After two flights and several delays, we finally arrived in Munich. For Pete, the trip was part business and part Oktoberfest. For me, the trip was part Oktoberfest and part hangover. This was my first time flying Swiss and Lufthansa and I must say, the on-board service on both airlines far exceeded any American based carrier (American, Delta, United, etc). We flew from London to Geneva to Munich. It was a very roundabout way to get to Munich, however, you gotta do what you gotta do when the company is paying for Pita’s flights.
The flight times for both legs were around an hour and to my surprise, both offered a snack (sandwich) and Swiss went a step further and provided a cute little chocolate bar. Beer is free as is your first checked bag on both airlines. Airlines with freebies and good service – I imagine this is what flying was like before I was born.Both flights were delayed about 45 minutes, however, we made up some of the time in the air and arrived in both Geneva and Munich about 20 minutes late. Our flight from Geneva to Munich was filled with Oktoberfesters, men in business suits, and five Koreans. I have nothing against Koreans, but they didn’t look like Oktoberfesters and they weren’t in business suits, so they got categorized separately.
We made our way to baggage claim (aka reclaim) and had been waiting for our luggage for about 20 minutes when I looked up at the monitor and saw our flight number with a status of “delayed.” Ruh roh – our flight was the only one in baggage claim waiting for luggage and it was “delayed.” Not good.
Other passengers started to notice the “delayed” status a few minutes after I did. The Germans started getting angry. Finally, after an hour of waiting (note that our flight from Geneva to Munich was only 50 minutes), a representative from Lufthansa addressed the increasingly disgruntled mob in German, which was of no help to Pete and I.
Their body language indicated that her announcement was not good news. They started raising their voices and the belligerent drunk guy became the really belligerent drunk guy. To make matters worse, it was late and they had started turning off the lights and TVs in the airport. Reportedly, the baggage handlers had left for the day and the customs/immigrations personnel were nowhere to be found. All signs indicated that I was going to be in this same pair of underpants come 4pm tomorrow.
After her announcement, a nice Bavarian guy next to me smiled and said, “Did you get all that?” I laughed and shook my head no. He then recited her announcement in English and quickly became surrounded by all of the non-German speaking passengers. Peter and I ended up hanging out with him and his friend during the next hour-and-a-half as we waited to speak to a Lufthansa representative. They translated for us, made us laugh, and gave us tips for surviving our first Oktoberfest. Hence, not all is lost when luggage is lost.
The Lufthansa representative said that the luggage was in Munich (awesome?) but the luggage handlers mis-routed all of the luggage and it was somewhere in the airport but they were unsure of its whereabouts. I imagined this gigantic “conveyor belt city” under the airport and the luggage floating around the building aimlessly. Turns out, that’s exactly what went on for over two hours.
Our unofficial interpreter and his friend had just come back from attending a course somewhere in Europe where they met two students from Kansas who were currently living in Kentucky. They told us that the women told them that people in Kentucky like horses, KFC, and something else that they could not remember. I told them that they probably said bourbon and the guys were like, “Yes, bourbon. They like bourbon. That’s what we learned.”
They also learned that the per person limit for importing beer into Germany is 14 liters, as if the country is in a beer drought or something. They made a joke about the drunk guy nearby having imported six liters in his belly and 14 liters in his mis-routed luggage.
After nearly two hours, a few bags appeared on the belt, one of which was mine. Shocking! Ten minutes passed and a few more bags appeared, none of which were Pita’s. Our unofficial interpreter said, “The luggage guy must be driving a Volkswagen Jetta or a Bug and can only bring a few bags to the belt at a time.” I found this extremely witty and funny but I’m afraid his joke doesn’t have the same punch in written form, so you are just going to have to trust me that it was hilarious.
Finally, two-and-half hours after arriving at the Munich airport (approximately 1am), we decided to call it a night and head for the hotel even though Peter did not have his bag. We left our trust in Lufthansa to deliver it to the hotel the following day.
Oh, and after all of the above, I didn’t even get a Germany stamp in my passport book as the customs/immigration crew left the airport before we did.