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5 Minute Connection in Frankfurt Airport

I am sure most of you know the old line, "what's the difference between a fairy tale and a war story?" This tale falls under "war story."

We were flying Philly to Frankfurt to Istanbul, via Lufthansa, leaving PHL 5:45PM, arrive FRA 7:30, leave 9:05. Two emails on flight day by 10AM, flight pushed back to first 6:05 and then 6:25. Flight-tracking showed our plane left from FRA at 2:30 rather than 1:10 - initial schedule had it due here 3:45 on 1:10 departure. This was subsequently announced on board our flight as due to mechanical problems with the aircraft that had to be fixed on ground in Frankfurt before its flight here. When we got to airport, BOARDING TIME was now showing 6:45! Yikes. Incoming flight seen on tarmac at 5:10 but not at gate until 5:20 to unload due to cross traffic. We did not take off until 7:18, and flight time was consistent throughout for an 8:30 arrival. We convinced staff to let us move to unoccupied head of premium economy (first seats after exit) before landing, and were set to jump out. Before landing, announcement is made that rescheduled connections are on your mobile, which we don't use. Plane hits ground 8:34, taxis (this is Frankfurt), and parks on tarmac at 8:40, so now it's wait for bus to fill. But problem opening door, 8:44 before cabin open. Grab spot on first bus by door and wait several minutes. At 8:57 it stops at bus entry, which happens to be at left side of B concourse, which is as close as possible for us to gate B47. We grab first free Lufthansa rep inside door at 8:58, show her our boarding pass, and ask if there is any chance we are still good. She sees boarding time of 8:35 on the pass, starts to say "no", and then sees on her hand-held that the flight number is still up and gate open. She points the way, and we rush off. I get my first long view of our gate and see there is an attendant there and that there are people still standing beyond the gate entrance in the walkway. I grab wife's boarding pass, charge ahead, and at 9:03 frantically tell her my wife is 150 yards behind me. She smiles and says no problem. Turns out we were not even the last people on. Amazing.

Now, we do realize the amount of luck here. They could not directly reschedule us via mobile. We are carry-on only, or that would have surely killed it and there would have been someone with a sign for our flight on the tarmac along with others. We were flying to Turkey, which meant that we did not have to go through passport control or any new security (bus entry is controlled as airside). The ongoing flight was running just enough behind, as I saw before our trip it could just as easily have pushed at 9AM. Both flights were Lufthansa. And funny thing, had we gated, we would likely have been at A69 (this flight's gate for its return to Philly, and for the 1st time in 3 flights back yesterday it was actually at the gate and not on the field) and the distance to cover between there and B47 is almost a mile!

We know we would have been re-booked (they knew this was caused by their mechanical problem), they even offered to do this for us immediately when I discussed this with them in Philly. But their next Istanbul flight was 4 hours later and we did not want to sit around if we could help it, so we decided we would wait until Frankfurt, where I figured we at least would have a chance to convince them to put us on a Turkish Air flight that left one hour earlier than the Lufthansa (TA is in Star Alliance), or even better send us via Nuremberg at 10 for an even earlier TA flight, both options had seats available before we left home.

So how much time is needed for a Frankfurt connection? Apparently 5 minutes - and I am already ducking for cover on that remark!

Posted by
3520 posts

Good story, Larry. Twice, we have had to run between gates at FRA - - no small feat at our ages (late 70's), and found our flights already boarding when we arrived; but we never had such a close call as you had. Amazingly, our checked bags arrived home with us. Have to applaud that German efficiency. However, for our next trip, I have passed up an itinerary with a 35 minute layover at FRA. No sense in pushing our luck.

Posted by
304 posts

Hi Larry! Flying is such an adventure today,more so than when it started I think!!!! I am the person you kindly counselled about flying into Phila. on the day the Pope was leaving. Well, we made it... the next day!! We got to Rome's airport at 7:00 for a noon flight. We took a train from our hotel and wanted to be SURE we had plenty of time. As I remember we boarded on time but had to be bused to the plane. I think ,because of the fire in the Spring, they didn't have enough jet ways. We got pushed back and nothing, we sat. The captain came on and said they had to reboot the computer and we needed to go back to the "gate". Since we sat there for about 1/2 hour we had to top off the fuel(I didn't complain) Got pushed back again and we're moving, we're moving and STOP. Everyone groans. The captain came on and said now there is a mechanical problem,back to the gate. We need a fuel pump and it's coming from Texas! They give us chocolate ice cream and finally cancelled the flight. Do you know how long it takes 240 people to get their luggage, board buses and then have to check into a hotel with passports and only 3 clerks?!!!!!! We even had to call a "special number" to be re-booked, not the same seats!! They did provide dinner and breakfast for us and buses back to the airport the next day to start all over again. This time the flight was only delayed for 3 hours while they finished the fuel pump. Needless to say we missed the Pope confusion!! Can't wait till they finally come up with the Transporter!! Just wanted to let you know we did make it home!