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National Transport

This page last updated July 8, 2022


Germany is such a compact country that, unless you're going from Munich to Hamburg, taking the train will in most cases be the more convenient and (in my opinion) enjoyable mode of transport. However, the increase in low-cost carriers over the past couple of decades has increased domestic air travel, and, of course, many people arrive in Germany by air. Below you will find a guide to what you need to know to navigate Germany's airports.

On this page:

SIDEBAR: Overcoming jet lag


There are 35 or so commercial passenger airports (Flughafen) in Germany, with Frankfurt and Munich being by far the two biggest. Altogether, about 227 million passengers were facilitated by German airports in 2019, with about 117 million of those in Frankfurt and Munich alone. Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Köln/Bonn also each had over 10 million passengers.

Frankfurt, as the main hub for Lufthansa, is Germany's busiest airport and one of the "big four" European airports (the others being London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Amsterdam Schiphol.) In 2019, it served over 70 million passengers and has the most direct routes in the world.

Munich, which is Lufthansa's second hub, is Germany's second busiest airport, serving nearly 48 million passengers in 2019, which was almost twice as many as then-third place Düsseldorf.

Berlin's new, walnut-paneled Willy Brandt Airport opened on October 31, 2020. Built to consolidate the city's two remaining outdated Cold War-era airports Tegel and Schönefeld, it was originally scheduled to open in 2011, but a series of construction problems, mismanagement, and corruption delayed the opening repeatedly. The project was sadly nothing short of a national embarassment for a country known for its efficiency, engineering, and Ordnung. Reviews of the airport after a year of operation have been mixed, but more recent reports seem to indicate that it has worked out the initial teething issues. In 2021, it served just shy of 10 million passengers, becoming Germany's third busiest airport.

Munich airport (Photo by FMG)

Munich airport
(Photo by FMG)

Most airports in Germany are operated by government-franchised private companies. The company that operates Frankfurt airport also operates several other airports around the world.  

German airports are generally clean and efficient albeit somewhat stark, and feature the typical duty-free shops, restaurants, bars, car rental agencies, conference centers, banks, and other services one would expect to find in modern western airports. Frankfurt and Munich airports even boast such services as supermarkets, medical clinics, dentists, and casinos.

Arriving in Germany is fairly simple and straightforward. If you arrive on an international flight and are not transiting to another international, you will be directed from the arrival gate first to passport control (Passkontrolle). If you are from the US or other non-European nation, use the "Non-EU National" line. The immigration officer may or may not ask you questions; either is normal. When questions are asked, they're usually regarding the purpose of your visit and if you have a return flight.

After having your passport stamped, you will then proceed to baggage claim if you are at your destination airport. Once you collect your bags, you proceed through the customs area (Zoll). In Germany, this is generally a non-event. If you have something to declare, or if you aren't sure, use the lane with the red sign (see the German customs website for information on permitted imports.) Otherwise, proceed through the lane with the green sign where you will then alight in the landside area of the terminal. If you are meeting someone, this is likely where they will be waiting for you.

If you are the one meeting someone who is flying in, remember that the airside section of German airports is highly secure and only ticketed passengers and airport workers are allowed in the gate areas and concourses, so you will have to meet your party in the landside area of the airport. To do so, check the arrivals board (marked Ankunft) when you get to the airport to determine which arrivals exit your party will be using, then wait near there for them. Alternatively, you can plan to have your party meet you at an officially designated meeting point (Treffpunkt) found in most airports.

Berlin airport gate

Berlin airport gate waiting area

While arriving is pretty easy, flying out of a German airport is much more elaborate. First, you should plan on arriving at least two hours before your flight.

When you arrive at the airport for an outbound flight, you will first need to check the flight information displays (marked Abflug) for two pieces of information: the check-in counter (Schalter) numbers and the gate number (Flugsteig) for your flight, as well as the current status of the flight. Gate numbers sometimes are not assigned until an hour or so before the flight; if so, the display will indicate when the gate number will be assigned. 

In Germany, ticketing and check-in counters are numbered. The numbers are usually located above the counter. You must use one of the counters noted on the flight information display for your flight and can only do so when check-in for your flight is open.  Usually, several counters handle check-in for all flights for an airline, but sometimes specific flights must check-in at a specific counter.

Once you find your counter, you will begin the security screening and check-in process. Security is very tight, especially for international flights, and you will have to go through several layers of security checking. Be prepared to play "20 questions" with several airline and airport security personnel. You will be asked repeatedly about your luggage and travel plans. Unfortunately, sometimes the questioning takes on the rather no-nonsense tone of an interrogation, but just answer their questions accurately and politely and you'll soon be on your way. Don't worry if you don't speak German-- you can ask to be questioned in another language.

After checking-in, proceed toward the designated concourse or entry area for your gate. Just as in the US, you will then encounter the next hurdle: the security checkpoint (Sicherheitskontrolle). Only ticketed passengers are allowed past the security checkpoint, so you will be asked to show or scan your boarding pass. Then, go through the familiar metal detector or body scanner and baggage x-ray area. If you are on an international flight, you will be required to show your passport to an immigration officer at some point after security, so be sure to keep it handy.

From here, you can now proceed to your gate. Unlike US airports where all the gates are located on one level, German airports often have gates on multiple levels, so you may have to go up or down stairs, escalators, or elevators to reach your gate. This stacking of gates is done to allow for faster turnarounds, to provide space for both bus and jet bridge gates (Germany uses a lot of bus gates), and/or to separate Schengen and non-Schengen passengers.

Flights to the US usually have a second security screening, either at the gate or en-route to the gate. Sometimes this is a full screening, sometimes just another passport check and question and answer session. Most German airports with US flights now have a section dedicated for those flights with a security checkpoint to enter it. However, in some cases, a US-bound flight may instead just have an enclosed secure gate waiting area (Warteraum). In those cases, once you are in the waiting area, you typically cannot leave, so be sure to take care of any last-minute shopping or "bio" needs (you know what I mean) before you enter the waiting area, although these gates will usually have their own restroom facilities.

From the waiting area, you will either board the plane directly via a jet bridge or board a bus that will transport you to the plane located further out on the tarmac. 

Munich airport gate

Boarding gate at Munich airport

Ground transportationGround transportation
Besides rental cars, there are usually a plethora of public transportation options to get from the airport to the central city or beyond. Listed below are the major German commercial passenger airports with connection information to the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof, "Hbf"), city center, or other important destinations as indicated. Most airports have will have additional public transportation options to other locales; check the airport's website or inquire at the information desk at the airport. Some airports also have mainline rail services.

The major international airports are highlighted. Because Frankfurt's airport is by far the busiest in Germany, I have included a special write-up on it below the other listings. Be sure to see my pages about renting a car, urban public transport, taxis, and rail transport for further details of using those transportation options.

All information was correct as of October 2020 and is subject to change without notice. Departure intervals shown are typical weekday daytime schedules and may vary during the day and on weekends. Check the websites of the individual airports (links at the bottom of this page) before your flight for up-to-date information.

City/Airport Location/
Approx Travel Time
Transport options
Berlin (BER)
Brandenburg Willy Brandt
20 km SE
1 hour
Note: Options in italics serve both Terminal 1-2 and Terminal 5 stations; others serve only Terminal 1-2 station
Rail service - Airport Express (FEX) to Ostkreuz, Gesundbrunnen, and Berlin Hbf every 30 min.
- Regional trains RE7 and RB14 to Berlin Hbf and the other major central Berlin stations, or RB22 to Potsdam every hour
- S-Bahn S9 to Berlin Hbf, Spandau, and other central Berlin stations, or S45 to southeastern Berlin and 
Südkreuz every 20 min.
Bus service Bus X7, X71, or 171 to Rudow every 5 min., then U-Bahn U7 to central Berlin
Rail service Mainline services from Terminal 1-2 station
Taxi service 24-hour service to Berlin, approx. €40
Bremen (BRE)
3 km S
20 min.
Rail service Tram 6 to Hbf every 10 min.
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €10
Dresden (DRS)
9 km N
20 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S2 to Hbf and Neustadt every 30 min
Rail service Bus 77 to Infineon Nord or Bus 80 to Käthe-​Kollwitz-Platz every 20 min., then Tram 7 to Hbf
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €18
Düsseldorf (DUS)
8 km N
20 min.
Rail service - S-Bahn S11 to Hbf every 20-30 min. from station under terminal
- S-Bahn S1 to Hbf and to Duisburg, Essen, and Dortmund every 20 min. from airport station (reached via Sky Train)
Rail service Mainline services from airport station (reached via Sky Train)
Taxi service 24-hour service to Düsseldorf (approx. €20), Essen (approx. €48), Duisburg (approx. €43), and other area towns
Frankfurt (FRA)
See special section below
Hamburg (HAM)
9 km N
25 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S1 to Hbf every 10 min.; change at Ohlsdorf for U-bahn U1 to other central Hamburg stations
Bus service Bus 34 to Hbf and other central Hamburg locations every 30 min.
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €20 (agree on price in advance)
Hannover (HAJ)
11 km N
20 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S5 to Hannover Hbf every 30 min.
Bus service Bus 470 to Langenhagen every hour
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €20
Köln/Bonn (CGN)
Konrad Adenauer
14 km SE of Cologne
25 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S13 or S19 to Köln Hbf every 15 min.
Rail service Mainline services from airport station
Bus service Bus SB 60 to Bonn Hbf every 30 min.
Taxi service 24-hour service to Köln (approx. €25), Bonn (approx. €40) and other area towns
Leipzig/Halle (LEJ)
12 km NW of Leipzig
30 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S5 or S5X to Leipzig Hbf or Halle Hbf every 30 min.
Rail service Mainline services from airport station
Taxi service 24-hour service to Leipzig and Halle, approx. €35
München (MUC)
Franz Joseph Strauss
28 km NE
45 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S1 or S8 to Hbf every 10 min.
Rail service - Mainline regional services to and from Regensburg and Landshut from airport station
- Other regional mainline connections from nearby Freising station via express train ÜFEX every hour or Bus 635 every 20 min.
Bus service Lufthansa Express Bus to Schwabing and Hbf every 15 min.
Bus service Flixbus long-distance bus services
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €50
Nürnberg (NUE)
Albrecht Dürer
5 km N
15 min.
Rail service U-Bahn U2 to Nürnberg Hbf every 10 min.
Bus service Bus 33 to Fürth Hbf
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €20
Saarbrücken (SCN)
16 km E
20 min.
Bus service Bus R10 to Hbf every hour
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €20
Stuttgart (STR)
14 km S
30 min.
Rail service S-Bahn S2 or S3 to Hbf every 15 min.
Bus service Long-distance bus services
Taxi service 24-hour service, approx. €30

Frankfurt International (Rhein-Main) Airport

Frankfurt airport terminals (Photo by Fraport AG)

Frankfurt airport Terminal 1
(Photo by Fraport AG)

Serving over 70 million passengers in 2019, Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport (FRA), also known as Frankfurt International Airport, is Germany's busiest airport and 14th busiest worldwide. For a long time Europe's second busiest, it has slipped to fourth in Europe behind London Heathrow, Paris CDG, and Amsterdam Schiphol. In addition to being the world hub for Lufthansa, Rhein-Main is served by 97 other airlines with about 700 daily departures to 306 destinations in 98 countries-- the most international destinations of any airport. Transfers account for over half of the passenger count, making FRA one of the world's most important international air hubs.

Given these superlatives, it should be no surprise that the gargantuan facility is currently operating near capacity. A new runway that opened in 2011 and an expansion of concourse A completed in 2012 have helped alleviate congestion and provided room for the airport's continued growth. Construction is also underway for a future third terminal to be located on the southern side of the airport on the former US Air Force base; it is expected to open in 2022. Additionally, FRA was the first commercial airport in the world to be certified for the monster Airbus A380 superjumbo jet; the aforementioned concourse A expansion as well as the recently-upgraded concourse D both have gates designed to facilitate the A380.

Beware that there is a second "Frankfurt" airport, the much smaller Frankfurt-Hahn, which is used exclusively by discount airlines. Calling it Frankfurt-Hahn is a cruel trick, however, as it is laughably located 105 km (65 miles) west of Frankfurt and is actually closer to Luxembourg and Bonn than to downtown Frankfurt.

Orientation and navigation
Located just 9 km (6 miles) southwest of downtown Frankfurt (about 15 minutes by rail, a little longer by car), the airport is a monolith comprised of two terminals and a small city of support facilities. A third terminal is under construction across the airfield from the existing terminals. It is scheduled to open in 2026.

Terminal 1, which opened in 1972 and got much-needed expansions in the late '90s, 2008, and again around 2012, is the larger of the two terminals with 103 gates crammed into three multi-level concourses labeled A/Z, B, and C. There are five levels: 

  • Level 0 is the underground regional rail station and shopping arcade
  • Level 1 is the arrivals/baggage claim level
  • Level 2 is the check-in and main departures level
  • Level 3 is an additional international departures gate level in concourse A (gates there are designated as "Z" instead of "A") and the arrivals immigration area in concourse B
  • Level 4 is the level for the inter-terminal Sky Line train stations

The airy Terminal 2, which opened in 1994, has 42 gates in two concourses labeled D and E on three levels, labeled to correspond to the levels in Terminal 1:

  • Level 2 is the arrivals, check-in, and European departures level
  • Level 3 is the international departures gate level
  • Level 4 is the Sky Line train station

Frankfurt airport gate area

Gate waiting area at Frankfurt Airport

Gates, arrival areas and check-in counters carry the concourse letter followed by the number (i.e. Gate C5, Counter A202, etc.) The letter is usually dropped from the numbers on signs at the check-in counters, but not at the gates. When looking for your gate, follow the signs for the lettered concourse first, then look for signs for the gate number once you reach that concourse. On some signs (but not all), the concourse letters for Terminal 1 are in orange while those in Terminal 2 are in light blue.

The non-European international gates on the upper level of concourse A were relabeled as "Z" in late 2011. This was done ostensibly to create logical numbering capacity for the concourse A addition that opened in 2012.

The terminals are divided into the public landside area and the secure airside area. To enter the secure area, you must have a valid boarding card and pass through the security screening. The airside area of the airport is further divided into two control zones: the "Schengen zone" for domestic German and most European flights, and the "transit zone" for international flights. (The Schengen Agreement allows for travel between most European countries without passport controls.) To move between these zones, you must go through a passport checkpoint. Unfortunately, having these different zones does confuse things a bit. Most of level 2 of concourse 1/A, the front half of concourse 1/B, the far end of concourse 1/C, and level 2 of Terminal 2 are in the Schengen zone; the remainder of the airport is in the international transit zone. For the most part, the airport is arranged so that you only have to pass through passport control if you are crossing between zones; if you are connecting from one international flight to another, you should not have to pass through any immigration checkpoints. However, be aware that there are additional security checkpoints within the secure zone, and flights to some countries (including the US) may require an additional security screening even if you are just connecting, so be prepared to go through an unexpected security check.

Frankfurt airport overview map

Frankfurt airport overview map
(Full-size map available from Frankfurt Airport's website; see links section below.)

Signage is fairly good and is in both German and English along with spiffy international pictograms; blue signs for the concourses, gates, and other destinations, gray signs for services. But because there are so many possible destinations and routes to get there, you have to keep a sharp eye out and know what you're looking for or you may miss that sign. Here's what someone said on a travel forum that captures the sentiment:

"Just follow the signs. Don't think. Don't apply logic. Just follow the sign. You will get to your destination. You might have to go through security 2-3 times, customs, passport control, tunnels, escalators, elevators, stairs and you feel that you have just walked to your final destination. But under no circumstances try to make sense of it. You will only get lost."

Frankfurt airport signs

Signage at Frankfurt Airport

Being such a large and complex airport, distances can be long-- really long in some cases-- especially if you have to change terminals or concourses. If your gate is at the end of the 1/A or 1/Z concourses, or if you use the long-distance rail station (or both of the above), get ready for a long hike, even with the moving walkways. A walk from the far end of concourse 1/A to the opposite end of concourse 2/E is a distance of 2.6 km or 1.6 miles!

There are a number of options to get between the terminals. The fastest method is the Sky Line train, which whisks you between the terminals in about 2 minutes; stations are located in concourses 1/AZ, 1/B and Terminal 2. There is also a free shuttle bus which takes about 5 minutes; catch it in front of the terminals. Of course, you can also walk. There are several walkways and passages that will get you between the concourses, including a tunnel between concourses 1/AZ and 1/B (use the elevators near gates A15 and B19.)

There are several information counters around the terminals to help you with employees dressed in red uniforms. As in most places, the competence and disposition of the staff can vary widely, but most of the time you'll find helpful and informative workers (if not overly friendly) who speak English and other languages.  If you encounter someone unusually surly or obviously lacking the information you need, just go find someone else. Keep in mind that German service workers inherently dispense with pleasantries-- Germans typically regard overt cheerfulness as fake or feigned. The biggest complaints about rudeness seem to be about the security personnel, so just be cooperative and impassive and you'll be on your way.

Because of terminal capacity issues, many short and medium haul flights use remote parking spots away from the terminal and passengers are bused between the plane and terminal. In fact, about half of the airport's gates are these so-called "stand" gates.

One of the quirks about this airport is that there seems to be passageways, gates, and service facilities tucked into obscure nooks and crannies everywhere, so much so that it really can feel like a disorganized labyrinth. This is especially true in Terminal 1 which has been expanded and reorganized several times over the years. Many gates require you to go up or down a dedicated escalator or staircase, the entrances to the tunnel between concourses 1/A and 1/B are surprisingly inconspicuous, and some restroom entrances look more like closets. Again, carefully watch for and follow the relevant signs.

Frankfurt airport concourse A

Unusually quiet concourse A at Frankfurt Airport

Passenger services
If Tom Hanks' character in the movie The Terminal could choose an airport to be stuck at, this would be a good choice. This self-contained city has large shopping and eating areas and plenty of additional services. Indeed, FRA is arguably one of the best airports anywhere in this regards-- it's practically a shopping mall that happens to have an airport attached. There are a multitude of stores (over 200 of them) carrying books, perfume, jewelry, clothes, leather goods, electronics, toys, souvenirs, liquor, candy, convenience items-- even erotica. In December, you'll also find a traditional-style German Christmas market on the mezzanine in Terminal 1. Even more good news for shoppers-- the law requires businesses to maintain typical street prices in their airport outlets.

If you're hungry or thirsty before or after that long flight, you'll find over 70 restaurants, cafes, and bars catering to every taste: fast-food (including the ubiquitous McDonald's and Starbucks), traditional German food (including a beer garden), pizza and pasta, ice cream, sandwiches, Asian cuisines, sushi and even hoity-toity French fare. There are also several bakeries and even two supermarkets for the do-it-yourself types.

If you have medical needs, there are several pharmacies, a medical clinic, optician and even a dentist. Other services to be found are hair dressers and barbers, a tailor and dry cleaner, a conference and business center, and a kennel if your dog needs some time to relax. To pass the time, you'll find a visitor's terrace overlooking the airfield in Terminal 2, nine children's play areas, chapels and prayer rooms, and art . (The casino closed in 2014.) And, of course, you'll find banks and currency exchanges, post offices, insurance agents, and car rental and travel agencies as well as 26 airline lounges.

One service that may be particularly useful to passengers after a long flight are the shower facilities located in each terminal. For €6 or $8, you get a clean, private shower stall with soap and towels. There are five of these facilities: four in Terminal 1 including two in concourse 1/B (one inside the transit area on level 3, and one in the landside shopping area, departures level, in the WCs to the right as you approach the security checkpoint) and two in the transit areas of concourse 1/A (near gate A50) and Z (near gate Z50); and one in Terminal 2, concourse D (level 3 near the security checkpoint.) 

There is now a small hotel located inside the transit zone of the airport near gate Z25 in Terminal 1. The hotel has 59 small rooms (about 100 sq. ft. each) that can be booked for a stay of 3 to 24 hours. As it is in the transit zone, guests do not have to clear passport control to reach it. However, guests must be traveling from or to a non-Schengen destination to access it.

Elsewhere on the airport grounds are a couple of other hotels, gas stations, and train stations.

Tired of lugging all that luggage around? There are lots of free baggage carts which can be rented for €1, but note that the fee must be paid with a credit or debit card. Unfortunately, in most cases, they can no longer be taken on the escalators or moving walkways nor on the Sky Line. For long layovers, there are baggage storage offices in each terminal.

Throughout the airport, you'll now find electronic kiosks with airport information. If they're on the fritz, or you'd just rather talk to a human, there are several information centers in each terminal staffed by red-uniformed employees.

Looking for a place to relax or snooze between flights? Besides the transit hotel mentioned earlier, there are several "leisure zones" scattered around equipped with reclining chairs. One of the best is in concourse 1/B, level 3 along the walkway to concourse 1/C. Of course, if you have a bag with you, be sure you secure it to your person in some way before you doze-off so it will still be there when you wake. If yoga is your preferred form of relaxation, there are two yoga rooms as well, one in concourse 1/C and the other in concourse 2/D.

Finally, if your electronic device needs a charge, there are dozens of charging stations throughout both terminals.

Frankfurt airport lounge

Lounge at Frankfurt Airport

All that said, the airport does have some pitfalls. A common complaint is about small and sometimes not-so-clean WCs, although in my experiences I've never actually witnessed this. Also, many of the shops and services are located in the big shopping arcade in the landside area of the Terminal 1, so transit passengers have to clear passport control to use them, then go back through security and passport control to catch their connecting flight. There are virtually no services in concourse 1/C.

While most of the terminal areas have now been designated as non-smoking, the smoke from the smoking lounges (and there are a lot of them) can sometimes waft considerably further afield. 

Given the age and extent of the facilities, there are always renovations going on somewhere in the terminals. It seems like they just keep rotating the construction work through each of the concourses every few years. Even with the constant work, a few areas of the airport are still rather dated and depressingly dingy, although that's gotten better in recent years. And more than once I've been in areas where the heating system has been working too well.

Finally, if for some reason you have an aversion to shiny stainless steel, stay out of this airport-- it's everywhere.

When you arrive, you will be discharged into appropriate control zone (transit or Schengen.) For transit passengers, see the "Connecting flights" section below. For those arriving in the Schengen zone, you simply claim your bags (if any) and leave the airport. Passengers arriving in the transit zone will first have to pass through the passport control area where you simply present your passport for inspection and the obligatory stamp (which the Germans, of course, take to a whole other level.) The officer may or may not ask you questions about your visit; either is normal. If asked, just answer honestly. Note that there are different lanes for EU and non-EU nationals, so be sure you get in the right line. Depending on when you arrive, there might be a considerable wait to get through passport control. In some cases, it might be faster to use one of the passport checkpoints located in another concourse. If you are trying to catch a connecting flight and must go through passport control, most of the checkpoints now offer a "Fast Lane" for passengers on upcoming flights; the flights for which passengers can take advantage of this shortcut are listed on a display above the lane.

After clearing passport control, you can proceed to baggage claim. From the baggage claim area, you then must pass through a customs checkpoint, which is far less of an impediment than passport control. If you have nothing to declare (see the German customs website for information on permitted imports), just proceed through the "green" line and you won't even have to say anything to the inspector unless you are stopped for a random check. (Don't ask me why the sign for green line is actually shaped like a stop-sign.) If you do have something to declare, use the "red" lane.

After clearing customs, you will alight rather unceremoniously in the main landside zone of the terminal. If you are meeting someone, they should be waiting here. Otherwise, follow the signs to head to public transport (see below), taxis, or the car rental desks.

Ground transportationGround transportation options
There are numerous local, regional, domestic and international rail connections to and from the airport's two (yes, two) railway stations. From the regional station (Regionalbahnhof) beneath Terminal 1, S-Bahn S8 or S9 goes to downtown Frankfurt in less than 15 minutes, as well as to Mainz and Wiesbaden. The sparkling long-distance rail station (Fernbahnhof), connected to Terminal 1 by an agonizingly long skybridge over the adjacent Autobahn, serves mainline GermanRail trains to many domestic and international destinations. If you arrive at Terminal 1, follow the signs to the appropriate station. If you arrive at Terminal 2, take the direct shuttle bus to the stations or take the Sky Line train to Terminal 1 and follow the signs from there.

GermanRail has two ticketing and information centers (Reisezentrum), one at the long-distance station and the other just above the regional station in the underground shopping area (Level 0) near the center of concourse B.

In additional to rail service, there is also regional bus service to several area towns including Darmstadt and Rüsselsheim. There is also direct bus service to Strasbourg, Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Talheim. Most buses leave from the bus station at Terminal 1. From Terminal 2, take the Sky Line train to Terminal 1 and go down to the arrivals level. From Terminal 1, the bus station is located directly outside of the terminal.

All of the major rental car agencies have counters in both terminals. Taxis can also be hired from either terminal. There is 24-hour taxi service to Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Mainz. A taxi ride to downtown Frankfurt will take 20-40 minutes depending on traffic and should cost about €20.

Frankfurt airport T1 departure hall (Photo by Fraport AG)

Frankfurt airport Terminal 1 departure hall
(Photo by Fraport AG)

You should plan on arriving at least two hours before your scheduled departure. If you arrive by car or train, follow the signs for departing flights. If you must return your rental car, follow the signs for rental car returns. If you arrive by rail at the long-distance station, check to see if your airline has a counter there. If so, you can check-in there and then proceed directly to security and on to your departure gate. Otherwise, once in the terminal, check the large flight display boards for information on the check-in counter and gate for your flight. Then proceed to the appropriate counter to get a boarding pass and check any bags. From there, you will be directed to the security checkpoint for your departure hall. Proceed through the security and passport checkpoints and then follow the signs to your gate. Be aware that passengers headed for the US, UK, and Middle East face more intense screening nowadays, so be prepared to put-up with a bit more hassle than you may otherwise be expecting.

Connecting flightsConnecting flights
If you are passing through Frankfurt to and from non-Schengen countries, your transfer will take place entirely within the transit zone, which in most cases means you will not need to pass through a passport checkpoint (although not always.) You may or may not also have to pass through a security screening depending on your origin and/or destination, and there are occasionally random security checkpoints in the terminals.

If your connecting flight leaves from a different terminal than the one you arrive in, the Sky Line train will allow you to make the transfer while remaining in the transit zone.

Transfers between non-Schengen and Schengen countries (including Germany) will require you to go through passport control. Unlike many international airports with a single immigration area, you will find passport checkpoints in each of the concourses. However, you shouldn't need to seek one out-- just follow the signs to the gate for your connecting flight and you will pass through a checkpoint somewhere along the way.

If you are connecting to another flight with a short connection time (typically less than 45 minutes), you should be able to use the "Fast Lane" service at the passport control stations; eligible flights are shown on a display above the "Fast Lane" counter.

After clearing passport control, you can then proceed to the gate for your connecting flight. Be sure to check the flight information displays for the latest gate number as flights are sometimes moved to other gates due to late or early arrivals. If your connecting flight is in the other terminal, use the Sky Line train. A tunnel allows you to transfer within the Schengen zones of concourses 1/A and 1/B so that you do not need to leave the secure area; use the elevators near gates A15 and B19. There is also a passageway inside the secure zone from concourse 1/B to concourse 1/C on level 3.

If you need a boarding pass or additional assistance, check-in at your airline's transfer counter first thing after arriving.

Lufthansa advertises a guaranteed connection time of 45 minutes at FRA. However, based on experience, an hour is probably more realistic if you're staying within the transit or Schengen zones and 75 minutes if you have to cross between them. Flights from North America to FRA often arrive early, but don't count on it as any time savings gained from that strong tailwind are frequently lost due to congestion in Frankfurt's approach and landing slots.

If you have a long layover (more than a couple of hours), you might consider visiting the spectator's terrace on top of Terminal 2 where for €3 you can watch the airfield activity, or the free art galleries in each terminal. Note that these may require leaving the airside of the airport. Long layovers are also conducive to taking a quick sightseeing trip into Frankfurt-- the S-Bahn train will get you downtown in less than 15 minutes. (See information under "Arriving" above.) There is also a small transit hotel near gate Z25 where you can get some rest between flights. 

For more information about Frankfurt Airport, see their official website:


Frankfurt airport T2 departure hall (Photo by Fraport AG)

Frankfurt airport Terminal 2 departure hall
(Photo by Fraport AG)


The major domestic airline in Germany is Lufthansa. Its main hub is at Frankfurt, with Munich serving as its secondary hub.

Germany, and Europe in general, have seen the rise of a number of discount carriers in recent years. In Germany, those include Condor, LTU, Hapag-Lloyd, Aero-Lloyd, Eurowings, and Deutsche BA, a subsidiary of British Air. German airlines transport 50 million passengers a year.

About 90 other international airlines have regularly scheduled flights to Germany, including all of the major US carriers. From Germany, connections are available to over 300 destinations in 90 countries worldwide.

Lufthansa jet (Photo by Lufthansa)

Lufthansa jet
(Photo by Lufthansa)

Other sites of interest

Frankfurt (Rhein-Main)

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