I was very lucky when I was able to sign up for a day of testing Munich’s new Terminal 2 Satellite building, which is still heavily under construction. After registering all of the participants of the “Probebetrieb” (engl: testing operation), each one of us got a green safety vest with an ID and the letters “PB Passenger” on the back.
We then got a little introduction what will be happening on this day and some important safety information, because the building is still under construction. Even Dr. Michael Kerkloh, President and CEO of the Munich Airport showed up and gave a short speech. He was mainly advertising the 3rd runway and encouraged us to vote for this project. I think another runway would be great for Munich, but there are always people against it. Mainly people who live nearby. I can’t get the fuzz about it. I often stay close to airports in hotels and don’t have any issues with the noise. According to Dr. Michael Kerkloh this will be also the last runway built-in Germany. No other airport has the area available to build another runway. This is a pretty interesting fact to me. I never thought about that. We were informed about the official opening date of the Terminal 2 Satellite, which will be April 26, 2016.
Anyway, after that we got split into 8 groups and we boarded the buses in numeric order. Today was also the first day with about 500 participants testing the new building. Lufthansa also had some of their staff here also testing with us the new building.
After arriving outside in front of the terminal building, we followed our group leader to our first starting point, which was inside a flightbridge. The Our Coordinator gave us boarding passes, but not everyone in the group had the same destination. This means we had to find our way to our next gate in an unknown airport. My group was told that we just arrived from Sofia SOF (Capitol of Bulgaria) and we had to find our connecting gate. My boarding pass showed as my next destination Newark EWR departing from L30. However my boarding pass also showed that I was arriving from Hong Kong and not Sofia. Maybe the parked the “plane” at the wrong gate ;-). We all exited the flightbridge and the sign with the gate information was found very quickly and I followed the signs to my departure gate. There were still a lot of the ceiling panels hanging down, which obstructed the view to the signs a little bit. I made it as the first one to my next gate, even that this was not a race, it was a good feeling ;-).
Now we waited for the other “passengers” to arrive and for the start of the boarding procedure. After a few minutes boarding started and we scanned our boarding cards to go down to the flightbridge. At this point we experienced the first hiccup, the sliding doors just wouldn’t open to let us go down the escalator to the plane. After some fiddling with the computer the doors finally opened and we could board our plane to Newark.
The passengers gathered inside the flightbridge from where we would start out to our next trip. Everyone got new boarding passes and this time we were arriving from Bucharest OTP (Capitol of Rumania). My boarding pass showed that I will continue to Sarajevo SJJ (Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina), but it also showed that I was arriving from Saint Petersburg LED (Russia). Nonetheless I continues my trip to SJJ and was searching for my gate L10. This meant to walk almost all the way across the whole building to get to my gate. Once arrived at the gate, we all boarded the plane.
Now it was time for a lunch break, which was of course on the other side of the building again. On our way there we passed the other half of all the participants, which just finished their break. They made sure we walk the building in, before it opens to the public. We got some lunch boxes and water to eat. The contend and food looked like the meal in economy class of a domestic flight, but it was still good food.
We were now half of all the people who participated today. We got split again in half and my group started out in K11 now. Since we were so many and the coordinators were all the way on top of the flightbridge, people inside the flightbridge couldn’t hear all announcements. I didn’t get a boarding pass this time and was told that I will be an incoming passenger with the final destination Munich. Fine for me! That means following the exit signs to the area where I can board the underground train system, connecting the satellite with the main terminal. Just a little bit after I exited the gate area, I was stopped by police. They were also participating in this test operation. I was asked where I was coming from, boarding pass and ID: Since I couldn’t hear were I was coming from and I never got a boarding pass, the police officer was confused too in this scenario. Usually I would have a boarding pass, even if I terminate my travel in Munich. He let me go and I was continuing my way through passport control towards the elevators down to the train. I am a little bit sceptic if three elevators can handle a mass of passengers from a big airplane. I guess we will see in a couple of month.
It was time for another boarding pass – now flying to San Francisco SFO. Finding the gate was now pretty easy after we walked the terminal that many times. Everyone was waiting now for an announcement to board the plane, but everything we got was a fire alarm. The alarm was also part of the simulation (we got told in the morning) and we followed the emergency exit sings. We went down a set of stairs and followed a hallway to the outside of the building. Fire fighters were already arriving and for us the day was over. Shuttle buses waited for us outside and brought us back to our starting point. We got promised that we will see some fake smoke, but unfortunately it never happened.
We gave our safety vests back and everyone received a little goodie bag with a lanyard, a cup, remove before flight tag, ice-cube tray and some gummy bears. I filled out the feedback form and left happy this event.
Overall it was a great experience and I liked it a lot. If I would have the chance, I would do it again and again. It also gave me a first look in a building nobody from the public has seen before.
I think most of the installation will work out pretty well. They might have to tweak some things here and there, but that is normal. It was bad that there was no photograpyh allowed inside the building. Most of the people broke that rule and nobody enforced it really. I didn’t because I want to get chances like this again in the future. A big thanks to the Munich Airport for handing me out some pictures of a previous test operation day.
If you are interested, there will be more test operation days and there are still open spots to sign up for. The two night operation test days are already booked out, but keep an eye on them, maybe somebody cancels and you will get another chance. Here is the calendar. To participate you need to speak fluent german, according to their requirements.
Some facts about the Terminal 2 Satellite
- 630 m long and 250 m wide
- The only Satellite Building at a German Airport
- Integrated apron control tower
- K-Gates: Schengen Gates – Level 04
- L-Gates: Non-Schengen Gates (clean), Level 05
- M-Gates: Incoming non-clean Non-Schengen Gates, Level 06
- Gate Numbers count from north to south, beginning with 1 and ending with 30
- Even Gates to the East and Uneven to the West
- Lufthansa will operate 5 Lounges in the Satellite
- Collaboration of Airport Munich (60%) and Lufthansa (40%) to built this Satellite
Photos: All photos by Munich Airport if not noted otherwise.