German Court decides for Lufthansa against passengers’ rights

FRA Transit LH

Airlines such as Lufthansa play games in selling return tickets cheaper than one way. A passenger trying to use a return only now got burned.

The German Federal Court of Justice ruled today that airlines are entitled to refuse carriage to passengers if they only want to use the return flight when booking a return flight (cross ticketing).

In such a case of denied boarding by the airline, passengers are not entitled to any compensation payments. The judgment of the Federal Court of Justice leads to uncertainty among many of those affected and thus weakens the rights of consumers in the long term.

“This case shows again the audacity with which airlines sometimes try to circumvent passengers’ rights. Denied boarding by the airline is only permitted under particular circumstances.

An extension of these exceptions by the airline will hand over air travelers without protection. Unfortunately, the Federal Court of Justice did not recognize this. This weakened the rights of airline passengers in Germany. Passengers are so much less flexible,” says Claudia Brosche, a passenger rights expert.

The case against Germany’s Star Alliance national airline Lufthansa. The issue was if LH should transport a passenger from Antalya to Munich.

The passenger had booked a return flight as part of a package tour. The passenger did not take the outbound flight from Munich to Antalya because he had previously flown to Antalya with Lufthansa.

Since the passenger did not take the first flight, Lufthansa canceled his return flight. The airline says this was outlined in its general terms and conditions.

Lufthansa failed to inform the passenger. The passenger was refused check-in when getting to Antalya airport in Turkey.

The issue was not overbooking but it was to collect more money. Lufthansa demanded a surcharge for the flight that was not taken.

The passenger could only check in after paying for the ticket for a second time.

The passenger was therefore denied to board the aircraft against his will.

Flightright representing the passenger in the trial, argued there was also no substitute transport within the meaning of the Air Passenger Rights Ordinance.

Refusing an airline passenger to board a booked flight should only be permitted in exceptional cases.

Whether there is a right to compensation depends on whether the airline can legitimately refuse the passenger access.

Denied boarding occurs if the airline subsequently cancels the original commitment to carry passengers on a specific route and refuses to board such passengers.

The Air Passenger Rights Ordinance regulates exceptions within a narrow framework in which a refusal of boarding can be permissible for justifiable reasons, such as health risks, safety risks, and missing travel documents.

Lufthansa took the view in court that a refusal to carry the passenger also pre-supposes that passengers were not carried on the flight at issue.

Because in this case, the passenger took exactly the planned flight but had to pay extra for it despite the existing tickets.

Flightright opposed this in court.

It is sufficient to receive a compensation payment if the airline refuses passengers boarding even though they have a confirmed booking and have arrived on time for check-in.

“In this case, the passenger was undisputedly denied boarding despite his confirmed booking. “

Flightright argued: “In our opinion, the fact that the passenger subsequently decided to buy another ticket for the flight in question again and did not book another flight should not have been blamed on him. Unfortunately, the Federal Court of Justice saw things differently and favored Lufthansa in its decision.

Passengers’ Rights in the Event of flight problems:

According to EU law, passengers are entitled to compensation of between 250 and 600 Euros if they arrive at their destination more than three hours later or if their flight was canceled less than 14 days before departure.

These claims can be asserted three years retrospectively, regardless of the ticket price. This also applies to 1 euro flights. No disadvantages arise from the assertion of claims.

Consumer advocacy organizations, such as Flightright, competently and successfully enforce these claims for affected air travelers with airlines. Many times consumers have little chance of doing so on their own.

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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