German Aviation Regulator LBA Takes Almost Two Years To Reply To Complaint Only To Say That Nothing Will Be Done

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It was roughly two years ago when a LoyaltyLobby reader filed a complaint with the German aviation regulator Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA) and just this week the final reply came by mail.

The matter has actually been resolved since October 2016 directly with the airline after the reader consulted with us and he considered the LBA complaint to be done for since they never sent an update to the complaint.

Initially the matter involved Thai Airways and a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok which ended up being cancelled that day due to a technical defect.

The aircraft had a technical malfunction and the flight was cancelled that night while passengers were accommodated at the Airport Sheraton (at least those in Business Class).

Another delay on the following morning forced the passenger to give up his travel plans that initially consisted of only two days in Bangkok. A week later he contacted Thai Airways the first time claiming the EU mandated Compensation per EC261 which is 600 EUR. Thai Germany (Frankfurt Office) requested the original boarding card of the delayed flight which the hotel. Since that document wasn’t available anymore they first refused to help any further to which the reader replied with a letter in legal terminology that airlines do not have any rights to withhold EU Compensation if the passenger can’t provide flight specific documents. They also didn’t provide passengers with the EC261 passenger rights folders on the day of the flight cancellation.

He contacted us and I suggested to file a complaint with the German regulator LBA (access here). He did so and the LBA subsequently sent a confirmation that his complaint was registered and apparently they also contacted the airline for a statement.

After some more back and forth Thai ultimately paid out the 600 EURO EC261/2004 compensation which we covered in a Compensation Clinic in October 2016 (see here).

The matter was therefore closed and no further thought has been spent on it since. Until this week. Yesterday the reader forwarded us a piece of mail that just arrived:

Great performance of the German regulator to inform the customer about the closure of his file two years after the incident and without any further action against the carrier despite of several clear violations in that case. Not that the complainant cares much about it as he finally got his EU compensation paid out but this is nuts.

Conclusion

Government inefficiency at it’s finest. I remember that Thai tried every dirty trick in the book to weasel out of paying out the due EU Compensation but finally our reader prevailed. Airlines are required to produce the EU Passenger Rights in writing to affected passengers as well as a phone card or allowance to make arrangements resulting from the delay/cancellation.

Thai failed on all accounts and I’m glad a complaint with the regulator was lodged as per our suggestion. Maybe it did have an effect in the way that Thai took his matter serious as he included a copy of the LBA confirmation letter but the way LBA handles these complaints is totally unacceptable. I have filed numerous regulator complaints over the last 20 years (most of them with the U.S. Department of Transportation) and the responses were always handled in an acceptable timeline.

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