Look, I love Lufthansa, and I’m sure many of you know that. But, seriously, they really need to figure out something regarding their pilots and flight attendants constantly going on strike. Does Lufthansa really want to keep cancelling thousands of flights or should they just pay their pilots more?
As you know, I posted about how last week I was planning a Lufthansa First Class trip with a friend and someone took my two Lufthansa First Class seats from Los Angeles literally as I was booking. So I found a great alternative. Our end goal was to get to London for 2-3 days (since my friend hadn’t been before) and we wanted to fly in style… naturally Lufthansa First Class would be the best option. So eventually we booked the following flights:
- BA Avios Award: Seattle – Las Vegas (Alaska Airlines Economy)
- Aeroplan 70k Award (miles from AMEX): Las Vegas – Houston – Mexico City – Munich – London (United First/Business and Lufthansa First/Business)
- Miles & More 52k Award: London – Frankfurt – Seattle (Lufthansa Business Class)
We had around 23 hours in Mexico City, which I thought was perfect to show her around the city. We arrived in Mexico City right as scheduled on Tuesday, 22nd of November and explored the city.
On the morning of the 23rd, we woke up and both were excited to fly Lufthansa First Class from Mexico City to Munich… then literally three hours before departure the flight was cancelled.. which was strange as the aircraft had just arrived from Munich and also the Lufthansa strike was only affecting flights from Germany and not TO Germany that day.
After being super disappointed, I searched other options. Both the Lufthansa and Miles & More Senator phone line were very unhelpful and told us “nothing is available” until a few days later. Look, we were supposed to be in London Thursday through Sunday and it was Wednesday morning – we couldn’t stay in Mexico City any longer.
I figured the best thing to do at this point would be to fly back to the U.S. on United and then fly to London via Zurich with SWISS, since some Lufthansa flights from the U.S. were also cancelled that day. After researching what is available, I called the Miles & More Senator phone line and gave the agent the flights, segment by segment, and he reissued the ticket as we were heading to the airport in an uber (since the flight was less than 2 hours away). Here’s what I told him to book for us:
- Mexico City – Houston – Chicago – Zurich – London (United Economy/First, SWISS First/Business)
I love how they kept saying nothing is available until I gave them the exact flights. I find it terrible that they’re unwilling to go the extra mile for a Gold member and really research other options, other than what the computer is saying. In this case, I knew we would be getting on United to get back to America and then I knew SWISS First was available.
So we flew to Houston… then as we landed Houston to Chicago was delayed and we wouldn’t be able to make the connection to Zurich. As if the day couldn’t get any worse.. So we headed to the United Club in Terminal E, where a literal ANGEL agent was so helpful and friendly and willing to assist. I explained everything and she proposed some solutions meanwhile I also searched. She said that usually the Lufthansa strike lasts for 1-2 days, though it had been announced for 4 days now!
Getting to Chicago earlier wouldn’t work since there was no earlier flight than ours. So I looked at SWISS First availability from Montreal, Miami, and New York. Montreal was available, but we’d have to connect twice before getting there, so that was too risky. Miami was full.. but Newark was F6 (6 seats available in First Class for sale!) Awesome!
So then we checked Houston to Newark and only Economy was available. We took it. The agent even placed us on the upgrade list (at the very top) and my upgrade ended up clearing (since someone in First failed to show up on time), meanwhile my friend remained in Economy (in an exit row). Before we headed to the Newark flight’s gate, we found out it was delayed due to an inbound aircraft arriving late. Our initial connection time in Newark was just over an hour and we now had 30 minutes to get from Newark Terminal C to B.
Once we landed in Newark, we literally ran a marathon to get to the airside transfer shuttle and showed up at the SWISS gate in Terminal B as Economy Class was boarding. The agents there were so friendly and said we shouldn’t have ran as they sent a shuttle for us (though no one was waiting at our United arrival gate in Newark). They noticed that we were rebooked because of the Lufthansa strike, and said that we might just like SWISS First a bit more.. hah!
Needless to say, we were quite happy to have boarded our SWISS First flight to Zurich. We were both rebooked out of Mexico City from award to revenue fares, so we did receive around 20k miles for the new flights we were rebooked on. Also, we were able to experience the new SWISS First Lounge in Zurich.
We eventually made it to London hours after we were supposed to (though on the same day), so I’m wondering if I am entitled EU compensation since the Lufthansa flights were cancelled?
We enjoyed London all for ~35 hours before we were notified that Lufthansa was striking again and of course we wouldn’t be able to fly back on them. At this point I just said screw it (since everything else out of Europe was full), and decided to cancel our Miles & More award tickets and instead book the direct flight from London to Seattle in Delta One Business Class for 62.5k Delta miles, like 5 hours before departure.
I would have had fun with our return journey, but literally every flight was full from Europe to America/Canada (in all classes of service) with the Lufthansa Group and other Star Alliance airlines. Of course they offered to rebook us on the Delta flight, but I figured I don’t want to waste my Miles & More miles on Delta, so we just booked with Delta directly.
It was quite the adventure. We flew some ~17k miles over 4 countries and spent 23 hours in Mexico City and about 35 hours in London. We left Monday night from Seattle and were back Saturday afternoon in Seattle… so we were probably in the air/in transit for longer than we were at the actual destinations.
To me, this trip and the flights seemed like something I would potentially book for myself, but it was quite the adventure. I obviously did all of the flight searching and rebooking since my friend isn’t into miles/points that much. But overall, she loved Mexico City and London, so that was great. We also had a blast travelling around the 4 countries together.
Needless to say, I think we will remember this trip for a longer period of time! But, really, the constant Lufthansa strike needs to end.