This evening I arrived at Frankfurt at around 2015 from Munich after a long day of flying. I had a separate ticket from Frankfurt to Dublin booked months before, and I chose not to check my bags all the way through to Dublin because I planned to use the long layover to drop a bag off in my office and only take one carry-on bag to Dublin.
It took a little while for the luggage to arrive and when it did, I found that one of the wheels had broken off my American Tourister rollerboard. I showed the bag to the Lufthansa folks and they quickly filled out a form and gave me a slip of paper, instructing me to go upstairs, then down again into another baggage claim area where I could check on having my bag fixed or select a new bag. Time was ticking throughout this process, but it looked like I was still on track to make my flight.
I found the baggage office (filled with beautiful brand new Rimowa and Samsonite bags that sadly I could not claim…) and was told that my old bag could not be fixed and that I should choose a new one that resembled the old one. I picked out a black Titan (German company) bag, signed for it, and was on my way.
The old bag, with a missing wheel, was unserviceable and I had to transfer my belongings from one bag to the other. That took a few minutes and I soon noticed it was 2115–boarding had already begun and I had to clear security and passport control.
I made a rush for it and of course security lines were extremely long. After waiting a few minutes, I told one of the ladies directing people to lanes that my flight departs very shortly and it was essential that I get through security now.
She took me to the crew lane, that oddly had no metal detector. Everyone got a patdown, which only took a moment, but then the screener insisted on scanning my shoes. That took three minutes for some reason, so it was 2125 by the time I left the security checkpoint area.
The lines were long for passport control, but I put on my airport ID and muscled my way (efficiently but respectfully) to the front of the line. The federal police officer took a quick look at my German visa and waived me through–now I just had to get to B32.
Running, I made it to the gate at 2130, 15 minutes prior to departure. The flight had already left…
“You should have been here at 2110, as the boarding card specified” the LH agent scolded me. “We paged you many times and even held the last bus [the flight departed from a remote stand], but we couldn’t wait any longer.” I appreciate that, but I would have been at the gate earlier if LH had not damaged by bag…
Lufthansa does not clearly define, like United and other carriers, how early a passenger must be at the gate prior to departure. Rather, they vaguely specify:
Up to what time before departure do I need to be at the gate?
There are mandatory deadlines for boarding the aircraft at the gate. For this reason you will find the boarding time shown on your boarding pass. You should already be at your gate by this time, as boarding can start at any point.
If you are travelling with an etix® and have a boarding pass with a barcode, you may also use the Quick Boarding machines.
That really doesn’t help too much.
After telling my story, the agent offered to rebook me on the next flight, but we found that the first flight out does not leave Frankfurt until 10:05 tomorrow morning and it was oversold.
At this point, I had some dinner in the Senator Lounge (more of the best pasta in Frankfurt) while mulling over options. It really did not make much sense to fly to Dublin tomorrow morning only to fly back the following morning, but then again, the ticket was only 58 EUR.
I proceeded to the ticketing desk above departures and asked 1.) to be put on the standby list for tomorrow’s flight (after explaining my whole story) and 2.) to return to Frankfurt Monday evening (the flight was wide open) rather than Monday morning, though not my original E booking class. The standby request was granted, but the delayed return date was flatly denied. Instead, the LH agent lectured me (nicely, but sternly) for not checking my bag all the way to Dublin. I explained to him why I did not, but he was convinced I was at fault. He also told me I had up to seven days to file a baggage claim report and could have taken care of it in Dublin. That was not made clear to me earlier, but it would not have mattered anyway–my old bag was unserviceable, like a car that is hurling up sparks behind it as the exhaust pipes drags on the ground.
It looks like I’ll make the morning flight and I will try again to get on the later flight back to Frankfurt on Monday. I know I purchased a restricted LH ticket and I also know I probably could have caught my flight tonight if I had done things a little differently, but I was hoping LH would have been a bit more accommodating.
After 11 hours of flying today, it will at least be nice to be in my own bed tonight. But it would have been nicer to be in Dublin now.