Untied Airlines: a personal perspective

One man's experiences
with United, Lufthansa,
and the rest of the Star Alliance

26 February 2012
17 June 2012
31 December 2012

17 June 2012: LH 242, FRA to ROM

Summary: Lufthansa cancelled my flight. It gave me a seat on a flight the next morning, some food, and a hotel room for the (short) night. Lufthansa was required by law to also give me, and each of the other affected passengers, a passenger-rights notice and 250 EUR additional compensation. Lufthansa didn't actually pay me 250 EUR until I went to extraordinary effort to complain; obviously Lufthansa also didn't pay most of the other passengers.

Day 0: Sunday 17 June 2012. I was scheduled to fly LH 242 from Frankfurt to Rome, departing 21:55 and arriving 23:40.

I boarded but the plane did not depart. Lufthansa announced repeatedly that the engine needed maintenance. Around 22:40 Lufthansa announced that the engine maintenance was more difficult than expected and that the flight would be cancelled. Lufthansa rescheduled me for a flight the next morning; in the end I arrived in Rome about 10 hours late.

Lufthansa was required by European law, specifically Regulation (EC) 261/2004, to "provide each passenger affected [by the cancellation] with a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance in line with this Regulation". Lufthansa was also required to provide each passenger, in writing, the contact details of the German enforcement body.

Did Lufthansa have a stack of booklets to hand out to each passenger getting off the cancelled flight? Of course not. Lufthansa did nothing at all to tell passengers that they had any rights; in particuar, Lufthansa completely failed to provide these written notices; Lufthansa didn't even seem to have the notices on the plane. Eventually I found a Lufthansa service desk in the middle of the airport, demanded the notice, and was finally given the notice.

Lufthansa was also required by law to provide each passenger "compensation amounting to: ... EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less". Did Lufthansa hand over the cash? Of course not. I complained to two Lufthansa agents at the service desk and was told to fill out a form available on the Lufthansa home page. Over the next few days I spent considerable time reading Lufthansa pages and was unable to find that form.

Day 4: Thursday 21 June 2012. I wrote to feedback.germany@dlh.de asking for confirmation that Lufthansa would pay the 250 EUR required by law. I also asked for "Lufthansa's exact procedures for compensation by cash and for compensation by bank transfer."

Day 8: Monday 25 June 2012. I received an automated notice from feedback@lufthansa-crm.com acknowledging my email.

Later. I received, in the mail, a check from Lufthansa for the dollar equivalent of 250 EUR.

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