The Unexpected Journey Home
Now, I get to tell you the very eventful moment when I got to the airport in Munich at 05:30. Obviously, I’m exhausted, it’s been a wonderful and long trip. I had been able to check in to my flight the night before as I was on my way to the airport in Italy on my phone. So I had my electronic boarding pass and was definitely good to go. However, I do like paper tickets, (because I can save those and put in a memory box,) so I went up to the counter to get a new boarding pass. As well, as I did not see my flight information on anything, so I figured I should also see what’s going on.
I walked over to [CODESHARE AIRLINE]1 desk. The very nice Reservation Agent asked for my passport, and checked my information. “Oh, you’re going to Dusseldorf.” He said. My answer was immediate with a “no”. He looked again, “You’re going to Miami?” Again, my response was no. “Chicago?” He asked even more confused. I finally said yes, and he looked at me and told me, “You’re going Munich to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to Miami, Miami to Chicago.” I looked even more confused.
“I’m going Munich to Berlin, Berlin to Chicago.”
“No, no. Munich to Dusseldorf to Miami, and then to Chicago.” I’m exhausted, he didn’t seem to understand when I asked him why my flights changed, and then told me since I booked with miles I would have to call [AIRLINE]2. This was a true codeshare flight.
For those of you who don’t know, a True Codeshare is when you book an Airline ticket with one airline, and are traveling on another. You are able to get and use mileage on these codeshare airlines. For example, while flying Alitalia, I was able to get miles for Delta. Going to Bali, my tickets were purchased with American, but the flights were (Expressjet Operated by American Express–which is a codeshare flight, but not a true codeshare) with Qatar Airlines, which I was able to book miles with.
Here are some partner airlines (not including all the Regional Airlines):
One World Alliance– Airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, and their affiliates, such as Iberia Express, LATAM Airlines Peru, Globus, American Eagle, Comair, SUN-Air, etc.
Star Alliance: Adria, Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian, Eva Air, LOT, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss Air, TAP Portugal, Thai, Turkish Airlines, and United.
SkyTeam Alliance: Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentina, Aeromexico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, MEA, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam Airways, Xiamen Air.
There are a few more alliances out there, and these are always changing. It looks like Aer Lingus will join One World, possible Air Tahiti Nui, and Interjet as well. Copa used to be a part of SkyTeam.
Just because airlines aren’t part of an Alliance, it doesn’t mean they don’t have partnerships with airlines. For examples, Hawaiian Airlines have a partnership with United Airlines. Alaska Airlines was a partner airlines with Delta, and as of today, April 30, 2017, they no longer are. Frontier Airlines used to be partner airlines with Alaska, Sun Country, and Virgin America, but as of 2015 that dissolved. Virgin America is partners with Etihad, etc. These are actually pretty interesting, and can be a lot of fun.
So I waited to check in for these flights and called [AIRLINE]. Unfortunately I had about a 2 hour wait, so I set up for a call back since I didn’t want to use all my battery before I even get on the flight. Prior to them calling me back, I did go back to the counter and got boarding passes, since this flight was boarding much earlier than the other flight. I finally got a nice lady from my mileage program after an additional 30 minute transfer, who told me to not get on the flight, because she had to call [CODESHARE AIRLINE] to transfer the tickets back to [AIRLINE]. This is something I am very familiar with because I work with airlines all day. Once I checked in, those tickets became theirs and not who I originally booked with. So I waited on hold while she called them. Now, I’m at the gate and they are boarding while I’m waiting for this lady to come back to me, which she checked back with me a couple of times already. The Gate Agent called for Final Boarding, and the phone line went dead. I got hung up on. I thought for a few minutes, do I call back, do I wait for her to get back to me, do I get on this plane, what should I do.
As upset as I was that this all happened, I decided to get on the plane. It took me about 3 hours to get someone and I didn’t really want to get stuck in Munich. It was difficult enough to try and explain things with the Counter Agent who’s first language wasn’t English–but that’s all part of traveling.
As I got on the plane, I will admit I was furious. Then our plane had to deice. I also looked at my connection times, and realized, somewhere on this trip, I’m going to get stuck somewhere I’m not really going to want to be (considering my boarding pass only had boarding times, and I didn’t actually know what time the flight was going to leave). I thought positive. Positive thoughts. When I landed in Dusseldorf I had 15 minutes to get from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, and I had to go through immigration somewhere in between. Thank goodness I didn’t check my luggage, because there is no way, it would have gotten from my first flight to my second.
I am running. Straight out running through this airport with two backpacks on. By the grace of God, I’m the first one in the US Passport line for Immigrations. Quickly stamped and then more running. I hear Final Boarding call for [YY]37000, followed by my name, which I heard as an after thought. So I kept running and prayed I would make it. I was one of the last ones on the airplane, but somehow I made it.
I was calm on the flight home, tried to relax, tried not to be so angry (which I was, even people who travel often don’t like when things change suddenly without their knowledge.) For example, I work with schedule changes every day. Important things to know: 2 hours or more, change in connection city, adding or subtracting an additional leg to your journey, you are able to make a change or refund your itinerary. I hit every nightmare schedule change in the book, including short connection times. I don’t really mind layovers, it gives me a chance to see a new place or new culture, even if it’s just in the airport. Besides adding an additional 10 hours to my travel time, I was going through customs in a different US city. Which is my big no no. I will NEVER book a flight going through US Customs in a US city unless I really have to, and I’m also very specific on where I would do it, and make sure I have more than enough time between my flights.
1 hour and 20 minutes.
When my Dusseldorf to Miami were wheels down on the runway, that’s how much time I had.
When my plane got to the gate.
When I was done going through customs. Now I had to go through TSA. Again, I am so unbelievably thankful that I was not checking a bag. I would have had to collect my checked luggage, go through customs, check in my luggage, go through TSA.
To find my gate and/or terminal to get on my plane and go home. It was 80+ degrees in the airport, I’m running again. Then I hear final boarding call for [YY]1109, in two languages that I knew (at least). Then again, I hear my name. I had no idea where this gate was. After doubling back a couple times, I finally found it when an electric cart moved. Ran to the gate, the lady said I needed a different boarding pass, so she passed me to another agent who was somehow able to print the pass, and I finally got on the plane from Miami to Chicago.
As I was waiting for my flight to pull up to the gate in Miami, my brother told me I was probably staying at his place tonight, because Milwaukee was getting hit with bad weather, and my Dad wasn’t going to risk the drive to Chicago in that weather. This was somewhat frustrating, but I thought no worries, I’ll take the Amtrak, and get back even later tonight. Considering I was supposed to get home at 13:00, and ended up landing in Chicago around 20:30.
The last Amtrak left around 20:10 and I would have had to find a way to get to Union Station, so my brother told me to text his wonderful girlfriend, who gave me directions of the trains/subway and what stop to get off at for her to pick me up so I can stay at their place (not sure exactly what I took, at this point I wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep). I ended up walking around O’Hare for a bit trying to figure out where exactly I was supposed to go to get on this train/subway/mode of transportation thing. At this point, I was “home”, so I could calm down a bit and relax. A man helped with the machine and voila, I was going to a home-y place.
Fun Fact: I worked at 10:30 the next morning.
I slept wonderfully, and was trying to figure out now what. So I got ready, packed the things that I took out and got an Uber to Union Station so I could take the Amtrak to Milwaukee, have my Dad pick me up (5 minutes from my house), so I could make it to work in time. Obviously, we’re going to keep the streak of not being able to get home going. The Amtrak was delayed due to a car overturning on the tracks. Around 10 o’clock, they cancelled that train, and the next train was at 10:20. Now, I had to call into work, very unhappily.
Finally, I got home. Cold, tired, irritated.
Eventually I found out that there was a strike in Berlin, which is way everyone was being rerouted. [AIRLINE] got a piece of my mind. Mostly because they knew about this ahead of time and no one contacted me. My email and cell phone worked overseas. No matter how upset and irritated I was about someone dropping the ball, I stayed very direct, and calm, and diplomatic about my feelings. Especially when I spoke with a lady the next morning and she seemed to be yelling at me and blaming [CODESHARE AIRLINE]. I calmly stated, “I’m not calling to argue with you, I just want to speak with your Customer Relations,” and I was definitely not okay with her somehow scolding me. I was lightly compensated, but I just wanted all of this to be over. My distaste, however, remains strong.
Am I still going to fly on [AIRLINE and CODESHARE AIRLINE]? Most likely. It may take me a little while before I do so. But things like this happen. People make mistakes. Always have a little wiggle room. Apparently, I just needed a little more.
1-3 Trying to prevent bias of certain airlines, so I am just generalizing the airlines.