Monday, December 6, 2010

Let it snow, Lufthansa!

It is snowing in New York. It's actually not that much snow, but enough to make me happy. You need to understand that where I come from, snow is something you only see in the movies! And it brings me back to last week, when I was stuck in Germany because of a snow storm. I think it is a worth telling story. It happened because I went to the fascinating city of Istanbul for Thanksgiving. It was a great trip and I will write about it soon. It was only for 4 days and I was supposed to be back on Monday the 29th so that I wouldn't miss any class. But thanks to a snow storm and the great emergency plan of Lufthansa (this is ironic, just in case), I arrived home with one day of delay, exhausted, missing classes and without my luggage.

I left the hotel at 10am to be in the airport 2-3 hours before my flight took off. For some reason I am really paranoid with being punctual to the airport. I am afraid one day I'll go and they tell me the flight is gone! It actually happened once... but not anymore! Well, so I was there on time, checked in and struggled to say goodbye to who I was leaving behind. I go to the gate and they tell me my flight was delayed 40 minutes. I started freaking out. I had to fly to Frankfurt to catch a flight to New York there and my transfer was only 1 hour, which means I would only have 20 minutes left for the transfer. If you have already been in Frankfurt, you know it's a huge airport and there is no way you can make it with only 20 minutes. I asked everyone to make sure I would make it and they all told me not to worry... fine. Then the same lady who told me not to worry, announced that the flight was delayed 3 hours! Great, now there was no chance I would catch the other flight. 

When I finally got on the plane at 4pm, knowing that I had already missed the flight to NYC, they announced we would have to wait 3 more hours inside the plane. By that time, I had no idea what would happen with me and with getting back home. They kept announcing that the weather in Frankfurt was too bad to fly, it could be dangerous, there was too much snow... Finally, around 7:30pm they said we would fly to Munich instead. Great... what would I do in Munich? I was very worried and asked one of the attendants, who told me not to worry because the customer service would arrange everything once in Munich. So that's what I thought: I would land in Munich, a nice Lufthansa operator would tell me to get ready for my immediate flight to New York and I would be back home on time. But I'm just a dreamer. 

We landed in Munich around 10pm and there were hundreds of people there. There were huuuuuge lines of people and guess what, the lines wouldn't move forward. It was terrible. I understand that this was no ones fault, no one can't stop the snow (I guess). But what I'm complaining about is that Lufthansa had hundreds of people waiting, there were 18 windows in the Costumer Service Office and there were only 4 operators! I can't believe they couldn't get anymore staff to control the situation. They were giving vouchers for a hotel night and told us we should be there at 5am because that was the time they would start rebooking. Basically, I knew for sure that I would not fly that night... but I wasn't even sure I would be able to fly the following day. 

When I finally got to be attended, it turned out that all the hotels in Munich were full. No more vouchers. But again, they told me not to worry because they would set up tents in the airport so that we could sleep and they would give us 20 Euros (more or less $26) to spend in McDonald's, the only restaurant that was open at that time. On top of that, they said they wouldn't deliver our luggages. Again, they told us not to worry, the luggage would arrive directly to our final destination once we are rebooked. People started freaking out, everyone was so angry. I didn't even care. I was really tired, I was sad to leave Istanbul, I was sad that I couldn't go back home and I wanted to sleep so bad. Anyway, I spent my 20 Euros in McDonald's. It was snowing a lot, and the queue was so big that I had to wait outside of the restaurant for a while... freezing! But finally I got my burger, my fries, my drink, my wrap and my pie... (you can actually get a lot of stuff with a $26 McDonald's voucher!). I didn't even eat half of it, which made me feel a bit guilty, but enough to satisfy my hunger. 

Finally I did a smart move. One of the smartest I have lately done! Instead of getting one of the super fancy tents they set up, I decided to "sleep" right in front of the desk where they would do the rebooking thing. When I arrived there, there were already 9 or 10 people waiting who had had the same idea. A lot of people started coming in the following hours. At 5.30am the Lufthansa ladies appeared. By that time, there were crazy hundreds of people in the line... but I was the 10th! Again, there were 18 windows and only ¡¡3!! operators. I can't understand it neither... But ok, at 6am it was my turn to rebook. The lady told me all flights from Munich were full, Frankfurt was still suffering from bad weather and she wasn't sure I could make it that day. Thanks God, that made me feel so much better... However, finally she told me she could get me on a flight from Hamburg, which totally changed my face! The only thing is that I had to reach the gate in just a few minutes and the transfer was only 30 minutes. I didn't care... it could not get worse than that! 

I flew to Hamburg, and reached the gate for the other flight as fast as I could. I couldn't believe I was about to board on a flight to NYC! It wasn't with Lufthansa, though. It was with Continental Airlines... which I don't like as much. The food is bad, the seats are terrible, the entertaining system could be so much better... but I don't think any of this would bother me at that time. It turns out that they had booked me a seat in one of those rows that are supposed to be empty. That was nice of them, because I finally used the three seats to lay down and sleep for hours... it was the first time of my life I got to fall asleep in a plane! I arrived to Newark airport on Tuesday afternoon, I couldn't believe that! But there was one more surprise waiting for me there. They had lost my luggage and had no idea where it was. Great. Most of my clothes were there and all my shower stuff as well. They gave me a phone number and a bag with shampoo and a small teeth brush. However, I could finally go home! 

The funny thing is that I missed my English class that day. In that class I was supposed to hand in an essay on THE OVERUSE OF AIRPLANES FOR LEISURE. How ironic is that! I had to write about the consequences of using planes. I basically complain about it not only because of the environmental issues, but also because of the economical reasons and the physical stress it causes. I guess I could have added a few more arguments after all this experience. Anyway, I was back home and safe, which felt good enough. Finally, my bag arrived a couple of days ago. It seems it got lost in hamburg when I had to change from Lufthansa to Continental. They told me they would send me a rebate for the things I had to buy this week like shower gel, a pair of jeans... let's see what happens, I am already tired of dealing with them! After this kind of incidents, I always say I won't take airplanes any time soon. But I'm flying back to Barcelona for Christmas in a couple of weeks. Honestly, now that I think about it, I don't think it was that big deal. I guess if I hadn't been alone I would have even been laughing about it. Nevertheless, I know for sure this is not the last time it will happen and actually all these experiences give me something else to tell my grandsons in the future. 

4 comments:

  1. wow... em va passar quelcom semblant fa uns anys... havia d'anar a Costa Rica i vaig acabar passant la nit a Nicaragua, tot també per culpa del temps (en el meu cas tormenta tropical). Suposo que, com dius tu, no s'hi pot fer res en aquests casos! però aquell caos, la desesperació, el temps d'espera, i la incertesa no ajuden gens. I acompanyat, tampoc jaja
    Petons Josh!

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  2. What a Cioban :)

    Nice story, I would like to see your face expression "maaan that's ridiculous!".

    BTW I remember you sleeping in the plane AT least 2 times buhahha :) And still I can't believe that continental has got worsted sits, than Air Baltic.

    Seee you

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  3. Wow! What an experience! Now you need a vacation from the vacation!

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  4. hola!!

    madre mia k caos!!pero weno al final llegaste bien! y tus maletas tambien!

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