Reader Question: Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt as a Connecting Passenger

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.

R.F. asked:

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?

For more on the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, including photos and menus, see here, here, and here.

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.

First, admittance:

  • 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.

Second, features:

  • 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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Summarized reason to visit FCT versus FCL as a connecting passenger:

    Since you have to reclear security anyway, might as well do it at the non-event FCL. FRA main terminal can be hit or miss on lines and level of screening you must go through in my experience.

    Since I know the layout of FRA well enough now, if the walk towards a FCL is short enough I’ll head that way and as long as the security line is short I’ll go the FCL route. If the line is long, I’ll go back, pass immigration (I too have never seen much of a line – the one time I did I less than 5 minutes) and head to the FCT.

    I’m all for the shorter walk, shortest line combo to maximize time in the FCL or FCT – whichever is fastest to access. I couldn’t care less about being driven to my gate. Unless I really want to see the bowels of FRA (perhaps everyone should at least once), it’s just a nice to have bonus but not something that really enhances my travel since it takes up such a small fraction of the trip.

    Oh, I almost forgot. Another deciding factor which is very important to me: If I need fresh air, it’s off the FCT so I can stand outside for a bit first and get out the stereotypically stuffy, too-warm German climate controlled environment! I love Germany, I just hate the fact it’s always too warm indoors for my liking!

  2. I sound like I contradicted myself, but that wasn’t my intent. I vote go to the FCT for the easier security. But I just don’t take my own advice most of the time.

  3. Hi Gary,

    Nice post. I will have my first ever try and the 1st terminal when I arrive from ORD this spring and will fly out to Sweden in BIZ so hope they will not say “no soup for you” since I arrive 1st but depart BIZ. I will advise.

  4. @M LOL

    I find the FCT useful for bypassing much of the crap that happens around US destined flights. No extra mandated security theatre that the US gvt. tends to demand if you go via the FCT.

    That and my last flight to EWR boarded in a far corner of FRA—about 1/3 the way to Munich. Much nicer to arrive by S Class than crowded bus.

  5. My recent arrival to FRA required a very long walk and then a fairly long que at immigration. Gate arrival to clearing immigration was about 45 minutes.

  6. I was flying from Prague to LAX two weeks ago. I went through lounge on B consourse and still got driven by car to the plane even if it was gated plane (Frankfurt – LAX)

  7. When you say “sleeping room” you mean like a hotel room? So, if you connect overnite you don’t need to stay in the hotel?

  8. The only negative I remember is that if there are several of you in the FCT for a specific flight you may get a mini-bus rather than a car transfer to the plane which is pretty disappointing.

  9. One more question on the FCL – as a Lufthansa first class passenger can I bring a friend flying economy on Lufthansa but on a different flight into the lounge?

    The reason I ask is that I have an upcoming LH F ticket from SIN through FRA to YVR and am encouraging a German buddy to buy the cheapest ticket out of FRA possible so he can come and join me in the lounge for the day.

    Will it work or no? I’ve found conflicting reports online.

  10. LH Biz from Krk to Fra, 1 hour 55 mins layover at Fra, then 1st class from Fra to Lax. Will I have access for FCT? Will there be enough time and how do i get there?

  11. You’ll get driven to your plane from the FCL-B if you are leaving for a non-Schengen or non-EU destination on a Lufthansa, Austrian or Swiss flight departing from a non-gate position or from an A or C gate.

    This and everything else you need to know about the FCT and FCLs is in the excellent FlyerTalk thread that we’re probably no longer allowed to link to.

  12. Can the FCT be used as an arrival lounge. I am flying ORD – MUC LH 1st class. After 3 days in Munich I continue OZ 1st class to HKG.

  13. @Jeff the First Class TERMINAL is in Frankfurt, not Munich… And even if you were flying to Frankfurt, you wouldn’t have access to it without an onward Lufthansa group boarding pass…

  14. Gary – My father who is an Indian citizen but a U.S. Green card holder will be flying to Frankfurt and departing from there in Lufthansa F. After reading your article I just realized that getting to the FCT in Frankfurt means entering Germany. So would he then need a visa just to enter the FCT? I booked this trip for him as a once in a lifetime kind of journey since has never flown anything but coach. I really want him to be able to have the full experience but if now I’m wondering if he will even able to do it if he needs a separate German visa.

  15. hey gary,

    next week i’ll be flying LH business from ZRH to FRA, then only 1 hr before flying LH F to LAX. you think i can still make the FCT? i don’t mind a fast walk, to get the full experience!

  16. @kevin in capetown – if you are ontime for your arrival, you can likely hoof it over – you will not have any time to enjoy the first class termianl but would just make it over to get private passport control and car to the plane. Since you’re flying to LAX it probably isn’t any extra time considering you’d have to go through extra procedures for US departures in concourse A anyway…

  17. @Yaswanth going to the first class terminal means entering Germany, which requires a Visa for those passport holders for whom a VIsa is required..

  18. If I am arriving Frankfurt Lufthansa 1st class at 8 p.m., departing next day at 10 a.m., what are my options for maximum enjoyment of the services? (I assume I can’t spend the night and was planning to go to Sheraton). I haven’t been in newer lounges.

  19. I am flying DEN to FRA (RT) in LH F. The tickets were purchased for me with United frequent flyer miles (United flight operated by Lufthansa). Will I be able to access the FCT for my return trip FRA –> DEN?

  20. @ Gary…thanks for the info. So do you I get the private car from the FCT to my flight to Milan? Also do you find the Lufhansa Ducks in the regular First Class Lounge in FRA?

  21. I have used the FCT several times as a connecting passenger (Arriving F on *A and LH) but always departing LH F/C. There has never been a problem when I was connecting onward in C (The LH Staff at the FCT has welcomed me in every time).

    They can move you through extremely fast, I once arrived at the FCT after stuck in traffic from downtown and only had 40 minutes to departure. They checked my bag and wiped me right through. I even had 10 minutes to enjoy a coffee. I love the fact that they wait until the last possible minute to take you to the plane via car and it seems I always get grabbed about 15 mins prior to departure. Amazing service.

  22. I am arriving in F on MCO-FRA and departing FRA-PEK in Business on lufthansa, can I access the FIRST CLASS TERMINAL?

  23. if you are in business class departing frankfurt with access to the terminal do you still get driven to the plane?

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