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AC Ground Service in FRA - Always this bad?

AC Ground Service in FRA - Always this bad?

Old Apr 12, 11, 9:09 am
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AC Ground Service in FRA - Always this bad?

A little background. I have flown AC a lot but mainly between US and Canada so no reall experience on the atlantic portion and avoided in the past because of what I remember to be a hastle for USA-Intl-USA connection. That seemed to have cleared up and I found a really cheap fare from IND-FRA via YYZ so gave it a shot. Overall AC was fine in the air and no complaints really and the trasnit (being all AC and all T1) was a breeze and like the MLL a lot.

Now the part that I thought was really bad was the ground experience yesterday for our morning flight out of FRA. First, they are in a pretty remote location especially if you are coming from the train but I cant really fault them for that as they probably took what they could get but how about a little signage? Even over the check in locations their name doesnt show up and there was no indication of what line was for what. There was one guy out there trying to explain the lines but I am sure his only english ability was business or economy. I appreciate the fact that I am in Germany and not Canada or the US so I do not expect fluant english but a touch better would be nice. There was three lines and three agents. One for Business, economy and bag drop only. The lines actually were not overly long but took a pretty long time considering the length and I think there was also a YUL flight going out about the same time. The check in was not great but the worst part was the gate experience. It was really a mess and took forever to board the plane. They didnt seem to start the boading until about 9:30 or even after and had to process everyones info as they boarded so it took a very long time on a completely full 777. The pilot announced the delay was because they held the plane a bit for transit pax and they may well have but they couldnt even get the people in line processed berfore the 10:00AM scheduled departure. The online departure time showed 10:22 but I am sure it was much after that. You would have thought that it was the first time they had ever done this.

So, is it always like this in FRA or did I just catch them on a bad day? For the check in, I am guessing most people are transiting AC to another carrier in FRA and never see the check in area so they probably do not see a lot of O&D traffic but the gate delay caused A LOT of people with connections in YYZ to miss their connections. So, if what the pilot said (he was really professional in his announcements) was correct then they held the flight in FRA for some connection only to cause people in YYZ to miss their. I know at least 3 people that missed their YYZ-IND flight because my wife and I just made it and as the gate agent opened the door to let us board told them they were out of luck as they arrived just as re-printed out boarding cards. I am sure there were others to other cities.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by mcgahat View Post

First, they are in a pretty remote location especially if you are coming from the train but I cant really fault them for that as they probably took what they could get but how about a little signage? Even over the check in locations their name doesnt show up and there was no indication of what line was for what.
Actually, this is the third location that I have encountered over the years. Ever further away and harder to find.

My best guess is, they have been moving to a cheaper location at every opportunity. And BTW I would not be surprised if there weren't a pattern there.

This said, it's not that far.

There was three lines and three agents. One for Business, economy and bag drop only. The lines actually were not overly long but took a pretty long time considering the length and I think there was also a YUL flight going out about the same time.
Pretty standard. Not sure if it's FRA, but did you ever try checking in in Y with no status on LH without using a kiosk?

Since I mostly check in online, or else, I use the J line, does not affect me. But the non status, Y class traveler does get treated real poorly. The tiered business model I guess.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 11:51 am
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As I´ve flown AC out of FRA about half a dozen times over the last year here are a few thoughts:

- FRA sucks. Period. If you know your way around, it´s not too terrible, but compared with most airports I´ve been t it´s really not that great.

- if you take the train again, follow the signs for "Terminal 1C" (despite the fact that AC leaves from pier B) where the AC check-in counters are located. If I arrive by train it usually doesn´t take me more than 10min to the check-in counters, but it probably is pretty confusing if you´re there for the first time
- the Y check-in queue is like madness in the morning, often 100+ pax waiting to check in, Exec. First check-in (to the far left of all the counters) usually is a breeze, even on a Friday morning I´don´t think I´ve ever had to wait more than 5min
- the check-in agents speak English pretty well IME while the staff running around trying to organize people usually don´t seem overly competent (even if you talk to them in German)
- the walk from check-in to gate B44 (AC usually departs from the B42/44 gate area) is pretty easy IMO (fast track security, passport control, lounge near gate B42)
- boarding area usually is madness as they do a "travel documents check" before boarding (with no priority queue!)
- the gate agents have been reasonably pleasant, but not spectacular IME; the station manager will often be around when AC873 departs and seems to take care of any issues effectively

So overall, you may have been slightly unlucky, but FRA always is a bit of a tedious experience.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 11:56 am
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Originally Posted by Stranger View Post
Actually, this is the third location that I have encountered over the years. Ever further away and harder to find.

My best guess is, they have been moving to a cheaper location at every opportunity. And BTW I would not be surprised if there weren't a pattern there.

This said, it's not that far.



Pretty standard. Not sure if it's FRA, but did you ever try checking in in Y with no status on LH without using a kiosk?

Since I mostly check in online, or else, I use the J line, does not affect me. But the non status, Y class traveler does get treated real poorly. The tiered business model I guess.
Good points and the check in area was not the worst I have ever experienced. I really didnt understand why there couldnt be something on the LCD screens above the check in desks directing pax. Online check in did seem to be the way to go for non-status folks for sure but the biz/*G line could take a while with only one agent. We were second in line and took about 15 minutes.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 12:44 pm
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I have nothing good to say about the AC gate agents in FRA and have flown other airlines solely to avoid travelling through FRA.

Flying on AC metal, AC GAs were known to upgrade Lufthansa flyers at the expense of AC Super Elites and Elites in the days of paper certs - hopefully with the e-upgrades they can't do that any more.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 7:00 pm
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I transit through FRA fairly frequently. As an SE travelling in J, I realize they do their best to make it simple. My experiences are as follows:
  1. FRA is an annoying, dreary, and overcrowded airport - but it generally works OK.
  2. The LH lounges are pretty good. Food is better than in many other lounges, and the internet works (though I wish it were free).
  3. The AC checkin is out of the way. That being said, I don't recall the signage being a problem (as I said, I generally transit but I often pass by going from a B arrival to a C departure). Maybe there was a systems issue that day?
  4. The passport check at the gate is a royal pain, and the staff who do it seem disproportionally unable to deal with any nonstandard cases. By that I mean - if everyone in the line has an EU, US, or Cdn passport, then fine. If there's a bunch of ppl with passports with visas that need checking, or some fine nuance whether they need visas or not, then it becomes a complete shambles for everyone
  5. All in all, MUC is clearly better for transferring in Europe than FRA if possible, but give me dependably mildly annoying FRA over chaotic and overcrowded LHR or CDG any time. Though LHR has gotten better.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 7:53 pm
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Originally Posted by lostinthewash View Post

Flying on AC metal, AC GAs were known to upgrade Lufthansa flyers at the expense of AC Super Elites and Elites in the days of paper certs - hopefully with the e-upgrades they can't do that any more.
I have a hard time believing that.

Remember FRA was the place where one of the AC people got caught keeping upgrade certs and reselling them some years back. Since then they had in place a strict cert collection procedure. If they would somehow not collect the cert when you would enter the departure lounge they would eventually came after you on the plane to collect it.

Plus, I believe AC got their own staff at FRA, not LH employees. So why would they do that?

Finally, I have only good things to say about the concierges at FRA.

Why I occasionally find annoying there has been (1) times when there is no priority security and the line gets huge. (2) that sometimes you get bused to/from your plane.

Still, FRA remains pretty good compared with most airports of that size. One has to be familiar with the tunnel BTW.

From YYC your choice is FRA, LHR or a connection somewhere east. I'll take FRA any day. That I transit through FRA an average of 8-10 times a year of course may help. But still, other options are worse.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
FRA sucks. Period.
Not if you fly LH and use the FCT.

Last edited by SFO777; Apr 12, 11 at 8:03 pm
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Old Apr 12, 11, 8:19 pm
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Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
Not if you fly LH and use the FCT.
You´re right, the LH FCT is fantastic, but unfortunately I don´t get to use it more than a few times a year as they won´t let me in with my nice, shiny AC Elite card.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 8:32 pm
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FRA is a difficult airport to get used to and I think it can be overwhelming for a first timer but that is not really my problem as I have transited there numerous times, just never with AC. My main issue is how they could expect to process all those people (almost 350 total) in less than 30 minutes. I would understand it if the plane was late or something of that nature but that was not the case. UA is the airline I normally take and they have a process that is completely stupid and annoying at their stations in Europe and Asia but they allow for enough time to perform all of the stupid questions etc.

I dont mind FRA that much as it really isnt that bad of a place once you get used to it but no way I could stick with AC if I cant count on their flight going out on time because of a disorganized gate process. If the gate agent didnt let me and my wife on our original flight from YYZ-IND we would have been stuck at YYZ for another 6 hours til the next flight. If it is weather or something like that then fine but because they cant get their act together that is not acceptable. I may well give them another shot if the price is right as I really did like transiting in YYZ (despite slow internet) but to be honest I am leery to do so. I was really just trying to find out if it was a one off experience or if this thing always runs like a carnival and it appears that it is somewhat typical…maybe depending on loads.
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Old Apr 12, 11, 8:36 pm
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
- the check-in agents speak English pretty well IME while the staff running around trying to organize people usually don´t seem overly competent (even if you talk to them in German)
Yes, the check-in person spoke perfect english. It was the organizer that seemed to be extremely limited and to be honest...useless. A little more signage and that guy could be eliminated.
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Old Apr 13, 11, 7:23 am
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Friends don't let friends fly thru FRA...easily the worst airport in the western world. Avoid at all costs...
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Old Apr 13, 11, 4:03 pm
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Originally Posted by cruzcap View Post
Friends don't let friends fly thru FRA...easily the worst airport in the western world. Avoid at all costs...
PHL gives it a run for the money.
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Old Apr 13, 11, 4:31 pm
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Wink

Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
PHL gives it a run for the money.
Three words:

L A X

'nuff said!
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Old Apr 13, 11, 5:54 pm
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Come on guys. FRA is not bad. I don't mind it. Compare with LHR or DGG, which are distinctly worse. Or many places in the US.
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