Man Rebooks Ticket to Use Lounge 36 Times; Is Sued and Loses

This is the entrance to the lounges operated by Lufthansa at Munich Airport, where a man allegedly used the Business Lounge free of charge over the course of a year. Photograph by FlyerTalk member ant_west. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by ant_west.

If this story is true, it is indeed beyond chutzpah on the part of an unidentified man who allegedly purchased a business class ticket and rebooked his flight free of charge 35 additional times primarily for free use of an airport lounge over the course of a year.

A judgement of 1,980 Euro — or 55 Euro per visit to the airport lounge — by the District Court of Munich was awarded to Lufthansa as the result of a lawsuit initiated by representatives of the airline; and the amount is 1,235 more Euro than the man spent on his ticket between Munich and Zurich which he purchased for 745 Euro.

The man supposedly took complete advantage of the business lounge at Munich Airport extensively for the consumption of drinks and snacks as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets; and he also used the showers and conference rooms. According to an opinion provided by the court, passengers have an obligation to cooperate with the terms of the contract in exchange for the performance of services; and in this case, the man would therefore have to fly as a passenger with the ticket he purchased in exchange for using the services of the airport lounge, as the airline had incurred costs by hosting the man at the lounge.

Many FlyerTalk members agreed with the ruling of the District Court of Munich.

This story is eerily similar to the apocryphal tale about a Chinese man who used a first-class airline ticket greater than 300 times on China Eastern Airlines to supposedly get free meals for a year at a VIP lounge at Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in Shaanxi, China — but as far as I know, that story was never proven to be true, which is why I did not report on it here at The Gate when it originally was being circulated back in January earlier this year.

I have been to some very nice airport lounges while traveling; and I have been to some which were one step above being a complete dump and a waste of my time — as this lounge with photography by FlyerTalk member MahiMahi524 seems to illustrate as an example. Traveling can be very stressful — being screened at the airport security checkpoint, delayed or canceled flights, long layovers, crowds, uncomfortable seats, inconsiderate seat mates, tray tables which look like they had never been cleaned — and many times, there is nothing like the oasis of a well-appointed airport lounge in which to relax, read a magazine or watch some television. You can have a bite to eat and something to drink to refresh and replenish yourself. You can even take a shower — although I never quite understood the need to shower in a lounge; I have never done so. I personally prefer to shower in the privacy of a hotel room…

…but I do not care whether or not it is equipped with such amenities as a unisex sauna: even the best airport lounge does not trump the comfort of my own home, where there are no crowds and no airport security; and where I have all of the peace, quiet and privacy that I want. It is clean and comfortable. I am well-fed. Open the window shades and you will see nice views of the woods outside. There is always a clean washroom and shower available to me — and I would rather take a long shower at home rather than in an airport lounge where there could be a person next in line waiting to use it.

I certainly cannot imagine saying to myself, “Hmm…I am hungry and really need a shower as well as a place to sleep. I think I will leave my home and head on over to the airport, buy a ticket which I do not intend to use and will later ask for a full refund, go through the airport security checkpoint, and take advantage of the lounge whenever I want in the meantime.” I would much rather stay home where I do not have to go through a security checkpoint to access and use the amenities in my home. To do that just to access an airport lounge is already not worth it to me…

…plus, let us take into account opportunity costs and what would become sunk costs: whether it is by car, bus or train, you need to get to the airport. That also takes time as well as money. If the trip is by car, you have to pay for parking, fuel and wear and tear from the use of the car…

…and if you imbibe in alcoholic beverages, I hope that you do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you are finished with the lounge. I will never forget that drunk driver whose vehicle hit the rear of my car and spun it around 360 degrees before it finally came to a rest at the side of a ditch where thick weeds cushioned my car. This was at 6:45 in the morning on a Sunday several years ago. Thankfully, I was not injured; but the car was considered totaled even though I could still drive it — and I had the pleasure of seeing the culprit immediately get arrested by the police after failing a sobriety test at the scene…

…but I digress, as usual.

I do not care how few people are in the lounge: you still have to deal with people — whether they are inexperienced travelers or those who are also known as DYKWIA.

To reiterate, airport lounges are welcome sights for sore eyes when traveling extensively. You are already at the airport — so if you have access to one, why not use it? Many people even pay for the privilege of using airport lounges even if they do not have elite level status which includes complimentary access to airport lounges.

The inconvenience and the costs are simply not worth it to me to go through the trouble of traveling to the airport specifically to partake in an experience at an airport lounge, so I cannot understand why the two people mentioned in this article would do it repeatedly for some “free” food, drinks and services. Perhaps I am crazy — well, I can be — or maybe I am missing something; so I will ask you: if you had the opportunity, would you consider undertaking a special trip to the airport solely to go to a lounge to eat your meals, shower and relax while you are not traveling…

…and if so, would you do it repeatedly on the same ticket?

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Comments (Showing 5 of 5)

  • garydpdx at 8:58pm July 02, 2014

    I could see using lounge facilities twice or at most three times, if your flight is cancelled once or twice, and you take a much later flight. Just this week, I could have arrived at O’Hare to find my flight cancelled and instead of trying for a flight the next day, arrange a couple of Chicago area meetings and leaving to return a couple of days later. Just in time for Arthur hitting the Northeast, so stay in Chicago for the July 4th holiday weekend …

  • flying_geek at 3:43am July 05, 2014

    Well, maybe he had a coach ticket to a different destination when he used the lounge.

  • kirkwoodj at 10:34am July 07, 2014

    No need to drive in Munich, at least. I agree with the judgment.

  • sethb at 3:40pm July 22, 2014

    I’ve showered at a lounge: overnight flight, arriving early morning and unable to check in to my hotel room for another 6 hours.

  • uclalum at 6:52am August 24, 2014

    I shower whenever I can in a lounge for TPAC flights. I may got TCON, have a few hours in LAX, so why not get cleaned and put on some clean britches? It is even better upon arrival in LAX, THe I feel clean and fresh for my final domestic leg, versus smelly, sweaty, clamy, with a hint of BO, greasy hair and face…. (the key is to have that extra set of clean clothes with you).

    When i was leaving Vietnam for LA via China, it was so humid I was sweating profusely as I packed my bag and got to the airport. But I didn’t want to stay in shorts for the long haul. SO had a bite to eat in the lounge, cooled down a bit, then showered and put my pants on, Much better. Had I done that at my hotel my pants woudl have been soaked in sweat.

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