We have all been there. A long layover in an airport after an overnight flight can be an exercise in tedium, despite the bells and whistles some European airports have added to lend entertainment value to a long wait. The problem is that even the most appealing stores or exhibits are of little interest after a sleepless night.
When presented with a seven-hour layover recently in Frankfurt airport — our flight from Boston arrived at 5:30 a.m. and our pickup for a river cruise was set for 1 p.m. — one obvious solution was to make the difficult transition back into human form by spending a few hours at the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the lounge is located in the arrivals hall in Terminal 1 after you clear immigration and, unlike traditional lounges, was designed for travelers whose travel is terminating in Frankfurt.
On arrival we were given access to the lower-level shower area, which comprises individual shower rooms with L’Occitane products and enough room to open suitcases for a change of clothing. The main level offers buffet, lounge and business areas, as well as a sleeping room and an increasingly rare amenity: a closed-off smoking room. We then tucked into breakfast, including cooked-to-order egg dishes, and designer coffee drinks before settling into comfy chairs with international newspapers.
Of course, all this pampering comes at a price. As with all airline lounges, access is granted according to travel class, and, in the case of the Welcome lounge, economy-class travelers can’t purchase a day pass to access the facility unless they are guests of a Senator member. First- and business-class passengers with a boarding pass for a same-day arrival can use the lounge, which is only open in the morning, but the rules are specific about which airline you arrive on (a Star Alliance first-class ticket, for example, won’t work). Similar rules apply to the Business and Tower lounges, the latter of which we hit on the way back.
Given that I had flown through Frankfurt often but never visited the city, we eventually left the cozy confines of the lounge and made our way to the Hotel & Tours counter, also in Terminal 1, where we met our driver for a city tour. To our relief, we were able to take our luggage to the tour office in city center, where they stowed it for us while we set out on a two-hour half-bus, half-walking tour of the city. Highlights included strolls through the Romer Square and the Old Town and a drive past the Goethe House and the Museum quarter, and our driver had us back at the airport at 12:30 p.m. on the dot.
Tours operate year-round four times a day, and passengers are deposited back at the airport more or less where they were picked up. The tour is priced at about $37 per person; about $3 for kids 12 and younger.