Written on: 16/06/2013
I flew AirBerlin from NYC JFK airport to Stockholm, through Berlin Tegel. Throughout the process of my trip, I was delayed 3 times in four total flights, experienced inefficient ground support, and a stolen computer that should not have had the opportunity to walk off. Let me fully chronicle my experience.
First, when I boarded the plane in NYC. We were delayed as I connected to the outbound flight, but the passengers at the gate were kept in the dark as to what was happening. We wound up getting into Berlin 3 hours late. That should be a minor problem.
Meanwhile, a passenger moved my backpack to make room for a larger bag. Unfortunately the computer compartment was open because I was in and out of the bag all night and did not want to wake other passengers as the velcro is loud. When she moved the bag, the laptop fell out. After exiting the plane and finding out, all of the crew and airport personnel told me I would have to wait until tomorrow to recover my property. (I was connecting). I could see the plane, I knew where the computer was, but the staff was completely determined to make me wait.
I waited in a line to clear customs, another line to wait for my ticket (my flight had to be rebooked due to ground inefficiencies), and was redirected to yet another line. These were not well labeled, (actually, they were not labeled at all or were mislabeled), but luckily the passengers worked together to inform one another as to what they found. Three and a half hours.
In Stockholm, I was told that my computer had not been found. Big surprise. An expensive computer, given enough hands and eyes on it, found an opportunity to walk off. After eight different phone calls to find the laptop, I was told they didn't have it and to call back in 3 days where all property would be redirected to yet another airport.
The return experience was much the same. The ticket said to be at the airport three hours in advance, and they weren't kidding. They had one agent to service over 200 people. At this point, I was getting in the flow of standing in long lines and talking to interesting people of different nationalities. I mean, people pay big bucks for this experience at Disney World. And of course, we left late, and I had to run to make my 2 hour connection because of the ground inefficiencies at Tegel. I had to exit the secure area and re-enter to make my connection.
All in all, Air Berlin was madness. This slightly discounted ticket cost me around 5 times what I saved.
I can't believe this company is still in business. Our standards as travelers are certainly declining.