GermanWings my own tragic experience | Airline | So this is what happens when you decide to go cheap trying to save some money when traveling within Europe. I had to fly from Venice, Italy to Edinburgh, Scotland, my next destination. Those of you who have been to Venice, and Marco Polo Airport, know very well that it is not the most friendly nor efficient airport in the world. To top that, the airport is too small for the 23 million tourist this lovely city receives every year. For that you must always keep in mind two three things: (1) arrive to the airport way in advance, knowing that the boat ride from Venice to the Airport or the boat + shuttle, will take at least 40 minutes. Once you get there the lines for check in are endless and same with the security check points. (2) If your flight is delayed, know that most airlines use local handlers. This handlers represent at least 10 airlines each, so trying to talk to one of the agents will be a daunting, and almost impossible experience. (3) If your flight gets cancelled, ACT FAST or you will be stranded for days, or paying ridiculous prices for your flights, and if you get stranded, most airlines will make your life impossible to compensate your hotel stay, and trust me last minute hotel bookings at busy Venice, can get extremely expensive.
Being all these said, for my flight from Venice to Edinburgh, I researched into the many available low cost airlines, and found that the best option price-route-connection wise was GermanWings, well so I thought.
Always when I travel within Europe I have two huge concerns, first Baggage Weight, and second Flight Cancellations, specially when flying low cost airlines. But since I read some reviews online, and the fact that GermanWings belongs to the Lufthansa Group, one of my favorite airlines, I felt very comfortable to choose them over EasyJet, Vueling and many others in the market.
I must say I was quite excited to try a new airline, so this morning I got ready for a great experience… well silly me. The flight was scheduled for 8.40AM. So at 5.30AM I was picked up by a private riva at my hotel in central Venice. All was perfect, checked in and proceeded to the gate.
The nightmare began, and I will make it very short, not to bore you and to get the exact message straight. First announcement was that the flight was delayed. Therefore being that I had a connection, I was not making my second flight. Then I found out that Cologne to Edinburgh only flies once a day, meaning I would be stranded in Cologne. Asked the agent at the gate and she, in a very polite way told me F..K OFF that she was just a handler and that Germwings had no representatives in Venice, that I would have to wait till arriving to Cologne to have more information. PERFECT Customer Service, way to go AVIAPARTNER. Handing me next a lousy voucher for a crapy breakfast at a filthy cafeteria. But I decided to remain positive, and thought… Well if worst comes worst, I will have to sleep over in Cologne, city I do like and been there before, hoping they would take care of my transfers and accommodation. So sat close to the agents to check on them.
Almost two hours passed and they could not careless about the complaints and needs of my fellow passengers, specially those like me missing their connections, being stranded in Cologne, since the network of connections by GermanWings is very limited. I overheard, the flight is CANCELLED. Public announcement they did almost 30 minutes later, playing with the time, lives and opportunities of their clients.
I stopped for a minute, took a deep breath and said.!!! I need to get out of here now. GermanWings will not help me or any other grounded passengers, and I will be on waiting-list for the following day with only one already sold out flight and connection and many angry passengers trying to fly out. Ran to the first Internet machine at the airport. Logged into my Travel Agent booking engine, and searched for the first flight out of Venice to Edinburgh, either with optimal connections or even heading to London, Manchester or Glasgow. I would rather take a train next, than having to trust any other low cost European Airline.
I found a flight to Lufthansa Venice / Frankfurt / Edinburgh. It seems my fate today was tied to Lufthansa Group, the one I have always love and trusted blinded, but no so much anymore. Ran to the ticketing counter, hoping there would be seats available yet, and that my poor other fellow victims of GermanWings, wouldn’t have done the same.
INSIDER Travel Agent TIP: when this happens, if you can, get hold of your travel agent, he/she will know exactly what to do. If that is not an option, buy a round trip ticket. Round trips are usually cheaper than One Ways when booking last minute. This was the case with mine, saving over USD 200.
Thank God and the travel agent angels, there were still a few seats available. So I explained to the Lufthansa agent the situation, trying to see, being both airlines part of the same group, if they will extend any courtesy, special fare…. anything. Her answer was …” GermanWings is Lufthansa Group but it is not Lufthansa…” Hmmmmm still trying to understand what she meant with that? If you do, please let me know.
To end the story, EUR 275 and over 7 hours delayed from my original flight schedule, I made it to Edinburgh. The great news is, by Lufthansa being part of Star Alliance, I got miles with UNITED Airlines…. Fabulous worst US carrier. Really can it get any worst? Now I have more miles to fly United.
The whole point of this post is to make you aware that not usually LOW Cost ends up being HIGH Cost, read my other experience a year ago when flying AirBaltic from Paris to Stockholm. Most times cheaper is not the best option.
I am not complaining nor furious about the fact that the flight was first delayed and them cancelled, that happens everyday, even to the best airlines in the world. The important part is how the airline, their employees and handlers deal with it, and help travelers with their disrupted itineraries, hopes and needs. What I AM complaining about is the lack of professionalism, empathy, communication, and customer service by GermanWings. It was despicable, rude and inoperative. I am beyond surprised and disappointed, to learn that a group like Lufthansa Group is behind this negligent airline and partner.
That’s why I always choose, when in Europe to travel by speed trains.
Of course my flight with Lufthansa was perfect as usual, departing sharply on time and arriving way before schedule.
Stay away from GermanWings, Advise by experience, or better said lack of it. Today travel is all about experiences and GermanWings is not fitted to be part of any. GermanWings Flight 0815 – Venice / Cologne / Edinburgh. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends
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