This week the Compensation Clinic will showcase a Lufthansa flight delay which resulted in a missed connection and one day delayed arrival at a European destination.
Flight delays and cancellations within the European Union have the advantage that passenger rights and compensation regulations are set by the EC261/2004 regulation which dictates what airlines have to provide to passengers in such cases, both in immediate accommodations and financial compensation.
This particular case is about a Lufthansa flight from Geneva via Munich to Split, Croatia. The flight from Geneva to Munich was delayed for way over 1 hour causing the missed connection. It wasn’t possible to fly until the next day and even that required a connection via Zagreb.
Lufthansa provided a hotel at Munich Airport, however the voucher for Food&Beverage was only issued for 12 EUR per Person, hardly enough for a 24h delay. The agent didn’t provide the EC261 passenger right leaflet either which is mandatory in such cases. Apart from the hotel we incurred 85 EUR additional expenses for Dinner and refreshments the following day.
I then claimed the EU compensation of 2x 250 EUR (two passengers) plus the additional expenses with Lufthansa Customer Relations through their web form. Unfortunately there was no reply for over two months. I then sent in a letter mail to the Lufthansa legal department in Frankfurt including the receipts again which was followed up with at least an automated confirmation of receipt. Yet for another six weeks no reply from Lufthansa to regulate the matter.
I then opened a case with the German SOP Ombudsman:
Another seven weeks came and went without any result as the ombudsman office had a backlog I wrote about a few weeks ago.
I took the initiative and sent an email to two Lufthansa executives including the CEO Mr. Spohr (obviously these emails don’t go to these individuals themselves, some assistant will work through the mails sent to these inboxes).
It took just another week until I received an email that the case would be settled and a wire transfer has been initiated:
… Am 27. September 2017 haben Sie sich an die Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr (SÖP) in Berlin gewandt. Ihre Forderung aus dem Schlichtungsantrag erkennen wir an. Den Betrag in Höhe von 585,40 EUR haben wir heute auf Ihr Konto bei der Commerzbank AG überwiesen. Wir möchten um Ihr Verständnis bitten, dass der Banktransfer einige Tage in Anspruch nehmen kann.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen …
Indeed, just four days later the wire was received:
In the end it took over four months to push Lufthansa to regulate this EC261/2004 claim. I’m pretty positive that without the extra pressure on them the carrier would simply try to sit it out.
Only a very small percentage of passengers entitled to EC261 compensation ever claim it from the carrier to begin with and even this small fraction of passengers is being let hang out to dry. Often the only way to get these airlines to pay is to include a government regulator, hire an attorney or in the very least put high pressure on them by repeated emails and letters, including addressing them to the executive offices.