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We go inside Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport (Part 2)

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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.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport Templehof lounge food

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:

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport Templehof lounge (3)

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.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport Templehof lounge

There are a number of seating areas dotted around, most with striking views of the airport:

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport Templehof lounge seating

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.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport Templehof lounge (2)

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.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport passport control

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.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport gate

There are not many open shops and restaurants in the non-Schengen area, mainly just a pub-style place opposite gate C1.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport corridor

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 993

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.

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport British Airways

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:

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport keyring

The captain acknowledged it was a “special” flight but the confetti the crew promised to me on boarding sadly failed to materialise.

Conclusion

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!”

Comments (43)

  • Heathrow Flyer says:

    What struck me is just how dated it looks. I appreciate that is for obvious reasons, but it’s interesting just how much design/architecture/fashion has changed in the intervening years.

  • Pete says:

    Thanks everyone – appreciate the comments!

  • Holly says:

    In terms of the takeaway service in a lounge – the same thing happened to me in the Avanti First Class lounge at Euston last week. They weren’t allowed to service food or drinks due to COVID but asked what you would like then gave it to you in a brown paper bag as you were leaving.

    • Pete says:

      Interesting! A bit frustrating that whilst UK airport lounges were specifically allowed to stay open and serve food, they all decided to shut… (I appreciate the massive fall in customer numbers, of course.)

  • Hugh says:

    A Holiday Inn of an airport.

    • Paul Pogba says:

      I don’t understand the Holiday Inn (main) brand. It’s like Pizza Hut, there’s nothing to complain about because you know what to expect but it’s not aspirational, business like or great value. It seems to exist just because it does like WH Smith.

      • Pete says:

        This is hilariously spot-on! 🙂 And you’ll find weird quirks, some of which will be good and some infuriating…

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Hahaha, awesome. I hate Holiday Inn with a passion. The greyest and dullest of hotel chains. It’s barely better than Travelodge.

  • G Flyer says:

    Given the upcoming move to BER – I still have no idea why BA decided to refurb their lounge at TXL in March 2020?! Anyway, at least I got to pass the time pondering the best arbitrage options for the EUR 30 voucher they’d given me to spend in lieu of lounge.

    • Pete says:

      Yes, that was rather bizarre. I assumed it was because they’d just shift all the furniture to BER but, of course, there’s nowhere to shift it…!

    • J says:

      I think a lot of people presumed Tegel would just carry on and there’d be further delays.

  • Michael Jennings says:

    Berlins existing airports sucked so much that thank God that this is open. But it sounds sort of meh from this review.

    I find that German airports in general don’t handle security very efficiently. British airports have now got it down to a fine art, but so much of it in Germany is slow queues, one personal at a time, and rude staff.

    • Kurt Krsut says:

      Precisely my view. So much for supposed German efficiency. Frankfurt is a nightmare. Don’t even get me started on the lounge. The worst loinge however is the Elli Beinhorn lounge in Stuttgart airport. I prefer Heathrow every time. PS: I am a Kraut

    • Rhys says:

      To be fair, I’ve rarely encountered airports that handle security as well as many UK airports do….the US, for example, is an absolute nightmare

      • Bagoly says:

        And then there is Geneva (I know it’s not Germany!) which used to have a long roller-counter alongside the queue for preparation, which was very effective at preventing bottlenecks, but they got rid of it – one of the few airports to voluntarily go backwards on security efficiency.

      • Doug M says:

        TSA Pre and it all goes away.

    • HAM76 says:

      Hamburg is pretty efficient… Three bays to unload your belongings, trays come with a conveyor belt and a brand new scanner with four spots to perform extra security checks. Waiting times in Heathrow are considerably longer.

      Right now everything is of course limited due to required distancing.

  • Umba says:

    Interesting podcast on the history of this airport: https://www.radiospaetkauf.com/ber/

  • AJA says:

    Wow after all this time BER airport is finally open and it looks so dated! I didn’t know that it is basically the same location as Schönefeld Airport. I always thought that was to Berlin as Stansted is to London. I remember buying tickets on BA to fly to this airport in 2011 only for them to change to TXL as the push back was announced a couple of days after I’d booked.

    My arrival experience at TXL wasn’t great as the luggage conveyor went wrong. We stood around for 45 minutes while they searched the building for someone to fix the issue. This portly man in a boiler suit arrived, looked at the non-moving conveyor, muttered scheiße and then disappeared. 15 minutes later he comes back with a huge mallet with which he thumped the emergency stop start button and miraculously got the conveyor going to much applause. Vorsprung durch technik indeed! Amazingly my luggage was the second bag on the belt. 🙂

    • J says:

      It’s half an hour on the train from Berlin central station so no comparison to Stansted really – admittedly it’s a longer drive/taxi than Tegel. Tegel was good for a short drive to the city but always lacked a train connection.