Monday, November 09, 2015

One of those travel days that just had to be least for me

Sometimes you have travel experiences that you have to document, if only for posterity’s sake.

Recognizing that these are really first-world problems, of course, here’s what happened to me yesterday.

The plan was to fly at 6.05 pm on Lufthansa via Frankfurt to Hamburg.

On Tuesday-and yes, I am very excited for this because it validates the thesis about why I chose to study German in college—I will be giving the Sprinklr presentation to a group of CMOs at an event hosted by Mercedes…in German.

So, while it was slated to be a short trip (2 days), I expected it to be of high value for me, but more importantly for our customers and prospects.

Not putting too much emphasis on me as a person, but rather the symbolism of having an American exec come over to an event in Germany and speak in German will, we believe, indicate that though we are an American company, we have a global outlook.

Given that it was a trip of such short duration, however, and that it precedes a few other trips as well, I figured I would utilize one of the highly coveted Global Premier Upgrades to get me from Economy Plus into Business Class.

Now, these don’t always work and sometimes you are waitlisted, but as of Saturday night, my seat was confirm…the lay flat seat would give me a fighting chance at getting some rest.

All seemed to be…as they say in German…in Ordnung…as I packed and spent time with my kids on Sunday afternoon.  I put my phone down and just focused on them.

At 3.30, just as I was prepared to leave for the airport (as you might expect, I am a big believer in giving myself a huge cushion of  time), I picked up my phone to see a number of emails, texts, and missed calls from my awesome admin, Mary.

The news?

Apparently, Lufthansa had gone on strike and nearly 1,000 flights around the world had been cancelled.  Mine was one of them.

Staying calm, I called the United Premier line to get some answers.

The confirmed that the flight had been cancelled and it seemed like I had automatically been re-booked on KLM via Amsterdam.

The question was: How?

So, it seems that initially I bought my ticket through United and they “owned” the ticket.  However, when I applied my coupon for a business class upgrade, it became “owned” (whatever that means) by Lufthansa…who had then transferred it to KLM.

Her advice: Check in at Lufthansa counter (which I was sure would be a madhouse) and then go to KLM.

Well, if there’s one reason why I leave super early for airports it is because I hate running through airports. And now, I would be in the position where I would have to run through an airport. Oh boy.

And then, the kicker, the plane was at 6pm…it was now nearly 3.50. Way too close for my personal comfort.

So I jumped in the car and off I went.

Midway, my admin called to tell me to go straight to KLM’s desk…which I did.  And, when I arrived, I received what I had expected would happen.

In the span of minutes, I had been demoted from a guy in Business Class with a special meal, who has TSA pre-check, lounge access, and priority boarding….to a guy with absolutely none of those…and a seat in basic economy in the middle.

It’s humbling to remember what life was like before all the privileges amassed ;-)

Still, it does seem that the automatic rebooking was a function of my 1k status, so I can’t complain all too much.

While my seatmates were nice and I watched Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in German (no subtitles) to get my mind back in the game, sleep didn’t come too much. I think I got 2 hours…and I used all varieties of sleep aids.

Anyway, got to Amsterdam and managed to finagle my way into Star Alliance lounge using the “hey, Lufthansa went on strike” excuse.

A short trip to Hamburg, got my SIM card in the airport and now on the subway into town.  It’s a beautiful day and I’ve got a variety of activities (both personal and professional) I am going to try and make happen.

Still, had to document this one for the ages.
International travel isn’t always glamorous.  In fact, the best advice I’ve ever heard about it comes from my sister, Kira, who says “if you can’t take the disruptions, don’t get on the plane.”

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