Meme Enthusiast and an occasional memer. [happiness noises]
On a very nice summer morning, I decided I should probably travel back home for a while during the break. Now that I had a part time job along with my studies, I could financially afford to book a flight within a budget and indeed give my parents back in Oman, a surprise. Germany definitely had other plans though.
So as decided, when I got paid, just last week I booked a ticket with Lufthansa via Frankfurt to Muscat. I checked all the documents I needed and since I had transited through Doha, earlier this year, I paid no attention to the transit part of the travel plan. Why? Because no one in their right mind would think, they would need to spent 100 pounds for a half an hour layover in the transit area of an airport, just because they hold a particular nation's passport.
I was elated about the plan, packed away my bags and bid the goodbyes and got ready to fly. It was for the first time on the self-check in through the app that I see a pop up saying Indian nationals require US visa etc. For a moment I thought about it, looked online only to find out many say holders of a valid UK visa can transit through Germany. Then I asked people I knew, people who have been in UK and worked for long, only for all of them to ridicule the question itself.
"Who tf needs a visa for a half an hour transit?" was something I heard more than 10 times today morning. So, I go to the airport paying 60 pounds for a taxi because railair wouldn't operate beyond 2100hrs.
LHR Terminal 2, 0430 hrs
At luggage checkin they clearly turned me away and as if that wasn't horrible enough. I went to the Lufthansa ticket counter where a middle aged man sat. He looked helpful but was anything but it. The first time I asked if there were flights I could reschedule to and was denied. The Lufthansa app also stated that the ticket would be non-refundable. After going back to the luggage checkin and confirming with the employee that there were no flights, absolutely no other alternative option or even suggestions on what to do next was given. That was the second time I had to go back to the ticket counter to confirm if there was a connection via Zurich where you don't need a document to just sit in the transit area. He changes his tone, asks me "Didn't I tell you no just 20 minutes ago?" and he seems annoyed. Like excuse me, did I just lose my 500 pounds and lose the opportunity to cuddle my cat and dog back home that day, or did you? Why he was overreacting and the kind of customer service offered there would remain the rudest I have experienced in a long time. It's like I got myself a ticket to get humiliated by Lufthansa and team.
Anyway, I paid another 60 pounds for a taxi back home and long gone was the 500 I paid for the ticket. Now to surprise my parents, I gotta ask money from my dad. How cool is that?
The issues I see with this are multifaceted. Lufthansa being Germany's airline, must obviously know that this is a common happening because in the 2 minutes I had stood at the ticket counter, there were at least 6 people who approached the counter with the exact same issue. This indicates that hundreds of pounds worth tickets which people paid for, are probably resold by Lufthansa to others after this whole fiasco of not allowing them to board in the name of a visa. If they had informed well beforehand, I could at least have thought about applying for a visa. But since it was an urgent booking, I never had enough time to apply for a visa and then receive it anyway. Lufthansa must make it a warning for flyers who are trying to book a ticket with a layover in German countries. That was indeed an experience with that airline but no matter how broke I am, I would never choose to fly Lufthansa ever again in my entire life. After letting about 30-40 people know of this, most of them said they wouldn't do it either.
The second and the underlying issue of it all: Germany. I have no idea what kind of ridiculous and racist law it is to make people apply for a visa just to sit in the transit area for half an hour. When other passport holders get through without a visa for the same flight and you're unable to just because you hold an Indian passport, it is not just devastatingly painful but also gives us another reason to think that Indian passport is something we need to get rid of. And everyone wonders why Indians are running away to the west for green cards and another citizenship. I checked around about it and came to realize that the same thing exists in Australia as well. I cannot pinpoint on what is the issue here because it is digusting that a traveler who probably has urgent things to take care of at a destination has to go through a normal visa application procedure for over a week just so they can sit on a chair in the transit area? It is like paying to exist really. I will rant about this for hours because I'm definitely super pissed about this experience.
Having a relative who is dying, having cats and dogs you want to see and cuddle, ahving your family be surprised you came; all that is now ruined. For international students like me, it is beyond miraculous that I got to book the flight with my own money in the first place but having to go through hell just to transit through Germany? Never again. Even if I visit Europe, Germany will really be out of the bucket list for me.
© 2022 Rushali Prasad