Lufthansa Airline Complaint - The lost meaning of “a better way to fly”
The lost meaning of “a better way to fly”
by Siswa Rizali
This is a recount on my dreadful fly to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It supposed to be my great adventurous travel to be remembered. But thank to Lufthansa, it become my long nightmare in the airline. It was a long delayed travel (longer than my actual fly time), full with confusing reroute and agony.
I had to attend international training on microfinance in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, from 22 to 26 September 2003. I used Lufthansa airline. The flight is Jakarta – Frankfurt – Munich – Sarajevo. The flight to Sarajevo began in Jakarta at 19.00 o’clock, September 20, using LH 779, and the connecting flights are LH 216 and LH5328.
The trouble began in Cengkareng Airport, Jakarta. When I checked in, and I arrived right on time (around 17.00), the officer told me that I cannot take the flight caused I do not have visa to enter Bosnia & Herzegovina. I showed the document from Bosnia & Herzegovina authority explaining that the visa would be issued on my arrival in Sarajevo Airport. The officer does not sure and he asked his supervisor. Then the worse came.
Ms Sri (the senior officer, Ms Sriningsih Suprapto) informed me that even if I was right that my Bosnia & Herzegovina visa is on arrival, I couldn’t take the flight because I do not have Schengen visa.
I told her that I do not have any intention to stay in Germany and I just transit there to travel to Sarajevo. She informed me about ‘the domestic flight’, Frankfurt – Munich, which needed Schengen transit visa. Ibu Sri clarified that I couldn’t go unless I reroute my flight.
So I asked, why Lufthansa do not inform me about the visa requirement when I ordered the ticket? Surprisingly, Ibu Sri argued that I supposed to know and if I do not know I must ask. How can I know? Does the costumer supposed to know better the product sell by a company? Should have been the company who inform the costumer about the product that they sell?
As I must take the flight, I made no longer argument and accepted that Lufthansa reroute my flight through Jakarta – Frankfurt – Ljubljana – Sarajevo (Flight number: LH 779, connecting flight LH2504, and then JP700). To reroute from Frankfurt – Munich to Frankfurt – Ljubljana, I was penalty for US$ 120. And for Ljubljana – Sarajevo I have to buy new ticket at US$ 440. (See the attachment, which contain scan document from my flight).
Surprisingly, I cannot reimburse my ticket which I would not need from Munich to Sarajevo at all.
It took around two hours for me to settle the entire ticket/visa problem. I checked in at 17.00 and only by around 18.45 I have to rush for the plane. What a stressful checked in I ever done.
We landed in Singapore for transit at around 21.00. Like thunder striking in daylight, the Lufthansa officer informed that the flight had technical problem and had to be grounded for repairmen. As there is no spare part in Singapore, it took ten hours to bring the component from Frankfurt plus four hours for repairmen. In total, many passengers have to wait 24 hours in Singapore before continuing their flight. (Please refer to Lufthansa Singapore office announcement dated September 20, 2003).
Lufthansa did not do much to get another flight as soon as possible for their passenger. Instead they only provide accommodation for one night stay.
In the morning, I phoned Lufthansa to enquire about my flight. They explain that my flight would be reroute through Frankfurt – Vienna – Sarajevo. Because Vienna is in Schengen visa countries, I explained the problem I encounter yesterday and urged them to find out the immigration issues.
From the morning, I also informed the officer that I had have to attend training which begin in Monday morning, September 22. If I would arrive later than Monday night, I prefer to cancel my trip and will demand reimbursement on my ticket and compensation for my training fee which cost me US$ 1500. The officer told me it is possible for Lufthansa to reimburse my ticket if I cancel the flight, however Lufthansa will not cover any other cost that I would have burden.
Isn’t it wonderful? If the costumer presumably made a mistake, Lufthansa could charge high penalty. But when Lufthansa fails to delivery necessary service, the costumer must bear all the loss occur.
None of Lufthansa officer called me back to confirm my enquiry. So I called again several time from 14.00 to 16.30. I have to make all the called, none Lufthansa officer has the initiative to inform me about my enquiry (although they promise to do so).
Finally, at 16.30, it is confirm that my flight would be through Vienna. Lufthansa officer said they would prepare document for immigration office in Vienna that explains I only transit in Vienna to travel to Sarajevo. The route and flight number are Singapore – Frankfurt (LH779), Frankfurt – Vienna (OS122), and Vienna – Sarajevo (OS757). It is expected I will arrive in Sarajevo by 14.30 on September 22.
During my stay at hotel, I also notice that none of Lufthansa officer present there to explain any progress on our flight. While their customer stranded, it seems no care was taken by Lufthansa.
At 20.30, the bus took us to the airport. Surprisingly, when I check in, I have to face another shock. Lufthansa officer at check in counter said that I couldn’t take the flight through Vienna because I do not have Schengen visa. How could this happen? I have reminded them about my condition since the morning. I also told them what Lufthansa officer in Jakarta informed me. But why Lufthansa officer in Singapore does not know about the procedure?
This case may indicate that Lufthansa has no standard information about the requirement for ticket sell in certain route. This case also suggests that actually Lufthansa cannot put the blame on me for my ‘mistake’ earlier in Jakarta (So I cannot be charged/penalty for any reroute).
Lufthansa officer reroute my flight once again. They informed me that the flight route (and number) would be Frankfurt – Zagreb (OU411) and Zagreb – Sarajevo (OU342). (See the attachment, which contain scan document from my flight).
It took around two hours (from 9.30 to 11.30) for me to check in. And again, I am one that check in early, I also the last one that get into the plane. What a disgraceful service!
The flight LH779 arrived in Frankfurt in the morning (around 05.30) of September 22. As soon as I arrived in Frankfurt, I directly checked my connecting flight and report to the Lufthansa counter. Just like another hard punch straight to my face, I found out that my connecting flight would be at 18.00 o’clock.
While waiting, I found out that there were another three flight to Zagreb (and the time) on that day. The flights were OU417 (at 09.55), LH3436 (at 12.10), and OU405 (at 12.10).
So I wondered, why Lufthansa officer did not put me in the earlier flight? Why I must wait almost 12 hours at the airport for my connecting flight.
I decided to enquire at transfer/ticket counter whether I change flight schedule to an earlier flight. The officer turned me down because I have baggage in the flight. With great disappointment I just wait my flight at the airport.
The flight from Frankfurt – Zagreb – Sarajevo itself was another trouble. I arrived in Sarajevo at 21.00, just to find out that my baggage did not arrive. I report to airport officer about my baggage problem (baggage tag LH684562, baggage irregularity reference SJJOU13141). My baggage arrived at the hotel in Wednesday noon.
On my return trip to Indonesia, my flight went smoothly. Only small annoying thing happen; my baggage once again did not include in my flight. But later that night, my baggage arrived at my home around 24.00 o’clock. The bag itself seemed like have been ‘torture’, because the corner at the bottom was tear off.
What a tormentor flight! I have to pay more, yet I get the worse service. The distance of Jakarta – Sarajevo may need around 15 hours flying time, but it took me 50 hours to complete the journey (the delayed time was longer than the flight itself). I completely lost the meaning of “a better way to fly”.
Assistant Program Officer
The Asia Foundation
Jl. Adityawarman No. 40