Guest post by Vladimir Jelov
With air travel in Europe returning (insert hopeless comment here) many will want to make a run for the Mediterranean. And it just so happens that Frankfurt, one of the busiest airports in the World, might be the spot you will be using as a transition point.
But with Germany being Germany (Achtung! Ordnung!) every step possible is taken to ensure the safety of travelers and airport staff. This creates a unique problem, especially if you are stuck in Frankfurt for 4+ hours:
You can’t go out into town (you will have to self-quarantine for a week) and there is not much to do there. So, here are some tips for you and yours from our latest 6 hours at Frankfurt International Airport.
1 Get those 10k steps!
Yes, while most shops etc are closed, you can still walk around endless halls and stare at people. Everyone is wearing a mask, of course, but there are still plenty of interesting and goofy people to look at and imagine their stories. Also, this may help you work up the appetite and give a better overview of sandwiches on offer.
2 Fewer people = better chance to score a good chair
Scattered around the terminal are some nice “relaxation” spots, where you can really stretch your legs and even try to catch some shuteye. Blindfold yourself, put on some relaxing music, and do some mindfulness training. You never have time for it at home, so start your vacation therapy early. Extra points if you can score one of “pod chairs”. Feels like you are inside an egg.
3 Pick up smoking
No, you definitely shouldn’t do that. But in case you are a smoker, there are several smoking lounges available for you. This works quite well together with point 1 – you can enjoy your unhealthy habit in one lounge and then take a walk to the other lounge to repeat. Also, considering that most restaurants are closed and the opened ones don’t allow sitting in, I’m mystified as to how it’s still o.k. to let 20 people cram into a tiny room without masks and puff at each other.
4 Do some shopping
Yes, most of the shops are closed but the main tax-free one is open and they have some pretty good discounts on a variety of perfumes, booze etc. Their selection of toys is poor though, hence if you plan to buy a toy for a kid at your destination I would advise you to shop before your journey. And speaking of booze…
5 Get hammered!
Sorry, another terrible piece of advice. Please drink responsibly and remember that being intoxicated during your flight may be a risk to your health. Germany isn’t the most expensive country when it comes to alcohol prices but current discounts in the tax-free are very attractive. A liter of Beluga for 13 euros, “travel” edition and exotic spirits for 20-40 euros, a decent variety of German wines, etc. If you are traveling as a company, I would suggest you pick up a base spirit and then pick some mixers. Have yourself a cocktail party.
6 Play a game of Xbox
There are decent flatscreens and about 10 spots for you to do some video gaming in a dedicated room. Admittedly, the game selection is very… conservative. But you can still bring out your inner Schumacher in the excellent Forza Motorsport 7, try goofing around in Rayman, and then there is Tetris too. If you travel with someone who enjoys video games, this can keep them busy for hours while you sit across the hall binging one of the many shows you didn’t have time for. And there is a tiny area with a playground for toddlers to crawl around an airplane model not too far away.
7 Watch a movie!
The movie area is now officially my favorite place in the airport. It’s fairly far away from the busy central square of the A-terminal and sits in a small corner. And while the movie selection is quite poor, the chairs and the atmosphere are excellent. There is also a nice carpet, so you can take off those shoes and give your toes some breathing room. Another upside is that it’s secluded enough that you can keep the mask off and pretend that you are sipping, should the mask-police spot you.
8 Do some work or write a blog
This is what I ended up doing anyway, as you can guess. There are plenty of “work” desks sitting around with plenty of available power sockets to charge your laptop and devices. I am strongly against using public wifi, because of security concerns, but if you must, then the signal seems better in those spots. Don’t forget to use your VPN for extra protection.
9 Have a pretzel or a wurst
Even though the nicer restaurants and cafes are closed or serving sandwiches only, there are still a few spots around the airport serving these iconic German foods. So, as you are in Germany, might just as well grab one of those along with a beer or a glass of riesling.
10 Attend a mass or a religious ceremony
There are prayer rooms scattered around the airport and depending on the day of the week/time, you could have a chance to visit a group prayer. Sunday is a catholic mass day, for example. Once there, you could send a small prayer to God, Allah, WHO, or anyone really for this pandemic to stop and let us return to the good old times.
Bonus: An activity to engage in before coming to Germany (COVID testing)
Germany has very strict requirements regarding COVID tests of arrivals. At the time of writing, it stood at 48 hours for several tests (PCR seems to be 72 hours). E.g. you have to take the test whether you are coming from, get the resulting certificate (can take 24-48 hours), and get into Frankfurt within 48 hours from the moment you took the test. If the police, who do random checks, catch you without a PCR test or with one, which falls outside the 48-hour time frame even by a few hours, you are likely to get a 2000 euro fine. And there is no sweet-talking your way out of it, as reported by several travelers. Please check https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/coronavirus/2317268 and/or your airline for the latest information before your trip. The rules may change at a week’s notice.
And this is it, folks. While there are a lot of limitations on what you can do in the airports across the planet, Frankfurt is not too bad. Its sheer size and budget still allow it to provide travelers with some things to try out. Stay safe and try to get the most out of your travel!