Airport review: Hamburg Airport Helmut Schmidt

OUR RATING

4 stars

OFFICIAL IATA CODE

HAM

THE FLIGHT

Easyjet Flight EZY1842 to Manchester, economy class

THE ARRIVAL

S-Bahn trains on the S1 line go direct from several stations in the city to the airport, although there's a bit of weirdness at Ohlsdorf where the first half of the train splits off to go to the airport and the rest heads off elsewhere. So make sure you're in the first three carriages. Tickets cost €3.30 and it takes about 25 minutes. In a taxi, it'll cost €25 to €30.

THE LOOK

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Terminal One at Hamburg Airport Helmut Schmidt is an impressively big, bright open space, with an epic sweeping roof and not a support pillar in sight. Lots of natural light pours in through glass roof panels, and the whole thing has a 21st century superbarn vibe to it. If the idea is to avoid feeling cramped, it succeeds nicely.

CHECK-IN

I've already printed my boarding pass, and am travelling hand luggage only, so I can saunter straight on through. For everyone else, the scene is varied. There are big banks of self check-in touch screens that cover several airlines, but the queue at the Emirates desks is at least 50 people deep. And, chances are that many Aussies flying from Hamburg will be doing so with Emirates.

SECURITY

It doesn't take long to get through. There are plenty of lanes open, and they use the full body scanners. For all practical purposes, this means you don't have to  take off watches, Fitbits and belts, as they'll be picked up on the scan anyway. Use of these scanners is optional for those worried about privacy.

FOOD AND DRINK

On initial inspection, the selection looks pretty dismal, with several iterations on the mediocre sandwich genre. The main two – which also offer coffees, soft drinks and booze – are called Pier One and Pier Two. The sandwiches are the same price in both, but considerably more impressive in the latter.

There are more, weirdly underpublicised, options on the third floor. Seafood specialist Gosch Sylt, where the fish is kept on ice, is by far the best bet.

RETAIL THERAPY

The duty free shopping is sprawling, with a good kids' toys section towards the end. Destination Hamburg focuses on souvenirs – plenty of St Pauli football club skull and crossbones merchandise, local gins and marzipan chocolates, plus a deluge of nautical-looking kids' clothing. Elsewhere, expect regional and international fashion chains, with the women's selection – bold, colourful offerings from Desigual and 5 Secrets – more appealing than the men's.

PASSING TIME

Hamburg does quite nicely with bonus add-ons. The kids' playground is a proper spaceship-themed affair with adventure climbing frames and big slides; there are massage stations charging €15 for ten minutes, and there's a fab outdoor viewing deck with prime view of planes taking off and landing.

ONE MORE THING

The airport is in zone one for public transport – so if you've got a day pass, it's covered. There's no need to buy an extra ticket.

THE VERDICT

Hamburg's airport is relatively easy to get to and through. It looks good without quite breaking into properly striking. And, while it hasn't got the flight connections you might expect for Germany's second largest city, there are far worse airports in Germany to fly in and out of.

David Whitley travelled at his own expense

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