The Frankfurt Airport XXL Tour
A Change of Scenery
EDITORS WARNING: IMAGE HEAVY
In this adventure
- Well, 2020 is turning out to be a fine year for travel…
- Travel preparations
- Off to Birmingham Airport
- LH959 Birmingham to Frankfurt-am-Main International
- Entering Germany
- Frankfurt Airport XXL Tour
- Into Frankfurt
- Hotel: Mercure Hotel City Messe, Frankfurt
- Exploring Frankfurt in these odd times
- Back to FRA
- LH954 Frankfurt to Birmingham
- Welcome back to the UK
- A welcome change
Let’s skip back a few days
If you want to go on a tour, they must be booked in advance, so plan accordingly. You can do this at https://www.frankfurt-airport.com/en/explore/airport-tours.html. Once you’re there, you can select either the Welcome back tour (45 Minutes) or the XXL Tour (2 hours). The Welcome Back tour is €8.23, whilst the XXL tour is €18.52
I chose the XXL tour… because… well… planes.
Back to the tour
With my “boarding pass” scanned, I followed the others through security and into the holding area to wait for the bus.
After a short wait, a bus appeared. With about 10 people on the tour, there is plenty of space to move between seats for the right shot of an aircraft.
The tour is carried out in German – so it’s a good idea to brush up on some basic German (or at least understand numbers 1 to 10 – least of understanding what a Boeing Seiben Seiben Sebien Dreihundrend is might help).
Everyone was socially distanced on the bus – even though everyone was wearing a mask.
The tour took us past the terminal areas, past various fire station points, as well as stopping to watch various aircraft depart (for example a Qatar 777-300 pushing back, taxing out and taking off),
I’ve forgotten how loud GE-90s are.
Crossing out to the fire station
Bye, Bye Qatar Airways 777-300ER!
United Boeing 787 in new colours
Close to an Airbus A330-300 under tow.
Our bus headed over to the cargo ramp as an Aerologic Boeing 777F was arriving and being made ready to unload its precious contents
Meanwhile, traffic was continuing to arrive
Par trolling its home, the wild MD-11 stalks the cargo pad, seeking a place to unload its bound…
United Airlines Boeing 777-200ER coming in.
There’s also another side to the tour – how quiet the airport was, with Runway 18/36 being used to store part of the snow maintenance fleet, the arrival runway of 07L/25R being lightly used when I was there.
It’s a long way to the terminal…
Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F arriving
But there’s something else – with the airport being used to store Lufthansa Aircraft. Like many airlines in the world, Lufthansa is suffering, with aircraft parked up all over the airport.
And it’s a sad sight to see – when you’re expecting to see them flight. From the smallest CRJ-900 to the larger Airbus narrow-body family, through the to the A330, the A340, the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.
Passing an active Technik Hanger.
There were also some private aircraft parked up too
FCS Flight Calibration Services Beech 300 Super King Air 350
We also passed another cargo ramp – with lots of cars lined up
Condor also had aircraft parked here – seemingly ready to go.
Speaking of Cargo, we passed a CargoLogic Boeing 747-400 Freighter too.
From here, the tour went on to more of the parked Lufthansa fleet, this time looking at
Engines plugged in the 747-8i, and an A340-300
Lufthansa Airbus A340-300 in Star Alliance colours
Even special aircraft are being stored – with the Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i being stored.
It’s a sobering sight at this time – when airlines want to be flying, but the passenger doesn’t want to – forcing them to park up their fleets until demand returns.
The tour continued, taking in the perimeter off the airport, and looping back to Terminal, where there were signs of life…
Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350-900
The tour looped back into the main terminal area, with the end coming soon.
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900
With the bus going into the tunnels of Frankfurt, it was clear the tour was ending, along with an applause for the tour commentator, who was giving a good explanation of everything we were seeing. And that’s a really important part of this tour – the commentary.
With the bus parked up, we were released to leave the bus, and head back to the terminal. Literally down one corridor – I was in the public area where I was a few hours ago
It was an interesting tour in interesting times – to say the least. Whilst there is less traffic around, it was great to see the airport active, with the day-to-day activities still running – be it receiving passengers, dispatching aircraft, having cargo delivered and so on. The part where I started seeing the parked aircraft was sobering… to say the least.
We all know the impact that the pandemic has had on the industry – and seeing all those parked aircraft (and there’s many more parked elsewhere), puts a little perspective on what crisis it is in.
One can hope that travel can be normalised sooner rather than later.
Next: Into Frankfurt.
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