Lufthansa sues no-show passengers [Hidden City Ticketed]

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nutwood

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The interesting thing about this becoming a legal matter, is what are the implications? The question being pursued essentially comes down to whether a vendor can penalize a purchaser for not availing themselves of the service they have paid for. The seat on the second flight has been paid for. Unless the airline can show some sort of loss in not having a bum on that seat, or perhaps a cost in the pax walking out the door of the intermediate airport, the responsibility appears to be theirs, as they offered the cheaper flight.
If they push the legal question, and lose, that seems to open the door for hidden city maneuvers on flights other than the last of the trip. Seems to me that the precedent will have been set. You book your multi-city package and pick and choose which flights you avail yourself of. You've paid for the seat, either you fly, or your shadow stands in.
 

33kft

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Wow, thanks @GermanLawyer for joining to explain the background, and welcome to AFF. I understand if you can't give this sort of detail but I am guessing that your client had to have crossed some sort of threshold for this action to have been taken by Lufthansa? Were they trying to recover operational losses from your client, or was this a case of deterrence?
 

GermanLawyer

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Wow, thanks @GermanLawyer for joining to explain the background, and welcome to AFF. I understand if you can't give this sort of detail but I am guessing that your client had to have crossed some sort of threshold for this action to have been taken by Lufthansa? Were they trying to recover operational losses from your client, or was this a case of deterrence?

IMHO: My clients fault was to book an onward ticket from Frankfurt to Berlin some days / weeks after the initial reservation, that popped up in the LH system.

I have heard of several cases of retrocharging for skipping the last leg, I have never heard of this being brought to court before this case in Germany.

Deterrence should not be LHs motivation: I am quite sure that they will lose the case also after their appeal. The publicity from this will make people aware of hidden-city-routings that have not heard about this before. For example German yellow-press BILD mentioned this case last week, being the most read newspaper in Germany.

If LH was my client, I would not have recommended sueing a passenger in this case.

This case is not about claiming damages. The lawsuit is based on a contractual clause from the T&Cs like the ones in your cell phone contracts asking for a $ x payment if you lose your PIN or request a printed invoice rather than receiving for invoice online.
 

jch

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Any stories of airlines not crediting previous segments' points/status credits if you haven't completed the whole trip? I guess that's the only thing they have over you once you decide to discontinue.
 

33kft

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I've got it now and I can see your point. Minimal upside potential for LH, considerable downside in press coverage and general negative consumer sentiment, not to mention the publicity around how they price their routes.

My last question is, why didn't they just bill the amount stated in the T&Cs? Was the ticket paid for in cash? I wouldn't have thought taking a customer to court would be the logical next step in a minor T&C violation.
 
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GermanLawyer

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My last question is, why didn't they just bill the amount stated in the T&Cs?
The T&Cs say: The fare applicable for this routing when making the reservation applies.

This is what Lufthansa charged by sending an invoice upon which I told them that my client will not pay. A year later they filed the lawsuit.
 
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If I hold a ticket Paris-London-Melbourne and I decide to go Paris-London by train will I be prevented from boarding the London-Melbourne flight at Heathrow?
 

RooFlyer

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If I hold a ticket Paris-London-Melbourne and I decide to go Paris-London by train will I be prevented from boarding the London-Melbourne flight at Heathrow?

Yes, that's 'always' been the case. Miss any flight on a ticket and the ticket is voided, subsequent flights not able to be taken.
 

jch

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If I hold a ticket Paris-London-Melbourne and I decide to go Paris-London by train will I be prevented from boarding the London-Melbourne flight at Heathrow?

It would be recorded as a no-show and the remainder of the journey cancelled. Most of the discussion above is in relation to skipping the return flight or the last leg(s) of a journey.
 
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ethernet

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Law of Equity. What damage did the airline suffer for not flying me? What advantage did the airline enjoy by not flying me? Would that contract provision be summarily struck out as unfair or unreasonable (especially in green EU skys?)
To the first nothing. To the second, they gained a sale they may not have made, and they saved fuel, and maybe a processing fee. I am not aware of countries paying airlines a payment to deliver passengers, but then there would be disclosure obligations. The conclusion is secret or illegal cartel arrangements are threatened by clever passenger arbitrage - a normal market function.

Now were there damages, it would not be the ticket price difference, but marginal differences, which would mean airlines revealing full route profitability for all to see, less savings. Trying to claim the pax really would have bought a full price ticket is not provable. It should fail at multiple levels.

An extreme example would be a British pax who wanted to go from A to B within Britain. but with Britrails pricing, it was cheaper to fly via Spain or France.
 

andye

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Yes, that's 'always' been the case. Miss any flight on a ticket and the ticket is voided, subsequent flights not able to be taken.
Before I joined AFF, I would never have even considered this.
It sometimes makes me shudder how cavalier I used to be, particularly with connecting flights with different PNRs. The need to buy 6 long-haul one-ways if we missed one could have been disastrous.
 
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I apologise, but I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but I'd be thinking Lufthansa doesn't have a leg to stand on. If a pax has bought a tix, there is surely no law that forces them to travel? They're not asking for their money back so the airline loses absolutely nothing by the pax not flying. If the airline is playing silly games with price gouging, then too bad if someone plays back, but it'd be pretty hard in any case for them to prove a pax didn't fall ill and couldn't continue the trip, even with multiple examples of "jumping ship". Most frequent flyers have at some point missed flights (for legitimate reasons) and I see no difference with this ... airfare paid, flight not taken, points/SCs/fare forfeited. End of story and in fact for any airline who give points based on fare paid rather than miles flown, the points should also not be forfeited in my book!.
 

JohnK

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The interesting thing about this becoming a legal matter, is what are the implications? The question being pursued essentially comes down to whether a vendor can penalize a purchaser for not availing themselves of the service they have paid for. The seat on the second flight has been paid for. Unless the airline can show some sort of loss in not having a bum on that seat, or perhaps a cost in the pax walking out the door of the intermediate airport, the responsibility appears to be theirs, as they offered the cheaper flight.
That depends on whether you allow airlines to set the airfares even if those airfares don't look right to us?

If you do allow them to set the airfares as is the case now and A-B sells for $1000 and A-B-C sells for $700 and you book this and get off at B then they've lost money as they could have sold A-B for $1000.

The argument to me sounds like all sectors in a routing have equal value which we know is not true. It's not about forfeiting sectors paid for but rather about airline yield management. For all we know the airfare A-B = $1000 and B-C = -$300.
 

MEL_Traveller

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I apologise, but I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but I'd be thinking Lufthansa doesn't have a leg to stand on. If a pax has bought a tix, there is surely no law that forces them to travel? They're not asking for their money back so the airline loses absolutely nothing by the pax not flying. If the airline is playing silly games with price gouging, then too bad if someone plays back, but it'd be pretty hard in any case for them to prove a pax didn't fall ill and couldn't continue the trip, even with multiple examples of "jumping ship". Most frequent flyers have at some point missed flights (for legitimate reasons) and I see no difference with this ... airfare paid, flight not taken, points/SCs/fare forfeited. End of story and in fact for any airline who give points based on fare paid rather than miles flown, the points should also not be forfeited in my book!.

some of the discussion has already picked up on the points you make.

No one is forcing you to fly the final leg. And the issue is not one about the amount of flying or the cost to the airline.

The airline is arguing that you have entered into an agreement for a particular fare, and the fare is what is being enforced. Airline contracts admit you can change your origin or destination, but you need to pay the fare difference.

The issue is not about the ‘one off’ pax who missed a flight for whatever reason, it’s about the serial offenders, and airlines claim they have a right to protect their fare system.
 

nutwood

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It's a fascinating question, if one likes this sort of thing, and when you think about it, it has wider implications. What about someone who purchases concert tickets early and at a special price? They then realise they can't attend and simply don't show up. Do the promoters bill them for the difference between the price they paid, and the full price of the seats they wasted?
When you consider the question, there are lots of goods and services that are supplied at different prices, depending on the package. I suspect that a counter claim, wherein a passenger can book a multi leg flight, then cherry pick the segments they wish to avail themselves of, would also have legal legs, if someone could afford to pursue it. Is there any particular reason why an airline has a right to protect its fare system?
 
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Isochronous

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Interesting to hear from the German lawyers about this case.

It is a basic principle of the law of contract and damages that an award of damages has to reflect the actual loss suffered. Lufthansa don't suffer any loss by a person doing a no-show on the last leg so there's no basis for them to receive any compensation from the passenger.
 

drsmithy

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That depends on whether you allow airlines to set the airfares even if those airfares don't look right to us?

If you do allow them to set the airfares as is the case now and A-B sells for $1000 and A-B-C sells for $700 and you book this and get off at B then they've lost money as they could have sold A-B for $1000.

No they haven't, because clearly the passenger was not prepared to pay $1000 for the direct flight.
 

williamsf1

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nutwood

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Hi GermanLawyer

welcome and thank you for your input.

are you familiar with a similar case in Spain with IB from lat last year? Like Skipping Flights? Spain's Courts Just Radically Changed Airline Ticket Rules...
The Spanish decision seems quite reasonable. You book and pay for a series of seats on aircraft. Whether you physically sit in them is surely a matter for you to decide? How the seats are marketed is the responsibility of the airline. If they choose to market the seats in a manner that makes it beneficial for the consumer to not fly segments, that's their call.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Hi GermanLawyer

welcome and thank you for your input.

are you familiar with a similar case in Spain with IB from lat last year? Like Skipping Flights? Spain's Courts Just Radically Changed Airline Ticket Rules...

The Spanish decision seems quite reasonable. You book and pay for a series of seats on aircraft. Whether you physically sit in them is surely a matter for you to decide? How the seats are marketed is the responsibility of the airline. If they choose to market the seats in a manner that makes it beneficial for the consumer to not fly segments, that's their call.

Yes, but if you read the comments section you'll see that this may not be what it seems. While the airline can't cancel your onward segments, they might re-price them fi you still want to fly (which presumably you do).

So miss the first leg and the rest of the ticket might be $500 more expensive (that is, the fare appliacble from the point you now wish to board).
 
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