After sharing some of my e-mail back and forth with a reader about Citibank debit card mileage earning on Wednesday, something pretty obvious occurred to me.
I get reader questions all the time, every day, and I’m sharing answers with individuals that others may find interesting or useful. And at the very least, even if they aren’t interesting or useful at the moment I publish them, The Google means that folks asking the very same question in the future will find the answers quite easily. If I blog them.
So I might start sharing reader email questions and answers more regularly, towards that end here’s a question that came in and an answer I shot back from my blackberry while walking my dog today.
Hey, if I fly in First Class Newark-Frankfurt and then Frankfurt-Osaka both on Lufthansa, would I go through customs at all, and would I get picked up at the plane and brought to the First Class Terminal, or do we clear customs with everyone else and have to walk over to the First Class Terminal? I ask because there is only 1 hour 55 minutes between flights, and if we have to go through customs that would be pretty tight, with no time for the First Class Terminal. Thanks!
Seems a good time to explain Frankfurt and Lufthansa’s (lack of) arrival services for first class passengers. My reply, a bit abbreviated because I typed it on my Blackberry:
You only get picked up planeside if you arrive at a non-gate position. Newark-Frankfurt will definitely get a gate. And if you were picked up planeside they would take you to the main terminal, not the First Class Terminal, anyway.
If you were just connecting and not going to the First Class Terminal you would go through security as off the top of my head I believe you will change concourses between a US arrival and Japan departure. But you wouldn’t go through immigration or customs.
Customs is a non-issue, usually you don’t even notice it there…
To get to the First Class Terminal you go through immigration, honestly I’ve heard stories of long lines but I’ve never had a long line in Frankfurt myself.
Once through immigration it’s a very quick walk, down to the baggage claim level and to the left all the way to the end of the terminal, out the door and to the left past where the taxis queue until dispatched to head over to the passenger pickup area. You walk straight ahead and up to the First Class Terminal, buzz at the callbox and they let you in. Then you go up the elevator, through their private security, they take your passport to handle departing immigration formalities.
1h55m is plenty for this, unless you are an hour late arriving..
You only get a ride TO the plane if departing from the First Class Terminal or if departing from the first class lounge on the B concourse to a flight leaving from a non-gate position. And you Osaka flight will definitely have a gate, so no car from the B lounge…
With 1h55m I would head to the First Class Terminal unless you get to immigration and lines are monstrous. But then I think I’ve only had 20+ minute passport control waits in the US.. No other country more than 20 minutes. Am I lucky or what?
The First Class lounges are aesthetically very similar, though without the private security and passport control or car service across the tarmac to the plane (though the B concourse lounge has the car service, exclusively for passengers departing from a non-gate position which usually means regional flights). Here are my photos of the First Class lounge on the A concourse.
Stepping back a moment, things to understand about the First Class Terminal.
- It’s for departing first class passengers on Lufthansa or flying same-day first class on Lufthansa/Swiss. If you’re flying from Frankfurt to Munich to connect to Lufthansa First, you have access to the Terminal. If you’re flying from Frankfurt to Zurich (or Geneva) to connect to Swiss First, you have access to the Terminal.
- It’s not really intended for connecting passengers, but they will not turn you away if you are arriving on another flight in Frankfurt and departing in First Class on Lufthansa (or again, connecting to a same-day first class flight).
- It’s really not intended for arriving First Class passengers, connecting onward in business class. But generally I’ve heard nothing but success from such folks approaching the terminal for admittance and not being turned away.
- It’s not for passengers departing on Star Alliance partner airlines like Singapore, United, and Thai. IF you aren’t flying on one of the Lufthansa group carriers, you aren’t going to be able to use the First Class Terminal.
- If you arrive in Lufthansa First and are connecting to a Star Alliance airline, you are welcome to use the First Class Lounges, not the terminal.
- If you did not arrive in Lufthansa First, and are departing on a Star Alliance airline, you are only going to have access to the Senator lounges if you’re a first class passenger.
- Private, discrete security. The most polite, civilized security experience you’ve ever had. I’ve had help with my jacket. The agents are very polite. There’s generally no line.
- Your passport is taken from you when you arrive. That’s so your passport can be processed and ready to go by the Terminal’s private immigration service, they handle all of the departing immigration formalities so that when you leave you just pick up your passport and go.
- A restaurant. A very good restaurant. I highly recommend the Wienerschnitzel. There’s a buffet and table service.
- Out of this world snacks. Scattered throughout the terminal, some of the best nuts I’ve ever eaten, the wasabi nuts are the best.
- Excellent shower facilities, sleep rooms, and baths. Even if not having a bath, ask the shower attendant for a First Class Terminal-branded rubber ducky to take with you.
- Extensive bar, tons of scotch especially, and a cigar lounge.
- Private duty free, complimentary wireless internet, excellent service throughout. And I never feel uncomfortable leaving my carry-on bags unattended…
- Most importantly? When the time comes to leave for your flight, the same person (usually) who greeted you on arrival will come to fetch you, take you down the elevator to pick up your passport, and turn you over to your drive who will take you in a Mercedes or Porsche out to your plane.
This last, the vehicle to the plane, is the part that’s truly special and that makes it worthwhile walking over to the First Class Terminal rather than using just one of the First Class Lounges, especially if you haven’t done it before (or haven’t done it more than a half a dozen times!).
Got questions? As usual, ask away.