On 8.11.2020 the time had come; Tegel Airport said goodbye to the last plane. It was an Air France plane, which took off for the flight to Paris as if it were opening day. What the airport meant for me is described in this article.
My first encounter with Tegel Airport
In November 1989 I was at Tegel Airport for the first time. I was 15 years old and for the first time ever in “West Berlin”. Until then, I only knew Berlin Schönefeld Airport and the airport in Dresden, Saxony.
At that time, no German airline was able to take off or land there. The occupation law only allowed French, English and American citizens to offer civil air traffic to and from Berlin.
For the first time I read such promising destinations as London, Paris, Madrid and New York on the blackboard. Up to now I had only known destinations such as Moscow, Warsaw and Varna from Schönefeld. The German subsidiary of British Airways spoiled me in the terminal with Coca Cola, snacks and small presents. After that the airport and I went our separate ways until the 2000s. My first trip alone to Gran Canaria (1994) did not start at Tegel Airport and my first flight to Ibiza (1990) started in Schönefeld.
The trip to Bali for the honeymoon began at Tegel airport. Lufthansa took us to Frankfurt and from there Thai Airways took us to Asia and the southern hemisphere.
Tegel airport in Berlin – my airport?
I had the good fortune to start two business trips at Tempelhof Airport (the central airport). Quickly accessible, well connected by bus, S-Bahn and U-Bahn, this airport was my secret favourite because of its location. But our “love” could never really flourish, because during the planning approval process for BER it was clear that Tempelhof Airport would be closed first.
As the time of my many business trips had not yet come, I didn’t really care about the events around the airports Tegel and Schönefeld.
For the first time in the past five years, my love-hate relationship has developed into Tegel Airport.
From there our first trip to the USA in 2010 and on our return I asked myself the question where the time travel started, because our return flight with Delta took us from Orlando via New York directly to the, compared to the rest of the world, quite provincial airport Tegel.
In 2015, our second USA trip began at Tegel Airport as well.
The following year a job change made me a “frequent flyer”. Almost every week I take off from Tegel Airport for Cologne, Düsseldorf, Munich or Stuttgart. I witnessed the end of Air Berlin, was a passenger on the first EasyJet aircraft from Tegel to Munich and waited for a gangway or my luggage (up to two hours) many times upon arrival.
What will I miss?
One thing that distinguished Tegel Airport – the very short distances. Both in Terminal A and in the other terminals, the distances from check-in to the gate via the security checks were pleasantly short.
Furthermore, I will miss the charm of the 70s that surrounded this airport. Everything seemed a bit dusty.
Especially when it didn’t have to be the first machine, Tegel also had a touch of internationality. Flights to New York, China, Turkey or the Emirates made people want to travel faraway places.
When the start passed the Berlin Olympic Stadium and I could get a window seat again, I saw my second living room from above. It was a great sight every time.
What won’t I miss?
The Berlin Tegel Airport was opened when Berlin was a divided city. The S-Bahn was operated and controlled from the east. Therefore no connection to the airport was built. The underground did not provide a direct connection either, so that only the bus, taxi or your own car could be used to get to the airport. Well, once I walked from Westhafen to the airport, but that was due to a strike in the public transport system. When I will travel more again, I will not miss the bad traffic concept.
Just in the last few years, starting with the bankruptcy of Air Berlin, the quality of service had also become worse and worse and neither Wisag nor the operator ever got a grip on it again. I used to stand at the baggage carousel waiting for an hour or more for my baggage, and that was combined with waiting for a gangway or one of those buses that transport you 25 metres from the plane to the terminal.
What remains of the airport Tegel?
Memories, as I have summarised them in this article, will definitely remain. Adventures and many beautiful journeys began there. I regularly drank coffee there in the Air Berlin lounge and I once paid over 100€ for parking there.
I am one of those who say today that Tegel could not have been kept alive because the poor public transport connections alone are an argument against the airport.
The BER in the south of Berlin – for wimps – more precisely in Brandenburg will have to prove itself. Here I can at least travel by S-Bahn, RegionalExpress and bus.
Thank you TXL, thank you airport tegel!
It is rightly called “Thank you TXL”, because this airport was the gateway to the world for the Berliners. Tegel Airport may now be put to subsequent use and create space for people to live, work and live in.