Bremen airport is what I call a 30 minute airport by which I mean it’s entirely feasible to turn up 30 minutes before a flight when you are departing and most typical to be out of the place in well under 30 minutes even if you have baggage. There are no long walks and moving walkways, no long lines for security and nothing not too much in the way of shopping to tempt you to be late to your departure gate. It’s also a really convenient place to get to – not one of those crazy airports that are so far away from the city that they’re practically in a different time zone. It’s entirely possible to get from the city centre to the airport by public tram – the number 6 – in just 11 minutes. Add a couple more if you’re travelling from the railway station.
There are two main parts of the airport; what I’d call the ‘airport proper’ and then the Ryanair Terminal. If you’re in the Ryanair part you’ll know – it’s brightly painted in blue and yellow like an IKEA airport. I don’t like the IKEA terminal at all. It’s rude, aggressive, full of stressed out people waiting in fear to be told off that their bag infringes some tiny ridiculous Ryanair rule and the lines seem to be designed to move as slowly as possible. In total Ryanair offer flights to more than 20 destinations so if you don’t hate the ultra-budget approach, it may be the cheapest way into and out of Bremen.
The main terminal is a much nicer place than the Ryanair building and despite not being enormous, it manages to have several zones. At one end you’ll find the check-in desks for Lufthansa and at the other end the desks for Air France and KLM. There are of course plenty of other airlines but for my travel these are the three that matter as I generally fly to Amsterdam, Paris or Munich before going on to somewhere else. In the space between the two check in areas you’ll find the arrivals area and a selection of shops and cafes. If you are hungry or thirsty, I recommend to eat and drink before you go through security as there’s very little once you get through to airside. The Kamps bakery offers lots of typically enormous German cakes and other sweet bakery and they also have reasonably priced sandwiches and rolls. For hot food there’s a small Italian place that does pizzas and pasta for a pretty good price too. Most of the shops are a bit lame and I can honestly say I’ve never bought anything from any of the shops at Bremen.
For a small place it’s surprising how well connected the airport is. In total you can get direct to around 50 different destinations from Bremen airport and a lot more by passing through one of the European hub airports. The airport handles a mix of budget, full-fare and charter flights and sometimes you’ll even see little two-seater planes and private jets at Bremen.
After you’ve checked in, you’ll need to head upstairs to the departure areas. Take care because there are two separate departure halls, one for the Schengen countries where you don’t need to show your passport and the other for the non-Schengen countries where you will need to go through passport control. I generally use the Schengen zone and there are up to four x-ray machines which keep the queues moving well. They have quite a nice system of asking people to give the person at the belt some privacy by waiting a few feet back. Don’t make the mistake of stepping forward or you’ll probably get a withering look and a few choice words of German. I have a shockingly bad record of being picked for allegedly random searches and have frequently been taken off to the room where they swab your computer or kindle to check it’s not explosive. The security staff are very pleasant and polite, neither things you can take for granted in most airports.
Once you’ve survived getting through security there’s really not much to do. There’s a small café, a vending machine and a rather unexciting duty free shop selling the same stuff you’ll find in every duty free shop.
If your plane is on an air-bridge you’ll be called to the departure gate and allowed to trundle down the air bridge and onto the plane. With more flights than bridges I find that more often than not – especially with small planes – you have to go down the stairs and onto a waiting bus for transfer to the plane. When you arrive if you are on an airbridge you’ll need to go downstairs to baggage collection or if you’re bussed in, they’ll deliver you straight to the lower floor. Why do I mention all of this? Just because I’ve never noticed a lift on any of my many visits though I’m sure they must be there. If you have any issues with mobility, I would strongly recommend that you tell your airline to make sure you get the support you need to get around the airport.
Many of the planes into Bremen are quite small so it’s likely you’ll have to put your baggage in the hold on many of these small planes. Fortunately the baggage handlers are fast and efficient and most bags come through within about 10 minutes of you getting to the baggage hall. I try not to put my bags in the hold as I usually travel via Amsterdam and the last two times I gave my bag in, it didn’t make it to Bremen. In each case I had to only wait a couple of minutes to report the non-arrival at the Lost and Found desk and the bag came in on the next flight and was delivered within an hour or two of the flight coming in.
If you visit Bremen regularly it’s worth knowing that the ‘Information’ booth sells strips of tickets for the tram into the city. I buy these ten at a time and usually save 20-30 cents on the standard price. If you want just one ticket you can buy from the machine at the tram stop or from the machines on the trams. If you have a vehicle, there are 4500 parking spaces so you shouldn’t struggle for space. Taxis are available directly outside the terminal and it costs around 15 euros to the city centre and takes about 15 minutes. People arriving on the Ryanair flights will find that there are transfer buses going from just outside the Ryanair terminal which go to several places including Hamburg. I’ve never used any of these.
Whilst it’s a bit annoying for me that it’s tricky to get to Bremen as there are few direct flights from the UK I'd still rate it as one of the easiest and least stressful airports in Europe.