Thursday, 4 May 2017

We Arrived, We Survived

As I said in my previous post we are having a first vacation after many years. We arrived in San Fransisco last night and already have been enjoying the city, the journey to it however got at one point quite nightmarish.
We got up at 4:45 am to have some coffee and left the house at 5:30, got ourselves some warm bagels at the bakery and hit the road to Izmir airport, a 3 hour drive.
We made good time, arrived fine, checked in, plane left in time and arrived even 20 minutes earlier at Munich. At Munich we had to check in again as our second flight was with a different company, however we could not locate our gate as it was not on the screen yet and we could not locate where we can get our boarding cards. The entire arrival and airport had a prison atmosphere, locks and security everywhere, all personal was very cold, impolite and sometimes just plain rude, not fun but not the end of the world.
The bad moment was when we finally found a machine to check in and the machine only gave my boarding pass and not my mother's. Reason? Apparently: there is no ESTA (aka visa waiver) found on my mother's passport. How could this be? We had done it back in January, it was paid for, we had the printed approval with its number etc. One lady of Lufthansa found the problem: there was a zero (0) in the passport number which I apparently had entered as a O therefor there was no ESTA as the passport number was not correct. You would think when it took 72 hours for the approval of her ESTA that it was checked. You also just trust the system an when you get an approval you think all is fine.
So 70 minutes before our plane was going to leave the Lufthansa employer said: ''You have to find a computer (Do not use a phone! she said) an re-apply for your ESTA''.
I freaked out, how can we do it all in time, the ESTA asks a million questions, the airport is huge, and we have little time. But we ran like crazy to where there was a computer, which turned out to have no javascript so we could not do it there. We asked again and we were sent to the other side of the airport, there the computers were all removed and we were suggested to go outside the frigging huge airport and find internet there.

There we were among thousands of computers but as it was not their fault we could not use the computers, it was our fault so we just had to fix it ourselves, even if it could mean that we would be stuck in Munich for several days on which we got the comment that 'Munich is lovely too'.

So at last we just sat down and tried to get my phone connected (we did not do it right away as the Lufthansa employee said twice that we should not do it there). After finally getting connection I started to fill out all the billion questions, was careful to fill out the passport number correctly, at the last page it wouldn't load to the payment page. So now we thought that the employer was right, I then just randomly asked someone waiting if he had a laptop and explained, he was luckily so much nicer than the employees at the airport that he opened his right away but he had to log in to the airport wifi system. While he was doing that I kept trying to get to the payment page, by now it was about 45 minutes till take off and we still had no second boarding pass, my hands were trembling and I was freaking out while fixing it. Finally I got to the payment page and paid, so I did not use the guy's laptop but it was nice to have a friendly face for a change. The ESTA page says: Approval pending, might take 72 hours. Shit. shit. shit.

We ran to the Lufthansa desk again, said we re-applied could they check. Nope, no ESTA no boarding pass. But 'go through security and go to the gate I will call them and they can try till last minute' said an employee of Lufthansa.
By then we had lost all hope but went to the gate anyway, which was a train ride and thorough security away (while we were already scanned and even our water was first scanned and then taken an hour ago) we went through the motions.
And a miracle happened, by the time we got by the gate the ESTA was approved and we got mum's boarding pass. We were holding our breath while the lady was arranging it, thinking if it was a mistake we were just going to keep quiet and get the hell on that plane :D but it was really approved, which was lucky in all the unluckiness.

It is hard to explain, but it was a super crappy experience. Our first real vacation after 10 years and we almost didn't make it. But especially the behavior of the employees at Munich airport was inhumane, rude and no sympathy whatsoever which made the situation so much worse.

We arrived, we survived and all is well when it ends well. If you are planning to use ESTA for the love of your mental wellness triple check your passport number when applying, save yourself a lot of pain.
On the bright side we are having wonderful weather and San Francisco is as great as I remember and Mum is enjoying it very much, luckily not Munich :)


  1. Such a stressful experience, I can't even imagine. But for the grace of a stranger, you were able to get that boarding pass! How lucky. Still, the anxiety and stress - so sorry you had to go through that. On the bright side, you hit one of the warmest days we have had in CA for a year! It's warm up here in Nevada City, too, but supposed to cool down next week. Not too much, just enough :)

    AND - you took a picture of Britex, the best fabric store in the world! :D
    xoxo Juliette

  2. Oh..Estella...I remember when I was a child and left with my parents in vacations, there was always an "incident" more or less stressful waiting there to ruin our vacation :-) I totally understand and I am happy that you have managed to pass it and enjoy your holiday ♥ have fun not in Munich ;-)

  3. Oh dear! That was not the start of the holiday you wanted. I hope that now everything runs smoothly!
    Enjoy your time in San Francisco!

  4. oh gaaah! what a stress!
    Munich is a very busy airport so no wonder they're unfriendly, even though they absolutely should have been.
    Airport employees can be a little difficult or even send you in wrong direction (happened to be once while I had only 5 minutes until check-in ><)
    BUT! Good to see your ESTA was approved so quickly (how odd?) and that you made it!
    Now enjoy your holidays!

    1. My own ESTA was also approved in a few minutes but they never said 72 hours with mine, but my mothers first took 3 days so we were afraid it would be the same again as it said 72 hours, luckily it didn't as it would have meant that we had to stay in Munich :/ I think acting a bit friendly costs less energy than being grumpy and rude, they were unnecessarily unkind, I have been in many airports this was the most unpleasant one ever.

  5. I heard many complain about Lufthansa. They behave badly towards passengers. I'm waiting for more photos from your vacation

  6. What a nightmare Estella!! So happy you are now in California. Enjoy your vacation!

  7. Estella, what a story! I'm happy you finally arrived. (in Bruxelles it is an extra computer to apply for Esta next to the check in - at least it was there before the explosion). I do not understand why they do harder the traveller's life.

    1. That would be indeed logical to have a computer for that purpose, especially as they said that 'it happens all the time', a little help wouldn't have been an extreme luxury.

  8. OMG, what a horrible experience. Enjoy your holidyas!!!