Verdi’s warning strike at Lufthansa hit the passengers with full force. Lufthansa canceled more than 1,000 flights and operations at its hubs in Frankfurt am Main and Munich practically ceased. The airline has attempted to rebook travelers before, but recognized capacity is limited.
The airline strongly advised customers who did not receive a rebooking offer not to come to the airports. Due to the strike, “only a few or no” service desks were opened there. Transfer passengers without connecting flights should not fly to German hubs. There is a risk that guests will not be able to travel there for several hours or days. Restrictions are expected on Thursday and Friday.
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The call for strike is aimed at some 20,000 ground workers. They deal with the handling of passengers, luggage and cargo, the employees also take care of the aircraft and ensure the proper positioning of machines.
This is annoying for travelers who wanted to fly with Lufthansa on Wednesday. However, there is one consolation for them: they do not have to be injured. “If the strike is in the airline sphere, the airline must provide alternative transportation and pay compensation in the event of short-term cancellations,” says Iwona Husemann of the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advisory center.
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The expert lawyer knows that Lufthansa cannot rely on extraordinary circumstances in this case. It could be otherwise if, for example, security staff at the airport went on strike. Wednesday, however, is about Lufthansa employees who want more money. This means that Lufthansa has a duty to its customers.
Flight has been canceled: travelers can do so
If a flight falls victim to a strike, travelers have several options: they can choose not to travel and get a refund for the ticket. However, you can also accept an offer to travel on another Lufthansa flight or to change to a train.
Lufthansa has frequently offered this alternative in the last few weeks in case of cancellation. If necessary, you can also book a replacement flight with another airline and charge Lufthansa. However, a deadline for the airline to arrange replacement transport on its own should be agreed in advance. Given the circumstances, it may only be a few hours if necessary.
The flight is delayed, now what?
If the flight has not been canceled but is delayed, travelers can also return the ticket and request a refund. However, it is assumed that the delay is at least five hours. In terms of both cancellations and delays, travelers do not have to accept the voucher, emphasizes Berlin travel lawyer Roosbeh Karimi. You can ask for money.
For this compensation
In addition to the return of the ticket or alternative transport, travelers are also entitled to compensation under the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation. If your flight is canceled or more than three hours late to your final destination, you can request compensation. That’s between € 250 and € 600 – the decisive factor is the distance.
who will help you
ISPs such as Flightright and Fairplane offer customers the option to pursue their claims against a commission fee (approximately one-third). If you want to save money, you can also enter your details in the Flugärger App of the NRW Consumer Consulting Center and calculate if you can ask for money and if so how much.
A sample letter is included with the application. If the airline does not pay, you can contact the Berlin Public Transport Arbitration Commission. Your mediation is free for consumers.
The legal situation is more problematic when further problems arise. You miss an interview or have to stay at the hotel because the plane is not flying. In order for the airline to pay in these cases as well, you not only need to prove the economic loss, but also Lufthansa must have caused it.
This would be the case, for example, if travelers are informed too late. However, customers also have a responsibility to mitigate the damage, warns Husemann. You should therefore try to postpone deadlines and actively inform yourself about possible flight delays.
What about a connecting flight?
Common annoyance: You’re late for a connecting flight. As the flight from Berlin to Munich has been canceled, you cannot use your booked onward flight to New York. Whether Lufthansa is responsible for the entire journey depends on the booking.
“If you booked a single air service, the airline must also be responsible for the connecting flight,” says consumer spokesman Husemann. On the other hand, if you booked a Berlin-Munich route with Lufthansa and then booked a flight to the USA with another airline, you can only charge Lufthansa for the connecting flight.
Vacationers must contact the tour operator
In the case of an organized trip (e.g. flight and hotel), the tour operator is in principle obliged to provide a replacement flight. The new flight cannot raise the price of the trip, says Hamburg consumer spokeswoman Julia Rehberg. What if you lose valuable vacation days? Suppose you booked a package holiday and arrived two days later than planned because you had to wait for a new flight, you can reduce the price of your trip by 100 percent on those days. However, some tour operators say that the cost of the flight is higher than the cost of the hotel and therefore only want to accept a smaller discount. Packaged travelers don’t need to get involved, says lawyer Karimi. If you lower the price of your trip, you cannot additionally claim compensation from the airline.