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Frankfurt Airport's New A-Plus Concourse: A Super Home for Superjumbos

Where: Frankfurt International Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
November 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM | by | ()

Last month, Lufthansa opened the brand-spanking-new A-Plus Concourse at Germany's Frankfurt International Airport. Why's it so special? Well, among other things, it's directly designed for the biggest, baddest airplanes out there. We're talking A340s, 747s, 747-8is, and the almighty A380. This week, we'll take you inside and all around this place through which some 6 million travelers will journey each year.

If you're an airport whose tarmac is already crawling with superjumbos and you're about to add another 6 million passengers per year, what do you need? The answer: Lots and lots of space. German efficiency. An airline with enough mega planes and super long routes to keep the place hopping. So there you go. The answer is Frankfurt and its hometown airline, Lufthansa.

Speaking of German efficiency, let's talk tech. For passengers, Pier A-Plus boasts self-scan boarding gates, which are awesome if you hate waiting in lines. For operations, the addition of A-Plus means Frankfurt International has the world's largest airport baggage handling system. All of this becomes more and more important with each day, as Frankfurt looks to have a whopping 90 million travelers annually by 2020, up from 56 million in 2011. And those flyers will be stepping into FRA from more and more superjumbo aircraft.

As we mentioned a bit in Part 1, A-Plus was specifically designed for widebodies like the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 747. Four of its seven gates take on the double-decker A380s with three jetbridges each; the other three gates fit 747s and A340s like a glove. In total, A-Plus can welcome some 40 A380s per day if it must. Should narrow-body jets want to pull up here and puff out their chests with the big boys, 11 can be handled at once. That's a lot of en- and de-planing going on.

After arriving in the terminal and spending time all over both the Schengen and non-Schengen levels, we whipped out our tiny notebook and jotted a few final thoughts:

· Good: Walking the entire length of the new Pier and utilizing the moving walkways, only takes around 12 minutes. Factor in a few more minutes for being stuck behind slow walkers and families with too many carryons.
· Not so good: You will be totally jealous of the airport employees, navigating the terminals on their compact bicycles.

· Good: The Schengen departure gates have complimentary periodical walls with cappuccino machines. The non-Schengen gates have only the periodicals. Still—it's all free!
· Not so good: You're going to need to clutch your lucky rabbit's foot to find a power outlet. Unless you're in a lounge, and then they're plentiful.

· Good: The A-Plus Pier has the largest lounge in the entire Lufthansa system. It's the Senator/Star Alliance Gold lounge in the non-Schengen area and it measures almost 7,000 square feet. More on this tomorrow!
· Not so good: The coating on all the windows of the concourse will give your photos an aqua hue that's pretty tricky to color-correct, even with Photoshop. We did our best with ours here.

Disclosure: We traveled as guests of Lufthansa, but rest assured that all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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