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Recently, I had the misfortune of landing at Newark Liberty International Airport. My wife and I had flown in from Germany, and Newark was the layover on our way home to Seattle.

Our flight arrived late, giving us only an hour or so to catch our connecting flight. It was going to be a close call. Not only did we have to go through passport control and security control, we also had to claim our baggage and re-check it for the domestic flight. (European airports do not burden their passengers with this extra hassle.)

It quickly became obvious that we were going to need assistance to make our connecting flight on time. However, the service counter for our domestic airline was nowhere in sight. We asked TSA agents -- you know, those taxpayer-funded public servants -- at the security checkpoint to allow us to move to the front of the line. Their response? "No." The only official assistance we received was from the guy who re-checked our bags; he didn't make us stand in yet another long line.

And just to add a dash of insult to injury, one TSA agent even had the audacity to tell me, "Slow down," as I was dashing like Usain Bolt to the gate. I almost responded with an expletive over my shoulder. Luckily for us, we didn't miss the flight -- only because our pilot was an hour late.

Now, compare the experience of landing in Newark to landing in Frankfurt, Germany. I was flying Lufthansa (whose in-flight service I highly recommend). The plane was very late, and I was afraid of missing my connection to Poland. But, I shouldn't have worried. As soon as my feet were on the ground, a Lufthansa agent was waiting to meet me at the gate. He shuttled several other passengers and me in a special vehicle just for us. He drove us to passport control, then to the security checkpoint. We made our flight on time, with a few minutes to spare.

That incredible customer service, combined with Frankfurt's congenial security personnel, has guaranteed my lifelong loyalty to Lufthansa.

Simultaneously, as an American citizen, I find it rather pathetic to be treated better in a German airport than in an American one.

(AP Photo)