Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on March 25th, but a WordPress app issue (damn you, iOS!) caused it to revert to an ancient draft version and it vanished from published status. I’m pretty annoyed that the WordPress app can no longer be trusted to ever edit or view a post ever again. On with the original (republished) post:
The week before last, I got to spend a little bit of extra time in Frankfurt, somewhat against my will. On Tuesday the 12th of March, a large snowstorm caused the Frankfurt Airport to close for several hours. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and still more were delayed. My flights to Orlando were on Wednesday the 13th, one day later. The Munich to Frankfurt flight was delayed, but the Frankfurt to Orlando leg was not, resulting in me getting stuck.
Lufthansa strove mightily to get me to my destination. The woman at the service counter checked other flights- everything going into the US was booked solid. The one possible route she found for me was from Frankfurt to Heathrow in London, and from there to JFK in New York. From JFK, I would have had to driveto Newark to get the last flight down to Orlando. This was, naturally, not a very good solution and I begrudgingly accepted a Lufthansa rebooking the following morning to get in via an extra stop in Chicago. I spent more than a half hour in line for the service desk, and another twenty minutes standing at the counter while the service desk was trying to help me. When I was done, this was the line for that service desk. The actual desk is off to the left there, just past the hanging yellow sign:
Because of the resultant delays and cancellations, I was not the only traveler getting stuck in Frankfurt. Every hotel room in the city center was booked solid. This meant I was well and truly stuck. until 10:45 the following morning. (That flight was also delayed, but that’s not the point here.) With that much time to kill, I needed to come up with fun things to do. My extra time in the Frankfurt airport was not fun, but I have some ideas for future travelers in this position to help pass the time.
- Go to every restaurant on the terminal map. Order only a large ice water and a packet of sugar.
- Get a haircut. (There are at least two places you can do this without leaving the airport complex.)
- Befriend other stranded travelers, and create a review board to compare light levels in the various terminals.
- Chart the persistence of aroma by distance from the duty free shops. (Seriously, those places are intensely aromatic. People with headaches triggered by strong smells should beware.)
- Take a tour of the airport.
- Buy a bunch of postcards in the duty free shop, and then fill them out with “I’m trapped in Frankfurt. Send help!” messages. Use the Deutsche Post shop in Terminal 1 to mail them to all your friends.
- Find innovative ways to use the meal vouchers that the airline gave you for stranding you overnight in an unexpected city.
- Walk by Erster Wiener in Terminal 1, pointing and laughing. (“LOL, he said Wiener.”)
- Some of the stores in the terminal have mannequins. Pose with them. Hold out until a tourist snaps your picture with an iPhone.
- Talk back to the gate change announcements. Loudly.
- Get a massage.
- Go to Euroclean in Terminal 1 and ask them to press your underwear.
- Go to one of the book stores in the airport and reorganize the news magazines in reverse alphabetical order.
- Go to Flowerterminal (also in terminal 1) and send flowers to your mother.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to spend the entire time in the airport terminal, because I have really great friends. My usual partner-in-crime, Jenny, was at her computer at home, and was able to locate a still-available hotel room about 18 kilometers from the airport. It took me an hour to get there, via two trains and a brisk walk in the snow, but I made it just in time to snag the very last room in the hotel.
Let’s face it, sleeping in a hotel is much more relaxing than trying to sleep in an airport terminal.
Have you ever been stranded in an airport or train station? How did you pass the time?