Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

December 20th, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Final Call

There is always a risk involved in catching a connecting flight. I hadn’t given it much thought, as Lufthansa is an airline widely known for their punctuality. It’s a German thing.

My trip was to Augsburg via Frankfurt. Augsburg is a small town about an hour away from Munich, and its main charm to me was the low fare it offered. It’s also not every day I get to fly on a propeller plane where I can pretend I’m Buddy Holly, which is the aircraft that would ferry me on the short hop between Frankfurt and Augburg. Seemed like a win-win scenario, especially with the generous allotment of ninety minutes to make the connection.

By the time I got off the slightly delayed and insanely cramped flight into Frankfurt, I found myself with aching knees and only an hour to make my next flight. Prudently, I had watched the gripping short film “Your Arrival in Frankfurt” which had been shown on the plane. This amazing piece of cinema-verite had prepared me well for the most efficent usage of the terminal facility. I also had learned, in typical traveller’s luck, that the terminal I was arriving at and the terminal I was departing from was mathematically proven to be the maximum distance achievable between any two points in the airport.

The movie depicted one significant fiction, though. It has been shot in the airport when it was entirely devoid of people except for happy, alert service personnel standing ready to offer assistance. I was not prepared for a terminal full of dim-witted and slowly shambling people staring blankly at displays, and generally getting in the way. Perhaps I was the only person in the airport trying to catch a plane, or at least the only person trying to catch a plane in the next forty minutes.

Dodge. Weave. Dash. Darting up escalators. Scampering down stairs. No problem. No problem until I arrive at Passport Control.

In the video, Passport Control was a receptive, open expanse lined with civil servants to expedite your journey. It even has a dedicated area, “Fast Check,” for people with connecting flights in the next hour. What I encountered was a room jammed full of people pushing and shoving in tangled queues. The Fast Check line was the first line as you entered the room, so of course, every Tom, Dick and Wolfgang simply stood in that line, connecting flight or not. And apparently the gentlemen checking passports must have been proofreading the damn things, because the line was certainly not fast.

When I finally got through having my document critiqued, I had less than thirty minutes to get to the gate, which was still another terminal. A terminal that was a long tunnel full of moseying people dragging large bags away. But it turns out that hip-checking the old man and his wife into the wall and running over the six year old was unnecessary. I made it to my gate with more than three minutes to spare. All that rushing for nothing.

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