Lufthansa sues a man because he missed his flight

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Lufthansa will likely win because a carton of milk doesn’t come with TOS whereas the ticket does. My guess is that Lufthansa will argue that the price of the ticket is based in part of the contents of the TOS. In other words, if the TOS didn’t have the requirement that you use every leg of the flight they may have charged a different amount for the ticket.

BTW, I am not endorsing this view, but it is a common view that the contents of a contract is part of the overall value of a deal. For example, an item that comes with a “free” warranty is often more expensive than the same item without the warranty. You can see this because warranties are often offered separately for some monetary value.


Granted that many companies purposefully overbook flights, maybe they should thank him instead.


I get the appeal to consumers’ rights, but damn if that simile at the end isn’t killing me.

If you buy a gallon when you need a quart because of the lower unit price, you are a fool and are wasting both money and milk.


So if the give my seat away, I can sue them. Isn’t that kind of like breach of contract.


This just points out how crazy airline pricing is. That it can be cheaper to book a ticket that must be more expensive to provide.

Years ago, I bought one of those. Not to skip a leg, but joining someone else who was only flying part of the trip. I flew from A to B, overnight layover, then from B to C. Trip back C to B, then B to A. Joined someone who only bought B to C and back, stayed at their house the night of the layover. My tickets with the extra distance, jet fuel, and additional aircraft involved was cheaper.


I don’t know how Lufthansa does things, but most flights I’ve been on have been overbooked, with any no-show passenger seats filled in by people waiting in a queue. So most likely, Lufthansa got the money for this man’s seat as well as whoever filled it when it was empty. And they’re angry about that?


No, because the contract says they’re allowed to give your seat away.


Skiplagged helps one find these loophole flights. Remember, kids - don’t check any baggage!


Yours is a fair and obvious question:

If we buy a gallon of milk because it’s cheaper by the ounce than buying a quart, must we drink the entire carton?

However, it is not a question nor even a perspective that a product (person formerly known as customer) is eligible to adopt.

As a former travel agent, I can say that there is a logic to this - although I don’t necessarily agree with it. The practice is called “hidden city ticketing, and airlines have actually penalized travelers for it (usually by cancelling return/onward tickets when discovered) for decades.

Here’s the airlines’ reasoning. Lufthansa is in the business of selling transportation services from A to B. Tickets are actually ‘contracts of carriage’, so when you buy a ticket from A to B, you are entering into a legally-binding contract with the carrier. The airline is therefore obligated to carry you from A to B once you pay them the applicable published A to B fare.

It’s important to note that fares are based on market demand, regardless of distance. Also, most city pairs (i.e origin-final destination) require connecting or multiple flights. So, for example, the airline may charge $1000 to travel from Seattle to Frankfurt (due to higher demand) while charging only $700 for a Seattle-Frankfurt-Oslo ticket. In this case the passenger entered into a contract with LH for travel services from SEA to OSL for that fare but then broke the contract and received something of higher value (SEA-FRA) without paying the corresponding fare.


Sure, but if you need three quarts and it’s cheaper to buy a gallon and discard the last quart, than buy three indidual quarts…


It’s not that crazy when you consider that it’s focused on maximizing profitability based on competitive advantage, not maintaining a fixed margin.

Lufthansa is the only airline offering daily nonstop service between SEA and FRA (Germany’s Condor Airlines also flies the route, but not every day) so they charge a premium for tickets purchased between those two points. They’ve calculated that there are enough people willing to pay a premium for the nonstop that it’s worth losing the budget-minded passengers who will opt for a cheaper flight with a connection (or on Condor without frequent flier benefits, and possibly on a different day).

Lufthansa prices SEA-FRA-OSL more competitively because nobody offers a nonstop between SEA and OSL, and there are one-stop options from all three major frequent flier alliances as well as Icelandair and Condor. So it’s not shocking that they might end up charging more (sometimes significantly more) for the nonstop SEA-FRA than for the SEA-FRA-OSL, even though it obviously costs them more to provide the SEA-FRA-OSL service.

As a rough analogy, take carrot peelers. There might be a bunch of companies selling relatively indistinguishable old-school carrot peelers. If Acme Corp, which already sells old-school carrot peelers, patents a new peeler that works much better and also happens to be cheaper to produce, it wouldn’t be surprising if they still charged more for their cheaper-to-make peeler, because their patent gives them a monopoly on the superior product.

It will be very interesting to see if the court decides that the contract of carriage prohibiting “hidden city ticketing” is enforceable or not.


Don’t most airline TOS contain language about penalties for missing one’s flight? Ex, I arrive in the EU, the customs people have a long line, I miss my connection. Would I owe 2 grand?

I seriously doubt they carved it out so only involuntary missings are ok


Yea the old “you can’t sue us, but we can sue you” clause.


There’s a difference between missing your connecting flight and having no intention of taking your connecting flight. If you miss your connection due to airline operational reasons they are required to accommodate you; if they determine it’s beyond their control they don’t have to - although in practice they usually will anyway. But here, LH is suing them because they deliberately circumvented paying the proper fare by refusing to take the connection.


God, don’t give them any ideas.

In other news, I’m so concerned that Lufthansa is being treated unfairly that I think I’ll create a bunch of forum accounts to defend them. As you do.


According to german law TOS that are one-sided and/or too difficult to understand for a non-professional are void.

§305 German Civil Code


Yes. Here is Lufthansa’s Contract of Carriage for US passengers. Rule 5.6 says they can impose a service charge if you fail to show up for your flight, but says they won’t charge you if you don’t show “due to a delayed flight, a cancellation, an omission of a scheduled stop, or failure to provide a seat on the flight in question, or if you have failed to arrive in time for departure for one of these reasons.”

United’s contract is even more clear. Rule 6.J.1 specifically prohibits hidden city ticketing.


I understand - I just don’t care.

I’m just not buying into the idea that you can be sued for not using everything you purchased.

For example, let’s say I go to my local Whole Foods.

I want to buy ten apples.

Apples are $1.25 each, or 10 dollars for a dozen.

I buy a dozen, and give two to the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk outside the Whole Foods. Should Jeff Bezos jump out of the bushes and serve me papers since I unjustly enriched myself of lower priced apples?