In the week prior to X-mas I was scheduled to head to the Jersey office (I am ZRH-based) of my company for a day for some meetings. I was scheduled to fly on LX and VLM (routing: ZRH-LCY-JER) on the 20th December and back on the 21st.
Day 1 (ZRH-MAN-JER)
I checked in at ZRH at 6:20 for LX 450 which was scheduled to leave for LCY at 07:25. At that time everything looked ok and I headed straight for the lounge to get some breakfast prior to departure. Once I arrived there, the LCY as well as the LHR and MAN flights were shown as "delayed" with no expected departure times. As I had a connecting time of 45 minutes in LCY and this was the one and only flight for the day from LCY to JER, I decided to head to the transfer desk to check out what alternatives I might have. The highly competent and very friendly lady told me that the best option would be to head to MAN on LX 390 which had just been confirmed to depart at 07:55 (scheduled 07:10) and then take BA7764 to JER. Since I had a fully flexible full fare ticket, they did rebook me very quickly and even had my checked bag pulled and retagged.
LX 390 ZRH-MAN
Since the LX flights to MAN are currently operated by Helvetic, I was glad to get a chance to fly on their F100 for the first time. We did get off the ground quickly and during the uneventful flight we did even make up some time
so that we landed in MAN just 30 minutes behind schedule. The interior of the Helvetic plane is quite nice with a larger seat pitch than on the LX ARJ85/100; furthermore the F100 is much quieter, especially if you have a seat in one of the first rows. The Helvetic-supplied cabin crew was very friendly and the 1:30 h passed very quickly. I wish LX outsourced more intra-European flights to Helvetic with their superior inflight product.
BA 7764 MAN-JER
Once in MAN I headed through immigration to the transit area were I found out that my BA Connect flight was going to leave at 10:45 instead of 10:15. Given the weather situation and the significant number of cancelled flights at MAN, I was glad that I got off so lightly. The flight - which had a load factor of only about 40% was operated by a BA Connect DHC 8-300. After some additional minor delay while heading to the runway, we were finally airborne at app. 11:15 and made out away across the fog covered UK towards the channel. As my last prop flight had been on an AA ATR 72, I was impressed by how quiet the DHC-8 was (I did have seat 2A which probably did help) and enjoyed the purchased sandwich which was not only reasonable in price, but also quite delicious. The fog finally lifted as we started our descent into JER where the weather was perfect as we made our way to out parking position after a smooth landing. Shortling after that I found out, that my bag had only made it to MAN and filed a lost baggage form asking them to either deliver the bag to my hotel if it arrived later in the the day or hold it at the airport if it got there only the next day. Fortunately I had the most important stuff for my meeting in my carry on bag.
During a quick sandwich break in one of our meetings, a colleague informed my that all afternoon flights out of JER had been cancelled and that my flight to LCY would not operate. Futhermore the LX flight of of LCY was also cancelled. As no change in weather patterns was forecast, I asked them to check out alternatives for me.
As our meetings wound up around 15:30, I was told that the best option would be to head to France on the ferry and try to get home from there. I followed their advice and planned to hire a car in St. Malo where the ferry was headed, then drive to CDG and fly home toZRH from there. The train was not an option as all the TGVs were fully booked.
At 17:15 I took a cab to the ferry terminal and checked in. As I have not travelled on a ferry for quite some time, I was impressed by the security measures which were exactly the sames ones as for a flight (carry-on baggage screening & metal detector).
The fast ferry "Condor 10" which needs only 75 minutes for the Jersey-St. Malo crossing left at app. 18:45. I enjoyed the business-calss style seat in the "club class" and took a quick nap while my fellow passengers, most of whom spoke Polish, stormed the duty free shops. Upon arrival in St. Malo I was surprised o find out that none of the rental car agencies had any cars available for the night, so that I would have to stay in St. Malo.
After waiting for more than 40 minutes for a taxi to show up, I shared a cap with a British couple who were also trying to beat to London fog by heading to France and flying from there. We headed to the Mercure hotel (very friendly staff, newly renovated rooms, good location, reasonable rates > highly recommended) where I grabbed a late night dinner. Then I called the 24h hotline of our corporate travel agency which advised my that there was a flight out of Brest (BES) to CDG at 13:45 the next day that was not yet full, so I asked them to reserve a seat on that one plus one on LX 657 from CDG to ZRH. I was waitlisted on the latter.
AF 7739, BES-CDG
In the morning I headed to the harbour in St. Malo to claim my rental car. There I found out that the Hertz agency was understaffed that day and that I had to pick up my rental at the town office. At around 09:30 I fired up the Peugeot 207 and headed east on the autoroute to Brest where I quickly found the airport. The current terminal is very shabby and crowded, but they are in the process of building a very attractive new one right next to it. I was glad to find out that AF 7739 operated by Air Regional with a F100 was one of the few flights that were not delayed that day. After another sandwich lunch, I headed through security and made my way on board the almost full flight. By phone got confirmation from the travel agency that I now had a confirmed seat on the connecting CDG-ZRH flight.
The inflight service on the 50 minute hop to CDG included not just a drink, but also a sweet & a salty snack which surprised me positively. The cabin staff were very friendly and professional. This plus the rather generous leg room made for a pleasant flight.
LX 657, CDG-ZRH
In CDG I checked in for my LX flight as it was a separate ticket and headed for the lounge which quickly filled up as expected on a Friday evening. As the inbound flight was app. 40 min. late (why do the monitors in CDG always indicate an on-time departure for the outbound flight, when the inbound flight is delayed by so much that an on time departure is technically impossible ?) I did not make my way to the security check until to 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure where I found out that the security guys were on some sort of limited strike thus creating a long line. When I finally got through, the flight was just boarding. The crew was very efficient and thus managed to turn the A 319 around in record time; hence, we were on our way shortly. After takeoff the captain announced the he would fly as fast as possible to make up for the delay. This surprised me as I thought that they did not do this anymore give today´s oil prices. As a result we made up almost 10 minutes of the delay on the short 50 minute flight into ZRH.
Since I had be scheduled to fly to HAJ on that very same morning to join my family for x-mas I headed to the transfer desk to find out whether they would rebook me on another flight. While I was well aware that they were under no legal obligation to do so, I nevertheless expected them to be somewhat accommodating since I have a gold frequent flyer status with them and had flown 4 times with them in the last two weeks including one interconti C-class flight.
What awaited me there was by far the worst experience of the whole trip. Before I had even told the lady at the Senator desk what my issues was, she started verbally abusing me by telling me that this whole fog mess had cost Lx a lot of money and that she had to work overtime and was thus thoroughly pi..ed and and that I should feel sorry fore her and just shove it. I was absolutely speechless by her behaviour. I can understand that nerves do get frayed at times likes these, but even give the special situation, she was totally out of line. At the very least someone assigned to handle the most important clients (f-class plus Gold & HON Miles & More members) should behave in a more professional manner.
On my way out I checked the status of my lost bag and found out that they did not have a clue where it was anymore.
So I headed home, booked some new ZRH-HAJ-ZRH flights at a much higher fare and decided that I would opt for EK rather than LX for my upcoming Asia trips.
Funny thing is, that I was so far the only loyal LX flier in the office. One guy opts for EK wherever he get the chance and another one goes out of his way to fly with SQ....