Berlin Tegel "Otto Lilienthal" Airport (often shorted to Berlin Tegel Airport or simply Tegel Airport; TXL IATA) is the main airport of Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is one of two large airports that serve the Berlin-Brandenburg area, the other being Berlin Schönefeld Airport in the southeast of the city.
Tegel Airport (TXL) is scheduled to close on 15 June 2020 due to the Covid Pandemic. This is to be a temporary closure, but speculation that the closure will be made permanent by the opening of BER is rampant. For the moment, it is to stay open until November.
Tegel is the busier of the two Berlin airports despite being closer to the city center. Having lost its "home carrier" due to the bankruptcy of Air Berlin and being largely neglected by Lufthansa who prefer their Munich Airport and Frankfurt Airport hubs, there is a weird grab bag of European connections and a handful of intercontinental flights (some of them seasonal) but much less than what you'd expect at the main airport of the capital of one of the world's richest and most powerful countries. Ever since the bankruptcy of Air Berlin, airlines have tried to establish a presence with Ryanair, Easyjet and Eurowings the strongest players. All of them are losing money hand over fist in Berlin which makes for an unsustainable business model but low fares into and out of Berlin. Tegel also handles all commercial domestic flights to and from Berlin mostly operated by Eurowings, Lufthansa (FRA and MUC) and to some extent Easyjet.
What is now Tegel Airport was built within a few months during the 1948/1949 Berlin Airlift (Berliner Lüftbrucke), when capacities at existing airfields in Gatow (British Sector) and Tempelhof (American Sector) were so strained British flying boats even landed on Havel and Wannsee. The provisional landing strip had to be replaced with more modern structures and the iconic hexagonal terminal from the 1960s is a design of architect Meinhard von Gerkhan who'd later be involved in the design of Berlin's new central train station. When Berlin was divided into four sectors, Tegel Airport became the primary airport serving the French sector and ultimately all of West Berlin. Today, Tegel is served by legacy airlines such as Air France, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, SAS, and United. The original airport was intended as a double hexagon, though only one hexagon was ever built (terminal A) plus two non-hexagonal terminals (terminals C and D). All legacy carrier flights depart from the main terminal building A (Terminal B contains only the bus gates of Terminal A for non-Schengen flights).
When Berlin was reunited a new masterplan regarding the airports was drawn up with Gatow (mostly kept open as a political statement by the British) and Tempelhof (too small to handle most modern jets) shut down for commercial flights and a new airport to be built in the sight of the erstwhile East German "Zentralflughafen" in Schönefeld. As part of this plan Tegel was to shut down once the new airport opens and thus needed repairs and updates have not occurred due to the "imminent" closure. However, the opening of the new airport has been delayed by almost a decade now and Tegel is showing signs of its age and operating way above its intended capacity.
British Airways, Iberia, Finnair and Qatar Airways operate direct flights to Tegel from their hubs. Lufthansa only operates flights from Tegel to its hubs: Frankfurt airport and Munich airport. Lufthansa's low-cost subsidiary Eurowings operates flights to some European destinations. United Airlines operates a direct flight to Newark. Most European, North African and Middle Eastern Star Alliance airlines, as well as SkyTeam members, have direct flights from their main hubs to TXL.
Tegel airport has no rail access of any kind and will almost certainly never get any before shutting down and being converted to other uses. While there are stations named "Tegel" and "Alt-Tegel" those refer to neighborhoods of the same name, not the airport and they aren't within walking reach of the airport.
Unfortunately Tegel airport is designed in such a way that double decker buses - ubiquitous in other parts of Berlin - cannot stop in front of the main terminal, so all buses serving the airport are regular single deck buses. The buses also don't come with any extra luggage space so if you're unlucky you might have a bit of a hassle ahead of you if you arrive with lots of luggage. The following bus lines serve the airport:
- TXL express bus to Alexanderplatz, stopping at the Hauptbahnhof, the Brandenburg Gate and the corner Unter den Linden and Friedrichstraße. The full travel time to Alexanderplatz is 39 minutes, while travel to Hauptbahnhof takes 22 minutes according to official schedules. The line is notoriously prone to delays and its schedule is more of a suggestion than anything a traveler can rely on, but it's the fastest way to central Berlin from TXL airport
- X9 express bus to Zoologischer Garten railway station, with only 6 stops along the way and a 20 minutes travel from terminus to terminus it is the fastest option to get to the old main railway station of west Berlin which still serves as a local transport hub
- 109 takes a longer route to Zoologischer Garten, stopping in many locations in West Berlin including Schloss Charlottenburg and Adenauerplatz. From Adenauerplatz onwards it traverses the most popular part of Kurfürstendamm. The full route to the terminus at Zoo takes 28 minutes.
In addition, bus line 128 goes north-east from the airport to the U-Bahn station Osloer Straße in the north of the city, stopping at many local stops and taking 25 minutes to complete its route. It is of little use to most travellers, unless their specific destination lies close to that particular route.
As Tegel Airport is in Berlin's ticketing zone B, passengers coming from the city centre may to travel to/from the airport using just a regular AB ticket (€2.80). They do not need to purchase a special ticket to go on the more 'express' busses such as the X9. There are automatic ticket machines at all bus stops selling all kinds of tickets and accepting cash (euros) or credit cards. Berlin WelcomeCards can be bought at the tourist information kiosks in the airport terminal and sometimes from the BVG employees on duty at the bus stops (during peak travel times).
All buses stop on the main (upper) deck of the Tegel ringroad - TXL and 128 stop in front of the main entrance of terminal A, while X9 and 109 around the corner, in front of the so-called Terminal B.
Tegel has an unusually efficient structure because it was built as an origin-and-destination airport only, which resulted in very short walking distances between the taxi ranks and bus stops to the actual gates. The hexagonal structure of the main terminal allows individual gates to have their own check-in/luggage drop-off desks, security control (including passport control for non-Schengen flights) and separate waiting areas. This makes flying out of the main terminal building a very swift and comfortable experience. Connecting via Tegel may not be as convenient, though, because you will probably need to go through security anyway, and there is quite a walk (outside!) between terminals, particularly Terminal C. Except for Terminal A, no gates have jetways and you will need to either be ferried by bus or actually walk from the plane to the terminal.
- Air France Lounge
- British Airways Terraces
- BerlinAirportClub Lounge. M-Sa 06:45-21:00, Su 07:45-21:00.
- C-Lounge (available to fee-paying passengers and eligible passengers travelling with Icelandair, Hainan Airlines, S7 Airlines, Finnair, Luxair, UTair, Ukraine International Airlines and Rhein Neckar Air). Daily 06:30-21:30.
- Lufthansa Business Lounge and Lufthansa Senator Lounge. M-Sa 05:00-21:00, Su 05:45-21:00.
Eat and drink
Given the size of the terminal building, shopping opportunities within Tegel are fairly limited.
Tegel Airport offers 60 minutes at a time (renewable) of free Wi-Fi, although the access is limited to web access and doesn't support non-Web email clients, VPN, or SSH.
There are a few machines where one can buy postage stamps and a post box scattered around Terminal A to drop of items one wants to send by post.
4S GroundLogistics offers left luggage facilities. It is in the Service Centre in Terminal A and is open 05:00-22:30 daily.