How to escalate to Lufthansa management??

Old Dec 10, 19, 2:42 am
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How to escalate to Lufthansa management??

Hi All,

Its a bit of a long story, but I have provided some background below, however the main thing I want to know is how do I go about contacting Lufthanasa management as their customer services have been useless.

So, the very short version of the story.

I booked return flights from London to Johannesburg with Lufthansa (via Munich and Frankfurt).
The outbound MUC-JNB flight was operated by SAA, which was cancelled 3 days before my flight due to industrial action (16th Nov).

Lufthansa would not rebook me on another flight as their internal system didnt show any cancelations (even though lufthansa.com website showed it, as did SAA and my booking within the Lufthansa app.
Finally 3hrs before I had to leave home for the airport I had a confirmed ticket, but i'm sure if I hadnt been so pushy I wouldnt have made it to JNB as it was only 2hrs after I arrived (a day earlier) in JNB that Lufthansa sent me a message to say my orginal flight was cancelled.
Customer services always refused to let me speak to a manager (or the phone line would drop), their Twitter team would always just say contact customer services, and now I have a complaint open about the way LUFTHANSA dealt with the cancellation they have told me they forwarded it on to SAA, which is of no use!

I'm at a loss to know how to escalate this.... 5 star airline??
What followed was 2 days of stress and over 7 hrs on the phone ttying to get rebooked onto another flight. Eventually they agreed with me it was cancelled but then as the system did not see it, my re-booked ticket was cancelled 'By the system' (apparently).
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Old Dec 10, 19, 2:46 am
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I’m not sure what you want resolution of. Do you simply want an apology? It sounds like you got to JNB at or about the time you were supposed to, correct? When airlines are teetering in the edge of bankruptcy, it’s always a bit dicey, and the best IT system can’t change that. What was your interaction with LH to be accommodated on another flight?
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:02 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
I’m not sure what you want resolution of. Do you simply want an apology? It sounds like you got to JNB at or about the time you were supposed to, correct? When airlines are teetering in the edge of bankruptcy, it’s always a bit dicey, and the best IT system can’t change that. What was your interaction with LH to be accommodated on another flight?
I want to know how Lufthansa intend to compensate me for losses which THEY caused, (not SAA), by being totally incompetent.

I ended up losing a days work, as well as having to cancel (without refund) and rebook rental car, plus I had to book a hotel for the extra night, and also incured extra travel costs (I had to take the train to the airport as I was unable to get a lift for the re-booked flight).
Although its not alot of money in the grand scheme of things, its still nealry £400, and Lufthansa have Zero customer support.
Last time I had an issue on BA (IFE not working on both outbound in return flights), I opened a complaint and was called within 24hrs by a manager and given 25,000 Avios.... thats how customer services should be, not trying to dodge the customer!

My interaction was around 15 telephone calls totaling over 7 hrs, and at one point being called a liar and that I should just go to the airport as planned as my flight wasnt cancelled. Again, this is unacceptable.
Regardless of their internal IT system, it was clear from their website as well as SAA website that the flight was cancelled so why couldnt they over ride the system?
I have a document a timeline of everthing that happened which I dont mind posting but im not sure you'd have the will to live aftering reading it.

Last edited by npturner; Dec 10, 19 at 3:06 am Reason: Typo
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:09 am
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Is your story, that your SAA flight was canceled due to strike and LH has rebooked you, so you've made it to your destination only 2 hours after the scheduled time?

Or is your story, that you get much much much worried about something and that LH doesn't offer the right channels for Eco guests without a status to support them?

but i'm sure if I hadnt been so pushy I wouldnt have made it to JNB
Actually I'm sure, that if you would have got rebooked to the same flight even if you didn't do anything before. You made yourself some bad days for nothing.

Some people get worried much much much because of smaller issues and others don't. That is a fact of life, which doesn't need to get escalated to LH's management.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:28 am
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LH rebooked you, albeit not as quickly as you would have liked, for a cancellation caused by one of their partners, for out of pocket expenses that LH wasn’t liable for travel insurance is where to go.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:32 am
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Originally Posted by thbe View Post
Is your story, that your SAA flight was canceled due to strike and LH has rebooked you, so you've made it to your destination only 2 hours after the scheduled time?

Or is your story, that you get much much much worried about something and that LH doesn't offer the right channels for Eco guests without a status to support them?



Actually I'm sure, that if you would have got rebooked to the same flight even if you didn't do anything before. You made yourself some bad days for nothing.

Some people get worried much much much because of smaller issues and others don't. That is a fact of life, which doesn't need to get escalated to LH's management.
The fact that the SAA flight was cancelled is not the main issue, its how that cancelation was handled by the booking airline (Lufthansa). I actually arrived in JNB 24hr earlier, hence the extra costs involved in terms of hotels, rental car and loss of a days work.
I wouldnt have been rebooked if 'I just didnt do anything' as Lufthansa only contacted me AFTER I arrived in JNB to tell me the orginal flight was cancelled. They even acknowledged this.

The problem was, when I finally spoke to someone who looked further than their internal system he tried to book me on another cariier but said nothing was available on any airline for the original day of travel (16th Nov) or the next day, but that I could travel a day earlier on SAA.
I said i'd have to try and get time off work, and he agreed to add a note to my booking so I could call back in to change the flight (by this point I had already been on the phone to them 6-7 times trying to get them to agree the flight was actually cancelled).
When I called back to confirm I could fly a day earlier I was told I couldnt as the flight was not cancelled on their system, and so the visous circle started again. After 45mins the guy actually apologiesed for calling me a liar and booked me on the 15th Nov flight. 2 hrs later it disappeared from my booking in the app. I called in and was told the system had removed it as there was no cancelation showing. This happened 4 more times over a 18hr period, each time I was told not to worry it was finally sorted.

If you are really interested in what happened I can post the whole timeline of events/calls as I have never experienced anthing like this before.....not with BA, Virgin, or even Ryanair/EasyJet.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:37 am
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I'm still not following your timeline, but I'll give it a try.

You ended up flying out to JNB a day earlier because that was all LH could book you on. The SAA service was cancelled because of industrial action. This caused extra charges to you (car, hotel)...

Your beef is with SAA (operating carrier) and with your travel insurer. EC261 won't apply in your case unfortunately since it usually does not cover industrial action. LH was, in a manner of speaking, a travel agent and cannot remedy a partner's service failure. Consequential losses (day's wages) won't be covered by anyone. You may get a letter of apology from LH, but it probably won't have the sincerity you are looking for, and SAA is in such disastrous financial shape that they will definitely not reimburse anything. I'm trying not to be too negative, but these back swan events are not well-cared for in the travel industry.

Edit: reading your post above mine, I do understand the frustration in dealing with these people over the telephone, and I don't know what advice to give you, because the agents probably weren't trying to be unhelpful, but can only do what is shown on their screen.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:13 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
I'm still not following your timeline, but I'll give it a try.

You ended up flying out to JNB a day earlier because that was all LH could book you on. The SAA service was cancelled because of industrial action. This caused extra charges to you (car, hotel)...

Your beef is with SAA (operating carrier) and with your travel insurer. EC261 won't apply in your case unfortunately since it usually does not cover industrial action. LH was, in a manner of speaking, a travel agent and cannot remedy a partner's service failure. Consequential losses (day's wages) won't be covered by anyone. You may get a letter of apology from LH, but it probably won't have the sincerity you are looking for, and SAA is in such disastrous financial shape that they will definitely not reimburse anything. I'm trying not to be too negative, but these back swan events are not well-cared for in the travel industry.

Edit: reading your post above mine, I do understand the frustration in dealing with these people over the telephone, and I don't know what advice to give you, because the agents probably weren't trying to be unhelpful, but can only do what is shown on their screen.
I actually have no issue with SAA, and the fact they cancelled the flight, it happens! A few years ago BA cancelled our honeymoon flights from London to Harare as they cancelled the route, but I called them, and was rebooked on flights to JNB without any issues.

My issue here was that when I saw the flight was cancelled (I saw it on Twitter on the wednesday night), I called Lufthansa and for the first 24hrs they refused to even look into it as their system said 'No'. Everytime I asked to speak to a manager my calls would drop, and even when I did get someone helpful they would say all the right things, but ultimately it didnt help my situation.
When the one guy told me I was wrong and that the flight was not cancelled he told me to just go to the airport as planned. I aske him if he could escalate to his supervisor and he basicaly told me he was right and that I had to accept it. Though out this all I kept my cool (I dont know how sometimes), but I felt quite humiliated.

In answer to your question. Firstly I want Lufthansa to admit that they handled this situation very badly. Secondly I'd like them to offer some sort of goodwill, whether it be a voucher, miles or some other kind of compansation as I do not think EC261 will help if I arrived earlier than expetced? I also want them to read my complaint rather than just assuming its about the actual SAA cancellation.
Considering its my first long haul flight with them (and only 2nd time i've flown with them), it doesnt make me want to travel with them again.
Over the 60 or so flights ive had with BA ive never experienced such bad service, and the one time I did need to complain it was dealt with quickly by a manager who provided Avios as goodwill... infact more Avios that I ever expected.

Here's an extract of the timeline below to give an idea of what happened, maybe i'm expecting too much fro a 5 star airline? Whats your thoughts? What would you have done?

*************** Extract from my complaint with personal details removed ***********************

13/11

21:53 SAA post on twitter about flight cancellations due to industrial action which will affect my LH9542 (SA265) flight on Saturday 16th Nov. This was also already on their website, and circulating on other social media.

23:16 I call LH but I am told that I must call SAA or my Travel agent (Opodo) as it was their flight that was cancelled (even though booking was made with Lufthansa stock tickets)

23:27 I call Opodo and explain the situation, but they are unable to do anything as the information on their system from LH still shows the flight as going ahead. I’m told to call back 09:00 the next day.


14/11

09:00 I call Opodo back. The flight still shows as ‘not-cancelled’ on their system (from information LH provides), so they can’t help. Eventually they call LH and confirm that although the flight is cancelled, the internal system is not showing this correctly so they can’t cancel or re-issue my ticket. LH told them I should call back in 3-4hrs.

Approx 13:00 I call back only to be told that the system still hasn’t been updated. Opodo are unable to make any changes unless LH confirm the flight in cancelled, so I then call Lufthansa to try and expedite due to the short time before departure. At this point I could see it was cancelled on Lufthans.com website (Flight status), and on the LH app under my booking.

During that afternoon I spoke to numerous people at Lufthansa’s Cape Town customer service centre. The first guy didn’t believe me that the flight was cancelled and told me I should just go to the airport as planned. I questioned him, and he told me this was the only option!

I then called back and spoke to another guy (Ben or Benjamin), he was helpful and eventually confirmed that although LH internal system didn’t show the flight as cancelled, he could see it when looking on Lufthansa.com. At this point he spoke to a manager who approved him to rebook me as it was clear that the flight was cancelled (just not on their internal system). He spent quite a bit of time trying to find a new flight on Saturday with another carrier, but all flights were booked. He suggested I could get onto LH9542 a day earlier (Friday 15th), and would add to the notes what had happened so I could call back once I confirmed I was able to travel a day earlier.

17:18 I called back to make confirm I could make the flight a day earlier. I spoke to Matthew. I had to explain the whole story again, and after he initially didn’t believe me that the flight was cancelled, he spoke to his manager, they checked on Lufthansa.com, and agreed to rebook me on LH9542 for Friday 15th.
I spent around 25minutes on the phone and I was happy at the end of the call when Matthew had managed to re-book my flight and assigned seat 69A to me.

19:19 I noticed that the outbound flight had disappeared from my booking in the app and online. I called in and was told the tickets where in the process of being issued, even though I’d had an email at 18:00 with confirmation of tickets.

21:27 I called back yet again as I was unable to check in for the flight. I was on the phone for 50 minutes, and during this time I had to go through the whole story again. I was yet again asked why I had changed my flight as the system showed my original flight as ‘not cancelled’.
As you can imagine my frustration at this point was extremely high. I was then told they would rebook me on a Swiss flight via Zurich, but gave no reason why. The problem is the Swiss flight did not suit my travel plans in terms of arrival time in to JNB.

The agent then said “that’s fine I will rebook you on the SAA flight”
No one at this point could answer me as to why my flight kept getting cancelled, but always assured me that is was now ok and I would have ‘no further issues’!!

After this call I watched my online booking, and tried to check-in. This kept failing, and eventually at 00:00 I called back in, only to be told “Just check in at the airport”. They didn’t even bother to check my booking.

15/11 – Day of departure

I check my online booking, only to find my out bound flight as DISAPERRED… again!!!

I called in again at 06:52, and AGAIN had to explain the whole situation to the Lufthansa agent.

Yet again I was rebooked onto the LHR-MUC LH2477 and MUC-JNB LH9542 flights, and told again that everything was ok and they would send through to the urgent ticketing department (the same place I had been told previous bookings had been sent)

I was told I would be able to check-in once the ticket was issued, which should be 30-60 minutes due to the imminent departure.

08:12 I called in again to chase the tickets and was told the ticket office only opens at 08:00 so it may take some time for them to be issued. I was assured that the request was in a priority queue and would be done soon. They advised me to call back in an hour if I hadn’t heard.

09:15 I called again, and in disbelief I was told the ticket had been CANCELLED again. Again, I asked to speak to a manager, but was refused. Eventually the agent was able to book me on the flight, and confirm the ticket was issues. This allowed me to check in online, but by this time only one seat was available right as the back in the middle section.

This was now less than 3hrs before I was due to leave for the airport, having reported the cancelled flight to Lufthansa nearly 2 days earlier.

16/11 Arrival in JNB

2hrs after arriving in JNB I got a notification from LH that my original flight on 16th had been cancelled and that they would try to re-book me!!! This was only 10hrs before my orginal flight was due to leave Munich, so had I waited until the official conformation I wouldnt have made it to JNB.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:18 am
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I should add here too that Opodo was excellent, and I had a customer services manager call me a couple of times as she had also tried to speak to a manager at LH but was also refused. She also tried to get LH to re-book the flights but was also told they would not do it until their internal system was showing the flight as cancelled. This further confirms I wouldnt have got rebooked if id just sat around and waited for the sprocess to kick in.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:20 am
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Opodo was, despite what you might think, not "excellent". As your (O)TA, they should have been able to rebook you the second they acknowledged that your SAA flight was cancelled. Many airlines are hesitant to touch (O)TA bookings themselves.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:25 am
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Originally Posted by vkis View Post
Opodo was, despite what you might think, not "excellent". As your (O)TA, they should have been able to rebook you the second they acknowledged that your SAA flight was cancelled. Many airlines are hesitant to touch (O)TA bookings themselves.
Either way, Lufthansa wouldnt let them rebook it, and Lufthansa confirmed this to me directly too. I never useally book via a TA, but in this instance at short notice I had little choice.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:29 am
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This is one of these perfect storm events. To top things off you had a (fairly poor) OTA Opodo involved. It is standard industry practice that until ca 24 hours before travel only the travel agent can touch a ticket. They 'own' it so to speak. Calling SAA and LH in various places is usually ineffective and can muddy the booking if different people fiddle around with a reservation. I understand your frustration, but a small part of this is self-imposed. Had you gone to the airport as usual, or waited for check-in at T-24, the cancellation would have been 'live' and you would more than likely have been re-booked on one of many Europe-JNB services that night. But who knows now.

The reason EC261 won't apply is not so much that you arrived a day early, but that the reason for the cancellation was a strike at the operating carrier. You can try for a service remedy at LH, but my guess is that they will give you a version of the above and insist that, had you carried on as planned, you'd have made it to JNB the same day.

Finally, the internet has a way of amplifying the extremes. Your flight with LH was fine, just not the customer service element. Resorting to "I'll never fly them again..." leaves you with painfully few travel options after a few things go wrong. Just have a look over on the BA board.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:30 am
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I can see where the OP is coming from, it seems that LH CS does not manage well cancellation for non status passenger (i.e. 90% of a plane). Only once LH cancel a flight on me 24 hours prior to scheduled departure and the handling by CS was very frustrating: no communication (I received the cancellation email 7 days after scheduled departure), refusing to rebook at a convenient time (they wanted me to stay 3 extra days at destination), then rebooking me on a partner (LOT) but asking me to pay the ticket, then scolding off as "OK we will rebook for free this time but we are doing you a favor. Next time a flight is cancel you will have to pay", 60 minutes on the phone ...
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:31 am
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Originally Posted by npturner View Post
Either way, Lufthansa wouldnt let them rebook it, and Lufthansa confirmed this to me directly too. I never useally book via a TA, but in this instance at short notice I had little choice.
A travel agent can reissue a ticket on their own. And LH is not able to cancel an SA flight, therefore if the LH system didn't show the SA flight as cancelled, as far as LH is concerned it is still operating as scheduled. Sorry, but your beef is with SA and possibly Opodo.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 4:43 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Had you gone to the airport as usual, or waited for check-in at T-24, the cancellation would have been 'live' and you would more than likely have been re-booked on one of many Europe-JNB services that night. But who knows now.
Hard to say, but when Lufthansa tried to find availability on another airline, including Swiss, TAP and Virgin, they were all full. My trip was only 3 days, hence I agreed to go a day sooner.

Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Finally, the internet has a way of amplifying the extremes. Your flight with LH was fine, just not the customer service element. Resorting to "I'll never fly them again..." leaves you with painfully few travel options after a few things go wrong. Just have a look over on the BA board.
I wouldnt say "I'll never fly them again...", but it leave a bad taste in my mouth, and to be honest I booked the flight as i'd never flow Long Haul LH (or SAA) before and was intrested on what the 747-8 was like (it was great except we had no IFE for the first 6hrs of the flight).
Next time I will stick with what (or who) I know and pay a bit extra for BA or VS........ except next month when we fly to Perth... on Air France.
I spend most of my time on the BA board, but like i said before, ive flown with them over 60 times and never had an issue like this.
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