Worst service ever

I came back from Ekaterinburg today, second time that I’ve been to Russia in the last 15 years. And while I have lots of impressions that I might share later — my experience with Lufthansa service caused even stronger impressions, so these come first.

Thing is, Lufthansa’s main airport is Frankfurt and I live in Cologne which is one hour distance by train. For people like me, Lufthansa offers a service called AIRail where the train from Cologne to Frankfurt is declared a Lufthansa “flight” and I can book both the train and the actual flight together (this even isn’t more expensive than just booking the flight). This is a great idea with obvious advantages for travelers who only need to check in at the main station in Cologne — everything else is taken care of by Lufthansa, in the same way this is usually done for plane changes. At least that’s the theory.

Last time we went on vacation we used a check-in machine which gave us two seats next to each other but ended up printing out boarding passes for seats in different parts of the cabin — apparently somebody took the seat I wanted just before the check-in was finalized, and somebody at Lufthansa missed the lesson about database transactions. To prevent the same thing from happening again, we chose to check in online this time, almost a day in advance. And here came the first surprise, online check-in was only capable of checking in one person at a time. For the plane I still managed to do both check-ins fast enough to get decent seats. Not so for the train, every time you tried to change the seat the system would claim that this seat was already occupied. So you had to go with the suggested seats which were of course several rows apart.

But at least you save some time by checking in online, right? Wrong. You don’t get a boarding pass after checking in online (at least not if the first part of your journey is a train). When we got to the railway station, we discovered that there was only one queue — and you had to wait no matter whether you were already checked in or not. At least here our seats for the train could be changed.

Now one of the major advantages of AIRail is baggage handling, you would expect to drop off your baggage in Cologne and get it back in Ekaterinburg. Wrong again, this service was discontinued several months ago. Now you take your baggage with you on the train, and in Frankfurt you have to wait in another queue at the special baggage drop-off counter (yes, there was a queue). At least that counter was right next to the railway station rather than in the main check-in hall but that wasn’t really worth the wasted time.

On our way back there were more surprises. When the plane landed in Frankfurt, the captain had a special message for AIRail customers, those would get their bags at the railway station again. We got there and were told to wait for our bag to arrive. After half an hour of waiting we were getting impatient, after all we saw other passengers from our flight (without AIRail) get their bags immediately after they got through the passport control. Fortunately, somebody pointed us to a counter where you could ask the whereabouts of your luggage (from Lufthansa’s side we were only told to wait longer). Only there we were told that the Lufthansa staff in Ekaterinburg only checked in our bag until Frankfurt rather than Cologne so that we had to get it at the usual baggage claim. Not even a mistake on side of Lufthansa was admitted, apparently as a customer you had to check everything and know all the strange regulations about the AIRail baggage.

At that point it would be strange to expect Lufthansa to go out of their way to correct their mistake. Of course I had to hurry up (not much time left) and get back to the baggage claim myself. At least that went without any delays so that we didn’t have any trouble catching our train.

Looking back, I cannot find a single thing that Lufthansa has done right with AIRail. And with that service quality, I don’t understand why I chose to pay a much higher price and preferred Lufthansa over its competitors. One thing for sure, next time I have to go somewhere I will choose more carefully.


  • Verb

    Wladimir, this is off-topic but I have to say it here as there is no (contact) link in this site.

    The webiste http://www.gimpusers.com is able to detect ABP and display some very distracting and flashing banners all over the website.

    Wladimir Palant

    It is only detecting that the Google ads didn’t load. Simply block the script http://www.gimpusers.com/js/common.js and you are fine.

  • Verb

    I see. After reading your comment, I installed NoScript and it’s now blocked :) I could block it with ABP but I wanted to try NoScript and it seems to work.
    Thank you Wladimir.

    Wladimir Palant

    I would rather recommend YesScript which seems to have the same concept as NoScript but implemented properly.

  • alex_mayorga

    Can you please elaborate on NoScript vs. YesScript? In another post maybe?

    Wladimir Palant

    A proper comparison will need time, I didn’t look into the details of YesScript – only noticed that the concept is much more sane as with NoScript.

  • theEota

    YesScript is a fancy way to be infected with viruses then having the option to stop it, after it already happened. No Script is far nicer.

    Wladimir Palant

    Is that a suspicion or a fact? I have yet to hear about somebody infected with viruses because he didn’t use NoScript. NoScript is extremely annoying, built with attention-grabbing UI on purpose and getting in the way of regular web surfing (also on purpose). As such, it is totally unsuited for regular users. So it doesn’t surprise me when I hear from Firefox developers: “Integrating NoScript? No, thanks. Maybe something like YesScript”.

  • Vladislav Zhurba

    New Firefox 3.0 tells that ABP is not compatible with this version. Are you going to make it compatible?
    Thanks in advance for your great product.

  • Vladislav Zhurba

    Sorry, found discussion about that on forum. Reading now…

  • David

    On-topic: Wladimir, I’d be interested in reading more about your trip to Russia. I’ve never been and would like to visit.

    Off: NoScript seems the better tool. It allows you to automatically accept JS from the visited site and block third party JS – which usually contains ads and junk. YesScript is all or nothing.

    Also, it is very easy to stop the “attention-grabbing” with NS. Turn off notifications and temporarily allow top-level domains by default.

    P.S. Thanks for ABP – it makes the web a better place. :)

  • passerby

    Noscript is better because a simple fact that default-deny is way better then default-allow in terms of security :)