Change Your Altitude

Caught up in the Lufthansa Strike Fiasco? Here’s What to do:

No doubt this latest industrial action from Lufthansa is at the very best annoying, at worst devastating, especially for those who had planned a Thanksgiving getaway to Europe. The timing is nothing but cynical on the part of the pilots union.

But now on to the most important point – what do you do if you’re booked on a Lufthansa flight either today or tomorrow?

First things first – check if your flight is affected through LH’s flight status feature here. Keep in mind that even if your flight is operating, it is highly likely it will be delayed or might be subsequently cancelled as the rolling effects of the strike take their toll. So keep updated frequently.

Next, know what your entitled to through EU and airline regulation – and whether it’s even worth it to venture out to the airport in the first place. Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin are surely to be zoos today and tomorrow and through the week probably.

Here’s the gist of what you can and can’t expect, per the airline’s various announcements.

If your flight is cancelled due to the strike, can you get a refund?

  • Yes. European Union regulations require airlines to offer either a full refund of the unused parts of your tickets in these situations. Call up the airline before your time of departure and request for the refund. It might take LH 2-3 business days to process it and it might only be reflected on your next month’s credit card statement.

Should I expect any fees in possible re-routings or re-bookings?

  • Absolutely not. Due to the nature of the cancellation LH is required to re-route you to your destination, as soon as possible. If you happen to find an earlier flight than what is being offered to you by Lufthansa staff, bring it up – don’t worry about cost – so long as it’s in the same cabin of service that you’re ticketed in, you’re entitled to that. Make sure you make the airline know that. Hold Lufthansa to the rule of the law.

Can I expect any cash compensation?

  • No. Apart from vouchers for hotels or food or a refund in full for your ticket, don’t expect to be compensated in cash. If you’re an elite LH or Star Alliance member, take the issue up with Star at a later date when things clear up and you might just get awarded some miles into your account. But a cash compensation in the interim won’t happen.

What if I’m booked through a package holiday or I booked through a third party vendor such as Expedia or Kayak? What can we expect from LH?

  • Not much if anything. This is why we highly discourage booking through third parties. Sometimes you might save a dollar here or there but in these situations, the airline absolves all responsibility and will refer to your booking agent. Your booking agent will take some time to get back to you given that they in the mean time need to go back to the airline (in this case Lufthansa) and negotiate the flight re-bookings for you. A package holiday operator such as Disney or Carnival that includes a segment of your trip on LH might accommodate you for a few nights till the next available flight at a hotel of an equal category that you were booked in.

How about travel insurance? Am I covered?

  • Yes, but don’t expect much. Depending on the scheme of your plan, you’ll get a nominal sum that will cover you for meals in the intervening period of your delay (elapsed time from cancelled flight to rebooked flight) so long as it’s over 12 hours, which will be likely in this case. But it won’t cover hotels or other such expenses. And you’ll have to rely on LH getting you onto the next available flight, not your insurer.

This is definitely not an ideal situation – it’s horrendous, in fact. But we hope that these above tips might help mitigate just how bad this experience might turn out to be.

You can go to Lufthansa’s official news page regarding the cancellations and strike to stay up to date with what is actually going on. As far as we can see it’s being updated constantly.

Lufthansa’s motto is “Nonstop You” – hmm, indeed. It seems like most LH passengers will be on a nonstop flight to nowhere for the next few days of travel chaos. And this might be the last time many of these folks venture onto a Lufthansa plane. Their loss, not yours. 

For those affected, good luck out there!

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