When it comes to a Lufthansa Cancellation, it’s important to understand your rights as a passenger. Whether due to delayed flights, overbooking, or any other reason, airlines are required to follow certain protocols and offer compensation.
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General Principles of Flight Cancellations
As a passenger, it’s crucial to understand the terms and protocols in place when an airline cancels your flight. Below, we’ve outlined several key concepts that you should be aware of:
- IRROP: “Irregular Operations” or IRROP refers to any unforeseen event that disrupts flights, be it in the airline’s control or not, such as cancellations, delays, diversions, or overbooking. Importantly, an IRROP can occur before departure (ie. flight cancellation) or during the flight (ie due to bad weather, resulting in a missed connection or inability to land at the destination airport)
- Voluntary vs Involuntary Cancellations: It’s important to note the distinction between voluntary and involuntary cancellations. A voluntary cancellation is initiated by the passenger, while an involuntary cancellation is initiated by the airline. If your flight is involuntarily cancelled, the airline is responsible for providing compensation and alternate transportation.
- European Union and North America: Specific regulations apply to airlines operating within the European Union or North America regarding flight cancellations. As a passenger whose flight is cancelled to or from these regions, you may be entitled to certain rights and compensation under European Regulation 261/2004 or the US Department of Transportation’s tarmac delay rules.
- Partially Used Tickets: In the event of a cancelled flight, passengers holding partially used tickets will only be eligible for a refund on the unused portion of their ticket.
- Acceptance: As the name suggests, acceptance is the action of accepting an offered change or resolution. It is important to remember that once you accept a resolution to an involuntary situation, any subsequent change becomes a voluntary change and can be chargeable.
Lufthansa Cancellation Policy
When it comes to Lufthansa there are many sources to draw from and it is worth reviewing the wording in each before making a call to the helpdesk.
- Lufthansa’s cancellation policy is outlined on their website
- The carrier’s conditions of carriage are particularly relevant when it comes to flight cancellations and include two key articles:
- Article 9 “Timetables, Delays and Cancellation of Flights”;
- Article 10 “Refunds”;
- Lufthansa Travel Agent (Trade) Support can also be of useful information specifically when discussing technical policy, however, you should only review the below if you are familiar with the lingo:
Lufthansa’s Conditions of Carriage, specifically Article 9, sets out the airline’s obligations in relation to flight timings, delays, and cancellations. In the event of a delay or cancellation, Lufthansa will take reasonable steps to inform passengers and provide assistance.
Passengers have the right to be rerouted to their final destination on a different flight or receive a full refund for the unused portion of their ticket if a flight is cancelled. An “involuntary cancellation” due to circumstances within the airline’s control would also entitles passengers to compensation in line with the European Union’s Denied Boarding Regulation (EC 261/2004), for example, if the flight departed to or from Europe.
Article 10 of the Conditions of Carriage outlines Lufthansa’s refund policy, with the refund amount based on the ticket type, fare conditions, and reason for the refund. Luckily, The Trade handbook provides clearer definitions when a refund would apply, such as:
- In a time change of 2 hours or more in the departure or arrival time of the flight; or
- If the departure time is brought forward more than one hour; or
- If the flight is cancelled outright (with or without alternatives accepted); or
- On the day of departure, the flight is delayed more than 5 hours
Lufthansa would strive to provide alternative transportation in the event of a cancelled flight. Passengers who decline the offer of rebooking or the flight offered is unacceptable, you are entitled to a full refund, including taxes and fees.
Routes Open To You
There are generally two routes for you to go down if a flight is cancelled
If a flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund of your ticket (or the remaining unused portion of the ticket). While Lufthansa will offer you alternatives you do not have to accept this.
In order to obtain a refund, you will need to contact Lufthansa directly or through your travel agent. If you choose to accept the refund, your ticket will be cancelled and the refund will be processed.
Schedule Change Route
If a flight schedule is changed, Lufthansa cancellation team will make every effort to provide alternative transportation that is acceptable to you.
Usually the first point of call will be offer you a ticket on a different day, keeping the cost within the carrier. You do not need to accept this and can propose an alternative routing.
The key to proposing alternative routing is that it has to be reasonable. What is reasonable? Well there is no set definition, but, where an airline has a “Bilaterally Agreed Method For Involuntary Situations” (as IATA calls it) with another airline, this will significantly increase your odds. The way to look at it is if Lufthansa and your proposed airline are:
- Part of the same Group – ie Lufthansa and Swiss
- Part of the same Alliance – ie. Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines
- Are in a Joint Venture – ie. Lufthansa and United Airlines and Air Canada to North America
- Have a Partnership Agreement – ie. Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong
In these instances, you are more likely to have your rebooking on another airline accepted because there is already a pre-agreed agreement in place to address these situations.
Additionally, you must keep your origin and destinations the same BUT a change of airport in the same city does not count as a change of origin or destination. For example, changing the arrival destination from London Heathrow (LHR) to London Gatwick (LGW) is permitted as they both fall under the city code LON. More on City Codes.
If you accept the new flight schedule, no refund will be provided. This means that you will continue with your journey as scheduled on the new flight.
Eligibility for Lufthansa’s Cancellation Policy
To be eligible for Lufthansa’s cancellation policy, as a minimum you must be flying on a Lufthansa-operated plane. This is important If you have a codeshare ticket, the policy of the operating carrier will typically apply, not the policy of the carrier that sold the ticket.
If you’re unsure of which carrier’s policy applies to your ticket, you can reach out to Lufthansa or your travel agency for clarification. They will be able to provide you with information on which policy is applicable to your flight and what your options are in the event of a cancellation.
However codeshare tickets bring a whole host of issues, because while the policy of the operating carrier applies, you need to go through the selling carrier to make any changes. So if your Air Canada flight is cancelled but your ticket was issued on Lufthansa ticket stock (ie your ticket starts with 220-XXX) then you need to follow Air Canada’s guidelines but go through Lufthansa for the rebooking.
What To Do If Your Flight Is Cancelled By Lufthansa
If your flight is cancelled by Lufthansa, it’s important to know what steps to take in order to receive a refund or rebook your flight. Here are some steps to follow in the event of a cancellation:
- Check what options are open to you: If your flight is cancelled, you may be eligible for a refund or rebooking, but its important to learn what options are open to you. If its mass cancellations the phone lines will be busy so you will have some time before hand to brush up while you wait.
- Consider alternative options: If Lufthansa’s options don’t meet your needs, you may want to consider asking for a refund and booking with another airline. know this before going into a call so you can weigh your options.
- Contact Lufthansa: The next step is to reach out to Lufthansa and confirm what options are available to you. If you booked through a travel agency, you need to reach out to them instead for assistance.
- Stand firm in your position: If you have familiarised yourself with the policy directly from Lufthansa then be prepaired to hold your ground, airlines have an interest to keep you flying with them as it is costly to book you onto another airline.
- Customer agents vary: customer service agents vary in experiance so one person may know something that another doesnt. Be prepaired to explain your position or hang up and call back.
- Be open to new information: be open to accepting new information should the agent present a rational position. dont be afaraid to explain your position and your source on Lufthansa website.
- Use a travel insurance policy: If you have a travel insurance policy, it may provide coverage for flight cancellations. This is a good option if you need to reclaim lost expenses that are not covered by the airline.
In addition to these steps, it’s important to keep in mind that Lufthansa has separate customer service numbers for those with elite status, such as HON Circle members or Senators. If you have elite status, you may be able to receive priority service when reaching out to Lufthansa in the event of a cancellation.
Lufthansa Flight cancellations can be frustrating and disruptive, but it is important to be familiar with your rights and the airline’s obligations. By understanding Lufthansa’s cancellation policy and conditions of carriage, you can minimize the inconvenience and maximize your chances of receiving compensation or a refund in the event of a cancellation. Whether you have booked through Lufthansa or a travel agent, it is important to stay in touch with the airline and seek assistance as soon as possible.