A reader reached out to us inquiring about a situation he had with Lufthansa while flying First Class, experiencing a cancellation with the airline refusing to rebook him to an alternate flight citing “no award space available”.
Per EU regulation EC261/2004 airlines are required to provide support to passengers and rebook them to ANY available flight in the same class of service and on any airline even outside the respective alliance group.
According to our reader his flight from Hamburg to Frankfurt has been cancelled causing him to miss his connection in First Class which he previously booked on an award ticket issued by Lufthansa Miles&More.
The customer was then told the earliest he could now fly is several days later when the next award availability in “O” (award booking class) is available.
Obviously knowing that this is violating EC261 regulation he mentioned this to the Lufthansa staff who then cited it’s an internal regulation and it’s not possible on their end to make any amends to transport the passenger in First Class to his destination either on Lufthansa or other carriers.
When passengers are offered the option of continuation or re-routing of a journey, this must be ‘under comparable transport conditions’. Whether transport conditions are comparable can depend on a number of factors and must be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Depending on the circumstances, the following good practices are recommended:
▪ if possible, passengers should not be downgraded to transport facilities of a lower class compared with the one on the reservation (in the event of downgrading, the compensation provided for in Article 10 applies),
▪ re-routing should be offered at no additional cost to the passenger, even where passengers are re-routed with another air carrier or on a different transport mode or in a higher class or at a higher fare than the one paid for the original service,
▪ reasonable efforts are to be made to avoid additional connections,
▪ when using another air carrier or an alternative mode of transport for the part of the journey not completed as planned, the total travel time should, if possible, be as reasonably close as possible to the scheduled travel time of the original journey in the same or higher class of carriage if necessary
The entire document pertaining to EC261 can be found here:
Contacting us immediately while trying to rectify this I suggested to resolve this at the airport counter and not over the phone. It’s always easier to tell a customer to fob off while on the phone. Another one when he’s at the counter in front of you. Either that or purchasing a ticket on his own and claiming the cost later.
The problem is that being in the right and entitled to certain treatment under whatever law or regulation doesn’t mean much if the airline simply refuses to provide assistance. Yes you can sue them but it will take time and energy, in the meanwhile you’re SOL. Considering the price for a revenue First Class ticket most will also be hesitant in advancing such an amount of money and risking a lengthy legal battle over it.
In this case the passenger decided to go the safe route booking a Business Class ticket which he intends to claim with Lufthansa. He should also be eligible for 600 EUR in cash additional compensation.
The conduct LH displayed here is just despicable. We have reached out to their Press Office for comment and will update on the matter as soon as they get back to us. We’d like to have a quid pro quo from the airline how they are handling these situations and if their internal policy is indeed to intentionally break the law.
Not sure what’s going on with Lufthansa and their First Class operations at the moment. It’s the second time I hear about such a case in a short period of time.
A few months ago we also wrote about Lufthansa leaving behind a passengers suitcase at the First Class Terminal after the employee there apparently forgot to send it into the baggage system after tagging it.
It’s without question that Lufthansa is liable and responsible to take care of the passengers immediate transportation no matter what kind of ticket the passenger has. Initiating a policy forcing him to fly several days later or whenever award availability is available again makes no sense and is quite frankly insane. It was the carriers fault here that the connection couldn’t be reached.