That I am writing this from Frankfurt airport a day after we were supposed to arrive home is a hint. I posted about an 85 min transfer time in FRA to transfer Lufthansa ("LH") flights (EU flight to an international flight). We actually never found out, here is our experience:
Our flight from Athens to FRA was delayed by 3 hours and 39 min. So, by the time we got to FRA, our flight home was long gone. It was not just us, our flight had a large number of people who missed connections. That makes sense since FRA is a big hub. Over three hours of delay means more opportunity to miss flights. And there were multiple flights arriving at the same time we arrived. It was a swarm to the service agents and long lines quickly formed.
We then spent over three hours in FRA terminal trying to get a flight home. We waited over two hours to speak to a Lufthansa service desk person. The agent, who told us she had been on duty over 8 hours, was extremely nice, but it took time to rebook us. We got a lower class of seat, but we were grateful since several people in our line had no options at all until Monday or Tuesday.
Oh, also our bags were gone and the baggage was closed. BTW I dialed LH customer service when we landed, hoping we could rebook over the phone, but after 75 minutes on hold, I hung up.
I am posting for the following reasons: We asked everyone we encountered at Lufthansa, and many passengers in line, what was going on. Here is what we heard (again, I am not bashing LH or any other airline, simply giving you a heads up based on my experience, much like I look here for tips).
1) Plan to encounter a delay for travel in Europe this summer. You may not, but delays - were were told - are now the rule not the exception. We heard from multiple airport staff that this is b/c people are traveling this summer (hoo-ray!), but staffing during Covid went down and there are not enough staff to handle the crowds. From gate agents to maintenance. Is that true, I cannot say, I can only report on our experience and what we were told, but it makes sense to me.
2) Plan at least a three hour layover in FRA this summer. Whoever posted about a two hour layover in FRA being not enough, you were so right! While a shorter layover ultimately may not present problems, If you are booking a flight for travel this summer, please consider a three hour window for your connection in FRA. It is a large airport, very nice, but again LARGE. So you are walking a long distance, and there is security and passport reviews and then a "just for Americans" document check. While B. gates to A gates or Z gates look close on a small FRA map, they are not. The flight boards have walking times, check those out.
3) Kudos to the LH service center staff who stayed late into the night to help people. We got a great night in a hotel, with breakfast. Not planned, but we did not spend the night in the terminal. The hotel said they had dozens of LH travelers checking in BTW. We got all checked for return flights on on our mobile apps at the hotel so that saved time, but we still returned to the airport (three hours early) b/c we had to have LH find our luggage and route it home.
4) Toss a couple Binax AG tests in your bag just in case of delay. Read the CDC Covid "delayed flight" information. We took tests on the day before departure, but those expired on the day our flight left without us. We went over the CDC guidelines, but it was not clear how long our tests were good for. When I uploaded the 6/3 test result to my phone app for our new tickets it was rejected and we could not check in. So LH gave us a voucher and there is an all night EMed stand in FRA that was great. Super easy to upload (even at 1:00 a.m. after a long day) and we were able to get our boarding passes before bed. If we had not had the FRA test site, we would have been out of luck, so having the Binax tests may be a good back up.
Finally, happy and safe travels!