How will ticketing, baggage and customs work flying through Frankfurt?
June 6, 2006 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone help with questions on how ticketing and customs will work on international flight (Newark to Frankfurt to Gdansk, Poland)?

I am really trying to visit my family in Poland this August but have these issues:

1.) I will be 6 months pregnant, travelling alone with a 2 year old (yeah, fun!) with bags for 12 days.
2.) Buying two complete trip tickets will cost over $2500
3.) I have Continental OnePass miles but they can't get me to Gdansk.

So the current solution is to use miles to get from Newark to Frankfurt, Germany on Continental, then catch a LOT Polish airlines flight from Frankfurt to Gdansk. This way, I will only pay $600 for the Frankfurt-Gdansk tickets.


I will have a 1 hour 20 minute stopover in Frankfurt without a boarding pass for the next flight and I have received totally conflicting info from both Continental agents and an independent travel agent regarding ticketing and customs.

Some say that when I check into Continental in Newark and LOT in Gdansk, I just need to show my ticket for the entire trip and they can 'check' me into the computer so in Frankfurt I can just go to the gate and show my ticket, even though I won't have a boarding pass (since I use miles for one leg and purchased a ticket for the other.)

Another agent (1 of the 3 I spoke with at Continental) says if I don't have a boarding pass, I have to leave the gates, pick up my bag, RETICKET and go through security again. I can tell you I won't make that in 1 hour 20 minutes for sure!

3 of the 4 agents said they can definitely check my bags all the way through both ways by just showing the tickets and I don't have to pick up my bag and go through customs in Frankfurt.

One of the agents (Continental) even checked with her supervisor and said I will definitely have to pick up my bags in Frankfurt and go through customs.

So can anyone help shed some light on this totally inconsistent info? I really would like to make this trip but if I miss either connection, it will be absolute hell!

Thanks in advance.
posted by traderjoefan to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
In my travels to moscow from jfk, with stopovers in other cities, my bags went all the way through to moscow without having to go through customs until i actually got to Moscow.

As long as you are arriving at and departing from the same airport, there's no reason to go through customs.

However, once I traveled to San Jose (Costa Rica), then hopped on a commuter flight to another city, and had to go through customs in San Jose before boarding the commuter flight (I didn't expect this, and missed my connecting flight).
posted by indigo4963 at 7:11 AM on June 6, 2006

In my experience travelling in Germany/Austria with connections to Eastern Europe, this will not turn out well. You'll need at least two hours to re-ticket, etc. This is easier for you since you're an American and going through customs/Passport control will be a breeze.

How much would it cost you to fly into Frankfurt and spend one night in a hotel and catch the following day's Lot flight?
posted by vkxmai at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2006

Last year I spent about a hour in the Frankfurt airport simply changing planes, much less dealing with immigration, luggage, etc. Try to give yourself more time.
posted by exogenous at 7:32 AM on June 6, 2006

I seem to remember that when I flew from Melbourne, Australia through Frankfurt to Lyon, I was ticketed all the way through (and had a boarding pass) but I had to collect my baggage and go in through customs at Frankfurt, because I was entering the EU and the flight to Lyon was 'domestic' within the EU. Given that Poland is now part of the EU as well, I would have thought it would be the same re customs (so you have to go in through customs, but not out again because you're flying within the same place?)
posted by jacalata at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2006

Wow, this is a doozy. I would imagine you are more likely to get an informed answer on your interlining questions on the Continental forum than here. But since Poland is part of Schengenland and the EU, you will need to do passport control and customs in FRA.

Even if you didn't, and everything else went right, I agree with exogenous, 80 minutes doesn't sound like enough time for this connection. Especially if you are pregnant and carrying a two-year-old! I'd do what vkxmai suggests.
posted by grouse at 8:52 AM on June 6, 2006

For a two-bed hotel room at the Frankfurter Flughafen for one night, it's about 150€.

You can configure your own needs here: Hotels at the Frankfurt Airport
posted by vkxmai at 9:41 AM on June 6, 2006

I think your transfer time is cutting it really close. However, I'm thinking that because you're going from a non-Schengen country (the US) to another non-Schengen country (Poland) it might be a simple transfer/plane change - you wouldn't actually "enter" Germany but stay in the airport "transfer zone." My experience (Ghana to the US via Amsterdam) seems, on paper, to mimic yours. This was in 2002.

Some ideas:

1) Can you change your European stop to give yourself more time, like two or three hours? Instead of Newark-Frankfurt-Gdansk, what about Newark-London/Paris/Copenhagen/Amsterdam/XXX-Gdansk? Better connections?

2) Why couldn't you get your boarding passes for the LOT flight from a transfer desk in the transit area of Frankfurt's airport? I did this to get my Amsterdam-US boarding passes as they couldn't issue them in Ghana, and all was fine - got off the plane, went to the desk, got the boarding pass, got on the next plane. As long as you've got a confirmed ticket and all the printouts/paperwork, what would the problem be?

3) The Frankfurt Airport website? Maybe a terminal map will show you how to make it happen without doing the customs gauntlet. Internet's too slow here for me to check out the maps, but there's an English version of the page.

4) FlyerTalk is the one-stop shop for questions like this - it's a community of frequent fliers.

On preview - Poland is a member of the European Union BUT STILL has its own border controls, so it's not like driving from France to Germany or something: I went through passport and customs control after flying from Paris to Krakow in November.

Countries covered by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement (no internal border controls)

EU member states:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Non-EU countries:

Iceland and Norway.

posted by mdonley at 9:50 AM on June 6, 2006

My bad, Poland is a member of the Schengen Agreement but has not yet implemented it.
posted by grouse at 10:37 AM on June 6, 2006

Purely anecdotal stuff - but I travel through Frankfurt quite a lot - I would allow more time.

Its a huge airport - HUGE - and quite often you endup going through two sets of security.

Whilst it is quiet and efficient, the whole scale and process can take time.

However - they do have a number of sex-shops in the airport - which may kill any extra time you generate.

Good luck and safe travels.
posted by mattr at 1:58 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: Alright -- I actually called the Frankfurt Airport and they assured me that my bags go all the way through Gdansk, where I go through customs. I will only need to do passport control in Frankfurt.

Also (thanks for mdonley) I asked about the transfer desk and they said I could indeed get a boarding pass right at the terminal and continue to the gate.

The rep told me 45 minutes or more is recommended and I should be fine with 1 hour 30 minutes.

I think I am going to do it and I will post back what happened....
posted by traderjoefan at 7:26 AM on June 9, 2006

There is a 99.9% chance that going through customs in Gdansk will mean walking by the customs desk on your way to the exit. Since Poland joined the EU, I can't remember a single time someone has told me that they've actually seen customs personel at a Polish airport. I can imagine them comming out for direct flights from the US (although when my brother flew in two months ago, none were to be seen), but for inner-EU flights, chances are less than slim that anybody will be manning the customs desk.

If you actually need a customs officer for any reasons, be prepared to go looking for them.
posted by jedrek at 5:20 PM on June 11, 2006

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