Germany’s Reunification Day…On October 3, 1990, I boarded a flight to Hungary where I was to work as an English teacher. It was my first time out of the country and the trials of international travel had no meaning to me. After a series of late/missed connections on TWA, I was rerouted to Munich where I would connect with a flight to Budapest. That flight was also late, so I arrived to a completely closed Munich airport. My connecting flight was long gone. TWA had abandoned me. My luggage must have arrived earlier as I found it lined up on the wall with several others. It was busted open with my clothes haphazardly stuffed back in. I found myself standing in a dark terminal (with a broken suitcase) completely lost. It was 1990 and there were no cell phones or internet. I walked outside the airport to look around. It was dark, the parking lot was empty and there were no taxis. I was scared and alone.
A Lufthansa gate agent was just leaving when she saw me. When I explained what had happened, she got out her pen and started filling out papers. She handed me vouchers for taxi transfers to and from the Penta Hotel, a night’s stay at the Penta, dinner, breakfast and a flight on Lufthansa to Budapest the following morning. Of course, she didn’t have to do any of this. I hadn’t flown on Lufthansa. But what I didn’t know was, it was Germany’s reunification day. East and West were now one. The entire country was celebrating, businesses and services were closed and finding a hotel room, taxi or any help was next to impossible. I really don’t know what would have happened to me if she hadn’t shown up.
This afternoon, 27 years to the day, I will be on another Lufthansa flight. This time, I’m flying to Spain with my Mom. Three decades later, and the memories of how that employee helped me in my desperate situation are still vivid. I hold Lufthansa Airlines in very high regard.