in your answer. Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
stargirl61 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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I took a public bus and remembered that Tegel was pretty close to the center, maybe 15-20 minutes ... though I was near the K'Damm. A taxi would probably be a bit faster because it would be direct, and customs would not be very long. The problem would be if your flight is late, it takes a while for your bags to come out, or if the line is long going through immigration for a non-EU person (though since you will be coming from London this will prob. be easier than if Berlin were your first stop in Europe).
JoeTro is offline  
Jun 14th, 2007, 12:19 PM
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Berlin is big and has a huge city center, plus there is east & west centers plus the newish Potdamerplatz which for centuries has been the true heart of Berlin. If your hotel is in the East Berlin center (Mitte) then a taxi ride will cost you at least 20 -25 euro, while to Potsdamerplatz around 15 euro-20 euro. Tegel is in West Berlin. We never feel unsafe with any taxi driver, by the way in Berlin you're free to pick any taxi in the row not obligated to take the one in the front. No one will get upset even if you pick the last one.

If you have the energy to drag your suitcase on the bus and street that late in the night, then you can take the TXL bus route or a couple other routes, you can study the lines:

We can give you better advice if you tell us which hotel you need to go to.
DAX is offline  
Jun 14th, 2007, 08:15 PM
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CUSTOMS at Tegel should take absolutely no time at all, you will just walk through the door marked in green and noted “nothing to declare”, and right out into the waiting area. Unless a customs officer chooses to stop and spot check you, which has never happened to me and is exceedingly rare, you will just walk right through in seconds. (Whoever mislead you about a possible issue in bringing a computer in and out must have been thinking about the former East Germany or having a laugh with you.....really). It is IMMIGRATION where there could be a line. You have to show your passport there, and if you arrive at a time when a lot of international flights are landing, you can be in line for a while at Immigration. As a US citizen, you have to wait in the line with all the other Non-EU/Schengen people, so this can take some time. (While the UK is a party to the Schengen Treaty, they don’t currently participate in joint immigrations/customs; which is a long way of saying that you won’t go through Immigration and Customs in the UK where you transfer flights, you have to do it in Germany.) However, as Berlin is not a huge international airport like Frankfurt and as you are arriving at night and not in the morning when most US flights would arrive, you may not have too long a line at Immigration. As noted above, hopefully your bags won't take too long to be delivered either. You'll need those before you go through Customs.

Once out in the main arrival hall, look for signs for taxis. I am a woman and have travelled on my own there often, and never feel unsafe, so I would not worry about any taxi in the rank, but would agree that you could choose any that you wanted. At that hour there should be little traffic so if you land on time and get through Immigration quickly you may be OK getting downtown by the 10 pm deadline.

My question would be weather your flight from Heathrow will take off on time. Intra-Europe flights have a nasty habit of being late. I would bring a phone which will work in Europe and have the hotel’s number and call them from the UK if your flight will be delayed, to see if someone can stay on a bit to check you in later.

English is widely and well spoken in my experience in Berlin and Germany. It is nice that you speak it, but I would not have any concerns on that point.
Cicerone is offline  
Jun 14th, 2007, 08:27 PM
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When we arrived at Tegel, passport control was right at the gate for our arriving flight. We walked down the jetway from the plane right to our plane's own personal immigration station. The baggage carousel was just a few feet beyond that.

Each gate has an exit door also - you may have to walk a few feet to the taxi line. The taxi's are all cream colored, mostly Mercedes. We showed our driver the hotel address (he wasn't that familiar with it and had to see it in writing. I think our pronounciation was fine). We stayed in the former East city center and the ride took 20 min.

This was the quickest we ever cleared passport control and claimed our luggage. I LOVED arriving at this airport.

If your experience is like ours, AND your plane is on time, you have a good chance of making it by 10:00. I wouldn't mess with a bus on this tight of a schedule, though.

You sound like my daughter, who is 19, has taken 6 years of German, and hopes to do a semester abroad in a year. Good luck to you!!

noe847 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2007, 10:55 PM
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Any bus or shuttle options to Mitte?

Also, any shops selling decently-priced prepaid SIMs there or best to wait to get into town?
wco81 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:27 AM
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It's not the Tegel part of your itinerary that makes me nervous, it's the connection through Heathrow that could possibly delay you.

Is it possible to get a hotel with 24-hour reception?
WillTravel is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for the responses- you've been very helpful. In response to some of the questions, I will be staying at the Hotel Pension Gribnitz, which according to its website is in Charlottenburg. My study program chose the hotel and, though I would definitely prefer one with 24 hour reception at this point, I can't change it. I did wonder about the flight from Heathrow because they do always seem to be delayed- the problem is that I'm a poor college student and can't afford an international cell phone. haha, I planned on taking a calling card anyway- are pay phones easy to come by at Heathrow? I'm going to email the hotel and let them know the situation ahead of time. I guess I'm just worried that they're not going to wait up if my flight ends up being delayed more than 30 minutes or so, seeing as it's a fairly inexpensive hotel. I'm sure I'll be asking for more advice on where to stay if that's the case! Thanks again for all the help!
stargirl61 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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If you take the bus & S bahn it'll take 28 minutes: Take the bus line 5min ride) to Jungfernheide Bahnhof where you need to change to the S bahn for a 6 minute ride to the Noord Messe stop then drag your suitcase for half a kilometer to your pension. I would recommend taking a taxi, the pension is actually not that close to the city centers.
DAX is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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Many hotels with restricted reception will stay late if you pay an extra fee. See if that option exists.
WillTravel is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 03:40 PM
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Don't worry too much.

"Immigration" is not a big deal - don't even think of anything like TBIT ;-)
There will be two lines at passport control: "EU citizens" and "all/other countries". The waiting time is usually zero to a few minutes, depending on how far in the rear section of the aircraft you will sit.

Just one advice from an ex Berliner: some Taxi drivers in Berlin can be a bit rude. Don't take it personal - it's just part of the local folklore (compare NYC cabs) and it will be a ride of less than 10 minutes.
The bus/subway combination won't save you much money, but will take more time, and you definetely don't want do that after a long flight just to save 7 or 8 euros.

And as you also asked about payphones in Heathrow. Yes, they have them everywhere there.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
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