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Insufficient compensation offer for a horrid experience with Lufthansa's "Associated Airlines"
Posted by on
DELAWARE -- Satisfied with German airline Lufthansa we booked a flight to Mallorca on April 26 2011. Toronto-Newark-Madrid-Mallorca. Lufthansa used their associates Air Canada to Newark, Continental to Madrid, Spanair to Mallorca.

Continental was late leaving Newark, the seat I was assigned was in the back of the plane, and broken, would not recline, and when passenger in front of my seat reclined, I had his seat inches from my nose, unable to use the TV screen at the back of the seat. Uncomfortable I called steward, and consequently her manager, who verified the seat was broken, and advised he would have a repairman fox problem when we land. No alternative seat was offered, apparently the plane was filled to capacity. I asked for extra cushion- "sorry, we are full, no cushion is available".

The overnight flight lasted about about 7 1/2 hours - very uncomfortable ! The flight arrived 20 minutes late, since we were in the tail of the plain, and crew aware of our rush to catch connecting flight in Madrid, qe had to wait for the passengers to deplane, ran across the terminals to arrive at "our" gate at 11:10 am to be told the flight which was supposed to depart for Mallorca at 11: 20 has left - no boarding pass available to us - we were told to go to another terminal to Lufthanza counterm as SpainAir could not issue the boarding pass. We were offered a stand by for 17:30 ( 5:30 pm ), when we pleaded, we were issued a boarding pass, got onto the SpainAir but had to wait additional hour for Safety Crew to perform the missed maintenance on the planes Autopilot, resulting in our missing again a prearranged, then changed pick up from Mallorca's Airport. We were informed no meal was provided, evenhough we were to receive a breakfast on our 11:20 scheduled but missed flight.

The return trip with Lufthansa's "associates" - Well, no boarding passes issued by SpainAir in Mallorca, neither in Barcelona - my wife and I seated in different parts of the aircraft - apparently if we want to sit together we must specify the seats ahead of time and pay extra.

I e-mailed a polite summary of my "experience " to Continental and Lufthansa and received a response of understanding, and apology promised $ 100 e-certificate towards future flight with Continental.

Lufthansa explained in their response that the Continental Flight Newark-Madrid was not full, that there were 28 seats empty - and how sorry they were I was misinformed.

What I found interesting was that during the flight the passengers were repeatedly informed that Continental has received has Award Winning Service.
I asked Lufthansa and Continental to review their compensation for a sleepless, restless 8 hrs. "Continental experience" and wasted time due to missed flight and inconvenience - certainly worth more than $ 100 towards a flight with same airline - Continental.

Lufthanza should insist that their associated airlines try to live up to the excellent service, and product of this German airlines, and when they fail, the least they should do is not to insult their customers by making them a low ball offer, while claiming their plane was just 15 minutes late, and our not reaching the gate was probably due to action of some 3rd party such as board/pass control, and that we had "legally" enough time to make the connecting flight.

I shall return to Share Information with you....when I receive a satisfactory response.

Sharing Information

     
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Sharing Info. on 2011-05-26:
Interesting. I also use Lufthansa, and also found them a reliable airline - I am curious what Lufthansa will do, side by and defend their Star associate , or up their compensation offer to you. Continental offers $ 300 to passangers flying within USA - a much shorter a flight. They also offer miles - but many complain they are difficult to use toward travel.
Anonymous on 2011-05-26:
That are not "associates" but alliance (immunity) anti trust partners to Lufthansa. 20 minutes extra and you were late sounds like a itinerary booked too tight - even electronic Schengen passport holders have to que at times. This sounds like a messy itinerary as you booked it with Lufthansa (LH) and flew everyone but them... odd. Much of your complaint though aggravating is part of the norm of flying and $100 in compensation is in line.
Sharing Info. on 2011-05-30:

Bete is correct when writing : "sounds like a itinerary booked too tight - even electronic Schengen passport holders have to que at times. This sounds like a messy itinerary as you booked it with Lufthansa (LH) and flew everyone but them... odd "

Odd ? I was tickled pink to accept the "tight" schedule trusting this reputable carrier would deliver me ( and also my checked in luggage) in time to my destination. They know the best, who am I to question their schedule ? Shouldn't the airline be responsible ? It is the Airline which sets the schedule, and it is the Airline informing me how very sorry they are. Bete wrote that I flew with everyone but Lufthansa... What choice had ? Was I supposed to discriminate, without a cause/bad experience against Lufthans's Star Alliance partners ?

A lawyer informally advised that writing to, informing and consulting with a person in charge of Continental's infligh and safety , Mr. Mark Moran may be the right thing to do before considering escalating my inquiry for adequate compensation.

To be continued ...
Sharing Info. on 2011-06-11:
June 10 - good news.
Continenental has increased the compensation
from $ 100 to $ 267. This is a Continental e-certificate which cannot be redeemed by a Travel Agent. I am satisfied that Continental took the complaint more seriously and that they tried to resolve the conflict. This closes grievance, redeeming the cerificate will probably have its own challenges ...

Bye and thanks everyone for the input :)



James_236 on 2011-06-11:
I hate to burst your bubble, but a letter to Lufthansa claiming under EU regulations would have got you $800 in cash, yes cash. I think you know the trouble you will have with this e-certificate. You will find a fare for $199 and if you try to use the e-certificate, you will be told the e-certificate is not available for discounted fares and they will quote you a fare of $499 f0r the same journey in order for the e-certificate to be used.

But hey, you're happy, Continental must be happy and I'm happy for you.
James_236 on 2011-05-27:
$100 is way too low and $800 per passenger is more appropriate. The Montreal Convention permits you to claim in the jurisdiction of departure which is in the Ontario Small Claims Court if that is the most convenient to you. The Defendants would be both Continental and Lufthansa. You also have a claim under EU regulations and for a 4-hour delay to your final destination there are prescribed damages of 600 euros. Write to Lufthansa and threaten a claim under EU regulations.
Sharing Info. on 2011-05-27:
Thank you for your kind comments.

A nice Continental rep. Keysha has even telephoned me, explaining she is unable to offer higher compensation, that Lufthansa's response that the plane had extra free seats was incorrect. Meanwhile Lufthansa offered me 3000 miles and apology. Neither offer thrills me.

I thank you for the suggestion regarding Small Claim Court Claim but think that Lufthansa / Continental will do what is right. Reclaiming my Good Will for $ 100 is not a smart business, especially for Airlines which have it not easy with all the competition, gas prices.

I feel that a credit as a compensation for one way jurney ( minus the taxes - a nice gesture from MOA :) would be the right counter offer, how about an upgrade for two to a business class when my wife and I travel in future....but who am I to teach Lufthansa , or Continental how to appreciate and thank customers for repeat business. Right ?

Sharing Info. on 2011-05-28:
Continetal Customer Service Manager considers the matter closed feeling that the expression of sincere apology is sufficient and that forcing the dissatisfied customer, who paid full fare expecting functioning seat, flight arriving on time, in accordance to time prescribed by Lufthansa, must accept ( not to forget credit $100 towards another 'Adventure with Contninental' the answer when she wrote :

"I hope you will see we have responded to your e-mail with genuine concern. Please accept my apology for the disappointment you experienced and allow us a future opportunity to serve you. We will consider this matter closed. Feel free to contact us regarding any future travel related events. Regards,

Keysha Morisson
--------------------------

Well, in my opinion the matter is still open.

The carrier has a responsibility towards their passangers. Broken seat represents a hazard to passangers, and if a broken seat is overlooked, what else is overlooked in Continental aircraft, what other safety hazards are their passangers exposed to ? No this case is not yet closed.
Meanwhile both Lufthanza and Continental provide me with conflicting information regarding availability of alternate seat which may have been offered, and when challenged, they say "Sorry", sincerely apologizing and covering for mistake, and misinformation by another.

We the pasangers do not want excuses. We expect service and comfort we pay for and should be fully compensated.

If we buy faulty, spoiled , defected produce, milk, eggs, chicken, if we are unhappy with merchendize the store keeper replaces, or refunds the product.

Lufthansa claims: "we provided service, you were transported to where you were supposed to."

I suppose it would be the same if I were provided with a parachute and pushed out of the plane on the top of the targeted landing spot. Service provided, why am I complaining, what do I expect ? Here , take the 100 voucher and shut up ? Oh, yes, accept our sincere apology.

Yes, I suppose I can take the apology to the bank - together with the non transferable 12 month voucher :)

Cheers and good luck to all Lufthansa Star Alliance Continental clients.

I hear that Indian Air Lines provide a real traveling experience, and apparently their seats, and the food are excellent, but do not take my word, compare and see for yourselves.

Am I mad ? I am just disappointed with Lufthansa "associates" and Lufthansa as the company I paid for servoce and product they failed to provide.

trmn8r on 2011-05-28:
"we provided service, you were transported to where you were supposed to."

This is in fact the bar most airlines use as a measure of success. Delays and missed connections have become pretty common, and there are "legally" forces out of their control.

A "broken" seat back is not a hazard unless it does not provide support under the stress of takeoff/landing.

I understand that you want the airline to compensate you for your inconvenience(s). Unfortunately, that isn't the way it works today. Airline travel has become somewhat inconvenient.
Anonymous on 2011-05-28:
As noted Star Alliance partners are not "associates" If you chose to fly to Western Europe and want to backtrack from India...you may want to look at a map. BTW Air India is also a Star Alliance partner - another "associate" Broken seats can't be occupied but seat with a recline fixed upright can. You indicated you were in the back of the aircraft - last rows often don't recline. You did not indicate Star Alliance status thus it would be bad business practice for any airline to compensate you more than what you received - status indicates customer loyalty.
James_236 on 2011-05-28:
"... but think that Lufthansa / Continental will do what is right."

Perhaps you can let us know if you still think they will do what is right.

The remedies of the small claims courts and consumer commissions are there precisely because businesses and airlines do not do what is right.

I didn't follow why if you think they will do what is right, you are complaining. It costs only a postage stamp to write a letter to Lufthansa threating to seek your remedies under EU law and see how fast Miss Keysha gets off her tail and settles your claim. Sometimes all they need is that threat and you don't need to actually go to small claims court.
Sharing Info. on 2011-05-28:
Thank you Bete for the "correction". No I did not know Air India is what you say - but does that matter ?

Not all seats in the end of aircraft are considered the very last seats - those who the crew reserves, we are told :) Those which you say do not recline .

Did I not indicate Star Alliance status ? What has it to do with discomfort sitting in an upright position for 7-8 hrs with a nose against a screen what is supposed to provide inflight entertainment ? No safety hazard ? I suppose not if the seat ahead of me was also in a vertical position. Have you tried to put your head on your lap with your seat upright, while the from seat is fully reclined ? But I am not here to argue with anyone, just share information :) on Continental, and their boss -supervising Lufthansa- and if I chose the labels "supervising or boss " incorrectly, is this about grammar/using correct terms. I wish not split hairs, this is about Airline accepting moneys for service which failed short to the Airlines own standards, a fast they accepted when askin me to accept apology, and e-mails, and poorly delivered service for which they all feel sooooo sooooorry , but not willing to put the moneys where their mouth is.

As for James - thanks, this may be only the last resort, meanwhile I shall test whether it should be up to a person who is grieving to close the matter/tye file/the book/ , or up to Airline which has done wrong ...to be continued...

No need say anything bad about other "associates / Alliances " but be warned Lufthansa, may schedule even a reputable Airline flight too close - to "service", or, fit ( accommodate ? ) as many passangers as possible in as many flight they can - never mind if even the slightest unforseen disruption may result in passanger's missing their connecting flights. Too bad for them - they can always get a stand- by, or book a local hotel and try a connecting flight a next day - never mind if they miss an important appointment, meeting, schedule, tournament, funeral, X -mas ...etc , etc.

Word of mouth, thanks to sites like this is actually more effective than using lawyers - and those who provide service to us - THE CUSTOMERS should know ....to be continued ...this dissatisfied flier has not closed the file as yet.
Sharing Info. on 2011-05-28:
Bete is correct when suggesting : "sounds like a itinerary booked too tight - even electronic Schengen passport holders have to que at times. This sounds like a messy itinerary as you booked it with Lufthansa (LH) and flew everyone but them... odd "

Odd ? I was tickled pink to accept the tight schedule trusting this reputable carrier would deliver me ( and my checked in luggage) in time to my destination. They know the best, who am I to question their schedule ? Is the airline not responsible, agter all it is the Airline which informs me they are sorry. Yo suggest/mock I flew with everyone but Lufthansa ? What choice had ? Was I supposed to discriminate, without having a cause/ bad experience with/against Star Alliance partners - or whatever the associated airlines are labelled ?
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Lufthansa Ground Personnel
Posted by on
Last week I had to fly from Los Angeles, California, USA to St. Petersburg, Russia and had the misfortune of having to layover 4 hours at the Frankfurt airport in Germany, Lufthansa’s main Hub. I spent the first 3 hours waiting for someone to come to the Lufthansa passenger service center on the second level. There are 8 personnel counters in this center, none of which were staffed even though there were at least 30 people sitting as I was, waiting to get some information. (I have pictures available of the situations mentioned in this article.) People would come, look around, wait for a period of time and then leave with an obvious negative impression of the Lufthansa service. I understand this airport is Lufthansa’s main hub for connecting flights. At one point I started wandering around and found a Lufthansa passenger service center on the third level which was fully staffed for information pertaining to gates A, C, D, E, and F. When I asked an officer if the downstairs Lufthansa service center was open, I was told I was not allowed within the confines of this office because my ticket was for a flight leaving from gate B. I was directed across the hall to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge. Of course I was denied entrance because I did not have a membership card. Let me explain at this time that the only information I was seeking was where to find a drinking water fountain so I could take some medication! After asking 7 people, a waitress, bartender, policeman, gift shop clerk, rest room attendee, baggage handler and a person at a boarding gate counter, I still could not believe the only water available in the whole airport was for 3.20 EU (5.00 US) for an 8 ounce bottle. I know that Germany has one of the leading economies in the world, is this how it was achieved?

By now it was time to start gathering at gate B to get ready to board my flight to St. Petersburg. After finding out that gate B was on the basement level and having to walk down a flight of stairs to a lobby that looked like a warehouse, I found there were no seats except after you pass through the gate and receive a boarding pass. Is there something between the German and Russian cultural relationships I don’t know about? I am 67 years old with a heart condition and Spinal Stenosis. The woman behind the counter said it would be another 45 minutes before they start issuing boarding passes. At this point I pulled out a doctor’s note stating that it was impossible for me to stand for any length of time due to my back problem. After scrutinizing the note for what seemed like 3 minutes she let me sit on the chair behind the check-in counter. As I looked around, I spotted a tiny water fountain tucked away in a corner of the ‘warehouse’ size lobby. Was it so hard for someone on the upper levels to remember there was a lonely little water fountain down here, or would that have taken away from the airports profit margin? My mother was born in Munich and my father in Hamburg and I thank God that I was born in the USA so I can call myself an American instead of a penny pinching Deutschlander! I will have another 4 hour layover at the Frankfurt airport on July 8th on my flight home. This time, I won’t go thirsty.

Upon arriving in St. Petersburg, Russia, after unpacking my bag I found my luggage was damaged on the inside! The lining that covers the shaft that the handle retracts into was ripped off. The hard shell which is under the lining that protects the contents was shattered into many small jagged edged pieces. And then I found a bolt. After searching the bag I realized the bolt belonged to one of the wheels which was now held on by one stud. How did the bag get damaged from the inside? I had a small cardboard box with my medications inside. The box was ripped open and one of the cases that held blood pressure medication was open with pills laying all over the bag and mixed in with the clothes and other items. As if that wasn’t enough, inside the box was one of those “Notice of Baggage Inspection” slips from the TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION. It seems they inspected the medication and not the baggage contents and were in such a hurry to keep up with the line they forgot to close one of the cases.

I took the damaged bag to the Lufthansa office at LED airport. After waiting approximately 30 minutes for someone to ask me what I wanted, I don’t know why I had to wait so long because no other passengers were in the office at the time, the only agent on the Lufthansa side of the office told me I had to bring the bag to another office at the other end of the main building for damage inspection and they would give me a damage report which I had to bring back to this office. The second office gave me a Damage Report with file reference LEDLH25029/0510/0849GMT and told me I could either get a bag here in St. Petersburg or when I arrive back in the USA on July 8. The Lufthansa agent also said it would be impossible for me to buy a bag here for $120.00 which was the accessed damage to my bag. After researching Lufthansa’s office locations in the USA I found there is no Lufthansa office at the TUS airport in Tucson, Arizona, USA. I have tried to call the Lufthansa office at LED airport for several days, but the line is perpetually busy and when I was there no one bothered to answer the ringing phone while I waited those 30 minutes! The emails do not get a response and neither do the feedback messages. Kind of makes you wonder whose working on the ground. It seems during my 5 week stay in St. Petersburg, I will continue to try to find out what I should do with the receipt of the new bag purchased in Tucson to get reimbursed when there is no Lufthansa office there.
     
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Weedwhacked on 2010-06-13:
Why would Lufthansa reimburse you for damage that could have been done by the TSA? Boarding times are set to a certain time period before the flight departs, its not their fault that you have a medical condition. If times were altered every time someone had a medical condition then flights would probably all be late. By the way, keep your medications in your carry on!
Ben There on 2010-06-13:
I bet most people didn't tell you about the water fountain in the basement simply because they didn't know it was there. All of the people you asked probably spend very little time down there.

Also, I suggest that you never pack medications in checked bags.
PepperElf on 2010-06-13:
wait you asked a bartender and a waitress?... um if they were serving drinks, couldn't you have asked them for a glass of tap water?
Dutchman09 on 2010-06-16:
weedwhacked : Lufthansa would reimburse me for damaged baggage because the airline is responsible for the baggage from the time it is checked and weighed at the ticket counter until it is put on the carousel at the destination airport that is on the airline ID sticker attached to the bag at the check in counter. In my article there was no mention of delaying boarding/departure times due to a medical condition. My medication for 3 days WAS in my carry-on. The rest for the ensuing 5 weeks was in the checked bag.

Ben There : I find it hard to believe that the people that work in the 'basement' of FRA don't talk with the people that work in the rest of the airport.

PepperElf : Yes, the bartender and the waitress were serving drinks and food. The bartender said "You have to buy the water" and the waitress said "We sell 8 ounce bottles up front for 3.20 EU" (or 5.00 US.)
Ben There on 2010-06-16:
Dutchman09: I am sure that people all around the airport talk to each other... I just doubt it is about water fountains. I can't remember the last time one came up in conversation.

Next time, see if you can get a bottle of drink before you get off the plane since they are free.
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A Kidnapping Racket Masquerading As An Airline
Posted by on
A recent search of Google under "Consumer complaints about Lufthansa" yields over 25,000 hits. Many of the complaints cite not merely specific failures in service, but also Lufthansa's high-handedness in dealing with customer complaints, typically unanswered. The registered letter below, to Lufthansa's chairman, did actually elicit a form letter from Lufthansa's North America Customer Relations office -- a form letter that denied my request for a refund of $860 extorted from me by Lufthansa's Shanghai ground staff.

December 29, 2008

Wolfgang Mayrhuber
Chairman, Executive Board
Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft
Von-Gablenz-Strasse 2-6,
50679 Köln
Germany By Registered Mail

DEMAND LETTER

Dear Mr. Mayrhuber:

This letter is to demand immediate reimbursement from your company of $859.60 that was extorted from me by your Shanghai staff on 17 December 2008, in what amounted to a ransom payment to forestall an act of kidnapping and false imprisonment by your company.

Secondly, be advised that Lufthansa’s current business practices regarding levying ‘excess baggage’ charges merit immediate review by your legal counsel, as they evidently entail potential criminal and civil liability for your company’s officers and shareholders. The legal ramifications of Lufthansa’s policies, in a U.S. context alone, include the following: Racketeering (organized conspiracy to commit extortion), fraud, breach of contract, breach of implied contract (e. g., to apply baggage rules consistently), false imprisonment, kidnapping, invalid contract (duress), unjust enrichment, and negligence.

The details of my experience (see My Experience, below) are strongly indicative of a deliberate Lufthansa policy of cheating unwary customers – who are unwary by design. Accordingly, the contractual validity of many if not all air tickets being issued by Lufthansa worldwide is highly dubious.

Thirdly, I have been a loyal Lufthansa customer for eleven years, using your airline almost exclusively for travel back and forth from the USA to Europe, where I teach in executive MBA programs. Additionally, I am a stakeholder in a Prague-based travel company ( www.artbreak.org ) and have always recommended Lufthansa to our travel clients. I am shocked that, under your care, Lufthansa has resorted to some of the most unethical practices I have ever heard of in the airline industry.

My Experience Prague-Shanghai-Prague with Lufthansa

On 16 October 2008, in Prague, for the sum of $1161.36 charged to my US credit card, I purchased round-trip coach passage via Lufthansa from Prague to Shanghai. On 13 November 2008 I flew to Shanghai (through Frankfurt) with two pieces of check-in luggage, plus one backpack carry-on. The checked-in luggage contained heavy textbooks and readings to be used by me in teaching a business strategy course at a university in Shanghai.

On the evening of 17 December 2008, while checking in two pieces of luggage (minus the textbooks and materials that I had left at the university) I was told by Lufthansa ground staff that, in order to fly back to Europe, I must pay 600 euros for 20 kilograms of ‘excess baggage’. This sum equates to a 74% surcharge on my original ticket.

I asked the ground staff member, and her supervisor, to produce any document showing me that this demand was legal, and they could not. I was told that the class of ticket I held entitled me to 20 kilograms of carry-on luggage. I replied that this was news to me.

Lufthansa’s ground staff, specifically the check-in clerk and her supervisor, whose education and grasp of English seemed insufficient to discuss legal issues, told me it was irrelevant when I showed them my two luggage receipts for the Prague-Shanghai journey (Exhibits), and told them that ground staff in Prague had accepted my two pieces of checked luggage without comment.

I asked the ground staff supervisor what my options were, and was told that my only possibilities were that I could either pay or stay in Shanghai. I was told that the pending expiration of my visa was my problem, not Lufthansa’s, even though it would mean my violating Chinese law and being prevented from future travel to China. Similarly, Lufthansa’s ground staff declined to offer any assistance or advice regarding, for example, sending one of my bags via air freight or sea mail.

When I asked if I could take the smaller of the piece of checked luggage on board, along with my backpack, I was told that this was not possible because Lufthansa strictly enforces a ‘one carry-on’ rule.

When I asked to speak with the manager of Lufthansa in Shanghai, I was told that he was a European, did not work the night shift, and could not be contacted.

Lufthansa ground staff provided me a boarding pass only after I signed a charge against my credit card for 600 euros (see Exhibits). No other options were presented to me or suggested to me by Lufthansa ground staff.

While boarding the aircraft, I saw that, contrary to what Lufthansa ground staff had told me minutes earlier, approximately 70% of passengers in economy class were each taking on board two maximum-size pieces of carry-on luggage. These passengers typically had one bag with a metal frame including wheels and telescoping handle, and another large bag on top of that. The overhead storage bins were already filled, just two thirds into the boarding process; cabin crew were stacking carry-on pieces in front of the A-340’s stairway, and even putting carry-on pieces in spaces reserved for cabin crew. The passenger seated on my right, destined for Barcelona, had three maximum-size carry on items.

On 22 December I met with my highly experienced and reliable travel agent in Prague and, before relating the above experience, asked him two questions:
Has Lufthansa ever provided his travel agency in writing or in any other way communicated to him their list of charges for ‘excess baggage’? Answer: No.

If, hypothetically, I had been deemed to have had ‘excess baggage’ on my journey back from Shanghai, what, in his opinion, would the likely surcharge levied against me? Answer: $25

Conclusions

Lufthansa ground staff in Shanghai could have found other solutions than to charge me 600 euros, for example, by allowing me to repack my bags and substitute my smaller piece of luggage for my carry-on backpack, or by helping me send a bag to Europe by alternative means. Their training evidently forbids them from allowing passenger-victims to escape or reduce ridiculously punitive charges.

Lufthansa does not enforce baggage ‘rules’ in a consistent way. In this case, ground staff in Prague waived luggage that ground staff in Shanghai used as a pretext for extortion. And Lufthansa’s allegedly strict ‘one’ carry-on bag rule is not enforced at all.

Although, as I have subsequently researched, Lufthansa buries on a web site a obscure (and difficult to understand) PDF file listing your outrageously punitive ‘excess baggage’ fees, Lufthansa issues electronic tickets that contain no alerts to prospective customers that this PDF exists or should be referred to as part of the passenger’s contract. Nor does Lufthansa make any other attempt to make your baggage surcharge policies transparent, such as pre-departure emails to passengers, or clear notice in your in-flight magazine. These omissions by Lufthansa evidently are clearly deliberate, to facilitate unjust enrichment at the expense of unwary customers. Finally, Lufthansa’s present excess baggage PDF is dated September 16, 2008 when fuel prices were extremely high, which makes it all the more indicative of unsavory intent that, while fuel prices have fallen steeply, Lufthansa makes no effort to alert customers of these charges. They are, in short, pure profit windfall and it would not surprise me if your ground staff in places like Shanghai are instructed to meet a daily quota of victims.

In closing, Mr. Mayrhuber, I would appreciate a refund check in the amount listed above at your soonest convenience, and also, if you can find your way to it, an apology commensurate with the inconvenience and distress caused me.

I also would like to recommend that you, as a leader, take steps to mitigate the liabilities that your firm is accumulating by condoning a racket that is eventually going to attract a huge class-action consumer lawsuit and embarrassing punitive sanctions by regulatory authorities. In a nutshell, greatly reduce the excess baggage fees or widely publicize them.

Yours very truly,



Exhibits: Luggage receipts, 600 euro charge for 20 kilos, itinerary provided by travel agent
     
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Ben There on 2009-02-22:
Pretty much all flights from and to anywhere excluding North America have a 20 kilo baggage allowance. Flights to and from the USA normally allow 2 bags at 50 lbs. You should have been charged the excess bag fee in when you left Prague, but sometimes check in staff in Europe let the 2 bags slide for Americans because they either assume you are on part of a bigger ticket that did originate in the USA or they just don't feel like putting up a fight with an angry American.
Ben There on 2009-02-22:
By the way - kidnapping, racketeering and false imprisonment? Really? Lufthansa will have fun reading this... It is not their fault that you did not make yourself aware of how much you could bring.

BokiBean on 2009-02-22:
Let me get this straight. Its OK for this guy to get charged 600 euros for some textbooks?
Ben There on 2009-02-22:
It was not some textbooks, it was double his luggage allowance. He was allowed 20K, and he arrived with 40K. That is almost 45 extra pounds, and airlines charge a lot for extra weight.
BokiBean on 2009-02-22:
Apparently they charge a LOT for extra weight. I'm still clutching my heart.

I'm not turned off by legalese, I was married to an attorney and worked for a bunch of them, and when I get torqued off I write stuff like that too (not that it works haha).
Ben There on 2009-02-22:
I think it costs $25 to overnight a 3oz. letter from Texas to NYC. This was shipping 45 pounds from China to the Czeck Republic in 12 hours.
Anonymous on 2009-02-22:
Lufthansa spells out on their website to Asia 1Kg = 30 Euros, so the 600 Euro charge is correct. Consider that the a/c the OP flew on burns about 70 US gal. of gas a minute weight does matter. Airlines intentionally discourage extra baggage: 1/ increased fuel burn, 2/ OJI heavy bags lead to extra worker comp claims.
As someone that's worked for an airline the demand letter written lawyer wannabe style will end up in the circular file, legitimate grievance or not.
BokiBean on 2009-02-22:
OK I'm going to vote ya'll helpful just so you'll hush about it :)
Anonymous on 2009-02-22:
The one part of all this that I take issue with is how the airlines ignore people bringing everything they own on the plane with them. And they are always the last one on dragging two or three carry-on's with them down the isle looking in already packed overheads.

If I ran an airline I would have a gate rule:

More than one carry-on not including a "real" purse, briefcase etc the person is pulled out of line and told to stand aside. Once the entire plane is boarded those people give up all but one carry on to be checked through. Then they are allowed to their seats. The problem would go away in a few days.
Ben There on 2009-02-22:
Sometimes it is cheaper in the end to fly business class to get the extra weight allowance if you are flying with a bunch of stuff.
BokiBean on 2009-02-22:
The business class solution is a good tip.

Hubby flies a bit for business and I just asked him about this and he said that I haven't flown since pre-9/11 and a lot has changed. That's a sweet way of saying I'm ignorant and you guys are correct. ;)
Anonymous on 2009-02-22:
I couldn't agree more with Superbowl although the airlines have pushed people to that with their checked in baggage charges.

Boki - You crack me up.
Ponie on 2009-02-22:
Think I'll wait for the movie. Harrison Ford would be good as the lead.
BokiBean on 2009-02-22:
600 Euros!!???? That's absolutely insane. I dunno, this well written complaint letter could get you results...and I hope it does.
madconsumer on 2009-02-22:
in the first 4 wrods of your letter, you 'demand' their repayment. this is not a good way to get any type of service or refund.

nothing you described is any different than any other airline.
Ben There on 2009-02-22:
Boki, I actually disagree that this is a well written letter. I think his two main points are 1) "I think your extra baggage fees are too high" and 2) "I was not treated the same as other passengers who were allowed more carry on bags". I think this gets lost in all the lawyer wannabe lingo and demands.
Soaring Consumer on 2009-02-22:
I would think of that being extortion too if you were entitled to bring that luggage on the plane.

I suggest that you contact Christopher Elliott, the CNN Travel Troubleshooter and the ombudsman for the National Geographic Traveler magazine. His email address is celliott@ngs.org.
Anonymous on 2009-02-22:
Kidnapping? Fraud? Extortion? I don't see anything in your letter pointing to these serious allegations. On a side note, a "Demand Letter" rarely gets positive results.
Ben There on 2009-02-22:
There is a good chance that the people with extra carry on bags connected to the flight from a Chinese carrier which allowed more carry ons on the domestic flight. It is not extortion that other people got to carry on more stuff, just circumstantial luck.
BokiBean on 2009-02-22:
Well, by well-written I mean written well..lol And I'm STILL in shock over 600 euros for extra baggage. For that price, I'd want to lead an elephant into cargo.
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Non Existence Of New Business Class Service And Disgusting Customer Service From Lufthansa
Posted by on
Have you tried to contact Lufthansa customer services only to be ignored completely, amazingly this company does not have a direct contact number for their customer service dept in any country worldwide. All you can do is write a letter or send them a fax, which is then ignored. I did manage to get some contact from them but only after I sent an email to the companies directors.

Company directors emails are as follows,

andreas.bierwirth@dlh.de

carl.sigel@dlh.de

carsten.spohr@dlh.de

holger.hätty@dlh.de

Lufthansa.Europe.uk.ie@dlh.de

stefan.lauer@dlh.de

wolfgang.mayrhuber@dlh.de


I wrote to them regarding a complaint relating to their advertised business class seating, it simply does not exist as advertised. Do not be fobbed off by these people.

for details of my complaint see below, in the meantime enjoy busting their balls, I will continue to do so until I get very very old.

I am fortunate, my cousin is a lawyer and he is taking legal action against them so will wait and see.


Dear sirs, I am writing to you to express my disgust with the lack of customer service shown by your company. I have been trying to contact your customer service dept to register a complaint regarding a flight in January.

I have faxed my complaint to the address shown on your website and have still not received even an explanation or even confirmation that my complaint has been received.

I would hope that one of you would be able to give me some kind of response, in the meantime I will be writing to the TTG to advise my colleagues in the travel industry of the shocking customer service that can be expected from your company.

I did call your company in the UK only to be advised that there is no telephone number for customer services, I can only assume that this is in an effort to discourage customers from raising complaints in the hope that unhappy customers will go away and forget about it.

Please see below a copy of the fax that was sent your customer service dept.


Regards,



Niel Hayhoe


Dear Sir / Madam,



I find myself in a somewhat frustrating situation, I have worked in the travel and tourism industry for nearly twenty years and for the first time find myself writing a letter of complaint. Having so many years in the travel and tourism industry I find that I am more patient than the average customer and certainly more understanding when it comes to “problems”.

As part of my role I travel extensively on business and vacation and was persuaded by a colleague to look at travelling with Lufthansa when taking my recent vacation. I have not travelled with your company before and had experienced several problems with one of your Star Alliance partners ( Tap airlines - Late departure of flights ) so was initially skeptical, my colleague however was quite persuasive and advised me that in his opinion the business class offering on Lufthansa long haul was exceptional.

I went to your web site and sure enough the description of the business class seating and the photographs shown were impressive. It clearly stated on your website that this new business class was being rolled out on your fleet from May 2004, indeed the only photography of business class seating that was shown was of the new style flat bed seating.

As I would be traveling in January 2007 I felt that it would not be unreasonable to expect to receive the service and style of seating depicted on your website in April 2006, I therefore went ahead and made my booking, reservation code xxxxx.


My flight details are as follows;

Manchester – Frankfurt LH4853 January 16th
Frankfurt – Bangkok LH782 January 16th

Bangkok – Frankfurt LH773 February 13th
Frankfurt – Manchester LH4850 February 14th

When I boarded the aircraft in Frankfurt I was disappointed to find that rather than the heavily advertised new style business class seating, I was seated in a standard business class seat, this seat I found to be quite uncomfortable. The main reason that I booked with your company being your new style of business class seating. As I am six foot six I struggled to get comfortable on the seat, I was determined however not to let this mar my annual vacation.


On my return flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok (LH773) I was to be doubly disappointed, on boarding the aircraft I found to my dismay that once again your company had failed to deliver its advertised product and the style of seating in no way resembled the seating that you heavily promote on your website. I was allocated seat 25C, as you are no doubt aware there is a bulkhead directly behind this seat which prevents you from fully reclining your seat. The seat reclined to roughly the same level as an economy seat, I was able to confirm that this seat did not recline fully by comparing it to the level of recline of the passenger seated in 25B.

To further compound my unhappiness there was a young baby seated in row 24 who was unable to settle and spent the majority of the flight screaming quite loudly, I realize that this is something that is totally beyond your control but when added to the fact that I was seated in the most uncomfortable business class seating that I have ever experienced it led to a truly awful flight, certainly one that I would not recommend to friends and colleagues.

I look forward to some kind of explanation as to why the service received was not as advertised and would expect compensation for the inconvenience and discomfort that I experienced.

I am frankly outraged that a company of your reputation could allow such blatant misrepresentation of its services on its website and I am sure that this is not the first time that you have received a letter commenting on the misleading contents of your website.


As mentioned earlier I have many years experience in the travel and tourism industry and am fully aware of my rights as a consumer, should I fail to receive an appropriate explanation and offer of compensation I will have no hesitation in contacting the relevant consumer watchdogs and ombudsman.


Regards,



Neil Hayhoe
     
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Hugh_Jorgen on 2007-05-16:
Q: What's the difference between Neil and the aircraft he flew on? A: When the aircraft arrived at the gate it quit whining. What do you expect them to do? They made no guarantees about the type of seating, you made assumptions based on a photo on a website - if it was so very important, a phone call ahead of time would have confirmed the tail number of the plane you were on and what type of business class seating it had installed.
Anonymous on 2007-05-16:
I agree with Hugh.This is a stupid,petty complaint.There are bigger problems in the world to deal with other than airplane seating.
wachoviacustomer on 2007-05-16:
I have never heard of this airline before....
Anonymous on 2007-05-16:
This post has no merit. If you traveled a fraction of what you claim you would know the airlines and the seating they have. This was probably your first flight in years, welcome to the new age of airline travel. Stop your whining and learn how to use the airlines in today's world.
runaway on 2007-05-16:
I've got to ask...how many hotels do you stay in during your extensive travels that look exactly like the photos in their advertising?
You made the assumption that seating that was in the process of being "rolled out" would be available to you...did you inquire before booking as to the seating available on those flights? Did you inquire/attempt to reserve seating that would be comfortable for your height (I.e. non-bulkhead)? If you had reservations promising that you were indeed reserved seats on a plane with the new style of seating or non-bulkhead seating I would understand your complaint. But you know what they say about assuming...

And way to whine about the baby...you admit it was nothing they could control, yet had to throw it in there anyway, as another reason your flight was so bad.
Pomona Guy on 2007-05-16:
The phone number for Lufthansa complaints of this type is 1-800-CRY-BABY.
Anonymous on 2007-05-16:
The McDonald's hamburger I just ate didn't look exactly like the picture on the web page. Even though I was disappointed the product was consumed. Now I demand an appropriate explanation and compensation or I'm going to whine about it.

Sorry I couldn't help it. But it sounds just as silly as the complaint.
Anonymous on 2007-05-16:
something here's not adding up.
poppapia on 2007-05-17:
PassingBy, you can't do that unless your cousin is a lawyer!
Anonymous on 2007-05-21:
This poster "Niel" is a real idiot, he is sending out stupid emails to anyone that posted here. Real troll, asked Admin to hose his account as he is another "one post wonder".
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Appalling Service in Lufthansa's Business Class
Posted by on
I had to take care of some business in Frankfurt and I took a Lufthansa flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt (which was incident-free) and a Frankfurt-LAX flight back. I had a business class ticket. There was a passenger who just got onboard before me, and I noticed how one of the flight attendants immediately walked over to the passenger in front of me who was just starting to settle down and offered to hang the passenger's jacket in the cupboard at the very front of the seating area. I took some time to put my briefcase away and took off my suit jacket. 2 flight attendants saw me but were not interested in putting my jacket away. I didn't want to make a big fuss and I'm not entirely familiar with the storage cabinet at the front of the plane, so I put my jacket on the back of my seat. I doze off for 30 minutes.

When I woke up, I noticed my suit jacket had been stepped on and was crumpled near the bathroom door. The flight attendants had been walking up and down the aisle where my jacket had fallen, but apparently they didn't feel compelled to pick up a passenger's jacket that had fallen. During the flight, except for 1 friendly female attendant who was mostly helping out with the other aisle, the rest of the flight attendants repeatedly skipped me when they were pouring drinking water and distributing bread rolls for the passengers. At that point in time, I was starting to feel that I was being discriminated against because I was an Asian (Japanese Chinese) passenger. I was the only Asian in the whole section. Fortunately, I had a kind Italian gentleman from Turin sitting next to me, so I asked him to get another glass of water every now and then, which he would then pass on to me.

Towards the end of the flight when we needed to fill immigration form, I realized that my pen was in my briefcase which by then had been well wedged in in the storage compartment which would be a nuisance to dislodge during the flight, so I raised my hand in the air and asked to borrow a pen. A flight attendant came to tell me that they didn't have any pens. But a few minutes later when another customer asked, the flight attendant came with a tray of pens. I was truly fortunate that my neighboring Italian passenger again was able to come to my rescue with his pen. I am a well-mannered, well-educated (PhD in Mathematics), patient person and I have never been a fussy passenger. The only thing that came to my mind was that the cabin crew in that section must have an aversion to Asians since I was the only Asian in that area. I have flown with many airlines throughout Asia, Europe, America, and Australia the past 30 years and LUFTHANSA was, by far, my ABSOLUTE WORST flying experience.

I wrote a complaint to Lufthansa via their website and after over a month, their response was a generic statement that said that they always tried their best to provide the best service. Given that the appalling service I received was their best service, I dare not imagine what the service would be like on their not-so-best days. I have since spoken to my employer to not fly us on Lufthansa and have spoken to colleagues, family, and friends about
the rude cabin crew who provided such appalling service.


     
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Disaster Worker on 2009-06-01:
I agree...absolutely appalling service!
Anonymous on 2009-06-01:
Sometimes, people are a little too quick to yell racism when they get bad service, but, in your case, it sounds pretty accurate. I commend you for not raising a scene on board. You've done the best thing you can do - talk with your wallet and share your story with as many people as you can.
Ben There on 2009-06-02:
I met an Indian man in NYC a few days ago and he had a very similar story about Lufthansa. He claims that there is a very noticeable difference of treatment between races. I am normally the first to call BS with the race card, but my new friend had no reason to make up this story.
Ponie on 2009-06-02:
I'm in agreement with all the other responses and the poster. The majority of the posts that cry racism seem to be because the complainer was told 'No.' This complaint lacks the usual rants and raves of what the complainer is going to do, how many people will be notified, how many letters will be written to our various ABC organizations, suits in small claims court, etc. Good review.
Soaring Consumer on 2009-06-02:
Voted helpful. I too believe that this is a legitimate case of racism.
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LO398 Flight Cancellation
Posted by on
Flight Cancellation
1. When it was my turn after lining up for quite a while to rebook my flight, I asked the LH staff what is my compensation since EC regulations indicate that passengers have a right to claim. She just told me that the flight was operated by LOT and not LH. That's it. For me, that is not the proper response. I've booked the flight through LH and LH is the marketing carrier and I expect LH to take responsibility.
2. I am disappointed that LH staff did not even consider my previous seat preference when she rebooked my flight. I am in Business class and I expected the LH staff to respect my previous seat selection or at least ask me. Note that my previous seat selection was not yet taken. I have to go to check-in kiosk to change the seat myself.
3. I was given a lesser known hotel and is farther than the other 2 hotels near the airport. I am a Loyalty member and I am booked in Business. They were not considered.
4. EC regulation dictates that I have a right to 2 phone calls or e-mails. The hotel does not offer free internet and does not even have bottled water in the room! I have to use my own phone to make international calls to inform my family what happened and I even have to pay for water.

The worse
1. When I've approached a LH staff asking for directions where B2 counter is, the staff was not pleasant and with a hand motion, she just pointed towards a general direction. As I am not familiar with airport layout, I've tried asking for more directions but was answered with a rather unpleasant and rude response saying just go ahead. I'm not happy with this behavior. I expected courtesy from staff.
2. While lining up to have my flight rebooked, there were also a couple of other anxious and worried passengers who don't know what to do with the flight cancellation. They've tried asking the LH staff and LH staff was very disrespectful and sarcastic. She goes something like - "we will rebook your flight, you have to wait and don't worry you have lots of time... you have until Monday to wait.". I believe this kind of comment is not appropriate. I understand that during flight irregularities, things can get overwhelming. Treating passengers rudely however does not help the situation.

I have already email Lufthansa twice and LOT once and that was 3 weeks ago. Until now I have not heard back from them.
     
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Anonymous on 2011-10-20:
I'm really sympathetic to airline staff when a flight cancels - 150 ticked off passengers all at once - they really do yeoman's work, given the circumstances they get things right most of the time. Not sure what a Loyalty member is... both LOT and LH share the same program and if you were a SEN or HON you would have the opportunity to calmly walk into the lounge, relax, grab a Warsteiner and have the staff make alternate arrangements for you.
Nice to see you are able to report this incident not having bottled water and all.
Anonymous on 2011-10-20:
I don't see how the employee's comment was rude.
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Telephone & web customer service
Posted by on
I have reservations to fly from San Diego Ca. to Venice Italy in Business Class tomorrow 5/9/11.
I attempted to contact their 24/7 800 number after 7PM two nights in a row. The result was that it rang for a long time then disconnected. On the third day I called in the afternoon and was able to get through. I informed them of my experience and they said that there was nothing wrong with the 800 number. I then explained it to them again in more detail and they again informed me that I was wrong and that the 800 number works fine 24/7, in other words I'm a liar. I asked how I can speak to a higher level of customer service, they told me to get the email address on the web. I did and I was informed by email to call the 800 24/7 line for assistance.

When I attempted to check and get my boarding pass 23 hours before the flight on there web page the first question they ask is "Did you check-in any luggage at your original departure airport to your final destination?". Confused by the way this question was termed I called up the friendly people at the 800 24/7 line. They informed me if I was going to check in any bags I could not check in via the web. Great that's nice. You see I needed the boarding pass to find out what terminal I needed to go to for the first flight. They did not bother to put that in my reservations.

Since the first flight was not on Lufthansa the flight number did not work. I couldn't get the correct flight number from Lufthansa for the airline that they use in the U.S. So now when I go to the airport tomorrow I have a 1 in 3 chance of being at the right terminal. I even attempted to contact the U.S. airline but they said without the U.S. flight number they could not help me.

U.S. Airlines are not the greatest but I have never experienced this level of rude and yes MEAN customer service before.
     
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Ben There on 2011-05-08:
I find its pretty easy to figure out what your terminal is simply by visiting the airport's website.

What airline and airport are you flying from in the USA? I find it unusual that the US carrier could not figure out their own flight number - do you not have the time it leaves?

Do a quick search on the airlines website for your first and second city, pick the one that leaves and arrives at the exact same time as your codeshare on Lufthansa, and that will be your flight number.
Anonymous on 2011-05-09:
You should have an itinerary from a travel agent or if you booked online with your confirmation. as this trip involves 3 aircraft (SAN-XXX-FRA/MUC-VCE) I hope you didn't buy it through a travel consolidator as you sound like an inexperienced traveler and this can be a nightmare. Generally, codeshare partners share the same terminal and you can find who the originating carrier this way. LH is in Star Alliance so odds are UA to SFO is your first leg.
trmn8r on 2011-05-09:
I couldn't follow this. It sounds like you were calling Lufthansa, which is a connecting flight, to figure out what terminal to catch your originating flight (the "first flight"), from a different carrier. When you "go" to the airport.

Did you mean that when you *get* to the airport on the originating flight, what terminal will you need to go to for the Lufthansa flight?

I'm a bit shocked that with a flight number, they couldn't give you a terminal.
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Terrible Customer Relations Department - Anything but the best way to fly
Posted by on
With a check-in time set for 2AM in the morning, on the return leg of an international trip with my 6 and 8 year old daughters, Lufthansa gate agents forced me to pay an entire new ticket, at a cost of over $2,900 USD because, according to them, I did not have a transit Visa to make a connection on the return leg of an itinerary bought through an Expedia travel agent which the Expedia agent and Lufthansa recommended in the first place. While I could have flown from A to B to D; the itinerary that Expedia recommended, after checking in with Lufthansa, was A to B to C to D.

While there were many available options at a much lower cost to modify my trip and avoid the leg where the Visa was necessary, they only made one available: purchasing a full fare one way ticket from A to B to D. The situation was a shake down: pay up or get stuck abroad at 2AM in the morning with two children in tears. What's more aggravating is that even after I agreed to pay up, we were forced to wait at the counter for over an hour as the gate agents slowly took action with no sense of urgency while we stood helplessly watching every other passenger check in.

By the way, I am a Gold Star Alliance member - a frequent flier with one of their partner airlines - which did not help at all in terms of any consideration for service or assistance. And as a frequent flier, I can confidently rate both the outbound and the return flight with Lufthansa as terrible experiences filled with poor service, poorly maintained equipment, unorganized boarding processes and seating assignments. To add insult to injury on a 9-hour flight back, our row had malfunctioning audio-visual equipment so my children were unable to watch any of the movies, making our long-return trip that much harder and uncomfortable.

Two months since the incident, now back in the US, I have written to the Customer Service Department no less than 4 times and I have not received a personable reply and despite my requests it has been impossible to speak with any representatives. A cursory computerized reply, one month after I filed my complaint, indicated I should expect a reply in a time frame upwards of 6 to 8 weeks. Their reason for the delay in their reply: in simple words a deluge of other disgruntled travellers.

Distrust their claim that there is no better way to fly.
     
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Anonymous on 2011-03-04:
three claims you make seriously wrong and if you are in a *gold they are obvious.
LH group owns Technik who maintains aircraft for many airlines. LH are amongst the worlds best maintained birds.
LH like all airlines do not recommend ticket aggregators such as Expedia, in fact AA does not support most of them.
Visas, that's on you and your responsibility to check
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Appalling Customer Service
Posted by on
UK -- On 06.09.05 I traveled from Birmingham to Sofia via Frankfurt on flights 4907 and 3430. On arrival at Sofia airport, I and a number of other passengers waited to collect our luggage, only to discover 30 minutes later by observation alone that our baggage had not arrived. No announcement was made, passengers were not furnished with any information whatsoever, no Lufthansa representation was available anywhere in the airport, and more importantly no apology was proffered at any time.


I and others then queued for 3.5 hours to file missing luggage reports, without any trace of sympathy from airport staff , and passengers were not even offered of a glass of water during this time or the courtesy of any kind of explanation or public announcement. It should be noted that Lufthansa representatives were still nowhere to be found throughout this time. When I eventually managed to speak to the lost luggage company (Tourist Holdings) I was advised that my luggage had been routed via Vienna and would be arriving in Sofia at 11pm later that evening (06.09.05). The representative then stated that my luggage would be sent on by car to my booked accommodation in Sozopol, and would arrive by no later than 10pm the following day – why the need for a 24 hour delay between the luggage arriving in Sofia to it making its final journey to my hotel was not explained. Is this the gold standard in customer service set and aspired to by Lufthansa?


As expected, 10pm on 07.09.05 came and went and all attempts to contact the Tourist Holdings office in Sofia failed. My luggage eventually arrived in Sozopol at 3.15am on 08.09.05! On speaking to the driver I was informed that he alone had delivered all the lost and missing Lufthansa luggage and had that day been ‘driving all over Bulgaria’ delivering bags!! As a result of this extraordinarily shambolic series of events I rang an acquaintance of mine who is employed by Lufthansa to get his views, and who shockingly advised me that this often happens when a flight has reached its payload capacity, particularly affecting passengers like myself who are connecting on later flights, and whose baggage never even makes it onto the aircraft in question. This unwritten policy is a disgrace and deliberately misleads and affects passengers who are kept in the dark throughout.


Lost luggage aside, on 09.09.05 I received a call from my office back in the UK requesting my urgent return to the UK on 11.09.05, at an earlier time to which I had booked (flight 3435 Sofia to Munich at 1655). I attempted to call the Lufthansa office in Sofia at various times over the following two days to check if a change would be possible only for the phone to ring and ring without answer. Because of this I was forced to catch the 2330 night bus on 10.09.05 from Sozopol to Sofia in an attempt to get to Sofia airport early enough to speak to Lufthansa in person. At 7am the Lufthansa desk was unmanned and the security gate was closed, but a representative from Austrian Airlines, a Star Alliance partner who share the desk with Lufthansa was at her post. She checked flight details and confirmed that seats were available on the 1315 Sofia to Munich flight, but stated that as my ticket was non-transferable I would have to purchase another ticket, which I was willing to do. I was informed that Lufthansa staff were ‘on their break’ and would be back at their desk at 10.30am; or as an alternative I could visit the first floor Lufthansa office which I duly did in an attempt to resolve. When I knocked on the door I was eventually ‘greeted’ by a surly Elena Milenova(?) and explained my predicament. Without bothering to check any system or paperwork I was immediately informed that the flight was full and that there was no alternative to catching the later flight. I stated that Lufthansa’s Star Alliance partner at Austrian Airlines had checked the system just two minutes earlier and that seats appeared to be available. Elena responded by confirming (again without checking) that the Austrian Airlines system was ‘different’ and that there were indeed no seats available. No offer of standby or any other solution was proffered; indeed I got the distinct impression that I was interrupting Miss Milenova’s day and that she had much better things on which to be spending her time than assisting Lufthansa customers.


In any event I decided to wait around and visit the Lufthansa desk at 10.30am to ask Elena to check her computer and confirm the lack of seats. When I returned at this time the Lufthansa desk was still unmanned and the security gate was still closed. So, once again I spoke to the Austrian Airlines representative who confirmed that Elena had spoken to her in the interim, and stated that her system was indeed different and that the available seats she had identified earlier were not actually available to be purchased, just available to book as Lufthansa operate an overbooking policy on all its flights. I would add that whilst sitting in the viewing area at Sofia airport I observed the boarding of the 1315 Sofia to Munich flight and the number of passengers boarding the aircraft did not seem to equate at all to a completely full flight.


The above catalog of errors clearly demonstrates that the level of service provided by Lufthansa falls woefully short of the minimum standard expected, and has raised serious doubts as to the commitment Lufthansa has to customer care and hence my confidence in the airline.
Incidentally, I would point out that as of 12.09.05 the contact page on their website does not work, the telephone number (01803803803) listed on their website does not exist, the telephone number listed on their Yellow Pages advertisement (08457737747) is incorrect, and the statement on their website to contact Lufthansa with ‘Complaints and Compliments’ via email is apparently untrue, as when I spoke to a representative on 0870 8377747 she informed me that no email address actually exists to send comments, and that any feedback has to be submitted by letter to a PO Box address in Dublin! And finally, the country code and fax number listed for the European Customer Relations Centre in Ireland is also incorrect!! This is hardly a ringing endorsement to Lufthansa’s commitment to customer care.


Despite faxing their European Customer Relations Centre and Wolfgang Mayrhuber on four occasions since 12.09.05, Lufthansa have just chosen to ignore my complaint!


BE WARNED!!


     
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Not flying with Lufthansa on 2011-12-19:
Forget racism. Lufthansa is a truly appalling airline in other respects. On 19th December 2011 my PA and I were flying from Vienna to Frankfurt and were subjected to appalling abuse and threats of assault from a passenger behind us who had unruly children who were repeatedly banging their tables and screaming. The Purser, Bernard Buchmann was appalling in the extreme, saying "They are only children". When asked what he would do about the fact that threatening assault on another passenger and disturbing the peace is a criminal offence (especially on an airplane, where such matters could endanger the safety of the airplane), incredibly, her answered "You can write to Lufthansa and make a complaint". This man should be sacked and never be responsible for the safety of human beings.

I have instructed all of our staff NEVER to fly with the appalling Lufthansa again. I have never experienced such terrible treatment.

And ... I am indeed going to write to Lufthansa, in fact to their CEO Christoph Franz and will not let this matter rest.

These large airlines, who charge 100% more than budget airlines, and provide a WORSE service, should be brought to task.
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The lost meaning of a better way to fly
Posted by on
The lost meaning of “a better way to fly”
by Siswa Rizali


This is a recount on my dreadful fly to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It supposed to be my great adventurous travel to be remembered. But thank to Lufthansa, it become my long nightmare in the airline. It was a long delayed travel (longer than my actual fly time), full with confusing reroute and agony.


****

I had to attend international training on microfinance in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, from 22 to 26 September 2003. I used Lufthansa airline. The flight is Jakarta – Frankfurt – Munich – Sarajevo. The flight to Sarajevo began in Jakarta at 19.00 o’clock, September 20, using LH 779, and the connecting flights are LH 216 and LH5328.

The trouble began in Cengkareng Airport, Jakarta. When I checked in, and I arrived right on time (around 17.00), the officer told me that I cannot take the flight caused I do not have visa to enter Bosnia & Herzegovina. I showed the document from Bosnia & Herzegovina authority explaining that the visa would be issued on my arrival in Sarajevo Airport. The officer does not sure and he asked his supervisor. Then the worse came.

Ms Sri (the senior officer, Ms Sriningsih Suprapto) informed me that even if I was right that my Bosnia & Herzegovina visa is on arrival, I couldn’t take the flight because I do not have Schengen visa.

I told her that I do not have any intention to stay in Germany and I just transit there to travel to Sarajevo. She informed me about ‘the domestic flight’, Frankfurt – Munich, which needed Schengen transit visa. Ibu Sri clarified that I couldn’t go unless I reroute my flight.

So I asked, why Lufthansa do not inform me about the visa requirement when I ordered the ticket? Surprisingly, Ibu Sri argued that I supposed to know and if I do not know I must ask. How can I know? Does the customer supposed to know better the product sell by a company? Should have been the company who inform the customer about the product that they sell?

As I must take the flight, I made no longer argument and accepted that Lufthansa reroute my flight through Jakarta – Frankfurt – Ljubljana – Sarajevo (Flight number: LH 779, connecting flight LH2504, and then JP700). To reroute from Frankfurt – Munich to Frankfurt – Ljubljana, I was penalty for US$ 120. And for Ljubljana – Sarajevo I have to buy new ticket at US$ 440. (See the attachment, which contain scan document from my flight).

Surprisingly, I cannot reimburse my ticket which I would not need from Munich to Sarajevo at all.

It took around two hours for me to settle the entire ticket/visa problem. I checked in at 17.00 and only by around 18.45 I have to rush for the plane. What a stressful checked in I ever done.

We landed in Singapore for transit at around 21.00. Like thunder striking in daylight, the Lufthansa officer informed that the flight had technical problem and had to be grounded for repairmen. As there is no spare part in Singapore, it took ten hours to bring the component from Frankfurt plus four hours for repairmen. In total, many passengers have to wait 24 hours in Singapore before continuing their flight. (Please refer to Lufthansa Singapore office announcement dated September 20, 2003).

Lufthansa did not do much to get another flight as soon as possible for their passenger. Instead they only provide accommodation for one night stay.

In the morning, I phoned Lufthansa to inquire about my flight. They explain that my flight would be reroute through Frankfurt – Vienna – Sarajevo. Because Vienna is in Schengen visa countries, I explained the problem I encounter yesterday and urged them to find out the immigration issues.

From the morning, I also informed the officer that I had have to attend training which begin in Monday morning, September 22. If I would arrive later than Monday night, I prefer to cancel my trip and will demand reimbursement on my ticket and compensation for my training fee which cost me US$ 1500. The officer told me it is possible for Lufthansa to reimburse my ticket if I cancel the flight, however Lufthansa will not cover any other cost that I would have burden.

Isn’t it wonderful? If the customer presumably made a mistake, Lufthansa could charge high penalty. But when Lufthansa fails to delivery necessary service, the customer must bear all the loss occur.

None of Lufthansa officer called me back to confirm my enquiry. So I called again several time from 14.00 to 16.30. I have to make all the called, none Lufthansa officer has the initiative to inform me about my enquiry (although they promise to do so).

Finally, at 16.30, it is confirm that my flight would be through Vienna. Lufthansa officer said they would prepare document for immigration office in Vienna that explains I only transit in Vienna to travel to Sarajevo. The route and flight number are Singapore – Frankfurt (LH779), Frankfurt – Vienna (OS122), and Vienna – Sarajevo (OS757). It is expected I will arrive in Sarajevo by 14.30 on September 22.

During my stay at hotel, I also notice that none of Lufthansa officer present there to explain any progress on our flight. While their customer stranded, it seems no care was taken by Lufthansa.

At 20.30, the bus took us to the airport. Surprisingly, when I check in, I have to face another shock. Lufthansa officer at check in counter said that I couldn’t take the flight through Vienna because I do not have Schengen visa. How could this happen? I have reminded them about my condition since the morning. I also told them what Lufthansa officer in Jakarta informed me. But why Lufthansa officer in Singapore does not know about the procedure?

This case may indicate that Lufthansa has no standard information about the requirement for ticket sell in certain route. This case also suggests that actually Lufthansa cannot put the blame on me for my ‘mistake’ earlier in Jakarta (So I cannot be charged/penalty for any reroute).

Lufthansa officer reroute my flight once again. They informed me that the flight route (and number) would be Frankfurt – Zagreb (OU411) and Zagreb – Sarajevo (OU342). (See the attachment, which contain scan document from my flight).

It took around two hours (from 9.30 to 11.30) for me to check in. And again, I am one that check in early, I also the last one that get into the plane. What a disgraceful service!

The flight LH779 arrived in Frankfurt in the morning (around 05.30) of September 22. As soon as I arrived in Frankfurt, I directly checked my connecting flight and report to the Lufthansa counter. Just like another hard punch straight to my face, I found out that my connecting flight would be at 18.00 o’clock.

While waiting, I found out that there were another three flight to Zagreb (and the time) on that day. The flights were OU417 (at 09.55), LH3436 (at 12.10), and OU405 (at 12.10).

So I wondered, why Lufthansa officer did not put me in the earlier flight? Why I must wait almost 12 hours at the airport for my connecting flight.

I decided to inquire at transfer/ticket counter whether I change flight schedule to an earlier flight. The officer turned me down because I have baggage in the flight. With great disappointment I just wait my flight at the airport.

The flight from Frankfurt – Zagreb – Sarajevo itself was another trouble. I arrived in Sarajevo at 21.00, just to find out that my baggage did not arrive. I report to airport officer about my baggage problem (baggage tag LH684562, baggage irregularity reference SJJOU13141). My baggage arrived at the hotel in Wednesday noon.

On my return trip to Indonesia, my flight went smoothly. Only small annoying thing happen; my baggage once again did not include in my flight. But later that night, my baggage arrived at my home around 24.00 o’clock. The bag itself seemed like have been ‘torture’, because the corner at the bottom was tear off.

***

What a tormentor flight! I have to pay more, yet I get the worse service. The distance of Jakarta – Sarajevo may need around 15 hours flying time, but it took me 50 hours to complete the journey (the delayed time was longer than the flight itself). I completely lost the meaning of “a better way to fly”.

***

Siswa Rizali
Assistant Program Officer
The Asia Foundation
Jl. Adityawarman No. 40
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12160
Indonesia
website: www.asiafoundation.org




     
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hc on 2004-07-20:
It's always the passenger's responsibility to check they have all necessary documentation for the flight. This includes a valid passport, entry visa and any transit visa. If you book through a travel agency they can help advise you on visa requirements. An airline is not responsible for this.
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