BRU or FRA for Transit to US?

Old Sep 16, 15, 8:31 am
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BRU or FRA for Transit to US?

Hi all-
I haven't traveled on UA in several years, but it looks like I'll be starting up again due to work requirements. I have an upcoming trip from FCO to IAD, and have the choice of transiting either through FRA or BRU. My recollections of FRA are not overly positive, so initially I was thinking that anywhere would be better, and the BRU-IAD flight is a little shorter (I'll be travelling in Y with no *A status). A quick search on flyertalk, however, brought up some threads with people complaining a lot about BRU transit. For those of you who have tried both- which is likely to be less hassle?
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Old Sep 16, 15, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by whimsey21 View Post
Hi all-
I haven't traveled on UA in several years, but it looks like I'll be starting up again due to work requirements. I have an upcoming trip from FCO to IAD, and have the choice of transiting either through FRA or BRU. My recollections of FRA are not overly positive, so initially I was thinking that anywhere would be better, and the BRU-IAD flight is a little shorter (I'll be travelling in Y with no *A status). A quick search on flyertalk, however, brought up some threads with people complaining a lot about BRU transit. For those of you who have tried both- which is likely to be less hassle?
Bru is a much easier airport to transit.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 8:48 am
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I don't like either, but I strongly prefer FRA over BRU when returning to the United States because the internal transfer at BRU between domestic EU flights and international flights requires you to go through a passport control line with only two physical booths. They can't make it go any faster because they can't add people even if they wanted to. I've been stuck in the passport line for an hour on several occasions in the past 18 months. This has threatened my connection on each occasion. I have since outlawed my travel department from putting me through BRU.

FRA is a sprawling mess with a distinct gate shortage. You may end up using a bus in either direction, which stinks. FRA security is also essentially a body cavity search. It's horrible. The United check in at FRA is also run by Lufthansa and they aren't trained well on United status preferences and procedures which has been a problem too. On the other hand, the lounges are okay, and there is an actual United Rep in the Business Lounge right above the Senator Lounge when you get past security.

Just for info, I go to FRA about once a month for business from EWR, usually going direct, but occasionally transferring in one direction or the other.

Hope that helps.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by zrs70 View Post
Bru is a much easier airport to transit.
Caveat: I've only transferred in BRU twice.

But I would agree. FRA sometimes feels like you have to walk a couple miles for a transfer. Other than that, FRA is not bad either. I would probably go with whatever has the best schedule, best planes, etc.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 8:53 am
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As TATL transfer airports, both BRU and FRA stink.

Try for a routing through MUC or even AMS.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by transportprof View Post
As TATL transfer airports, both BRU and FRA stink.

Try for a routing through MUC or even AMS.
Both better choices! I prefer Munich because of the Senator's lounge . Although I've heard the new BRU lounge is nice too, haven't been there yet.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 9:16 am
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FRA can be either easy or hard, depending on where your flights arrive and depart from. There can be loooong walks, but not horrible.

I have also experienced lengthy waits at BRU security/passport control.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 9:23 am
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both can be horrendously long waits in security and tortuous paths from gate to gate, and neither are interested if you are late.

Try MUC or ZRH. I had a great experience at DUB, but that was a random IRROPS one-off journey.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 9:56 am
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Originally Posted by whimsey21 View Post
Hi all-
I haven't traveled on UA in several years, but it looks like I'll be starting up again due to work requirements. I have an upcoming trip from FCO to IAD, and have the choice of transiting either through FRA or BRU. My recollections of FRA are not overly positive, so initially I was thinking that anywhere would be better, and the BRU-IAD flight is a little shorter (I'll be travelling in Y with no *A status). A quick search on flyertalk, however, brought up some threads with people complaining a lot about BRU transit. For those of you who have tried both- which is likely to be less hassle?
Used BRU recently to transit into EU and just got back from FRA-IAD last night. FRA was a breeze - now transit is especially easier because of the Star Alliance Gold Track lanes. Flew out of Z gates so the senator and business lounges were pretty good. YMMV
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Old Sep 16, 15, 9:58 am
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Flying solo, I've found both to be about the same. BRU can have long passport lines. FRA can be a zillion-mile walk. Both can have miserable security.

However, flying with my wife or a guest, BRU has an added annoyance... the Premier/First/whatever security line has an automated gate instead of a human. It will let the premier pax through, but not their spouse/guest even if on the same reservation. There's also no way to get back out, and the queue dragons will send the denied person all the way to the friggin' end of the normal queue...

Agree with the posters who suggested ZRH or AMS, if you can find a decent routing...
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Old Sep 16, 15, 10:07 am
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best choice would be ZRH or MUC.

An advantage of FRA over BRU is if anything goes wrong there are plenty of possibilities to get you home with United or *alliance flight out of Frankfurt
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Old Sep 16, 15, 10:21 am
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I did BRU for the first time this Spring. I agree with the poster about the passport control at the transfer point. There's no crowd control, so there are plenty of line jumpers. I plan to avoid BRU as long as that's possible, even though I agree with all of the negatives posted about FRA.

Reasons why I did not enjoy BRU:
* Brussels lounge (EU side) was nice & new, but already overcrowded.
* Passport Control at Transfer is a huge capacity problem.
* Security on international side is chaos.
* Lounge on international side is small, and no where close to gates.
* Runaway construction delaying both by arriving and departing flights.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 10:22 am
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There is a huge thread about connecting in FRA on the LH forum. Link to thread
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Old Sep 16, 15, 11:12 am
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As others have said, neither is great. Since you don't have status, the lounges won't be a factor.

While other European transits may be easier, I do support your idea of even a poor European transit out of FCO. The flights to the US operate out of an especially unpleasant and overcrowded ticketing and security terminal, which has been made even more unpleasant by relocating several additional airlines there following this year's fire. It was so overcrowded this summer that people were being lined up outside the terminal to wait to get in for check-in. FCO will be the worst airport on the trip, by far, and connecting in Europe will smooth that.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 11:12 am
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Originally Posted by appenzeller View Post
best choice would be ZRH or MUC.
OP, try ZRH: easiest to navigate and and one of the best catering systemwide, IMHO the best of any UA-EU-stations.
I had a family member - who also occasionally flies C on my GPUs - travelling recently in Y ex-ZRH, reporting that the Y-offering was indeed decent&tasty.
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