Welcome to Frankfurt. Please be confused.

I got to use my minimal Deutsch this morning: “Der Bahnhof ist Kaput.” The train is broken.

The only way to get from Terminal A to Terminal B was to go through security twice and passport control once. Then began the hunt for Gate 62, from which my connecting plane to London will depart, presumably. My ticket says that. The departure listings do not. They just say “B”. Gate 62 is identified by a hand-drawn sign. One needs to go through passport control to get to it. Right now it’s closed. Along the way I followed directions to “go downstairs” on an escalator. There were two. Neither were well-marked. I took the one on the right and realized halfway down that it went to the street. So I ran up the moving stairs, got to the top and took the other one.

That’s on top of a flight in a cramped seat in an overheated Lufthansa 747. Am I wrong or are Lufthansa’s steerage seats extra narrow? For what little it’s worth, the “entertainment” system was broken too.

Food wasn’t bad, though. Service, good. Inside the plane, anyway.

Oh, my iPhone says “Searching…” So much for a GSM phone working in Europe. Guess I needed to clear something with AT&T first. Not sure how to do that from here. Or London.

And I’m paying 18¢/minute to “roam” on the t-Mobile system to which I pay $29.99/month already. Nice.

Anyway, cheers.

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9 comments

  1. Tom Lewis’s avatar

    I flew to Frankfurt on Lufthansa in 2006 and it was a miserable experience. I’m about 6 feet tall and trim and the seats were just too small for me (knees jammed into the seat in front of me, etc.). Then they had a 6′ 5″ approx. 350 lb. guy sit next to me who spilled over into my seat and pushed me into the aisle. The flight attendants wouldn’t move me and because the flight was overbooked no one would want to switch to enjoy my predicament.

    When I called the situation to the attention of the chief steward, he said “You Americans.” I won’t tell you about the return flight but let me say: Lufthansa? Never again.

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Wow. My experience wasn’t quite that bad. Fortunately, my height is average. So is my ass. Yet I had to squeeze into the seat, which had no legroom and less under the seat in front of me, requiring that I stow my backpack. The woman next to me was also quite wide in the beam, and the guy on the other side slept with his thigh against mine. It was pretty miserable, though nothing compared to your experience. I hate to think what a tall person puts up with there.

  3. Ruben Schade’s avatar

    I’ve only flown on Lufthansa once, from Bangkok to Frankfurt back in 1998 when I was 12. They were okay, at the time I fitted into the seats easily owing to my small size! I’ve been spoiled by flying Singapore Airlines all the time I guess.

    Hope the rest of your trip goes somewhat better! Take care

  4. Udo Schroeter’s avatar

    Welcome to my home town, where the weather is always bad and everything is overpriced :-D

    Your experience could have been quite worse, I’d say. Anyway, Lufthansa has been one of the best European carriers in my experience – be glad you didn’t get Iberia or LTU…

    On a related note, everybody seems to expect Germany to be a wonderland of modernity and efficiency – until they actually come and visit.

  5. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Udo, I have to say that I’ve flown through Frankfurt maybe a half dozen times, usually early in the morning. There always seems to be a layer of fog among the buildings and trees, and layers of overcast skies. That was the case today too.

    I stopped expecting Germany to be a wonderland of efficiency when I bought a Volkswagen Passat. Love the car, but hate how much work it needs. Has a German car company ever made an electrical system that isn’t hideously complicated (e.g. BMW) or failure-prone (VW, Mercedes). fwiw, I’ve owned and/or driven all three.

    Sadly, even though Ich haben drei jahren Deutsche im hochshule geleset (how bad is that?) I’ve actually used what little I know only twice: once to give directions to somebody in Zermatt when I was there skiing (the people said “Merci” after I was done), and once this morning when I said the train was broken (Bahnhof, kaput). And, except for a Jabbercon in München many years back, all the time I’ve spent in Deutschland has been passing through airports.

    As for European airlines, how is LOT Polish? I fly them later this month when I return from the US to Amsterdam. Of course they won’t let me do seat selection either. And their manners on the phone were pretty bad too, at least when I called.

  6. Andrew Hoppin’s avatar

    Wow I’m feeling lucky that my travel life has been more Asia and Latin America -centric over the past year…. JAL has been my good friend, and many people say ANA, Cathay, etc. (and obviously Singapore) are even better. I love the upstairs Economy window seats on JAL 747s– they come with– literally- personal cabinets between your armrest and the window to store your crap. Makes you feel like you’re in a Business Class seat when you’re not.

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Andrew, I’ve almost never heard a bad thing about the bigger Asian airlines. Not sure how (or why) they’re so much better, but they are.

  8. Captain Picky’s avatar

    Captain Picky from Pickyland.
    My German isn’t great but I thought Bahnhof meant railway station? Isn’t it Zug or something for train?

  9. Phil Whitehouse’s avatar

    18¢/minute? You’re lucky! I’m roaming to Australia in December, where I’ll be paying 60p per minute to any mobile or landline phone in the UK, USA or even inside Australia. Daylight robbery. And don’t get me started on data plans….how does £20 for 10mb grab you? And that’s for a planned bundle bought in advance, I feel sorry for the folks who roam and don’t know about this!

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