Lufthansa screws up… again
Originally, I should have returned to Switzerland from Heringsdorf on Lufthansa via Frankfurt. Two weeks before the flight, I receive an email from Lufthansa, advising me to contact them about my booking. I open the app with a due sense of trepidation to find that the original flight from Frankfurt to Basel has been cancelled and I’ve been rebooked. There’s just one little snag in the plan: I’ve been rebooked onto an earlier flight from Frankfurt to Basel which departs Frankfurt before my flight from Heringsdorf arrives in Frankfurt. To cut a long story short, Lufthansa’s customer service was atrocious – as usual. The agent trying to handle the issue was clueless, obviously very badly trained, spoke next to no functional English, German or French (I tried) and was overall just useless, clearly more concerned with sticking to the rules that trying to resolve a situation that had been caused by the airline and not the customer. Eventually, Lufthansa’s grand plan was to rebook me onto a flight to Basel the next day, which also meant that I would be paying for hotel accommodation at Frankfurt of course.
But the Bible teaches us that God helps those who help themselves. On Saturday morning I wake up to an overcast sky in Heringsdorf and ponder my journey back home – and the fact that I really don’t fancy having to spend the night in that hovel they call Frankfurt airport.
More out of curiosity than anything else, I check out the Heringsdorf airport website to find that, lo and behold, there’s a flight in the afternoon from Heringsdorf to Berne with Lübeck Air. I quickly check their website to find they still have seats available on the flight. The flight arrives in Berne at 17h30, which means I’ll be back home in Basel by eight this evening. Sold!
Getting to the airport
Getting to Heringsdorf airport is pretty straightforward. First I catch the 290 bus from Schloonsee to Heringsdorf Bahnhof, and then from there I have a connection on the 284 directly to the airport. If you’re staying at a hotel in the Heringsdorf area, you will receive a complimentary Kurkarte for the local public transport.
The overall journey takes about fifty minutes. The busses aren’t frequent, and only operate to the airport during peak hours. If I’d taken the Lufthansa flight, which departs at 19h00, I would have had to take a taxi.
What you see in the photo below is both departures on the right, and arrivals on the left, so basically the while terminal. Heringsdorf airport is just a little bigger than a shoe box.
Inside there is a large seating area and a bar serving hot and cold drinks and a few snacks.
There are four check-in counters, although only the one is open when I arrive, which serves all airlines. The check-in agent checks my suitcase to Berne, and then wishes me a pleasant flight. She’s also the person who does the boarding for the flight, which means that while boarding for our flight is underway, check-in for the Luxair flight departing after us has to be interrupted.
More importantly, there’s also a viewing terrace on the first floor of the adjacent building housing the tower.
I wait on the terrace to watch my flight arrive from Lübeck. It’s really quite a nice view from up here.
The queue for security starts on the pavement, by the bus stop. Which probably sounds a lot more dramatic than it actually is, given how small the building is. There is only the one gate, and the holding area is not all that big.
Boarding for the flight starts ahead of schedule. I count 44 passengers in total for the flight.
The cabin is in pristine condition and looks very new, and the aircraft even still has a bit of that new car smell to it. The most striking feature of the cabin is the exceptionally generous seat pitch of 35 inches. There are only 16 rows in a 2 + 2 configuration and I have plenty of space to stretch my legs.
There’s also a very funky sick bag in every seat.
There are two female cabin crew. Both are in their mid-thirties. They’re very unusual in that they look perfectly content in their profession. I noticed on this vacation that you rarely see cabin crew anymore these days giving you a genuine smile.
The flight time is announced as two hours and twenty minutes.
Lübeck Air prides itself on not producing any package waste. Which I guess is a nice gesture, although I really don’t think it makes that much of a difference. Sure, they produce less plastic waste on the flight, but it also means they use more fuel to uplift the heavier crockery and glass ware. But anyway…
On offer is a small chocolate cup filled with chocolate mousse.
And a small glass jar with with savoury snacks.
And to drink I have a cup of coffee, which is actually quite good, and a glass of sparkling water.
The crew do a second drinks round and then finish the meal service with candy from a big jar.
Our approach into Berne brings us in right over the city and the Bundeshaus, the seat of the Swiss Parliament. In the distance the Alps are clearly visible. Berne airport is not all that much bigger than Heringsdorf, I’d say.
I enter the terminal and just have enough time to visit the loo before the luggage starts arriving on the belt. All in all, it takes me seven minutes from deplaning to reaching the bus stop.
The bus stop is located just to the right when you exit the terminal building. The bus runs every twenty minutes to Belp railway station. The journey from the airport to the railway station takes ten minutes.
At Belp there is a train connection to Berne main station. The journey takes fifteen minutes.
And then in Berne I catch a train to Basel, which takes one hour.
This brings to an end my summer vacation. The flight with Lübeck Air was unexpected and unexpectedly pleasant. Other than that, it’s quite amazing just how unpredictable travel has become in 2022 in the post-pandemic haze. In summary:
- The Basel to Rennes flight was changed twice, including a rerouting and schedule change.
- The Eurostar to London changed schedule twice and also the rolling stock that was used on the journey.
- The Air Europa flight had a schedule change and an aircraft change.
- The Aegean flight was a replacement for a booking I had made originally on Scoot to Berlin, which had three schedule changes that eventually resulted in a completely different date of departure.
- And the Lübeck Air flight was instead of a Lufthansa flight which also had a schedule change that would have meant me spending an extra night in Frankfurt and arriving home a day later than planned.