Oh Lufthansa. Sometimes I should just listen to my gut and not the ground staff.
My flight home from Frankfurt was booked via Munich because I just prefer the A380 (operating from Munich to Los Angeles) over the A340 (operating the morning service from Frankfurt to Los Angeles). To avoid waking up at 5am and to give me some time to enjoy a meal in the First Class Terminal prior to departure, I booked a 10:15a flight to Frankfurt to Munich, leaving a 50-minute connection in Munich.
When it came time to board, our first class attendant in the Terminal approached John and me and stated that our flight was delayed for 30-minutes. I mentioned our short connection but was told not to worry about it.
So we waited. I enjoyed another cappuccino in the meantime.
The half hour passed and our flight still was not ready for boarding. Finally, at about 10:30a, we were collected for boarding and driven across the tarmac to our flight. Before leaving, I asked once more if we would make our connection and was told YES, that our plane would be held if necessary.
Onboard, the captain announced a further delay, projecting a wheels-up time between 11:00am and 11:20a. He apologized for a late-arriving crew from Berlin.
Finally, around 11:20a, we took off. The captain promised a flight time of 25-30 minutes. It was indeed a quick flight, and we were on the ground by 11:50a. As we taxied to our gate, we passed the A380 that would…or was supposed to…take us to LAX.
A 10-Minute Connection in Munich?
By noon we were off the flight. The scheduled departure time of LH452, from Munich to Los Angeles, was also noon. A ground staff agent holding a sign with our names met us on the jet bridge. We assumed he would be escorting us downstairs and onto a car to drive us over to the LAX flight.
Unfortunately, he said, “I’m sorry but your connecting flight has departed. We tried to hold it for you, but could not.” John was shocked but I was hardly surprised. We asked what was next and he escorted us to the First Class Lounge, where he said an agent was already working on alternate booking options for us.
In the lounge, the agent presented a couple options. First, a British Airways flight leaving almost immediately via London. But it left a one-hour connection in London…no thank you. First Class on British Airways is second-rate compared to Lufthansa and we still would have arrived in LA more than four hours late. Second, an overnight in Munich and the same flight the following day, with a room at the airport Hilton.
After conferring with John, we proposed a third way: back to Frankfurt and then nonstop to Los Angeles the following day. The agent was happy to accommodate us and this allowed us a night at the Hyatt Regency Mainz, one of my favorite hotels in one of my favorite cities.
So after lunch in the lounge, it was back to Frankfurt for us.
Let me commend the ground staff in Munich for the excellent service. The agents were simply tremendous. They were incredibly apologetic for our missed connections (though they threw their Frankfurt colleagues under the bus, claiming they should have never put us on the flight). Furthermore, they made every effort to offer us flexibility in getting back to Los Angeles.
Such a shame we arrived too late to fly Air France first class home…(we asked, and the agent cheerfully checked).
The delay was due to a late-arriving crew, therefore it seems to me we are eligible for EU-261 compensation of €600 cash each, along with compensation for our hotel and meals in Frankfurt. We were informed we must reach out to Lufthansa customer service to “request” this.
I’ll update you on how the collection process goes…
In the future, I am not going to book such a tight connection…I really did want to get home. But kudos to Lufthansa for such excellent service on the ground in Munich after we missed our flight. And there are worse things than an unexpected night in Mainz…
But I knew we’d miss the connection. I should never have boarded that flight to Munich.
image: Toyotaboy95 / Wikimedia Commons