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most painless European airport for transfer

I'd like to know what European airport has provided the most pain free transfer experience. After changing planes in Amsterdam several times, I've decided 'never again'. Insane crush at passport control each time, distances that are impossible with short connection times... just generally painful and stress inducing. The crush at passport control particularly puzzles me, since the Netherlands is a very orderly country. What airport has provided you with a reasonable experience in making it through passport control and to your conencting flight? Thanks

Posted by
9363 posts

Hmmm, I have always heard that Schipol was one of the best! The crowd at passport control has nothing to do with the "orderliness" of the country, but everything to do with how many planes are coming in at the same time. For example, at Heathrow I have stood in line for over an hour before. But when I went through there in August I walked straight up to a desk, with no waiting. And distances are dependent on what airline you are using and what gates they use. Any airport has the potential for making you cover long distances.
There is no perfect airport. The best you can do is allow plenty of time for connections.

Posted by
18064 posts

Connecting airport or final destination. To where are you ultimately going? I've flown into FRA many times without a problem, but it was always my ultimate destination.

Posted by
31325 posts

Sherry, All airports can be problematic at times, however I agree with Lee that FRA is probably your best bet. I've probably transited through there more than any other airport, and I've always found things fairly well organized (even though it's a huge airport). On one occasion flying into FRA, I had exactly a one hour layover to get to a connecting flight to FCO. I asked about the short time frame and was told that it was a "legal connection". I made the connection with a bit of time to spare, which was probably helped by the fact that I was among the first to disembark from my first flight. Had I been seated at the back of the plane, I may not have had enough time. Being among the first to disembark, there was only a small queue for Passport control so I got through there quickly, and the security was among the quickest, most thorough and most efficient I've ever seen. In contrast, the last time I was through AMS, things didn't go as smoothly as in FRA. Cheers!

Posted by
2081 posts

Sherry, i agree about the time and when other flights are arriving. on my last trip into AMS, i was the 4th person in line for Passport COntrol. Most if not all of my flights in Europe on my last trip had really short lines. The longest line i had on that trip was back in PDX. go figure. Heathrow was sort of the longest of the bunch, but there was alot of people too. just a comment. what i did on my recent trip was to find o/n stay in AMS. that way any screwups wouldnt affect my tranfers. However, i did loose 2 days. One going out and one on my return trip. On my next trip i may chance the same day transfer if i can get a decent connection time. happy trails.

Posted by
8960 posts

Odd?????? Schipol airport is generally considered to be the best airport in world to do transfers. In my travels I'd agree with that assessment 100%. A close second would be Munich airport. Frankfurt and CDG go at the bottom of my list, I avoid them at all costs. At Schipol there is an express lane at immigration for those with tight connections. The is a monitor overhead listing which flights qualify, I have never seen that feature at any other airport.

Posted by
12040 posts

I would say avoid Heathrow. Not that it's ineffecient, it just receives such a large number of passengers that there's inevitably going to be a crush of people every now and again. The most efficient airport I've ever transitted through was Arlanda (Stockholm), but of course, this isn't a major hub for traveling between North American and Europe.

Posted by
11275 posts

I agree that everyone's experience is different, and that it can differ each time at the same airport. I've never had problems at Frankfurt, and was surprised to read that several here (not just Michael above) hate transferring there. I did not have particularly good experiences at Arlanda the two times I transferred. And CDG is always excoriated for how horrible it is to transfer there, but the one time I did it I had no problems (my arriving plane was 2 hours late and I was terrified, but I made the connection easily with time to spare). So, all I can say is, if you personally hate transferring at AMS, try other airports and see how they are for you. But don't be surprised if you can't find a consistent "best airport" anymore than you can find a consistent "cheapest airline."

Posted by
1403 posts

I've had very good luck at Schipol and the worst has been Frankfurt! I totally try to avoid Frankfurt now.

Posted by
12391 posts

MUNICH (MUC) hands down. Voted as best airport hub in Europe practically every year. Since you are in the Bay Area, Lufthansa has a very nice daily from SFO to MUC. I go to Europe once or twice a year and I'm willing to pay extra to go through MUC. That's the only airport where I can easily transfer in just 15 or 20 minutes, including passport control. AMS is second best for me though, so not sure about your experience. No problems with ZRH either. I heard that CPH is also great, but hane no direct experience.

Posted by
18064 posts

I agree that Munich is a good airport in which to transfer, as long as the transfer is in Terminal 2. But Terminal 1 is on the other side of the airport, and a lot of non-Star-Alliance airlines use Terminal 1 to go to other airports in Europe. I don't think Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 would be an easy transfer.

Posted by
21356 posts

I am with Michael. Schipol has always been my airport of choice. Rome tends to be my last choice.

Posted by
8293 posts

Of utmost importance is not the airport but the time allowed for the connection to the next flight. Do NOT book a flight which will have you biting your nails if the plane does not land on time. Do NOT book a flight that will not allow for a long wait to get through passport control or time to get to a different terminal for the connecting flight. Be proactive.

Posted by
7979 posts

Personally, I think Frankfurt airport is a breeze. Quick and efficient. Land, get luggage, and in a taxi 45 min. after landing. Will let you know how things go in Iceland next week, when I have a 40 min. layover. Everyone has promised it will be smooth and easy.

Posted by
8960 posts

Personally, I think Frankfurt airport is a breeze. Quick and efficient. Land, get luggage, and in a taxi 45 min. after landing. The topic is about using airports for flight transfers not as a final destination. I haven't had problems at any airport in the respect.

Posted by
4569 posts

i think Munich is a good airport for connections. I also like Zurich; I had less than 50 minutes to transfer their last year after my flight arrived late and still had time to change terminals, go through pass control, be interviewed by security, and make my connection. I'm surprised the OP had a problem at AMS; I still think it is one of the better major airports for connections. I hate CDG for connections.

Posted by
227 posts

My hat is off to Munich. FRA is fine as long as your plane lets you off right at the terminal. I have been on several flights where the plan stopped pretty far from the terminal - we had to get off our plane, walk down the stairs and into a waiting bus. Believe me, that can be a real pain if it's raining/snowing!!!! A couple of times there were 2 or 3 buses waiting, each for a different set of connections (they are very organized when it comes to trying to get you to your next connection). When that has happened to us, however, you were considered to have left the secure area and we had to go thru security again, unlike de-boarding right at the terminal. We have never experienced a problem in AMS.

Posted by
2876 posts

I agree with Laura: Munich and Zurich. Zurich airport even has a dentist. You never know.

Posted by
12391 posts

Sherry, You live in San Jose, therefore for European travel your (and my) airport of choice is SFO. SFO is a United major hub, United is a partner of Lufthansa/Swiss as they are all members of the Star Alliance. As such, from SFO there are many daily non stop options to the destinations where those Star Alliance members fly (FRA, MUC, ZRH). Of course Air France also has two daily pairs to CDG from SFO, but if you thought AMS is bad, you definitely won't like CDG. What I don't like about flying KLM from SFO to AMS is that KLM for that segment uses the oldest airplanes they have. A 20 some year old B747 in summer and an old MD11 in winter.

Posted by
6778 posts

Never say "never". I found Schiphol to be great (with enough time of course to wander around, grab food, and make the most of it). The key words you used are "short connection times" - if so, what do you expect of an airport? The onus is on you to give yourself a few hours to make the connection. A successful hub airport is one that has a lot of flights getting in simultanously, hence the crush at passport control. Schipol, Munich, Reykjavik, and even Frankfurt and Charles du Gaulle are all great airports to go through in my experience...it totally depends on the exact characteristics of your flight. If you have enough time to kill, you won't get stressed and you can just hang out and enjoy the airport amenities (in which case Schiphol and Munich are truly great)

Posted by
11798 posts

I've had good luck with Schipol (Amsterdam) and Frankfurt - less so in Rome, London, and Madrid (but really none were a nightmare like Chicago). I haven't been through Munich. Lately I've been working hard to incorporate direct flights into my plans. A good change is still a change, and not that good.

Posted by
2297 posts

I've transfered in FRA many times and it has usually been very good. Exceptions included chaos due to fog or snow (in the latter case most airports in Europe were shut down anyways). The big advantage of FRA is its size in that it offers alternative connections should you miss your original one because your incoming flight is delayed. You're much more likely to get a new connection here than at one of the smaller airports.

Posted by
223 posts

Debatable which are best, but most agree Heathrow is the worst for quick connections. If you have less than 60 minutes connections time, you can forget it.

Posted by
1994 posts

Folks, thanks for the responses. I had forgotten how pleasant Zurich was. And one of the Delta employees told me she almost never hears complaints about the German airports; it sounds like folks have had good experiences Frankfurt and Munich. Something to remember for my next flight. And regarding booking adequate transfer time... that's not something you can always control. I did book adequate transfer, until Delta/KLM called me 4 hours before my flight to tell me I was being bumped, and then booked me on another overbooked flight, which then bumped me to another flight. Not a pretty experience.

Posted by
9363 posts

But that scenario is not the fault of the airport. It could happen anywhere.