Voluntary re-accommodation of the Lufthansa flight in Frankfurt
Although flight advisories are quite common, this trip report will offer something a little different: an examination of the bumping process as it was experienced in early May 2022 at Frankfurt Airport. While traveling from Naples (Italy) to Vilnius (Lithuania) via Frankfurt, the second leg of our trip was overbooked, forcing Lufthansa gate agents to look for volunteers to catch the next flight. It will be an account of what happened and a review of the experience.
As is most often the case, the knocking experience begins at the gate. Photo: Chris Loh | single flight
It was at the beginning of May that my wife and I took a trip to Italy and returned home to Vilnius. Flying with Lufthansa, we needed to connect in Frankfurt and were eager to board the flight. After a few hours in one of Lufthansa’s business lounges, we walked to our door and waited patiently.
Just before boarding began, an announcement was made that the flight had been overbooked and the airline was looking for volunteers to be bumped from the flight. In exchange, Lufthansa would provide:
- One night hotel accommodation
- Buffet dinner
- Breakfast buffet
- And the grand prize, €250 cash per person
Knowing that neither my wife nor I had anything to do the next day, we discussed it. It certainly wasn’t something that crossed his mind, but I pointed out that we would be £500 richer for our inconvenience. We agreed to volunteer for the deal provided the replacement flight was not too far in the future.
Volunteering is one thing, waiting to see if everyone shows up for their flight is another. Photo: Chris Loh | single flight
Waiting for the end of boarding
As we walked towards the gate agent, we could hear the woman in front of us asking about the offer to be bumped. Whatever information she was looking for, the response was not to be favorable as we were apparently the first passengers to volunteer. Upon inquiring about the replacement flight, we were informed that it would be the next day at 10:20am, which would allow us to enter Vilnius at 1:20pm local time.
Upon accepting the offer and volunteering, we were told we had to wait until boarding was complete. This is because if someone missed their connection or got stuck in security beyond the airline’s acceptable limits, we could be put back on the flight. In this situation, my wife and I both agreed that we were in a fairly neutral position – that we would be happy to come home sooner but also happy to be hustled and compensated.
We were informed that the plane was expecting 12 other passengers. Waiting and watching, we counted the frantic travelers rushing for the door. A little group here, another little group there, until we come to the last two or three. I’m not sure of the exact number, but I believe the door was initially closed with an empty seat on the plane, after meeting the one unfortunate traveler who had a delayed flight out of London. Interestingly, the plane would end up taking off with two empty seats as we saw a passenger get kicked off the flight for not wearing a mask on the bus heading to the outstation.
The door being officially closed, we were then given the details of our offer. This consisted of the following:
- Hotel voucher and details on how to get there
- Boarding passes for the replacement flight
- A card payment transfer, being told that it would take several days for the transaction to go through
The hotel stay
Our hotel for the night would be the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport. This airport was off site from the airport and required a train/metro ride. Luckily it was a one stop – although it would cost us around €5 each and a bit of a walk from the station to the hotel.
Our hotel for the night: The Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Chris Loh | single flight
Although I won’t go into too many details about the hotel stay, I can report that the room itself was quite comfortable, clean, and quiet.
The meals, however, were something else. Arrived around 10:00 p.m., the “dinner buffet” consisted of extremely dry lasagna which had clearly been sitting for hours. Also, we were only allowed one drink, with any additional drinks costing more. Funny enough, there was a whole section of seats with a sign in front saying “Flights canceled by Lufthansa”, indicating that this was the main “hub” for the airline’s ousted passengers! Breakfast, at least, was a much better experience!
Buffet meal at the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport Photo: Chris Loh | single flight
Check and take off
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and inquired about their airport shuttle service. We learned that it would cost €4 per person. We also learned that the shuttle for the hotel was free – something the Lufthansa gate agent did not mention.
Taking the hotel shuttle we quickly arrived at Frankfurt T1 and went through security and headed for the gate. The flight itself was on time, smooth and uneventful – as was the outward journey.
We had to take the mover to our door the next day. Photo: Chris Loh | single flight
Final thoughts and reflections
With the money showing up on my card only three days after the robbery, I have to say my first experience of being kicked off a robbery and being put in a hotel wasn’t too bad. Although I personally pride myself on being able to tolerate bad food, the Dried Lasagna really put that to the test!
While the Lufthansa gate agents were courteous, I think they should have mentioned the free hotel shuttle as an option. According to the schedules, it could have been faster and more convenient than the train, and of course, free. The gate agents also failed to ask us (or at least explain) the seat preference for the replacement flight, as we were assigned a middle seat and an aisle seat. I would have preferred a window seat, and if the flight was too busy for that, it would have been nice to know.
A number of people we shared the experience with noted that we could have asked for more – or more could have been offered if no one had agreed to the original deal. In retrospect, we obviously would have liked a bigger payout, but we were actually quite happy with the offer. I’m curious, of course, what would have happened if no one had volunteered and how much more the airline could have offered.
Have you ever been kicked out of a flight? How did the experience compare? And if you had nowhere to go the next day, how much would it take to volunteer to be kicked out? Share your impressions by leaving a comment!
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