Well, among other things, it's directly designed for the biggest, baddest airplanes out there. We're talking A340s, 747s, 747-8is, and the almighty A380. This week, we'll take you inside and all around this place through which some 6 million travelers will journey each year.
It's a window, upper deck, right over the hulking wing of this superjumbo. Looking out, the airport on the horizon glows with the fluorescence of its millions of lights, pre-dawn. Usually we're not super anxious to leave a plane to experience the airport, but Frankfurt is an exception.
Turning off onto the taxiway, we can already spot the many Lufthansa crane logos that adorn each Star Alliance gate. It's pretty obvious who rules this coop.
Rounding a corner, the A380 aims for its new home on the ground—a long, sleek concourse with gates and facilities designed for its massive dimensions. Whereas the plane squeezes itself into other airports, like buttoning pants two sizes too small, here it finds Frankfurt's just-opened A-Plus Concourse is tailor-made with breathing room. Once we've parked, three jet bridges stretch out to welcome over 500 passengers into these fresh digs.
Yeah, we're pretty excited. New airport smell is second only to new airplane smell. And there is a smell—like a freshly produced toy just unboxed. Our passport is stamped beneath an unfinished ceiling. The exuberance we feel is not unlike that of a person typing "FIRST!" in a blog post comments section.
Right now, the A-Plus Pier at FRA is the only thing like it in the entire world. That is, a concourse dedicated to the jumbo-est of jumbos. Come early 2013, Emirates will open a 20-gate A380 terminal, but FRA beat 'em to the punch. Lufthansa is so proud of the place that they just launched a full virtual online tour.
A-Plus, with its seven gates and floor space roughly equaling 25 football fields, has two big goals: cut down average passenger transfer time from 60 minutes to 45 minutes and serve as home base for A340s, B747-400s, B747-800is and A380s from Lufthansa and 26 other Star Alliance carriers.
Now consider that each Lufthansa A380 seats 526 passengers, all of whom are milling about this new terminal for a couple pre-flight hours looking for food to eat, duty-free caviar to buy, or a comfy chair to sneak a few winks. Now multiply that passenger number by every new A380/B747/A340 planeload that's also awaiting departure. It could be a crazy place but it's totally not, thanks to good design and forethought.
For them (and you), the A-Plus Concourse has 60 new shops and restaurants, like Hermès, Porsche Design, and what we think of as a duty-free wonderland. There's a Japanese restaurant, patisseries with pretzels, a McDonald's (of course), and five—count 'em—five new lounges. The only things there's not: free WiFi and an abundance of power outlets. You'll have to gain access to a lounge for all that.
Fun Fact: Frankfurt International Airport is the largest employment complex at a single location in all of Germany.
Another Fun Fact: If you'd like to check in to the A-Plus Concourse on Foursquare, it's listed under its German name: "Pier/Flugsteig A."
Disclosure: We traveled as guests of Lufthansa, but rest assured that all photos and opinions are completely our own.
A mobile with an A380 model dangles in the atrium.
You'll know you're in the A-Plus Concourse after passing through this atrium-like area.
Here's a double gate for quick boarding of one superjumbo or two smaller aircraft.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider