- On a trip to Europe, three of Carlin Haidinger's flights were canceled and she flew into a different airport than planned.
- She had to stand in line for five hours at Frankfurt Airport to get a new boarding pass from Lufthansa.
- The airline lost her luggage, too, and she had to wait 20 days to get it back.
A passenger says she spent five hours standing in line to get a new boarding pass after Lufthansa canceled her flight last minute.
Carlin Haidinger told Insider that during her journey from Washington state to Italy she faced delays, last-minute cancellations, lost luggage, and poor customer service.
Haidinger booked her flights through United via her travel agent Capital One. Her original flights on June 24 were set to be operated by Brussels Air with a connection in Brussels before traveling to Florence.
After both flights were canceled amid industrial action at Brussels Air, United transferred her to Lufthansa flights, operated as a codeshare by Air Dolomiti, with a change in Frankfurt instead.
Haidinger's flight from Washington to Frankfurt went smoothly. But at 4:28 p.m., while Haidinger was waiting at the gates at Frankfurt Airport to board her 4:50 p.m. flight, Lufthansa emailed Haidinger to say her the flight was delayed. And just one minute later, she got an email saying the flight was canceled.
This was the third time one of Haidinger's flights had been canceled for her trip to Italy.
So she contacted United, who booked her onto a 9:35 p.m. Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Rome, which is around 175 miles south of Florence.
Haidinger said that United staff told her to get a new boarding pass from customer services and ensure that her luggage was transferred to her new flight.
Haidinger told Insider that only two people were working on the Lufthansa desk and she had to stand in line with "hundreds of people" for five hours. She said that because she was traveling solo she was unable to get food and water, but asked other people in the line to hold her place so she could use the bathroom.
"I was going on 24 hours of no sleep, no real food," Haidinger said.
At the customer service desk, "I was ensured by Lufthansa my baggage would make it on the flight with me," Haidinger told Insider. Lufthansa emailed her before her flight departed with a receipt for her baggage.
Her flight was delayed twice, by an hour in total. But after waiting 20 minutes at the luggage carousel in Rome, she realized she wasn't getting her bag.
Around 15 other passengers from her flight were also missing their luggage, Haidinger said. She had to spend another hour and a half in line to fill out a claim for her missing luggage, she said.
While on her vacation, she said that she checked Lufthansa's site "10, 15 times a day" for updates on her luggage. She said that Lufthansa's customer service was "extremely unhelpful" and she attributed the problems to "poor management through and through."
Haidinger said that during her vacation she had to borrow t-shirts from her relatives, and that because she didn't know when she was getting her suitcase back she spent around $1,000 on new clothes and toiletries after she returned to the US on July 3.
"Halfway through my vacation, I just kind of mentally accepted that I was never getting this bag back," she said.
Lufthansa told her that it had arrived in Rome on July 7 – days after Haidinger had left Italy – and she said it was sent to Washington via Frankfurt. Haidinger said that she was finally reunited with her luggage on July 14 – 20 days after the airline first misplaced it.
"At present, the personnel-intensive system of baggage handling is under considerable pressure due to the lack of personnel in all the areas mentioned," a Lufthansa spokesperson told Insider.
"Due to the current staff shortages and because aircraft cannot wait indefinitely due to booked turnarounds, it may happen that baggage was not loaded in time and arrives late." The spokesperson said that in these cases, passengers are informed of the delay "in a timely manner" and automatically notified when their bag is delivered.
Lufthansa has canceled 3,100 flights scheduled for July and August — or around 4% of its capacity.
Frankfurt Airport has warned that passengers are facing disruptions and longer wait times as more people travel.
"The problem will not get smaller going forward," the CEO of the airport's operator said in early July, per Reuters.
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