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Lufthansa Reluctant Refunds - volcanic ash cancellations

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Lufthansa Reluctant Refunds - volcanic ash cancellations

Old 16th Jul 2010, 19:44
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Lufthansa Reluctant Refunds - volcanic ash cancellations

I work for Jet2. When the ash clouds appeared and Jet2 started to cancel flights, jet2.com displayed a prominent notice to this effect: try calling us to rebook and, if you can't get through, book a new flight and we will refund the price of the REPLACEMENT flight. I thought this was very fair, and must have put thousands of minds at rest.

Lufthansa seem to have had a different approach:

1. Relegate volcanic ash disruption to a tiny corner of their website
2. Offer no guidance whatsoever on how to rebook a cancelled flight
3. Offer no adviced whatsoever on the refund procedure for cancelled flights
4. Disconnect all phone lines
5. Remove email customer service

Thus the only way to rebook was to buy a completely new ticket over the internet at - surprise, surprise - a much higher price. Most people would have assumed that they would be refunded, just as Jet2 was offering.

Now, several months down the line, I find that:

1. Everything for the UK is dealt with by Customer Service in Liverpool, who have a policy of refusing to reply to ALL emails requesting refunds
2. Refunds are eventually being made, but only for the cancelled flights, not the replacements
3. Bypassing Liverpool and emailling Germany results in a brush-off, to the effect that email assistance is only for technical matters (rubbish)

Whilst I am sympathetic about the huge workload that volcanic ash cancellations have created for airlines, I am appalled that what should be a reputable flag carrier should behave like this.

I imagine that many business travellers, who are not spending their own money, will give up. Result - a huge but immoral revenue stream for Lufthansa.

I expect that cost-conscious leisure travellers like me will fight on, and not let go until this mean attitude is exposed.

Last edited by pilothouse; 16th Jul 2010 at 21:01.
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Old 16th Jul 2010, 19:54
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There are many angles to this, but my understanding is that the airline is not obliged to give any more than a full refund in a case where the cancellation was due to forces beyond their control, unless you have already checked in.

That said, most airlines did offer some sort of compensation in addition to the refund and it sounds as if LH's performance is less than impressive.
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Old 18th Jul 2010, 18:37
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Old 21st Jul 2010, 12:25
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Thank you Herr Mayrhuber, I have emailed you.
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Old 22nd Jul 2010, 09:40
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Capetonian, thanks for that. It does state on Lufthansa's FAQ's:

"If your flight is cancelled because of the airspace closure due to volcanic ash you may either claim a refund from Lufthansa or rebook free of charge to a later flight."

Rebooking was the problem. In theory a phone call or an email would have fixed it, but Lufthansa was unobtainable - not because of congestion, but simply because the systems were disconnected in anticipation of overload.

Rebooking could only be done by actually visiting a airport ticket desk (impractical) or booking a completely new ticket (expensive). Perhaps Lufthansa believes that the free-of-charge rebooking referred to above only applies if contact can be made to exchange the cancelled ticket for a new one - which was impossible.
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