Monday, March 06, 2006

Lufthansa, nie mehr!!!

Last Friday I had a terrible day at Frankfurt airport. It was snowing and the flight out of Stuttgart got delayed. My flight to Boston was gone when I landed in Frankfurt and that's when the odyssey started.
I proceeded to the gate hoping that the flight to Boston would also be delayed but it was not. The gate was deserted, no one greeting us, no one with our alternative boarding passes ready, nothing, not a single soul in the vicinity of gate A63.
I quickly proceeded to the business lounge to try to get an alternative routing. After waiting for about 20 minutes, the lady at the business lounge told me that they were not trained to carry out these complex changes (complex!?) and that I should go to the transfer desk in the main terminal. I went through security and waited for 20 minutes at the transfer counter until it was my turn. There they told me that they were not authorized to do this change and that I had to go back to the terminal. I had to control myself to keep calm. I went back through security again, unpacked my laptop, took off my belt, shoes, jacket and so on and went through immigration. It was snowing outside, but I was sweating as if I were in the Sahara desert.
I finally reached the transfer desk in terminal A that had no counter for business class passengers. I queued for three hours, till I got to the counter. In the meantime I missed two possible connections, one through Washington DC and the other through Detroit. After three hours of wait time in line, I got a good connection one through London. Only the people at the transfer desk were working, the rest of the employees servicing the gates, were basically idle, because the airport was operating at 20%. I even saw a policeman talking in these terms (in German) to an American tourist who understandably had lost his temper in the situation: "In Germany, we speak German and we do not need to put up with assholes like you" (the American guy did not understand German and I did not translate for the safety of both of us).
When I was already in the runway and about to fly to London, the pilot said that the de-icing equipment for small planes had broken down and that we had to go back to the terminal. I deplaned and ran to the terminal B transfer counter (someone in the plane told me that in terminal B, they had a transfer counter for business class passengers and it was true). There were hundreds of people in the tourist class line (maybe also 3 hours wait), but it only took me about 20 minutes to get to the service person in my line. I told him that I just wanted to get anywhere in the East coast of the USA, I would handle the rest. I got a flight to JFK late in the evening. I landed in New York at 9.30pm. The customs officers were so nice to me, I felt at home, I must have looked tired. My luggage was lost and is still lost. I had to make the lost baggage report. But I was close to home. A nice rental car was waiting for me with navigation equipment. Everyone was nice to me, everyone smiled at me. I felt happy to call USA my home.
I drove for 3 hours and 45 minutes through New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. At 2.30am on Saturday I got home and I had to wake up my wife, because my home keys were in the lost luggage. I went to my room and I saw my 2 little kids sleeping in our bed. It was really worth while so much effort to return home for the weekend.

I am going back to Germany in 3 weeks. I have changed my reservation to KLM. Lufthansa nie mehr!! never again!! or at least until the next airline screws up even worse.


Habibi said...

I only went flying to Germany once (no return) but with a low budget airline (Europe! my economy! because you can already expect those kind of things, so they are no surprise!). After wandering around the country (by car) a few times, I have decided to avoid any contact with Germany. Also with the border Czech Rep. - Germany.
Though, I can't avoid German people: I live in the Costa Daurada!

Ale said...

waw ian, that was ABSOLUTELY horrifying!!! good tip, i will fly only KLM if i ever... have to go to germany... for some reason!

what did you listen to on the radio in the car? probably some agrivating political show no? :)

ian llorens said...

After having touched a German guy's butt (and I am referring to Ale), you definitely need to go to Germany.
I am going back there in three weeks and I will mention your website to all "butt-pinchable" guys I see.
Radio? I enjoyed 4 hours of wonderful Sirius channel 30 uninterupted satellite radio. I got a Lincoln with navigation system and satellite radio, so that I could enjoy the freeways of my beloved adopted country, USA.
Next Monday, I am heading for Brazil.

Johnny said...

Ah ha, Ian, welcome to the community that thinks that Frankfurt airport are bullshit. I think you should not be so hard with Lufthansa but more with airport managers.

I have walked through a large amount of airports all over the world, and I have been never lost as in Frankfurt. You never know if the few information you get is related to the pier, the lounge, the terminal, the flight or any other stupid item they can invent. And congratulations, you got terminal 2, very hard to reach.

When I tried to made a connection, I found myself outside the airport building, without passing by any information point, nor baggage claim, anything. It was annoying. Not to mention the info you get in the counters. You must be a Menta member to guess what are they explaining to you. Of course, always suporting this superiority they have over any damn foreigner coming to disturb them.

Any way, don't become confused, you can find also stupids and efficientless people in America.

Nice dreams in Brasil. If you have time and go to Rio, take your time to walk a while by Ipanema.

Nie said...

I always thought Lufthansa was the best. It was probably just an singularity on a late night in bad weather.