Lufthansa sues passenger who missed his flight

Andrew Cummings
February 14, 2019

Lufthansa, a major German airline, is now locked in a testy legal battle against a single, solitary passenger over a deliberately missed flight.

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.

The hack works thusly: A direct flight to a specific destination city might hypothetically cost $169, but a flight to a different city that happens to connect in the destination city might be cheaper at $109.

As Travel + Leisure previously explained, Hidden city ticketing - otherwise known as point beyond ticketing - is when a traveler books a flight from point A to point B to point C, with point B representing a layover.

For example, someone flying from New York City to San Francisco could book a cheaper flight from New York City to Lake Tahoe with a layover in San Francisco - then simply get off there.

The pricing strategies for "network carriers" such as Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways is underpinned by charging less for the more flights passengers take in one booking.

An unnamed male passenger booked a return flight from Oslo to Seattle, which had a layover in Frankfurt. Rather than take the completing Frankfurt to Oslo leg, he instead took a different Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Berlin.

In December, a court in Berlin threw the case out.

While that might seem like an innocent enough act, the German airline claims that the passenger was trying to leverage the "hidden city" ticket trick, a method experienced airline passengers employ to get cheaper fares.

Though an initial ruling found in the passenger's favor, the airline has been given permission to appeal.

The more you bloody know.

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