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Berlin airport rant: Tegel sucks

Tegel Airport, Berlin

Tegel (TXL in airport code) is one of Berlin’s currently operating airports. Plenty of people like (or even love) the airport for its proximity to the city center and it’s unique circular shape. No doubt that it’s supposed to be convenient and because it’s rather small (though Berlin‘s biggest), Tegel is supposed to be easy to manage. But in my experience, it’s actually an frustratingly annoying airport.

Not only do you arrive and have to deplane on the tarmac, but once inside, the bathrooms very obnoxiously ask for a 50c donation. There’s a wifi connection for the airport, but the only way it’s free is if you use it to view the airport’s homepage (and strangely, MySpace). Why do I want to view the airport’s homepage? No clue. Plenty of airports around the world offer free wifi and the number is only growing. Why is Berlin so far behind?

Admittedly, because Tegel is such a tiny airport. After arriving, going from baggage claim to customs and outside takes under 5 minutes. To get from Tegel to downtown Berlin, you get on a local bus which makes a lot of local stops. And when I took the bus the other day, there was no air-conditioning. Those legendary German engineers—what the hell are they doing?!

While the old-style flipboard for destination arrive & departure times is admittedly cool, the airport itself is old and outdated—frustratingly so that it hinders the travel experience.

Berlin really should be trying harder to make a good impression. Admittedly, they want to…but that’s failed as well. #disappointed

One positive thing I will say is that when flying into any Berlin airport, you do see a lot of green. But you also get a front-row view of burned-out buildings and an abandoned airplane from the 1960s. <– read that!

Berlin, you can be really confusing sometimes. I love you, but can’t you clean up a little bit? This airport is the first thing many people see of Berlin and while it can be cool in its old-school ways, you should really be welcoming your visitors and guests with a much more friendly entrance.

  1. Nina says:

    Well, there are other possibilities to get to Tegel from the city center than just that one bus ;) (Ubahn, Taxi) No air condition? Ever sat in a train vom Barcelona Airport to the city center? No free WiFi? I think actually you can call yourself very lucky if an airport offers that (I never found one with WiFi). I feel Tegel is very convenient and I’d rather pay 50 cents for the loo (which I never had to?) than walking miles and miles in between shops and fast food restaurants to finally get to the gate. Also I love deplaning on the tarmac, it always feels grace kelly-ish ;)

    Good thing that opinions are different ;)

    • Adam says:

      Yo Nina!
      Yup – I know there are other buses and routes – this one I took was just really annoying! And with the WiFi there are tons of airports that have finally started offering it free, but it could always be more.

      I think I just love BIG airports with tons of shops and lots of walking and moving sidewalks. Guess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to airports!

  2. efrutik says:

    A healthy dose of airport rant! Yeah, I understand the frustration, but honestly relieved that won’t have to travel so far to and from airport once on the ground! So selfish of me but just makes it so convenient. But hopefully BER airport willl be ready someday soon :) Now if you get me started ranting on Dulles International Airport (IAD) in DC it will be a very ugly post…

    • Adam says:

      I try not to rant about flying and airports and airlines too often, but something about Tegel has really irked me as of late!

  3. cheryl says:

    I somehow love Tegel. it’s not pretty but I love that it doesn’t take me 15,000 years to check in and go through security. I also love that it only takes minutes to get from one terminal to another.

    I’d rather Tegel than Schonefeld any day! :)

    • Adam says:

      Bah! Tegel and Schonefeld are both disappointments. Give me a real airport any day…

  4. Georg says:

    Which bus did you take? If you take the express bus you don’t have that many local stops – both the TXL and X7 are fairly fast. The reason why most people love this airport is because it wasn’t designed as a shopping mall. It’s purely a transit port. Ironically this is one of the reasons why it’s being shut down – not because it can’t handle the air traffic but because there’s not enough retail space. Of course the ultimate Berlin airport was tempelhof. An architectural masterpiece and oh so convenient.

    • Adam says:

      Yeah, it was the X7 but was annoyingly slow. I know about the shopping thing, but I guess that’s what I love about airports—if you have to wait, there are plenty of distractions. I’ve showed up early to plenty of flights at Tegel and been bored out of my mind (and often cramped and sitting on the floor) because there just isn’t much room for waiting. Oh well.

      Templehof would’ve been great to fly through….

  5. Clairikine says:

    Have you been through Charles De Gaulle in Paris yet? Don’t. Ha ha.

    • Adam says:

      Yeah I have…. though it’s been a while. I remember deplaning on the tarmac there, too. After like a 10 hour flight from America, you do NOT want to walk out onto the tarmac in July. Annoying!

  6. Stephen says:

    Yeah for the old-style flipboard! Haven’t seen one of those in a while.

  7. Izy Berry says:

    A good airport can make SUCH a difference to your trip. When in Europe I mostly traveled by land so don’t; have much opinion on the airports there. Love the airports in Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai though- must be my favourites. LAX SUCKS!

    • Adam says:

      YES I completely agree, Izy! Airports can really make the trip. Bangkok is a great example of an open, easy-to-understand, modern airport. For many people it’s their first time in Asia so it’s so important to make a good impression!

  8. Fly Favorites: May 2012 | FLY BROTHER says:

    […] Hipster travel blog extraordinaire Travels of Adam gently rips Berlin’s antiquated main airport a new one. […]

  9. Roy Abraham says:

    Quite a surprise considering it’s such a busy airport. But it’s being replaced next year right?

    • Adam says:

      Yep, as soon as the new Berlin airport opens up next year, Tegel will be closed.

  10. Ayngelina says:

    I had to pay to use the washroom in Munich as well – WTF. Seriously you need money for the washroom, it is COMPLETELY ridiculous, this is not the 80s.

  11. luke says:

    Hardly a rant, Adam. You mention more good things about TXL than bad, and admittedly your reasons for not liking it are lame. The bus you were on w/o A/C isn’t operated by the airport, so…that doesn’t really count. How can you possibly hate an airport where your baggage is delivered directly to you off the plane and you never have to wait more than a few minutes to get your passport stamped? How do you keep yourself entertained in the massive immigration area of JFK/EWR/LAX etc while you wait 1 hr with every other flight in the world to get a stamp from US immigration? Big airports with centralized security, immg, and customs SUCK! I will never enjoy flying to Berlin again now that TXL is closing.

  12. Ben says:

    I don’t hate Tegel, but I always did find it ridiculous having to pay to use the restroom–one of the few places you shouldn’t (and usually don’t) have to pay is an international airport. With BBI probably delayed until next year, looks like you’ve still got another year to tolerate retro Tegel and then, boom in 2013, “Europe’s most modern airport” (supposedly) opening next year. Better have free wifi is all I’m saying.

  13. Fatima says:

    I TOTALLY agree! Berlin-Tegel airport SUCKS big time! It’s image is so opposite to it’s city..Berlin HBF is way way way awesome!

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