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Schengen to Asia transit: FRA vs ZRH

Schengen to Asia transit: FRA vs ZRH

Old Jul 17, 19, 4:34 am
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Schengen to Asia transit: FRA vs ZRH

I am asking this question on behalf of my best friend, who has traveled quite a lot, but is not good at directions outside the US. He will travel from Berlin to Seoul via HKG.

There is an itinerary on LH (TXL to FRA or ZRH) and then CX (to HKG and then ICN) that looks ok to him.

However, there is a dilemma: ideally, transit via ZRH is better than FRA (the worst major airport I have been to). Yet, the transit time via ZRH is only 1 hr 10 min, whereas for FRA is 1 hr 50 min. Which one is better? The transit time in FRA is longer, but FRA can be a zoo, if he is unlucky. He does have e-passport access for German immigration, but my prior experience shows that many a time, the stupid machines don't work.

What do you recommend?

Also, even in FRA, does he have to go through security again? Thanks.
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Old Jul 17, 19, 5:44 am
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Given the infrastructure issues in TXL, I would take the itinerary with more connection time. I also think that your assessment of FRA being a zoo is overblown. FRA is a totally logical airport if you just follow the signs.

In FRA he would need to switch terminals (from T1 to T2) as LH arrives in T1 A concourse and CX leaves from T2 (E concourse). Given that he is leaving the Schengen zone in FRA, he would need to go through passport control, but can probably avoid a security check if he takes the Skyline train from the A/Z departure. However, since LH and CX cooperate he could probably check his baggage through from TXL to HKG/ICN.

Last edited by SunshineStay; Jul 17, 19 at 5:48 am Reason: Correction re security check
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Old Jul 17, 19, 6:02 am
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Originally Posted by SunshineStay View Post
...your assessment of FRA being a zoo is overblown. FRA is a totally logical airport if you just follow the signs.

...However, since LH and CX cooperate he could probably check his baggage through from TXL to HKG/ICN.
Well, I was in FRA several times, traveling on *A. So, I didn't need to change terminals. Yet, the security staff was just idiots. I had to go from LH's terminal to AC's lounge (then back to Terminal B for UA long-haul), and therefore had to go through security checks and passport controls. One-third of the elevators weren't working...no kidding. I also recall many bloggers claiming that FRA was one of the most chaotic mega hubs in the world and should be avoided. Perhaps I came with that mindset and thus was more conscious of its deficiency. MUC is far better but there's no flight options for transiting via there.

CX sells the ticket and therefore will check-through his luggage.

Thanks for the insights.
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Old Jul 17, 19, 1:46 pm
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FRA is not a bad airport if you are connecting from Schengen to non-Schengen within T1 but it's not ideal if it involves transferring between T1 and T2. I agree with SunshineStay that ZRH is a much better option in this case.
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Old Jul 17, 19, 1:59 pm
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Well NewbieRunner, I actually recommended FRA, because if the plane is delayed in TXL, the OP will be screwed in ZRH while he will probably make his connecting flight in FRA.
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Old Jul 18, 19, 1:09 am
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I would recommend to have a longer connection due to the infrastructure issue at TXL. It is quite probable the TXL-XXX flight will be delayed, up to 1 hour easily. Then I would recommend ZRH.
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Old Jul 18, 19, 2:25 am
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Originally Posted by SunshineStay View Post
Well NewbieRunner, I actually recommended FRA, because if the plane is delayed in TXL, the OP will be screwed in ZRH while he will probably make his connecting flight in FRA.
I must have misread your post. I cannot agree that FRA is a logical airport unless you are connecting between Schengen and (mostly) US flights within T1. Once you step on the Skyline train you are no longer “clean” and you will have to re-clear security (as well as passport control) before your connecting flight. In ZRH you can remain “clean” if transferring from A to E via the Skymetro with only passport control before boarding the train.
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Old Jul 18, 19, 6:04 am
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@NewbieRunner
The question is, let's say the flight is delayed by 45 minutes, then you only have 25 minutes to connect in ZRH, while you still have 65 minutes in FRA. The former is probably impossible to do, the latter is at least still possible.
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Old Jul 18, 19, 6:55 pm
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Originally Posted by SunshineStay View Post
@NewbieRunner
The question is, let's say the flight is delayed by 45 minutes, then you only have 25 minutes to connect in ZRH, while you still have 65 minutes in FRA. The former is probably impossible to do, the latter is at least still possible.
ZRH is extremely efficient for connecting; even with 25 minutes I think it would be possible at a brisk walk. I had to do the reverse and rush from T2 check-in to T1Z a couple years ago when I got rebooked on short notice, and it was ~45 minutes at a full sprint when not queueing for security or passport control. That doesn't include time from the check-in hall to the plane at T2, which is even longer.

That said, I'm not exactly sure what the timing is on the flights, but there is a second service to HKG on LX later in the day your friend could be rebooked on if the inbound from TXL is delayed, or even a nonstop on Korean to ICN that could work. Seeing as there are options that would get them there the same day in case of problems, I would opt for ZRH.
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Old Jul 19, 19, 8:13 am
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ZRH would be my preferred transit location even with a 45 minute scheduled transit.
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Old Jul 19, 19, 8:52 am
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Thanks for all the replies so far.

Interestingly, only Expedia sells the itinerary with transit at ZRH. If I use CX's website, then it only shows itineraries via FRA. Not sure if this means that CX doesn't want me to fly via ZRH.

If he misses his CX HK-bound flight, then there are three nonstop options: Korean, Asiana, and LH. None of these are in One World. Out of the three, he only likes LH. Korean is a no-no, due to its horrible reputation in both safety and management.

Another option is flying Finnair, but the fare is more than US$1+k more.
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