Strangest IDB I have ever come across

Old Aug 29, 20, 2:54 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 18
Strangest IDB I have ever come across

I had a flight booked with Lufthansa 15/8/2020 LHR-FRA-HER returning Saturday 29/8/2020 HER-GVA-LHR with Swiss. On 26/8/2020 I called Lufthansa UK call center and re-booked the return flight to HER-HAM-LHR (operated by Eurowings) departing on Thursday 27/8/2020. The details of my credit card were taken and I received confirmation email of the changed itinerary with new Ticket Numbers for each person travelling as a family (four in total).

Upon arrival (well before the cut-off time) at the check-in desk I was told our names/reservation are not on passenger manifest. Having spoken to Eurowings supervisors who investigated further she said that they could find 3 open seats for our booking but Lufthansa needs to re-issue one more ticket. I quickly called Lufthansa UK call center and for the next 30 min the consultant was trying to fix the problem to the point when I was told that all had been processed and I needed to wait "just 5 more minutes" for systems to refresh. After 15 minutes even though Eurowings could then see my names in the system it turned out there was still pending payment which never cleared. As we well passed gate closing I was denied boarding.

Lufthansa consultant stayed on the phone for the entire time - they even talked directly to Eurowings supervisor during "system refreshing". After I was not allowed on the plane the only offer Lufthansa made was to re-book me for the flight three days later (Sunday) via Geneva. The main reason for me to cut trip short was to not travel via Switzerland so it was not acceptable. I requested for Lufthansa to arrange the flight outside their group - at least within Star Alliance which I was refused and told to contact their Complains department. The only subsequent offer made was to receive a refund of 50% of the cost of ticket I paid given I already used half of it on the way to HER.

I never received any notification the new reservation was not valid or there was an issue with the payment. When asked what I did wrong or how I could have anticipated problem there the consultant was unable to clarify. My family was left stranded at the airport without any further support from Lufthansa.

As a result I arranged a flight back to LHR with Aegean (which btw is Star Alliance member) for the next day. I incurred costs of new flight, accommodation, food and transfers to/from hotel. In addition to invoices for these expenses I have also receipts and confirmation for the flight I could not board issued by Lufthansa.

I am drafting an official case to Lufthansa but since the IDB was not due to overbooking I am uncertain EU regulation 261 can be used. It is clear Lufthansa made an error but is there any T&C I could quote to support the case except for not fulfilling its obligation to passengers.

Thanks in advance for any advice
tomdor is offline  
Old Aug 29, 20, 11:12 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denmark
Programs: TK Elite
Posts: 7,022
Welcome to FT!

As you rightfully guessed it is not IDB situation because you and your family didn't have valid tickets for the Eurowings flight and technically Eurowings didn't deny boarding (because you were never entitled to board their flight in the first place)

You need to take this up with LH but I would not label your complaint as IDB because neither Eurowings nor LH denied denied you boarding of a Eurowings or LH flight respectively.

It is well known that in situations like this LH call center agents have no authority to rebook you on other flights than LH group flights.
SK AAR is offline  
Old Aug 29, 20, 11:27 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by SK AAR View Post
Welcome to FT!

As you rightfully guessed it is not IDB situation because you and your family didn't have valid tickets for the Eurowings flight and technically Eurowings didn't deny boarding (because you were never entitled to board their flight in the first place)

You need to take this up with LH but I would not label your complaint as IDB because neither Eurowings nor LH denied denied you boarding of a Eurowings or LH flight respectively.

It is well known that in situations like this LH call center agents have no authority to rebook you on other flights than LH group flights.
Thank you for your feedback.
I realise my case is uncommon but the result was even worse than ordinary IDB. Adding different airlines involved I am also concerned the blame game each company may also want to play to defend its position. I am definitely challenging this with LH expecting appropriate compensation.
tomdor is offline  
Old Aug 30, 20, 3:06 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: CGN (Cologne, Germany), travel agent, hardcore Sabre user
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold, BA, DL, LH, HH Diamond, Bonvoy Platinum, AX Centurion
Posts: 428
Originally Posted by tomdor View Post
I received confirmation email of the changed itinerary with new Ticket Numbers for each person travelling as a family (four in total).
If the new tickets were for the flights you wanted to take I'd consider this an IDB situation. Being a travel agent who issues LH documents for EW flights quite often I can tell you that a small percentage of tickets don't get synchronized with EW's low cost system. But we can catch the error early because in such situations EW will send a warning that associated tickets are still missing. As a customer who booked direct you have no chance of doing so.

I suggest you try getting copies of the new tickets. Not just the ticket numbers, but their full content (passenger names, flight details, issue date, issued in exchange for data). If everything matches you should go the IDB route IMHO.
jreichel is offline  
Old Aug 30, 20, 4:04 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by jreichel View Post
If the new tickets were for the flights you wanted to take I'd consider this an IDB situation. Being a travel agent who issues LH documents for EW flights quite often I can tell you that a small percentage of tickets don't get synchronized with EW's low cost system. But we can catch the error early because in such situations EW will send a warning that associated tickets are still missing. As a customer who booked direct you have no chance of doing so.

I suggest you try getting copies of the new tickets. Not just the ticket numbers, but their full content (passenger names, flight details, issue date, issued in exchange for data). If everything matches you should go the IDB route IMHO.
I have LH confirmation for the new itinerary as well receipt for each person with the route, date and price charged. If I were to go IDB route however should the liability not lie with EW? If I am not mistaken it is the carrier who operated the flight to respond but if this is LH error would it still fall under IDB?
tomdor is offline  
Old Aug 30, 20, 7:21 am
  #6  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 50,270
The question is whether OP is entitled to EC 261/2004 IDB compensation of EUR 400 for the one ticket which was not reissued or properly shown in the EW system. That duty falls on the operating carrier, e.g. EW. Thus, this turns solely on the question of whether LH failed to properly reissue the ticket ot whether EW failed to properly process the reissued ticket in its system. If the former, there is no compensation. If the latter, there is.

I would take my time doing this. Make a very specific data request to both LH and EW for the data relating to the original and reissued tickets, with special attention to PNR notes and the financial transaction. That should pinpoint where the failure occurred.

If at LH, I would then compose a letter which points to the poor customer service failure causing the denial, while with EW it is a straightforward claim under the Regulation.
Often1 is offline  
Old Aug 30, 20, 8:19 am
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The question is whether OP is entitled to EC 261/2004 IDB compensation of EUR 400 for the one ticket which was not reissued or properly shown in the EW system. That duty falls on the operating carrier, e.g. EW. Thus, this turns solely on the question of whether LH failed to properly reissue the ticket ot whether EW failed to properly process the reissued ticket in its system. If the former, there is no compensation. If the latter, there is.
As a matter of fact we were not offered for three passangers to board the plane. EW initially did not see our booking at all. EW supervisor said after investigating that three seats were open (not tickets issued) and requested for us to communicate directly with LH. EW was
not even able to confirm which name was missing. Given very short window of time left LH was not able to reissue one ticket but in fact this had a direct impact on our entire family.
tomdor is offline  
Old Aug 30, 20, 11:13 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 96
A thing to learn with LH: Try only to get a EW flight if there are no other choices and it's absolutely necessary. Especially stuff like this, rebookings between EW/LH, codeshares etc are messy. For next time, try to stay within LH/LX/OS and avoid EW like the plague!
mucaari is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 12:59 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Seattle, DL PM
Posts: 951
Originally Posted by mucaari View Post
A thing to learn with LH: Try only to get a EW flight if there are no other choices and it's absolutely necessary. Especially stuff like this, rebookings between EW/LH, codeshares etc are messy. For next time, try to stay within LH/LX/OS and avoid EW like the plague!
I think the issue is not limited to EW. On my last 2 LX flights ticket changes were not reissues by the time I got to the airports , despite multiple calls and assurance from phone agents that it was in priority queue blah blah blah. Everything is manual and slow.

In ZRH ticket reissue was finalized by ticketing agent after considerable struggle. F

Flying back from SPU - same situation, ticket not reissued in time after date change. There is no ticketing agent in SPU and I was able to fly only thanks to nice station manager for Edelweiss (who by the way said LX was a mess since Covid and it happens every day). She basically walked me to check-in and gave them some magic words to force check-in with old ticket, which looked similar to IRROPS, booking class changed from Z to J, etc. Since ticket was never properly reissued I was never collected change fee / fare difference which I agreed to on the phone. Good outcome but what a mess.

If anything I would avoid all LH group like the plaque until they get things under control.
AntonS is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 2:47 am
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by AntonS View Post
On my last 2 LX flights ticket changes were not reissues by the time I got to the airports , despite multiple calls and assurance from phone agents that it was in priority queue blah blah blah. Everything is manual and slow.
At least someone was able to identify there was an issue with your booking. We had no chance until at a check-in desk.
I just called LH to learn more about this error but their system is showing all was in order with internal authorisation to re-issue my tickets for a higher fare granted on the day of our flight but allegedly before I called them. This does not make sense as regardless what the system "says" I ended up not flying with EW and over 1000 out of pocket.
tomdor is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 3:22 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denmark
Programs: TK Elite
Posts: 7,022
I think the important lesson to be learned from these incidents: don't change your ticket! - and if you absolutely have to do it you need to be very careful that the ticket is reissued.
SK AAR is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 3:57 am
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by SK AAR View Post
I think the important lesson to be learned from these incidents: don't change your ticket! - and if you absolutely have to do it you need to be very careful that the ticket is reissued.
Believe me swapping 30 degrees Greece for 15 degrees UK was the last thing I wanted to do. But Covid defeated me and with Switzerland being removed from UK safe list I had to re-book. Question is what should one do in the future to ensure the tickets were issued correctly after receiving confirmation from the airline they were re-booked. Even after calling LH their response every time was all was in order and only after insisting it wasn't they looked a bit deeper. As jreichel said as a customer who books directly there is limited scope of action.
tomdor is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 6:54 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: CGN (Cologne, Germany), travel agent, hardcore Sabre user
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold, BA, DL, LH, HH Diamond, Bonvoy Platinum, AX Centurion
Posts: 428
Thinks like this shouldn't happen, but they do quite often. Contrary to what many frequent flyers say, booking direct may be the cheapest option, but it isn't necessarily the best. Using an experienced travel agent will cost you a bit more, but they'd catch such a problem in advance and solve it for you (maybe without you ever knowing they did). If you do book direct, make sure you check in online as early as possible. This will give you more advance notice to sort things out if something is wrong with your booking/ticket.
jreichel is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 8:53 am
  #14  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 50,270
Originally Posted by jreichel View Post
Thinks like this shouldn't happen, but they do quite often. Contrary to what many frequent flyers say, booking direct may be the cheapest option, but it isn't necessarily the best. Using an experienced travel agent will cost you a bit more, but they'd catch such a problem in advance and solve it for you (maybe without you ever knowing they did). If you do book direct, make sure you check in online as early as possible. This will give you more advance notice to sort things out if something is wrong with your booking/ticket.
The TA is simply doing what one can do oneself without paying a fee. E.g., double-checking with the operating carrier of each segment that it has in place both a reservation and an e-ticket covering that reservation. A TA may be useful for complex situations, but OP's was not.
Often1 is offline  
Old Aug 31, 20, 9:43 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Seattle, DL PM
Posts: 951
Originally Posted by jreichel View Post
Thinks like this shouldn't happen, but they do quite often. Contrary to what many frequent flyers say, booking direct may be the cheapest option, but it isn't necessarily the best. Using an experienced travel agent will cost you a bit more, but they'd catch such a problem in advance and solve it for you (maybe without you ever knowing they did). If you do book direct, make sure you check in online as early as possible. This will give you more advance notice to sort things out if something is wrong with your booking/ticket.
If TA can reissue tickets, yes they can help. But since COVID Lufthansa group took away possibility to reissue tickets or do refunds without explicit airline approval at least from OTAs. It was my experience with Expedia and this is what Expedia told me. They really tried to help but were not allowed to do anything in GDS after ticket was issues without approval, which could take days if their special help line between TA and airline was busy or after hours.

Swiss changed their policy accordingly waving usual 50 CHF fee to take over TA ticket 72 hours before departure or maybe even before that. Previously it was 24 hours.
AntonS is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: