United Boards 777 at Frankfurt midfield, in the snow

IMG_1223United airlines seemed to have run out of funds to pay for gates at Frankfurt. We were at a gate (Z22) where we checked-in, got our boarding passes security stamped, etc. But there was no plane at the end of the jetway. I looked, it was a regular sized jetway with double gates – the type used for wide-body aircraft, but they still had no plane. We were made to walk down two flights of stairs to buses. Those took us mid-field to our 777 parked near a taxiway. It was snowing and most of us did not even have jackets on us. I had checked mine in, not expecting to need it till I landed in the US.

It took a lot of time and a lot of buses to fully board the sold-out 777. It was very frustrating, for the staff too I assume and for all the passengers. The were several elderly folks in wheelchairs who had to walk up the stairs to the aircraft.

While no United staff member gave me an answer on why we were mid-field and not at the gate, my logical deduction (watching too much ‘Elementary’?) is that the incoming plane was late and they de-iced it mid-field and had no time to tow it to the gate without delaying the flight. Or, they were too cheap to pay for the tow…


Is this common-place at Frankfurt? I have experienced this once before boarding a 747 at Heathrow, no less. But this was a first forme at Frankfurt. What I could not get an answer to was why the aircraft was not at the gate? The jetway was available and capableof handling a 777. If anyone has experienced such a boarding before or knows the reasoning, please leave a comment.


The only good part was I got some excellent shots of aircraft operations at FRA. Enjoy the photos.

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  1. Yes this is very common at FRA, 777s and 74s.
    Just last week at IST we deplaned at a hardstand and bussed to the gate.

  2. This is very common at FRA. I probably connect at FRA a few times a year, and at least half of the time, if not more, we are transported in busses upon arrival and departure.

  3. Boarding at midfield at FRA is fairly common. It’s not just United. If you’re in first class on LH you get a limo ride to the plane.

  4. Extemely common for United and many other carriers at FRA. I travel to FRA from EWR almost every week for work. It’s actually getting better. The earlier flights usually get the gates and the later flights are sent to mid-field. Lesson: wear your coat and allow extra time. Mid-field parking is common in Europe not just FRA.

  5. “United airlines seemed to have run out of funds to pay for gates at Frankfurt.” I’m not quite sure if you were trying to be funny, but it might be a good idea to check your facts before making such a derogatory and inflammatory headline.

  6. Stick with watching TV and save the Sherlock Holmes… making wild guesses and then trying to make some headline from it is poor blogging. Your excerpt: “United airlines seemed to have run out of funds to pay for gates at Frankfurt.” is sensationalist and more fit for some gossip rag than someone trying to be a respected blogger.

  7. It happens at FRA. I had it years ago with a 744 SQ flight, probably because we were delayed several hours. In deplaning, the SQ station manager was alert enough to forbid cabin crew from entering their van till all pax were on buses. The van operators were very upset.

  8. Yes, this is very common at FRA. I have been bussed (or chauffured) 🙂 for at least one flight in each direction for each itinerary I’ve had that terminated or connected in FRA, including on AA and LH.

  9. Although rare, “heavies” are occasionally loaded/unloaded at remote ramps in FRA. I think your assumptions of deicing and congestion at the gate are spot on!

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