FRA airport: How big is "big"?


Dec 7th, 2013, 01:28 PM
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FRA airport: How big is "big"?

I have read numerous posts regarding the size of the Frankfurt airport but have no real point of reference in terms of walking. I am wondering if I need to order a wheelchair for my husband who does all right with moderate, non-time-pressured walking but about collapsed on our Heathrow leg last year between arrival gate from US and connecting flight to Paris.

We have a several hour layover both ways to and from JNB next April. Fortunately, we will have access to the Business Class lounge but also will book a day room for one of the legs.

Any specifics regarding length of walk and experience with wheelchair (or other electric cart transfer) would be greatly appreciated.
OregonMaiden is offline  
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Dec 7th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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I can't compare it to Heathrow because I haven't been through there in over 30 years. But it's nothing at all like CDG, and I think it's a lot smaller than Schiphol, but I could be wrong on that. You might find some useful information on the airport website:
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Dec 7th, 2013, 02:49 PM
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Suppose some people respond to the thread as it was a short walk, etc. How does it help you? Really nothing.

It depends on what gates you end up having to connect. This depends on which carriers you are using, where you are connecting to, as well as the last minutes gates assignments. FRA gate assignment is quite unpredictable. You really cannot trust anything printed or displayed more than one hour before the actual departure.

If you want to get a hint of what it looks like now, look at the FRA airport site, about one hour before your arrival and departure. You can look at the map to see where they are located.

In the end, you really don't know if you need a wheelchair or a golfcart transfer until you land. If the downside is not acceptable to you, you should probably request a mobility aid. They can probably provide you with a mobility help even if you forget to make an arrangement, eventually, that is.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 02:56 PM
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I would get a wheelchair to get you between gates.

I've had long walks in Frankfurt and one time the security line I was in closed down and we all had to move quickly to another security line that was no where near the first one. You could get lucky and get 2 gates that are very close to each other but why take a chance?

If it were my husband who almost collapsed last year getting between gates, I would not even be asking this question.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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If you have a long layover between flights to and from Jo'berg, you shouldn't have time pressure for getting to gates. So you could consider gently strolling to the lounge or day room, and making sure you leave there in plenty of time for security and getting to the gate.

If you request assistance you have to be sure they will also collect you from your lounge or day room too. The main advantage of assistance (apart from not killing your husband!) is it generally gets you through security a bit faster.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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I thought the airport was pretty big, but the wheelchair service is excellent.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:29 PM
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Thanks...if they really have the golf cart transfers, that would solve the problem.

Sorry that I forgot to specify we're flying Lufthansa SEA > FRA > JNB and the return trip adds CAI into the mix (Ah, the things we do for frequent flyer freebies ;-)
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Dec 7th, 2013, 09:01 PM
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Well, Lufthansa uses Terminal 1, and if you land at perhaps Gate Z-68, and your next flight is C-1 then you have a long, long way to walk. That said, most of the Lufthansa flights are between the A and the B gates.

Lufthansa provides mobility service, so please go ahead and take it. You just paid a lot of money for a plane ticket so let them help you.

Frankfurt airport is the 3rd largest in Europe and when they finish their 3rd terminal in a couple of years, it will move into 2nd place. They moved something like 56 million passengers through there last year. I find it an efficient airport though, with security being quick and easy, and the gates lined up in a row.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 05:25 AM
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As someone who has had the opportunity to take advantage of assistance in FRA my advice is to do it.

I was about to have knee surgery and I also had my five year old niece with me. It was wonderful and takes all of the guesswork out of the equation.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 05:52 AM
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The length of the walk depends very much on which gates you are coming from and going to.

Why take a risk - since that can change at the last moment? I would definitely sign up for one of those transport carts.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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I have mobility problems myself, and when I landed at FRA couple of years ago, I did not get a wheelchair. If I had to do it all over again, I would have. When everybody gets off the flight at FRA, it is typically a long walk to Passport Control, and everybody is hurrying past you, which tends to make it more difficult to “stroll.” Getting a wheelchair will solve that problem, and they might even make it possible for you to get priority at Passport Control. Check with your airline before your flight to FRA, and then double-check with a flight attendant during the flight.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 09:24 AM
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Thanks very much all....looks like a call to Lufthansa is in the offing to
(a) check types of transport and
(b) reserve SOMEthing even if my husband fights the idea of a wheelchair

In answer to one of the questions above, we will be going from the arrival gate to either the Lufthansa lounge (yay!) or to a shuttle for a nearby airport hotel.

If I learn anything earthshattering about transport options, you'll be the first to know!
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Dec 8th, 2013, 03:05 PM
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My mother still talks about the long walks in Heathrow with a lot of luggage and two small children, one of them being a complete pest (me, though my mother is more polite, though not honest, when describing my behaviour). She was in a hurry and it was anything but a fun experience.

I don't think that even the worst case in Frankfurt is like that, especially if you have sufficient time and can take rests.

But on the other hand, why not use a service instead of taking chances?
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Dec 8th, 2013, 05:47 PM
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For me, Frankfurt was big and confusing...particularly when my travel companion decided to use the restroom while I waited at the luggage carousel, and then NEVER CAME BACK (she somehow ended up in a different carousel area, wondering where I was). I had to haul both of our checked bags to the information desk, where they made an announcement and we finally found each other.
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