I need to preface this story that while I don’t think I will ever take another Eurowings flight again, it has nothing to do with the personnel we met face to face. All of the staff on the flight were great. The issue I have with Eurowings is the headache of dealing with things afterward.
So we were scheduled to fly out of Zurich on Friday 31 March. We have flown numerous times with other Lufthansa subsidiaries, but this was to be our first time on a Eurowings flight. Our itinerary had us flying from Zurich to Frankfurt and then straight to Ft Myers, Florida. This is not much different than our usual trips home. We always have at least one stop somewhere. There are no direct flights from Zurich to any of the cities in the US we visit.
Friday morning is a little cloudy, but there is no serious weather detected, Julie and I have learned we like to get to the airport early. We get through the checkin and security, and would rather sit in the lounge and have a drink or three than have to worry about making our flight on time. We knew this first leg would be easier than usual because we did not have to worry about going through passport control in Zurich. We breezed through the security process and had plenty of time to go into the lounge and have some breakfast and a bloody mary. Once seated we see that our flight is delayed about 30 minutes. This should not be a problem because we have a 90 minute layover in Frankfurt.
We got to the gate where we had the unpleasant surprise to see we were now delayed about 50 minutes. This started a little worry to settle in. However, at the appointed time we board a bus to drive out to the plane. We wind up sitting on the bus for another 20 minutes. It was at this point we knew it was going to be close. The pilot finally starts to taxi, and he makes the announcement that there are seven planes in front of us. We taxi on to the runway, and something happened I have not experienced. The pilot changes the throttle from takeoff to idle. We don’t know what is happening, and after about 5 minutes the pilot gets on the PA and announces that due to a fast moving storm cell he had to hold in place as they were afraid of wind sheer. I would rather be safe and late than really late and in a crash so…….
After sitting another few minutes, the pilot announces that we have to taxi down the runway and get back in the starting position, but the good news is that the airport will hold all flights behind us in place; so we do not have to get back in the queue. At this point Julie and I resigned ourselves to having to spend the night in the Frankfurt Airport, or possibly we would find a hotel nearby so we could get some sleep. The flight eventually took off.
When we landed in Frankfurt I turned back on my cell phone, to see if there were any other Eurowings, or since they are owned by Lufthansa the possibility of another flight going out that day. I was happy to see that our flight was delayed; so there was still a glimmer of hope we could make the flight.
On a side note: You really see some of the worst in people as they are trying to get off a flight. We were in row three; so very near the front of the plane. The number of people that were rushing from the back and trying to cut in front of everyone was ludicruous. After Julie was almost knocked off her feet, she finally was able to get into the aisle where all of these people kept loudly insisting that their next flight was more important than ours. The amazing thing is that NONE of these people were Americans, because it is usually us causing the scene. What I found hilarious, though, was the person speaking about how rude Julie and I were being not letting them go around us. Julie did shut them up when she simply said “I have a flight that is supposed to leave in thirty minutes as well. Why is your flight more important than mine?”
We had never been in the Frankfurt airport before so we stopped to ask the first person from Eurowings what gate we needed to get to. Unfortunately, they were absolutely no help, and refused to look on their computer to tell us. There were absolutely no departure boards around; so we figured we would start going to the lower numbers, because we knew we had to get off that concourse as we had not gone through border control yet. We ran down a couple of hundred meters before we found a board. We learned we needed to go to another concourse, but there was no map; so we had no clue how far it was. We started jogging again. After about 10 minutes of running we finally got to passport control. Julie of course had her purse. I had kept my passport in my pocket, but put my wallet in my backpack.
The border agent explained that I had no entry stamp in my passport; so they couldn’t let me leave. I explained that I lived in Switzerland, and there was no entry stamp because it was a brand new passport. Well, once I said that I had to prove my Swiss Residency. So I dug through my backpack until I found my wallet. By this time Julie was through, and she said she was going ahead to see if she could get them to hold the flight. I finally get through the border, and start running again. I think it was another 1/2 mile before we came to security, as soon as I started emptying my pockets I realized, “I don’t have my wallet!” I breezed through security, and started rooting through my backpack. Julie came over and said the flight was delayed another 20 minutes, but still no wallet. I realized where it was; so I grabbed my passport, cellphones and told Julie I will be back in 15 minutes. I took off running again!
I got back to the international side of the customs desk, but I knew I couldn’t just walk through; or I would get in trouble. Right then two police officers walk by. Now mind you; I just got done running as hard as I could for 1/2 mile; so I am out of breath, and trying to remember the right words to get the officer to help me. He took pity on me after about the third pant and fourth word, with “I speak English I can help you.” I explained what happened, and he took me through the door. Sure enough, there was my wallet sitting right in front of the window. I quickly gave my thanks and took off running once again!
I make it back to security, and the guard says “I have been looking for you. Let’s get you through here really fast.” I emptied my pockets and went through security again. This is where I learned some of the security people are little sadists. I sat there for about 90 seconds waiting for my stuff to come out of the x-ray machine. The only thing in the machine was my belt, wallet, passport, and phone. After waiting, one of the Eurowings employees came and told the security guard to send my stuff through, they are holding the plane just for me.
WE MADE THE FLIGHT!!!!
We got to our seat, and the flight attendant brought us some water, because we were both sweating. However, we still were not moving anywhere. In fact, there was quite the meeting going on about two rows in front of us. It turned out that Eurowings made a mistake as to the number of seats in business class. They upgraded five people from economy to business, but they only had room for four. So we sat there for another 30 minutes waiting for the employees to figure out what to do. The amazing thing is that for the entire time there was very little drama. No one raised their voices. We thought at one time, a man was going to get kicked off the flight, because he was refusing to leave his seat. The pilot came back and talked to the man for about five minutes, but eventually they found a seat for the paying customer, by making the family they upgraded hold their three year old. Mind you, this is an almost 10 hour flight, but at least the seats are big so there was room for the three year old and the teenage girl to share a seat.
The dinner service went off, almost without a hitch. We had a great selection to choose from, and the food was really good. There was just one little problem. I had a salad, and after I ate about half of it. I noticed something moving in the greens. It turns out, I got my protein with my salad as I ate half of a bug with giant legs. I thought the flight attendant was going to vomit, when we called him over, and I showed him what was in the bowl. He did ask if I wanted another salad, though. 🙂
GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE
For those of you that have never flown internationally before, once the meal is served the lights go out in the cabin. This makes it easier to try and get over the jet lag so you can get a couple of hours sleep. Well midway across the Atlantic Julie taps me on the shoulder. It turned out one her AirPods fell out of her ear, and flew towards my seat. I am looking everywhere, but there is about a one inch gap between the cushion and the seat pod. I told Julie, that it probably went down there. So we set the seats upright and using the flashlight on my phone I started crawling under the seats looking for her white AirPods. I had to give up after about 15 minutes, because I couldn’t see anything. Julie went and got a flight attendant, and I think because the man felt so bad about the bug I had eaten he came to help us look. So here we are in the dark 1/2 way across the Atlantic with the flight attendant taking apart my seat looking for Julie’s air pod. Lo and behold he actually found it!
I was just really impressed that he took the time during the flight to help us. Even better he did it with a smile.
The rest of the flight went without incident. We landed at Ft Myers, and Julie told me to go ahead and get the rental car while she got the luggage. She had just been there a couple of weeks before so she knew that the line would be very long at the counter. She was right! Unfortunately, there was no luggage for her to get. Eurowings has one person at the airport, and this person is also the interpreter for the rest of the airlines; so even though there were a lot of people with lost luggage Julie had to wait for her to get done with the interpreter dealings first.
The woman would NOT give Julie a copy of the lost luggage report but Julie was smart enough to take a picture of the completed form. Thank goodness she did that, because it becomes important later. The woman told Julie that hopefully our luggage would be on the next flight, because if not we would have to wait 5 more days. It turns out that Eurowings only has three flights to Ft Myers Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday! One day wouldn’t be that bad, but unfortunately the funeral was Tuesday. If the luggage didn’t come on Saturday, that meant I had to go shopping!
On Saturday morning, Julie did some checking and she found where she could report the lost luggage online; so she filled out that form. Of course, the luggage did not come on Saturday; so that meant Sunday I had to spend way to much time in a shopping mall getting clothes to last until Tuesday as well as something nicer to wear to the service. Eurowings policy is that you get 30 Euros (very close to $30) for incidentals for every day your luggage is delayed. Now in someways that seems like a lot of money. $360 for both of us to buy clothes. If all we needed were toiletries and some underwear, that makes sense, but we had to go 5 days (turned out to be 6 because the luggage was not delivered until Wednesday). Heck a package of briefs and socks pretty much use an entire days worth of the money. Another day is spent on toiletries. Plus I had to buy nice clothes for the funeral.
I waited until we were back home, before I filed the receipts with Eurowings. I sent copies of the receipts and figured the claim number for the lost luggage would be enough. The first email I got back from the company informed me that my claim was being denied, because I did NOT make a claim at the airport. Remember that form Julie took a picture of? 🙂
I wrote back attaching the picture, and figuring I would cut off the next thing early, I also attached screen shots of the claim we made online. Needless to say I very irritated when I get an email back two days later saying the claim was denied because I did not have valid copies of the forms.
I wrote back a third time asking how was it possible that anyone could have a copy of the Eurowings form when their employee would not give anyone a copy? I figured at this point we would have to get the travel agency that booked the flights get involved before we would have a chance to get any compensation at all.
This is Julie’s quarter close at work; so one of her busiest times of the year. It took her a couple of days to get with the travel agency, but we did finally get another email from Eurowings, that they would re-open our claim.
This is why I don’t even want to fly that airline again. It has been a week since the last communication, three full weeks since we made our initial claim, and they still have not even acknowledged that they lost our luggage. I realize they do not have to give me 100% compensation. It would be nice, but that is not what the law requires, but after this length of time, they should at least be willing to say “Yes, we misplaced your luggage, and we are sorry for the inconvenience it has caused.” I am no stranger to misplaced luggage.
If you remember a story from about a year ago, I talked getting a call from a Sheriff’s office in Indiana, because my suitcase was found on the side of the road. When that happened United was fantastic about keeping me informed as to the status of my luggage, and they compensated me $300 for that headache. Heck, my luggage was only lost for 48 hours that time. It is not that hard to keep a customer happy, but the first step a company has to take is admit they messed up.
After I wrote this, I have realized that in the scheme of life this doesn’t even constitute a speed bump. At the time it was happening thought it seemed like a gigantic issue. I guess the stress of losing a loved one coupled with the stress of the trip made the issue seem bigger than it was. Even though I can see that now, I still do not want to fly Eurowings ever again!