The Long Layover: Frankfurt International Airport

On my last trip to Africa from the US, a change in flight schedules resulted in long layovers at Frankfurt International Airport of more than 8 hours on both flight rotations. That left plenty of time to kill between flights so I had to think of ways to make the most of the situation. Hopefully, you’ll find these tips useful if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Tip 1: Don’t underestimate the value of a day room during a long layover.

En route to Namibia, I had two long overnight hauls (Denver to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Windhoek). I can’t sleep sitting upright so I knew I had to find a place to catch some zzz’s during my layover. There is a Sheraton at the airport, but when I checked pricing for a day room it was the same as an overnight stay (approximately $250 USD). That was a bit steep for my daily budget so I opted for the Holiday Inn – Frankfurt Airport (http://www.holidayinn.com/hotels/us/en/frankfurt/frais/hoteldetail) a 10-minute drive away for just under $85 USD. That price included airport transfers, a comfortable room with hot shower, and free wi-fi in the lobby. Definitely worth it!

Tip 2: Explore other areas outside of your departure gate terminal at large airports.

When I left the airport for the Holiday Inn, I exited through the main section of Terminal 1. This part of the airport had a wide variety of restaurants and shopping options on offer. If I hadn’t left the airport, I may never have known about all of these businesses. My Air Namibia flight was out of Terminal 2 and that area of the airport doesn’t have near the number of choices once you pass through the Passport Control checkpoint.

During my layover on the way back, I was sitting next to another traveler that was complaining about how Frankfurt was the worst airport for a long layover. He had five hours before his next flight and we were near the Z gates. Admittedly, there isn’t much near the Z gates so I suggested he head for the main part of Terminal 1. You have to show your passport when you exit and return, but it’s a quick process and not reason enough to stay put. Check out the airport’s website for more details: http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/shop_enjoy0.html.

Tip 3: Explore the surrounding area outside the airport.

If you don’t need sleep and you don’t want to spend hours at the airport, leave and explore. There’s a train station at the airport (http://www.raileurope.ca/europe-travel-guide/germany/frankfurt/train-station/frankfurt-airport-train-station.html) and you can get to Frankfurt’s Main Station in less than 15 minutes and Downtown in less than half an hour. Your long layover may end up being a mini-vacation in itself.