The pilots strike at Deutsche Lufthansa AG has resulted in the cancellation of 1,500 flights, including long-hauls, Monday and Tuesday of this week, leaving passengers of the German carrier stranded around the world. The airline is scrambling to help affected customers.
According to eTurboNews, Lufthansa sent more than 60,000 SMS messages and 30,000 emails to passengers Monday while stranded passengers were accommodated in 3,800 hotel rooms. The airline has also added staff at call centers around the world, though complaints on Twitter and replies from the official @Lufthansa handle indicate lines are still backed up. Calls to Lufthansa’s press office in the U.S. by International Business Times were not returned.
“These strikes are horrible for the company, the employees, and of course the passengers who get screwed,” said Christopher Elliott, author of “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler.”
If you’re one of the unlucky flyers whose trip is impacted by the strike (look up your flight’s status here), here’s what you need to know:
Lufthansa is supposed to rebook you free of charge.
If your flight is canceled, you can look for alternative flights through Lufthansa’s website and rebook yourself on a later Lufthansa flight or through one of its partners. If your flight has not been canceled yet but you’re scheduled to travel Monday or Tuesday, you can also rebook at no extra charge.
If the website doesn’t work for you, you can find the local number for Lufthansa contacts in your country here.
You should ask to be booked on another airline if they don’t offer you the option.
If you aren’t getting a rebooking option that suits you, ask to be rebooked on another airline such as British Airways or Emirates, even if it’s not a Lufthansa partner. They may not volunteer this information, but will have to search options if you request it. “Airlines still have the option to endorse tickets over to another carrier,” Elliott said.
Passengers traveling within Germany can exchange their tickets for travel by train.
To do so, log into Lufthansa’s My Bookings page. The airline adds if you don’t have time to exchange your ticket, you may buy a regular train ticket directly from Deutsche Bahn. Lufthansa will refund your air ticket minus the cost of the train ticket.
You are entitled to a full refund within seven days if you choose not to rebook.
You should contact the ticketing office that issued your ticket to request the refund. If you bought your ticket through Lufthansa.com, you should be able to request your refund directly through the site by using the “cancellation” button under the My Bookings section. If the refund is processed with a deduction, abort the process and contact a Lufthansa service center by phone.
Though you can get a refund, the airline is not required to offer any other compensation.
Lufthansa is governed by European Union laws that consider labor disputes beyond the control of the air carrier. As a result, passengers are not entitled to compensation beyond refunds or rebooking.
But the airline is required to provide hotel, transfers and meal accommodations.
The European Union requires any carrier flying to or from EU countries must cover the costs passengers incur for accommodations, meals and transfers while they are stranded during the strike. See more about Lufthansa passenger rights here.
If you end up asking for a refund and pay a much higher walk-up fare on another carrier, be sure to contact Lufthansa later to let them know.
"It can't hurt to send the airline a note later to let them know how much you paid for another fare," Elliott said. There are no guarantees, but you might be able to wrangle some compensation from them, he said, like frequent flyer points -- or at the very least, an apology.