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1.100 EUR penalty for being late

Today I was supposed to fly to Cairo to start my journey around the world. And as always I tended to do things at the very last minute such as organizing things which can’t wait for a year and packing my backpack. Shortly before departure in Duesseldorf at 7am I ended-up randomly throwing things in my backpack to finish-up packing. In the end my backpack was so full that I could not close it, so I quickly took another small bag and threw the remaining things in it. Than I was rushing to the train station but missed the 7:21am train to Frankfurt Airport and also the one leaving 5 minutes later or so. The next train to the airport was around 7:45am but this was not a high-speed train arriving at Frankfurt around 9:35am which was obviously too late for the 10:05am flight to Cairo, especially because I needed to check-in luggage and pick-up my passport which the visa service has send to Frankfurt Airport.

At the train station I decided to return to my house to call the German airline Lufthansa for re-scheduling my flight. I had booked the original flight for 700 EUR taking me from Frankfurt to Cairo and on Dec 31st from Kilimanjaro Airport back to Frankfurt. However, the agent told me that because of the fact that I missed the flight to Cairo the return flight from Kilimanjaro to Frankfurt will expire as well because I need to fly all routes as planned. I was told that securing the return flight will cost an additional 1.900 EUR because it will be changed to a one-way ticket which has a higher cost and of course I will need to buy a new ticket to Cairo which comes on top of the price. I had the feeling that the Lufthansa agent on the phone was not very experienced so I was in parallel searching the internet for alternatives and calling the Lufthansa call center three more times to speak to another agents and listen what they have to propose. In the end I figured out the cheapest option which was to buy a completely new ticket from Frankfurt to Cairo and from Kilimanjaro to Frankfurt amounting 1.100 EUR. It’s absolutely ridiculous that I needed to pay twice for exactly the same flight from Kilimanjaro to Frankfurt which is not before December and which is not the flight I had missed. So if anybody of you knows a way that I can get reimbursed for that, please let me know. However, I got the taxes of the flight back which was 90 EUR…

My new flight to Cairo was scheduled for 3:10pm and this time I did not miss the train and was arriving at 12:30pm at Frankfurt Airport. I picked-up my passport at the luggage storage which was very unproblematic. So whenever you have a visa which is issued one day before departure and your flight is in the morning it is best to request that your passport is sent to the airport’s luggage storage. However, this service comes with a cost of 45 EUR for the delivery and 4 EUR storage fee.

At the airport I also remembered that I will need passport photos to register in Sudan since all tourists need to register within three days after crossing the border. So I found a photo booth and got four passport photos taken.

The 3:10pm flight to Cairo with Egypt Air was delayed for more than one hour and I got reminded that I needed to pay a penalty for being late but the airline does not reimburse me for being late themself. This is somewhat unfair. In the plane I’ve met a guy from Poland whose profession is to draw underwater maps for oil companies and I had an interesting chat with him. The airline food had a strange smell and since I was not hungry anyhow I decided simply not to eat it.

After arriving in Cairo at 8:30 I got a visa which is actually a sticker which you put in your passport by yourself costing 15 USD. The taxi from the airport to the Sun Hotel, a backpacker hotel right in the city center, was 20 USD and the room for the night another 20 USD. The streets close to the hotel are very noisy but luckily I had earplugs with me which gave me wonderful 12 hour sleep.

By the way, the picture of this blog entry shows the view out of my hotel room in Cairo, so the city is not a place you want to spend a weeks’ vacation on.