In November 2014, a couple of my aviation friends wanted a quick weekend getaway. Much texting and searching ensued and we settled on Berlin, Germany. Little did I know that I would fall in love that weekend. Not with a person, but with an airport.
You can read and watch everything there is to know about Berlin Tegel Otto Lilienthal (TXL) airport but nothing can explain the feeling of arriving or departing this airport. Nearly everything was easy and efficient. From kerbside to departing gate is approximately thirty metres. The very definition of efficiency; very German if you ask me.
My first visit was nothing exceptional. I met my friends at London Heathrow (LHR) terminal five for a champagne-filled breakfast in the Concorde lounge before taking an early morning flight onboard BA992. Arriving in Berlin Tegel airport, I did not appreciate the speed and ease that it affords. My recent experiences make me appreciate this even more. On certain times and days of the week, it can be as little as thirty minutes from the front of the plane at gate A13 to the hotel in Charlottenburg.
Countless petitions, rumours and a non-binding referendum failed to keep this airport open indefinitely. It lived on borrowed time even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Various sources cried that Berlin Brandenburg International (BER) airport did not have the capacity that the city needed which gave credence to operating a similar model of London’s City Airport (LCY) and London Heathrow (LHR). Berlin, one of my favourite cities, is sometimes naive and hard-headed and it was evidenced in their decision making for TXL and BER for various reasons.
Perfection is impossible to achieve and TXL is no exception. It has its fair share of flaws and shortfalls especially operating in the twenty-first century. Gates are crowded when you have an Airbus A321 operating your flight. Queues are the norm for passport control and most visitors do not know that there is a secondary passport control desk open on the other side of the check-in counters. TXL was also starved of investment, a plan to build a mirror terminal A was never started and an extension on the rail network was never implemented.
As for its style, its functional design and its method, the pictures will do some justice. They are some of the pictures from my recent birthday trip and my last round trip to TXL on October 31st with British Airways. I wanted to impart some of its charm, textures, patterns, segments and warmth for posterity.
When TXL is replaced by new residential properties, outdoor spaces and a new technology hub, I will always remember the concrete shell and the contrasting red and bronze hues.
I hope you enjoy them.