Star Alliance Stresses That Airports Need to Design for Easy Connections

One of the panels at the Phoenix Aviation Symposium this year focused on the future of hubs, and the conversation quickly turned toward the importance of having the right facility in the right place. In particular, Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab was very vocal about airport design as it relates to connections. I thought it was an interesting discussion, so I decided to bring it here.

Bad Connecting Airport

Mark, who was formerly with United before running the Star Alliance, emphasized that as soon as the Alliance hears that a new facility is being built, his team goes to sit down with the airport’s management as quickly as possible.

And why is it that Star Alliance cares so much? It wants to make sure that the facility is made with connections in mind. That may sound kind of funny since you always hear about the importance of the local, non-connecting passenger. But from an alliance perspective, connecting passengers are their bread and butter.

Mark was quick to hoist Munich’s Terminal 2 as an example of how things should be built. He said the terminal was “purpose built for connections” and it was designed for a 35 minute minimum connecting time. That makes connections very easy, and it makes them more likely to be attractive to passengers.

When searching for flights, total duration — the time it takes from takeoff on your first flight to landing on your last — is an important metric. Those flights with shorter durations are going to be listed higher. And of course, duration is something that travelers want to see as well, so that’s why you can usually sort by duration on most travel websites. If you can’t have a short connection in an airport, then those results won’t be shown as high and fewer people are likely to book them.

Think about an example of someone coming from the US to a secondary European city where a connection is required at a European hub. If you’re on Lufthansa (or United connecting to Lufthansa), you only need 40 minutes in Munich by rule. In London, on the other hand, you need more time if you’re flying the hub carrier. If you’re flying on British Airways and both your flights are in Terminal 5, then you “only” need an hour. (Though I know a lot of people who would never take a Heathrow connection with only an hour.) And if you’re coming from American to BA, the terminal change means you’ll need an hour and a half. That means, if United/Lufthansa schedule things correctly, they can really get people moving more quickly. And that’s going to win them business.

To give a more concrete example of the benefits of easy connections, when Star Alliance airlines co-located in the South Wing of Terminal 1 at Tokyo/Narita in 2006, they generated an incremental 1 million connections annually over what they had previously been able to do. Star is hopeful that they’ll see some benefit in, of all places, London when the new Queen’s Terminal opens in June. Interesting factoid: Heathrow sees service from more Star Alliance airlines than any other airport – an incredible 23 different operators (was 25 until TAM and US Airways left for oneworld).

So which airport is doing this wrong? Mark was not shy in mentioning Sao Paulo’s new terminal at Guarulhos, the city’s main international airport. Apparently it’s being built for local passengers and not connections, and that is, according to Mark, “unhelpful in the long term.” Other airports should take note.

Andrew Watterson from Southwest added a little bit of levity to the conversation, however, stating that “not every airport can be a 5-star connecting hub, so don’t build it if it won’t be that. If you aren’t going to be a mega hub, get the basics right at a good price.”

The other panelists agreed, and Mark jumped in to make it clear that building a terminal for connections does not mean making them palaces. “None of the airlines want to pay $40 a passenger if the basics can be delivered for $20.”

The conversation ultimately turned to the incredible work being done in the Gulf in terms of building airports that can efficiently handle connections. Steven Kavanaugh, Chief Commercial Officer for Aer Lingus, suggested that Dubai was “unstoppable.” The investment that had been made to allow for quick A380 to A380 connections means that Emirates has a huge advantage.

It’s not just Dubai, however. Doha is about to get a brand new airport. And Istanbul, particularly impressive versus the others because of the massive size of its local population, has plans for an airport behemoth that will have capacity to serve 150 million passengers a year.

You can be sure that these airports will all be built with connections in mind. And that could mean less business at other hubs, even those that are strong today.

[Original airport photo via Shutterstock]


44 Responses to Star Alliance Stresses That Airports Need to Design for Easy Connections

  1. SEAN says:

    Brett,

    How does this apply here in the US – can you give some examples both good & bad even if they are obvious?

    Thanks.

    • jskyz says:

      ok if I may give at least two examples if that’s ok with you. starting with the bad: MCI, LAX, ORD, CLT with MCI being the absolute worst, o’hair and Charlotte/Douglas International Airport have ok connections but if u have a connecting flight at the wrong part of the airport then things get pretty interesting and very are stressful if the flights are at the wrong location in the airport.
      the better airports for connections are:
      ATL, DEN, HOU although HOU is not as big as ATL and DEN hobby itself voids itself from the hectic spider web like terminals like ORD, MIA, LAS, (the new terminal 2 is very nice and not like the old terminal complex that southwest and spirit uses) MEM, STL, CLT, est. but in spite of all others that are not good connecting airports the ones I’ve listed other that HOU, ATL, DEN are ok but HOU, DEN, ATL airports are better in some cases. some may not agree but that’s how I feel anyway :-)

    • CF says:

      SEAN – I think a place like Kansas City is a great example of an airport built for local passengers, so connections are pretty awful. Often it means leaving security to get to your connecting gate (though this has gotten better) and there are very few concession options inside security. Would one of the many attempts at hubbing in Kansas City have succeeded if this were built differently? I doubt it. Kansas City just isn’t going to be a major hub.

      A place like LAX is another good (or bad) example. Most inter-airline connections involve leaving security and walking or taking a bus to the other terminal. That is not a good design at all.

      I think Denver and Atlanta work pretty well. Sure they’re big, but you can move pretty efficiently and there’s a ton going on behind security.

    • Lou says:

      I think DTW is another airport that provides great connections. It is a long airport, but there are many-a people mover as well as the awesome indoor train overhead. I had a 40 minute connection between Concourse C and A and made it to my gate in about 15 minutes.

      The underground pass between Concourse A and B/C is quite an experience too. Mood lighting as well as fanfare music accompanies you as you scurry along to either side.

      Lastly, DTW is just open and airy with great views of planes at the gates.

  2. Durcy says:

    It is interesting that they make an example out of Munich (which is arguably a great connection terminal) and never mention Frankfurt – their main hub. Frankfurt is a total maze with million security checkpoints, missing signs on top of being very ugly (yes, I’m biased, I’ve recently missed a connection at FRA). I hope they are planning reorganization and simplification of their FRA operation because achieving 40 minute connection time in FRA would be absolutely amazing.

    • CF says:

      Durcy – I think the point about Munich is that the terminal was purpose-built for connections. That’s why it was brought up.

      • Durcy says:

        I agree completely, I hope they do something about Frankfurt, too. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy connecting in Munich (especially when I have a bit extra time to enjoy a cold beer and some sausages), but connecting in Frankfurt in under an hour is always stressful…

  3. Jared says:

    A “good” example of “bad” would probably be LAX. International connections in the US are tough enough because all passengers have to go through passport control, baggage claim and customs (and then back through security), but then LAX is hard because the US Carriers are in different terminals from the international carriers (for the most part).

    Don’t get me wrong, I have a special place in my heart for LAX, my home airport, but I never have to connect there. I am happy about that.

  4. David SF eastbay says:

    Any airport where you need to leave a secured area and be security checked again to get to another part of the airlport is bad when needing to make connections.

    Other parts of the world just build new airports, but in the USA it’s just keep adding on to old airports where they can, but it’s just to add more gates and not make things better for the most part.

  5. DC says:

    With no international transit areas (everyone has to go through US immigration controls even if you’re only connecting through a US airport to a 3rd country) _every_ US airport an example of an unnecessarily bad experience for international connections.

    I wonder how much traffic US carriers lose to foreign carriers for travelers from Europe or Asia to South America or vice versa? Choosing between ICE lines at Miami or a European carrier without this hassle seems like an obvious choice.

    I’ve seen the argument that it’s necessary for security purposes but I’m not sure I buy it. They could still require ESTA, or a modified ESTA for those ineligible for via waiver or otherwise not in possession of a visa. Arrests could still be made in a transit area should the need arise.

    • CF says:

      DC – Amen to that. Though of course, that has nothing to do with airport design and everything to do with bad security policies.

      • DC says:

        I must not understand your comment because I’m sure you know it has everything to do with airport design. International flights have to be segregated from domestic, and arriving passengers have to have the capability to reach this area without going through immigration, but also without being able to leave the transit area except by another flight.

        As Eric points out below, it would cost big money to make these changes. But I depart from Eric’s viewpoint because I think it would be worthwhile to require transit areas for new terminals from this point forward. Other countries can do it cost-effectively. So can we.

        In some cases, implementation of good policy requires good infrastructure. One can whine about policy, or one could whine about spending money on infrastructure. It’s doesn’t make much sense to do both, yet it seems very popular in the US these days. It’s not that rich countries build good infrastructure; good infrastructure builds rich countries.

        • CF says:

          DC – The issue is that policy doesn’t allow it in the US. If it did, then airports would be designed to take advantage of it. So at this point, it’s not an airport design issue, but if policy changes, then it would become one.

          • Sean S. says:

            That won’t happen for a variety of reasons, but most notably for the same reasons why the US builds pre-clearance facilities; to avoid dealing with refugees and any attempt to claim asylum upon touching down on American soil. A large part of the reason for building oversea’s security is that if pax don’t have clearance to go to America, unlike being on American soil, they have no ability to declare asylum. They simply get turned away. Same goes for requiring onerous transit visas. If a person cannot board the plane they can never reach America in which to claim a change in status or protection.

    • Adrian Jenkins says:

      In the past, those of us travelling to the UK from NZ/Australia used to travel via the US because the baggage allowances were much better (the piece system – 2 pieces – each up to 32kgs/70lbs). However, many airlines have changed to the weight system, on flights to/from/via the USA (1 bag up to 23kgs/50 lbs or 30kgs/66lbs depending on the airline). This is the same baggage system that is used for travel via Asia. So, that advantage has gone. Certainly, when I travel from AKL to Europe, being able to transit in the relative ease of SIN, HKG, BKK, KUL, DXB etc. is better than LAX/SFO. Furthermore, I generally find Asian & Middle East airline service better.

  6. Dan Hill says:

    Sydney is a shocker for international / domestic connections. The international and domestic terminals are on opposite sides of the airport and are connected by buses which literally run behind various aircraft hangers and other buildings. This is Australia’s primary international gateway. I’d call it third world but that would be an insult to third world airports. If you are ever flying to another Australian city and can avoid a connection via Sydney, take that option.

    • CF says:

      Dan Hill – That appears to be a poor feature of Australian airport design because Sydney isn’t the only place like that. It’s a real shame, and it will make it easier for airlines like Emirates to steal more traffic from secondary Aussie cities like Adelaide because it means avoiding that crazy connection in an Aussie airport.

    • tharanga says:

      Sounds like the layouts in India, at DEL and BOM. International and domestic on opposite sides of the airfield, so it’s a long shuttle bus (land-side) to connect in between. The new terminal at DEL is consolidating all that, but it doesn’t include some low-cost airlines

  7. Eric says:

    Two things come to mind: from a first-hand perspective, I can attest that the pre-2003 TWOV (Traveling W/O Visa) program was a logistical mess and doomed for failure from it’s inception. It was incumbent on CSA’s and Flight Attendants to hold passports, ‘escort’ and monitor TWOVs from their arriving flight to their outbound flight with chain of custody sign offs at every pass point. It was labor intensive, chaotic and vulnerable to human error. “Loosing” people was a real danger and happened with alarming frequency.

    My second thought is that I can think of only a few major US Ports of Entry that have the infrastructure to handle trans-national connections. LAX,SFO,ATL,BOS,ORD,IAH,SEA,JFK all have segregated international arrival halls with most international departures scattered in other terminals. EWR and IAD are all over the place with international arrivals/departures in multiple terminals. MSP,DFW (term D) and DTW and MIA are the only ones that come to mind with arrivals/departures available “under one roof”.

    I can see where the situation is frustrating for an alliance as US passport/visa control protocols and infrastructure put us at a competitive disadvantage. However, comparing traffic flows in most US markets to DXB, DOH, IST or even MUC is like comparing apples and tennis shoes. US bound traffic is composed of a significantly higher % of O&D and with most connections to cities in the US or Canada. Another disadvantage is basic geography. PEK-DXB-GRU is about 500nm shorter than PEK-MIA/ORD-GRU. SEL-DXB-GIG is about 290nm closer than SEL-ORD-GIG. Connecting opportunities in MEX allow easy access to Central America/northern S. America from Asia and there are plenty of options to Latin America from Europe.

    Are we leaving money on the table by not accommodating international transit passengers? Yes…of course we are. But IMHO the amount of $$$ involved to capture some of that traffic does not justify the investment required by airport authorities, government agencies, airlines or alliances. The USA is about a decade too late for embarking on an international transit venture.

  8. Pilotaaron1 says:

    Being from the PIT area I can say that the airport should be built to what the city needs. If someone hubs there then it is up to them to make it work. In the ever shifting world of airline travel, you can never rely on one thing. We have a great airport that I can just imagine how easy and efficient it would be to change planes. However it was also expensive which is why we are in our current situation. Which is sad and disappointing.

    • PIT is actually a well run airport that had favorable unit costs until US de-hubbed it. High costs resulted from the de-hubbing; they didn’t cause it.

      To survive Southwest’s East Coast growth and then-recent commencement of PHL service, US had to de-hub either PIT or PHL, and focus on the remaining city. PHL has a stronger local market and international operation, ergo…

      US was in “Chapter 22″ bankruptcy, so they could legally reject the lease, shed the costs, and redeploy aircraft away from PIT. I believe they just wanted cover. US would have known that PIT management, with a residual lease, could not just lower US’ costs, because that would raise the other carriers’ costs, leading to a lawsuit PIT would lose; and they couldn’t grant the other airlines the same terms US was seeking to avoid the airlines’ suing, because then PIT would default on its bonds. So US’ request (in my opinion) was a tactic intentionally doomed to fail to give them cover for abandoning PIT. It worked to perfection. As they downsized, the remaining PIT carriers had to pay the freight, and with fewer remaining passengers and lower concessions revenues, the unit costs went up.

      It stinks for PIT, but it’s one of the ways U.S. bankruptcy law ensures that the airline industry has, in the words of Jeff Smisek, extremely high barriers to exit.

      • CF says:

        Pilotaaron1 – PIT really did get the raw end of the deal on that one, because they built the terminal after working closely with USAir on it. This is what the airline wanted, and in the end, the airport was left to fend for itself because US Airways pulled out. Now, that’s not to say that US Airways should have stayed – circumstances change. But it wasn’t really Pittsburgh’s fault that they built the terminal as they did. It was probably more about poor management at USAir way back then.

        Pittsburgh was pulled down massively during bankruptcy #1, long before Southwest got there. The greatly-reduced hub was officially killed in bankruptcy #2 but I can’t see Southwest as really having much of an impact.

        I did an Across the Aisle interview with PIT’s airport director a couple years back where we talked about all this:
        http://crankyflier.com/2012/07/17/across-the-aisle-from-pittsburgh-airports-executive-director-on-pittsburghs-rise-and-fall-as-a-hub-part-1/

        http://crankyflier.com/2012/07/19/across-the-aisle-from-pittsburgh-airports-executive-director-on-pittsburghs-recovery-after-the-death-of-the-hub-part-2/

        • Pilotaaron1 says:

          Cranky – I totally agree and those two posts about PIT are a couple of my favorites that you have written. And maybe PIT is a bad example for this particular post. I know at the time we really really needed a new terminal. The old one was literally falling apart. So we looked at the air traffic at the time and built the airport to that. But my point is if the demand is there, the airline will make it work. Look at MDW for example (except for the January fiasco). Very small and non-efficient airport. But Southwest has turned it into their biggest market (and a fun ride on landing). Love field has a similar story as well as Trenton’s recent developments with Frontier. To me though, I look at airports like CLE, CVG, STL, and others that built themselves to be hubs and then the main airline lost interest for whatever reason (bankruptcy and the like). Maybe in a large city, it doesn’t make a difference because when one airline leaves, another directly comes in. LAS comes to mind with that example. But in a small to medium sized city, it may need to be something to consider.

          • Aaron – Each of the former hub markets you mention (I’ll add BNA, MEM, SJC and RDU for good measure) had one thing in common: connecting traffic as a percentage of total of enplanements was at the high end of what hubs typically relied upon, because its local market just wasn’t that large. When the hub disappears and the remaining traffic is substantially, if not wholly, local O&D, there is no way for a facility designed to accommodate such a hub to be anything other than massively overbuilt. The poster child for that situation today is another US (uh, excuse me, AA) hub – CLT, with about 80% of all its enplanements just passing through on the way to somewhere else.

            So, building a facility to accommodate a hub does come with a sizeable risk. However, in each of these cases, that risk was (is) borne by the carriers jointly and severally, who signed a lease committing to pay for the facility until the bonds mature or otherwise are defeased. So, when the hub carrier de-hubs (usually though not always rejecting its lease prior to exiting Chapter 11), all the other carriers pick up the tab. The city is on the financial hook for nothing. Considering all that, what airport director in his right (political) mind would decline to build a connecting facility for which the only risk (a black eye) is far in the future, when the risk for declining to build it is to be replaced immediately by someone whose first official act would be to build that same facility anyway?

  9. JayB says:

    Designing an airport for alliances is a crapshoot. Airlines seem to move in and out of alliances at the drop of the hat. Airports last much longer than most alliances.

    But, honestly, how about the convenience, or should I say inconvenience of a typical domestic connection between mainline and regional aircraft. Take UA for example, at SFO, EWR, or IAD, in all too many situations. Convenient? No way! Who’s to blame. The airport? Give me a break, UA, you decided on what aircraft you were going to use, not the airport

    And, about alliances, how about the confusion, and the inconvenience of the check-in where there is code-sharing. Why shouldn’t any customer booked on a code-share be able to check in at the counter of the marketing airline? If I booked on a UA code-share flight, even if it is operated by LH, why isn’t everything done at the UA counter. If it can’t be done, then get rid of the code-sharing.

    • Noah says:

      agree completely. IT systems don’t talk to each other, even at the joint venture level of DL-AF or UA-LH which must handle thousands of codeshare pax each day. Codeshare is fed to the public as totally seamless when it rarely is. The tickets are not serviced well by marketing carrier (try picking an extra legroom seat…), employees tell you to talk to the other guys, elite benefits dont always seem to smoothly transfer, and good luck if there is an IROP. At least have partners co-locate in same terminals!

      I thought a few years ago the alliances would basically become large airlines with “franchise” carriers in each region. Standard process, IT, etc. It seems that did not materialize and may never. Some branding is consistent, and member airlines are good at selling tickets, but the real “seamless” customer experience seems years away.

  10. Robert Rolwing says:

    if this is true, then why doesnt United, finaly build a perminant new 21rst cntry ,midfield C and D concourse, at Wash-DC-Dulles and extend the concourses at Newark,to consolidat ALL Ua-uax , into the C terminal, and add some gates at Chicago Ohare, so Ua doesnt have to use Intl Termnl 5

    would make easier faster connections, save money on paying for many terminals ,and faster turnarounds of the planes also– A WIN WIN FOR ALL

    • Matt says:

      United doesn’t have a gate issue @ ORD, its just the international arrivals which are required to go to T5. If anyone should be complaining, it should be AA/BA @ ORD which requires 2 diff terminals for departure. UA/LH/ANA international depart from T1 which accommodates the majority of transit passengers.

      Having gone through midfield international arrivals at IAD, I can say that I would have preferred a different carrier to arrive at a real international terminal. Anything is better than UA @ IAD.

      • CF says:

        Matt – I assume that BA could fly out of Terminal 3 in Chicago if it wanted to, but AA probably doesn’t have the space for them. Maybe that’ll change eventually. Is Iberia still in Terminal 3 for departures? They used to be on L, I believe.

        Robert – Dulles is a real mess but funding the new concourse is the issue there. It’s one thing if you build a new terminal and purposefully design it not to work with connections (Terminal A was sort of like that since it was meant to connect to C/D.) But it’s a whole different thing if you have to fund a new terminal.

        • Sanjeev M says:

          Actually while the IAD midfield UA concourse is outdated, it is one of the few (along with ATL) that have a dedicated immigration area for connecting pax. And CBP actually staffs this to ensure 60 minute connections can be made, even in the UA 3pm Europe arrivals bank.

          However all the other foreign carriers arrive into Concourse A/B which is very nice.

  11. MeanMeosh says:

    One other issue that needs to be addressed concerning the subject of seamless connections is the continued use of remote stands at several European and Middle Eastern airports. Take the “unstoppable” DXB, for instance. If your incoming flight parks at an aerobridge, you can pretty easily make a connection in an hour, especially if it’s from one EK flight to another. If your incoming flight parks at a remote stand, though – all bets are off. Now you’re dealing with a minimum 15-minute bus ride to either the main terminal or transit terminal, a security check, which at DXB can take 45+ minutes if you hit it at just the wrong time, and possibly a second security check at the gate if you are boarding a US-bound flight. And the problem is, it’s not really possible to tell if your incoming flight will use a remote stand or not in advance when you’re booking flights (and if you’re not familiar with the airport in question, finding out whether they use them or not can be difficult), so what could be a good, short connection via aerobridge becomes impossible when you suddenly find yourself deplaning via stairs.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that remote stands are “bad”, and in fact, being able to deplane remotely at U.S. airports could be useful in case of bad weather or other IRROPS, but ultimately, airports that use them frequently are going to be constrained in just how seamless they can make their connections.

    • Doug Swalen says:

      DXB may or may not be “unstoppable” but it mostly hinges on what your connection is. I had an 8 hour EK layover one way and a five hour layover on the way back (with the zig zag bus ferry to T3). Quick connection? Hardly

  12. Noah says:

    I think part of easy connections is about hard layouts. i.e. ATL you can move to/from any gate once you are past security, whereas JFK and ORD that is not the case (though rare for an airline to have split operation). Airports need to have easy flows, close gates, good signange for passengers. I think there is some interesting stuff happening at JFK T5i where Jetblue’s international partners are moving into their terminal. This will allow for those tighter connection times and make those itineraries much more competitive. It was a pain when I did a DL-AF connection at JFK since I had to change terminals and re-clear security building in a much longer connection time.

    The second piece for airports is common use infrastructure. As has been mentioned above, airlines shift alliances, grow and slash hubs quickly, and many US airports are not designed for easy adaptation. CUN for instance does not dedicate gates or check-in counters to airlines. Arrangements are made for consistency, but signage is all digital and can be adjusted throughout the day based on demand. Far too often, domestic airlines sit on gates just to strangle competition. And when they do leave the city, the cost of changing IT, signage, etc. makes it harder to attract new service.

    Lastly, cost is a big factor. Southwest may be extreme in being more cost focused than most, but price points mean a lot. PIT is the perfect example of how damaging high costs can be. Geography is important, population is important, but costs matter in a single digit margin industry.

  13. Having to connect in the USA is a nightmare i leave long connections times between my flights for this but sometimes it is hard as airlines make it hard for you to book those types of flights. I have been in SFO immigration lines for over 3 hours at one time. Which made my 4 hour layover (which i thought was more than enough time) a joke!
    I wish I had know about the short connection times in Munich 3 days ago before I brought my ticket with a 5 hour layover when i could have had an hour layover instead :)
    In general the idea for airports should be to make the travel experience as stress free and efficient as possible as well as making money.
    Internet in airports is also huge. I would be happy to spend more time in an airport with free wifi and would probably spend more money in the airport because of this.Yet so many airports don’t have wifi or you have to pay an unreasonable amount

    • Alan Green says:

      I’m appalled at the queuing system through immigration in SFO. A quick consult with a time and motion expert would yield a large decrease in average queueing time. I am certain that the TSA could find a Berkeley or Stanford math professor who would do it for free because it would benefit the professor personally every time they returned from an overseas conference.

  14. Alan Green says:

    I’m curious about the effects of airport design on moving luggage of connecting passengers from one flight to the next. I recently transited through LAX – domestic to international, Virgin America to Air New Zealand. Moving myself from one terminal to the next was hard enough, with a web search on mobile phone making up for the lack of helpful signage, but I’m fascinated that my luggage actually made the connection too.

  15. Speaking of connecting I am surprised SFO with UA/ANA/NZ/other star carriers was not mentioned as a good or decent connecting airport with INT being connected past Security to UA’s Concourse at SFO

    • Tim says:

      Clearing customs & immigration can be disastrous at SFO. It depends on the time of day, but I’ve personally spent several hours trying to get through, especially prior to having Global Entry.

    • Doug Swalen says:

      Not so good if you fly Asiana though. It is still gating on the other side of the airport.

  16. James says:

    There is a plan for the terminals to be reorganised by carrier rather than international and domestic, although who knows if it’ll go ahead. Also in Sydney news, its second airport was finally, officially announced as Badgery’s Creek today, only about 20 years later than it should have been.

  17. dot cahill says:

    ??SFO if going delta then united?? lax if going out of the country need to go to new terminal (used to have to kleave domestic and walk down the street and re-chek into old bradley term.. FRA is nuts and a maze even if flying 1st class.. lufthansa and security loves to grab ur unknown parts of ur body….

  18. dot cahill says:

    forgot Miami transfers yikes……

  19. Adrian Jenkins says:

    A few comments…

    Air New Zealand has been in the Star Alliance since inception, but it was in Terminal 2 at Narita for a long time, while most other Star Alliance carriers were in the South Wing of Terminal 1. I once had to make a connection at Narita – UA-NZ, and it involved a terminal change. NZ has moved to Terminal 1 now.

    I agree that making all passengers clear US Immigration, even if they are immediately in transit to another International Destination is a real pain for us non-Americans. US Immigration queues for non-citizens are almost always long (1-2 hours is not unheard of), and Customs & Immigration staff are usually not the most friendly welcome to the USA. The only exceptions to this situation that I know of, is where an airline comes from an International Country, and continues on with that flight number to another International Country (e.g. NZ 2 – AKL-LAX-LHR). However, even then, I believe that NZ 2 passengers have to fill in a US arrival card. Other countries around the world can work out that international transit passengers are not staying in the transit country. Somehow, American securities agencies don’t get that.

    From my perspective, LAX is a shocker for Star Alliance airlines between separated.
    AC, AV, NZ – Terminal 2
    CM – Teminals 6 & TBIT
    UA – Terminals 6, 7 & 8
    BR, LH, LX, NH, SQ, TG, TK – TBIT

    (Speaking as a New Zealander for whom LAX is the primary entry point to the USA. I have to admit, the one time I went through SFO, it was better.)

  20. Adrian Jenkins says:

    AKL’s latest plans are to bring domestic and international terminals together. About time, too, I say. The current domestic terminal is quite same way from international, and is not a very pleasant terminal. Bring on the new terminal, I say.

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