Lufthansa 'to sue passenger for not showing up to booked flight'

Kenny Grant
February 14, 2019

A method commonly used by airline passengers to get cheaper fares is at the center of a court row between a German airline and one of its customers.

The flight reportedly had a connection in Frankfurt, at which point the passenger took a separate flight from Frankfurt to Berlin, suggesting he was engaging in a practice known as "hidden city ticketing." .

Airlines are unhappy with this as it can make it challenging to track passengers, it can cause delays as planes wait for flyers who never show, and that it unfairly takes advantage of the hub-and-spoke nature of airfares, which Lufthansa is particularly vulnerable to with Frankfurt and Munich airports.

In Lufthansa's situation, an unnamed passenger booked a return flight from Oslo, Norway to Seattle, Washington that had a planned layover in Frankfurt, Germany.

The legal hounds at an airline's headquarters might argue that hidden city ticketing violates their "contract of carriage", but some travel industry observers disagree. The company claims the move is a violation of their terms and conditions, according to the court papers. Now Lufthansa is getting upset at their passengers for using the hidden city reality to save money.

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Lufthansa has been granted permission to appeal after an initial ruling found in the passenger's favour, The Independent reports.

Network carriers such as Lufthansa set their prices based on charging less for more flights.

"As this is a running court case, we do not comment on this case at this stage", a Lufthansa spokesperson told Simple Flying.

Flights with multiple layovers are typically cheaper than direct ones, which is why the practice is one travellers often use to save ticket money.

The booking website Skiplagged helps passengers find cheap deals on flights and offers a hidden city option, helping "tariff abusers" buy flights for lower prices. But Orbitz later settled its case with the site, and a judge dismissed United's portion of the suit in 2015 - mostly because the case was filed in IL and Skiplagged is based in NY.

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