Q&A With Defendant’s Attorney In Lufthansa Hidden City Ticket Lawsuit
A few weeks ago we covered the news of Lufthansa’s lawsuit against one of their customers for skipping the last portion of their flight. This is commonly known as hidden city ticketing. Upon reading our coverage the defendant’s attorney, Dr. Matthias Böse, reached out to see if we had any follow up questions for him.
What Is Hidden City Ticketing?
Hidden City Ticketing is when someone purchases a ticket but stops traveling before all segments are complete. This is because the ticket with an extra stop is cheaper than booking the direct ticket. An example would be if I were to book a flight from Las Vegas to Detroit to New York but get off the plane in Detroit. I would do this because the flight including the New York leg was cheaper than the flight directly from Las Vegas to Detroit.
Airlines have been against this practice for a long time and Lufthansa decided to take legal action. The lawsuit didn’t end up going their way and the defendant won the case. Lufthansa has proceeded forward with an appeal of the decision.
I emailed him a few follow up questions and I will share his responses with you. He also shared a link to a more detailed breakdown of the case that he wrote. It is worth checking out as well. If you think of any questions that I missed then let me know in the comments and I will see if he would be gracious enough to answer them for us.
What do you think it would mean if you win the appeal too? For your client and for the airline industry as a whole?
Will this only effect Germany or could it go further? Since Lufthansa is based in Germany would the ruling stretch to other countries where they provide service to or does it only deal with German nationals?
Do you think they will simply change their rules to be more straight forward with the penalties if they lose the appeal? Maybe clearly defining the penalty etc. so that they can attempt it again? Or are there other German laws that they are circumventing by charging clients for skipping portions of their flights?
If there is anything that I missed that you think would be worth covering please let me know.
I find this case to be very interesting and Dr. Matthias Böse has my extreme gratitude for the willingness to answer my follow up questions.
I found a few of his points very intriguing. The point about OTAs not leading to the airline’s terms and condition section was a valuable nugget. It makes me consider booking all of my flights through OTAs versus direct bookings since you still earn frequent flyer miles when booking flights via OTAs. Plus you can get portal bonuses booking this way as well. The part about Lufthansa trying to withdraw from the case was also interesting to me and I am glad his client was unwilling to let it happen.
These types of cases seem to be popping up more and more often around the world. I don’t see how they have a legal leg to stand on. They can obviously freeze your frequent flier account for violating their terms but I don’t see how they can try to recoup funds for a flight not taken. You paid for it and it is your right to choose if you want to use it or not. They saved money on not having to provide you with peanuts or a drink and saved on some fuel costs as well. They should take that as a win.
Remember to check out Dr. Matthias Böse’s summary of the case if you would like more detail on the matter.