This is the second part of our review of the new Berlin Brandenburg airport, written by reader Pete.
We have split it into two parts. This article looks at looks at the airport lounges as well as passport control and the gate arrangements.
Part 1 of our Berlin Brandenburg review, which is here, looks at the history of the project, getting to the airport, check-in, security and the shopping options.
Lounges at Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Now for the bit I am sure you’re all waiting for! From what I can work out, there will eventually be three lounges at BER – a Lufthansa one (which is open now, by gate B20 in the Schengen area) and independent ones operated by the airport.
One of the airport-run lounges (called Tempelhof) is open now and is located in the Schengen area by gate A20. The other one, Tegel, will open in “Spring 2021” and is also in the Schengen area, by gate B17.
I have read about there potentially being a second Lufthansa lounge and a Oneworld lounge in the future, but in the current climate I cannot see that happening very soon.
Gate A20 is in one of the corners of the main building and is about 10mins walk from security. The Tempelhof Lounge is accessed via a lift or stairs.
The lounge is fairly spacious, super bright and a bit clinical. Theoretically you will be able to access it via Priority Pass but apparently the contract hadn’t been signed yet. British Airways premium passengers appeared to be allowed in.
Directly behind reception there is a food counter with a seating area with bar stools:
What the food and drink offering will be is anyone’s guess, as they are currently unable to serve anything inside the lounge as it counts as an indoor restaurant under Covid regulations. Once you decide to exit (yes, this is bizarre!), you are offered sandwiches, water and fruit to take with you.
There are a number of seating areas dotted around, most with striking views of the airport:
From a practical perspective, there are very, very few power points and virtually no spaces to work from. The two staff were friendly and apologetic about the situation but, frankly, I cannot see this lounge winning any prizes even when there is food and booze.
An interesting quirk is that there is a “secret” door behind reception, which takes you to a dedicated passport control desk and straight into the non-Schengen area.
This wasn’t staffed when I visited, so I had to head down and back towards security again.
Passport control at Berlin Brandenburg Airport
The main passport control section is upstairs from security in the main hall. There are six e-gates (three in operation currently) and about as many staffed counters. A bit like with security, the whole area feels pretty cramped and small.
I am not sure how many non-Schengen flights Berlin Brandenburg is eventually expecting to serve, but this could become an annoying bottleneck (think of the East Midlands Railway waiting area at St Pancras in London).
Gates at Berlin Brandenburg Airport
The gate areas are exactly what you’d expect from any modern airport – pretty bright, with generally decent external views and lots of seating. There is a distinct lack of power points throughout the airport but many, many toilets. I didn’t come across a single water fountain.
There are not many open shops and restaurants in the non-Schengen area, mainly just a pub-style place opposite gate C1.
The terminal is designed so that every jet-bridge stand can be used by both non-Schengen and Schengen flights. If it is the former, the gates on the top floor of the building, past passport control, are used (and you walk down two sets of ramps), it if is the latter, you just walk down one set of ramps to reach the jet-bridge itself.
BA’s first flight out of Berlin Brandenburg was about 60%-70% full and as ordinary as they come which, under current circumstances is probably just as well. I didn’t even note any special announcements around boarding.
Every passenger did get a couple of bags of gummy bears and a rather inspired luggage tag by the airport authority on the jet bridge:
The captain acknowledged it was a “special” flight but the confetti the crew promised to me on boarding sadly failed to materialise.
Berlin needed this airport ten years ago – there’s a chance it would have saved Air Berlin and it would have certainly made the lives of those of us who travel from there a lot easier.
Re-reading my notes, it struck me that many readers may find my excitement at a new airport odd.. For those of us used to highly dubious landside lounges and at-gate security and immigration with interminable queues at Tegel this is a huge improvement!
It was not uncommon to have to wait for all of Turkish Airlines (with whom BA shared an arrivals area) luggage to be offloaded and collected before BA bags could even start to be loaded onto the conveyor belt. I won’t even get into how awful Schönefeld is.
I haven’t experienced the arrivals process yet, but I am told it’s pretty swift. The plane’s nose won’t be 15 metres away from a taxi like at Tegel but, overall, I think Berlin Brandenburg’s benefits outweigh the drawbacks.”