I am going to book flights soon from NYC to Prague - I have a choice of connecting through Dusseldorf, Munich, Frankfurt or Vienna. Can leave from Newark or JFK. Does anyone have experience with these airports? Opinions on which is most user-friendly for connecting flights? Is a 90 minute layover long enough or should I book a two and a half hour layover? Thanks in advance for any help!
I've only been to Frankfurt on that list, but it is very big and busy. If all else is equal I'd choose one of the others, which will be smaller and less busy.
I have only used Frankfurt (busy, hectic) and Munich (less busy, bright, modern). All things being equal, I would use Munich. Also happy with Zurich
Vienna is a pleasant, relatively small, easy to negotiate airport. If you have the time you could even stay there and enjoy one of Europe's great cities for a day or more and then take the train to Prague. Maybe consider flying open jaw into Vienna and out of Prague.
Thank you so much for the help...I think I will stay away from Frankfurt and look at Munich or Vienna. I found out today that Amsterdam is another option for connections. What do you think about that airport? I'm looking at a combo of lufthansa/continental or klm/delta flights with approximately an 80-90 minute layover. I appreciate your opinions... Thanks!
I've used FRA multiple times without a problem and wouldn't hesitate to use it again.
Schiphol (AMS) is good sized, but is well designed and easy to use. It is modern and efficient, signs and announcements are in English, it is bright with lots of windows, moving walkways, and information booths. Passport control and customs are usually quick and easy. I like this airport a lot.
I've had connections at Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Amsterdam. I've also flown into and out of Düsseldorf, but never connected there. Both Munich and Amsterdam are quite user-friendly; either would be a top choice for me. My connection at Vienna was also easy, but in my case I was transiting between two non-schengen countries so I did not need to go through immigration and both flights were in the same terminal. I know that I had only about 90 minutes on my connection there and had no problem. I would prefer not to transfer via Frankfurt given the other choices. I've never had a real problem there ... it is just a large airport. I suspect that Düsseldorf would probably be fairly simple based on my one flight there.
Thank you everyone! One more question - what is a non-schengen country and how does that affect customs and immigration? If we are coming from the USA and going on to Prague, I'm assuming we will go through customs at our connecting airport as it is our point of entry into the EU. Is this correct? Will we have to then go back through security before boarding our flight to Prague?
If your luggage is checked through to Prague, you won't see it until you get there, and that is where you will go through customs. If it is only checked through to the connecting airport, you will have to collect it there, go through customs there, and recheck it. However, you will go through immigration at your first stop in the Schengen zone (DUS, MUC, FRA, or VIE). Your flight from the U.S. will arrive at a gate where you will be sent directly to Passport Control. After that, flights between Schengen countries will be considered domestic flights with no passport checks. I've arrived in FRA 5 times and MUC twice, always with a carryon. Customs has always been at the exit of the baggage claim, which is just after Passport Control. There is one line marked nothing to claim. I've never had anything to claim and just walked out. I have never seen an airport, in Europe or here, where the exit from immigration/customs didn't dump you outside of security. You have to go back through. At FRA and MUC, you'll be OK as long as you don't change airlines. Changing airlines often means a change of terminals and/or concourses, which could be a distance apart and in separate security zones. I've changed planes, both Lufthansa, at FRA and had to change concourses. In that respect, if both your flights are on Lufthansa, you would be better in Munich.
Thanks Lee! That was most helpful:) I will make sure to take all of that info into consideration when booking flights...I really want to make our flights as hassle-free as possible. Our flight home will be easy - a nonstop from Amsterdam to either JFK or Newark, so I'm really just focusing on our flight over to Prague. Between JFK and Newark, though, does anyone have feedback as to which is easiest for arriving back into the states? I've done JFK and it took forever, but haven't ever arrived to Newark.
We use Newark a lot and never had a problem going through passport control and baggage. You also need to consider which one is easiest to get to from your home, JFK can be a nightmare to get to especially in summer.
Thanks all and merry christmas! I appreciate the help- with your input I've narrowed it down to two flight options - both leave from Newark. The first connects in Munich and the second goes through Amsterdam - it sounds like we should be fine with either option, so we'll see which coordinates with our friends' flights better (they are flying out of Atlanta). As for the ease of getting to JFK or Newark - for JFK we go over the Whitestone Bridge and for Newark we go over the George Washington Bridge, so it's basically a wash - you never can tell on any given day which will be worse:) Thanks for all the opinions and advice - I appreciate all of you and your willingness to help!
I have gone through both MUC and FRA last year. Frankfurt is a large airport. However when we arrived the arrival area for our flight was full so they off loaded us beside the landing area. There are many such places in this sirport as it is very, very busy. A bus comes to pick us up and drop you off at the various terminals. MUC is also large but not as busy I liked this better. But no to worry about the connecting times you have plenty of time. If one thing they have over us they are organized and fast.
Frankfurt is big, but well planned. I've connected through Frankfurt a number of times, including a connection to Prague, and find it relatively easy to navigate. I've also connected through Munich (although not to Prague), which is smaller than Frankfurt and easy to navigate. For Frankfurt, I'd go with the 2-1/2 hour layover. While 90 minutes is more doable at Munich, I'd also go with 2-1/2 hours just in case your flight from NYC is late. Keep in mind that European airlines often offer to put you on an earlier flight if it has open seats, so you may wind up on the earlier flight anyway. No experience with Dusseldorf or Vienna airports.