In our Kuala Lumpur hotel were up at 5 am, walked 5 minutes over to KLIA 2 terminal, took the train (you can pre purchase tickets as we did the day before and it is 2R per person) to KLIA1 / M terminal, checked in to our Thai air flight to Bangkok, passed thru primary baggage X-ray, took another train to C terminal, checked in at gate, took the bus out to the plane, and then had a bumpy ride for 2 hours = Finally in Bangkok .
Then we had a 2.5 hour layover before our 11 hour flight to Frankfurt.
Arriving to the Frankfurt Schengen immigration post there were hundreds of people lined up for 4 agents and it took almost an hour to get thru. We were barely able to drag ourselves over to the hotel shuttle area where we had a 25 min wait for the bus. At the hotel they unloaded an entire bus load of 60 plus people to check in at the same time.… WOW we are tired it has been 20 hours since we left the hotel in KL.
We have also been following the tracking for the bikes and they did arrive to Amsterdam last evening. They are supposed to be trucked to Frankfurt and arrive here by 5 am, but they did not get here until 10 am according to the agent we spoke to then. Swiss Port said to call back at noon, but when we did that the guys said “ the truck just arrived and we have lots of cargo so call back tonight” We told him we know the truck did not just arrive and that we are supposed to have the bikes to Air Canada by 6 pm today…he said “you might get them in the morning tomorrow!”
Luckily we have a spare day on our hands. We have jet lag and after going to sleep at 8 pm we were up at 4 am. The hotel is in the middle of no where, but they have a shuttle to the terminal and there is a huge mall there. Back in the land of good treats!
Today we walked from the hotel the 1.8 km over to Swissport Cargo Services, arrived at 7 am, and checked in at the import desk. Swissport is inside the “airport zone”. The guy at the desk processed our request, but told us we needed to go to customs for a TVIP and this is a 2.4 km walk. As we walked no bus passed us on our route (we did figure out its route for the return). We were stoked to find the Swissport fee for handling was a mere 25 E each!!!
The back story here is that we should not need to go to customs except for just a rubber stamp as these are Canadian registered bikes entering the EU. We should be just able to drive away with our green card insurance with no question same as when we arrived to Madrid. What can you do thought as they have the bikes and insist we see customs for TVIP.
We arrived to the Zoll (customs) and immediately knew we were going to have a problem. Daniel usually starts these kind of discussions in foreign countries with “ I’m sorry I only speak English.” Today he forgot and when he said instead to the agent “Hello we were sent here from Swissport as we have arrived from Malaysia with 2 motorcycles” The guy got his back up immediately and angrily said how rude Dan was not to first ask if he even spoke English”. Well that did not start well. Then there was much discussion about the bikes and their arrival to Germany, why had we not hired a professional to do this, why are we trying to do this with no car in an airport a big as Frankfurt, why we might need to pay the import tax and duty on the bikes…. that this was an unusual situation…. basically he had no idea what he was talking about. There should just be a rubber stamp for us on the paperwork and off we go.
The fact that he did not know what he was talking about caused a massive cascade of problems and that wasted 3 hours of our time. He decided on this first visit that we should go back to Swissport and ask them to sign a transfer pass. He said private persons do not have the authority to move cargo inside the airport and Swissport will probably not agree to sign the pass for us. I will point out (he agreed as well) that if we just arrived for a holiday and picked up the bikes we could just ride away from indise the zone to outside of it. So how does this make any sense!!!??? How is this different from us picking up the bikes and riding 8 km over to the north cargo terminal???
We managed to sort out the bus route and could take this directly back to Swissport. Here we handed over the transit request. After some confusion and a few phone calls our only options they say now is that we can not ride the bikes is that we pay for a truck to take the bikes to Air Canada. Nothing we can do as we have a flight to make tomorrow. This is especially frustrating since there should be no customs issues here at all!
After another 45 min and with a lot of work by the Swissport agent he managed to be the voice of reason with the customs guy. The story now is we can ride the bikes to Air Canada, but we have to go back to Customs for some paperwork. The Swissport agent was so apologetic and he is the one who fixed the massive problem the customs guy caused. Well at least we know the bus route now. Back at customs the guy put on a big show about how he was not overstepping his authority, but stretching it to allow us to do this. How we have to promise only to ride on the airport roads or we will get arrested if we go on the highway (not true as we have green cards). He told a few tall tales and tried to blame Swissport for the problems to cover the fact that he screwed up big time. He then back paddled when we said we would message the agent there who we had been dealing with. Well at least he decided to fix his mistake even if he would not admit it.
He then made a big deal to tell us we had to go over to north customs and report immediately to customs there. (We are not sure why as there should be no reason before we drop the bikes at Air canada). We are told they close at 330 and it is now noon). So with said paper in hand we managed to get back on the same bus on its loop past us again.
At Swissport they handed over the release papers for the bikes and we walked over to the import office. Here there was a super nice guy who knew we did not speak German, so he tried to communicate in Italian with us. That worked pretty well. He is also a biker with a 1200 GS. He directed us around the side of the warehouse and said he would meet us there. The door then opened and he drove out the forklift with a bike on a palate. While we set to the unwrapping of the bikes he had one of the warehouse workers deliver us two hot coffees and 2 bottles of cold sparkling water! We had to unwrap and unstrap the bikes, connect the batteries, and replace the windscreens.
Then we were off the 8 km on the internal airport roads to the other side of the airport to the North Cargo Terminal. Here you enter at gate 26 and check in with the security kiosk just to the right before the gates. They will then let you in thru the staff security gates. Just after we rode in we finally saw the Air Canada Cargo office!!!
Just past AC and to the left we saw the customs/Zoll building. Daniel went in and spoke to them and was there for quite a while. They were confused about why we were even there as “there is no reason” for importation. They did however kindly do the papers we needed to do after the visit to Air Canada so that we did not need to come back. While Sara was waiting outside she was chatting with a few of the customs and DHL agents who were out smoking. One of the agents went in and came back out to offer her bottles of cold water and some “New Zealand apples”! Super kind!
FINALLY we arrived to Air Canada Cargo after a long and frustrating day.
They warmly greeted us and the service was totally smooth and organized. You go into the office and sign some papers and then ride around to the back and into the warehouse.
Here they have set up 2 metal airline palates for the bikes. The agent fills in a security/safety check. This includes checking the bike for hazardous goods and damage. They require that the bags are searched or xrayed. Xray is much easier of course and they are pretty thorough. The whole thing took about 45 min from start to finish. Best experience with shipping agent ever!
The airport staff bus arrived just as we left and so we could get back to terminal 1 where we could get the hotel shuttle.
It is now 330 and the day we thought we had for sightseeing is half over. After cleaning up at the hotel we did get the shuttle back to the airport and then took the metro to the city in the Aldtstad or old town. So nice to wander the streets, sit and watch the people while enjoying a beer, and eating some local fare. We are still pretty jet lagged and by 8 we had to head back to the hotel and to bed.
We left Canada last May 1 2017 and we are headed back finally today July 24, 2018. The flight from Frankfurt to Toronto left over an hour late.
After the 8 hour flight we then had to circle the Toronto airport for 45 minutes during a storm surge that stopped all the take offs and landings. When we did land it was at the remote terminal 5. We have only 35 min until out flight to Montreal boards. Here just after unloading we had a cursory passport check and then had to get on a bus for transfer 2 km to the main terminal. Now there was a formal passport check. There were a lot of self serve kiosks, but of course only one of the passports would scan and we still had to see an agent. This was fairly quick and we were on our way to “connecting flights area” and the West Jet agent there took our boarding passes and said yes you guys are good, just go out this door and thru security!
So we went out the door and found a massive line up snaking to the security check. After 40 min we finally made it thru and to a screen to check for our gate number. Our flight as well as several others had all been cancelled because of the storm delay. That meant hundreds of passengers in line ups to get re-booked. By the time we got to the front of the line we had landed 2 hours ago.
The Condor agents had already automatically re-booked us without our knowledge for the 630 am flight tomorrow. This is great and sucks as it is now after 8 pm and “2 am for us, we have a paid hotel in Montreal, and now we have no baggage and no place to stay. We were told to go get our bags at “domestic” arrivals as they would be transferred there since the flight was cancelled.
After another hour of waiting for them the agent said that it could be hours and did we really need them. He said he tagged them for our 630 flight and we headed to the Airport hotel = $$$. Not much else we can do at 10 pm when we have to get up at 430.
We slept well and thought we had the plan well in hand. Fly to Montreal, taxi to Air Canada cargo, discharge the carnet at customs, ride to USA border and then to Max BMW after 500 km. Our friends Rich and Karlene were to pick us up there and take us back to their place for a couple of days while the bikes have their service. We had boarding passes and there was a pretty short security line and we made the gate well before boarding. The agents all assured us our bags were on the plane.
It was a bit of a bumpy ride to Montreal and when we landed we had to wait 15 min as our gate was occupied. We arrived to the baggage carousel and waited and waited, but no bags arrived. The agent assured us that he would locate the bags and come over and get us, but that it could take a few hours.
After 2 hours and 2 more Toronto flights had arrived and our bags did not we rechecked with him. He said “ oh yeah they never called back” OMG! it has been 2.5 hours. He called someone else told them the whole story, and they said they would go look for the bags. It is amazing that with the luggage tags they have absolutely no idea where the bags are!
At noon after another 45 minutes we had good news that they had found the bags, but that they would not arrive until the 1430 flight today. We had called Air Canada this morning and they said they probably would not charge us to store the bikes as long as we picked them up today. We left messages for our friends that were picking us up at BMW at 4 pm today that it would be 4 pm tomorrow! Last we had to talk to Max BMW as the bikes were to be dropped off today before 5 for service tomorrow and this will totally screw this up and they may now not be able to do the work and finish by Saturday end of day and then we will not be done until Tuesday. It is just that easy another week behind schedule.
We grabbed a cab the 10 km to the north cargo terminal and Air Canada. They were really nice and helpful. You have to line up and then pay your airport handling fee 90$ per bike, then go upstairs to Canadian Customs for a rubber stamp for “import”, and then we also had them discharge our Carnet de Passage so we can send it back to the Swiss Motoring agency to get our bond money back.
Then you go to the warehouse and the fork lift driver fetched our bikes. They did the unwrap and unstrap and then we just put on the mirrors and sorted our bags. It was raining again now and at least we have our rain gear if not our riding gear. The hotel is only 5 km away and we just arrived there when it really started to pour. The luggage finally arrived at 830 pm!!!