Lufthansa / mistreatment / mishandling following ticket problems
My companion Ms. Milena Mancuso and I have flown Lufthansa many many times over the past seven years for our regular visits to the United States and have been satisfied with your services. Which is why we were extremely surprised and disappointed by the way we were treated during our last round trip from Marseille, France to Chicago, USA via Munich on 13 April 2007.
When we arrived in Munich at 8:45 that morning, my companion's Italian passport was erroneously refused by the private security service employed by the Munich Airport. We were immediately aware that a mistake had been made, and have since obtained proof from both the US Border Police in Chicago and from the Italian Consul in Marseilles that a mistake was in fact made and that her passport is perfectly valid. But by the time the problem could have been resolved, our flight had already left for Chicago.
Your agent at the Lufthansa service desk in Munich agreed that a mistake had been made, and agreed to put my companion's ticket on hold until we could get the problem resolved, and Ms. Mancuso had her ticket changed so that she could fly back to Marseilles. We then learned that the Lufthansa agent who had checked us in that morning at Marignane in Marseille had erroneously put all three bags under my name without informing me. This meant that Ms. Mancuso was forced to fly back to Marseille without her bag.
The next morning, she learned from her travel agent in Marseilles that her ticket from Munich to Chicago had not been put on hold, as your agent in Munich had told us, but had in fact been canceled as it had not been used!
Meanwhile, I flew on ahead to Chicago with our two year-old daughter. I arrived in Chicago the next day to discover that Lufthansa had lost all our bags. I was told that our bags might be arriving at Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport (the closest location to my final destination in the US), two days later, but that someone would call me to confirm first. No one ever called, so I drove out to the airport two days later, to find my daughter's bag (my bag and my wife's were still missing) sitting right out in the middle of the public access terminal with many other piles of bags, where anyone could have taken it! I was told that US Airways had flown it to Milwaukee, but their agents had no record of the bag I'd found. The next day, I found my bag and my wife's sitting out in the street in front of my mother's house upon returning home that afternoon, and no one had called to tell me they were coming.
Ms. Mancuso was forced to buy a new round trip ticket, this time with Alitalia and transferring in Milan, with the same return date: 27 April 2007. Before taking our return flight on 27 April, I called the Lufthansa Customer Service Department in the US to confirm our flights, asking specifically if Ms. Mancuso's ticket Chicago-Munich-Marseille was still valid. I was informed that it was. Ms. Mancuso's travel agent checked as well in Marseille, and your agency in France also confirmed her return ticket.
When we arrived at Chicago O'Hare for our return flight, Ms. Mohrmann, the woman who checked us in, gave us our three boarding passes through to Marseille, but could not establish a seat number for Ms. Mancuso's Munich-Marseille ticket. She informed us there was a computer problem but that we would get the seat assignment when we passed by the Lufthansa Customer Service in Munich.
I explained to her that if there were any problems with my wife's ticket she should tell us now, because my wife was prepared to use her Alitalia ticket to take the return flight to Milan that was leaving from Chicago that same afternoon. Ms. Mohrmann assured me that we would have no problem. She also said that she was sending a telex ahead to Munich to inform them of the problem. A few minutes later at the gate, I noticed that there was only twenty minutes between the arrival and departure times in Munich, so I asked the agent at the gate, Mr. Curtic, to resolve the problem before we left. He said that he could not, but not to worry; a telex had been sent ahead to Munich, and since there was so little time between the flights, someone would be waiting for us at the gate to take us right over to the Marseilles flight. A Lufthansa agent would quickly find us a seat, he assured me. So Ms. Mancuso decided to travel with me and our daughter instead of on Alitalia.
Alas, we never should have listened to Mr. Curtic. When we arrived in Munich, no one from Lufthansa was waiting for us, leaving me, my pregnant companion, and my two-year old daughter approximately twelve minutes to run across two terminals of the Munich Airport and to go through security. We arrived exhausted at the gate for the Marseille flight. Here, we were told by your agent, Ms. Scholz, that Ms. Mancuso could not enter the airplane, and that I would have to run back to customer service to resolve the problem. Ms. Scholz refused to give us the seat assignment even when I told her we had all just literally run to make the flight. She would not let us on the airplane.
At customer service, your agents refused to help me, saying that the agent in Chicago had, in fact, misled us. When I said a telex had been sent, your agent, Ms. Blattenberger, only smiled ironically and didn't even bother going to check! Her superior, Mr. Arico was particularly unsympathetic. He informed me that the boarding pass I had in my hand was not a ticket, but only a RESERVATION for a ticket, and Ms. Mancuso had no ticket at all. He said all he could do was sell me a new ticket, but there was no more places on any flights that day, and that me, my pregnant companion, and our two-year old daughter would just have to stay in the airport that night or go to a hotel.
You can imagine how upset I was. I told him I would have been willing to discuss the matter the morning before in Chicago, but there was no way that Lufthansa could issue us what they said were tickets in the US and then refuse them in Munich. He said there was nothing he could do, and refused to be helpful in any way. I continued to complain and demanded he call his superior, who finally told him to change Ms. Mancuso's unused ticket Munich-Chicago into a ticket Munich-Marseille (which proves her ticket from Munich to Chicago was in fact still valid). Mr. Arico still told us that we could not fly out on that same day, despite the fact that my wife was pregnant and not feeling well and we were with our two-year old daughter. He couldn't have cared less.
Luckily, there were technical problems with the airplane for our Munich-Marseille 6:10 am flight, and it left one hour late. Please note that I was the one who discovered the flight was late, and not Mr. Arico. I told him twice that the flight was late but he refused to believe me. I insisted he check and he finally saw it on his screen. We were finally able to use Ms. Mancuso's original reservation to get her a seat on the flight. If the flight had been on time, Mr. Arico and Ms. Scholz would have left us stranded in Munich.
I'm afraid all this mistreatment is just too much to accept. Your company bungled our trip from beginning to end and ruined our vacation. We were misled in Munich, lied to in Chicago, and mistreated by your personnel when we tried to explain what had happened after arriving exhausted and panicked in Munich. I have already contacted our family lawyer but I first wanted to let your service know how we were mistreated, and ask you to reimburse Ms. Mancuso's ticket. We feel that this is the least you can do. It's much more than about the money; you can't treat your customers so callously and shuffle them around to various airports, especially with a pregnant women who is unwell and traveling with a young child.
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