Compensation Clinic: Lufthansa Flight Cancellation, Turkish Star Alliance Gold & EC 261/2004

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Friend of mine urgently messaged me on Facebook back in June regarding his rights when Lufthansa had flight cancellation.

He was flying on a United issued award ticket in economy from Budapest to Amsterdam via Hamburg and had his Turkish Star Alliance Gold number on the reservation.

compensation-clinic-lufthansa

Lufthansa canceled the Hamburg to Amsterdam flight that was the last one for the day and there were no other option getting to Amsterdam that evening.

Lufthansa had put all the other economy passengers to a smaller non-airport hotel, but my friend got the Radisson hotel that is connected to the terminal with dinner and breakfast vouchers due to Star Alliance Gold status. He was also given a choice of morning or afternoon flight the following day.

I informed him that Lufthansa is bound by the EU regulation EC 261/2004 to not only provide the care (that Lufthansa had done) but also monetary compensation.

lufthansa-gate-employees

The photo above belongs to the rebooking/compensation incident that I had with Lufthansa in Frankfurt

SAS Delay, Rebooking to LH/AY and 400 Euro Compensation per EU261/04 (& Not So Finest Lufthansa Employees in Frankfurt)

All Lufthansa airport personnel thought that the EC 261/2004 wouldn’t apply (nothing new here). This is not the case. There are very few exceptions on the legislation when the cash compensation wouldn’t apply. I told him that he would need to take this with Lufthansa once he get back to the US and that they would likely to decline it first.

I was very surprised to hear back from him the other day that Lufthansa had agreed to reimburse the 250 euros and send him a check in USD. It took Lufthansa less than 30 days to get back to him after he had contacted their US office:

Thank you for your correspondence and for choosing Lufthansa for your travel plans. Your taking the time to describe your recent experience is appreciated.

We know that your time is valuable and for this reason Lufthansa continuously strives to maintain the superior operational performance you deserve. Despite our best efforts, many factors beyond our control may impact flight operations and while we can certainly understand your frustration, we appreciate your understanding that all decisions are made with the safety of our passengers and crew first and foremost.

We hope for your understanding that, where flight irregularities are caused by circumstances beyond our control, it can be difficult to predict the extent of the disruption and regret the consequent problems encountered by our passengers.

When unexpected flight irregularities do occur, we expect our staff to assist all passengers and to do everything in their power to hold inconvenience to a minimum. We sincerely apologize for all inconveniences and the disruption to your travel plans, as we realize you arrived later than anticipated.

Your patronage is important to us and when our service fails to meet our customer’s expectations we feel it important to acknowledge this. Under separate cover, we are mailing a check for USD334.00 (EUR250) as compensation for your recent travel disruption. Please allow 15-20 business days for processing and delivery. We are unable to offer bank transfers.

Mr. LL’s friend, we ask that you view this recent experience as an exception to the quality service Lufthansa normally provides and look forward to the opportunity to regain your confidence.

Best regards

Lufthansa Employee

Customer Relations North America

Lufthansa German Airlines 1640 Hempstead Turnpike East Meadow, NY 11554 Fax: 516 296-9838 E-Mail: employees.emailaddress@dlh.de lufthansa_customer_relations_usa@dlh.de

My friend was very satisfied. He was able cancel the reservation for a night in Amsterdam and save $100, tour the Hamburg for few hours in the morning and get $334 in compensation from Lufthansa.

Now, some may say that one shouldn’t ask for a monetary compensation from the airline. I disagree. This is in the EU legislation 261/2004.

The airlines are supposed to inform passengers about their rights during the irregular operations and hand a leaflet. This rarely, if ever, happens. You need to know what your rights are.

Conclusion

I was very surprised to learn that Lufthansa had paid out the required amount without a hassle. The airlines tend to decline all these compensation request first and only pay out once you have escalated the claim.

When you travel, you always need to know what your rights are. If you don’t know them, the airlines and hotels are likely to take advantage of you.

This also shows, why it is beneficial to have a status with the airlines you are flying on. Often the status members are better taken care of during irregular operations than non-status passengers.

Even in the States, I have seen airlines bumping passengers off flights and “forcing” them to accept vouchers for the inconvenience even in a situation where the airline would have been required to pay cash compensation per DOT regulations.

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