Remember how a few posts ago I praised Lufthansa for coming together at the last minute and how my preferred airline was momentarily in the bad books. Well, the universe has a funny way of equalizing itself and favour has shifted 180-degrees.
Lufthansa is now in the bad books because they’re on strike. Their industrial action has put most of Europe into disarray. Yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday) flights out of Germany on Lufthansa were cancelled; this is extended to Friday. Some flights to the UK from Italy on Lufthansa are cancelled because they can’t get pilots or planes.
Happily, my preferred airline sometimes breaks the Star Alliance partnership and routes through other non-member airlines. This means that they’re not tied to Lufthansa for European flights like United and other partners. As such, on this trip, I learned something new: the difference between a Star Alliance airport and a non-Star Alliance airport. Frankfurt is a Star Alliance airport and Rome is not. This means that by flying through Rome, I inadvertently avoided the strike and the likelihood that I’d be stranded.
Unfortunately, all my co-workers are scattered far and wide as they try to attempt to make it home to the U.S. or elsewhere for Thanksgiving. I’m sure Lufthansa’s timing is not a coincidence. And, no shock, some last-minute flights out of Rome are in the $10,000 cost range.
In other news, Visa was exceptionally good at getting me an emergency card in less than 24-hours; they called everyone that was in “holding” (e.g. hotels, rental cars, etc) and sent/called in a payment voucher for the amount owed. This is in stark contrast to past experiences where I’ve been left stranded; the most memorable was our 2014 trip to Boston.
Still, 24-hours is a long time to be stranded in a city without a plastic payment method; especially when your debit card doesn’t work in European bank machines or your bank puts a hold on transactions outside of Canada/U.S. Visa needs to delve into the world of digital cards; then they can send you an emergency card replacement instantly and you don’t lose a travel day.
As a funny aside, the emergency cards don’t have a chip so they can’t be inserted/tapped at the time of payment. This confused a few people at stores in Napoli who kept trying to insert and tap to no avail. After watching one guy struggle for a bit, I had to explain how the swipe worked to him. It was like giving him a rotary phone.
Finally, I didn’t leave Europe on Wednesday like everyone else because when I booked my flight the cost of flying on the day before U.S. Thanksgiving was off the charts; so, because I don’t need to be anywhere for the holiday, I took a day between the end of our workshops in Napoli to save the client money and simply enjoy the city. Here’s a taste of what’s to come.