We are in Berlin. Eventually. It’s for the occasion of my Mum’s 60th birthday, but getting there turned out to be more difficult than we had expected.
Imagine this: We had a quick Focaccia at Malpensa airport, feeling happy for having survived the heatwave that had hit also Milan in those early days of August. Coincidentally, we chatted about long airplane delays, and how one woman in the United States makes a living from accepting compensation in exchange for her seat on overbooked flights. We then calmly walked up to the gate area, observed some unrest at the gate for a flight to Paris, and overheard a few meters further down the walk how an EasyJet employee said to another passenger that the plane had not yet left Berlin.
Hours later, we would find ourselves in Rostock. That’s an interesting and historically highly important city at the German coast, but not exactly Berlin.
After we overheard that conversation, we first learned that the flight would depart about three hours late. It had caught an initial (smallish) delay in Berlin when the airport got closed due to a thunderstorm. Then the crew had exceeded its legal working time, and they needed to bring in a spare crew. That took them time. I spare myself from speculating about EasyJet’s internal staff logistics, but at this point the more serious problem was that Berlin’s airport are currently closed for operations between Midnight and 6:00 (6:00am). So, with a scheduled departure at 23:55 (11:55pm) – kind of unlikely to land before that time.
I can’t blame EasyJet for treating us badly, even though initially there was a bit of miscommunication. The gate agent indicated one could change on another flight at the customer service desk. That desk is outside the security zone, and while another EasyJet employee said that we would be able to get back in, I had a bad feeling about it. The customer service employee rolled her eyes when we asked for a flight change, then called the gate agent and said to him that this would not be possible with less than five hours delay. She went on to explain us that reimbursements are also only made for delays of five hours and more. When I referred to European laws, she spoke of new regulation. That was bullshit, obviously, but having a more relaxed girl on my side in that moment, the service employee got nicer as well and then helpful. Just, there simply were no other flights the next day. So we needed to get back into the security area. Obviously, the tickets did not work, yet we found a nice representative of the security staff who did let us pass after a short conversation. Maybe it helped that there was virtually no traffic anymore at that time. (It was only 21:00 – departures end early in Milan-Malpensa.) We got our food vouchers, had difficulties to spend all the money, and eventually departed half an hour past Midnight. Then in Rostock, we got put into buses – I was impressed they found enough buses to carry us at that time of the night in that rather loosely populated area.