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Lufthansa - EPIC FAIL!

Just wanted to share with you my correspondence with LH in case any of you are booked on Lufthansa,

Dear Lufthansa - EPIC FAIL! Our group of 21 (including children) had a direct flight scheduled to Rome this morning. We booked in OCTOBER 2017...and you wait until THE MORNING OF TRAVEL to text me and say ALL of our seats have been cancelled even after we had checked in online the day before. Now you want to split us up on different horrible flights and you want 6 of us to spend the night in Frankfurt and arrive into Rome the NEXT DAY??? Are you INSANE??? Epic Epic FAIL!

If you're flying Lufthansa - be aware this is what they do.

Posted by
6733 posts

oh WOW. That is NOT good. I hope they find you a better solution. Very disappointing!!! So sorry your trip is starting this way.

Posted by
12609 posts

Ugh, Tim, what a headache!

I do see a caution on the Lufthansa website that, "On 10 June 2018, due to possible thunderstorms in Munich and Frankfurt, delays and cancellations in the Lufthansa Group flight schedule to and from Munich and Frankfurt may be expected during the day. "

https://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/de/flight_services/cti?nodeid=683178334&l=en&cid=18002&src=mbhp&src_lang=en&src_cntry=US

I wonder if this had something to do with this mess?

Posted by
2263 posts

This is really unfortunate, but if this is in fact due to a weather related mess as cited above, it could have been ANY airline, and to condemn Lufthansa for this using the level of language only Trump would stoop to on Twitter ("EPIC FAIL" " Are you INSANE??? Epic Epic FAIL!") is really unfair. It sure sounds like a whole lot of people were inconvenienced because of this and this is a logistical mess for the airline to deal with. While I firmly believe that the first-in should be the last people asked to give up their seats because of an overbooking, this should not qualify for any special consideration to deal with mass cancellations.

Posted by
12609 posts

Tim may not have been given the reason for the cancellation so may not have been aware that it was an unavoidable weather-related issue, if indeed that's what it was/is.

Posted by
3554 posts

Traveling with a group that size has unique challenges. I don't know that any airline could have rebooked 21 seats together at the last moment. Is this a group of teenagers where you really can't be separated from each other for supervisory reasons?

Posted by
7948 posts

Yep, the storms here in Germany have been horrendous, tons of rain, large amounts of lightning, hail, etc. This has been going on since Friday.
So, it is not Lufthansas fault that the cancellation came last minute. Blame Mother Nature instead.

Posted by
2919 posts

I suppose hideous scheduling things happen when two major Lufthansa airports in Germany are affected by thunderstorms. However if some of the party's members weren't rescheduled in a timely manner, the 6 who wouldn't reach their destination until the following day, perhaps they would qualify for compensation under Regulation 261/2004. Here's the wiki synopsis: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_Compensation_Regulation_261/2004

If Tim was flying from ? to Rome directly on Lufthansa I'm not sure how he got mixed up in this German weather issue unless it greatly impacted available equipment. Three people in our family were recently involuntary transferred to another unacceptable flight by an AirFrance subsidiary and they are waiting to hear back from their 261/2004 claim. Their flight change wasn't weather or equipment related.

Posted by
3175 posts

I can only think of 2 reasons why you would lose your 21 seats after all of you checked in online the night before.

  • The flight to Rome was cancelled.

  • LH had to change the aircraft to a smaller plane because the original
    aircraft was unavailable due to maintenance, stuck in a different
    city, etc.

What reason did Lufthansa give you?

A friend of mine and her family (total of 4 people) flew to Rome this morning on Lufthansa from Frankfurt. I'll ask her what happened to her flight as she was on the one that was scheduled to arrive in Rome at 13:55 CET.

Posted by
4412 posts

perhaps they would qualify for compensation under Regulation 261/2004.

If the cancellation is weather related they will be unable to claim compensation.

Posted by
6758 posts

Sorry Tim, but this kind of e-mail/ correspondence is not apt to get great results with any business (it does look like one of Orange One's frustrated tweets). Remove the all caps and emotion, calm down (weather happens and there's not much the airline can do, they have to reschedule everyone on their flights), try to make the best of the situation, and if you want the airline to do something you'll have to spell that out. I don't think this is specific to Lufthansa. Stuff happens. Life sucks. Inconvenience sucks. But you move on. Your ticket just guarantees that you'll get there (as soon as the airline allows).

Posted by
4953 posts

I have had good results with Lufthansa, especially in combination with their partner United. I even had good results with a cancellation in Paris for a two-segment flight home to the U.S. They got me home that day, with a connection in a different German city than I had scheduled.

Another time we were changing on a two-segment flight TO Europe, we made a mistake about the second check-in (confusing Transit physical situation), and they paged us rather than leaving without us. Very impressive.

Posted by
12609 posts

Indeed, good luck and please report back how it all shook out?

Dunno for sure but I think a backup at a couple major hubs can have a domino affect on an airline's other flights?

Posted by
928 posts

Hard to tell from the OP what dates and flights he's talking about, but LH only flies their own planes to Rome from Frankfurt or Munich, so I'm assuming he has some other Star Alliance flight before that--too many options to try to ascertain what flight his group is on to get from US to Germany. For the LH flights, however, there was one flight cancelled today (June 10) between MUC-FCO, but all other flights for today went out or are still scheduled, and all for tomorrow are still shown as scheduled.

And, yes, if this was weather related, it could happen to any airline. I understand the frustration--especially being in charge of such a large group--but, really, would you rather the airline fly your group of 21--including children--in unsafe weather conditions?

Posted by
245 posts

I feel I need to chime in to support Lufthansa, our favorite international airline. We have found their employees willing to go the extra mile (or kilometer!) to work things out when a glitch occurs. (Granted our group was 8, not 21). OP, hopefully you have been rescheduled and your group arrives safely in Rome.

Posted by
1190 posts

There was also an air traffic controller strike in Rome so this may also be the cause for the chaos in addition to the bad weather.

Posted by
2755 posts

For me the only 'epic fail' is the plane crashing. I assume the children were divided up with adults, not 6 four year olds on their own flight. Otherwise, if my airline gets me to my destination, I'm good. In fact, if 21 family members were traveling together, I might prefer to be on a different flight (This is an attempt at humor). YMMV

Posted by
7205 posts

The group finally arrived in Rome many hours later than scheduled.

Weather related??? No way, we were actually IN Munich this morning with perfect weather. Just glad to have finally arrived.

Posted by
5011 posts

Agree with others above.

Yes, this is frustrating and an inconvenience that's certainly annoying. But keep things in perspective: nobody was injured, nobody died, you all will (or already have) arrived at your destination safely, and everybody will still have a great trip once you get past this initial glitch.

Never take for granted the miracle that is modern air transportation. You pay a modest sum of money, you get on a plane, hours later you walk off that plane on and you're the other side of the world. Amazing that it works at all. Is it perfect? No. It's safe and it generally works. Stuff happens. Don't let it ruin your outlook on your trip. You will come home with great memories and great stories to tell - including the story about how you had to roll with the punches when your outbound flight went sideways. Move on and enjoy your trip.

Posted by
7635 posts

had a direct flight scheduled to Rome this morning.

From where?

Did LH ever give you an explanation of 'why' your group got cancelled? Care to share?

Was the flight cancelled, or just your group?

Do not mean to grill you after a most unhappy experience, but at this point you have provided too little info for anyone to make an informed conclusion about LH 'behaving badly', or being the victim of some circumstance beyond their control.

Posted by
7205 posts

So I see we have some Lufthansa cheerleaders here. (ha). Yes they found seats for 21 of us on the same flight because they kicked other passengers off to make room for us. Is that really a success for Lufthansa? Not in my book.

Baggage - of course it never came.

Posted by
928 posts

Hopefully at some point the OP will have the time to answer the questions Joe raised so we can have a clearer picture of what happened here. I'm not a "Lufthansa cheerleader", it's just that those facts would help us assess what happened.

Posted by
4556 posts

Was your flight cancelled or were you bumped?

If the original flight was cancelled I am pretty impressed that they got all 21 of you to Rome on the same day. I’ve had worse outcomes after cancelled/delayed flights. If you were bumped, then I agree ... poor service.

Posted by
12609 posts

Can we please keep politics out of these discussions?

I didn't see any politics in any of the responses. What did I miss?

Posted by
7635 posts

Kathy--- I suspect the reference to politics is Larry's on 6-10 at 441AM

Posted by
12400 posts

The only problem I have had with Lufthansa is that the flight was one hour late in departing from SFO...makes no different to me since FRA was my terminus anyway. If the price is right, I'll continue to fly Lufthansa, even though I didn't always think their service in Economy was always top notch but that's irrelevant.

Posted by
2263 posts

Hey, Kathy and joe, if I am going to be tagged for being political, there is also Agnes's post at 9:42 AM with "it does look like one of Orange One's frustrated tweets". Now really, is it political to point out that someone is acting in a manner that we are constantly seeing headlined and derided in the news, a manner used constantly by the leader of the free world? For that matter, does anyone think that sending such an email is the proper way to deal with a problem that one needs corrected?

Meanwhile, I don't understand OP's reaction to the resolution. The AIRLINE, which could have been any airline, kept the group together and got them there what appears to be the same day, but this somehow becomes unfair because they may have moved other passengers. I am puzzled as to exactly how this should have been resolved. A separate plane solely for the group? That in the confusion the luggage was delayed? Anyone who has never had luggage miss a connection please step forward.

Posted by
55 posts

Perfect weather where and when YOU are doesn't mean you won't get delayed because of terrible weather elsewhere. And these delays, especially if the weather event is really bad, can cascade through the system for days afterwards. This is the price we pay for a modern hub and spoke airline system that makes tickets cheap with maximum up-time for each plane the airline owns. There isn't much, if any, slack in the system by design.

It's really hard to tell what exactly happened in your situation, as we don't have the relevant details from you. Given what you did share, it's hard to believe that Lufthansa (one of the bigger and better-operated airlines in the world) didn't make a good-faith effort to get your party and their luggage to Rome as soon as they could.

Posted by
6758 posts

Louis CK to the rescue! Spot on...we've become a bunch of whiners, ain't that the truth?

I've had Lufthansa misplace my bags before...it happens. I've also seen others' bags not arrive with them on another trip. I have no idea how this stacks up to other airlines though, but I nearly forgot about it until now.

Posted by
12400 posts

Never had luggage miss a connection, domestic or in Europe.

Posted by
12609 posts

OMG Michael!
Howling, crying, snorting, sides hurting...

Larry, I am Switzerland, at least on this forum.
Tim, very glad all worked out. Hope that you're all having a fine time in my fave city!

Posted by
11 posts

I know that flying to Europe can be stressful these days, especially with what Air France has been doing recently with being untruthful to passengers about canceled flights. So I am very understanding about Tim letting us know about his stressful situation with his latest trip. When he has time, I would really like to know what actually happened on this one. We will be flying to Europe in July and it is helpful to be aware of what the airlines are doing these days.
I will just add a quick anecdote about one experience we had with Lufthansa about 7 years ago. We were flying from Los Angeles on Lufthansa to Marseille via Frankfurt in the summer. Just as we pulled away from the terminal the plane stopped as there was a power outage throughout the airport. No planes could move until that was corrected. We finally left about 2 hours later, realizing that we were going to miss our connecting flight in Frankfurt. Just before we landed, they told us we had already been booked on the next flight and would arrive in Marseille about 3 hours later than originally scheduled. Not too bad as we were expecting it would be like what had happened to us before when our connecting flight to Europe on United was late arriving in Newark due to a weather delay, and we had to wait in line for over an hour to get a seat on a plane leaving the following day. (They did put us up at an airport hotel for the night!) However, at Marseille, my wife’s suitcase arrived but mine did not, and we had to wait a day for it to finally arrive. So it was a mixed experience with Lufthansa overall, but we were very happy to arrive the same day at our final destination, missing only one suitcase.
Hopefully the rest of Tim’s travels go better for him and his group.

Posted by
3175 posts

So I see we have some Lufthansa cheerleaders here. (ha). Yes they
found seats for 21 of us on the same flight because they kicked other
passengers off to make room for us. Is that really a success for
Lufthansa? Not in my book.

You never answered my question -- what reason did Lufthansa give you for cancelling your 21 seats after all of you checked in online the night before? I gave two possible reasons upthread; was either of them correct or was there something else?

Baggage - of course it never came.

You checked in bags; that is always a risk. Friends of mine are in Rome, as I mentioned upthread, who took Lufthansa from SFO Saturday afternoon changing planes in FRA. They arrived in Rome yesterday. They chose carry-ons only for their 12 day trip and my friend packed a backpack with all of her things knowing perfectly well that Lufthansa, like any airline, can lose checked luggage.

I don't fly Lufthansa so I'm not a cheerleader.

Posted by
7635 posts

Larry-- I was not meaning to be critical, just trying to help Kathy find what might have been considered a 'political' comment

Orange One's frustrated tweets"

That one went right over my head. When I 1st read it, I probably paused and went 'huh?' and just kept reading without realizing what the reference was.

RS says travel is a learning and horizon broadening experience, and some times its in surprising ways ( like nicknames)

And like others, I really wish OP would tell us what Lufthansa told him. Perhaps he is too busy herding his group of 21, "(including kids)", around that he does not have time to respond at this time.

Posted by
5658 posts

And like others, I really wish OP would tell us what Lufthansa told him.

Same here. the reason for denied boarding/flight cancellation is important in terms of a EU Regulation 261 compensation. One compensation exception may or may not apply:

Article 5. 3. An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay
compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the
cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not
have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Did LH offer an explaination as to the "extraordinary circumstances" causing the cancellation less than 7 days before scheduled departure?

Artical 5. 4. The burden of proof concerning the questions as to
whether and when the passenger has been informed of the cancellation
of the flight shall rest with the operating air carrier.

Posted by
2263 posts

Here's my experience from Lufthansa. Three years back, notified early in day our flight from Philly to Frankfurt will leave about 40 minutes late, later notified about 90 minutes late. Seems our plane had an issue on the ground in Frankfurt and left there a couple hours late tocome to Philly for its turn-around. Short of it, our 5:45 PM flight not in air until more like 7:45, and we have a connection to make - original ETA was 7:30AM with a connection for a 9:05 flight to Istanbul, also with Lufthansa. We make it inside the terminal (luckily by bus so we are closer to next gate, luckily we have carry-on only, luckily we don't have to go through Immigration because Turkey is not Schengen) roughly 8:53. Although other travelers with other itineraries on our first flight had already been automatically re-booked while still in the air, we were not, were told gate was still open, and hot-foot it through to the gate, which is still just open, making it there just before 9:05. I believe they were actually holding this flight for us. Lufthansa did everything they could to prevent a problem and delay that day. So if you want to accuse me of being a "Lufthansa cheerleader" for my remarks, go for it.

Posted by
12400 posts

I wonder if these sort of incidents actually would cost Lufthansa customers. Maybe that depends on the level of loyalty held by the customer to a particular airline.

Posted by
2651 posts

Normally I would say that the biggest "EPIC FAIL!" here is the correspondence with LH, but it seems to have worked. OP is lucky to be working with an organization that cares about making things right for him -- most organizations dig in their heels when they receive a written adult tantrum.

I've flown LH once, so I'm certainly no cheerleader. Overall, this thread encourages me, rather than discourages me, to fly with them in the future.

Posted by
12400 posts

Using the word "insane" does not give the same linguistic connotation in German as it might in English in the area of German diction.

Posted by
6858 posts

I do not think the correspondence had anything to do with the results the OP got it in that short period . Having been in this situation before I learned that you should rebook yourself asap on the phone and not let them default to do it. It is almost like a computer does the rebooking and not a human being

Posted by
2651 posts

Jazz--

Perhaps "it didn't hinder resolution" is a better statement than "it worked."

Posted by
18024 posts

In 2007 I booked a flight on USAir to Munich via Philly. After booking I started to watch their arrival times. In the first week, the USAir Philly to Munich flight was 9 and 10 hours late getting to Munich (because it left Philly late) on two days.

I called USAir to ask why the flights were so late, and, amazingly, after being passed from person to person for a long time finally found someone who knew something. He was in Operations and had access to the log that showed reasons for delays. It seemed that each of those aircraft were late because they had to replace a piece of equipment, but he couldn't answer why that seemed to always happen on Munich flights.

In addition to the Munich flight, there were something like 8 other flights to Europe leaving Philly from A gates at about the same time. I noticed that normally, the flights to each European city left from the same gate, but on those days that the Munich flight was late it left from another city's gate, and that city's flight left from the Munich gate.

In other words, Munich was a low priority, and if any plane would be late leaving Philly, USAir assigned it to Munich.

My point is that there are a lot of reasons for flights to be cancelled and it happens on all airlines. Finding space at the last moment on other flights for one or two people would not be too difficult, but placing 21 people all on a single flight would be very difficult.

I've flown to Munich on Lufthansa as well as on two US flag airlines, and I can definitely see why Lufthansa is rated a star better than the US airlines.

Posted by
6758 posts

It is almost like a computer does the rebooking and not a human being

Not "almost" - for sure. Everything is automated by default to the "next available opening" because hundreds of seats have to be rebooked at the same time. There would countless errors if humans had to do every single rebooking manually, never mind that they can't make complex assignment calculations involving many variables and people as quickly as a computer can and in real time. That's why I don't understand why people take such offense when something goes awry - the culprit is often that the algorithm either wasn't fine tuned (i.e. notifies people too late as was the case here, or sometimes not at all - happened to me with an AA codeshare flight) or that it just doesn't work perfectly for each and every person who may have different preferences. It's not meant to be taken personally. Computers are impartial and produce some not-so-good results for some people (like an impossible but "legal" connecting time), which do have to be overwritten by a human if it doesn't "work" for someone. But as a first run, computers do their best at reassigning seats using set algorithms. I'm sure it's the best solution for the most number of people given the circumstances (math is objective).

Posted by
928 posts

RE: computerized rebooking. It was recommended to me over on FlyerTalk to have a list of alternate flights that I could feed to the airline phone rep if I ever had to call in to re-book a flight because of a delay/cancellation. So, now part of my vacation prep is making that list. I've only had to use the list once, but both the phone agent and I were glad that I had it. Made the re-booking process go as smoothly as possible, as it saves the agent having to try to find alternate flights to your destination.

Posted by
12400 posts

To give Lufthansa credit, the only times (twice) I have been upgraded, just out of the blue, totally at random, from Economy to something better was on Lufthansa, both times from SFO going to Frankfurt. They tell me at check-in when I am getting the checked-in luggage weighed, my seat assignment and boarding pass (I don't do any of this prior to check-in when flying solo), or soon after at the boarding gate. Getting upgraded, ie without paying extra for it, from the sardine can Economy has never happened on any other airline going over.

Posted by
441 posts

I think the OP is lucky to have arrived on the same day. Last year, we had a flight cancelled (air traffic congestion in NYC was the reason given) and couldn't make our connection to Rome. We were rebooked an entire day later, messing up our first 2 days of plans. I had a meltdown in the airport (not my proudest moment) but it has since made me a much more relaxed and patient traveler, realizing that much worse can happen...this was Delta FYI. So any airline can have issues and need to change your plans.
Tim-I am glad you made it to Rome on your intended travel day. Please consider yourself and your group very, very fortunate :)

Posted by
5658 posts

Ground stops happen? What's a "ground stop"?
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article213339054.html

By 10:30 a.m. Sunday, a ground stop had been lifted at Charlotte
Douglas International Airport.

Earlier Sunday morning, flights arriving in Charlotte were not allowed
to land, according to multiple media outlets.....

On Thursday night, more than 120 flights were canceled due to a
technical issue that was not explained in detail.

Hundreds of people were stranded at the airport Thursday night, some
of them sleeping on floors. Other airports were also affected.

Posted by
1217 posts

Ground stops are for when planes cannot safely take off and land at the airport, typically for weather reasons (last month on my flight to Salt Lake City, we did loops around Grand Junction, Colorado waiting for the winds to calm down enough to land at SLC and the ground stop ordered by air traffic control to be lifted, followed by an aborted landing/go round because the crosswinds were still there, followed by half hour in holding over Provo before they decided to make a successful landing in SLC rather than diverting to Las Vegas) but they can also be for 'technical reasons' like the whole airline computer system going down including the programs that calculate fuels needs for the route in expected conditions and weight and balance distributions. If you can't calculate weight and balance needs, the modern commercial airplane simply cannot be allowed fly.

Posted by
3175 posts

Eric, you've just shown how the "epic fail" is probably not Lufthansa's. My follow up questions along with others in an effort to assist the OP with what happened to him were epically ignored.

Posted by
7635 posts

And like others, I really wish OP would tell us what Lufthansa told him. Perhaps he is too busy herding his group of 21, "(including kids)", around that he does not have time to respond at this time.

Well, it seems OP is not 'too busy' to answer, just unwilling

Posted by
2263 posts

Right, and presumably too busy to consider changing the title to congratulating Lufthansa for getting his entire group of 21 travelers to their destination, that day, together, after a major disruption beyond their control to their flight operations. Epic Fail indeed.

Posted by
7205 posts

And soon we'll be receiving $8000+ in refunds from Lufthansa for our significant delays to our destination and because of our delayed baggage...and before the Lufthansa cheerleaders begin ;-) this is because of EU Air Passenger rights (not the graciousness of Lufthansa).

Posted by
928 posts

OK, that's good news for you, but still no answers to the multiple questions asked multiple times up-thread as to the details of what occurred here.

Posted by
2846 posts

We also had a bad experience with Lufthansa cancelling seats for 2 in our party of 3, in Istanbul, when we had gotten to the airport at 5 AM to catch the flight. No reason was given and the 2 were rebooked on a flight leaving at 6 PM. Unable to get seats on Turkish(we had just flown one of the local airlines from Selcuk and were really impressed) Husband had no patience with this, got free frequent flyer first class tickets on Delta back to Atlanta(I doubt this would happen now-Delta would now rather fly with empty first class seats than make an elite class frequent flyer happy), and we went home without going to our last city Amsterdam. I will admit we all were tired at this point. We haven't had this problem with any other airline and haven't flown Lufthansa since.

Posted by
1767 posts

Not sure what OP wanted to accomplish but I don't think it worked. Effective complaints include what you want the company to do. They don't call people names and include details.

And by the way the weather where you are is not always an indicator that your issue is not weather related.

If I can only fly airlines that someone hasn't ranted about, I'll be staying home. So a poster on here ranting isn't going to change my mind about an airline

Posted by
12400 posts

I don't know how many times I have been late departing from SFO on United ever since the early 1980s, especially domestically. The main thing is that I don't have to connect. It's always non-stop to that destination. Other than that it makes no difference, ie United's record for late departures, if I got a good price for that United flight, if not, then I fly Southwest. Yes, it is a nuisance and something to put up with.

Posted by
17 posts

Tim, I am so sorry, what a nightmare! If there is any consolation, we were just reimbursed $1400 ($700 for my husband and $700 for me) by Air France for a 3.15 hour delay that caused us to miss our connecting flight.

Posted by
12400 posts

If I assume or know I'll be late in arriving, I'll choose Lufthansa over UA. The only airline I root for is Br Air, not even Air France, which has admittedly its shortcomings, true, they don't bother me. Lufthansa has its shortcomings too but still irrelevant in choosing or not choosing them.