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Navigating FRA with international and connecting flight

Flying SFO to Venice. Itineraries are through FRA, MUN, or Zurich. Most of the itineraries (United, Lufthansa, or Swiss Air on United miles) have a short layover for connecting flight to Venice. How much time is needed in FRA to go from international arrival to connecting flights? Our current itinerary has United arrival, 1hr 10m layover, and Lufthansa from FRA to VCE. Is that doable?
Thanks.

Posted by
1974 posts

The airlines do not sell schedules that are not doable. Having passengers missing connections is rather costly for the airlines. So assume that what they offer works.

However if you have the choice I would prefer MUC or ZRH over FRA. MUC has been purposely designed by LH to make short connections possible (hence the MCT of 30 min). ZRH is also very efficient. Short connections work in FRA (I know, I have had a few, never missed on), but they can be a bit hectic, as the layout of the airport is such that you may have to go through security again. In MUC and ZRH you will not need to go through security, only passport control. and you will not see your luggage till VCE (where you will walk through customs).

Posted by
1567 posts

It will be tight but is doable based on the Minimum Connecting Time (MCT). If possible, I would always choose MUC rather than FRA - much smaller airport and easier to navigate. Zurich too would be preferable - however, I haven't done the connection there going into Europe, just returning so not sure about immigration if that will be done in VCE since Switzerland is not part of the EU.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks for these responses. Any preference on using United, Lufthansa, or Swiss Air for the long haul portion? United is 777-300ER into FRA and Lufthansa is Airbus A350-900 into Munich. Both are “overnight” flights.

Posted by
280 posts

I fly from SFO so I am a bit familiar with those routes. In Frankfurt on both Lufthansa and United we had to disembark on the tarmac and get onto a bus to take us to the terminal. annoying and time consuming. Long lines at passport control. Personally, I avoid that airport if I can but if I had to connect there, I am not comfortable with less than 2 hours, preferably longer.
Zurich and Munich are much easier to deal with.

With respect to the airlines: Swiss Air best. Used to like Lufthansa but they have gone downhill. Last flight last fall was very disappointing, food and service. United is , well United but I have seen some improvements so my next flight to Europe is on United through Munich. Cost and schedule make a difference of course.

Posted by
1974 posts

Switzerland is not part of the EU, but is part of the Schengen common travel area, so changing in ZRH you will go through immigration there.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks for info from each. We’re using United miles so were limited in choices at the lower miles economy tier. There was a great route with Swiss Air through Zurich, but when I went to book it, I received a notice that I couldn’t choose seats and they would be assigned before boarding. Definitely did not want to do take-a-chance seating for an overnight 11 hour flight! So, we ended up with Lufthansa through MUC instead of United through FRA.

Your input was totally helpful. Thanks.

Posted by
6729 posts

United and Lufthansa, and probably Swiss Air codeshare, so when making your reservation check to see which is operating the flight. If United is operating to eastbound long-haul flight chances are Lufthansa is operating the westbound flight. That’s why when looking on sites like Expedia, Orbitz, etc., you’ll see flights for multiple airlines departing and arriving at the same time. It’s the same plane with tickets being sold by multiple airlines. Assuming you flights depart and arrive on time, 1hr 10min should be sufficient to make the connection barring extremely long lines going through immigration (FRA or MUN). I’m not sure about Zurich. Our personal preference is to have a 2-2.5 hour layover. That allows for something not going as planned.

Posted by
1974 posts

To give you an idea about what Zurich is like. Last week I flew to Dublin. Dublin is non part of Schengen, and AerLingus docs at E, so this is the worst case scenario regarding to total time to/from gate.

Upon leaving (Tuesday morning) I clocked 28 minutes between getting down from the train and being at the gate. And that included dropping off a suitcase at the bag drop. Waiting time at security was a few minutes (as is typical) and I was through passport control in a few minutes too.
On the way back between the moment the doors of the plane opened and I was at in the luggage hall after 30 minutes. There were no long queues at passport control. When I arrived at the luggage carrousel And my suitcase was already on it. It was just a pity I had to wait an hour for my train home...

Changing planes I would expect you to be at your next gate in 20 minutes.

ZRH is very efficient. It is a pleasure to fly to/from that airport. I used to fly almost weekly from ZRH before the pandemic and never have a I missed a flight, and I usually plan my train arrival something like an hour before check in cut-off.