Rebooking after Frankfurt Industrial Strike Flight Cancellations
So a few days ago I booked a student/youth fare with SAS from Frankfurt. This was to align nicely with the super cheap business class Spain to Germany LAN fares. Unfortunately a day after booking I heard from the German travel agency there would be coordinated strike action across most/all German airports. Frankfurt would have no security staff until 15 and my flight departed at 12. Queue cancellation madness. While in Spain I called twice SAS twice to resolve and eventually resorted to the Lufthansa first class ticketing desk in Frankfurt to help me out.
I’m no stranger to flight cancellation, delays, strike actions and sometimes just complete shambles. It happens and it is often said you can judge how good things are from when they’re bad, whether it’s people’s attitudes or the benefit of an airline loyalty card. However with flight troubles knowing the system a little and having looked up alternate options not only can help airline staff if suggesting politely but you’re also far more likely to get the (good) outcome you desire.
Initially I called SAS while waiting for my flight from Melilla. The agents were unaware of the strikes but double checked scheduling and found the flight would be cancelled. I already expected this as I could see they had zeroed out all availability in the GDS. The complication was however I booked (and paid an extra dozen euro in taxes) for Frankfurt to Stokholm via Oslo. They were happy to rebook me onto the direct FRA-ARN that evening. For whatever reason both FRA-OSL and FRA-ARN were new routes for me, I had flown between Stockholm and Frankfurt before but via Copenhagen, Berlin etc. So new lines to map regardless, but I persisted with the indirect Oslo option. I asked about the afternoon Lufthansa flight to Oslo. There was some confusion if it was SAS or Lufthansa metal and/or a codeshare but the answer came back they would only rebook to SK metal. Out of time with my flight boarding the agent and I agreed I would call back and she’d put a hold / confirm nearly the last seat on the direct evening flight but not ticket it. While in Madrid I called a second time, as helpful as possible they informed me there were really no other choices. Again the confusion whether it was a SK or LH flight in the evening but still no progress and definitely no LH flight.
Face to face help in Frankfurt
At this stage I decided to wait until I arrived off my flight from Madrid to Lufthansa. Sometimes patience helps, or it could make a disaster of everything. Initially I wasn’t sure who could help me with ticketing, SAS don’t have a ticketing desk and Lufthansa staff send me back and forth from the main ticketing promenade to the concourse when it came to having Star Alliance Gold status. Eventually I decided to try the Lufthansa First Class ticket desk, directly opposite their First Class check-in which is used by all Star Gold members on any Star Alliance departure.
A very slight wait, but no matter. After explaining carefully, the agent very quickly said she would be able to rebook onto Lufthansa as long as there was a good connection. Importantly EU rules about delays and cancellations in this circumstance basically say: strike = not airline fault, no compensation; stranded at Oslo overnight for whatever reason = hotel and food.
I mentioned SAS has said SK metal only. She rang her hotline (trade desk?) with the same exact question. Now maybe because delaying the decision made it all the more desperate, we will never know, but they gave a go ahead to the relief of us both. I’d now be flying Lufthansa to Oslo connecting on SAS to Arlanda. She also checked me in right away, allocating an exit row so I would be all set for tomorrow’s flight.
Yes it is a first class ticketing desk for Lufthansa at their primary hub but still it was solid customer service. I wished her very well for the working day tomorrow knowing it might be a challenge. And off I went to stay overnight in Frankfurt and get some shopping done, ready for tomorrows airport adventure.