The Sights and Sounds of the Frankfurt Airport…
When you are stuck in the airport for more than 24 hours, you have to find ways to entertain yourself. As much as I wanted to take Sheila out into Frankfurt and show her the city where I spent two Christmas, an Easter and two short stopovers, we were held captive in walls of the Frankfurt International Airport. We made countless references to Tom Hanks’s movie, “The Terminal” where a man becomes trapped in an airport terminal when he is denied entry into the United States because his native country has experienced a military coup. Sheila and I have differing opinions on how good the movie is but it took on new meaning during those 24 hours in Frankfurt.
Sleeping in an airport also has its challenges. For the most part, there were very few announcements as no flights arrived after 11:00pm and before 5:00am. However, during these six hours, the airport is busy with cleaners, construction workers, airline staff re-arranging gates, etc. At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom and when I returned, I noticed that Sheila’s blanket had fallen off. As I tried to re-arrange it, she made a strange noise. At first, I thought she was dreaming because I couldn’t see her eyes to know exactly what was going on. When I eventually saw that she was awake, I asked what was wrong. She told me that she thought I was a strange man standing over her so she was making a sound to scare them away. However, the sound she made was neither scary nor startling. It sounded more like the squeak of a mouse.
As part of our 24 hours, I wanted to highlight some of the things we experience while waiting in the third busiest airport in Europe.
- The comforts of the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Terminal 1 Concourse B. After our 8 hour flight from Washington, D.C. to Frankfurt, we were happy to settle into the Lufthansa Lounge. We were provided with endless food, drinks and couches to nap and rest on. Sadly, the Lounge closed at 10:00pm and we had to relocate to the terminal to sleep. However, at 5:00am, Sheila and I were waiting at the door to re-enter the lounge. Lufthansa was helpful enough to give us pillows and blankets for the long night in the terminal.
- Plane watching at Terminal 1. Since my first airplane ride in 1993, I have become fascinated with air travel. I often watch documentaries on the manufacturing of aircrafts and why airplanes crash. I once wrote a paper on the 1996 crash of Valujet Flight 592 and how workers’ disregard for company policies led to the disaster in the Florida Everglades. In Frankfurt, I was extremely fascinated watching the various planes arrive in Frankfurt. It was also interesting watching how the Lounge changed over the course of the day. There seem to be an uptick in the number of blacks in the lounge in the morning as flights were arriving from the African continent and the United States (Sheila and I fit into both categories) and East Asians in the afternoon. We watched planes arrive from the United States, Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Korea and China. There were numerous Lufthansa planes that arrived but we were unable to determine their departure point.
- The local cuisine. Germany is known for its brats, beers and pretzels. The Lufthansa Lounge provided unlimited Turkey Brats (perfect for me), beer and pretzels. Even though we were unable to leave the airport, we were able to experience some of the “local cuisine.”
- Duty Free Shopping. Before the lounge closed, Sheila and I decided to window shop along the concourse. Everyone raves about duty free shopping but Sheila and I were just coming from the United States where everything is typically cheaper than airport prices. For us, we were only looking for a few cheap items to change into once we took a shower in the Lufthansa Lounge.
- The Engagement. Sheila and I also stumbled on an elaborate surprise engagement in the airport. At first, we didn’t know exactly what the people were doing. There were four people blowing up balloons with bags of what looked like flower pedals. We kept walking and doing our window shopping. Thirty minutes later, the group had created a heart confetti aisle with balloons and tea candles. At the end of the rather long walkway, was a man waiting. After a few minutes, a police woman appeared and began clutching her mouth in surprise. She made the long walk along the hearts, balloons and candles before meeting her “knight” at the end of the aisle. We were too far to hear what they were saying but we could see the man was down on one knee and the crowd began to cheer. It was a sweet ending to a very long day in the Frankfurt Airport.