Berlin 2015 – A loopy loop into HRW; no luggage @ TXL

Ok, is this an omen?

First of 20 day trip to Berlin, a city I have dreamed of going to for years. The flight from Calgary to London and then to Berlin was exhausting.

At Heathrow, I needed to make a connection to Berlin via Germanwings (yes, the same airline in which the pilot decided that a side of mountain was a more convenient way to land a plane). Arriving at the Germanwings counter to get my boarding pass, I waited in line with another for the rep to appear. In spite of repeated assurances from other airlines along the counter that yes someone was coming, the wait became interminable. Finally, I asked another airline altogether if anyone was actually coming only to find out that any of the airlines could handle the ticket!! Alright then…Still, in London, little did I know though that the loopy Air Canada landing graphed in the pic, would describe well the end of my journey.

The flight to Berlin Tegel was delayed 45 minutes with the actual gate being determined only at the last minute. I sent an email from iphone immediately to the Hotel alerting them of the delay. (I had arranged for a driver to pick me up.) I wasn’t surprised though, but disheartened to say the least, that on arrival at Berlin Tegel, my luggage was nowhere to be found. Six others were in the same position. Thank you Germanwings.

I was greeted by a short, swarthy fellow who held up my name on an iPad and informed him of the missing luggage. He barely spoke English and I German but he gestured repeatedly to follow him. He kept assuring me that he knew where to go in spite of my own misgivings. It was obvious to me anyway that luggage claims would never be far from the center of an air terminal. After traipsing around from one end of Berlin Tegel airport to the other, 30 minutes later we finally found the right place and person to talk to.

Anyway, after a  I filed my claim, I kept getting assurances (by this time I didn’t believe a word from anyone) from all concerned on both sides of the counter, and cursed silently to myself for having forgotten basic travel tip #1: pack some clothes and charging cables in the carry-on. To save weight, i had transferred the charging cables to my now lost luggage and while I had packed toothbrush and paste, little else separated my clothes of 24 hours and a sense that this was not a good beginning to a long trip.

The eight hour time difference, lack of sleep, and uncertainty took their toll. Still, the driver was friendly, almost too much, showed me some sights along the way and deposited me at the hotel. I tipped him, registered, found my room, showered, had a bite to eat, and then, with a pounding headache, tumbled into a fitful sleep.

Postscript: the driver subsequently billed me for an additional hour (50 Euros = $72.50 Cdn) for the extra time it took to get to the hotel. This was on top of the 60 Euros of the shuttle. Although I had sent an email from London the moment I knew the flight was delayed, apparently no one at the hotel saw it and thus couldn’t alert the driver. Since I had done what was required at my end, the prolonged delay (well-intentioned nevertheless) caused by the driver, I refused to pay but offered instead to pay half. I would try to claim the overage with Germanwings. Best of luck with that…

On the phone with the shuttle service, the amazing concierge relayed my arguments to the shuttle service and to me theirs. After a brief exchange he told me they would have none of it. Their unwillingness to be fair got my back up.  At that point, I refused to pay the bill altogether. Given that I had sent an alert two hours before the flight was to land, the driver’s lack of knowledge, and the fact that the hotel concierge was away at the time, the concierge said the hotel would pick up the cost and refused my offer to split the difference. Just as unfair for them, I was, needless to say, very impressed by the hotel’s service standard and its desire to make right a bad situation. Kudos to Andel’s Hotel!!

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