Clinic business

Compensation clinic: Lufthansa flight cancellation complaint has been pending for over a year

This week Compensation Clinic concerns a flight segment from Frankfurt to Bangkok operated by Lufthansa which was canceled a year ago and the airline has not responded to the complaint file since.

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Lufthansa has a ton of problems these days and they didn’t start yesterday. Lots of strikes, labor disputes, penny-pinching, service downgrades, Covid, reimbursement issues and shoddy IT infrastructure…the list goes on.

My situation arose when the last segment of my ANA Round the World ticket which was operated by Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Bangkok was suddenly cancelled, and I was not informed by any of the airlines about this. Lufthansa just changed my reservation to another date, and that was it – silence. I only learned of this when I checked the reservation again to look for a seat change a few days before departure.

Last September, travelers still had to deal with the Thailand Pass and the Quarantine Hotel in Thailand. Naturally, Lufthansa just canceled the flight, which was totally a business decision and not a regulatory requirement, threw this whole plan and my preparation into limbo. My hotel had no room on the other dates booked by Lufthansa. I finally begged ANA to change my flight to Phuket instead, where I was able to get a hotel room under the Sandbox program. Luckily they were willing to bend the rules a bit and change the booking as Lufthansa canceled the flight.

All the changes required me to stay in Germany for several more days, and I incurred additional costs which I asked Lufthansa to pay. The main cost I incurred was an additional 254 euros for a rental car from Sixt. I opened the complaint file the same week, and since then, it’s been silent.

I gave them a thumbs up again in July this year but to no avail, after that I opened a case with the US Department of Transportation against Lufthansa based on the routing of the ticket.

The DOT responded within a week and forwarded the case to Lufthansa for further processing. Lufthansa responded two weeks later but refused compensation:

Thank you for your correspondence forwarded by the Ministry of Transport. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

We regret that you were not advised of a schedule change on your return trip from Los Angeles to Bangkok via Frankfurt. A review of your reservation indicates that your flights were issued by All Nippon Airways. On August 25, 2021, flight LH772 from Frankfurt to Bangkok underwent a schedule change and an automated notice was sent immediately to the ticketing carrier, as they were still in control of the booking. The prevailing agreement between travel agencies, consolidators, Lufthansa and other Star Alliance carriers is that the office that books a passenger reservation is responsible for the correct booking, ticketing of the reservation, informing the customer of any changes to the itinerary, including the reissuance of the ticket. . We apologize that on this occasion you were not informed of any changes to your reservation, until you checked your reservation three days before the flight. We can only imagine your disappointment and frustration at the circumstances. We are unable to say why you were not notified of changes to your itinerary.

In light of good customer service, we try to avoid sending passengers to another airline. In this particular case, however, we respectfully refer you to All Nippon Airways as the ticketing carrier of the relevant flight, who will be solely responsible for providing your ticket information, processing and/or compensation. Unfortunately, the EC261/2004 compensation does not apply in this case, because the flight concerned was canceled more than 14 days before departure.

We appreciate your patronage and hope you will give us the opportunity to restore your confidence in our services.

The content of this email is pure rubbish. Lufthansa never informed me that the flight was canceled and neither did ANA. All my booking information was up to date and in fact I flew the previous SFO-FRA segment on Lufthansa just 10 days prior so if something was out of sync they could have told me at that time there too.

I replied that I did not accept this answer and that I would forward the file to mediation or to a personal lawyer within 10 days if no amicable solution was found.

Lufthansa took another week to respond and this time the tone was very different:

Thank you for your continued correspondence and for giving us the opportunity to reconsider your request.

We regret the inconvenience you have experienced and appreciate your views on this matter. The impression you received is certainly disappointing for us. We are sorry that your flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok was canceled and you were only informed by the carrier that issued the tickets a few days before the trip. We agree: it shouldn’t happen. We are sincerely sorry that you had to go through this experience.

As a sign of goodwill, will pay you a payment of USD 250.00 and add 6,000 miles to your Miles and More account.

In order to ensure that you receive our payment, we may transfer the funds by bank transfer to your bank account.

We take data protection very seriously. Rest assured that any personal information will be secure and will not be disclosed to other parties. Lufthansa strictly respects data privacy. Disclosure and use of passenger information externally is prohibited. We can assure you that your personal data is safe and secure with us. We are used to processing payments by bank transfer as we do in many other countries for all passengers. Once we receive the information requested above, the funds should appear in your account within 10 days.

We hope that you will continue to place your trust in Lufthansa despite this experience, and that we will have the privilege of welcoming you on board again soon.

Sincerely,

Mr. Breen

I don’t know why Lufthansa first tries to absolve itself of responsibility for its own flight cancellations when dealing with a Miles&More Senator member, but ultimately they accepted a payment of 250 euros/US$ and credited me with 6,000 additional Miles&More miles.

Conclusion

Lufthansa tried to get away with this cancellation without paying any compensation but that’s not going to fly with me. In the end, I am satisfied with this solution.

For the small difference of the extra hotel night in Frankfurt, I am not putting this off for legal consultation, which would probably take several more months to resolve. Although a lawyer could certainly try to obtain another compensation of 600 euros EC261, this could be complicated because we will probably have to sue ANA and Lufthansa for a court to decide who is at fault for not informing the passenger.

The $250 cash compensation covers the vast majority of my incurred expenses, and the miles somewhat even out the rest. It’s good that I didn’t accept their initial bogus response in which they offered nothing and I urge anyone to always seek compensation when the airline screwed things up. In Germany, I could have taken the matter to the SOP mediator or a personal lawyer, but that is my last resort as I prefer these things to be taken off the table quickly. It has already taken far too long.