Lufthansa refunded one ticket but not the other. What happened?

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.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...
Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

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.