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Connecting flight in Frankfurt - 1 hour and 15 minutes to make our flight

Friends,
My wife and I are returning to Chicago from Lisbon on Oct. 7th. We will first fly from Lisbon to Frankfurt and from there on to Chicago. We are scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt at 11:30am. Our flight to Chicago is scheduled to leave at 12:45pm. That's a tight connection time of 1 hr. 15 min.. What are our chances? Any advice?

Posted by
4535 posts

There is not that much you can do other than hussle and hope the first flight is not delayed. It is a "legal" connection time. I usually look in advance at an airport map and scope out the path, but it's dumb luck otherwise. I've had to run at Frankfurt a few times but always made it--even with a pretzel roll sandwich in hand (which I highly recommend over airplane food).

Posted by
1676 posts

I've been in that situation twice at Frankfurt and made my connection both times, BUT not without a LOT of stress and only because my ongoing flights departed late.

You can read about our most recent experience on the first page of my Ireland trip report here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/countryside-castles-and-celts-croatia-and-ireland-trip-report-part-2-ireland

Frankfurt airport is HUGE. Chances are your flight to Chicago will not depart from the same terminal as where your flight from Lisbon lands. Even if it does, you will probably need to go through what I described in my report.

Now, if you are travelling on one ticket and there are other flights departing later in the day that you could take to Chicago if you miss the original one, then you might have nothing to lose by booking that connection, but be prepared to be stressed out and frustrated in trying to make it.

Posted by
19146 posts

I'd say that if your flights are all on Lufthansa and on a single ticket, you would probably have a good chance of making the connection, as long as your flight from Lisbon is on time getting into Frankfurt. If your flight from Lisbon comes into an 'A' gate and goes out to Chicago from a 'Z' gate, you just need to change floors in the same terminal building, going through emigration (departing Schegen passport check) which usually goes pretty quick.

Update: According ot the Frankfurt Airport website, tomorrow's 11:30 flight from Lisbon is on Lufthansa and will arrive in Hall A. The 12:45 flight to Chicago is on United and leaves from Hall B. There is a connecting tunnel between the Halls; the elevators to the tunnel are around gate A14. If your flight arrives near gate A14, that would help. I think you go through emigration in Hall B, and there might be a security check getting into Hall B from the tunnel.

In 2002, we used the tunnel to connect between a flight arriving at A and a flight departing B. It was 4 months after 9-11, and, as I remember, we went through 3 security checks getting to the outbound gate, but we made it in an hour.

Posted by
276 posts

We have flown through Frankfurt a number of times including recently and it has always been stressful and crowded. 2 things to know:

1.Often one has to board a waiting bus that takes you to the terminal.
2. You will need to pass through passport control as you head to your gate.

It was more stress not knowing this so that is why I mention it.
For me, I would no longer book so short a connection. But if you have it and don't have an alternative try and be as organized as possible and hope for the best. Good Luck!

Posted by
3614 posts

We once had that same connection time at FRA. Not only is it a huge airport; but there seem to be changes going on all the time. As luck would have it, our first leg, from Zagreb, left late. I don’t remember if that trip involved the shuttle at FRA, but there was more involved than just walking a few steps to another gate. We ran through the duty free gauntlet; and when we arrived at our gate, boarding had already started. There was some kind of security check there; but since we were at the gate we knew we were safe. Amazingly, our bags made it back to SFO with us. Got to admire that German efficiency.

Posted by
4010 posts

You are solely dependent on that Lisbon flight arriving on time. I would contact Lufthansa & create a lengthier connection cushion as that is too much stress particularly since your Chicago flight could close 30 minutes prior to departure which means you really may not have 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Posted by
6706 posts

Tight but possible. We had a tight connection returning from Madrid in 2019. Fortunately we had been through the airport before and had an idea where we were going and the passport control line was short. We arrived at the gate as boarding had just begun. Of course it was on that trip I had the dreaded SSSS on my boarding pass for extra screening.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks to those who took the time to share their experience making a tight connection in Frankfurt. Great advice, some of it hard-won. Thanks!

Posted by
8994 posts

Google your flight numbers, (example: LH 461) which will bring up Flight Aware and you can then see which gates your arriving flight usually uses and if it is usually on time or late. Then you can also see what gates your departing flight usually uses so you know if you have a long way to walk or not.

Posted by
299 posts

Also from Chicago, flew this summer (May/June 2022) fr ORD to ATH, ATH back to ORD, connecting in Frankfurt both ways. Booked through UAL, but flights were operated by Lufthansa. FRA is a Lufthansa hub, we thought that meant things would go smoothly...

From ATH back to ORD (on our way home), our layover in FRA was 85 minutes, but United assured me when we ticketed that was a sufficient layover. Maybe preCovid? Maybe not a weekend? Maybe this agent had never actually been in FRA airport.? Short capture, LH was 3 hours 39 min late getting to FRA, we missed the Chicago flight and had to stay overnight in FRA.

But here is the point: it was not just our plane, there were hundreds (thousands?) of people deplaning in FRA who had missed connecting flights because of delays (it was a beautiful, sunny day, no weather issues). Remember, you land and then taxi, it takes time to get off the plane itself and then get through the crush in the terminal. If one plane is delayed, that gate is occupied when the next plane arrives so there is more delay. There were security and passport checks. (And our luggage was checked through to ORD already.) It eats up time even when you arrive on time. This is especially true because FRA is a giant hub, people are changing planes, not a lot of people leaving the terminal in FRA so it is crowded.

FRA is huge (an opinion from someone flying in and out of ORD all her life!) We studied the airport map in advance and it gates looked deceptively close. They are not. The bigger issue is the lack of staff due to (we were told) Covid.

Go to flight stats, look up your flight, scroll down to see the on time performance. Would highly (highly) recommend extending your layover in FRA, from now on we are planning on a three hour layover there, at least until the staffing shortage eases. You can see my post on our experience in FRA:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/greece/update-on-post-re-85-min-connection-fra-ath-how-it-turned-out

Good luck!

Posted by
299 posts

I see there is a non-stop to ORD leaving FRA at 5:20 p.m. Would that be a better, less stressful fit? Get the pretzel role referred to in the post above? :)