Lufthansa pilots are striking again over proposed cuts to a lucrative early retirement program and will continue until 23:59 CET tonight. While the 35-hour strike was originally planned only to affect regional traffic within Europe, longhaul pilots have joined the work disruption in a show of solidarity, meaning most intra-Europe and many medium- and longhaul-flights have been canceled today. A list of cancelled flights can be found here. Here are five thing to know about the strike:
1. When will the strike be over?
The strike is scheduled to end at 23:59 CET tonight, 21 October 2014. Germans, being orderly people, tend to plan and publicize strikes in advance, so it is likely flights will operate as normal tomorrow.
2. What happens if my flight is affected?
If your ticket has been issued by Lufthansa and you are not at the airport, contact Lufthansa by telephone to discuss your options. Lufthansa is offering free or changes refunds on cancelled flights and will also work with you to find an alternate route to your destination. Even if your flight is not affected, you can change your reservation free of charge if you traveling today. The following conditions must be met:
– Tickets must be issued on/before 19 October 2014
– New date of travel must be on/before 31 January 2015
– Change of origin/destination and class of service/compartment is not permitted
– All other ticket conditions must be observed as per original ticket
If your ticket has been issued by another carrier and your trip has not begun, contact the issuing carrier to be re-accommodated – this will likely be easier than dealing with Lufthansa directly, even if the flight cancellation or delay is Lufthansa’s fault.
If your ticket has been issued by another carrier and your trip has already begun, I still recommend you contact the issuing carrier, but you can also ring Lufthansa. The point is to find a satisfactory solution and you may well run into a game of phone tag – remember to be assertive and proactive: propose a solution and push back if you are told no.
If you are traveling on a Lufthansa-issued ticket you booked online, you may be able to change it online at lufthansa.com
If you are traveling within Western Europe, you can exchange your Lufthansa ticket for travel by Deutsche Bahn. Click here to do that or visit a Lufthansa ticket counter.
3. What if I am on an award ticket?
A tricky proposition. The best advice is to call all relevant carriers, starting with Lufthansa if your flight was cancelled. If there is alternate award space you have found that works well for you, just call the issuing carrier and make the change…it will save you a headache. But if you do not see any suitable award space, call Lufthansa and insist that they rebook you on an alternate flight, even if it is in a revenue fare class. If you are traveling on a business class award, do not accept economy class on the new flight – you may really have to fight for this if dealing with Lufthansa directly.
4. Are other Lufthansa Group airlines affected?
No, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Germanwings, SWISS and Air Dolomiti are operating as scheduled.
5. What should I say to the agents to find a solution?
As I stated above, you should have a plan in place before you call – pick out at least one alternate route, confirm space is there (use Expert Flyer or at the very least, just do a flight search on an online travel agency to see whether seats are still being sold on that flight), and propose that at the start of the call.
Avoid phone tag by pushing back when you are told by United to call Lufthansa and then told by Lufthansa to call United. There is no clearly published rule governing who must help you situations like this, so you must be your own advocate and protest immediately if an agent suggests you call another airline. I’ll even go so far as to say you may need to be nasty – it was the only way I succeeded in my cancelled flight situation with Lufhansa.
As a general rule, agents at the airport will be mroe helpful than those on the phone.
If you need help, leave a comment below and I will do my best to provide a helpful answer.