Lufthansa customers have to cope with another bad news. After the Verdi union almost paralyzed the flight operations of the largest German airline for a whole day with a warning strike by ground staff in July, the pilots went on strike on Friday.
Around 800 flights with an estimated 130,000 affected passengers have to be canceled at the Munich and Frankfurt hubs, Lufthansa announced on Thursday. Further flights are expected to be canceled this Thursday as well as on the last holiday weekend in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The aim of the flight planning is to restart operations almost completely on Saturday, the company announced.
According to the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilots’ union, all departures of the Lufthansa core company and Lufthansa Cargo from German airports will be on strike on Friday. The companies Eurowings, Lufthansa Cityline and Eurowings Discover are not affected by the call and are scheduled to fly. The same applies to foreign Lufthansa subsidiaries such as Swiss, Austrian or Brussels. Lufthansa flights from non-German starting points also take place, provided that aircraft and crews are already abroad.
Lufthansa announced that it would inform passengers affected by the cancellations on Thursday and rebook them on alternative flights if possible. “This escalation is at the expense of many thousands of customers,” criticized Michael Niggemann, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director at Deutsche Lufthansa AG. Anyone who does not receive a notification should check the current status of their booking and check the status of the flight on lufthansa.com. All travelers who have not received a notification from Lufthansa within 18 hours of the cancellation message should do so.
The first point of contact for air travelers is always the airline, for package tours it is the tour operator. The respective airport also offers detailed information on the current departure and arrival times on its website. When it comes to information from the Internet, it makes sense to print it out so that you have a receipt later.
In principle, customers can cancel a flight canceled due to a strike, and they will then get their money back. The airline has seven days to do this. If you still want to fly, you are entitled to a later flight. But that can take until the strike is over – and longer, since a backlog can arise.
If a replacement flight is not possible until the following day or later, the airline must provide overnight accommodation and transfers to the hotel. In the case of a package tour, the tour operator must arrange for alternative transport. According to consumer advocates, package travelers can reduce the travel price from a delay of five hours.
In general, airlines have to do everything they can reasonably be expected to do to get their passengers to their destinations free of charge by alternative routes on comparable terms, despite cancellations during strikes. Depending on the circumstances and distance, alternative transportation may also be provided by providing train rides or rental cars.
In the current strike, Lufthansa explained that customers would be rebooked on alternative flights “if possible”. According to the group, passengers can also use Deutsche Bahn on domestic German routes. To do this, they can convert their ticket online into a train ticket; according to the airline, it is not necessary to travel to the airport.
For flights up to 1,500 kilometers in length, passengers are entitled to care services from a delay of two hours – i.e. telephone calls, drinks, meals and, if necessary, an overnight stay in a hotel. For a distance of 1500 to 3500 kilometers there is support after three hours, from 3500 kilometers after four hours. If an airline cannot be reached or refuses to cooperate, those affected can take care of it themselves and later claim their expenses back.
Doubly annoying: the flight from Berlin to Munich is canceled and therefore you miss your plane to New York. And now? If you have booked both flights as a whole trip and Lufthansa operates the feeder and connecting flight, you are in good hands. This applies, for example, to the question of compensation, the amount of which depends on the distance. On the other hand, if you have booked two flights with two different airlines, you can only contact the company that canceled the flight and make a claim on their behalf.
In the event of cancellation, overbooking or a delay of more than three hours, passengers are entitled to compensation of up to 600 euros according to the EU regulation – but only if no “extraordinary” circumstances are to blame. In the past, strikes were usually classified legally as a case of force majeure, in which the companies did not have to pay any compensation to the passengers affected. In the meantime, however, the legal situation has differentiated. “It is now clear that the airlines must be held liable for a strike by their pilots,” Berlin travel lawyer Roosbeh Karimi told the Tagesspiegel.