New "Light" Flight Class means ZERO bags for star alliance gold members

Old Oct 8, 15, 4:18 pm
  #1  
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New "Light" Flight Class means ZERO bags for star alliance gold members

I just flew Austrian air and learned that as of October 1st, 2015, the Lufthansa group created a new "light" flight class that doesn't allow any free luggage for Star Alliance Gold members. My group would have had to pay over 1000 euros if the woman at the check in hadn't reduced our fee to 500 euro, whereas if we had flown in September our baggage would have been free.

It says on the Star Alliance website that all Gold members are entitled to at least one bag or extra weight on top of the regular allowance of the flight class. It seems Lufthansa has disregarded the rules of the group and I'm not sure how this is legal. I've already written the airline and the Star Alliance group, any other ideas for fighting these charges would be appreciated. thanks
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Old Oct 9, 15, 1:58 am
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A similar expression of disgust and agony is already in progress here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/star-...ght-fares.html
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Old Oct 9, 15, 2:15 am
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@ihateturbulance

You really make me angry!
I do not see you post as anything newsworthy. This topic has been discussed in numerous other posts/threads.

It says on the Star Alliance website that all Gold members are entitled to at least one bag or extra weight on top of the regular allowance of the flight class.
The Star Alliance website does not say that. Please quote me the relevant section!

It seems Lufthansa has disregarded the rules of the group and I'm not sure how this is legal.
I think it is legal. Swiss and Air New Zealand has been practising the same, as well.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 4:41 am
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New "Light" Flight Class means ZERO bags for star alliance gold members

@ warakorn

The Star Alliance website does not say that. Please quote me the relevant section!
From the Star Alliance Website at http://www.staralliance.com/en/benef...silver-status/

Extra Baggage Allowance 3
As a Gold Status holder you can choose not to travel light. We allow an additional 20 kg (44 pounds) where the weight concept applies, or one additional piece of luggage where the piece concept applies.

There is a footnote which says: "This benefit may only be available if travelling on two or more Star Alliance member airlines on a single ticket. Please contact the Star Alliance member airline with whom you will check-in with for further details."

What this means effectively is that if your booking is only with a single star alliance carrier, that carrier can choose whether or not you get a free bag. This is pretty underhanded: it's one of the many reasons I decided not to bother maintaining my status with OS/LH: they just don't really get the concept of a loyalty program and they haven't structured theirs in a way that incentivizes anyone to fly with them.

The theory behind the "Light" fare concept is that these big airlines like LH can compete with diso.... airlines like FR by cutting out all of the extras--no baggage, no earning miles etc... The problem with implementation is that nowadays tickets are usually purchased through travel companies like ebookers etc because they can sell cheaper than the airlines themselves, and when booking with them you have no way of knowing if you've gotten the "Light" fare or not. So passengers end up essentially being held hostage at the airport and forced to fork over substantial sums of money, often meaning the airlines end up making more on a Light ticket than they would if the passenger had just bought a standard ticket.

What's particularly shady about the way OS/LH is implementing this is that they are soaking their and their partners' most loyal customers. FR's obscenely high costs to check a bag at the airport are there by design: statistically a certain percentage of people are dumb/incurious enough not to bother checking and will just show up with a bag helpless and forced to pay the high fee at the airport--these guys enable the rest of us to fly for 19 each way. I am fine with FR making money off of ignorance.

They way OS/LH is doing this I am not fine with: they are soaking loyal customers and seasoned, experienced travelers, many of whom actively try to maintain status precisely so that they can have benefits like free checked bags.

@ihateturbulence I would tell OS/LH that you intend to report this treatment to the airline you have status with as part of a demand for compensation. You still probably won't get any compensation if you were just on OS, but threatening to report them will definitely increase your chances. If OS/LH don't reimburse you for the baggage costs report this treatment to the airline you have status on and ask them to reciprocally deny benefits to OS/LH Senators.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:03 am
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While I agree this was extensively discussed elsewhere, still, the wording is pretty clear on the SA website.

As a Gold Status holder you can choose not to travel light. We allow an additional 20 kg (44 pounds) where the weight concept applies, or one additional piece of luggage where the piece concept applies.

Zero + 20 is 20 and zero + one is one.
The only way to argue here is that neither the weight nor piece concept apply. Which is not what I would expect anyone to assume.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:09 am
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I understand your logic.

However, where is that logic stated on the Star Alliance website?

I am reading that statement on http://www.staralliance.com/en/benef...silver-status/

3. This benefit may only be available if travelling on two or more Star Alliance member airlines on a single ticket. Please contact the Star Alliance member airline with whom you will check-in with for further details.
As I read it, there is no legal right for the status passenger to receive one free bag.

I mean I am venting about the LH group policy, as well. LH still offers very expensive one-way fares (e.g. LHR-FRA-VIE), where the LIGHT fare ticket costs almost EUR 500.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:15 am
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Originally Posted by warakorn View Post
However, where is that logic stated on the Star Alliance website?
Right, it isn't. But I do think it is fair for anyone to interpret it that way. No idea about the legal side of it.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:24 am
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Originally Posted by guidospizza View Post
...

Zero + 20 is 20 and zero + one is one.
The only way to argue here is that neither the weight nor piece concept apply. Which is not what I would expect anyone to assume.
LIGHT fares are hand baggage only fares:
Therefore handbaggage only + 1 bag = still hand baggage only.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:32 am
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Originally Posted by bdk234 View Post
The problem with implementation is that nowadays tickets are usually purchased through travel companies like ebookers etc because they can sell cheaper than the airlines themselves, and when booking with them you have no way of knowing if you've gotten the "Light" fare or not. So passengers end up essentially being held hostage at the airport and forced to fork over substantial sums of money, often meaning the airlines end up making more on a Light ticket than they would if the passenger had just bought a standard ticket.
I would like to disagree on that. Every booking site nowadays either shows the fact that these are HBO fares or posts a clear disclaimer mentioning that there will be additional charges for certain services. If the buyer is really going for the cheapest possible fare displayed, then they are usually aware to look for traps.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:48 am
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I agree with the rant in post #4 above. I consider myself an experienced enough flyer these to know what I am doing, mostly, and I reckon I am attentive enough to details as I work my way through any given booking process. I was however caught out on two occasions in the last 2 years with non LH group airlines and paid a substantial fee at the airport for checking a bag that I thought was included. Which it usually is when you travel with a "full service carrier". I think the low cost airlines are much more honest in this respect in that you know what you are going to get in the a la carte pricing system for services. I don't like low cost carriers but I have far fewer issues with them than I expect to have.

So much so that I am now looking at Ryanair for my next trip to Lanzarote and find that when I add all the extras together (but not catering) I can get there and back for EUR165. And they will cater their planes properly, unlike that rubbishy non event of an airline called airberlin! What on earth is Etihad doing with an airline like that, which has absolutely no 'product' whatsoever?

Concerning status benefits, I never count on those these days, as the benefits progressively get eroded and enhanced away. As I said elsewhere, the only alliance that is consistent and gives me no problems is the Skyteam Sky Priority concept (Flying Blue Gold and upwards). That's one major reason why I stick with it.

Last edited by Concerto; Oct 9, 15 at 5:50 am Reason: spelling
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Old Oct 9, 15, 5:54 am
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Originally Posted by Rambuster View Post
LIGHT fares are hand baggage only fares:
Therefore handbaggage only + 1 bag = still hand baggage only.
You can really bring two pieces of handluggage and a personal item in coach ?
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Old Oct 9, 15, 6:34 am
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The problem with implementation is that nowadays tickets are usually purchased through travel companies like ebookers etc because they can sell cheaper than the airlines themselves, and when booking with them you have no way of knowing if you've gotten the "Light" fare or not.
Believe me or not! This problem has been solved already. With the introduction of the GDS distribution charge (EUR 16), these travel bookings sites will face an uphill battle to sell that ticket cheaper than LH direct. I am quite sure that LH will raise that fee over the next year, effectively cutting travel agencies, who book through a GDS, out of the game.
Therefore, people will increasingly book on lh.com, where there is a clear disclaimer on the Hand Baggage Only fares.

I can give you another example. Our company secretary usually books the flights for us for business trips. She refused to book a flight on ebookers/expedia/travelocity etc., because she said, you cannot choose during the booking process whether you want to check in bags or not. She insisted to book the flight only on the airline homepage to have 100% clarity. In my eyes, she was right.
Its pretty smart of the airlines to offer these HBO (hand baggage only) fares. It's not only about the increased revenue. It's another trick to cut out the online travel agencies.


My group would have had to pay over 1000 euros if the woman at the check in hadn't reduced our fee to 500 euro,
My theory is that you've anticipated that each status passenger on that flight can check in two bags. Thus, you assumed each passenger may check in one bag for free. In today's world you must do your homework. Last week I have almost hit the booking button on a BA shorthaul flight from LHR. It was also a hand-baggage only fare and I assumed as OWS I would get one bag free. But then, I wanted to recheck the rules and (after some digging) found a statement on BA.com that hand-baggage only fare are excluded from the "OWS 1 extra bag" benefit. As a consequence I have booked with another airline. As often1 has noted: it is about consumer choice. Since I know I will have lots of baggage (2 big suitcases), I booked another airlines who offers better deal on baggage.

Last edited by warakorn; Oct 9, 15 at 6:57 am
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Old Oct 9, 15, 6:46 am
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First and foremost, the fact that there is no checked luggage allowance is not only disclosed in the "fine print" (defined on FT as anything which people don't like and don't think ought to apply to them), but it is apparent on the website which specifically states at the column header: "Hand Luggage Only: Economy Light." Other columns offer other services. Thus, even the most hardened self-entitled whiner can't complain about this one.

Second, the *A website does not say what OP asserts and that is for a reason. This is it.

Third, in a day and age when air carriers provide generous carry on allowances which allow the average traveler to pack for 5-7 days without need of checked luggage, the outmoded view that "all full service carriers provide free checked luggage" is simply outmoded. BA offers such fares, LH offers such fares, and many others will move in that direction. Why? So that people who want cheaper fares can purchase those and people who feel the need to check a bag can purchase fares which include baggage.

In the end this is about consumer choice. Consumer choice is always a good thing. The fact that I spend an extra 5 minutes considering what I need to pack allows me to save money. Whether you value that is up to you.
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Old Oct 9, 15, 6:56 am
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Third, in a day and age when air carriers provide generous carry on allowances which allow the average traveler to pack for 5-7 days without need of checked luggage, the outmoded view that "all full service carriers provide free checked luggage" is simply outmoded. BA offers such fares, LH offers such fares, and many others will move in that direction. Why? So that people who want cheaper fares can purchase those and people who feel the need to check a bag can purchase fares which include baggage.
These trend is also a lifesafer for the troubled newly-built BER (Berlin) airport. The papers had been reporting that the baggage reclaim areas are too small to handle all the volume.
Guess what! With the introduction of HBO fares among most carriers, passenger will check in less and less bags, thus, the baggage reclaim area at BER does not have to be remodelled.
Its good news for BER! Congratulations on the foresight of the BER planers and architects! This is something they got right.

The next big thing will be to deny status passengers lounge access on LIGHT fares.

The Star Alliance website is already taking care of that "exception":
1. Guests must enter with an eligible Star Alliance Gold customer and must depart on a Star Alliance airline, though not necessarily on the same flight. Status level benefits vary among frequent flyer programmes.
We can expect LH to change the benefits. The other Star Carriers will follow.

Last edited by oliver2002; Oct 9, 15 at 7:05 am Reason: please use multiquote
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Old Oct 9, 15, 8:23 am
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i dont think it is made very obvious that Light fares are exempt from *A baggage benefit, but that is just my personal opinion


booking page - many would ignore the listed baggage part because we've been conditioned from hundreds to literally thousands of flights under status that we have additional baggage bonus. it would reason to add here (1 x Hand Baggage only *no free checked baggage even for frequent flyers)




next page - still hidden. same rationale as before. why explore it if this baggage policy runs contrary to years of flying history



lastly, links goes to a catch-all baggage page. the first sentence highlighted, only implies but does not make explicit the Light vs *S/*G situation.

and then buried on the bottom is this bit about Light fare. that the sentence is mostly repetion of the sentence on the top makes it a bit confusing





not going to split hairs here and claim LX is being deceitful, but it obviously is not well-communicated this new fare class and fare policy
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