Story Time; Berlin Tegel Airport
Why you should avoid using Berlin Tegel Airport at all costs... seriously.
Prepare yourself for a quick short story:
“The flight is in 3 hours!!!” Chloë yelled at Max as he laid on the bed scrolling through memes. “C’mon we need to check out!”
Max rolled over, unphased by Chloë’s pleads. He knew she often panicked about irrelevant things. The airport was only a few minutes away and, for the most part, he was all packed.
“You are aware that you’re supposed to be at the airport THREE HOURS EARLY for international flights?! Our flight is set to take off in an hour and a half,” whined Chloë.
“Babe, just chill. We’ll go soon. Just let me gather my stuff,” he nonchalantly grunted as he hopped off the bed to stuff a pair of socks into his bag.
In a matter of ten minutes, they had gathered their items and crammed into a taxi. Finally, Chloë felt the stress was over.
Little did she know, the stress was only beginning.
Taxi small talk is always underwhelming.
“Are there lots tourists this time of year?”
“Did you enjoy your trip?”
They were not expecting the taxi driver to say, “You know that this airport will be quite busy? The new one which was supposed to open in 2011 still has not opened, and is now eight billion dollars over budget. They also incorrectly numbered 4000 doors, and wrongly installed 90 KMs of wires. (Talk about German efficiency)."
Chloë and Max exchanged a look which could only mean one thing. Yikes.
This fact was evident before they even reached their terminal.
Max and Chloë looked up to see a taxi driving at them straight on going 50kms an hour. It appeared they were on a one way street... going the wrong direction. The taxi swerved hard to the right and just barely missed the oncoming car, sending both frazzled passengers into the car door.
The driver yelled out a slurry of German cuss words and then proceeded to say, “When they made the roads to the airport they only made one single lane and everyone drives fast, so hang on.”
Within about a minute (and probably 4 heart attacks), the taxi pulled up to a drop off area, which apparently had no specific terminals.
As soon as they stepped foot in the airport, they were hit by a wave of hot air and body odour. People were sitting (and sleeping) all over the floor and on their suitcases creating a maze which wasn’t ideal to pull a suitcase through. The airport lacked any benches or chairs in the front area and so people seemed to feel entitled to sprawling themselves out on whatever flat surfaces they could find.
A line for check in winded through a mess of dividers and wrapped out and around to the entrance of the airport.
“It’s all good, we have priority check-in,” sighed Max in relief as he looked over to a priority check-in area which was completely vacant.
As Chloë and Max stepped over and around sweaty people who were refusing to move, they were stopped by an airport worker attempting to ask them where they were going (obviously assuming they should not be in priority check-in based on their young age). Through an exchange of broken English and showing of documents, they continued towards the desk.
Again, they were stopped, this time by an angry German traveller who appeared to have stood in the line for regular check-in for quite some time, and was annoyed thinking we were cutting the line. This balding woman raised her voice and pointed at them with her chubby finger so that the entire line was watching the situation unfold. The only problem was that neither Chloë nor Max could speak German enough to explain what was going on. Rather than fighting, they just shrugged and continued to walk forward.
Finally, they had made it to the check-in counter to hand over their suitcases. They handed over their passports, and the lady at the front suddenly curled her lips into an unsatisfactory frown.
“No, you wait another 20 minutes until check-in. Too early. Go wait,” she snarked.
“But our flight is it an hour?” inquired Chloë quizzically.
“Yeah you wait for check in. Too early. 20 minutes.” She said barked.
Twenty minutes later, they made their way back, and were greeted with the exact same response. “Another 20 minutes. Too early,” said the lady again.
Defeated, Chloë and Max retreated to go join the mob of people laying on the floor.
On the third attempt, they succeeded. Going through the security, they didn’t even seem to mind that the security guard declined their “priority traveller pass” and made them wait with everyone else because they were happy to have at least made it through. Security had even placed them in the only slow moving line, neglecting to tell them there were several manned scanners with NO travellers they could have proceeded to, but instead put them at the ONLY scanner with a line. It was okay though, they were on their way out of there.
Security was done, and they were now only waiting for their flight. After grabbing a snack of rice noodles (which cost 25 Euros and was comparable to the taste of soggy 5 day old paper towel) from one of the two restaurants offered, and having four gate changes (which were all announced in German, making it exceedingly hard to follow), they only had to wait an extra four hour flight delay before boarding. The wait wouldn’t have been quite as bad if there was adequate seating, air conditioning, or if the facility was clean, but clearly it wasn’t.
Having speedy boarding ensured they got let into the shuttle to the plane FIRST, but unloaded LAST, which ultimately made them one of the last people to step foot on the plane.
But hey, at least they were leaving the airport, right?
Berlin Airport, it was a wild time, but I do not look forward to meeting you again.