The longest day

It actually lasted two days but by the intensity of troubles and events, felt like one.
Early morning on December 18th, I woke up and take a look through a window: dark heavy clouds over Belgrade didn`t feel promising at all. A bit later, while a friend of mine was driving me to the airport, a heavy snow started. On the Lufthansa counter they didn`t know what to tell me about a situation in Frankfurt, only that some flights were delayed and some of them cancelled – but what the hell, I thought, once you get into system, system will take care of you. Hey, it was a beggining of an adventure, why not to spice it a little bit. What terrible could happen, right?
It didn`t happen as I expected.

We were about an hour late in departing from Belgrade and once getting to Frankfurt, needed to wait for flight control to let us lend. So we circled and circled and circled and it was I think our 6th or 7th circle on the sky when they gave us a green light. So we did, just in time for me to miss the flight for Calgary :irked: Ten lousy minutes :doh: Ok, what to do next, I asked a girl at the informations but she just waved her hand toward Lufthansa counters, not even bothering to look at my direction.
"Go wait there…"
I was a bit annoyed by that, hey I`m a customer, a bit of compassion and politeness won`t hurt but… what the hell, those… 300+ people probably asked her the same question :left: The next annoyance came few minutes later, there were only one person working behind a counter and she probably spent more than 15 minutes per passenger to try to solve a problem :doh: Fortunately, a lot of my fellows in trouble thought the same way as I did so they started to complain louder and louder and soon there were 4 people working there. Ok, I thought, soon I will be on a next available flight and it will be just a small annoyance. At the same time, a sky over Frankfurt cleared and sun made a bad day a bit easier.

It didn`t happen as I expected.
A girl behind a counter told me there were not available flights for that day so she transfered me to Air France flight to Paris next morning, telling me that there will be enough time to catch a connecting flights to Toronto and Vancouver. She gave me a vouchers for taxi to and from hotel in Frankfurt, voucher for a hotel and two meals, smiled and wished me a safe trip tomorrow. Well, what the hell, I thought, I will take a short walk by the Main river, spend a night at the hotel, and go to Paris next morning. A day was nice, sky blue and clear, being a little late won`t be THAT kind of problem, right? Only if that headache I got in a meantime would go…

It didn`t happen as I expected.
Because of terrible headache I couldn`t fall asleep before midnight, despite clean white sheets on my bed and a great long hot shower I had. At 1 a.m. San sent me a text message that my 7:25 flight to Paris was already delayed and I won`t make it in time to get to connecting flight. I jumped out of bed and went to airport immediatelly to see if anything could be done. By that time it started to snow again… seriously this time :left: Of course, no one at the airport didn`t know anything about delaying so I spent another couple of hours wandering around a, suddenly, empty airport looking at some "unfortunate" people who slept there on mobile beds and were not lucky as I was to have a hotel and two meals… Then I met a girl who spent the night on one of those beds and she told me that later in the afternoon, Lufthansa brought those beds to airport because it seems no hotels were available by that time – too many delayed flights, too many people to take care about. And she told me it would be smart to avoid that kind of sleeping there, and something about 500 people and only one shower and such things :left: Well, soon I will be out of here, one way or another, no need to be THAT worried, right? Right?

It didn`t happen as I expected.
First, they told me my 7:25 flight was cancelled, then they put me on another flight to Paris at 9:00. It was close to boarding time so I ran to another part of the airport to make it in time. They opened a new ticket for me and I was revealed, ok, flight was not delayed nor cancelled, I will make it in time and…. 15 minutes later my flight was cancelled. In return they offered me a train to Paris which I was smart enough to refuse (later I heard on the news that train ended stuck in snow somewhere in France).
By that time I realised everything has gone to hell and Lufthansa people just didn`t know what to do. I returned to the main hall to try to find another way to solve the problem and…. I ended up in a line along with about 3000 people waiting for the same thing :ko: I felt a bit desperate, I admit, and after 2 hours I sent an text message to San that maybe, I won`t make it this time and who knows how many days I will spend here. I was sleepy, hungry, tired and still adrenaline ran through my veins which made me even more shaky and tired. At one point, there was a Danish couple in front of me, woman looking at me and asking me if I feel all right. I told her about what I have experienced in last 24 hours so her husband kindly offered to go and buy me a sandwich and a bottle of water. I was so grateful, my mouth was too dry I could barely speak. I told them that they just saved my life there. I am sorry for I didn`t ask for their names because I would like to mention them here. They are about my age and just arrived from Calgary this morning….

San, on the same time had another sleepless night in Vancouver but she gave me some important news. It seems that not a single intercontinental flight was cancelled, they were late but not cancelled; and that on 5 p.m. there was Air Canada flight to Toronto; and that there were free seats available. So I grabbed the timetable from a nearby shelf and checked: there were flights to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and, I think, New York that afternoon. I made a firm decision that I will never let them put me on another European flight, because I will be stuck there forever and I know I won`t be able to make through another night at the airport, that would be simply too much…
After 5 hours, when I was almost at the counter something unexpected happened – 4 Italian guys who just arrived there, pushed me and my fellow Danish saviours and just stood in front of us. I became really mad and tried to explain them that this was not the end of the line but the biggest of them (who only spoke some English) told me to be quiet and gave me one of those mean look at the eyes. Which made me even more mad. I told him to move or I will call the police and that word seems to be some sort of password that made them quiet and obedient. They moved behind me and pushed some guy from Kenya who thought it won`t be smart to argue with them. I tried to argue more but it seems that other people found that fine and not a big reason to fight. So I quit. There were some important things to focus too…

When I finaly got there, I didn`t even give the poor man a possibility to say anything: I told him that I already spent 24 hours there, that I know there are 4 flights "over the pond" that afternoon and that at least on one of them there are available seats. First, he hesitated, tried to put me on some kind of waiting list for the next day, which I refused cutting him in the middle of whatever he wanted to say. I told him that I know, a snow is not their fault, but not giving me the same option yesterday was, and that I don`t intend to stay there anymore. And that I know my rights about returning money policy. I insisted and insisted and finaly he agreed and put me on Air Canada`s flight at 5 that afternoon :hat: It was enough for me and I went immediately through all security checks and passport control and set myself at the gate. A plane was there and it was about an hour before boarding time.
The rest of that afternoon and night is just a blur in my memory: we were about 90 minutes late in taking off but it didn`t bother me at all. Somewhere over England, just after sweeping a meal in, what felt like one big swallow, I fainted and woke up a little bit before landing in Toronto. We were late for my next flight, of course, but they were very efficient there and in less than hour I was on another flight to Vancouver where I landed at around 1:30 a.m. local time, on Monday…

Later on the news, I`ve heard there was a fight among people on the Frankfurt airport. And 3 days later some of them were still stuck there…

After all I was taught a good lesson: a system will never solve a problem for you, once you got stuck with something major. You must think and find a solution even if it means going slightly around system`s rules. Otherwise, system would solve it when it will be too late for you :left:

And I managed to make one nice photograph of Frankfurt :happy:

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57 Responses to The longest day

  1. raniakasim says:

    Originally posted by gdare:

    Rania, you won`t believe how happy I was when it was all over

    and that is the most important thing " the happy end"

  2. Words says:

    It sounds a complete nightmare, but good on you for staying focused and finally managing to get a flight. They really should have better ways of dealing with these problems. The weather was bad, but not impossibly bad.

  3. gdare says:

    Rania :yes:Words, especially after I saw a snowstorm at Calgary airport – it was worse but everything seemed to work perfect :up:

  4. theoddbod says:

    It's all worth it in the end πŸ˜€

  5. gdare says:

    Exactly πŸ˜‰

  6. canadagirl says:

    What an adventure you had. I guess I should've read this post before I purchased Lufthansa tickets to Belgrade πŸ˜₯

  7. gdare says:

    Lufthansa is usually very efficient, this is why I chosed them. But on a situation like it was in December they were just unprepared and confused. Situations like that show all the vulnerabilities a big system could have :ko:

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