Outstanding Customer Disservice Award

Lufthansa Wins By Not Telling Fliers of Cancellations

ocd_thumbLufthansa has won the 2014 OCD award. On December 1 Lufthansa cancelled our overseas flight from Newark to Russia only 2.5 hours before its departure—but did not bother to tell us. (The pilots had gone on strike.)

It took two months for an explanation of why: Lufthansa says if passengers book through a travel agent, they better hope their travel agents notice when Lufthansa cancels flights because—listen carefully—Lufthansa does not have records of email and phone info for those travel-agented passengers until after they check in. That’s right, Lufthansa does not know who you are until you show up at the airport to check in. Our travel agent spotted it. We were lucky.

Perhaps coincidentally, this is a way for Lufthansa to cut customer service costs: Technically, for tickets purchased by the travel agency, Lufthansa claims no responsibility to contact passengers about last-minute stuff like cancellations.

Or maybe Lufthansa wanted my Outstanding Customer Disservice Award for 2014. It comes with a certificate suitable for framing. But unless Lufthansa tells me who the Lufthansa exec is that came up with this cost-cutting idea, where do I send it?

There are other questions: Were the pilots striking because Lufthansa treats them like passengers who book through travel agents? Are such passengers required to bring their own life rafts in case of an unexpected water landing?

Consumerist Takeaway: Today (February 3) Lufthansa responded to my December 12 letter complaining about not calling passengers about the cancellation and seeking compensation for the added time and trouble to get to JFK instead of Newark. (We barely got a Swiss Airlines flight to Russia. My travel agent pulled that off.) The extra cost of getting to JFK was $50. Lufthansa is sending me a $250 check.



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