Lufthansa has sent an information letter to their customers informing about current operations and also addressing concerns of members about status qualification this year.
Considering Lufthansa’s flight operations have shrunk to an absolute minimum it’s not too surprising that effective today (Saturday, March 21st) at least the lounges will be closed, a measure SWISS already underwent last week. Austrian Airlines has stopped all operations entirely.
Temporary closure of nearly all Lufthansa Lounges
Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the subsequent change of demand and the increasingly restrictive regulations by authorities, all First Class facilities and services in Frankfurt and Munich as well as all other Lufthansa Lounges in Germany will be temporarily closed as of Saturday, March 21, 2020. In addition the Lufthansa Lounges at all worldwide destinations will be closed with the exception of London Heathrow and Newark (USA).
I’m actually surprised that London and Newark remain open. It remains to be seen how long they will keep this system alive, I’d expect these two facilities to shut down as well.
Meanwhile all flight operations are being reduced to a minimum as we already reported throughout the last few weeks.
The email I received from Lufthansa today reads:
Due to the many increased travel restrictions in Europe as well as beyond the European borders, we will only be able to offer a minimal number of flights in the next few weeks. At the moment, we are doing everything we can to bring thousands of people back home who are stranded abroad due to local travel limitations. These past few days we have already carried out numerous repatriation flights and are planning many additional ones in cooperation with respective governments. If you are currently still abroad and would like to come home, please contact your local embassies or foreign offices as quickly as possible.
Flexible rebooking options
In these uncertain times, we would like to help our customers by expanding our rebooking options and making them more flexible. You may keep your ticket for a cancelled or future flight without the need to immediately decide on an alternative date for a new flight. The value of your ticket will not expire and you will even get a discount of 50 Euro on your rebooking. You may also rebook to a different destination. This applies to tickets booked through March 31, 2020 and which have a confirmed travel date of no later than December 31, 2020.
If you wish to rebook your flight, you may wait until after your originally scheduled flight date to contact the Lufthansa Group customer service or your travel agent. It is not necessary to contact customer service or a travel agent prior to the original flight date. Please take note that different guidelines apply to Eurowings. You may find further information anytime on our airline websites.
Increased waiting times
Due to the high volume of incoming calls, waiting times at our call centers are longer than usual, and I kindly ask for your patience. I also ask for your understanding that at this time it is our priority to take care of customers with time-sensitive travel needs.
We are aware that opportunities to earn status miles are currently limited. Over the course of this year, we will offer accommodating solutions for maintaining your status.
The last paragraph answers a question that many of our readers asked in the last couple weeks, namely what will happen to the status this year. Many other airlines have already extended the frequent flyer status of their members automatically by a year but so far it has been crickets from Lufthansa (as well as British Airways).
At Lufthansa’s new promise that there will be some relief sometime at a later point provides a bit of hope for those that were concerned.
This crisis won’t last forever and airlines as well as hotels will slowly start up their operations again at which point they will likely be looking for customers left and right. It’ll be hard to consistently fill planes and hotel rooms after the system came to a screeching halt. I’m sure there will be a rush to get from A to B in the first few days or week but then it’ll fall flat.
Companies now all plenty to do to care for their own employees and franchisees but they should also remember that there are many customers who are owed cash money in the form of refunds for cancelled flights and they will be reliant on the goodwill of just these customers when things will get back to normal again. It makes no sense to me why Lufthansa and others are walking on eggshells when it comes to the frequent flyer status. Just extend a year for each member and reduce the annual requirement to qualify by 30-40% and then move on, put this topic to rest.