Azara Blog: Frankfurt observations

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Date published: 2009/02/19

Frankfurt is the top financial city in Germany, if not Europe. But it is amazingly tiny (unlike Berlin, which stretches for miles and miles) and low-rise except for a few skyscrapers (so similar to Berlin and London). Much of it was destroyed in the war so not many old buildings remain. There are some nice churches, but other than that not a heck of a lot on the architectural front.

The flight from London City airport to Frankfurt is probably the best way to get there (unless you have your own private jet). London City is not that easy to get to (it's near the end of one branch of the creaking Docklands Light Railway). But it's no worse than Heathrow to get to, and far better once one is there. So the walk from the DLR station to the terminal building is about two minutes (so even better than the equivalent walk at Stansted from the train to the terminal building). The security line at London City is all but non-existant, even with only one or two checkers.

The flight in both directions was much less than half full, which is bizarre in the Ryanair era when 80+ percent capacity should be the norm. So either London City is about to lose some flights, or business customers are paying way over the odds to use the airport and so are massively subsidising the flights.

Frankfurt is such a small city that the airport is in the middle of nowhere even though it is less than half an hour from the downtown. Unlike Heathrow it is easy to get around the airport, with a convenient "sky train" to get between the two terminals. But the signage is rather poor. Indeed, it is not even that easy to find out what the departure gate for one's flight is, at least in Terminal 2.

And in Terminal 2, at least, the security check is after the duty-free shop. That would cause apoplexy in Britain. The German security people don't think it is a problem because the duty-free has to be in a sealed bag. But it surely wouldn't take that clever a malcontent to figure out how to make a convincing version. One good thing about the security in Frankfurt is that they don't have this hysterical approach to the 100 ml rule that now operates at British airports. And the German security check was far more thorough than the British one is (so maybe they are clever enough to spot stuff masquerading as duty free which is not), yet the lines were almost non-existant.

The people of Frankfurt seemed relatively relaxed. Indeed, quite a few of them jaywalk, or cross when the light is red. In many parts of Germany (even Berlin) that would be met with a fierce disapproving stare and some muttering.

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