German district court rules in favor of pax in hidden city case

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Old Feb 13, 19, 11:04 pm
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If this is the kind of marketing and customer treatment mesaage LH want to have in the news and social media.. they should go ahead. They made the pricing system how it is and I can not image a court will force people to fly. Interesting to see any other company (train, taxi, etc) asking people - you booked, you paid and now you have to take it or I charge you extra.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 3:11 am
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
But surely, those of us and other maximizers who do this sort of thing are such a minority that it's hardly worth all the effort and money of pursuing? I have not even done it myself, having always needed to fly the flights booked, and that alone makes me think that really very few people do this in the end. The way we are writing and discussing here sounds as if millions of people are doing it. I know of one friend who was doing it, leaving from BUD instead of VIE, and I cautioned him to be very careful about doing it. Maybe once or twice, ok, but not every time.
I regularly do it when I am flying out of GVA TATL via ZRH. For my return flight, I book the latest flight ZRH-GVA in the evening while I arrive in the morning ZRH. I short check my bags to ZRH, go for meetings in the city of ZRH and, often, take the train back home rather than the last leg ZRH-GVA. This is a perfectly reasonnable and legitimate thing to do. Any COC obliging the passenger to fly should not be enforced by courts.

I could see a similar perfectly legitimate pattern for a Lugano resident leaving from MXP and short checking to ZRH.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 3:46 am
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I think LH is upset because this pax bought a LH ticket from FRA-TXL. If he had taken a train back to TXL I don't think LH would have gone this far.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 3:55 am
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Originally Posted by Nic33 View Post
I regularly do it when I am flying out of GVA TATL via ZRH. For my return flight, I book the latest flight ZRH-GVA in the evening while I arrive in the morning ZRH. I short check my bags to ZRH, go for meetings in the city of ZRH and, often, take the train back home rather than the last leg ZRH-GVA. This is a perfectly reasonnable and legitimate thing to do. Any COC obliging the passenger to fly should not be enforced by courts.

I could see a similar perfectly legitimate pattern for a Lugano resident leaving from MXP and short checking to ZRH.
Very interesting, I really didn't think about this. And now I am thinking about it, I am pretty sure I have done the same thing myself on the final ZRH-GVA leg. In fact, I have just thought of another, on AF: work had booked me MRS-CDG-LUX and vv, fully intending that I would not fly the return trip (in those days, 2003, a one way on this route was prohibitive). In fact, I did fly the return, but only as far as CDG. They let me short check my bag and leave the airport with no problem. I declared myself as a no show on the last flight, so they could give the seat to somebody else. Never had any issues. Only did it once, though.

As somebody posted above, the airlines have created this situation and these ticketing anomalies, so they have a bit of a cheek taking people to court about it. But now in Germany, with any competition wiped out, Lufthansa is flexing its muscles as the unchallenged monopoly. And it is no coincidence that the M&M programme has been reduced to even less value of its miserable previous self (re last year's change to a revenue based programme and the recent mileage increases for awards).
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Old Feb 14, 19, 5:21 am
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Any provision in general conditions that foresee that a no show by a passenger forfeits anything more than the leg on which he does not show is to my view "insolit" and should not be opposable to customers in general conditions, whatever leg, first or last, is concerned. The only industry where I can see a valid reason to "sanction" a no show is in education. If a student misses classes, there is a rational for preventing him to attend further classes. But in most industries that I can think about, there is no valid rational (hotel, restaurant, train etc).
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Old Feb 14, 19, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by worldclubber View Post
Another interesting thought: can airlines still deny award miles in a revenue based system when you pay for a flight you cannot use?
I missed a segment with an airline that uses a revenue based system. I was not credited the miles or prorated dollars for the missed segment.
Nor was I expecting to be credited for them.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 10:04 am
  #52  
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Originally Posted by HKG1111 View Post
If this is the kind of marketing and customer treatment mesaage LH want to have in the news and social media.. they should go ahead. They made the pricing system how it is and I can not image a court will force people to fly. Interesting to see any other company (train, taxi, etc) asking people - you booked, you paid and now you have to take it or I charge you extra.
The decision to sue the passenger was clearly thought through given that the anti-fraud provisions and the hidden city practices have been present for years. The software to detect this is hardly sophisticated either.

Under the presumption that LH wants to deter regular use of HCT and that people who do so are likely to have status and have accumulated benefits for redemptions and other goodies, it would have been far easier to simply dump them out of the program and revoke status. Moreover, simply "banning" an individual who owes you money until he pays up is simpler than initiating a lawsuit.

Methinks that LH wants the media attention and believes that it will deter the practice more than encourage it.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
That said the ruling cannot be used by others, the legal system in Germany is unlike the Anglo-Saxon system where precendents count and contracts have to go into or cover every possibile potential situation. So even if the appeal is decided in favor of LH, they have to sue each customer separately and each case is heard individually.
Good summary of the differences as this will be important for those not familiar with the German legal system.

Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
shadenfreude that someone who could play the system got 'caught'.
I believe you mean Schadenfreude (and I had some Schadenfreude in seeing your error)
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Old Feb 15, 19, 4:20 am
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Originally Posted by tracon View Post
I missed a segment with an airline that uses a revenue based system. I was not credited the miles or prorated dollars for the missed segment.
Nor was I expecting to be credited for them.
Up to now, I also never expected it.

But when you look at it from a different angle: the airline moved from a bum in seat model to a revenue based model and they probably didnít give you any money back for the missed flight.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The decision to sue the passenger was clearly thought through given that the anti-fraud provisions and the hidden city practices have been present for years. The software to detect this is hardly sophisticated either.

Under the presumption that LH wants to deter regular use of HCT and that people who do so are likely to have status and have accumulated benefits for redemptions and other goodies, it would have been far easier to simply dump them out of the program and revoke status. Moreover, simply "banning" an individual who owes you money until he pays up is simpler than initiating a lawsuit.

Methinks that LH wants the media attention and believes that it will deter the practice more than encourage it.
You fail to understand that there is nothing wrong in the booking a ticket and using the last leg and certainly neither asking for money nor "simply "banning" an individual" is legal. You further fail to understand that airlines in Germany have a legal obligation to carry you as a passenger. Again: We are in a civilized system.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by Flying Lawyer View Post
You fail to understand that there is nothing wrong in the booking a ticket and using the last leg and certainly neither asking for money nor "simply "banning" an individual" is legal. You further fail to understand that airlines in Germany have a legal obligation to carry you as a passenger. Again: We are in a civilized system.
I think you are too idealistic.
Fraud is not ok in Germany nor in whole semi-socialistic EU.
Heavily discounted ticket comes with obligations (on current case to fly certain route). There is no law and never will be that somebody have "rights" for cheap ticket.
If you want special priced and conditioned ticket you need to accept conditions. If you do not and try to cheat you need to be punished (it is absolutely normal to force person pay difference on between ticket he/she bought and ticket valid for the route he/she took finally).
On this case I (even as a passenger) am fully on the side of Lufthansa.
To ban somebody --it is more than easy -- as soon that person enter his/her details, the ultra-cheap price become no more available.
nice and easy and all the EU courts remain silent. As they should remain on such case.

For some strange reason some people think that not following agreement (pax got cheap fare with special conditions) is ok.
No, in civilized word it is not.
If some want flexible ticket -- go to purchase it!
And not try to make free of charge flexible much cheaper ticket what was offered only with certain and very tight conditions.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 7:24 am
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The COC and fare rules of the ticket are the contract.
Fine!
But that doesn't mean that all COC terms are automatically enforceable. A court will examine the COC, which LH relies against the consumer on. It is very likely that courts declares them invalid. With them being invalid -> LH will loose the case.

Imagine -> you get sick at the connection airport. You don't use the next flight. Next to the fact that the passenger may has to purchase a new ticket, the passenger is on the hook to pay thousands of Euros that the airline can calculate at free will.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by Raul_R View Post
I think you are too idealistic.
Fraud is not ok in Germany nor in whole semi-socialistic EU.
Heavily discounted ticket comes with obligations (on current case to fly certain route). There is no law and never will be that somebody have "rights" for cheap ticket.
If you want special priced and conditioned ticket you need to accept conditions. If you do not and try to cheat you need to be punished (it is absolutely normal to force person pay difference on between ticket he/she bought and ticket valid for the route he/she took finally).
On this case I (even as a passenger) am fully on the side of Lufthansa.
To ban somebody --it is more than easy -- as soon that person enter his/her details, the ultra-cheap price become no more available.
nice and easy and all the EU courts remain silent. As they should remain on such case.

For some strange reason some people think that not following agreement (pax got cheap fare with special conditions) is ok.
No, in civilized word it is not.
If some want flexible ticket -- go to purchase it!
And not try to make free of charge flexible much cheaper ticket what was offered only with certain and very tight conditions.
My 2 cents:
If you sign a contract then you should follow what you have agreed to. And if not you need to pay the other party damages.

If you skip the last segment you are not breaking a law.

But this is different: The rule is in the conditions of sale. And often courts in Germany have ruled that these type of conditions are invalid and such not enforceable. Most likely (in my humble opinion) this case will end in a similar way.
I know that in some countries customers are conditioned to believe everything large companies tell you. Fortunately over here we have laws like the AGB-law. Yo can read more here (google translate works well and it also has a link to the full text of the law): https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGB-Gesetz
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Old Feb 15, 19, 7:57 am
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Originally Posted by Raul_R View Post
I think you are too idealistic.
Fraud is not ok in Germany nor in whole semi-socialistic EU.
Heavily discounted ticket comes with obligations (on current case to fly certain route). There is no law and never will be that somebody have "rights" for cheap ticket.
If you want special priced and conditioned ticket you need to accept conditions. If you do not and try to cheat you need to be punished (it is absolutely normal to force person pay difference on between ticket he/she bought and ticket valid for the route he/she took finally).
On this case I (even as a passenger) am fully on the side of Lufthansa.
To ban somebody --it is more than easy -- as soon that person enter his/her details, the ultra-cheap price become no more available.
nice and easy and all the EU courts remain silent. As they should remain on such case.

For some strange reason some people think that not following agreement (pax got cheap fare with special conditions) is ok.
No, in civilized word it is not.
If some want flexible ticket -- go to purchase it!
And not try to make free of charge flexible much cheaper ticket what was offered only with certain and very tight conditions.
I think that noboby is arguing that certain fares come with restrictions, among others restrictions concerning the possibility for the passenger to choose another flight. The question here is whether the airline can set forth in its general conditions an obligation for the passenger to fly (or otherwise have his fare recalculated at very unfavorable conditions). I am not educated enough in German law to be able to assess the case from a legal perspective, but I would hope that those conditions are not enforceable. I even believe that a passenger may choose to fly or not fly any leg without forfeiting any of its rights to fly on the ticket.

If airlines want to segment the market, they must be creative and find other means, but not sanction passengers who drop certain of their legs.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 11:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Raul_R View Post
I think you are too idealistic.
Fraud is not ok in Germany nor in whole semi-socialistic EU.
Heavily discounted ticket comes with obligations (on current case to fly certain route). There is no law and never will be that somebody have "rights" for cheap ticket.
If you want special priced and conditioned ticket you need to accept conditions. If you do not and try to cheat you need to be punished (it is absolutely normal to force person pay difference on between ticket he/she bought and ticket valid for the route he/she took finally).
On this case I (even as a passenger) am fully on the side of Lufthansa.
To ban somebody --it is more than easy -- as soon that person enter his/her details, the ultra-cheap price become no more available.
nice and easy and all the EU courts remain silent. As they should remain on such case.

For some strange reason some people think that not following agreement (pax got cheap fare with special conditions) is ok.
No, in civilized word it is not.
If some want flexible ticket -- go to purchase it!
And not try to make free of charge flexible much cheaper ticket what was offered only with certain and very tight conditions.
I am not “idealistic” bur a German educated attorney at law having practiced in this jurisdiction for 28 years and very familiar with the rule of law which fortunately governs our world. Even though you consider it socialistic.

There is neither “fraud” under German law nor any “contract” that you have to fly all legs. The COC are not incorporated and therefore nor part of the contract in most OTA bookings and so more in normal TA bookings.

PS. Is I fair to assume that your home is Estonia but thar you are US American?






Last edited by Flying Lawyer; Feb 16, 19 at 12:02 am
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