why the frankfurt airport is NOT my favorite.

Monday, November 7, 2011

just for the record, the munich airport is my #1 airport in the world.  or rather, the european world (the OKC will roger’s airport is pretty hard to beat…seeing as how it’s, like, the size of a grocery store and getting from one end to the other takes maybe 110 seconds).
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after a work conference near cologne, i got on a plane and flew home (to okla-home-a, if you will) for 3.5 weeks!  getting there was a bit of an issue, though, as it always seems to be.
i’ve mentioned one time too many how much i despise having a german conversation in which the native german-speaker (after detecting a foreigner’s accent in my speech) switches to english.  this hadn’t happened in so long (so long) and i was beginning to think that maybe (just maybe!) i had arrived at that place. you know, that place where your german is so good that, suddenly, all your problems are solved?  that place where people hear you speak and they think, ‘oh, her german is so good, she must be a native speaker.  she must!’
[spoiler alert:  i had not (and still have not) arrived at that place.  and i may never arrive at that place.]
i know it’s totally normal for airport employees to speak in english.  i'm not dramatic enough to be offended by someone telling me in english, “enjoy your flight!” or, “thank you for flying with continental”, etc.  that’s why i was so surprised (albeit pleasantly so) when i checked in at the continental desk and was only spoken to in german!  {hello.  hello!  your bag is too heavy. oh, yeah, i thought that might happen.  i can take some stuff out.  how many kilos should i remove?  4 kilos.  okay!  where should i go to do this?  over to the side.  okay….  done!  perfect.  bye!  thanks! <– see?  all of this, done in german.}  the pleasantly surprised-ness continued as i passed through a security checkpoint.  {to where are you flying today?  i’m flying to the usa.  what is your reason for travel?  i’m going home.  oh, you’re american?  yes, but i live in germany.  got it, thanks.  bye. bye! <– also in german.}  i was feeling so smart, so german, so proud of myself as i walked over to terminal ‘b1’.  i was met by a disgruntled-looking woman manning the next security checkpoint, whom i greeted in german.  she replied in german and told me i was in the wrong place.  after being told to go to terminal ‘b2’, i did just that.  and this is when the story gets so good!
[spoiler alert:  by ‘good’ i do not mean ‘good’ at all.]
i greeted the employee manning the ‘b2’ security checkpoint in german and added a friendly smile for good measure (i am from oklahoma, after all).  the smile was not returned, nor was the greeting (in german, at least).  rather, our exchange went a little something like this:
you’re in the wrong place.  oh.  are you sure?  i was just at ‘b2’ and they told me to come here.  you’re in the wrong place.  yes, i know. i understood what you just said. (aaaand i’ve exhausted the last of my oklahoma friendliness.)  you need to go to a different security checkpoint.  okay…where should i go?  you need to go to a different security checkpoint.  YES.  OF THAT, I AM AWARE.  WHERE SHOULD I GO? (am i a new yorker at this point?)  you need to go to ‘a’.  are we sure that i need to go to ‘a’? i don’t want to go to ‘a’ only to be told to come back to ‘b’.  you’re in the wrong place.  oh, am i?  i didn’t know. you need to go to ‘a’.  you know, i think i’ve heard that before.  it’s going to take you a long time to get to ‘a’.  ….excuse me?  it’s going to take you 45 minutes to get to ‘a’.  ……okay.  it will take you 45 minutes to get to— right, yes.  you told me that.  i got it.  thank you.  you’ve been quite helpful, sir…quite helpful, indeed.
just for the record, it did not take me 45 minutes to get to ‘a’.  but during the 15 minutes it did take for me to get there, the following thoughts were bouncing around in my frazzled head: 
i wonder where the broken record learned english?…. i wonder if he is, in fact, a real person and not an automated recording?….  he looked like a real person, but one can’t be sure, at this point….i wonder if that interaction would have gone any easier had i been allowed to speak in german?….i wonder why i am wearing approximately 14 layers of clothing?….if one more child runs out in front of me while i am power-walking, i’m just going to barrel through them…i’m gonna do it, i swear…..okay, i won’t do it….but i secretly wanna do it….i wonder if i wrung out my clothes, how many buckets i could fill up with sweat?  i’d say 2 and a half….i’d say 3…..well, maybe 4, now.
the story ends, rather anti-climatically, with me spritzing myself in 3 spritzes of perfume (a pre-flight tradition of mine) at whichever duty-free perfume shop was nearest to my gate.  then i boarded my plane.  and 11 hours later, i’d landed in america!

25 comments:

Alex Butts said...

Seriously though, sometimes I think it does take 45 minutes to go from point A to point B in the Frankfurt airport. For such a transfer hub, they make it IMPOSSIBLE.

Marissa said...

Haha... this sounds like it has to do more with flying in general than it does with the Frankfurt airport. Either way, 3 out of 4 friendly Germany-speaking airport employees is pretty damn good!

Megan said...

ohhh the frankfurt airport. i laughed my ass off when i saw this title (and for the record i haven't blogged in like DAYS...but when i saw this i was intrigued).

this damn airport was my hub for the 6 years i lived in germany (i liked 45 min. outside of frankfurt) and i couldnt despise it more. not because it sucked then, but because in 2008 i was stuck there for over 48 hours. granted, it was my fault (i misbooked flights to belgium whoops) but it still doesnt make up for the fact that:

1) i ate every meal at tegut city outside the terminals because their airport food is repulsive
2) i read and bought every expensive ass magazine they had at the bookstore (even russian ones) just to keep occupied.
3) i visited the porn shop in the basement outside the terminals 'just for fun'
4) the temperature was like minus 4F the entire time.
5) i could never manage to get one of the recliner chairs because old people were just always conveniently around so i had to sleep in airport row seating. horrible.
6) i walked over to the sheraton (i think that is the hotel) that is outside the airport just to get a bed for the night so i didnt have to head in the city or with friends and a room was over $450.
7) and WORST of all, i got SO bored that i got my hair done at the airport salon (yes, this exists) and i came out with orange hair that ended up costing me more than the stupid room at the sheraton in the long run.

i understand your concern for the 'competency' of frankfurt intl...i really do.

Candice said...

Oh my gosh..that is like EXACTLY what happened to me when I was going to Oslo thru Frankfurt. I asked 4 different people, and got 4 different answers of where I should go, my flight was delayed, barely made it through customs and was only spoken to in German..unlike you, I cannot speak that language at. all. needless to say, Frankfurt airport is not my favorite either..

Megan said...

i must add, o'hare is still the worst airport in the world.

Brooke said...

Ugh that's ridiculous. I would have been so frustrated!! I think it's amazing you can speak another language so fluently like that though!

Emily said...

it is THE WORST AIRPORT EVER. i've flown through there many times.

RetreatingAndAdvancing said...

automated recording? power-walking? haha that's hilarious, I can see you rushing from one place to another in my mind's eye :D

K said...

I've only flown through Frankfurt once but thanks to this I'll definitely try and avoid it :)

ps. Totally agree about the Munich airport! I have a tradition (if doing something twice can be counted as such) of stopping at this little shop to burn up my euroes and each time I have left with a fantastic book (A Thousand Splendid Suns and One Day). Definitely a rave as far as airport reading selection goes :)

Barbara said...

I always fly in to Frankfurt when I go over to Europe. I'm actually surprised it didn't take you 45 minutes to get to where you needed to go. Those underground tunnels are so long!
I have to say, I haven't had any bad experiences at Frankfurt. Last time I was there, our flight home was at midnight and the whole place was nearly empty - so eery for such a big place! I also make it a point to always get some of the Haagen-Daaz ice-cream before I fly home (we don't have that in Aus).
P.S. contender for best airport in the world - definately Singapore Changi - it's sooo massive (three terminals, free internet everywhere and so much shopping!).

debbiecutieface said...

you look way too cute to be at an airport.

Jennifer Leible said...

WOW! What a trip! That sounds ridiculously exhausting!!

e.day said...

"of that, i am aware." you are my hero. i'm also really really glad we flew out of belgium instead of frankfurt. phew.

Nikki said...

where's that blazer from? i need something professional...

Jenni Austria Germany said...

i got it at h&m in vienna last summer.

Jennifer said...

Haha! Wow. That is quite amusing. I totally was in Frankfurt a few weeks ago on my way to Ethiopia. I've definitely been in worse airports!

Vanessa said...

i was at the Frankfurt airport and i had a good experience. i can't complain i was just so happy to be in Germany :)

KY said...

Oh man haha - I've been through Frankfurt 4 times and it was a MAD HOUSE!

K.K. said...

omg. total mad house. i've only flown through there once and won't do it again.

Jen said...

OMW SERIOUSLY! I hate the Frankfurt airport too! It's ridiculously huge and the staff are so not helpful. We almost missed a flight because we had to RUN across the ENTIRE airport and no one would let us go to the head of the line, etc. I almost had an asthma attack running through that airport and I don't even have asthma!!

Anonymous said...

LOL'd at your story. But please stop drowning yourself in perfume before flights. I thought such a seasoned traveler as yourself would know not to do that before going in confined air spaces ;)

(However, perfume overdoses are preferred over b.o.)

Anonymous said...

Except part of me thinks you're not as seasoned of a traveler as you want everyone to think you are....

;)

ashley // chasing heartbeats said...

woah anonymous... maybe lets leave the snappy comments in our own minds shall we? although agreed, perfume is much preferred over B.O. ANY DAY.

Probably because I always get to Frankfurt airport around 3:30am and fly out at 7am, after staying up all night I am too exhausted to care or notice much about the airport.... but usually I think how organized it is there. Although come to think of it, I might have gotten in an early morning argument with a delta employee there last time. I think idiots are at airports worldwide :)

Sophie said...

are you a lil jealous anonymous?


just reading this story stressed me out. xx

Dawn said...

My boyfriend actually flew through Frankfurt on his way to India last summer. He doesn't remember much about the airport except walking ... so yeah, I think that enunciates your point further.

AMAZING ADVENTURES YOU HAVE, WOMAN. I am rightfully jealous.