German Efficiency – dispelling the myth.

Arriving at Frankfurt airport with 1 ½ hours connection time should have given us plenty of time for a drink and something to eat before boarding the flight to Rome. Arriving five minutes early should have meant an extra few minutes of leisure. Instead we ended up running and nearly missed our plane.

Several flights must have landed together, and the shuttle buses which carried people from the plane to the terminal had to fight over only one parking space. The buses spewed their passengers out and then sped off as quickly as they could to make room for the next busload. This left 5-6 planeloads of people to make their way up one escalator. No stairs, and it was apparently too difficult to reverse the direction of the second escalator, which was happily rolling downwards, completely empty because this was arrivals not departures, so nobody wanted to go down.

It was a long wait, but eventually it was our turn to stand on and be carried upwards.  So we had a bit less time than we’d thought, but we should still have had time for a quick drink. Except that Frankfurt had another surprise waiting for us. We followed the signs to get our next flight, expecting to see the passengers arriving from outside the airport through a glass wall, like in every other airport we’ve ever been in. But no. The arrows directed all passengers with connecting flights out onto the main concourse with passengers just arriving at the airport. This meant that we had to queue up and go through security all over again. In their defence, they did have a lane marked Fast Lane for connecting flights, but as nobody checked, guess what? Yup – everybody got into the fast lane. And it really wasn’t that fast. The queue snaked back on itself four times. The man in front of us had five (FIVE!) pieces of hand luggage. None of the security staff questioned the fact that he was four over the limit – they just slowly handed him five trays and asked him to empty each bag into a separate tray. Meanwhile we were stuck behind and waiting, and those minutes till our next flight were ticking away.

Eventually we cleared security, but still had to get to our gate. By now we were doing that fast walk that’s not quite a run. Then we gave in and ran. We arrived at the departure gate, out of breath and out of sorts, and joined the queue, which had already started boarding. German efficiency? Myth!

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