DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: Lufthansa canceled a flight for my wife and me from Orlando, Florida, to Budapest, Hungary, via Frankfurt, Germany, last year. The airline promised a full refund. Four months later, I received a refund for one of the tickets.
I’ve been trying to get a refund for the second ticket. I have made numerous phone calls and sent emails. I’ve tried to talk to a superior and keep getting cut off. Lufthansa owes me $1,583. A representative told me the case had been “archived,” and I’ve heard nothing further. Can you help?
— Raymond Menna, The Villages, Florida
ANSWER: I’m sorry Lufthansa canceled your flight. Under Department of Transportation rules, you should have received a refund to the original form of payment within a week — not four months later. I should note the timeline on this case. Lufthansa canceled your flight in April 2021, and you received your first refund in August. So, this isn’t one of those early pandemic cases where the entire world was turned upside down.
By the way, “archiving” a complaint is just a polite way of saying they’re done with you, and no one will respond to your questions.
But your case is a little more complicated. It looks like you booked these flights through Orbitz. Lufthansa didn’t cancel your original flights; it made a schedule change. Under EU consumer protection rules, you could have received a refund or a credit. You chose a credit. Lufthansa then canceled your next flight.
That means Lufthansa needed to refund your ticket credit rather than issue a full refund. Instead, it appears Lufthansa refunded one of your tickets, but not the other. As I said, it’s a little confusing.
A case like yours is an important reminder to always read the applicable rules and consumer protections — and also, to stay off the phone. Based on your records, Lufthansa just kept hanging up on you or putting you on a long hold. Instead, keep your communication to email so that there’s a paper trail.
Remember, I list the relevant executive contacts for companies like Lufthansa on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/lufthansa-airlines/. A brief, polite email to one of them might have helped, although, as I noted earlier this month, Lufthansa has been rather unresponsive lately.
But not this time. I reviewed the paperwork on your case and reached out to the airline. A representative contacted you and offered to refund your second ticket, which you accepted.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or [email protected]