M.Sometimes residents of Berlin also want to leave their beautiful city for a few days, for example when the autumn holidays begin. Anyone who wanted to do this by plane at the weekend had difficulties. Because at the famous BER breakdown airport, which finally opened a year ago, there was chaos. Hundreds of meters long queues in front of the check-in counters and security controls resulted in numerous travelers missing their flights. Even many willing travelers, who followed the recommendation of the airport company and arrived at the airport two hours before departure, did not manage to get on board their plane in time. According to the “Berliner Morgenpost”, Lufthansa even asked its customers to be at the airport four hours before departure – a period in which some destinations can be reached by train.
At the weekend, only around 65,000 people had to be processed a day – more than before in the pandemic, but just half the previous number of passengers. Arriving travelers also had to wait more than an hour at the baggage carousel for their suitcases and bags. Also from other airports in Europe, such as Zurich, machines to Berlin could not start in time because BER was overloaded.
The reasons have been searched for since the beginning of the week. Longer check-in times due to the corona pandemic, as proof of vaccination must be shown, are mentioned by the airport company, including staff shortages due to sick leave. The Verdi union points out that there is a lack of staff at the airports because 16 percent of employees left the industry because of the Corona crisis. But these are problems that do not only apply to Berlin.
Beauty instead of functionality
Problems at BER with long queues and just such waiting times had already occurred before the autumn break. The queue often wrapped itself around the entire check-in area, passengers complained about the lack of signage, and the treadmills stopped working after a short time. One reason for the chaos could also be that the airport is large enough overall, but the areas in front of the check-in counters, security checks and baggage claim are too small.
At BER, attention was paid to beauty, but not functionality, said airport planner Dieter Faulenbach da Costa of the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel. Although BER has two other terminals, only the main terminal T1 is open. Terminal T2, which has a further 16 check-in counters, has not yet been put into operation – for cost reasons, because BER has to cope with its financial crisis. A short-term opening of T2 is therefore not planned.
After there had been chaotic processes and long queues in Berlin on election Sunday, the realization remains that the capital may be able to cope with unexpected events, but certainly not with expected ones.