Simple Flying explores Frankfurt Airport Terminal 3
With still four years to go before its scheduled opening, Frankfurt Airport’s new Terminal 3 is starting to look like an airport terminal. The airport invited Simple Flying to view the interior of the terminal’s Pier G, which could be prepared in 12 months if necessary.
This is what passengers will see when they arrive at Pier G. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying
Fraport, the company that runs Frankfurt Airport, has now completed construction of Terminal 3’s Pier G. Under normal circumstances, travelers would expect the facility to be already considering an opening. As passenger demand is expected to remain suppressed, the pier has been temporarily decommissioned for the time being. Fraport has installed the baggage system, although much of the terminal remains empty for the time being.
Enter the terminal
The access roads to Terminal 3 are still under construction. It is not possible to drive to the forecourt or take the shuttle as both facilities are not yet complete. Instead, we arrived at Terminal 3 by bus, entering the terminal through a side forecourt on the arrivals level.
The terminal forecourt is still under construction. Photo: Tom Boon – Single Flight
While limited facilities are already installed inside the terminal, the vast majority of the building currently consists of empty rooms. We immediately walked up a flight of stairs before arriving at the departures level upon entering the airport.
A small recording room
For now, only one of the piers that will make up Terminal 3 has been built. As this could enter service before most of the terminal, it must be self-sufficient. The check-in room was relatively modest in size, containing only about 22 desks. The hall was filled with carts full of suitcases, labeled and ready to test the baggage system.
After introducing himself and welcoming us to the facility, Stefan Schulte, CEO of Fraport, led us down a hallway to a large empty room. This room, though empty now, will one day become a busy security checkpoint. So far, the only security mechanisms installed are shutters and fencing to separate the airside area from the landside area once the facility is opened.
Interestingly, the fire escape floor plan already shows the room filled with safety equipment. There will eventually be eight security checkpoints in this large room, with another checkpoint in an adjacent room.
The departure lounge
The departure lounge currently had the charm of an empty warehouse. Although the building is complete and safe to visit without safety measures such as a hard hat, the interior is mostly as is. That is to say, there is currently an awful lot of concrete and not much else. Although Fraport will surely add decoration before the pier opens, artist’s impressions suggest that much of the concrete will remain. It makes sense once you understand the “German Urban Lifestyle” theme of the terminal.
Pier G is currently 400m long, although there are plans to extend it to 200m. Interestingly, there is no provision for installing conveyor belts in the terminal. Instead, once past security, passengers find a winding path past a retail space into an escalator space. If there are no shop signs, shutters intended for future residents are already present in places.
Passing the shops, one arrives at escalators which go down to the ground floor. Pier G gates are all ground level. No reaction bridge is planned here. Instead, passengers will walk across the apron to the aircraft in most cases, although jet bridges can be added later. At present, the pier has 13 gates, four of which are bus gates. The Schengen gates are closest to the main terminal. These passengers do not need to go through passport control, so arriving and departing passengers mix.
Pier G is designed for point-to-point passengers on direct low-cost and leisure carrier flights. As such, there are no lounges. Halfway to the pier is a passport control point. Non-Schengen passengers leaving Germany must go through passport control. There are six passport control checkpoints for departing passengers, two of which appear to be dedicated to e-gate users. One of my bugbears with Terminal 2 is the lack of employees performing manual checks, which leads to long waits, and I fear this will become the case at Terminal 3 during peak hours.
At least the passport offices are sleeker than their T1 and T2 counterparts. Photo: Tom Boon – Single Flight
Interestingly, Frankfurt Airport did not clearly distinguish between Schengen and non-Schengen gates. The gates in the middle of the terminal can be switched from Schengen to non-Schengen and vice versa by opening and closing the gates.
“Arrive” at the terminal
As mentioned above, travelers arriving from Schengen do not need to undergo passport control, so they are released into the terminal, where they can mingle with departing passengers. On the other hand, non-Schengen travelers must be separated. Upon arrival, non-Schengen passengers are directed to the upper floor. Passengers are directed to a block of passport control windows.
Again, two appear to be dedicated to flag-raising electronic gate passengers, although there are another 12 for passengers requiring manual controls. Rather than the drab boxes that house the Bundespolizei in Terminal 2, Terminal 3 has much more elegant curved glass “bubbles”.
There is no shortage of passport counters for arriving passengers. Photo: Fraport
Just after passport control are three narrow one-way corridors where arrivals from Schengen countries can join the flow of non-Schengen arrivals. It is located near the escalators mentioned above. Passengers then take a long hallway before arriving at a set of steps and escalators leading to the baggage claim area.
Schengen arrivals join non-Schengen arrivals after passport control through these one-way gates. Photo: Tom Boon – Single Flight
The baggage system
There are three baggage claim mats in the lobby as it stands. When the options to expand Pier G are exercised, this number will increase to five. There is not much to say about the three belts, even if the room in which they are located is incredibly spacious. Perhaps a more exciting story is how the bags move through the terminal.
Fraport will install most equipment to enter Pier G within 12 months of its opening. A major piece of equipment already present in the building is the baggage system. During our visit, the luggage system was undergoing a test. However, this was not a routine test. Each check-in counter had an employee loading bag after bag, essentially flooding the baggage system to see if they could cope.
The luggage system was undergoing a thorough test during our visit. Photo: Tom Boon – Single Flight
At regular intervals, the bag tags are scanned, and they can also be seen going through an X-ray scanner before being sorted into their respective “flights”. In reality, they were placed on carts to be brought back to the check-in area. You might think that bags enter a similar system after arriving flights are unloaded. The reality is much less exciting. Baggage trolleys are brought directly to the wall behind the baggage carousel, with the bags being placed directly on the corresponding retrieval carousel.
This is what your bags see before they are reunited with you. Photo: Tom Boon – Single Flight
Once the bags are collected, there is a short walk through the area to one day become the customs control area. Passengers then arrive in the lobby where we entered the building at the start of the tour.
This area will eventually house the customs controls applied to arriving passengers. Photo: Tom Boon – Single Flight
Still building the main terminal
The main terminal, with its H and J platforms, is still under construction. We climbed up to the area that will one day be the drop off area to see the progress. The impressive parking structure has already been completed and the roof of the main building is already in place, supported by temporary supports. This entire facility is expected to be completed in 2026. Unless needed earlier, Pier G will now open alongside the rest of the building.
Once the entire terminal is completed, it will be able to accommodate up to 21 million passengers per year. There are plans to connect Pier G to the rest of the terminal rather than operating it as a stand-alone facility.
Are you excited to see Fraport complete the construction of Terminal 3 Pier G? Which airlines do you think will use the new facility? Tell us what you think and why in the comments!
Frankfurt Airport delays opening of Terminal 3 until 2026
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