Techniques, Tactics, and Procedures (TTPs): Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) AirRail Check-in Center.
Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
BLUF: The FRA AirRail Check-in Center is conveniently located between the FRA Fernbahnhof (long-distance train station) and Terminal 1. Here, you can check-in and drop your luggage before making your way to the gate.
Today’s TTP is on how and when to use the FRA AirRail Check-in Center.
Previously, I wrote about our trip to Cape Town, South Africa. The ticket I purchased included a Deutsche Bahn (DB) train ticket to take us from the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to the Fernbahnhof and then onward to Cape Town.
Once we arrived the Fernbahnhof, we made our way to the FRA AirRail Check-in Center. Located in the walkway between the Fernbahnhof and Terminal 1, the center allows you to check-in and drop your luggage at kiosks and counters. For those in premium classes or with frequent flyer status, designated check-in lines are available.
While no US carrier is hosted in the center, Lufthansa (LH), Swiss, and Austrian are some of the major airlines offering check-in services. If your departure airline staffs a counter, you can use the center. You do not need to be on a train ticket associated with your flight. For example, if I would’ve purchased the DB ticket separately from the Cape Town ticket, we still could’ve checked-in and dropped off our luggage with LH.
Using the AirRail center is a very convenient option on your departure. However, on your return, it is less so. On the return, when connecting onto a linked DB train (your train ticket is part of your overall airline itinerary, a common option on the LH website), airlines can tag your luggage directly to the AirRail center for pick-up.
With this option, you can walk right by the regular luggage carousels and head directly to the AirRail center. The wait, though, can be long as the ground crew prioritizes the carousel. Plus, the crew has to load the AirRail-designated luggage on a cart and roll it over. Given the option, I would tag return luggage to the carousel only and make the walk to the Fernbahnhof, avoiding the AirRail center on the return trip altogether.
In sum, the FRA AirRail Check-in Center is best used when arriving at the FRA Fernbahnhof to check-in and drop off luggage before you head to the gate.
Albert Guerrero, USAF, Ret.