Hello from Doha! Over the past two weeks I’ve been spending time around Munich, Germany. We’ve been to a couple of places I’m really excited to share, and our Qatar Airways flights were all great as well. One thing I’ve warmed to especially during my time was German hospitality – how everyone seemed to be so respectful of each other, even during sales, etc.. At least that’s what I thought until I got arrived Munich Airport’s Terminal 1.
This was easily the most aggravating airport experience that I’ve ever gone through, and set a very negative impression of the German people, which is a shame given how nice everyone else I interacted with tended to be.
First of all, Munich Airport’s Terminal 1 is seriously a dump. Qatar Airways outsources airport employees to do check-in procedures, and they were slow when it came to checking people in. They were very nice and had conversations with just about everyone, though it took forever to upload one bag. The business class queue was six people deep and took half an hour, so I can’t help but feel sorry for everyone seated in economy, as the queue was much longer and seemed to be moving even slower.
VAT tax refund stations are situated on the other side of the airport from the Qatar Airways check-in area, which is sad to begin with, as that area of the airport was otherwise deserted. My mother bought a lot in Germany, so we were ready to get our tax refund – we were at the airport three hours early, though all queues seemed to be pretty deep. So my mother and I did online check-in and queued at the tax refund area with our goods, while my father and Hailey lined up for bag drop.
We got in, and the employee working the counter wanted to see the goods in person (which is the standard procedure as they want to make sure you’re not recycling receipts, but they weren’t checking anyone else’s). They also asked for their boarding passes, and wouldn’t do with my mother’s QR code (which can be scanned as a boarding pass since it’s sent to you as an SMS link after check-in), as she doesn’t have the Qatar Airways app (and thus couldn’t download her boarding pass onto Wallet). Unfortunately we were queueing all over the place at this point and only had an hour and a half on us, so we decided to just check-in our luggage, and only refund the items in our carry-on.
We got back to the tax refund area, and queued up for our spot. We were received by another airport employee, who asked for our boarding passes. We presented our boarding passes, as well as the stack of receipts that had to be given for VAT tax refund.
The airport employee was rude to us to begin with, snapping at us every time – he just showed us the receipts, and expected us to show him the goods. Unfortunately some of the receipts were in German, so we asked him to translate whatever was on the receipt into English. His response? “I’m not your translator, I don’t know what it is either.”
I snapped at him “if we don’t know what’s on the receipt, we can’t show you the goods”. He replied with “well, then I can’t give you a stamp for the receipt”. It didn’t help that the receipts had a few items on them each, and if we didn’t know what one item was/it was in our luggage, the guy voided the entire receipt.
At one point he pulled out a (German) receipt from a toy shop, and we pulled out all our toys. Not only did he say some of them were wrong, but he said “you take out the things on the receipt, not just random things”. Bro, if you won’t translate the receipt for us, you can’t expect us to magically understand exactly what’s on the receipt.
The guy was rude to the point where every time he asked to see something I waved it in front of his face so he could see it clearly (and stopped sounding like a broken record – “take it out”). Our entire family was frustrated at this point, since the guy wasn’t doing anything to speed up the process – in fact, it seemed like he was intentionally trying to f*ck with our time.
At the end, he said “Listen carefully. If you send some items and leave some items here, it is a criminal offence. You either give me all, or you give me nothing.” Oh no he didn’t.
Refusing to show how dumbfounded I was, I simply said that we didn’t think it was our problem that their airport was set up in such an impractical way. The employees simply teamed up at this point, saying “it’s your fault”.
At this point we headed over to Global Blue and another area for our actual refund, where they were still bound to some of Munich Airport’s asinine tax free policies, though at least were much nicer, and even understanding of our situation.
I have to own up to the fact that we underestimated the strictness of Munich Airport’s tax refund policy. We decided to check-in our items first in hopes of the fact that they wouldn’t check them, much like they didn’t at Paris Charles de Gaulle, Zurich or Geneva. However, we did own up to that and we said that whatever we already checked in could be voided.
However, Munich Airport should be ashamed that these employees are the face of the airport. The attitude of these employees is disgusting, especially how they care to waste people’s time – I don’t know if it’s for attention, hours, entertainment, but I was simply appalled by the entire experience.