Journeys

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Feature photo: Apple Park

"If someone goes on a journey, he can tell something." I already knew that Matthias Claudius. And that's how it is for me, especially since I've only just returned to Heilbronn. The train worked surprisingly well, both trains on time and, despite warnings to the contrary, a seat without a reservation. And also getting to and from the airports by car is a very convenient transportation option thanks to family support. Now new in the program, although I was able to try it out in Berlin a few years ago, is now Uber. I got that recently Jeff Johnson convinced, which will be more difficult again in Heilbronn, since Uber is not yet represented in all German cities.

Today's topic of my travel report is Lufthansa and, because it was not possible otherwise, also United Airlines. And Apple also comes into play, not because I had a nice flyover over the huge building in Cupertino, which will now probably replace the Golden Gate Bridge as an attraction, but because I spontaneously decided to buy one of my latest gadgets — an air tag — began, because it offered itself almost once.

I started my journey in Frankfurt completely relaxed and checking in these days is a really nice thing. All you have to do is present your passport and you will be given the necessary lanyards for your suitcases and, if desired, the plane tickets. I can only advise everyone to do the latter, because even though I'm very tech-savvy and like to use all sorts of apps myself (see Uber), I've just had a few nice experiences with the Lufthansa app and because I'm having to check in my suitcase in Frankfurt, United Airlines immediately asked for it with their app.

To cut a long story short, without apps the trip would have been much more relaxed and worry-free — just have the courage to rely on the local staff. And they were there with both airlines when you needed them.

Given the current level of technological understanding, at least as far as apps and the Internet are concerned, by the responsible employees of both airlines, these are only suitable if you are a professional frequent flyer — although you then don’t need them at all — or if you are busy with pointless things at the time playing around.

So I already had two corresponding apps at the gate in Frankfurt and had to realize that I had to identify myself again with the Lufthansa app. Since at least I always have to do this when I actually need it, I book it under personal destiny — but this time I had a list of all the query points I needed with me. It's just stupid that the United app wanted to know completely different things from me and the two apps probably don't communicate with each other. So Lufthansa app for the flight. And this always reminded me during the entire trip that another website would help me to find my gate if I had already made myself comfortable there long ago.

On the flight, which is now common practice, there was internet and telephone connection. This time a very good thing as the onboard system was on the whole flight to South Africa and the loading and playback speeds of the movies, music and games reminded me of the noughties of the internet. So I had the two apps and my chess program. A flight has never gone by so quickly - although I couldn't really get used to either app.

Then I switched to United, which gave me my first real and good coffee. For a fee, but that doesn't matter anymore when you compare this with the ticket prices. Incidentally, since COVID-19 Lufthansa has continued to include coffee in the price, but unfortunately it is only given in homeopathic doses; Although I'm not one of those customers who want to bother the flight crew for every sip — ergo: a good 10 hour flight and almost a Gosche full of coffee. But don't worry, I wasn't dying of thirst, because there is still enough water available. But that's probably only because you're not allowed to take any liquids on the plane. Should this be changed in the future, I'll probably have to take care of that too; but this will only be discussed at the end of this post, because I'm still with the apps.

So the switch to United went without any problems and without apps, although according to the Lufthansa app I was still supposed to confirm my flight and it was not possible to receive an online ticket. A fact that, thank God, was only of interest to the app. As already written, just hold out your passport and you will receive all documents at the counter.

If I had stopped playing games, I would have deleted the apps as soon as I arrived, but I left them on my cell phone — a stupid idea, as it turned out shortly before the return flight. I found out by email from United that the return flight was approaching and shortly thereafter I was booked through to Frankfurt. Later, my Lufthansa app reported and apologized that I couldn't get a connecting flight. The United app also responded shortly thereafter, but I didn't have the login data ready. I would have had a great time without the app, but I started asking how things should continue. The app failed to answer this and my attempts to get answers via the app during the flight culminated in a conversation in German, which I would have liked to have had in English, and the instructions from my counterpart that he had to constantly translate our conversation with a translation program. The result of the conversation — while I was in San Francisco — was that I should contact a Lufthansa employee in Munich. Another result of the conversation that chatbots also have office hours.

In real life, I got my boarding passes to Frankfurt when checking in my luggage at the airport in Santa Ana. Since I now knew that it would certainly still be exciting, I activated two air tags in advance and put them in my luggage.

A useful app would have informed me that I could take a later flight to San Francisco to avoid having to wait there for a flight that was more than two hours late and at the same time informed me that I would be rebooked on a later flight from Munich to Frankfurt. But my app only told me that there was a website that could show me the way to the gate.

Once in San Francisco and with enough waiting time, I played with the two apps, having different data on each app and neither of which matched my boarding passes. And I checked my checked baggage. In fact, it could be tracked at the airport and it moved more than me to fill the waiting time until the onward flight.

When I saw the first United employee at the gate, I turned to her and shortly afterwards had new tickets in my hand, she had simply booked me in Munich on the next flight to Frankfurt — and all without an app. But that didn't stop my apps from constantly showing me new things that didn't match my existing tickets almost to the end, but I really wanted to show me the way there when I got to the gate in Munich.

To make the whole thing even more exciting, I checked my better half's app from time to time, who in turn had completely different circumstances - which also had little to do with reality. It got funny when I looked at the AirTags on departure in San Francisco, because a suitcase waved after me. Thanks to the friendly and very professional intervention of a Lufthansa employee in Frankfurt, the suitcase is now in Frankfurt and will hopefully be sent to me soon.

In the meantime there was a good ten hours to bridge and I didn't want to play with the two apps anymore. This time the on-board system worked, this also flew back to Europe and you could also look at the entertainment offers - but less interesting for me on a night flight.

Since this was not my first flight with Lufthansa after COVID-19, I was prepared for everything and had my own food on board. That's why I was able to decline the offer of a hot meal at the start of the flight; there were actually times when I found Lufthansa cuisine not bad at all, sometimes even tasty. In the meantime, however, I can classify this food as inedible at best. With all understanding for austerity measures and constraints, such a meal should be left out altogether.

But the restrictions on eating and drinking also have their advantages, because you no longer have to queue for the on-board toilets and with the reduction in alcohol, some negative side effects for fellow passengers have also become fewer.

At the end of the flight there was the previously announced breakfast and after more than ten hours I was looking forward to a warm drink, even if it was again in a homeopathic dose. My joy was so great that I forgot to refuse breakfast and suddenly I had a baguette-like structure wrapped in plastic on my lap and my curiosity was aroused.

The "autopsy" revealed a kind of white bread that had probably been moistened and had taken on a somewhat spongy consistency due to the plastic coating. Between them was something cold egg-like, which a taste suggested might actually have been an egg once, and two or three celery-like stalks that were more likely to have been grasses. All in all, a combination that can only be produced by chefs who have already achieved everything in their lives and know very well that their customers really devour everything that they put in front of them. But if you eat something like this without starving yourself, you should rethink your life.

For this masterpiece, Lufthansa received one and a half out of three possible stars for military cooking from me. For better classification, I awarded one star of this culinary art to the French military kitchen in Mostar in the years 1997 to 1999 and two whole stars I awarded to a black African military kitchen in 2010, which was also a toilet facility. So far, among the airlines, only Air France has been in this ranking, with half a point in 2000; the said breakfast recipe is likely to have come from them — but it may also be that Lufthansa got the remaining stock very cheaply.

The flight from Munich to Frankfurt went as expected without any problems, and water was also served there. By the way, a nice gesture in these summery temperatures.

As already mentioned, I really enjoy flying with Lufthansa and have been since 1964. Therefore, allow me to say something less good.

The app seems to be the future, but then it actually has to be better or at least more customer-friendly than the consistently good employees on site — I explicitly don’t mean the “online” employees. As long as such an app cannot be used by everyone without an accident, it only confuses customers instead of binding them to Lufthansa.

And if there is already a digital Star Alliance, then the software used by the airlines should be the same — individual branding is welcome to continue.

I also think that the reduction in the food and drink offerings on long-distance flights is sensible and expedient. But one must not make the mistake of reducing the quality of the offer!

And in the age of the Internet and its availability on long-haul flights, the on-board entertainment systems have also become obsolete.

Just at the end of my contribution I received the following message from Lufthansa.

Dear passenger, A delivery agent has been appointed to deliver your delayed baggage in color XXX. 

Please find below the delivery details:Delivery agent:Fgs email: logistics@fgs-frankfurt.de

Delivery agent website:www.fgs-frankfurt.de

Tracking number: xxxxxx

The delivery agent will contact you as soon as possible and will deliver to the delivery address you have specified on the baggage status website.

Due to the current situation, delays with processing may occur.You can also access your submitted data on the baggage status website. You will need to enter your reference number and your family name.

Addendum 13.6.2023

In the morning the suitcase was in front of the door. When I unpacked it, I found that it was broken on the inside corner. And so I can understand his staying behind. He must have fallen off the car while loading the plane. After all these years it may no longer serve as a carry-on, but it will probably still work as a simple piece of luggage. And that is the end of this journey.

And no, I will not report the suitcase as damaged, nor will I ask if there is any compensation for the delay. I am still one of those travelers who consider such occurrences to be quite commonplace and just a part of life, as was the good service provided by the airline staff encountered during the trip. I have already written about the things I criticize.


“When someone takes a trip
so he can tell something
so I'll take my cane and hat
and would choose to travel.
He's not bad at all
not bad at all, not bad at all done;
just keep on miscalculating Mr. Ürian.”

Matthias Claudius, When someone goes on a journey

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