Can I really transfer between flights in just 50 minutes?

Passengers wait on camp beds at the departure hall of Frankfurt International Airport
Passengers wait on camp beds at the departure hall of Frankfurt International Airport

Q: We are travelling from Aberdeen to Madrid via Frankfurt with Lufthansa. The airline has allowed us only 50 minutes between the two flights. I know Frankfurt airport; it’s really busy. Who is responsible if we fail to catch the Madrid flight? Douglas McPherson

A: The official “minimum connecting time” for international connections at Germany’s premier airport is only 45 minutes – the same as Aberdeen, which, as you know, is much smaller. Each airline will decide if this is realistic; Lufthansa, by far the biggest carrier at Frankfurt, evidently thinks it is. It has plenty of historic data about how often connections are missed, and is confident enough to offer you an express trip. The journey time allowed from Aberdeen to Frankfurt is a generous two hours, so the chances are you will arrive on time – and even if the flight were to arrive 10 minutes late it should still be possible to go through passport control and a security check before catching your flight; meanwhile your baggage, if you check any in, should be transferred swiftly on Frankfurt’s efficient system.

If you do miss the flight because the inbound flight is late, Lufthansa will need to provide meals and, if necessary, accommodation, until it can get you to your destination. And if it were to be Lufthansa’s responsibility (e.g. a technical fault) and you end up reaching Madrid more than three hours later, you could be in line for cash compensation of €400.

Of course, care and compensation may be the last things on your mind – you simply want to get to your destination on time. Well, this is when you will have to do some risk analysis. I speculate that the connection is made at least 95 per cent of the time. If that is not good enough for you, then the rational strategy is to travel out many hours early – or even the evening before. While that adds cost, there are worse places to be than Madrid, and it’s probably the only capital in Europe where you can guarantee a good dinner even if you arrive at midnight.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in