Lufthansa Gets a Gold Star For Going Above and Beyond


I’m going to be taking United’s last 737 flight today from LAX to San Francisco and then I’m turning right back around, so if anyone will be at either end, please come say hello. Of course, wasting half my day sitting on an airplane means that something has to give, so I’m going a little light with my post today. I’m talking about Lufthansa going above and beyond to help a traveler in trouble.

One of my oldest friends is in the Army and he’s currently living in Europe. His parents came out to visit him, but his mother was staying longer to visit family. So, his elderly father was flying back alone to Los Angeles via Munich on Lufthansa.goldstar Now, his father is really getting up there in years, and he somehow left his keys to the house at my friend’s place. Uh oh.

My friend was naturally concerned that his cell-phone-less father would be confused and possibly lost once he realized he couldn’t get in to this house, but he was already on the long flight back to LA. My friend simply wanted to get a message to his father telling him to call him or his brother so they could explain and help him. It seems like a small request, but it can often be difficult to get messages to people on airplanes.

I volunteered to email a contact at Lufthansa to see if they were able to deliver messages upon arrival. He said that they certainly could and that he would get back to me. Sure enough, Lufthansa staff in LA met the aircraft and had my friend’s father make the phone call. They then escorted him to the shuttle he was taking back to his home.

I know that the first comment will likely be that this only happened because I asked a connection and that a regular traveler wouldn’t be able to get this done. There’s no doubt in my mind that helped, but I’m not so sure that this wouldn’t have happened without me. My contact forwarded me the email correspondence he had with the LA folks, and he wasn’t asking for special treatment. They seemed to be more than happy to help out and definitely went above and beyond. I imagine they would have done the same had the request come from a reservations agent.

I don’t often write about Lufthansa, and they certainly wouldn’t have expected me to write about this, so I would like to think that it was just some good old-fashioned customer service. Just thought it would be nice to bask in the glow of a nice story.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my report on United’s 737 retirement.

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18 comments on “Lufthansa Gets a Gold Star For Going Above and Beyond

  1. I think email has helped a lot in this area as before you called and told someone your request and then it had to go from person to person until someone would contact the airport personal who would then pass it on person to person and the message could get lost. Now one person at the airline can just email someone they know will take care of the issue/problem/request.

    The key to any good customer service these days with any type business is finding workers who will go the extra step. That used to be the norm, but is becoming a lost art.

    And yes we all are wondering the same thing, if it were a U.S. carrier would the message had gotten to the gentelmen.

  2. Hi Cranky,

    Thanks for your writeup, we’re glad to have been of service to your friend’s father.

    Just wanted to let you know that your post was brought to the attention of our LAX station so the employees in question can also be recognized internally.

    Kind regards,
    Michelle Schiff
    FlyerTalk liaison/Account manager,
    New York

  3. If it helps to show this isn’t an isolated occurrence;
    I committed the ultimate traveller faux par a couple of weeks ago by leaving my passport and onward boarding pass on a flight from LCY – FRA. To make things worse I had a tight onwards connection in FRA, I really started sweating when I discovered the mistake on arrival in the terminal building.

    The problem was i’d left it on a plane which was parked, in the captains own words, “the most remote ramp in the airport”. It was a good 15minute bus ride to the terminal building.

    I rushed to my next gate an found the LH pilot had found my passport on my previous flight, called control, and had it sent over to my next gate. My passport actually arrived before me.

    I can certainly fault the onboard product and the state of FRA airport but I have always received outstanding, above and beyond, service on the ground with LH.

  4. So this is tooting my own horn a bit, but also showing good airline customer service.

    I was working at a coffee shop (yeah that one) and official procedure is if someone leaves something behind we’ll hold it, and if no one claims it we should open it to find something inside to call the person.

    I held a briefcase for the day, and made it to the end of the day. The only identifying information was an Alaska Airlines reservation confirmation. I gave Alaska a call, explained the situation to the reservations agent, and he happily called the telephone numbers they had on file for our mutual customer. He couldn’t let me know the number (privacy and all that) but he provide simple and prompt service to do the best to take care of the traveler.

    In my experience many customer service don’t mind doing the simple above and beyond things, especially if it is something they won’t be coached or scolded about later.

  5. I go to Germany twice a year with my elderly mother – always on Lufthansa. I have to say they’ve always gone above and beyond both here and in Germany with any special requests – usually using elevators rather than escalators – which given our security-minded airports are not always the easiest to access.

  6. News Flash: The concept of helping other people is alive and doing well outside of the U S of A.

    Any of the top European or Asian airlines would have done this.

    I would be SHOCKED if any US-based airline did this, even for a top tier FF.

  7. asad wrote:

    I am right next to SFO, let me know what time you will be here and I’ll come say hello :)

    I don’t think I’m going to leave security. I assume you can’t get through security?

  8. CF wrote:

    asad wrote:
    I am right next to SFO, let me know what time you will be here and I’ll come say hello :)

    I don’t think I’m going to leave security. I assume you can’t get through security?

    Unfortunately not, I work in San Bruno which is next door but I can’t get past security.

  9. asad wrote:

    asad wrote:
    Unfortunately not, I work in San Bruno which is next door but I can’t get past security.

    Well, I’ll wave when we depart . . .

  10. asad wrote:

    CF wrote:
    asad wrote:
    I am right next to SFO, let me know what time you will be here and I’ll come say hello :)
    I don’t think I’m going to leave security. I assume you can’t get through security?
    Unfortunately not, I work in San Bruno which is next door but I can’t get past security.

    Eh, this isn’t a hard one to work past. I’ve done it once, and only once. “Buy” a fully refundable ticket on an airline. (I chose a Skywest flight under my “favorite” carrier’s flag, United for the time I needed to do this.) Check in and go past security. When you get past security cancel your check in (works much better if you’ve got a laptop/smart phone). Then ask for a refund once the plane has left.

  11. I took a day trip from Chicago Midway to Detroit a couple of years ago. I somehow managed to lose my car keys on on my outbound flight. Upon returning to MDW, I got to my car, and uh-oh, no keys!

    I went back to the Southwest baggage claim office and told them what had happened. The the DTW office and sure enough, my keys were there (a flight attendant found them during clean up.) They put my keys on the next flight out and brought them to me in baggage claim.

    Terrific service.

  12. I had a similar experience with Lufthansa this summer. I flew RT Tokyo-Frankfurt-Prague. On the return, when checking in, I was told by the gate agent that my ticket had been cancelled. I was flabbergasted, but she couldn’t do anything but direct me to the Lufthansa ticket office in the same building. With just 30 or 40 minutes to make the flight, I was quite flustered. The Lufthansa agent did some checking, and found the travel agent had inadvertently cancelled the return portion of my ticket for an unknown reason. Though,as far as I understood, she was under no obligation to honor a cancelled ticket, she realized the desperateness of my situation and hand wrote a ticket for me back to Tokyo. She then called the gate and actually had the plane wait for me until I ran through security and to the boarding area. What a great airline!

  13. United might be the worst major carrier in the US. But last month I dropped my car of at National and raced to the UA terminal. Forgetting that they have a “so called” Premium Service Terminal…I ended up at the regular UA Terminal, and had to lug my bags back to PS. Already running late, I was inside the 45 min check in. I told the check in agent that i really needed to get my bags on this flight. He told me he would walk them out to the plane himself! And true to his word, he did, and I saw him out on the tarmac!

    Yes, Im Premier with them, but was flying coach. UA actually looked after one of their elite passengers, and as tough as I am on them! I remember that day for sure.

    A few years back I was stuck on the train out of Paddington, trying to get to Heathrow for my Virgin flight back to JFK. I arrived at Terminal 3, with 15 mins to spare before Departure! Yep!! i called ahead. A VS agent met me at the door, and started to check me in, with a smile she said “this is not gonna be regular VS check-in” I said no worries! lol. She was tearing of tags, rushing through questions. Threw my bags on a cart. They were gone within a minute. She grabbed my arm and had me at security in 2 mins. Walked me through…and on a buggy! I slipped onto the 747 and the door closed right behind me “on time”

    I was a CO Elite member back then! Was flying Upper Class, on a CO/VS codeshare ticket! I use to fly Upper with them back then, around 4-6 times a year, so they knew me as a regular Im guessing. It has never been forgotten, and I still fly them!

    Its things like this that passengers remember. Over the years, I have urged dozens of people to fly VS over others! …so, things like the above and LH add millions to the bottom line of these carriers! They need to remember that!

    Oh – Ive only flown LH twice. Buenos Aires-FRA-LHR. Both flights were awful “cold cold cold” flight attendants and awful food! It spoils the Star Alliance for me, cause I have to navigate around using them! So bad experiences have the opposite result. Ive retold that flight numerous times (as bad memories always retell 10x worse) LH should take not and remember that!!

  14. Ah! so you ARE coming to SF :)

    Well, I’m here visiting from the east coast… would have been cool to meet the Crankster himself…

  15. Benji wrote:

    Ah! so you ARE coming to SF :)
    Well, I’m here visiting from the east coast… would have been cool to meet the Crankster himself…

    Well, I never actually left security, so while I technically was close, it would have been tough to meet. United really did this one very well. It was a really nice event for all involved. I’m hoping to have a trip report up tomorrow, but man I’m tired.

  16. This is the kind of experience that, truthfully, makes me consider choosing one airline over another. Airlines, take note : the fares are all so competitive nowadays that going the extra mile (or even half-mile!) with service *really* counts, and really gets remembered by that customer.

    I once showed up one hour in advance of flight at O’Hare for a short domestic hop on UA. I needed to check a bag. I walked in and was confronted with a circus of a line for the bag check (this was before the fees, no surprise). I immediately ducked back out the door and stood in a line of about 15 people at the curb-side check, with my tip cash in hand. Got to the front of that line and was told, “Oh no ma’am, you can’t check these in out here — the cut-off is 45 minutes before boarding.” It was precisely 44 minutes before my departure time at that point. Meanwhile, the cart piled high with baggage was still standing right at the agent’s elbow. I said, “What do you mean, I checked, the bag check cutoff is at 30 minutes” and he said “there’s a different time for bag check at the curb versus inside.” This was posted NOWHERE. Needless to say, by then, it was too late to wait on the indoor line and get my bag checked for the 30 minute indoor deadline. The curb agent refused to add my bag to the pile on the cart that still hadn’t left (and didn’t leave for at least another five minutes), and I was forced to miss my flight and miss a business meeting on the other end. I was absolutely livid, and still am when I think of it. UA should have done a better job of informing people about the bag check time discrepancy, and someone somewhere should have been able to make a one-time override and get my bag on that standing cart. (Or they simply need to rehire a few of the many gate agents they’ve laid off.) There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to arrive at an airport one hour before a domestic flight and not be able to get on it.

    That actually is one of the reasons I try to avoid UA whenever possible. If they aren’t going to provide me with decent service, I would rather not provide them with fare money. I fly US or JetBlue whenever possible.

  17. Another good LH story.. friend of mine travelling SFO-FRA-BOM asked for a Black Russian drink. They didn’t have Kahlua on board so offered him something else. He was fine.

    When he got back on the plane at BOM for the return journey, they sought him out and told him they now have Kahlua and so can make a Black Russian if he wanted one.

    And he was in Economy.

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