Oops: Berlin’s New Airport Can’t Stay Warm In Winter

Filed Under: Misc.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) finally opened in late 2020, after a delay of nearly a decade, and after running more than ā‚¬4 billion over budget. Even with this insanely delayed opening, the airport is still having major issues, the latest of which was recently discovered.

Brandenburg Airport is freezing in winter

Despite the amount of time that went into construction of the new Brandenburg Airport, it seems that some things weren’t very well thought out. Terminal 1 is the main terminal of the new airport. The train to the airport arrives just underneath the main check-in hall, so it’s convenient that you only have to walk a short distance from the train to check-in.

In the below picture you can see the escalators, stairs, and elevators, leading from the train area to the check-in area.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport terminal

There’s only one small problem — this setup has caused the check-in hall to be freezing cold in winter. Essentially the frequent freezing easterly winds in winter enter through the tunnels of the underground train station, and are then “blasted” into the check-in hall.

As a result, the check-in hall is apparently extremely cold, with many days seeing single digit temperatures (in Celsius). For context, nine degrees Celsius is about 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

For now the airport has closed the check-in counters near the center of the terminal, which is where the temperatures are coldest, though they do spread throughout the terminal.

Brandenburg Airport check-in counters near the train station are being closed

Brandenburg Airport security staff receiving electric shocks

The temperature is only the latest problem at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. A few weeks ago the airport was in the news for issues with the security checkpoint. The Verdi trade union representing security staff said employees were routinely receiving electric shocks at the security checkpoints while inspecting luggage.

Employees are reporting severe pain, numbness, and drowsiness, following these shocks.

This was so bad that 11 different incidents happened on January 6 alone, with four staff requiring assistance from emergency personnel. One employee was even shocked four times in a day:

“Some employees are electrocuted several times during a shift. One colleague was hit four times, and she went home for the day.”

“Several times, injured people had to be transported via ambulance to nearby hospitals. Doctors determined that some of the victims were unable to work due to the electric shocks and excused them from work.”

Berlin Brandenburg Airport terminal

Bottom line

Berlin Brandenburg Airport seems to be cursed. In the few months since opening it has been determined that the main terminal can’t stay warm due to the underground train system’s proximity to the terminal, and employees are receiving electric shocks at the security checkpoint.

Never mind the fact that the airport may now only be profitable as of 2034…

Is it time to shut down Brandenburg and start over again? šŸ˜‰

(Tip of the hat to Ben)

  1. My uncle was posted in East Germany in the foreign services.

    He says Unified Germany is being held back by generations of decadence by West Germans. His East German friends wish for the days of a free and independent East Germany.

    I think this is a great example of West German huberous. Berlin is an East German city!

  2. That is hilarious! Even I know that heat rises. Should’ve followed every other airport and put the train underground…

  3. Of course in due time the team of engineers will no doubt propose a solution which meets the heat requirements of the passengers and staff. How convenient for the passengers and workers of the airport to have the rail service directly below the check in area.

  4. While the whole process of construction and opening the airport seems to have been deeply flawed, this is a fairly typical type of post-opening problem found in big civil projects. Yes, someone might have contemplated it during the 15 year run-up to opening, but it’s likely solved fairly easily. No need to get into some sort of high-speed wobble that this is an indictment of all of German society and portends a new East/West split.

  5. Are there no doors with heater fans in the airport/metro area?
    Is the floor not heated, as is customary in many homes/businesses in Europe?

    I feel like this is a very simple solution with regards to the tunnels. The greater issue of course being, that this is an HVAC issue that had 10 winters’ worth of opportunities to be identified (10x more than most HVAC systems!).

    This probably means it was something identified, but a decision was made to defer/ignore it.

  6. I remember parts of Berlin Tegel airport’s Terminal C was pretty cold too since it was built as a temporary building. I thought they’d value heat more than design/aesthetics. At the very least the workers/engineers will have work to do next several months.

  7. BER sucks. It now costs me 70eur instead of 50eur to get to it by uber. Just got off a flight and I could not find baggage claim. Maybe the signs stink? Or maybe Iā€™m dumb. Still, it takes 5km to get to bag claim. Also, it takes 55km to get to the Lufthansa lounge.

    Ohh TXL. I miss your old quirky ways and character.

  8. electrocute / electrocuted – to ‘injure or kill by electric shock’

    As to the heat they would have designed the terminal to have a certain number of bodies in it generating heat. Fewer bodies = less heat.

  9. If cold wind is blowing into the building, there must be an equal amount of conditioned air leaving. Just find out where that is and reduce the outflow.

  10. One also wonders if the odd odors from train stations float up with the cold air in winter and the rest of the year, not to mention cigarette smoke which is very common on train platforms in Europe.

  11. The answer is not unlimited heating. It will require some type of partition at some safe point, separating the train level from the path to the check in.
    Germany is not into wasting heat especially today as the fallacy of their green switch becomes apparent. Germany is proud of being green but green energy has sunk to zero for the past 10 days, they were saved by coal, LOL.

  12. Someone forgot to install a set of 2 or 3 doors separating the train station from the terminal.

    As for the electric shocks, better call the cops immediately. I suspect Jason Bourne is behind this. He can kill you with a single blow. He’s been to Berlin more than once.

  13. Not surprising. I don’t know what is happening in my former home Germany. I sometimes feel this is all done intentionally, so they can finally forbid people to fly…..

  14. Well, the design flaw is probably architectural intention. I know a couple of architects and all of them claim the “one must suffer to enjoy beautiful architecture”. Whether BER is “beautiful architecture” is, of course, another story …

    I guess electric shocks are releated to improper installation of the equipment. Such equipment needs to be grounded. Given the haste in completing the airport, this has probably been an unintentional oversight.

  15. >> BER sucks. It now costs me 70eur instead of 50eur to get to it by uber. Just got off a flight and I could not find baggage claim. Maybe the signs stink? Or maybe Iā€™m dumb. Still, it takes 5km to get to bag claim. Also, it takes 55km to get to the Lufthansa lounge.

    Lol has nothing to do with the airport but only your lousy home location. You can move and stop whining.

  16. Just slow the trains down before they enter the station and pressurise the air at the station. Cold air does not rise unless it is pushed up. They may lose a minute ( Germans will hate this) but you build it into the timetable, so it can still be punctual (Germans love this)

  17. @INS Vikrant lol, you are either trolling or got the two former states mixed up. More inclined towards the former

  18. People are so spoiled these days. It was still within the last ten years where US airlines at Roma-Fiumicino checked-in in what was basically a tent with lemonade stands as the “counters”. No heat, no AC.

  19. They’ll take these problems in stride. The interesting thing about the Germans, is that they’ll remedy an overdesigned problem with a simple but ingenious solution. Every major successful engineering project ever devised and executed had it’s problems to be worked out. Brandenburg Airport will be no different.

  20. While repairs will and can most certainly be made, it makes one wonder what other critical issues may be hiding only to rear their heads 10-20 years down the line. What about the structure itself? There may be a case here of demolishing the entire project and restarting. The city’s government should definitely be wary of more essential problems.

  21. This isn’t a typical West German problem….there they usually struggle with endless opposition to major projects, but not with design faults.
    P.S.the location is in the middle of East Germany, and local Officials have pushed lots of ideas into this….I bet it’s not the last item that needs fixing.

  22. Dumb question… with BER, was there anything done right? Did no one ever try using the heat in the decade or so that the building was idle?

    Fortunately adding heating can be relatively simple. Cooling is usually a different matter.

    There is some irony seeing a Mercedes logo in the chilly check-in hall given how unreliable they can be.

  23. The Building had been designed with thousands of people waiting to be processed. Due to Corona this never happened. All the heat generated by the people never showed. Tegel was just 20 Euro with a cab, BER is 75 Euro. It should be torn down and build properly.

  24. Beijing Capital T3 can’t either.

    That’s the thing with building these tall big sheds and facing the coldest temperatures in decades.

  25. @INS Vikrant: this is exactly the sort of ahistoric Ostalgie propagated over the past 30 years that remains so dangerous to a democratic society.

    The SED was an evil, abhorrent and ruthless regime with a vast percentage of the population busy spying on others, and a corrupt elite cadre living like socialist royalty.

    Recall Walter Ulbricht’s 1961 speech about “nobody has the intention to build a wall” and then they did. And so many East Germans suffered in the ensuing decades.

    But sure, blame it on the decadence of the west.

  26. Apparently, the new airport terminal has flaws. Why they weren’t recognized early during the discovery of fire issues is a mystery. Expensive redesign of building airflow issues related to this new discovery to stop freezing temperatures from reaching the main terminal from the railway stations will most likely alter the open appearance of those stairways and escalators. It’s sad to find out how design missed some things having an overwhelming effect on travelers visiting a new airport only to be greeted with sub freezing temps in winter.

  27. I miss TXL. 20-30 minutes on the bus that was at the end if my street or 10 minutes if a friend dropped me off. Ugh.

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