The least-expensive airfares on major carriers to Germany are often priced for round-trip travel and usually must be purchased in advance. Budget airline tickets are always priced one way. Airlines generally allow you to change your return date for a fee; most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable. Fares between the British Isles and Germany on "no-frills" airlines such as Air Berlin and EasyJet can range from €15 to €70. Although a budget airfare may not be refundable, new EU regulations require that all other supplemental fees and taxes are. That means that when the €1 fare from Berlin to Munich turns out to cost €70 with fuel surcharges and the like, you only lose €1. Refund procedures vary between airlines.
Flying time to Frankfurt is 1½ hours from London, 7½ hours from New York, 10 hours from Chicago, and 12 hours from Los Angeles.
Lufthansa is Germany's leading carrier and has shared mileage plans and flights with Air Canada and United, as well as all members of the Star Alliance.
Germany's internal air network is excellent, with flights linking all major cities in, at most, little more than an hour. Germany's second-largest airline, Air Berlin, is a low-cost, full-service operator flying domestic and international routes from its hubs in Berlin, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg. It is almost always a cheaper and more comfortable option than a flag carrier. Air Berlin is a member of the OneWorld Alliance and shares frequent-flyer programs with British Airways and American Airlines. A handful of smaller airlines—Germanwings, EasyJet, and TUIfly—compete with low-fare flights within Germany and to other European cities. These companies are reliable, do business almost exclusively over the Internet, as talking to an actual person drives the price of the ticket up astronomically, and often beat the German rail fares. The earlier you book, the cheaper the fare.
Airlines Within Germany
Air Berlin. 030/737–800; 866/266–5588; www.airberlin.com.
EasyJet. 01805/666–000; www.easyjet.com.
Germanwings. 0180/191–9100; www.germanwings.com.
Lufthansa. 01805/805–805; www.lufthansa.com.
TUIfly. 0180/1000–2000; www.TUIfly.com.
Air Canada. 888/247–2262; www.aircanada.com.
Lufthansa. 800/645–3880; www.lufthansa.com.
United Airlines. 800/864–8331; 800/538–2929; www.united.com.
Frankfurt is Germany's air hub. The large airport has the convenience of its own long-distance train station, but if you're transferring between flights, don't dawdle or you could miss your connection.
Munich is Germany's second air hub, with many services to North America and Asia. The airport is like a minicity, with plenty of activities to keep you entertained during a long layover. Experience a true German tradition and have a beer from the world's first airport brewery at the Hofbräuhaus here. For a more active layover, play miniature golf, beach volleyball, or soccer, or ice-skate in winter. There's also a playground. Live concerts and 150 shops with downtown prices draw locals to the airport as well. If you're an airplane aficionado (and German speaker), you can take advantage of a small cinema showing movies on aviation themes or take a bus tour of the airport's facilities, including maintenance hangars and engine-testing facilities. Looking for some R&R? The airport offers massages at the gate, relaxation zones, and napcabs (soundproof minirooms to nap in). Munich's S-bahn railway connects the airport with the city center; trips take about 40 minutes, and trains leave every 10 minutes.
United and Air Berlin have nonstop service between New York and Berlin-Tegel. Air Berlin also flies from Berlin-Tegel to Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. Major airlines, like Lufthansa, fly in and out of Berlin-Tegel, while most budget airlines use Berlin-Schönefeld. Once the Berlin Brandenburg airport finally opens—it was originally slated to open in 2011, but it likely won't open until late 2017—both Tegel and Schönefeld will close.
United also has nonstop service between New York and Hamburg. There are a few nonstop services from North America to Düsseldorf. Stuttgart is convenient to the Black Forest. Also convenient to the Black Forest is the EuroAirport Freiburg-Basel-Mulhouse, which is used by many airlines for European destinations and as a stopover.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. www.tsa.gov.
Flughafen Berlin Schönefeld. 030/000–186; www.berlin-airport.de.
Flughafen Berlin Tegel. Berlin, Berlin. 030/000–186; www.berlin-airport.de.
Flughafen Düsseldorf. 0211/4210; www.duesseldorf-international.de.
Flughafen Frankfurt Main. Frankfurt, Hesse. 01805/372–4636; 069/6900; www.frankfurt-airport.de.
EuroAirport Freiburg-Basel-Mulhouse. 0033/3899–03111; www.euroairport.com.
Hamburg International Airport. 040/50750; www.ham.airport.de.
Flughafen Köln/Bonn. 02203/404–001; www.koeln-bonn-airport.de.
Flughafen München. Munich, Bavaria. 089/97500; www.munich-airport.de.
Flughafen Stuttgart. 0711/9480; www.stuttgart-airport.de.