Experience BER - The Tour

Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt

Berlin Brandenburg Airport "Willy Brandt", BER for short, has been under construction since September 5th, 2006 on the southern city limits of Berlin in the Brandenburg town of Schönefeld. Whether and when it will ever open is still questionable at this point in time. We take the opportunity for a unique tour of the airport grounds.

At relatively short notice we were invited to a weekend with friends in Berlin. Thanks to Groupon, a highlight for the visit was quickly found: “Experience BER – The Tour”. The regular bus tour, which lasts about two hours, costs 10 EUR/person. With the voucher from Groupon (over qipu.de there is currently 9% cashback again) we got a 50% discount. Meeting point at 12:00 p.m. was at Terminal C of Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport. Since we were there a bit too early, we used the remaining time to get some planes in front of the lens.

Experience BER - observation tower

Our bus was also waiting right in front of Terminal C and after a few minutes of waiting for guests arriving late, we set off towards BER with 37 passengers. We drove a short distance on the 113 freeway, which was specially built for the new airport connection. The Infotower was the first stop. In the adjoining pavilion we first had to pay or hand in the Groupon voucher, then we were briefly explained on a map where we are, what has already been built, what is still being realized and where we are going today. Then we climbed the 32 m high tower and had a good overview of BER and Berlin Schönefeld Airport. Unfortunately there were no planes approaching.

Our tour guide explained all the surrounding buildings to us. Just before we went down again, I asked if it is even possible to enter the airport building? To our surprise, she said, "Yes, of course we're going to the main check-in hall today!" We were flabbergasted, we hadn't expected that.

Experience BER – main terminal

Once everyone was back on the bus, we went through a security gate and stopped right in front of the main terminal. We went in on one side, once across and out on the other side. At the entrance, two security men and four construction workers sat at the folding table and checked the guests. No wonder things aren't progressing here and everything is getting more and more expensive when you have the money to put six people on an empty airport on Saturday. But well, we don't want to complain about such a chance!

Eingangsbereich Hauptterminal
Main terminal entrance area

We were really impressed by the check-in hall. It's clearly still a construction site, but what you can tell is that everything has already been prepared for an opening. The PCs and office chairs are already at the check-in counters, the luggage trolleys are working, electricity is everywhere! It all looks kind of finished, but kind of not.

The materials used are really beautiful: warm wood tones for the check-in counters in contrast to the steel and glass facade that dominates the 32 m high hall. Super tuned! The supports connect elegantly with the ceiling construction and form the crossing points of the light bands. The resolution of the capital in a light-flooded construction brings the necessary lightness to the rather high and heavy roof.

Hauptterminal BER
Main Terminal BER
Hauptterminal BER
Main Terminal BER

The entrances to the subterranean train station are spacious and arranged in terraces, so that you can see the lower levels from the entrance hall.

The security checkpoints are in the rear part of the hall, but nothing further was completed here. Everything was cordoned off with construction fences. Above the personal control, in the rear part, the upper floors have been designed relatively open to the check-in area.

Personenkontrolle (?)
Personal control (?)

During our tour, we also rummaged around in corners where we definitely shouldn't go, but if nobody noticed, nobody was interested.

Wo darf es denn hingehen?
Where can it go?

BER experience – South runway

At the exit, what a surprise, we met again a table with three construction workers. But like I said, we don't want to complain. Through the security lock, past the customs and fire department buildings of the Service Area South, we turned onto the 4-kilometer-long runway South (07R/25L). Here the bus driver was finally allowed to step on the gas again and show what his bus can do. Luckily he brakes in time for the PNR (point of no return) and we were able to exit the 25L safely at the last taxiway.

Unterwegs auf der Südbahn
On the way on the southern railway

At the request of some fellow passengers, we made a short photo stop on the train. We pulled up near a large white foil cross, which when viewed from the air is supposed to signal the runway is closed. From here we had a great view of the DFS Tower, the main terminal including the south pier (Air Berlin) and in the distance the old Schönefeld Airport. This view could eventually be blocked when the two planned satellite terminals are built around the tower. By the way, these runway tours won't be offered much longer. The runway will soon be provisionally "opened" while the north runway is being restored. For this reason, additional fences had already been put up everywhere, separating the construction site from the apron and the railway.

At our last stop we stopped very close to the tower and had a wonderful view of the main terminal with its 16 gangways. Unfortunately, we could not discover or guess a lounge behind the glass facade. It looked as if there were only the normal gates and no lounge with a view of the apron. A pity!

We then drove very close to the terminal again and then we started our way back. Unfortunately, the almost 2 hours were already over. The time flew by, which you can't start from here. ;)

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My name is Christian and I was born in the green heart of Germany and studied computer engineering in Ilmenau, Thuringia. Since 2021, I live with my wife Christin and our son in Merseburg and work in Leipzig as a product manager. What I love about travelling is flying, discovering delicious food and drink, and staying in great hotels. I am a travel enthusiast and always on the lookout for the next adventure. I have been posting about my experiences on the road since 2007.

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