Photo: Munich Airport

Image: Munich Airport

APEX Insight: With route-to-route competition tighter than ever in some markets, the allure of airports can not be taken for granted. This multipart feature looks at airlines that are elevating the ground experience for their passengers by making architectural wonders and tourism attractions out of their airport terminals.

Munich Airport and Lufthansa

Code: MUC
Managing company: Flughafen München Gmbh
Project duration: 2013–2016
Project cost: $1.02 billion
Passengers per year: 36 million (Terminal 2)

Munich Airport has always maintained a world-renowned flair for experience with offbeat attractions that include a wave pool, skating rink, beer garden, low-stakes casino and much more. But the airport’s 60/40 collaboration with Lufthansa on Germany’s first satellite terminal marks a partnership centered primarily on airline passengers.   

Unlike the parties’ former collaboration on Terminal 2, the midfield terminal extension offers no public access, making the project a bit of a departure for an airport that aims to attract locals as much as it does travelers. “Munich tries to be more than an airport,” says Corinna Born, the airport’s director of International Media Relations. “We have a lot of locals coming and spending time at the airport.” 

Having completed check-in and security screenings in Terminal 2, travelers hop aboard  the airport’s underground train, which gets them to the spacious satellite terminal in under a minute. Once there, they have access to free Wi-Fi, charging ports, open waiting areas and five lounges, one of which has an outdoor terrace. “What you offer on the ground is nearly as important as what you offer in the air,” says Klaus Gorny, a spokesperson for Lufthansa. “This project was a profitable joint venture. The end result is a win-win and a benefit  for the passenger.”

“Munich tries to be more than an airport.” — Corinna Born, Munich Airport

Since the satellite terminal is accessible exclusively for travelers, it brings local Bavarian flavor into its space with thoughtful approaches. “The duty-free shops are built like a little town, with streets and lampposts,” says Bettina Weigen, Munich Airport’s retail director. “When you walk through this one, it’s emotional, like walking through the cities.”

Panoramic windows and bright open spaces also help to bring the outside in. “The architecture merges with the outside landscape. On a clear day, you can see the Alps,” she says. The added Bavarian touches create a sense of place and help to encourage travelers – especially those just making a connection – to consider returning. But most importantly, at the end of the day, Weigen says, “It’s all about feeling comfortable, feeling relaxed and having a good time at the airport.”

This article is an excerpt from the multipart feature “Hub Sweet Hub,” originally published in the 6.5 December/January issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Katie is a writer for APEX Media, based in Toronto, Ontario.