Hey, you! 🧳
Passport firmly tucked away in my backpack, we were on our way to Frankfurt Airport in Germany. It was 4am that morning and I'm not a morning person, but on that day you couldn't tell. I was on a high. Not even the guy who refused to give up the seat he was sitting on, even though we specifically paid for them, could bring me down.
By the way, if you ever read this, which I don't think you will, YOU (the guy) are an a**hole. Would you believe that he took hostage the bus and the people in it because he refused to give us our seats! The bus driver was minutes away from having an angry fit. But in the end, I won (what did you expect?!) - S and I sat together on our paid seats and the Husband ended up having a better seat. This story is one for the books, but it's due for another day. I will however end this by saying that you should never let anyone bully / pressure / force you to do something you don't want especially if you are right!
Anyways ... We usually travel internationally from Paris or Luxembourg but this time around we opted for Frankfurt. Number 1 reason was that the plane tickets were cheaper and turns out it is equal distance from our place as Paris. It's about 4 hours by bus. Luxembourg is much nearer but when you fly from Luxembourg, you usually take a small plane to Paris before flying internationally to Asia. I have to admit that as I am getting older, I am getting more and more scared of flying and small planes trigger me.
Frankfurt Airport is the largest airport in Germany, so it is quite busy, but not as busy as Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. I've noticed that flights are often delayed in CDG Airport, which always scares me when we have a layover.
Flying Tip #1: I always make sure that our layovers are more than 2 hours long. There's nothing worse than stressing about a delayed flight, wondering if you're gonna make the next flight, and running around the airport while the announcer says your name for the whole airport to hear. Not even the best of deodorants can't stop you from sweating from the stress!
One might be scared to fly from Germany due to the language barrier, but from our experience everyone we talked to spoke English so we were feeling pretty confident. From the driver of the free airport shuttle which got us from the bus car park to terminal 2, to the airport officers, and restaurant and shop staff, we had no problem to understand and being understood.
Overall, everything went quite smoothly. The German airport staff tried their best to be strict and get people to line-up for check-in, but as soon as the counter was open people were coming left and right out of nowhere. 😂😂 There was simply nothing the airport staff could do. We were flying with China Eastern Airlines and I mean no disrespect when I say this and it's probably a cultural thing, but other passengers often made us feel like this was a race. A race to check-in first, a race to enter the plane and be seated first, a race to get our bags first.
Luckily, my body build and maybe the fact that my ancestors used to play defensive rugby is always useful in this kind of situation. I can still hear my husband behind me telling me loudly, "block the way, don't let anyone insert the line until we can get in behind you, make sure you're alright". 😂😂 Amongst the hundreds of Chinese nationals that were there, we were one of the first non-Chinese to check-in. There was no competition from me, but hey, there's no way I was gonna let someone cut in line after I had been standing and waiting in line for an hour and more!
Check-in was fine considering we went a little overboard with our baggage. Whoops. The nice man at the counter took care of that for us. They were very friendly!
Next was the immigration which for EU nationals like S and I, was easy peasy. Everything was handled by a machine. As long as you follow the instructions, everything is quite smooth. I gave S her passport and boarding pass and told her to just listen and follow. Within minutes, we were done with immigration control. It took a few more minutes for the Husband, who is a non-EU national. He had actual human contact with an immigration officer and had to show his French permanent resident card aside from his passport and boarding pass.
Flying Tip #2: If you are a non-national, make sure to bring all necessary documents (even if they might not be asked). This includes current valid passport, passport with the first entry stamp, permanent resident card, and marriage certificate if you're married to a national.
I always breathe a little easier when I'm done with immigration because I feel like I'm in a safe-zone and good to board the plane.
Next is security control. This is where you are body scanned as well as your hand carry, and sometimes you do have to remove your shoes in some countries. Laptops and gadgets are also checked separately. The machine always beeps when I pass through (I think it's because of the underwire in my bra) so I'm used to the officer physically checking me each time, which I think it's totally normal. But my daughter was a little bit shocked to see that. I don't really mind, but I know that for people that feel uncomfortable about having their chest touched in public, you can always ask to go to a private room. I saw that there was one on the side.
I have a very specific way of packing our things when we take the plane, which usually is flawless during security control. Our hand-carry suitcase is filled with majority of our everyday clothes. I do this because one, if the airline company loses our checked-in bags we have clothes to wear so we are not left with nothing. I'm plus-sized so shopping abroad for clothes might be tricky for me. And two, I like to change outfit during the layover. Our hand-carry have strictly no liquids. Not even less than 100ml, which is allowed apparently. But one thing that I realized and will change from my usual habit is to bring a reusable water bottle in the future. This has to be empty at security control of course, but I've noticed that airports now have free drinking water in the terminal gates, so that's great if you don't want to pay a mini-fortune for drinking water. In our case, that would have been really useful during our flight because guess what? The airconditioning system was broken during the whole flight and we were sweating the whole time! But more on that in the next post. 😂
Flying Tip #3: Bring an empty reusable water bottle and food to munch on just in case. Airport food is notoriously known to be overpriced.
Flying Tip #4: We didn't have any, but we noticed that flying with a power bank is quite tricky. In China, it is forbidden to have a power bank in your hand-carry bag, whereas in the Philippines, it is forbidden to have it in your checked-in bags. I would recommend asking the airport staff at the check-in counter for the countries' protocol, otherwise you might have to leave your power bank behind as I've seen a lot of people during their layover in China do.
Also, before I forget, if you travel to and from the Philippines, don't forget to register for the Philippines etravel. This is an online registration that you have to register up to 72 hours prior to your arrival and / or departure from the Philippines. You will be asked to present it at the check-in counter.
Next post ... our experience flying with China Eastern Airlines!