Flying from Toronto to Israel on Air Canada on a Thursday night? You will wind up with a stopover in Frankfurt. The wait time in the Frankfurt airport is about 3 hours. The flight arrives at in Frankfurt at 7 a.m. and leaves for Tel-Aviv at 10 a.m. You have to switch over to a Lufthansa plane for the 3.5 hour flight from Frankfurt to Tel-Aviv.
The Air Canada leg of the trip was great. Comfortable seats – a decent amount of room, personal video screens and entertainment systems…all around a fairly smooth trip.
The transition to Lufthansa in Germany was also reasonably smooth. Your baggage can be checked right through without any need to go and collect it for the transfer. The walk from one gate to the other is quite long – but that is probably not too different from any other major airport.
You have to pass through extensive personal security – including full pat downs for all passengers. You then have to go through special additional personal security set up at gate C13 – only for flights to Israel.
The actual Lufthansa plane – well that was quite uncomfortable. We were seated 10 across – in a 3-4-3 configuration – with what seemed like much less room. No personal entertainment system, very little leg and seating room - and overall- the feel of a very cramped ride. Fortunately it was only 3.5 hours.
The staff were reasonably attentive – considering the number of passengers they had to manage. They passed by quite a number of times ready to offer hot and cold drinks – wine, liqueurs – even cognac – as well as a hot meal.
We would have arrived about 10 minutes early – but spent some time circling in the Mediterranean to avoid being ahead of schedule. On arrival in Tel-Aviv – things were also reasonably smooth – though no one seemed to bother to unload priority baggage first.
Probably the best think about the transfer was the great prices in the Frankfurt duty free shop – a wide ranging selection of scotch and other drinks – all much cheaper than the duty free shops in Toronto or Tel-Aviv.
The Frankfurt lounge was also decent – featuring a really nice espresso machine – but – on the cheap side – you have to pay if you want wireless internet service.
It’s obviously much better to fly direct – though if you want to fly direct on a Thursday night – you are limited to El Al – which means leaving earlier in the day – and no Aeroplan points. Another option is to fly through Philadelphia on US Air – which is not a bad option – though it still involves a stopover.
The option of transferring through Frankfurt can wind up saving as much as $500 – so sometimes it might be worthwhile to put with 3.5 hours of discomfort…