On my way home for Christmas, I chose British Airways (BA) as my carrier to fly me back to Germany. The flight was also the best deal I found on all these different websites out there. But I got the great price, not from any third-party travel search engine – no I got it directly from British Airways.
The flight should take me from Seattle (SEA) to London Heathrow (LHR) and from there to Munich (MUC). On the night before the flight, I pre-paid for my second luggage piece I will take with me. The website had some glitches and I had to call the toll-free hotline and talk to an agent to get this issue resolved and have the items paid. If you pay online you save a couple of dollars against paying at the airport. This should be my second trip with British Airways. I only flew with them once before from Munich to London.
The next day I arrived at the Check-In counter and I didn’t check-in online, which would have been easier in second thoughts, because you just have to drop your bags. Anyway, the queue was short and I didn’t really have to wait for an agent. One bag was just a bit overweight and I was able to shift some stuff around very quickly and that was my check-in. Even that I never got the receipt for my online paid bag, it was in the system and I didn’t have to pay a second time for it. The experience was great and the agent was very friendly and helpful.
If you ever been to Sea-Tac airport you know the security here is always crowded. I had to wait quite a bit until I cleared security. Seattle airport has now security lines, where you don’t have to take off your shoes anymore, which is pretty great and I love this. Since I had to kill some time until boarding started I visited the United Club in Concourse A and my Priority Pass membership was my entrance ticket for that. I am no member of British Airways neither do I have any status level with OneWorld Alliance. The lounge was nothing special, a typical lounge for a US airport I would say. After a couple of snacks and something to drink I headed over to the International Terminal and waited for my flight to board.
Boarding the Boeing 777 went without future problems as well as the flight. Even that I was sitting in the main cabin at a middle seat, it wasn’t an unpleasant flight at all. Heck, the flight was actually great, I watched the whole time movies I missed at the cinemas throughout the year. That made the trip feeling a very quick flight to London.
But once arrived in London and disembarked the plane, heading to the screens with the connecting flight, I was not prepared what should happen next. The screens showed me to go to the A Gates for my connecting flight. I took the train to the A Gates and followed the signs for the connecting flights to the A gates. But right before the entrance to the security checkpoint, a big queue started and it was moving very slowly. I checked the time and was thinking I should be able to make it in time to my gate. I didn’t have to re-check bags, that helped a lot. The checkpoint was around a corner and I didn’t really see what will await me there. shortly before getting there an agent walked along with the crowd and asked for the flight numbers of the connecting flights. He picked one out in front of me and I was thinking he picked him because time will be to short if he stays in line. Well, I should experience it myself what will happen to these people called out of the line pretty soon. The agent came back and asked me for my flight number once he verified the number with his little note sheet he told me to step out of the line and follow him. Heck, I was still assuming I will by-pass the long line and get there in time, but it was completely wrong. On the way to a service desk, also located right around the corner, he told me that my flight was canceled as well as a lot of other flights. To what I saw on his little note sheet it had to be around ten flights which have been canceled. He put me in line with a big crowd again waiting to get rebooked. During the endless waiting time I found out that they had an air traffic control system failure a day before, well actually on that day I left Seattle. Because of the lack of internet aboard the plane, I never got the email that my flight was canceled and I found out at the airport.
After waiting about 45 minutes and only made it half-way to one of the counters, another agent came to the crowd and asked people for their information. He checked my boarding pass for the canceled flight and told me I was already rebooked for another flight later today but with Lufthansa. I was very happy and he told me I don’t have to wait here in line anymore and can go directly to the gate for my flight. Sadly he sent me to the wrong gate, he thought Lufthansa will also fly out of Terminal 5 but once at the checkpoint the woman told me I have to go to Terminal 2 for Lufthansa flights. It was also great that we were offered water to drink during the time waiting in line to see an agent.
I turned around and followed the signs for the connections to Terminal 2. This was a short bus drive of about 10 minutes to the terminal. Once there I had to pass security again, which was quite a pain, because of all the electronics (laptops, cameras, lenses, hard drives, and power cables) I carry with me. As usual, I got the special search, which I always get on European airports – I was very used to it and took it easy, because of my flight leaving about 8 hours later as my booked one in the beginning. After security there was a boarding pass check, there I had to explain that I am actually flying with Lufthansa and not British Airways anymore. I only had my old boarding pass for the flight from London to Munich, which was canceled. He told me to go right to the airline’s service desk, which was not too far after the boarding pass control. What do you think happened? Exactly the agent at the desk was not able to find my rebooking in their system. He had to call the British Airways hotline to get help and was just about to send me back to their counters in Terminal 5 because nobody was answering the phone. He helped a couple of other customers in line and tried it again. Finally, he got an agent on the line and was able to get my boarding pass. I also added my Lufthansa frequent flier number. Never forget to do this and always collect your points.
Now I had hours to kill as much as I never had before in my life at an airport. Usually, I rush to the gates. After checking my Priority Pass app there was a lounge very close by – The Plaza Premium Lounge. I went there because it was literally around the corner. But as I tried to plug in my phone charger I saw that the only had the UK power outlets on all the desks and chairs. For Terminal 2 I also remembered a United Club at the same terminal. I went there, which was further away but in the hope, they will have US power outlets being and US-based airlines. This was probably the best decision I made today. Not that they had US power outlets they also served great food for lunch. Warm food actually! Chicken, rice, potatoes, veggies, and cold sandwiches and burritos cuts. This was the first time I saw food like this at a United lounge. Besides all the good food, they had a great beverage choice and also good spirits. Their view was not too bad but was blocked a little bit by a jetway.
@da_peter Thanks for the compliment, we’ll take your advice and pass it on. ^HN
— United (@united) December 13, 2014
Being up almost 24 hours straight now, I tried to take a quick nap in the lounge and get ready to continue my journey. Also called the BA hotline to talk to them about the compensation you will get if you are stuck in Europe somewhere. They told me I have to fill out a form online and I will get compensation for that delay. Hopefully, these guys are quicker as my last time I filled out a similar form with Delta airlines for having me stranded in Amsterdam. It took Delta Airlines almost three-month to refund me. Departure time was getting closer and I was making my way back to the gate with enough time to check out the main hall of Terminal 2 with all the shops and food places.
Boarding of the A321 was a breeze even that the flight was completely full. Before boarding, I talked to the gate agent if my bags were loaded and he couldn’t confirm right away, because there were still 28 bags missing. After a short waiting time, I finally got the message that my bags are loaded with me on the same flight. Well, I only believed 90% of it, because the last time I had problems with, the bags weren’t loaded even that I got told they would be. But this was with Delta Airlines and KLM. But there was no other way of finding out the hard way in taking the flight and hopping at the baggage claim that my bags will show up. I couldn’t believe it but my bags made it with me on the same flight and came out as one of the first ones. I grabbed all my stuff headed to the rental car center and picked up my car. The gave me a very nice BMW, even nicer and with more features as I asked for. Thank you for that Sixt. Yeah, this was pretty much my trip from Seattle to Munich. I don’t understand why some passengers get so mean and angry if something like this happens. It happens and if you scream at the agent who tries to help you get there where you want to go, you scream at the wrong person and make it maybe even worse or you as it already is. It’s not his fault, so let these people help you, that’s for what they are here. Rather do it as I do. Think about it as an adventure. With trips like this you always have stories to tell to friends and family and believe me once you are at your final destination, you don’t care anymore what happened. You are just happy you made it there and that is what should count in my opinion. I am already excited for my flight back to Seattle on the same route. Hopefully, it will be a smoother ride. See you soon British Airways.
What was your craziest story on any of your trips? If you don’t mind, share it in the comments.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.