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Need Advice: Lufthansa Pocketing Prem. Econ. Fare for Econ. Tickets

Need Advice: Lufthansa Pocketing Prem. Econ. Fare for Econ. Tickets

Old Apr 26, 22, 9:25 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2022
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Need Advice: Lufthansa Pocketing Prem. Econ. Fare for Econ. Tickets

I'm hoping some of you can provide some tactical expertise to a strange situation I find myself in with Lufthansa, Chase, and United.

1. Back in January, I booked an International itinerary from Austin to Olbia Sardinia via IAD and MUC, departing May 26th. I'm traveling with my wife, 6 year old, and what will be.a 5 month old baby. I was careful to pick out flights that had open Premium Economy bulkhead seats on the IAD to MUC leg (and corresponding return through FRA to IAH a month later).. I booked three Premium. Econ. tickets in the bulkhead, thinking we'd use the bassinet for the infant. I booked through Chase's UR portal with a combination of points and cash for about $8,600. The tickets were booked on Lufthansa, but United operated both transatlantic flights. I paid roughly $3K-$3.5K more for the 3 Prem. Econ. tickets than I would have for Economy.

2. A couple of weeks ago, I received a notice from Chase that Lufthansa had changed my fare from Premium Econ. to Coach and asking if I wanted to cancel. I checked the seat assignments on United's website, and it looks like United changed the plane flying the IAD to MUC route, so that there was no longer a premium. economy section. Lufthansa just reassigned us seats in Coach. Tickets are now $4K each just to sit in coach, so I quickly realized that just canceling and rebooking was not going to work.

3. I've spent 6-8 hours on the phone with Chase, United, and Lufthansa over the past couple of weeks, trying to get one of three solutions:
a. Upgraded to business on that flight
b. Just refunded the fare diff between what I paid for Prem. Econ. and what I would have paid for Economy
c. Booked on a similar itinerary that goes through EWR and has Prem. Econ. bulkhead open.

So far, the most I've been offered is a 20K Ultimate Rewards miles gratuity by Chase. A level 3 support person at Chase says she called Lufthansa and "The airline did not give much emphasis on the seat selection we provided them with from your complaint."

Has anyone faced similar issues? Can Lufthansa really just keep my money for a higher fare class without providing it?
TBond007 is offline  
Old Apr 26, 22, 9:41 am
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Join Date: May 2009
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According to EU261, that's pretty much what they can do for such changes. Imho there should be a fare difference paid, but assuming you booked a deep discounted Y+ ticket, the fare difference to full fare Y is effectively negative.

If you want to fly premium economy (a free upgrade to Business is NOT happening) for the price you paid, then check other transatlantic routes that might have them, ideally with LH Group (Lufthansa or Swiss are your best shots) and ask to be rebooked onto such a connection.

So yes, 3c) is the way to go, but be open for another routing if "EWR" doesn't have any availability.
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Old Apr 26, 22, 9:55 am
  #3  
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Thanks for pointing me to EU 261 - super helpful. It looks like I was downgraded from class G to class Y. But I think you're saying they base the fare difference on what I paid for G in January vs what I would pay for Y today? Not what I would have paid for Y in Jan? If that's the case, it seems like pretty much any time they made last second downgrades, the passenger would be SOL, since fares skyrocket in price in the few days leading up to flights.
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Old Apr 26, 22, 11:23 am
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Fare classes (not travel classes like Premium Economy, Business, Economy) are having fixed prices, so full-fare economy (which Y fare class is) will always cost and arm and a leg, no matter when (re-)booked. And yes, when there isn't Premium Economy available, you'll be downgraded to full fare Y (in fact, this might earn more miles, and for European feeder flights, the feeder for a long-haul Premium Economy was always booked in Y, which gave a neat mileage bonus)

I've had a case where I was downgraded to Y (from a cheap Premium Economy) due to the same reasons as yourself here, but took the gamble. Flight eventually was overbooked, and back-then SEN in Y is (almost) first to get upgraded, so it paid off with a free upgrade (operational) into Business class at the airport. But that's pure gambling, and I only did so because I had to be on that specific flight.

So, no matter when they downgrade you (as long it's 15+ days before the flight), unless you paid an expensive premium economy - or even business class fare - an advance downgrade to Y will rarely yield much if any cash, and that's not what you should be looking for.

Thus, just as in your case, it's best to negotiate with the airline and find alternative routings, where your desired (and paid-for) class of travel is available. They do have quite some flexibility in such cases, but prefer of course to rebook within their own company, or in the case of Lufthansa, without Lufthansa Group. But I know cases where they'd re-book someone from LH onto SQ Premium Economy, so that's not unheard of. But you need to do some research yourself, because they won't really look into all available options, and prefer to tell you "tough luck, here is your full refund" unless you actively come up with an alternative and don't like what they offered you.
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Old Apr 26, 22, 11:45 am
  #5  
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Thanks so much. Particularly good to know about priority for Biz class upgrade, even if it's a gamble. I'll try to get booked on the other itinerary.
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Old Apr 26, 22, 12:52 pm
  #6  
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LH forum is the best place for this thread. https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luft...iles-more-495/
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Old Apr 27, 22, 4:45 am
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The fare difference would/should be calculated from the least expensive Y fare available on the day of purchase - not full Y.
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