Flyers describe nightmare travel experience from Munich to Chicago – NBC Chicago


A number of issues led to a chaotic weekend in Munich for travelers trying to get to Chicago.

The problems began Friday, when United Airlines Flight 952 experienced mechanical issues. The trouble lasted for hours.

“What happened was just madness,” said Antony Jacobs, one of the hundreds onboard at the time.

“No tugs to tug the plane from the gate, no deicing. They had like two deicers here in Munich,” said Jacobs from the Munich airport. “We had a four-hour mechanical issue that created all the madness to time out the pilots.”

By the time the plane was cleared for takeoff, hours later, the staff on board had timed out, and the flight was canceled.

Passengers were forced to rebook. However, due to a rare snowstorm, all flights were grounded at Munich’s airport Saturday.

Despite a total airport closure, some customers tell NBC 5 they were not notified of flight cancelations and still showed up at the airport, enduring treacherous travel.

On Sunday, problems continued.

“We were on the plane for seven hours before [the staff] timed out,” one commenter shared in a Facebook group created for impacted passengers. “We were offered six ounces of water and a packet of crackers.

“I was on the original Friday flight 12/1 for well over 6 hours and again on Sunday 12/3 for over 10.5 hours,” said another traveler on the Facebook group.

“One of the worst, yet most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. Scrambling to rebook, only to get canceled, grab hotels available, strategizing on how to get Uber drivers to actually show up,” said Jake Tiongco, another passenger.

Tiongco, along with several strangers, took matters into their own hands traveling by train to Frankfurt to catch a flight to Chicago Monday morning.

“As if the flight delays were not enough, our train broke down, mid-way to Frankfurt, where we had to sit and wait for a replacement train for two and a half hours,” he said.

Tiongco and his group landed at O’Hare late Monday afternoon.

Others are still stuck abroad, including Jacobs, who tells NBC 5 he was forcibly removed from his Monday flight due to a medical emergency.

“I have not had my medication, my diabetic medication, for four days because I didn’t pack for all this. I didn’t pack medication expecting to be here this long. I don’t carry stress. I don’t worry about much, and this has pushed me to the brink of a nervous breakdown,” Jacobs said.

On its website, United says “safety considerations, weather, air traffic control, operations and other factors may occasionally cause lengthy tarmac delays.”

It goes on to say, “Should a lengthy tarmac delay occur, we will make every reasonable effort to ensure that your essential needs are met. If safety and security considerations permit, this includes providing snack food and drinking water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate.”

Aviation expert and Lewis University professor, Eric Jones, says the situation in Munich was the result of multiple factors.

“When you have these significant weather events, coupled with a mechanical issue, coupled with a crew timing issue, it creates a perfect storm,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, what you have is a complete breakdown in the ability to transfer passengers safely and effectively. Oftentimes it creates gridlock. Let’s just hold people where they are, we know we can keep them safe and away from harm.”

He points to the “Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights,” introduced earlier this year, as a lifeline to travelers.

it does give clear expectations and rules for how airlines can operate and how passengers are effected,” said Jones. “But it always leaves a caveat. And that caveat is safety. That caveat is weather.”

Some passengers say have they have been partially reimbursed by United. Others have paid thousands of dollars out of pocket for new flights, hotels, transportation and food.

In a statement, United says, “We are closely monitoring the winter weather conditions in Munich doing our best to serve customers under difficult conditions. Over the weekend, we implemented a travel waiver due to the extreme weather and are adding additional flights, including three which departed earlier today.”

Share post:



More like this