Our last time flying with LOT.. Well, it was the longest flight…
Last updated: September 1, 2023
Flying with LOT from LA to Warsaw
Be careful what you wish for. If you want to travel, go for it. But remember these ventures are often unpredictable and not always align with your plans. This is something that we forgot about until our recent experience of flying with LOT Polish Airlines.
As I’m writing this, we are flying with LOT over the Atlantic Ocean. Typically, a direct flight from Los Angeles to Warsaw takes no more than thirteen hours. This adventure started almost twenty hours ago, and no one can predict when it’s going to end.
The beginning of our journey didn’t involve any surprises. We had a very important meeting in Belarus and had to be there no matter what. Since there is no direct flight from Los Angeles to Minsk, Belarus, we had to find the best way to get there by making a stop in one of the major European cities.
I rarely think of delays, missed flights, etc. Thus, booking a flight a day before our meeting seemed more than enough time for me. Roshan, on the other hand, was not thrilled with this decision. He insisted on booking our tickets at least a few days prior to our meeting. Reluctantly, I agreed and couldn’t stop thanking him later.
Choosing LOT Polish Airlines
Flying to Europe in summer is a very expensive endeavor. On top of that, airplanes get filled up very fast. It took me a few days to finally find what seemed like the best option for us. At that time, I’d never flown with LOT Polish Airlines myself.
My only remote experience with the company was when I had booked a flight for my mom. She had talked positively about her LOT experience. So disregarding numerous reviews that complained about frequent delays with LOT due to various reasons, I proceeded with booking of our flight.
Honestly, I should’ve known better. My mom is a person who rarely complains and is satisfied with almost anything.
Flying with LOT
Long story short, on the day of our trip, we arrived at the airport a few hours earlier. Our flight to Poland with LOT Polish Airlines was scheduled at 9:50 p.m. In Warsaw, a long, seventeen hour layover was promising us a much-anticipated introduction to the city. This excursion, however, never meant to happen.
At LOT check-in counter we found out that our flight was delayed. Arriving in Warsaw one hour later than expected, however, didn’t interfere with our plans a lot. We would still have sixteen hours to explore the capital of Poland before boarding our next plane to Minsk.
Yet when the monitor at the departure gate showed 11:00 p.m. without any sign of soon-to-start boarding, it became clear that we were facing a longer delay. Finally, two hours late, the LOT airplane took off from LAX.
Has we flown with LOT a few weeks earlier, my indignation wouldn’t know any limits. This time, however, equipped with “insider knowledge” from Finding My Virginity by Richard Branson, I knew how complicated the airline business was.
LOT Polish Airlines was still a fairly unknown company for US customers. Despite its popularity in Poland, it had to compete hard for better spots and consequently faster boarding in LAX, one of the biggest airports in the world.
Inside the Plane
I tried not to let my disappointment and frustration spoil our experience. While getting to the airplane from the gate by bus needed some major changes, the plane looked comfortable enough with greater legroom even in economy class. Airplane crew was also friendly and tried to provide good customer service.
Almost half way through our flight, the LOT passengers received an unexpected announcement. The plane was turning back and making an emergency stop in Toronto, Canada. A young pregnant woman on the board needed immediate medical assistance. Despite obvious inconvenience and possibility of missing their connection flights, all passengers reacted with full understanding and compassion. There was not a single word of discontent.
After flying with LOT almost the whole night, we landed in Toronto around 10:00 a.m. local time. By that time, the airplane crew was exhausted. A new team was getting ready to assist the passengers for the remainder of the flight Warsaw. The captain made the last announcement asking all traverls to leave the plane and come back to the same gate in two hours.
Helping themselves with complementary refreshments and drinks, the majority of the passengers stayed near the gate. It might just had been their way of copying with the situations on hands and hoping to still catch their connecting flights.
Flying with LOT Polish Airlines… Delayed again
Two hours later, the passengers flying with LOT Polish Airlines lined up in front of the gate in anticipation of boarding that was supposed to start any minute. By this time, most of the LOT travelers missed their connecting flights but still restrained their complains.
With the prevailing situation on hands, our plans for visiting the center of Warsaw were already out of the question. By this time, we, too, started worrying about not being able to catch our connecting fight.
Another half an hour passed without any announcement to board. In fact, there was no communication with the passengers at all. Eventually, a few minutes after a new crew boarded the plane, a voice over a speaker filled us in on the current situation. The members of the new airplane crew were waiting for catering team to restock food for the inflight meals.
Travelers’ almost unanimous dissatisfaction with the LOT company reached its culmination a few minutes later when the LOT employees changed the departure time on the gate monitor from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., without having any explanations or any sort of verbal communications with their passengers.
Two men, standing in front of me, started questioning their future flights with LOT. “I haven’t flown with LOT for 25 years and I don’t know when it’s going to be the next time,” – said one of the men. I completely agreed with the second part of this statement.
Finally, four hours later (not initial two), the LOT passengers were allowed to board.
Sitting in our seats now, we hoped to get to Warsaw at least in time to catch our next flight. The decision of never flying with LOT again was firmly sitting in my mind.
Still I believed that people and businesses, even LOT, deserved the second chance… I was not sure, though, when and if I would be ready to give the company that second chance.