AirBär Web Check-in — what’s in it for me?

Print your own stuff, so they don't have to!

AirBär generally are pretty good as far as the cheapo European airlines go. I don’t think they’ve ever gotten a black mark on their record with me…until today, that is (and this gripe is an admittedly small thing).

Yesterday morning, about thirty hours to take-off, I got an email from AirBär that we could do a web check-in and print our own boarding passes.

“Great,” we thought. “This’ll make our departure from Munich tomorrow even easier.” So, I clicked on the link in the email to check us in on-line and downloaded an eight-page PDF with barcodes in the top left corner of every page. Eight pages, because we’re two passengers with two flight segments each (layover in Palma de Mallorca) and for each segment there’s an “Original” and “Customer Copy” page.

“Uh…that’s fine,” we thought. “We only need the customer copy electronically and not at all with us on the trip.” So we didn’t print out the “Customer Copy” files or even bring them with us. And besides, apart from the red “Customer Copy” heading, they appeared identical to the “Original” print-outs.

We waited in line in front of the ticket agent desks just like everyone else to check our bag. There was no short(er) or “express” or bag-check line for passengers who already had checked in and printed their boarding passes. “Well, OK,” we thought. “Surely there is a benefit here for those without a bag to check because they can go right to the gate.”

Upon reaching the gate, however, the rather haughty gate agent with terrible English pronunciation* took our Originals to be scanned and we were a little surprised that she kept them.

Hoppola, jetzt weiß ich nicht mehr, welchen Sitzplatz ich habe!” I apologetically exclaimed, as I realized she intended to keep it, and I hadn’t memorized the seat assignment. Her response was not technically incorrect, but her tone (hard to reproduce here) was really not helpful: “dafür haben Sie ja eine Kopie bekommen!

Maybe I missed something in the fine print. But I really think it’s dumb that they scan the boarding passes’ barcodes and then still need the paper (for what, exactly?). So far — greetings from the tarmac on Mallorca — we haven’t needed any paper proof of our claim on these seats. But otherwise I’d have no post-boarding proof of our boarding passes.

I really don’t see the benefit of a “web check-in” if you have to wait in line with everyone else to check a bag in, TWICE the paperwork is involved, and you have to print it yourself. I’m totally on board for printing out my own documentation (gotta fire up the printer once a quarter or so to keep the ink heads from drying out), but this seems to be wasteful and confusing and of no benefit whatsoever. Except maybe that AirBär uses my printer, paper, and ink instead of theirs.

*Lest ye think ill of my Aussprachenbeurteilung: I don’t begrudge anyone’s efforts in foreign languages, but if your daily tasks on the job require you to make announcements in English, and it is unrecognizable as such, and remains unimproved (I gather this was not her first day on the job), then whom are we kidding here? Just stop doing the announcements in “English.” Clearly nobody needs them. – Special Offers – Special Offers.

Act quick!  Meetuppers from the North, this could be your ticket to Munich!  29€ one-way-per-person fares inside Germany and its neighbors; other deals also apply and some of them are bundled with hotel stays.

You gotta buy today or tomorrow and travel in September or October.  Click the link above for the details.

Travel deals 05.03.2009

Ok, the apartment is finally getting a little more under control and I’m stuck home sick, so I had time to sift through the travel spam. Let’s get to it.

Lufthansa Worldwide Sale
Lufthansa leads the pack again. It’s up to you to find the dates on which the big savings fall (thank you, easy-to-comprehend Lufthansa matrix display). Destinations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North and South America are available. Most of the good stuff leaves from Frankfurt/Main, but there are bargains available from other major airports. The sample fare I ran was Frankfurt-Shanghai, March 20-March 31 for 543€ R/T total (all taxes and fees included). Book by March 10, depart between March 7 and May 15, return between March 8 and June 30. Blackout dates apply.

Orbitz Cruise Deals
I guess that all of the travel consolidators are dabbling in cruises these days. Orbitz is running a multi-brand cruise sale available for purchase until April 1 (or as otherwise noted). They start as low as $37/night and include selected sailing in all regions (Caribbean, Mediterranean, Pacific, Alaska, Northern Europe, Transatlantic, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Indian Ocean, etc.). Each brand is offering other bargains in addition to the price reductions, i.e. upgrade within category, pre-paid gratuity, air specials and more.

Your Opinion is Important to Us!
I need some brainstorming help. We might have some unexpected vacation time coming up (which was the impetus for the ‘Rügen? Sylt?’ post below, but we’ve kind of changed gears since posting that) and we want to do something we’ve never done before. Because we’re waiting for confirmation as to whether we’re going to have the time, we’ll be planning on a much shorter timescale than we normally have for planning our trips – often 6-9 months in advance. I usually do all of the planning à la carte, but since this one might be sneaking up on us, we won’t have time for all the researching and comparison shopping to which I’m accustomed.

What’s your best or worst last minute travel experience? Have you ever packed a bag and just rolled up to the airport to see what’s available? We might have as much as 6-7 days, so far-flung destinations are not out of the question. Any help is much appreciated!

Happy trails!

Travel Deals

I seem to get flooded with travel bargain e-mails on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’ll scan them and post the most interesting-looking ones. Airfare deals tend to be my focus, but I’ll keep an eye out for hotel/rental car/cruise offers as well.


They’re having an Adventskalender sale event. Everyday a new deal, looks like a lot of 2-for-1 ticket bargains. We really like AirBerlin – no frills, but the fares tend to be reasonable and Nürnberg is a hub for them, so you can get to nearly all of their destinations from there. And the Nürnberg airport is very quiet and very accessible, even if you don’t have a car. Look at each day for the terms & conditions (travel period, booking period, etc.).

British Airways

Fare and hotel sales available here. This looks helpful for long-haul flights. The prices listed on the page reflect roundtrip fares from Hamburg, so the prices will fluctuate for flights originating from different German airports. Booking period is Nov. 27 – Dec. 8 and travel period ranges from Nov. 27 to Mar. 31 2009. I have no complaints about BA, other than the high probability of having to transfer at Heathrow (*gack!*).

Corinthia Towers Hotel

Going to Prague anytime soon? Maybe you should, because you can stay at this very swanky joint for only 70€/night. Corinthia is part of the Wyndham chain and they’re pretty nice – in the same league as Hyatt or Westin. The info page from Travelzoo is a little more forthcoming about the terms than the hotel booking page itself. You have to book by Dec. 17, there are blackout dates on Dec. 31 and Jan. 15-16 and the deal is good until Feb. 28. Unfortunately, I can’t see when the beginning of the stay period is. You might have to figure that out via trial and error on the hotel’s site.

Those look like the best picks to me. Got any tips on other sweet deals? Please feel free to post them in comments! I love finding out about other people’s favorite travel resources.

two car rentals in one day

I pride myself on being pretty automobile-independent, but as it happened I rented two cars in one day yesterday for two completely different purposes. The first one was due to a SNAFU in getting back to Regensburg from Iasi via Munich (which worked out just fine after all — just a little more hassle than I wanted), and second one was for attending Jentry and Markus’s wedding reception in Hirschau.

We ended up renting it for the whole day, and that means we can do some exploring today before we return it. We’re thinking of a trip to Weltenburg for brunch, like last year with Tammy and Matthias.

Here are the remaining snapshots from my most recent trip to Iasi:
clouds 1 clouds 3 clouds 2 night shift