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Please be aware that my question stems from a basic lack of knowledge of airports.

First of all: I'm moving to Berlin from Austin, and I'm doing so with my cat in cabin. The flights will be Austin-Washington, Washington-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Berlin. The first flights are operated by United and then Frankfurt-Berlin is by Lufthansa. For the record Washington-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-Berlin all happen in the A/Z hallway of the Frankfurt airport in the below map.

I've already paid for my cat in cabin with United. But with Lufthansa you need to pay at the airport. My question is where? The lady at customer service wasn't very helpful.

I've been told I pay at check in. My confusion is how do I get there without exiting the airport? I know this sounds dumb but I'm used to American airports where you park outside then come in to check in then go into security then to where all the gates are. When I arrive at Frankfurt aren't I where all the gates are? Don't I just walk from a gate with A to a gate with Z?

I guess the solution to this is that when I arrive from Frankfurt from an international flight, I go through immigration then this dumps me out at the terminal entrance where I check in, then go into security then go to the gate for Frankfurt-Berlin. But this doesn't make any sense according to the map because through which way am I being dumped at the terminal entrance if Washington-Berlin and Frankfurt-Berlin occur in A/Z.

Feel free to answer whatever section of this post. I think the best way for you to answer is to just tell me how this will all happen as in "you arrive then go from here to here then there blah blah" and I'd appreciate it if you refer to the map below, if possible.

A quick subquestion to all this: Do I need to walk into the "I have something to declare" lane if I have a cat with me?

Thank you!!

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    You definitely won’t be just walking from one gate to another. You’ll arrive in a segregated arrivals area, go through immigration, possibly security, and only then get to your gate. I’m surprised you can’t pay for the fee online or over the phone. You may be able to pay at a sales desk in Austin, otherwise the airside equivalent of a check-in desk is a transfer desk. – jcaron Apr 20 at 19:30
  • Airside is a good way of putting it. Thanks. Yeah apparently I have to pay at check in. I'm assuming this means check in at Frankfurt, especially since this is only for the Lufthansa flight. Do you think it's the blue icon in the map above the label "Terminal 1"? – DLV Apr 20 at 19:35
  • Are we still doing domestic flights? So sad, so very very sad. – Erik Apr 21 at 8:40
  • In any case you can always exit and re-enter the security area (also in US). You will find also transfer desks (which are equivalent to checkin) on air-side (but often unstaffed, with a phone, and they will direct you to the person to do the checking). – Giacomo Catenazzi Apr 21 at 14:09
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The map you are using is quite simplified. While indeed there is one pier A/Z, that pier has 3 levels, depending on where you are departing to or arriving from. Your flight to Berlin leaves at the Schengen area in concourseA, which is on the second floor. Flights to the US leave at the Z concourse, which is one level above A (i.e. third floor), and the so-called Non-Schengen area. Your flight from the US will let you out on the fourth level, which is technically also Z, but only for arriving passengers from Non-Schengen countries. After your arrival, you will have to go through immigration, and then (i think) transfer security, which will then bring you into the A area on the second floor.
jcaron already gave you the hint for transfer desks, there are several Lufthansa transfer desks in the A area (although i don't know, how many of them are open in the current situation).

Lufthansa has a better map which shows the different levels: https://www.lufthansa.com/content/dam/lh/documents/prepare-for-your-trip/airport-information/frankfurt-airport-html/LHMag201902_FRA.pdf

This shows multiple service center (marked with the I) on the arrival level as well as the A level (where your flight to Berlin will depart). At those service centers you will find the transfer desk and should be able to pay for your pet.

Additional note: You will go through immigration in Frankfurt, as that's the point where you are entering the Schengen zone, however you will only clear customs in Berlin. So only there you will have a lane where you can declare any goods. From what i have found, you have to declare your animal, since you also have to prove certain health and vaccination requirements. You can find the information here: https://www.bmel.de/EN/topics/animals/pets-and-zoo-animals/pets-entry-regulation.html.
Relevant section:

Please note that all pets (dogs, cats, ferrets) always have their documents and identity checked when entering/re-entering the EU from a non-EU country. The accompanying person must register the animal with the customs authority for this purpose.

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  • Thanks. It seems a little odd to not completely clear customs until Berlin. I mean, why wouldn't one have to do it all in Frankfurt, e.g. someone hiding something can just escape and go into Frankfurt without doing a full declaration? – DLV Apr 20 at 21:42
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    @DLV Schengen airports separate immigration and customs. You go through immigration when you enter the Schengen zone, which will happen in Frankfurt. But your checked luggage will be transferred to your next flight. When you get to Berlin, you'll pick up your checked luggage in baggage claim and go through customs before exiting the airport. If you tried to exit in Frankfurt, you'd have to go through Frankfurt's customs before you could get out. – Zach Lipton Apr 20 at 22:11
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    Going through customs in the EU usually just means walking through a color-coded channel: green for nothing to declare, red for something to declare or if you're unsure, and blue for flights within the EU (checked bags from EU origins are tagged, which helps identify people in the blue channel who shouldn't be there). Normally, those passing through the green channel just walk through without any questions, but customs officers may decide to stop travelers for checks. – Zach Lipton Apr 20 at 22:15
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    @DLV Maybe this warrants another question. Major EU airports are set up completely differently from North American airports. You cannot go into Frankfurt without completing a “declaration” (which, as Zach explain is often minimal). The reason you're not doing it in Frankfurt is to make it easier for people who connect to a flight to another EU country (possibly departing from the same area than your flight to Berlin) or to a country outside the EU (those passengers will not go through border control with you but stay in the “sterile” transit area). – Relaxed Apr 20 at 22:34
  • Exactly. US airports generally just let you leave by walking out the door; the only check is someone who makes sure nobody tries to go the wrong way through the exit to bypass security (unless you're an arriving non-preclearance international passenger, then you can't leave until you've gone through immigration and customs). EU airports only let you exit if you've gone through the right set of controls: customs for everyone (which is usually as simple as walking through a color-coded archway) and immigration if you're in the non-Schengen part of the terminal. – Zach Lipton Apr 20 at 22:45
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I'm assuming that this is all on a single ticket.

After your arrival, you will have to go through immigration, and then (i think) transfer security, which will then bring you into the A area on the second floor.

FRA has a direct immigration passthrough between A and Z. If you get off the plane, follow the signs to A gate. You need to go through passport control but NOT security or customs since you are staying airside. You also DON'T collect any bags.

My question is where?

LH operates transfer/service desk in all terminals. Follow the signs or just ask at any gate or lounge entrance (Senator Lounge in Terminal A is open). They should help you to do whatever you need to do.

CAVEAT: if you travel during Covid, you need to make sure that you have all relevant documentation and registrations done up front. Things change quickly. Transfer desks, services, and passport control stations may be closed and you may get routed a different way through the airport. Just follow the signs and ask frequently since the signage is often wrong and out of date.

See also https://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/animals-as-additional-carry-on-baggage and specifically the checklist https://www.lufthansa.com/content/dam/lh/documents/prepare-for-your-trip/baggage/travelling-with-animals/animals-hand-luggage/en-checklist-animals-cabin.pdf

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  • Staying airside is not enough of a condition to not go through security again. Many countries do not trust other countries' security checks, and will check you again before letting you into the departures area. In some places it will depend on the origin (i.e. they trust some countries, but not all). No idea what the situation is for US -> DE though. – jcaron Apr 21 at 16:28
  • I've made the A to Z transfer twice this year already: there is no security. It's actually a trick you can use when security in Z is jammed up: just go into A instead and do passport control between A and Z. – Hilmar Apr 21 at 18:31
  • From A to Z sure, but the other way round from Z Arrival to A is not necessarily the same procedure. It depends if one is let out on the third level (Z departure and clean arrivals) or on the fourth level (where all unclean arrivals are let out). US arrivals should be clean arrivals, but IIRC, when i arrived from New York in 2019, i deboarded the plane on the unclean arrivals level. Situation might be different now. – dunni Apr 21 at 18:59

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