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Frankfurt Airport v. Munich Airport

Hi guys! I am booking a trip to Italy next spring, using United Mileage. For the return trip, looks like I will be flying on Lufthansa and its regional line Air Dolomiti. I have flown them in the past, but a few years ago. I have a choice of leaving from Florence with a 70-minute connection time in Frankfurt, or leaving from Bologna about an hour earlier, with a 125-minute connection time in Munich. I can easily make either departure in Italy, and both will get me home at the same time, quite late at night.
My thinking is that the connection time in Frankfurt, a much bigger airport I think, might be tight, while the longer connection time in Munich ought to be easy. So, I am leaning toward using Munich.
Is my thinking correct? Any experienced advice would be welcomed! Thanks.

Posted by
6443 posts

On the surface it looks like the longer connection time has the advantage of being less stressful and having a better chance of success.

Are you able to research where your arrival and departure gates are in FRA and MUC to see just how much distance you have to cover?

I have not been to either airport, but given the conditions you outline, I would probably go with the longer connection time.

Posted by
5904 posts

I avoid Frankfurt, large, confusing. Go with the easier Munich airport.

Posted by
4701 posts

You could argue that Frankfurt has more ways to get you home if there is a service disruption (volcano eruption, strike, etc.) of some kind. Although others have differed, I've had good experiences with Lufthansa service. However, I often fly Business Class. I think that non-revenue tickets on any airline are always going to risk poorer service in the line for emergency re-routing!

I don't hate Frankfurt, but the distances are indeed larger. On your return, you will have to do Immigration between the two flights home, so the longer layover is more conservative. You are likely to have a line, for "All Other Passports." My homeward Immigration line in Frankfurt in September, 2019 was less than five minutes, but I've had long waits elsewhere.

Posted by
2847 posts

I've had connections in Munich the last 2 years, and they've been pretty easy. If the connection times were equal, I'd choose Munich. Given that there's a much longer connection time in Munich, that makes it an even easier decision.

Posted by
154 posts

For us, Munich is infinitely easier and more pleasant than Frankfurt ever is. Munich is large, but certainly smaller and more easily navigated than Frankfurt. We have flown the Lufthansa/United/Air Dolomiti combo you describe 5 times in the last 2 years, and it is always smooth--the gates are fairly close, and the environment is pleasant and officials (if you have to go through passport control) have always been efficient and polite. Bonus, there are several good places to eat on the Lufthansa/United path and it seems that if all goes well, you would have time for that, should you so choose. To me, no question. Munich.

Posted by
2235 posts

Thanks everyone. Looks like Munich, which is what I figured. It may take me an extra hour to drive there, given my current travel plans, but I will also save what looks like a $55 drop-off charge for the car, since I will be starting the rental at Bologna Airport.
PS: Just booked the flight thru Munich! No contrary comments moving forward please, LOL. Thanks again.

Posted by
17720 posts

Before posting, I went to the Frankfurt airport to see what concourses your flights might use. I think Lufthansa trans-Atlantic flights usually use Z gates. Concourse Z is directly above concourse A. In fact the jetways are shared; they just direct you up or down stairs depending on the flight. Flights to/from Schengen countries use the A level; flights to/from non-Schengen flights use the Z level. To transfer from a flight from Italy to a flight to the US, you would just go upstairs through emigration. 70 minutes should be enough time.

Unfortunately, it looks like Air Dolomiti uses the B concourse, so you would have to change concourse. There is a tunnel between A and B, which would allow you to avoid security, but the change would still take longer, so it looks like Munich would probably be a better choice.

BTW, Munich also has the two level layout, with non-Schengen ("airside") being on the top level, but it also has a new satellite for Terminal 2, also with two levels. You might have to change between the two, so it might be as complicated as FRA. There is a shuttle, but I believe it segregates Schengen and non-Schengen (different trains). With over 2 hours, making the change should not be a problem.

It's funny. Everyone wants to fly through Munich because it is "smaller", but with so many people wanting to fly through Munich, they will have to make it larger (already have), so the advantage is disappearing.

Posted by
1580 posts

but it also has a new satellite for Terminal 2, also with two levels. You might have to change between the two, so it might be as complicated as FRA.

That's not my experience (went throug that terminal several times). You take the elevator or escalator down to the little automatic train and after a ride of less than one minute you continue walking the short distance to your gate. No camparison with FRA. And it offers all sort of amenities.

Posted by
17720 posts

And if you are flying into MUC from a Schengen airport (eg, Italy) and leaving to a non-Schengen airport (eg, US), you would still have to change levels after the train and go through emigration, which you apparently didn't do (you didn't mention doing it. You didn't even mention taking the elevator back up to the gate level.).

I once flew into FRA-A from Munich and changed to a flight to the US from concourse B, and made the change in less than an hour via the tunnel. It was certainly no more difficult than what you describe at MUC. There is also the Skyline shuttle from the top level of B to the top level of A/Z.

Depending on the gates used, flying through FRA could be a lot more or less complicated than through MUC, you can't make just one blanket statement.

Posted by
1859 posts

No question in my mind-Munich, hands down. I have been through FRA many times but for the past several trips to Europe and home, since Denver reinstated the RT/Nonstop DEN-MUN flights, Munich has become my connecting airport of choice. It's small when compared to FRA and it's much easier to make onward connections. Absolutely the easiest I've experienced in Europe! We have never run into crowds and have always made connections easily and with time to spare.