Connect from an international flight to a domestic one in just thirty minutes? That's the speedy schedule that Lufthansa offers at its Munich Airport terminal, which it co-owns with the airport.
Together, the airline and airport have created a terminal where the emphasis is on efficiency for passengers and planes -- not on frequent flyers forcing their way through labyrinthine shopping malls.
"It's an exclusive cooperation between Munich Airport and the airline. We run terminal 2 jointly and we built it together," Dr Stefan Kreuzpaintner, Lufthansa's head of revenue management at Munich, told Australian Business Traveller when we sat down with him at Lufthansa HQ.
"The big advantage is that we decided how the check-in area should be, where the lounges should be, how the lounges should look -- we basically put all our ideas into the construction phase of the terminal," Kreuzpaintner explained.
The orange sections at the top of the terminal map are the check-in areas, which you won't even need if you've checked in online and have the emailed boarding pass 2D QR barcode on your smartphone. The red sections are the swift and efficient security, and Lufthansa's business lounge is marked 5 on the map. From there, it's a couple of minutes to the plane, with gates to the left and right.
Kreuzpaintner was enthusiastic when we pressed him on specific benefits of Munich airport for the business traveller.
"We have convenient terminal facilities: one big check-in area, dedicated business and first class check in areas, the lounge facilities are beautiful, and we have an entry minimum connecting time of thirty minutes."
Lufthansa also has sway over the amount of security screening staff provided, Kreuzpaintner said, explaining that adding more staff to increase the speed of security checkpoints isn't rocket science. "If our customers are in queues less, they're faster through the terminal."
That may sound like an obvious statement, but it's rare that an airline can influence the speed of screening -- and in Terminal 2, it's pretty impressive.
Australian Business Traveller made it from the airport door to Lufthansa's business class lounge in just four minutes flat -- including security screening. (We timed it.) You can barely dodge your way through the first round of Sydney international terminal's duty free maze in that time.
The 30-minute minimum connection time is also a real benefit for business travellers connecting to other German and European destinations, since you can spend less time in the airport waiting for your onward flight.
Compare that with the London Heathrow minimum connection time of 90 minutes -- including a terminal change -- or, closer to home, Sydney's international to domestic minimum connection time of 75 minutes.
Once you've arrived in Munich, "the most important destinations are served within 30 minutes' connecting time," Kreuzpaintner said as he showed us how the incoming long-haul flight schedule connects swiftly to the outgoing domestic and European flight schedule.
"We optimise most of our flights within a timeframe of 35 minutes to one hour," Kreuzpaintner said, pointing to the co-ownership model of Lufthansa's terminal -- which it also shares with its Star Alliance partners -- as the reason this short timescale works.
"It's a big advantage for us," Kreuzpaintner said.
That 30 minutes' connection might like a tight timetable after your 25+ hour flight from Australia, but if your incoming flight is late, Lufthansa has another trick up its sleeve to make sure that you make your connection: "The Ramp Direct service collects the passengers directly from the aircraft and brings them to their onward aircraft," Kreuzpaintner explained.
So you're met at the door of the plane and whisked straight to your next plane. If that sounds like the service you get at Lufthansa's exclusive First Class Terminal at Frankfurt, where you're driven straight to the plane in a Porsche or Mercedes, you'd be right.
"But it's not just for first class passengers," Kreuzpaintner pointed out.
It's all part of Lufthansa's two-hub connecting strategy. The airline has 1500 flights to Europe from Munich, to over 100 destinations.
Despite Lufthansa's main hub being in Frankfurt, Munich has more European destinations than Frankfurt does -- and is also newer, with the co-owned Terminal 2 dating back to just 2003.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.