Lufthansa

Oh dear. I suppose you are not surprised to find a blog post about my recent experience with Lufthansa here. Instead of writing a complaint letter, I am writing this blog post of which I will send a link to the Lufthansa service team.

The story. After 5 hours sleep we woke up to get ready to go to Gatwick airport to catch a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. We woke up the boys, 3 years and 18 months, and made it to the airport for 8 am. Tired and with heavy bags.

Given my recent back problems this was pushing it and as you see later, if I had known what day was ahead of us, I had asked for someone to carry my luggage. So I also blame Lufthansa for my continuous back pain. But never mind, no way of proving it.

At Gatwick we were informed about a strike. Lufthansa was on strike. I had no idea. Nor did anyone email, call or text us. A friendly lady advised us that we would get some vouchers, a ticket for the bus to London Heathrow, and that we are booked on the next flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa.

We complied as we had a wedding to attend. We had ordered kilts, kilt accessories, and the whole lovely outfit for the boys for this special day. Family and friends were looking forward to meet the Scottish family, the three men in kilts. I was proud and excited.

After a bus journey which was fun for the boys but dangerous since buses do not have child seats and our boys are far too small for booster seats, we arrived at Heathrow. Lufthansa put us in the wrong queue which we found out in time to save about 45 minutes. A friendly check in, an almost free meal and we had an hour left to board the plane….so we thought.

Our friends in Germany called and said we were delayed. No word at Heathrow. It seemed as if Lufthansa kept us in the dark but made information available online and in Germany. Further delays caused me to ask at the help desk how long it would take.

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Lufthansa totally understood, they said: travelling with children? Wife and you at breaking point? Only oldest boy allowed in play area (open for 2-8 year olds), affected by strike action, tired and at airports for 5 solid hours. Lufthansa booked us on a plane that was supposed to leave 5 minutes earlier than our delayed one. How nice I thought…

Whilst walking away from the Lufthansa service desk our delayed flight got cancelled. I thought that I at least saved to queue for changing the flight now. But will my new flight actually leave? Will Lufthansa in Germany have more information and will Lufthansa in Heathrow withhold information again?

Maybe I check? No one at Lufthansa in Heathrow was helpful. Best Lufthansa could do was a high rate German phone number they suggested I call from my UK mobile. Seriously? All you can do? No information, no caring, no love. We later called that number from a German landline and hang up after 30 minutes at 14 ct/ minute rate. Assuming this line had been busy on Friday it might have cost me a little fortune to call. So I am glad I didn’t.

When, at the end of my willpower to fly anywhere, I asked at the desk whether our flight will go today, they announce the gate. We got on first. The boys were asleep before take off (almost), very exhausted. I couldn’t sleep. We were advised there was limited food on board. I was starving. To cut it short: we landed in Frankfurt, asked the Lufthansa stewardess whether the buggy will be brought to the plane and they said yes.

I guess at that point I should have known to not listen to Lufthansa anymore. We waited 25 minutes to find out that the buggy would be delivered to the carousel. And as I found out much later, to one for extra sized luggage pieces. So we waited at the baggage reclaim for nothing. And this was literal, as our bag never turned up.

The lady we filed the claim with told us that up to 90% the bag should arrive that night. She offered to drive it to where we stayed as she lived close by. It never came that night. We went shopping that night for nappies, underwear and deodorant, toothbrushes and hygiene articles. We got our medication, contact lenses, new cloths for the boys, iPad charger, new dress for the wife etc. etc. the next day. We spend 660 Euros in 2 hours (or the wife did to be precise).

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The case never turned up until Sunday night. Many phone calls, attempted calls, being on hold, arguing with a stressed Mr. Stratmann, until I spoke to a very nice lady. I spoke to her twice on the phone, clarified things and had my case back. Lufthansa delivered the case at the end. With a taxi. Straight to the door.

A day late for celebrating the wedding in style.
A day late for handing over the wedding gift.
A day late for the presents we brought.

Never mind. We got there at the end. When checking in for our flight back with Lufthansa they checked our bag and it was 27 kg. They almost wouldn’t allow us on. I offered to buy another bag and get Lufthansa to pay for it. I couldn’t care less. They got us into the trouble. Their fault.

We got 485 Euros reimbursed. So we can’t complain too much as this is reasonable for the cloths we got. Still we would have never spent that money in the first place. Others couldn’t afford to. Luckily my kilt was in the hand luggage. Imagine finding a kilt maker in Frankfurt on a Saturday morning.

The flight home was pleasant. Colin and I looked into the cock pit, we had a friendly and good service, got our buggy and luggage and made it home. Exhausted. Drained.

Unnecessary evil. Maybe this could have happened with any airline. However, only with Lufthansa I had bad experiences in the past 3 years. And I fly almost weekly across Europe. Only at Lufthansa I applied 3 times to their miles and more programme and never heard back. Only at Lufthansa I get the impression they don’t really care.

This is my personal opinion. It leaves a bitter taste.

If in doubt or given the choice I would prefer other airlines. Solely based on this weekend. Plus past experiences. But those had been forgotten when I booked these flights. And this experience will fade also.

Safe travels,

Volker