Why did Lufthansa cancel this traveler’s flight home?


One of the joys of vacationing for many of us, is the chance to “unplug” for a bit — away from social media, email, and the constant intrusion of the internet into our lives. For Despina Spyros, that vacation luxury last summer turned out to be costly.

“My husband and I booked a round-trip flight through Expedia from Boston to Athens, Greece,” she tells us. “The travel dates were departing on June 24 and arriving back in Boston on August 8.”

Everything went fine until it was time to return home. When her daughter logged in to her mother’s email account to find out what time she needed to pick them up at the airport, she found an email from Expedia dated July 17, stating that their flight home had been canceled.

“My husband and I did not have Internet access while in Greece, so there was no way for us to check our email. If my daughter did not happen to log on to my email to confirm our arrival time, we would have been stranded at the airport, with no notification that our flight had been canceled and we would have had to pay even more for a flight home.”

As soon as she discovered the email, Spyros’ daughter called Expedia, which connected her directly to Lufthansa.

“Lufthansa stated that the flight was invalid and she needed to contact the booking agency, Expedia,” Spyros continued. “If she were to purchase tickets for us through Lufthansa for the original flight we had booked, it would have cost over $5,000. She then proceeded to be on the phone for at least three hours talking to various people through Expedia to try to get the situation straightened out so that we would have a flight home for the next day.”

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After several more hours back and forth, Expedia informed her daughter that there had been a “problem with their credit card,” and that Lufthansa had canceled the return flight and issued them a refund.

An odd explanation, given that the credit card must have been fine for the ticket to be issued in the first place. But Spyros checked to be sure.

“After our return home I contacted the credit card company, Chase, which has informed me that there were no problems with the card. The credit card company confirmed that Lufthansa refunded our account $1,636.08.”

The couple ended up buying new tickets to get home, costing $2,000 more than the original one-way fare they’d booked.

When Spyros wasn’t able to get answers, our advocates tried, without much better luck. There were no answers from Lufthansa, and when Expedia responded, it wasn’t good news.

“Lufthansa has not provided background as to why the return flight tickets were canceled. This is information only the airline would possess.”

Spyros could try posting her story to the forums on our advocacy website, which are monitored by both travel company executives and travel experts. Or now that she’s plugged in again, she might try using the power of social media to carry her case to the airline and the public. We have Facebook and Twitter information for Lufthansa also posted at our advocacy website.

But for now the real reasons behind this flight cancellation remain a mystery. And we’re forced to file this under Case Dismissed.


Dale Irvin

Dale Irvin is a semi-retired writer and editor, now living in south Florida after three years roaming around North America in an RV. You can read about those adventures at fabulousfifthwheel.com.

  • AJPeabody

    Why dismiss a case of obvious injustice? At least suggest a complaint to the relevant government agencies.

  • Annie M

    If the airline refuses to co-operate, what are the writers supposed to do? Resolutions are obtained by the staff negotiating with the airlines. If the airlines refuse to co-operate what do you expect them to do?

  • Annie M

    She should file a complaint with the DOT and look into whether this falls within EU261 for compensation.

  • Grandma

    I am the first one who prefers an internet free vaction. On the other hand not giving usable contact info to the airlines/hotels/travel agents is risky: there is no way for them to reach you about the itinerary changes.
    You do not need computer to connect – hotels almost always have a ‘business center’ (means at least one public computer) – where you can check your e-mails/notifications in every 2nd-3rd day. Or you can use internet cafes, library computers etc.

  • Bill___A

    This is the type of story that one would want to know the issues behind so it doesn’t happen – it is troubling. Probably a good idea to have internet if you are going away for over a month and you used the internet to buy your ticket, however. Obviously they had some method of contact.

  • Alan Gore

    Because Expedia knew about the cancellation from Lufthansa, it was their responsibility to contact the passengers and to find out why the cancellation occurred. This would have gone better, even on notoriously uncommunicative Lufthansa, on a direct booking.

  • MF

    Lufthansa is looking more & more like the Spirit Airlines of Europe.

  • AAGK

    I would get the support docs from Chase and sit with a banker for a few minutes to ensure all of the authorizations were timely. Asking if there was a problem with the credit card is pointlessly broad. it seems either the airline or the OTA erred and Chase will show you exactly at what point in the transaction the mistake occurred. It could even have been bank error but Chase is not going to reimburse 2k.

  • Lindabator

    Correct – and for Expedia to say LH would give them no info is bull — whenever we have an issue with a ticket, the airline contacts us and we get a full explanation as to the issue, so we can address it BEFORE they need to cancel

  • Lindabator

    NOT a cancelled flight — a cancelled TICKET —- if Expedia did something hinky, could be the reason why – and why Expedia is using the BS line of LH not telling them any info – they communicate ALL info to the ticketing agent, as WE are responsible for the ticket, and any issues regarding said ticket

  • Noah Kimmel

    stop booking through intermediaries!

    (especially lufthansa which has a fee for bookings via 3rd parties)

  • Noah Kimmel

    sounds like her ticket was cancelled, not the flight, unless I read it wrong

  • The Original Joe S

    First problem: My husband and I booked a round-trip flight through Expedia. You get what you pay for. Use a REAL travel agent.
    I’m confused: The credit card was no good for paying Luftwaffe Airlines, but they Refunded money to the no-good credit card? Sound like the chowderheads simply screwed these people.

    I buy my airline tickets within the Commonwealth of Virginia. That way, we can compel all of those chowderheads to visit our courthouse in the Commonwealth. Oh, don’t show? Default! You know what the lawyer who posts to this blog did to ’em, right? Lose by default, judgement, impoundment at zero-dark-thirty with the plane full and ready to go. Ha ha ha.
    Just remember what Churchill said about the Chermans: “They’re either at your throat, or at your feet!”

  • Lee

    Yet one more example of the gazillion reasons I only ever book directly with an airline (hotel/whatever) – third party entities can and so often do muddy things up when even the smallest thing goes wrong and, in this case, it was a very big thing.

    Hard to imagine the airline feels no need to explain why the ticket was canceled – Obviously, it feels having refunded the money was enough. Wow.

  • Attention All Passengers

    Expedia. Period. When will passengers ever learn ??????

  • Byron Cooper

    I wonder why people use Expedia, a company that operates under numerous aliases. There are a number of instances where using a good travel agent can save a trip. That includes American Express Platinum or Centurion or real travel agencies where you are dealing with a professional agent with a name and phone number. I have been in the situation where international flights have changed and the travel agent fixed the problem for me.

  • pauletteb

    There are few places in the world without Internet access. If e-mail is an airline’s only access to you, it’s YOUR responsibility to stay connected, such as providing an alternative e-mail address to someone who WILL monitor it while you’re unplugged.

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