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What you need to know about travelling in Germany over Easter

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What you need to know about travelling in Germany over Easter
Travellers in Frankfurt last weekend. Photo: DPA
11:37 CEST+02:00
With many schools off and the Easter weekend coming up, lots of people across Germany are preparing for a getaway. Here's what to look out for to avoid travel stress.

Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile, it's going to be busier than usual out there during the Easter getaway. But with careful preparation you can try and avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam or being late for a flight. 

Travelling by plane

Passengers flying from German airports during the busy Easter period have been urged to get to the airport in plenty of time for security checks. 

What might throw a spanner in the works is strike action in other countries, such as Spain. Our sister site The Local Spain has information on flights affected by the strikes.

Berlin and Brandenburg

In Berlin a record number of passengers are expected at both city airports. People flying from Tegel in the north or Schönefeld in the south have been warned to prepare for long waiting times.

Daniel Tolksdorf, airport spokesman, told the Berliner Morgenpost that the airports will handle approximately 1.3 million passengers during the holidays. This is an increase of about 20 percent from last year when around 1.1 million passengers took off and landed at the two airports.

In view of the upcoming travel rush, Tolksdorf said it was the "first major stress test for the infrastructure" this year.

On the first holiday weekend (April 13th and 14th), around 2,200 flights and about 240,000 passengers were expected in Tegel and Schönefeld. Although it was busy, there were no delays and the schedules ran according to plan. 

But this weekend a lot more people are expected to pass through the capital's airports.

"The highlight will be the Easter weekend with about 400,000 passengers," Tolksdorf said.

Due to the significantly increased volume of traffic during the Easter holidays, all necessary maintenance and repair work that could impact flight operations will be carried out at night or during the low-operation period, the airport operator said.

At Munich Airport, passengers are advised that there may be longer waiting times at security control. Photo: DPA

"The ultimate goal is smooth flight operations," said Tolksdorf. In addition, the operator says it will deploy more staff at both airports during the holidays.

Since March, Schönefeld Airport has significantly increased its check-in capacities with self-service kiosks and baggage handling machines. "In Tegel, we will soon be starting self-service," said Tolksdorf. "The construction work has already been completed."

During Easter, passengers are advised to check if there are delays before the flight - and to use the online check-in service for their flight to save time queuing at the airport. 

They should also arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure.

Hamburg

Anyone who’s flying from Hamburg can breathe a sigh of relief after strike action that was planned to take place over Easter by ground staff, including baggage handlers, aircraft cleaners and bus drivers, was averted. 

According to the airport operators, an agreement was reached during the collective bargaining negotiations between the company that employs ground handling staff and the Verdi trade union, reported German media Wednesday.

Verdi confirmed the deal, saying employees are now satisfied. Strikes are off the table for the time being, but further talks will take place to flesh out the agreement. 

It's good news for passengers since two strikes, both held over a pay dispute, had resulted in hundreds of flights being cancelled in early February and March. 

Those strikes affected tens of thousands of passengers.

Nevertheless, travellers should arrive at the airport with plenty of time to get through security and check-in if they need to.

Frankfurt

According to predictions, at Frankfurt Airport, Thursday is set to be the busiest day of the holiday season. Around 209,500 passengers are expected then, reported T Online.

However, this is below last Friday’s figure when 225,000 passengers departed or arrived in Germany’s largest air hub. 

SEE ALSO: Frankfurt airport offering new routes, flight frequencies

On Good Friday and Saturday, the authority, which organizes passenger and hand luggage checks with the help of private security service providers, expects 202,500 and 206,000 passengers respectively and has prepared itself accordingly. "We do not expect any major problems," said the spokesman.

On Easter Sunday, around 197,000 passengers are expected, signalling it might be a good day to travel.

Munich and Bavaria

Munich Airport expected more than 150,000 passengers on the last school day before the holidays (Friday, April 12th) and 130,000 that weekend, reported local media.

During the two-week Easter holiday period, operators expect more than two million passengers. More than 175,000 passengers are expected at Nuremberg Airport in the next two weeks.

Düsseldorf

North Rhine-Westphalia's largest airport expects around 1.2 million passengers during the Easter holidays, from Friday, April 12th to Sunday, April 28th.
 
Pack your chocolate. Photo: DPA
 
Passenger figures are 21 percent above the previous year. That's because of several factors, including the fact that Easter takes place later in April this year, meaning it coincides with the beginning of the summer flight schedule.
 
The airport has increased the number of staff working to deal with the increase in people. 
 
As usual, passengers are drawn primarily to the sun. This year the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and Spain are particularly popular with Easter holidaymakers.
 
Other favoured destinations include Italy, Turkey, and for long-haul it's the United Arab Emirates, the Caribbean and the USA which are proving popular with travellers.
 
Over Easter, free street art workshops for young people will be taking place in the terminal.

Cologne/Bonn

A total of 574,000 passengers are expected between April 12th and 28th at Cologne/Bonn Airport, that's about four percent fewer passengers than the same period last year.
 
However, a spokesman for the airport said staff were ready and prepared for the busy time. 
 
Between Friday to Sunday around 106,000 passengers will take off and land at the airport. The peak holiday day is expected to be Friday April 26th with 39,000 passengers expected on that day alone.

Among the top destinations for Easter holidaymakers this year are the classic sun destinations, including Turkey, Spain and Italy. Apart from Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, city and business travellers will be jetting off to London, Vienna and Milan during Easter.

Kötter Aviation Security, the company responsible for passenger and baggage controls, said it had prepared for the task of getting everyone through security quickly and safely.
 
At peak times, up to 150 security assistants will be working.
 
Dresden 
 
At Dresden airport in eastern Germany, passengers are also urged to arrive in plenty of time for their flight.
 
The airport is also running an interesting event from April 19th to 22nd: Easter Air Experience tours. After a security check, participants in the tour are taken backstage at the airport to see how everything works. Might be a good one to keep kids occupied during the break. More information is available here. 

On the road

The German Automotive Club (ADAC) says that increased traffic is possible on the roads throughout the holiday, especially on routes to the south, where many people could be travelling to go skiing, reported German media.

The roads to coastal areas may also be busier than usual as sun-seekers bid to make the most of the spring-like temperatures with a trip to the beach. 

A traffic jam in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

Some of the most congested routes are listed below:

- Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich metropolitan areas

- A1 Hamburg - Bremen - Dortmund - Cologne

- A1/A3/A4 Cologne Ring

- A2 Oberhausen - Dortmund - Hanover - Berlin

- A3 Oberhausen - Frankfurt - Würzburg - Nuremberg - Passau

- A4 Kirchheimer Triangle - Erfurt - Dresden

- A5 Hattenbacher Triangle - Frankfurt - Karlsruhe - Basel

- A6 Kaiserslautern - Mannheim - Heilbronn - Nuremberg

- A7 Hamburg - Hannover - Würzburg - Ulm - Füssen/Reutte

- A8 Karlsruhe - Stuttgart - Munich - Salzburg

- A9 Berlin - Nuremberg - Munich

- A10 Berlin Ring

- A61 Mönchengladbach - Koblenz - Ludwigshafen

- A81 Stuttgart - Singing

- A93 Inntal triangle - Kufstein

- A95/B2 Munich - Garmisch-Partenkirchen

- A99 Munich bypass

Below you can also find the ADAC’s congestion prediction map for Easter 2019, which shows popular routes where extra traffic is possible, as well as construction work.

Map: ADAC/DPA

The ADAC advises those travelling to leave early on Thursday or Friday to try and avoid traffic jams. Similarly, for people travelling back on Easter Monday, they should try and get on the roads before the afternoon rush. 

Our advice? If you're travelling with kids - and even if you aren't - make sure you have access to any Easter treats you may have received in case you get stuck in traffic and need a little pick-me-up.

Travelling by train

Lots of holidaymakers are preparing to hop on a train during the Easter getaway. Deutsche Bahn has put on extra trains on Thursday to help people reach their destinations in time for the weekend. 

SEE ALSO: How tickets for long distance trains in Germany could become much cheaper

According to the rail operator, popular destinations are the picturesque south, for example Lake Constance, as well as the Baltic Sea coast. Take note that you can try and reserve a seat before you travel on long-distance trains, otherwise you could be standing. 

Although trains might be busier than usual, the rush is not as bad as during the Christmas holidays.

Remember to check for any ongoing building work or disruption before heading out to catch your train. Construction work is taking place on the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Easter holidays at Cologne Central Station, reports broadcaster WDR.

Passengers have been warned to expect disruption and diversions due to two tracks being closed. Six regional lines and long-distance trans are affected.

The disruption is expected until April 29th. For up to date train information visit the DB website.

 
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