Folks, I flubbed my big moment under the spotlight and very nearly ruined Christmas for my wife’s side of the family…but thankfully Lufthansa saved the day, with literally only seconds to spare.
I Choked. Lufthansa Saved Christmas
As I mentioned last week, I was so excited about the chance to treat my family to one of my favorite products in the world, Lufthansa First Class. If you’re a regular reader, you can only imagine my delight in being able to let my wife and children experience the comfort, service, and excellence of Lufthansa in the air and on the ground.
The plan was simple: fly from San Francisco to Frankfurt, then use the 2.5 hour layover to walk to the First Class Terminal, enjoy Christmas lunch, pick up a special rubber duck, and then be chauffeured to a remote stand for our connection to Basel.
I was so excited. Over-the-moon elated.
And the flight went very well. The flight departed with one open seat in first class and we were invited to use it for my one-year-old daughter (a lap child). Service was excellent and we enjoyed a multi-course dinner as a family.
My children were well-behaved, the baby slept (everyone slept well), and I have nothing but positive things to say about the excellent flight attendants onboard.
This was one of the greatest flights of my life and fulfilled a bucket list item: a first class trip with my wife and kids.
But then self-inflicted tragedy struck.
We stepped off our flight and began walking toward passport control. It was then I realized that I had left our passports onboard in a side compartment in seat 3K.
I tried to dash back to the plane, but the crew had already left and the plane was sealed. There were no agents at the gate.
You might imagine my wife’s reaction…
We walked to the Senator Lounge in the Z-Gates and I ashamedly explained our predicament to the agent. Right away, she went to work on our behalf, picking up her phone and making a call.
She told us to relax and she would keep us updated on her progress.
The minutes passed and my dream of taking my family to the First Class Terminal quickly evaporated.
Now the question was simply whether we would get the passports in time to make our connection to Basel.
A colleague was dispatched and literally ran to the aircraft in an effort to assist us. But there was still no one there.
The lounge manager appeared and escorted me back the plane. The 747-8 would fly to New Delhi later that afternoon and gate agents finally showed up to the gate with just 25 minutes to go before our flight to Basel departed.
A gate agent went onboard and found my passports, handing them to me.
The lounge manager and I hustled back to the lounge to pick up my family. It was now 12:33p and our flight to Basel left at 12:40p. We still had to clear immigration and of course I was traveling with a one-year-old and five-year-old.
The easiest solution would have been to book us on a later flight to Basel, but there were no later flights to Basel. It was Christmas Eve.
Zurich was an option, but it would have meant an evening arrival and that would have been a huge hassle for my wife’s parents to pick us up or a very expensive last-minute train trip with six pieces of luggage.
Selfishly, I wanted to take the Zurich option so we could still go to the First Class Terminal. But I couldn’t do it…it would let my wife down more than I had already let her down and greatly inconvenience her family, who were waiting for us and had prepared a great dinner for Heiligabend (Christmas Eve).
The lounge manager called the gate for our Basel flight and the gate agent agreed to hold the flight for us if we could make it by 12:45p. We started running…down the concourse, through passport control, through the duty free shop, and to gate A5. We made it just in time.
We were ushered downstairs to a waiting bus, with the gate agent helping us carry our luggage downstairs.
Truly, talk about first class service. Lufthansa really went out of its way to save Christmas for us.
And yet the feelings of guilt and shame and overtook me. I wept. Many of you might shower me with derision or the smallest violin in the world. Rightfully so.
I choked. I flubbed what I had been saving for and preparing for for many years.
No First Class Terminal.
No Christmas rubber duck.
No Christmas lunch.
The first class flight was wonderful, but the ground experience is quintessential to properly experiencing Lufthansa First Class.
And so, I can only reflect upon the missed opportunity and resolve to be more careful next time. If I ever want to repeat this trip, it will cost me 400,000 points instead of 300,000 points after my daughter turns two in May. But when will we ever see four seats in first class open using miles on one Lufthansa flight?
I cannot describe how bad I felt. I still feel bad three days later. Even if we can laugh about this one day, I messed up in a big way and have only myself to blame.
But thank you Lufthansa for saving Christmas. Thank you for helping me get the passports back as quickly as possible and holding the Basel flight for me. In a different way than I ever could have imagined, I still received the first class ground product…