The second biggest airport in Germany has shutdown due to snow. A large weather system is moving across Switzerland, Germany, and Austria bringing heavy snow falls and poor weather to the area. Munich experienced so much snow that the airport said it couldn't keep up with the snow removal process and issued a NOTAM (Notice To Air Missions) that closed the airport until at least Saturday afternoon German time so the airport can focus on cleaning up the snow.
Winter season is here and this I'm sure is the first of many heavy snowfalls Europe and the greater Northern Hemisphere will see this winter. It's not often that so much snow will close down an entire airport, especially such a busy airport as Munich. The airport sees as many as 25 million passengers a year and with Christmas markets in full swing it will for sure disrupt travel over the next few days as Lufthansa, the largest carrier at the airport, and other international carriers recover from flights being diverted and cancelled.
A6543/23 NOTAMR A6540/23
Q) EDMM/QFALC/IV/NBO/A /000/999/4821N01147E005
A) EDDM B) 2312021000 C) 2312030459
E) AD CLSD FOR ALL ARR AND DEP DUE TO HVY SN.
It looks like most inbound flights diverted to Frankfurt, Germany's largest airport and their recovery flights have been delayed several hours including the scheduled return flights cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. For example, it looks like DAL130 from Atlanta diverted immediately to Frankfurt and the return flight has been cancelled for today and scheduled for tomorrow. UAL30 had a similar fate, it's now in Frankfurt and the return flight is cancelled until tomorrow.
It looks like most operators are planning for flight recovery tomorrow, with planes planned to reposition to Munich and operate their return flights then. This type of weather event is few and far between but it can cause a lot of chaos with flights being cancelled, connections being missed, transport grinding to a halt due to bad weather, and hotels filling up with last minute reservations for the passengers needing to stay overnight. I suspect there will be a lot of people sleeping in the Munich airport tonight with how many flights seem to have cancelled.
Lufthansa looks to have cancelled over a hundred inter-European flights and international flights already and most of the major international carriers who diverted to Frankfurt also did the same.
Tips if You're Stuck
If you happen to be stuck at the Munich airport right now and reading this, just keep calm and let the recovery effort help you. The best solution is that you'll be booked on the extra section flights that will be departing tomorrow after all the cancellations today. As for hotels, I would be prepared to sleep in the airport tonight, with thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of passengers stuck every nearby airport hotel will fill up fast and if you don't want to try to get all the way across town I would take my time and enjoy the Munich airport as best as I could.
If you ask nicely the airline agents working at the airport may issue food vouchers and once your trip is completed you may be able to get some sort of compensation from your airline in the form of miles or partial refunds. However because this is a weather event the airline is not entitled to offer you anything but if you approach it with kindness and understanding most airlines give goodwill gestures for all the inconvenience.
It's always interesting to see how much weather can affect airports. The winter weather is here and it's just the start to the season. While we probably won't see many major airports shutdown like Munich, we will surely see lots of airports affected by the winter weather in the coming months. Just remember to pack your patience and some snacks.