Old Jan 14, 14, 7:38 am
Moderator: Lufthansa Miles & More, External Miles & Points Resources
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: MUC
Programs: LH SEN
Posts: 39,572
What is the origin of the apparently quite different handling of irregularities within the Lufthansa group? According to various reports re-bookings by Swiss during irregularities, even onto other airlines, can be done over the phone without issues, but Lufthansa can't do it.

In principle, all airlines inside the Lufthansa group (LH, OS, LX, SN) have a uniform process in place for handling re-bookings during irregularities. There are clear instructions as to the order in which alternatives should be checked -- first a rebooking onto an alternative flight by the original carrier, followed by alternatives within the Lufthansa group. If that is not an option, flights operated by our partners within the Star Alliance are considered, and then as a last resort, other airlines outside our alliances.
In this way the passengers on Lufthansa should get a comparable service in case of a rebooking, like on Swiss.
Particularly in the case of a cancellation, the use of outside airlines is on the list of valid options, as long as there are no alternatives available within the Lufthansa group. This option is also available via our telephone service centers.
However, it is important to differentiate if the irregularity occurs within 24 hours from departure, or a rather long term irregularity that is determined more than 24 hours before departure. The conventions in the airline business require that other airlines first agree to re-bookings that occur more than 24 hours before departure. In such cases a so-called “Reprotection Agreement” needs to negotiated with these airlines. Here in many cases the rebooking onto other airlines outside of the Star Alliance is not easily possible.

The customer experiences seem to be different: even some loyal elite customers describe the call center as 'useless'.

We have realized for a while now that the handling of irregularities must be improved, and we have started a number of improvement initiatives. Besides the above-mentioned options in the self-service area, we also started an empowerment initiative for the HON hotline that allows the agents to provide a solution-oriented service. The goal is to solve any problems to the satisfaction of the passenger during the first contact.

What is the situation with award tickets? Frequent fliers often have the impression that the call center refuses to help and a rebooking is practically possible only at the airport. Often the issue is that the call center only offers an alternative flight that has award seats available, none of which are usually available at short notice.

In principle the call center should have the same authority as an employee at the station. The provisions for re-bookings in case of irregularities are that they can rebook into the same class of service irrespective of booking class. This is generally also valid for award tickets. Why award tickets cause such issues could be because customers who don't have status end up at the wrong call center due to the division of work between Lufthansa and Miles & More. We will discuss this point further internally, since our standard is to offer the same alternatives in case of award tickets as for regular revenue tickets, that is, to offer the customer a viable alternative.

According to some experience reports of rebooking to other airlines the passengers are required to contact the ticket desk at the airport for a reissue of the ticket. Why can't the call center reissue the ticket so one can directly check-in online and avoid the runaround at the airport?

Generally a rebooking is a two-stage process. At first the new flights are reserved and then the actual issue or reissue of the ticket takes place. The 'service center' sends the booking internally to our 'fulfillment center', which takes over ticketing.
Especially during major flight irregularities we reach our capacity limits. We are currently working to better automate the issue and re-issue of tickets. The system is already being tested in 15 select markets. We want to roll out this system in approximately mid 2014, which gives us the capability to allow more tickets to be automatically re-issued.
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