After a 12 hour delay and a roller coaster of terrible customer service decisions by US Airways, Shana and I finally touched down in Munich at 630PM Munich time with a flight leaving for Athens at 750.
In Part 1 of “The Luckiest Baggage Tag” I mentioned the “new” employee who had rebooked our flights since we missed our connection. I have no evidence that she was new other than she didn’t know what she was doing and had to constantly ask other staff members how to do things. When she had to ask other staff members how to do things she had to keep leaving the ticket counter because US Air is incapable of having more than one person work a counter at any given time.
It was clear to me the clerk was having issues with our rebooking but she got a manager involved and eventually handed us print out with a new ticket number and a new baggage claim. She said, “When you get to Munich, just go to the service center and they will print you a new boarding pass.” Easy enough. After I had my flight rebooked a second time, by a different clerk while I stood at the entrance to the plane and she took off down the jetway with my information I received a new print out with essentially the same information except an updated flight number and time with the added piece of information that we will have to collect our checked bag in Munich and recheck it with Lufthansa. ‘What a huge pain in the ass,’ I thought.
We get through customs with no hassles and head towards the main terminal area of the Munich airport looking for a Lufthansa service center. With our time very limited I decided that our plan was to go to the service center first to see if we really did need to go collect our bag and recheck it. If that was the case I was going to leave Shana at the customer service desk and go get the bag while they finished fixing our tickets. What happened was that the Lufthansa clerk said that she couldn’t adjust our ticket because it was in the US Airways system and that we needed to go back outside of security to the US Airways desk. However, we did not need to recheck luggage.
Shana and I rush down stairs to the find the US Airways desk with a small crowd of passengers from our flight hovering around the desk but no clerk. When got up there to the desk we saw a sign posted in sloppy handwriting, “Return Shortly @ 6pm.” It was 700PM. I was at an elegant state of pissed off-ed-ness. One more runaround with this company and I would have been arrested as a danger to myself but specifically anyone wearing a US Airways badge. One of the Germans standing by the desk said he walked up and saw the desk clerk leaving and asked where she was headed to which she responded, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
We did not have a few minutes to wait around, at the suggestion of one of the other people waiting we decided to try and get back through security without a boarding pass, just the print out with the flight number and ticket to see if the Lufthansa clerk at the gate could help us. Its 715PM. As Shana and I approach the security police I start pulling my laptop out of my bag before the agent can turn us away. I explain very quickly a summary of the whole situation and a supervisor is brought in. After I showed her the date and the flight number they let Shana and I through only to have me stopped on the other side of the metal detector for a pat down. A very uncomfortably slow pat down. Any slower and I would have thought the airport security agent was coming on to me. He was very thorough.
I checked the departure screen to see if our flight was still at the same gate. It wasn’t, it had moved. It was 740, the monitor in malevolent green read, “BOARDING.” We took off at a full sprint through the airport terminal. Running down moving sidewalks, dodging roller board bags, pushing small children out of the way and so on. Breathless Shana and I arrive at the gate and the Lufthansa agent was on the phone. When she hung up I started explaining my situation between deep ragged breaths. She said, “Das ez no problem, We vill get you on zis flight, jah.” When she handed Shana and I our boarding passes I felt a relief that I havent felt in a very long time.
The only piece of the puzzle left to decide was whether or not our checked bag would arrive where we were or if it was on its way to Siberia or Peru. I sent Shana to the baggage claim in Athens while I exchanged money in the terminal. Our bag was the first one off. I said, “We have to save that luggage tag, it has to be one of the luckiest ones in the world.”