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Airport questions (short layovers)

THANKS to all who replied so quickly! I thought the price was too good to be true even if it was direct through the airline. I'm leaving my post up but no more replies needed. :-)
We may be seasoned travelers, but this is our first time back to Germany in 8 years. We're considering flying from Chicago to Berlin mid-September, with a 1 hour layover in Munich to change planes. Is that enough time? (We can't run as fast as we once did.) And then departing early October from Dresden to Chicago with 1 hour layover in Frankfurt. Also, would we have to claim luggage or would bags be checked through to final destinations? And when do we go through passport control: Munich or Berlin; Dresden or Frankfort? Thanks!

Posted by
2394 posts

That would not be enough time for me to be comfortable. You will have to go through immigration in Munich. You don’t need to collect your bags until Berlin.

For the return flight, you don’t go through immigration in Frankfurt. You will do that in Dresden and in Chicago. That’s still a tight connection. International flights start boarding an hour before departure. I would want a 2 hour connection.

Posted by
6099 posts

I haven't been to that airport. Is it all on a connected ticket? Are there additional flights following yours? We've done connections in Amsterdam of less than an hour twice and made it. One time our other option was a four hour layover which was less than desirable to us, so we took the short layover, knowing if we missed it, we'd end up waiting four hours for the flight we might have changed to anyway.

Posted by
19170 posts

Munich, Berlin, Dresden, and Frankfurt are all in Germany, which is a Schengen country. You will go through immigration (incoming passport control) in Munich and emigration (outgoing passport control) in Frankfurt. If you flights are all on one ticket, your bags should be checked through from Chicago to Berlin and from Dresden to Chicago, so you wouldn't have to claim them in Munich or Frankfurt.

Are these flights all on Lufthansa?

For the change in Munich, if your flight is one-time, one hour is going to be tight. You need to know where you are going. If your trans-Atlantic flight is late, I don't think you will make it. However, the good thing is there are probably a lot of later flights to Berlin that they can put you on.

For the change in Frankfurt, the flight from Dresden should be on-time, but if you miss your flight to Chicago for any reason, there would be fewer options and they might all be full. Your best chance is probably if you are flying Lufthansa and the arrival gate is an A gate and the departure gate is a Z gate. The A and Z concourses are in the same building on two adjacent levels, and you change floors when going through emigation.

For the return flight, you don’t go through immigration in Frankfurt.

You don't go through immigration in Frankfurt, but you do go through emigration (leaving Schengen passport control) in Frankfurt.

Posted by
1081 posts

The main issue is if one of your flights is just 20-30 min delayed that you will not make your next flight. I try for 3 hr layovers so I build in a margin of error and this has saved me more than once on our trips.

Posted by
35 posts

An alternative would be to fly to Munich, then train to Berlin. On the return, train from Dresden to Frankfurt, then fly home.

Posted by
6099 posts

We all have different travel styles--carry on vs check, train or car, etc. etc. But, here's my question, no right or wrong, just preference. If you take the tighter connection AND your flights are connected, why wouldn't one want to chance taking the tight connection, knowing that if you didn't make it, you'd end up on the next flight, that one that offered a more generous connection that you might have selected otherwise? I always like to get as much sight seeing time as possible, so I'd take the tight connection. Sometimes the airline will hold a plane or keep boarding open longer if they know they have folks coming from a connecting flight. One possible downside is if the following flights are full or close to full, and if it were me, I'd be monitoring that. No right or wrong, just the way I roll.

It is completely different if the flights are on separate airlines and I'm very risk adverse in this case. I would want at least a day between. Seriously. I won't book trains or subsequent flights within a day because of a concern that a flight would be severely delayed or cancelled.

Posted by
5688 posts

We're considering flying from Chicago to Berlin mid-September, with a 1 hour layover in Munich to change planes.

Assuming this is all on one ticket, I’d be ok with an hour in Munich although some people may not. If you miss your connection, the airline will need to get you on the next available flight which will probably be the same day since there are many daily flights between Munich and Berlin.

And then departing early October from Dresden to Chicago with 1 hour layover in Frankfurt.

This one is more questionable because there aren’t as many options back to Chicago and the transatlantic flight is longer. How would you feel if you got stuck in Frankfurt overnight or got stuck on a later flight in middle seats? International flights generally start boarding earlier.

I often choose short connections because I hate waiting in airports. It can be stressful as you need to be prepared to get off the plane and not stop until you are at the gate of your departing flight (e.g., no stopping to buy water or at the restroom). I consider whether there are later flights to my destination the same day and how I would feel if I got stuck overnight in the connecting city.

Posted by
325 posts

departing early October from Dresden to Chicago with 1 hour layover in

During my working years I often flew via Frankfurt back to the US. I always flew to Frankfurt the evening before my morning flight back to the US. There was (still is) a Marriott connected to Terminal #1 where I would spend the night. Too often I had colleagues decline this rather boring option and then miss their connection in Frankfurt due to weather or other delays.

Now that I travel for leisure only, I still spend my final night in my departure city rather than making a connection. Sure, I spend an evening on the train or plane rather than enjoying a final night in a city I have been visiting...worth it to me.

Posted by
963 posts

Are you looking at the tickets or are they bought? I’d be a little less worried about the Munich arrival, just because you’re in Germany and I’m sure you’d be accommodated with a later flight to the capital if needed (and I’m sure there are more than a few.) Also, I’m assuming you’ll be arriving in Munich early in the morning when there’s much less going on and it’s less crowded. All in all, while an hour feels tight I’d feel confident about getting through.

Frankfurt I’m a little less confident about. I was just through there last summer. The airport is huge. Our flight was late and deplaned on the tarmac. Myself and a few others got a little lost, and our flight home was well into boarding when we arrived. Took about 30+ minutes from when we landed. We did get on ok, but it was nerve-wracking.

I’m sure 9 times out of 10 you’d be fine, but the stakes are much higher on the way back. If it’s possible to arrange for a bigger layover I probably would. You might also have luck finding cheap flights out of Berlin and consider just taking the train from Dresden straight to Berlin airport.

Posted by
4 posts

I appreciate everyone's replies. As a result, we've changed our flight plan to allow a 2-3 hour layover. We're still in the planning stages and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions once we've firmed them up. Thank you and tschuss!