The Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung (access their article in german here) reported today that the Lufthansa Group effectively banned an American frequent flier who repeatedly sued their airlines for damages.
The customer allegedly filed more than 20 lawsuits over a seven year period against various airlines of the Cologne based Lufthansa Group. The most recent lawsuit has been filed this month against SWISS Airlines for damages arising out of a baggage claim which the airlines allegedly has not settled per the obligations of the Montreal Convention that regulates compensation in such matters.
The various lawsuits against Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines range from delays to baggage claims due to material damages.
After this has been going on for a good seven years, the management of the LH Group decided to have enough of it and informed the customer per letter that ‘Further attempts to travel on the airlines of the Lufthansa Group will not be entertained‘ and ‘It is obvious that the basis for doing business in good faith is permanently damaged‘.
The frequent flier has filed yet another lawsuit in New York City to fight against the ban. The case is ongoing.
There were no further details given as to the nature of his claims or specific case numbers of these lawsuits. It is a fact that airlines (not only Lufthansa) permanently fail to compensate passengers even in legitimate claims such delays and overbooking as per EC261 or the loss/damage of passenger baggage. In many cases passengers have no other choice other than involving an attorney to claim their compensation. John recently wrote about his experience with Air Berlin (access here).
In any case, twenty lawsuits sound excessive and as per the article the passenger claims he has won many of these legal actions against the airlines which suggests that he must have made some good money with this modus operandi. At the same time he certainly created a decent hole in pocket of the airlines involved through legal fees and compensation rendered.
With more details it would have been easier to evaluate how reasonable these lawsuits are of if they were (in part) frivolous. If they were filed to claim EU261 compensation and legitimate claims per Montreal Convention I would say Lufthansa is clearly in the wrong and should have settled these cases beforehand. However I feel there is more to this story.
For Lufthansa this is plain business. This ‘customer’ likely cost them more money than he brings in plus he’s creating a headache on top of that.
I’m Lufthansa Senator for nine years now and despite a few hiccups and two lawsuits myself (contract related) I felt that the airline usually takes good care of their frequent fliers. Legitimate baggage claims, EU261 cases and customer service issues have always been resolved without having to resort to such drastic measures.