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Lufthansa sues customer for 'hidden city ticket'

  • 12-02-2019 12:05pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 23,249 ✭✭✭✭


    Is this a fresh crackdown by airlines on hidden city ticketing?
    Been to German court and now appealed
    Lufthansa is trying to sue a passenger for using a trick to get a cheaper fight by missing the final leg of a two stop flight they booked.
    The man was supposed to fly from Seattle to Frankfurt and then to Oslo - but he failed to fly from Frankfurt to Oslo and flew to Berlin instead in April 2016.

    He paid £556 for his return ticket to Seattle.
    Lufthansa claims that he should have paid £2,429, and have demanded £1,852 plus interest.
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6692165/Lufthansa-looks-SUE-passenger-did-not-turn-leg-journey.html


«1

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,113 ✭✭✭plodder


    Wasn't aware of the practice, but seems to me that unless the passenger left checked baggage on the plane, which had to be removed causing delays etc then I think they have no cause for complaint. It's a bit like a restaurant suing you for ordering the 3 course meal deal, because it's better value, but then you choose not to eat the dessert.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,023 ✭✭✭irishrover99


    This is a practice that people use to get a cheaper fare, but when you have hand luggage only.
    I for one wouldn't bother with the hassle.


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,016 ✭✭✭✭murphaph


    Some people do it as a hobby. The ancient booking engines have bugs in them and fuel surcharges get removed with certain combinations. The savings on certain routes can be immense, but the trick is to find a combination where the last leg is not important to you. Many exist where the first leg can't be used, but then the airline cancels the entire ticket, so you will be denied boarding. i find this "underworld" fascinating, though I don't have the patience to do it myself and there is always a risk your ticket will be cancelled before you fly.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,086 ✭✭✭Nijmegen


    I guess the question before the court is whether or not a passenger is at liberty to buy a ticket and get off midway through the trip, regardless of what the airline t's and c's might say on the matter. It's interesting because I would imagine that this will vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I wonder are they just looking for a scalp or two to try reduce the % rate of these trips happening.

    Hidden city ticketing is not to be done when you need to be somewhere - You could easily be diverted around the network without much of a choice. Particularly in the US, where every airline have several hubs quite geographically spread. Purchase a ticket with United from Los Angeles to Dublin with the intention of getting to Chicago and you could find yourself in EWR or IAD quite easily instead. And goes without saying, no luggage in the hold.

    What the airline could do would be to "fire" the customer. Maybe there's a legal reason why this is not possible, again depending on the jurisdiction, but the concept of firing customers is not unheard of. The German shoe e-tailer Zolando started firing customers when teenage girls kept ordering loads of shoes and having "Zolando parties" and then using the free returns to send them all back.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭Credit Checker Moose


    What is interesting in this case is they are going after a German in a German court. Too much hassle to go after a foreigner.

    How do LH know he flew to Berlin from Frankfurt? Was he stupid enough to book a LH flight from FRA-TXL?

    I do partake in this activity from time to time. So long as you don't do it too often to the same airlines I doubt they would care too much. You can have legitimate reasons not to take the last leg. A sudden onset of illness for example.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,113 ✭✭✭plodder


    What is interesting in this case is they are going after a German in a German court. Too much hassle to go after a foreigner.

    How do LH know he flew to Berlin from Frankfurt? Was he stupid enough to book a LH flight from FRA-TXL?

    I do partake in this activity from time to time. So long as you don't do it too often to the same airlines I doubt they would care too much. You can have legitimate reasons not to take the last leg. A sudden onset of illness for example.
    I've heard of people having legitimate reasons for skipping the first leg of a multi-leg trip, eg plans change and they end up at the first stop by other means, and then discovering that the rest of their ticket has been cancelled. I never understood the reason why they would cancel until I read about this.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Why is it triple the price for a longer journey with extra flights and flight time in the first place?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,504 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner


    Why would they want to stop this. If they are happy to sell at that price then it shouldn't matter if the customer is there or not, they still get paid what the wanted.

    Surely they are making more money this way due to less weight


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭Credit Checker Moose


    A court has ruled that the cancelling of whole trips because of missing the first stop is illegal.
    https://www.godsavethepoints.com/2018/11/20/iberia-spain-supreme-court-ruling-skiplagging/
    This is beyond significant…

    Remember this moment. In the history of airline passenger rights, one of the most significant rulings regarding flights was passed down today. On November 20th, 2018, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled on a variety or passenger related issues, and for the first time in history passengers may have won. In short: an airline can’t cancel your ticket if you miss a flight, and you should be able to use any or all parts of a ticket as you wish, after all – you bought it all. For now, results are confined to national airline Iberia, but the implications from this supreme court ruling could play a sweeping role in unfriendly customer policies around the globe, going forward…


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,806 ✭✭✭i71jskz5xu42pb


    $hifty wrote: »
    Why is it triple the price for a longer journey with extra flights and flight time in the first place?

    Supply and demand - there are more people looking to fly from Seattle to Frankfurt than there are from Seattle to Oslo. So the airline charges more to fly from Seattle to Frankfurt than from Seattle to Oslo.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,113 ✭✭✭plodder


    Why would they want to stop this. If they are happy to sell at that price then it shouldn't matter if the customer is there or not, they still get paid what the wanted.

    Surely they are making more money this way due to less weight
    I think the reason is that they want to segment their different markets because of different levels of competition on each route.

    Eg. in the Oslo case, they are probably competing with Norwegian who (maybe) fly direct to the US and can charge a lower price. So, Lufthansa has to lower their price for the same routing through Frankfurt, but they don't want to canibalise revenue from other higher cost routes through Frankfurt.

    Tough, I say. That's the price of operating a centralised hub. Price transparency is more important imo.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,419 ✭✭✭antix80


    It happens on trains too. Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy a ticket to a further destination and get off early.
    The difference is you might not be able to get past the barrier as your ticket won't open it. And if it's a public-owned rail service there can be by-laws and on-the-spot fines.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,359 ✭✭✭micosoft


    Yield management. The objective for most airlines is to maximise loading. Sometimes they will create incentives for certain legs, sometimes airports subsidise to grow new routes etc. It's a highly complex system, and like all systems, can be gamed. This can sometimes create interesting flight combinations. For example, I once flew Dublin - Brussels - (train) Amsterdam - Vancouver - Ams - Dublin for £440. Take away taxes KLM got £134.
    At the end of the day if the Airline thinks its being gamed it may decide that you are the right customer, just not for them. I suspect the flyer will get a choice - pay up or never fly Skyteam again. Interesting that this is very deliberate move by Lufthansa(making an example of a pax). Must be a lot of gaming going on in Star Alliance...

    A bit like Card counting will get you booted in a Vegas casino even though it's technically not cheating.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭Credit Checker Moose


    It is probably the case that it is mostly German residents that are gaming LH in this manner.

    It would be interesting to know if this person has any previous form for the same thing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,292 ✭✭✭0lddog


    Lufty heavy handed as always.

    Great PR


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,842 ✭✭✭Chris_5339762


    $hifty wrote: »
    Why is it triple the price for a longer journey with extra flights and flight time in the first place?


    It can sometimes be a fuel dump. There is a very large fuel surcharge for the entire trip, but a bug in the system can sometimes make the surcharge only active on the last leg, not the long flight. Much cheaper.


    https://www.secretflying.com/posts/fuel-dumping-basics/

    https://www.secretflying.com/posts/what-causes-an-error-fare/


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,219 ✭✭✭Gaoth Laidir


    £2429 for a ticket to Seattle? If that was in Economy then LH should be brought to court for ripping off the customer. As said before, he actually saved the airline money in reduced fuel burn to Oslo.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 946 ✭✭✭Phileas Frog


    £2429 for a ticket to Seattle? If that was in Economy then LH should be brought to court for ripping off the customer. As said before, he actually saved the airline money in reduced fuel burn to Oslo.

    It was Business


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,219 ✭✭✭Gaoth Laidir


    It was Business

    Then £556 is some deal!


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,934 ✭✭✭Renegade Mechanic


    I get the feeling Lufthansa told Ryanair to hold it's beer...


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭Credit Checker Moose


    The mistake he made was to book a domestic Lufthansa flight to Berlin.

    If he had simply left the airport or flew another other airline, Lufthansa would be none the wiser.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,113 ✭✭✭plodder


    Then £556 is some deal!
    I checked a few random dates and it's almost exactly the same price as Norwegian's premium offering for the same route.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,896 ✭✭✭✭Spook_ie


    But if you are booked on the second flight i.e a through ticket, then would you not be causing possible delays to the last leg as they try to find you?
    Also regardless of no hold baggage wouldn't the non appearance of a passenger for the 2nd leg set off a security alert?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 27,098 CMod ✭✭✭✭spurious


    I think all this case will do is alert people to the possibility of doing this. I for one was unaware of the possible loophole.


  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,207 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla


    Spook_ie wrote: »
    But if you are booked on the second flight i.e a through ticket, then would you not be causing possible delays to the last leg as they try to find you?
    Also regardless of no hold baggage wouldn't the non appearance of a passenger for the 2nd leg set off a security alert?

    Just find the nearest airline desk, tell them you have had an emergency and are not getting the next leg, and away you go.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,806 ✭✭✭i71jskz5xu42pb


    spurious wrote: »
    I think all this case will do is alert people to the possibility of doing this. I for one was unaware of the possible loophole.

    A bit of the Striesland effect alright.

    United did as much in the US when they sued a search engine that allows people to search for these deals, they have no shortage of press https://skiplagged.com/press


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,205 ✭✭✭cruizer101


    Spook_ie wrote: »
    But if you are booked on the second flight i.e a through ticket, then would you not be causing possible delays to the last leg as they try to find you?
    Also regardless of no hold baggage wouldn't the non appearance of a passenger for the 2nd leg set off a security alert?

    I don't think so, you might get an announcement or two but there is always a few no shows and these days they don't hold planes back for much


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,210 ✭✭✭✭ted1


    I did a similar thing last year.

    Had flight booked from Dublin to Bilbao.

    Ended up having to go to Malaysia with work

    Return flights to Dublin via London was 2,000
    The same flight to London and a different flight to Bilbao instead of Dublin was 2,500.
    So they emwere charging the price of the Dublin flight + an additional 500 to go to Bilbao instead of Dublin

    I was able to book a business class flight on the Bilbao flight from London for 30 euro and a few airmiles. I checked with BA and they were fine about it.

    I then used the original booking to fly home from Bilbao


  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,207 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla


    cruizer101 wrote: »
    I don't think so, you might get an announcement or two but there is always a few no shows and these days they don't hold planes back for much

    I would say a significant percentage of no-shows are from people missing the second legs legitimately, for example a late arrival of the incoming aircraft or long queues and not enough transit time.

    It would be very hard for the airline to prove that you have purposely decided not to take the second leg from the outset.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 30 stephen.dunne


    Did this a few year ago when I flew to Vegas with my parents from DUB->LGW->LAS(I live in London)

    I flew out to Dublin a few days earlier so I could give them a hand getting to the airport and getting us all through US immigration (I'd booked all three of us into the US Visa Waiver scheme), but on the way back I asked the ground staff at McCaren to only check my luggage through as far as Gatwick.

    I was prepared for a bit of resistance, but nobody batted an eyelid; not at the airline or groundside at Gatwick.


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