We went on our first family holiday to New York last week. We had a wonderful time, the outbound flight was smooth, BiP was adored by the cabin crew making the 8 hr flight a breeze and our days in NYC were action packed. It was a fabulous family holiday. Sadly, our return flight on Lufthansa (LH 401) from JFK to Frankfurt was nothing short of awful. Yes, this is a rant, I am still so annoyed that I have to get it off my chest.
BiP’s seat belt and bassinet
After boarding the flight I asked about BiP’s seat belt – I was met with a curt “Yes, you can wait” – I was taken aback somewhat especially as we’d been on board for at least 20 mins. It was given to me after 10mins with no explanation on how to use it which is fine as I’d used it before. A little while later my husband enquired about the bassinet as this is something that is available on demand in-flight and cannot be reserved. His enquiry was met by a member of the cabin crew pointing to the fasten seatbelt sign and rudely being told to sit down. We sat for over 1 hr with the plane not even moving. We asked someone else and we were told we would be “dealt” with once the plane had taken off.
Shortly after the plane took off another member of the crew came with the bassinet – I had to tell him how to install it with the safety buckles available etc. and he was very abrupt – didn’t offer a blanket or a pillow like his colleagues on the inbound flight – it was a night flight so we had to use our assigned blankets to pad out the bassinet. No instruction was given to keep BiP’s head to the opposite side of the aisle to ensure she wasn’t knocked by the trolleys – a basic safety aspect that could easily be overlooked by first time flyers.
The toys, eavesdropping and serious attitude
Every child get’s a toy on a flight right? Well, not on the Lufthansa LH 401 flight. The stewardess who came through the cabin with her tray of toys decided BiP wasn’t worthy of a toy. When we asked where her toy was she snapped “I have nothing for her age” – umm maybe let us be the decider of that? I was banking on something BiP could play with to keep her occupied other than the stash I’d brought with me. Give her a postcard, give her a puzzle, give her anything! Especially as you had a tray full of toys and I seriously doubt giving one to BiP that was not considered to be age appropriate would have led Lufthansa to bankruptcy!
She was so incredibly rude. My husband turned to me and commented on her attitude – she was clearly eavesdropping on the conversation so came back with an attitude I have never seen before in any service industry “What did you just call me?” she sniped, ”Umm nothing, I was talking to my wife” replied my husband “I heard you say something about me, you have no right to talk about me” she continued aggressively. Whoa lady! You just eavesdropped on a private conversation and then chose to jump in and ignite the situation! We were then visited by the Purser, her supervisor, who seemed to think that no toy for BiP was fine and eavesdropping equally ok. By this point we were 1.5 hrs into the flight and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife!
Sick baby and barging cabin crew
About an hour into the flight BiP started running a high fever of 39.5C/103F plus diareha etc … we were trying to take her temperature and give her some tylenol when a member of the cabin crew said “Excuse me!” My husband said “Please can you wait 10 seconds” to which he replied “NO! I can’t!” and barged past both myself and my husband knocking us both into the bassinet causing BiP to scream once again. The reason? Someone had pressed the call button for him to retrieve an empty glass. He could hear that BiP was clearly in distress and upset – 10 seconds could not have hurt but it was clearly more important to perform his waiting duties than wait for 2 tired parents to administer medication to their sick baby.
Another meeting with the Purser ensued – he again, defended the actions of his crew claiming that the children behind us were delighted with their toys and the service they’d received. Good for them. We were enraged. I’m not going to even go into detail about another member of the cabin crew who was trying to give my Gluten Free meal to another passenger who clearly stated it wasn’t his and when I said “I think that’s for me” she snapped “Will you just wait!” and 10 mins later dumped the same, now cold meal, in front on me without a word. Words cannot empahisise the tone but I can assure you that I have never spoken to someone in that tone unless I was looking for extreme retaliation!
Which exit? Scarily clueless
Upon arriving at Frankfurt airport we were relived to be getting off the worst flight of our lives (both my husband and I have travelled all over the world regularly since we were just months old so this really is saying something). I enquired about where we would be able to collect BiP’s stroller from when we were met with blank faces and told “Get off the plane and ask someone” – excuse me? Usually it is either the back or the front of the plane? It’s not rocket science and this is basic information that the other crew on the previous flights knew and had informed us of prior to landing!
Fake smiles and empty gestures
After my husband gave your crew free training in how, as a service provider, you have a duty to be courteous, polite and maybe to even care about your passengers your attempts failed. They were transparently forced and annoying. It was way too late. I’m not sure if you realise that such a miserable experience cannot be remedied by 2 mins of forced empathy.
Yes, this is a rant, yes this is a complaint. From my side this was an epic FAIL in customer service. I am not asking Lufthansa to like children or even play with them – I am fully aware that the crew on Lufthansa (LH 410) on 19th May 2011 from Munich to JFK were exceptional but I have no idea what was going on with the crew on the 26th May 2011 from JFK to Frankfurt on Lufthansa (LH 401). Perhaps it’s because this crew were specially selected to fly on the Airbus A380 – a big honour in the aviation world – maybe it’s gone their head – but if this is the pick of the crop then there is something seriously wrong.
Oh, and Lufthansa, if you read this – I am still waiting for a reply to my tweet and I’m not interested in filling out your faceless customer complaint form.