“You are my last hope”

I want to help Krista Krauss. I think she deserves to be helped. And when you start an email with “You are my last hope,” how can I not at least try?

But I’m not sure she has a case.

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Krauss was on her honeymoon last fall when she ran into a paperwork problem. A common paperwork problem that, I have to admit, almost derailed my last trip to Europe. Your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your date of departure when you cross the border.

“We flew into London for the first leg of our journey on Monday, Sept. 15, without an issue,” she says. “Then we were to fly to Frankfurt on Thursday.”

They never did. A Lufthansa representative told her she couldn’t board the flight because her passport expired the next month.

“I was told by the Lufthansa steward that my passport needed to be valid three months beyond my journey, which caught me completely off guard as I had already checked in and my passport information was verified,” she says.

This “Should I Take The Case?” problem is a little different than the rest because we have a fairly good paper trail between Krauss and Lufthansa, although I haven’t solicited an official response. I will if you tell me to.

Here’s what happened next: A Lufthansa ticket agent instructed the newlyweds to go to the American embassy in London to get an emergency extension on her passport. “We arrived at the embassy 10 minutes before they closed, so they unfortunately were unable to see me,” she says. “They instead offered me the first appointment in the morning. We were forced to get a hotel room that night in London. The cheapest hotel we could find was £222.”

Here’s why she thinks Lufthansa should refund her hotel:

I am a very savvy traveler, as I work in the travel industry, and I was not aware of this three-month requirement. The passport was valid far after I was to return home and I have never heard of this law in all my experience.

I understand it was my mistake that I didn’t know the law and I take responsibility for that. But the airline let me check in and did not inform me that there was a problem with my passport.

Not only did I check in online the day before the flight, but the ticket agent checked me and my baggage in at the airport, too.

My disappointment stems from the fact that I entered my passport information, including the expiration date, online during the check-in process, and I was allowed to check in. And, I checked in at the airport with my luggage and was not told by that ticket agent either. It wasn’t until I was literally getting on the airplane that anyone bothered to correctly inform me of this situation. And by that time it was too late to change my flight and too late to get to the embassy that day, forcing us to stay overnight and delay our travels.

Let’s go straight to Lufthansa’s response:

We regretted to hear that you were not able to travel as planned on September 18, 2014 from London to Frankfurt due to passport expiration restrictions. We can only imagine your disappointment.

Lufthansa is not part of the immigration service of any country and, therefore, cannot be liable for any compliance or lack thereof. Each country’s government has its own regulations concerning visa and passport permits, and Lufthansa has no influence regarding their implementation. The Consulate or Embassy of each individual country included in an itinerary should be consulted prior to commencement of travel due to frequently changing regulations.

Lufthansa’s General Conditions of Carriage states that Lufthansa may refuse carriage if the passenger does not have valid travel documents and that the passenger is responsible for obtaining all required travel documents and visas and for complying with all laws, regulations and requirements of countries from which or to which the passenger wishes to travel or transit through.

In addition, Lufthansa shall not be held responsible for the consequences or expenses that result from the failure to obtain such documents or incomplete documentation from the non-compliance with such laws, regulations and requirements. Therefore, your request for compensation in this regard is respectfully denied.

As per Lufthansa’s tariff filings, the fare type purchased was a restricted ticket. According to your record, your ticket was issued against a special fare economy ticket by your Travel Agent which may be subject to restrictive conditions. In the case of special fares, it is necessary to contact the Travel Agency that issued the ticket for all conditions associated with the fare (i.e. maximum validity, change fees or refunds). We apologize for any misinformation you may have received.

We apologize for the inconvenience and additional expenses incurred as a result of a baggage irregularity. Luggage is normally processed with care and accuracy and the vast majority is handled without incident. Of course, we realize that statistics have little meaning to a passenger whose baggage has been mishandled and regret the less than positive impression gained.

We would like to be of assistance with your expenses while without your bags. If you would like to receive reimbursement for 100% of your purchases, it is Lufthansa’s policy to reimburse reasonable interim purchases up to the maximum liability limitations established by the Montreal Convention. Please forward the purchased items (excluding toiletries and undergarments) with original receipts to the address below. Should you not have the original receipts, please forward receipt copies or other proof of purchase for our consideration.

So, sorry — we’ll help buy a few toiletries. But otherwise, you’re outta luck.

Of course, Lufthansa is correct. It wasn’t responsible for Krauss’ passport. She was.

But here’s her point, and I agree with it. Why can’t the airline flag an expired passport before she arrives at the airport — indeed, before she books her ticket? How hard can that be?

Airlines like Lufthansa have access to some of the most advanced technology, which is used to schedule its planes, crews, and handle reservations. I’ve seen the level of sophistication and it’s pretty mind-boggling. The very best of the technology is used to set the price of airline tickets and sell them (in airline-speak, it’s referred to as “yield management” software).

Why can’t some of this technology be used to ensure your passport will be accepted?

“This experience all but ruined our honeymoon,” says Krauss. “I feel very deceived and upset that I am out $1,400 — $800 for new plane tickets, $400 for the hotel plus two $100 taxi rides. I am flabbergasted that the airline doesn’t want to take responsibility for the error in checking me in.”

That makes two of us.

Should I take Krista Krauss' case?

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253 thoughts on ““You are my last hope”

  1. While I agree with your statement on why can’t airlines implement this technology to prevent people from buying tickets or checking in with nearly expired passport dates, I don’t believe for a second that this customer works in travel and was not aware of this rule, as it’s fairly well known, thought with different dates (anywhere from 3-6 months for most of the world). I would not want to be a client of hers.

    1. In all fairness, she simply “works in the travel industry”. The “works in the X industry” is a common phrase used by people who happen to work in the same industry, even if their job is rather generic. (i.e. somebody who “works in the health industry” could be an HVAC technician at a hospital, or somebody who is “in” the travel industry might be an accountant for a hotel.)

      I imagine if she was an agent, she would have said so. (Of course, that would have made it even more horrifying that she didn’t know this.)

    2. So you are suggesting that she put herself in this situation intentionally and/or she is lying about her work experience?

      Do you buy for a second that the LH agent who issued her a boarding pass and checked her bag to Frankfurt works for LH (part of the ‘travel industry’)?

    3. I think that part of the problem is that this rule is devoid of any reasonable purpose. What the hell does Germany care when you passport expires AFTER you leave the country. I mean, who thinks of this stuff? And why would any reasonable person even consider looking this up? I get that your passport must be valid for as long as you’re authorized to stay, but what difference does it make once you leave.

      1. If your return trip is delayed for whatever reason, they want you to still be able to go home, which you can’t do without a valid passport.

        The UK, only requiring your passport be good until your return ticket is actually an exception; most countries have minimum passport validity requirements. (The US requires six months beyond your stay.)

        It’s considered a basic part of international travel to check documentation requirements when booking your trip.

        1. Exactly. Things happen, and they don’t want someone stuck in their country with an expired passport. Seems pretty self-explanatory.

        2. The US requires six months beyond your stay.

          Actually, citizens of 126 countries — including Germany — are exempt from this requirement when entering the U.S. because those countries:

          “have agreements with the United States whereby their passports are recognized as valid for return to the country concerned for a period of six months beyond the expiration date specified in the passport. those passports are deemed still valid for an additional 6 months after expiration.”


        3. SirWired, please let the US Department of State know about US passport validity requirements. They seem confused because they say your German passport needs to be valid ONLY for the duration of your stay.

          VWP Conditions

          You may travel visa free if you meet all of the following requirements:

          You have your own passport (everyone, including children, is required to have his or her own passport to travel VWP)

          Children’s passport (Kinderreisepass) are not eligible for the VWP, unless issued or extended before or on 26 October 2006. All Children’s ID (Kinderausweis) require a visa and are not eligible for the VWP. Children must have their own e-passport to travel VWP.

          You are traveling for business, pleasure or transit only.

          Your intended stay in the US does not exceed 90 days.

          Your passport is valid for the duration of stay in the U.S.


    4. any Australian can fly to New Zealand with a valid passport (it could expire tomorrow). No big deal. Point is every country is different & also depends what passport you have. No visa rubbish.

  2. Here again to me is another case of shifting or at least trying to shift part of the “blame” to someone else.. Could the airline “flag” a passport that expires 90 days or less? I’m sure they can.. They could also flag dates – “are you sure you want to come back on Saturday?” or “Please confirm the number of bags you are traveling with” I mean we could ask or even require the carrier to flag for almost everything in your booking…

    My issue here is this, at what point does it become your responsibility and not one of “they didn’t do enough to protect me … from me”

    Now…I might feel differently if there was some credible evidence that the process or system made compliance hard for the ‘average’ person (and yes, average person is ambiguous) or the information was directly supplied by the company and was materially incorrect or misleading.. but like an earlier story about getting a ticket in a foreign country for driving down a street the wrong way as per the GPS, there’s lot of technology out there, but you the human, commonly bear final responsibility for knowledge and therefore compliance.

  3. If you look at the US State Department web site US Passport and International Travel It tells you about the Passport Validity rules in literally the first paragraph after you pull up a country to check on. I would think “a very savvy traveler” would at least due this due diligence, rather depending in airlines, etc. to look after them. Germany is 3 months beyond end of trip. Britain just requires it being good for the planned trip duration, etc.
    And to complain about being forced to stay a night because you show up at an embassy 10 minutes before close. No rooms cheaper than $300+ in London? Come on.

      1. No, they are not all that expensive, far from it. I’ve been to London more times than I can count. Now, maybe they were under the gun to find a hotel and didn’t have time to peruse Trip Advisor for an hour, but really it doesn’t take that much research to find a very acceptable hotel for much less than that. Looking for a hotel for tonight (don’t I wish…), I found Premier Inn Covent Garden for £99, which is about $150. Now if they stayed near the airport, that could be different but her description sounds like they stayed in London proper.

          1. Yup! Can’t blame them for wanting a nice hotel room, except now they’re trying to stick it to Lufthansa.

        1. This is low season. They were there in the fall and had to find something at the last minute. If they had their bags with them and didn’t know London, they may have felt compelled to stay near the US embassy so they could be there first thing in the morning, but that’s not the cheap hotel area.

  4. Given that Lufthansa said “Please forward the purchased items (excluding toiletries and undergarments) with original receipts” I’d say they were willing to cover more than “a few toiletries”.

  5. “I am a very savvy traveler, as I work in the travel industry, and I was not aware of this three-month requirement. ”

    Let’s just stop after this statement. If you don’t know this simple fact you are indeed NOT a savvy traveler. It’s right on the US Department of State’s travel advisory website.

    Second, just because they let you board doesn’t mean they were in the wrong. I’m assuming your passport was valid for your initial trip and you were still inside your three month period on that flight, then when you travelled three days later on Thursday you were now NOT inside that window. Chris, as you said the airline is not responsible for your travel documents, that’s the travelers responsibility. Don’t take this case, this was clearly the traveler’s negligence.

    1. I’m assuming your passport was valid for your initial trip and you were
      still inside your three month period on that flight, then when you
      travelled three days later on Thursday you were now NOT inside that

      No, that doesn’t add up.

      “A Lufthansa representative told her she couldn’t board the flight because her passport expired the next month.”

      The UK is not part of Schengen and doesn’t have a 3-month requirement:

      Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.


  6. OK, anyone else out there seeing this Star Wars reference “Help me Obi-wan, you’re my only hope”….??

    Anyway…. Seems to me like KLM did the Krauss’ and themselves a favor – they could have let them on the flight and then they would have been denied entry into Germany upon arrival, forcing KLM to return them to England at KLM’s dime. That’s what would have happened if they had been allowed on the plane.

    So they got stopped one step before immigration – I would think spending 300 pounds on a hotel in London would beat spending the night in a holding room at the Frankfurt airport….

    1. Although, I too think the problem is the travelers. When you land in Germany all you need is a valid passport and it can be valid less than three months so she would not have been put in a holding cell but probably could have gone on about her honeymoon with no problem. She was in the wrong and is not, the best I can tell a savvy traveler. I have been dozens and dozens of countries and the rules vary all over the place. The country that is strict about this kind of thing without any exceptions is Russia. Where this would be used to extort money from you.

      1. All Schengen countries (of which Germany is one) require three months, and many require six. The state dept. has a specific note in their info page for Germany noting that Germany strictly enforces this, and that the US Embassy won’t be able to convince them to waive the requirement should you get stopped at the border.

        1. So if she flew into another Schengen country that does not strictly enforce the 3 months there might have been no issue?

          1. Yes, although I can’t say I’d want to depend on it (and neither would any airline.) If you have bad luck on entry, you are going to be put on the next flight out of the country (at your expense) and the air carrier would have to pay a fine for transporting you there to begin with.

          2. Well, the risk is still there for both Krauss and for KLM that the “other Schengen country” would enforce the rule and they’d be on the next flight out.

            It’s still in KLM’s best interest to not allow them on the plane.

  7. I don’t see how this is the airline’s responsibility AT ALL. If you book yourself, you, and only you, are responsible for your travel documents. (If you use a travel agent they are supposed to tell you these things, although they are still your responsibility in the end.) The “doc check” has always been done at the airport directly (instead of at reservation time) because requirements are always changing, and the number of exceptions and special rules is mind-boggling and often require human evaluation to interpret them.

    And I’m with the others: A “savvy traveler” who “works in the travel industry” should know that STEP 1 when booking foreign travel is to check entry/exit requirements with the State Dept. (Step 2 is to VERIFY said requirements with the country’s website and not rely on the State Dept. for the final answer) The State Dept. even has an entire web page, along with a little YouTube video on this single passport validity requirement.

    Really, for a “savvy traveler” “Step 0” is to ALWAYS have six months left on your passport, as there are lots of countries that have this as a basic entry requirement.

    Lastly, the expenses are crazy… A $400 hotel room? I know London isn’t cheap, but sheesh… Two $100 taxi rides? One, I could understand if you are trying to get from the airport to the Embassy ASAP. What’s the excuse for number 2, instead of taking the train back to the airport?

    1. Hotels are expensive in London. Not sure which one the LW stayed at, but 200 pounds is not a bad price for a last minute walk up rate in any major city.

      And if you are not familiar with the city, cabs make a good choice even though they are very expensive. While the train or even subway would have probably been a faster route from the airport given London’s traffic snarls (at least it always has been for me. I take the tube for 5 pounds and enjoy the people watching), there is a learning curve with public transit when you are not used to it.

      My major complaint with the multiple month requirement is that when you renew your passport, it is not an extension of the current expiry date, it is just for the time a passport is good. Example: if your passport is expiring next June and you renew today, the new expiry is 10 years from today not 10 years from next June. You just don’t get your money’s worth when you renew early 😉

      1. Yeah, and it’s soooo expensive to renew a passport. 😉

        The way I look at it, a passport is good for 9 1/2 years. I have always renewed mine at the 9 1/4 year mark, just in case we get into another governmental shutdown situation that results in my passport renewal being delayed.

      2. As I stated above, I call shenanigans on not being able to find a reasonable hotel. Besides the Premier Inn that I found for about $150 (if you ever go to the UK, I really recommend that brand), I did about ten seconds of searching on TripAdvisor and found several hotels, very highly rated, in central London for around $125. My guess is they went back to the hotel they had stayed in since they arrived. I get they were frustrated, and maybe didn’t want to do a whole lot of research and just wanted to get something as soon as they could. But the reasonable hotels are there.

        1. I live in London and can attest that though it’s an expensive city —
          like New York, like Paris, like many other places — it is indeed easy
          to find accommodations for less than $400 a night.

        2. I have been to London and have spent around 30 nights there in hotels over the past 5 years (mainly for work with no choice of my own for hotels). But I have never heard of the Premier Inn group and I am willing to bet many first time travelers to London most likely have not either. I’m sure someone who was not planning on staying the extra night might not research anything and head back to the same hotel they stayed in since they were familiar with that location.

          Just looked right now and found their hotels going for 114 pounds and up for tonight which is around $170. They do look like decent locations. I will have to look into one of those next time I end up in London.

  8. Savvy traveler? Works in the travel industry and does not know that different countries have different rules about how long a passport must be valid to enter a country? She says it is her fault for not checking but wants LH to shoulder the expenses for her failure to check on requirements? These passport rules have been in effect for years and experienced travelers know to check the rules on individual country requirements. Take a pass on this one.

  9. Why mention being employed in the travel industry? What kind of job?

    I say take the case, if only to try to bring the fact that you have to enter the passport expiration date when you check in and that someone looked at it before the first flight to the airlines attention. Maybe if anything it will allow them to change procedures to flag passports that expire soon for a review based on where the customer is traveling by an employee at the airport.

    And before people jump on me about responsibly of the travler (which I agree completely), isn’t that exactly the type of customer service that Chris is trying to get the airline to give to its customers?

    1. The employee at the airport DID flag it as being a problem. If they hadn’t, she would have been turned away at Frankfurt (and the airline likely would have had to pay a fine for transporting a passenger without the correct documents.)

        1. It could have very well been a different airline; she stayed several days in London before attempting travel to Germany.

          1. Not really… It was certainly a separate ticket. I would not expect an airline agent to analyze all future reservations when checking in for only one of them.

        2. She was allowed to fly because she had a 3 day stop in the UK. The UK only requires a passport be valid for the duration of the stay. Germany on the other hand requires a passport to be valid for 3 months beyond the anticipated stay.

          In other words, she had valid travel documents for travel to the UK, but not for Germany.

      1. Which employee at the airport? Maybe the employee comparing passports and boarding passes at the jetway entrance, but obviously not the employee who checked her bag….

        1. The brilliant one that saved LH having to pay a fine.
          One or two less incorrectly documented travelers to Germany – a strict country with real immigration rules. Try overstaying a visa in Germany and see what happens to you.

  10. I work in the travel industry and have done so since 2011. In my opinion, there is a basic set of rules that go along with travel, and personally, 3-6 months on your passport is at the top of my list.

    So, while I appreciate that plans went a bit a awry, it bothers me that someone who’s claiming to be so “travel savvy” is trying to blame someone else for her failure to know one of the most basic facts about traveling, one that’s easily found on most government websites. Unfortunately, I vote no.

    1. Exactly! When I first get even an inkling that I’m traveling outside the US, I check my passport expiration date to ensure it’s got at least 6 months on it. That’s just a no-brainer, especially for a…::ahem::..VERY SAVVY traveler.

      (rolling eyes…(

  11. Not just savvy but very savvy. Ugh. And works for the travel industry? Oh dear.
    Suggesting Luhfthansa should have checked her document validity online???
    Demanding for compensation for her own errors.
    What kind of help is needed for people who cannot take responsibilty for their own actions?
    Why do they need help?
    Aren’t they simply mal-educated adults? Maybe raised as spoiled kids and we are just seeing some of the effects as they make grown up choices?
    There’s a lot of real suffering in other parts of the World that need real compassion.
    This one is only about money or a credit and a person who can’t seem to understand personal responsibility.

    1. I have to admit, I might have had a little more pity on someone who claimed to have never traveled *ever*, but the claim of being a pro made me roll my eyes.

      1. I chuckled on the star wars help plea.
        The last hope was during her education. If they never learned to read the rules and accept responsibility, then how can they become responsible adults?

    2. If no one (or nothing) is checking your passport info when you enter it online for validity, then why is it required to be entered online?

      It would be a very simple check to compare the expiry date of the passport to the travel dates online when filling out the required fields and pop up a message saying “Passport expires too soon for this trip, it must be xx months beyond your return date” or something like that.

      But, yeah, I don’t even work in the travel industry but I know my passport should be good 6 months past my travel dates. Not sure where I learned that (maybe here?) but it seems I have always known it.

      1. Good question. For as long as it is entered in correct date format, the GDS will allow to create an SSR DOCS entry. PERIOD. That is relayed to the government since most require APIS for international travel (foreigners entering or departing).
        The airlines DO NOT CARE about this but have to do it for the GOV’T.
        If you make a mistake entering it, the airline will simply transmit your mistake.
        Garbage in, Garbage out.

      2. It needs to eventually go onto the passenger manifest that gets sent to the destination country before flight. The airline doesn’t really do anything else with it until you are at the airport. That checkin screen certainly isn’t meant to be a full immigration docs check.

        The rules are complicated and constantly changing. Certainly there are plenty of passports (namely, passports for Schengen members) that are good up until the day they expire for travel into the Schengen zone.

  12. I don’t “work in travel” and I am definitely aware of the passport expiration rule, just from reading dozens of similar stories in the media. I don’t see how Lufthansa is responsible for this situation.

  13. This is the equivalent of the person that opts to build their own house but fails to build it to code and wants to blame their lumber supplier….

    1. Knowing the document requirements for entry is the traveler’s responsibility. Lufthansa says exactly that on their website. She was allowed to fly to London because she was allowed entry into the UK on her passport. Here’s the State web page. It took me two seconds and one google search for “us passport requirement for germany” to find it.

    2. When will people start accepting responsibility for their own failures when they opt to do themselves? If the first statement out of the LW mouth was “Chris, I really screwed up and need your hell.” I might be inclined to say yes but that person probably isn’t reaching out to Chris. Instead, pulling the Leia impression from Star Wars and blaming everyone but herself for her mistake leads me to just want to walk away which is my vote.

    1. She doesn’t say whether she begged Lufthansa to change her flights to a day or two later. She says she bought new flights so I wonder if she asked and 1) they said “no”, 2) there was no room, 3) the $800 was for changed Lufthansa flights?

  14. I hardly ever travel outside of my country and I knew about the 3 to 6 month rule. Even though I hardly ever use my passport, I renewed it more than 6 months before expiration.

  15. It is HER responsibility to make sure her travel documents are in order. I emigrated to the US at 24 and have been back and forth many times. I have never had a problem or expected and airline to be on top of things for me even when I was young.

  16. Help me Obi Wan Elliott, you’re my last hope…but seriously, this person works in the travel industry and isn’t aware of the 90 day rule? US citizens are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days in a row before having to leave. Your passport must be valid through the end of the 90 day period. In no way, shape, or form is this Lufthansa’s problem; the lady was negligent and is learning a hard lesson, jumping in now and trying to shame Lufthansa into taking responsibility where the fault lies with someone else would not seem to fit the bill of justice.

    1. Not always true as the UK is not a Schengen country. I often travel between London and Brussels and my passport is always checked leaving the UK and arriving in the UK. The rules are different for a non-Schengen country.

    2. There is passport control at the London end in the Harry Potter looking St Pancras station. It is run by the French, since France is the first point of entry after leaving England. I don’t know how strict they are about passport expiry times because my passport has always had more than enough time when I travel that route, but I wouldn’t chance it as my primary travel option if my passport was close to expiring.

      The LW could have tried that route as a backup plan and taken the train into Paris if the passport would have passed the check there and then either flew or continued on the train into Frankfurt. You are correct that there is no further passport checking once on the continent. A Eurostar ticket to Paris most likely would have been a lot less that the new plane tickets and the hotel in London.

    3. Not in my experience, in fact, there have been trains that have been stopped seemingly in the middle of nowhere for random passport checks. First time it happened to me, I was thrown, but it is part of travel in Europe!

  17. Nobody noticed this?

    “[i]According to your record, your ticket was issued against a special fare economy ticket by your Travel Agent[/i]”

    Wait, what? Travel agent?

    Ms. Krauss is very savvy, sure. But her travel agent must not be…

    1. She does not say how she booked–possibly through an OTA where the customer is responsible for reading the disclaimers about required documentation.

  18. If the OP worked with a travel agent, shouldn’t they be the ones to have caught this? How did the travel agent even let them leave without telling them about the passport expiration issue as, many others have said, is very common in lots and lots of countries? Maybe that’s who you should talk to. Seems like a better place to start.

    1. Chris rarely goes after small travel agencies for screwups when there’s bigger fish to fry, even if those bigger fish are blameless.

      1. This comment has been flagged. While your statement may sometimes be true, for reasons that I’m not going to go into right now, it’s also a generalization that paints this site in a bad light and limits our effectiveness to help consumers.

        1. Then why do you allow or print some scandalous comments of LWs? Sometime you also make shocking statements. It’s ok to bait your readers, but they have to respond like sheeps. Wonder how ridiculous accusations of LWs help consumers. Maybe just the same way credit card ads do?

  19. “I am a very savvy traveler, as I work in the travel industry, and I was not aware of this three-month requirement.” Not very savvy at all, since even I, who does not work in the travel industry, but have traveled internationally just a few times, am aware of this requirement. In fact, some countries require a six-month window. If you ever bother to look at the visa/vaccination reqs for the countries you are flying into, this passport expiration is also listed. Don’t take the case.

  20. I voted yes. This is clearly a customer service issue. I understand that Lufthansa has a right to refuse carriage. The question is when is the best time to invoke the right. From a passenger perspective, of course, it’s before the travel starts. The airlines was very inconsistent when applying this rule in this case. They let her check in online. They let her check in her luggage. They let her proceed to the boarding gate. Then refused to carry her. This inconsistency resulted in more inconvenience to the passenger, thus merits a mediation.

      1. Yes, you may be right about the hotel, but you are missing two points: she didn’t have her suitcase during the stay; she couldn’t change her flight and instead bought a new ticket. These two inconveniences could have been easily avoided if the ticket agent didn’t let her check in.

        1. Did you miss:

          As per Lufthansa’s tariff filings, the fare type purchased was a restricted ticket. According to your record, your ticket was issued against a special fare economy ticket by your Travel Agent which may be subject to restrictive conditions. In the case of special fares, it is necessary to contact the Travel Agency that issued the ticket for all conditions associated with the fare (i.e. maximum validity, change fees or refunds

          It looks like the ticket couldn’t be changed.

          Plus LH is willing to pay for her not having her suitcase:

          We would like to be of assistance with your expenses while without your bags. If you would like to receive reimbursement for 100% of your purchases, it is Lufthansa’s policy to reimburse reasonable interim purchases up to the maximum liability limitations established by the Montreal Convention. Please forward the purchased items (excluding toiletries and undergarments) with original receipts to the address below. Should you not have the original receipts, please forward receipt copies or other proof of purchase for our consideration

          1. They don’t say the tickets were non-changeable, they just pass the buck to her travel agent regarding “maximum validity, change fees or refunds.”

            Of course, it’s their passenger, and if they chose to, they could have flown her on the next flight with open seats.

            ‘Rules were rules’ only when it suited them.

          2. I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment on tickets. Didn’t know that LH or TA sells absolutely non-changeable tickets. But I can testify this personally: Lost luggage is VERY inconvenient, no matter how an airline tries to undermine it. First, I needed to find places that sell stuff I needed. Then I needed to walk down there. It completely ruined my plan for the first day. Then reimbursement process? I’m glad to know that LH will compensate a set amount for her for basic stuff without receipts. Again, the point is that this could have been easily avoided. It’s not like her luggage was lost due to multiple connections. It was not technically lost luggage.

          3. You are exactly right it could have been easily avoided. The proximate cause of the entire event was the LW not understanding the admission requirements of the countries she was going to and making sure she met those requirements as any “very savvy traveler” would know. Simply checking her passport against all of those requirements means nothing else happens.

      2. LH checking her bag to Frankfurt didn’t harm the LW?

        And if the problem was caught at online checkin, or at the airport bag check, you don’t think she would have reached the embassy and received her passport that many hours sooner?

        I can understand why LH won’t pay for her hotel and taxi rides, but they couldn’t offer to put her on the next flight with space available, instead of requiring her to purchase brand new tickets?

        1. See below… LH is willing to pay for anything she had to purchase because she didn’t have her suitcase. She also has a highly restrictive airfare…

          1. LH is willing to pay for anything she had to purchase because she didn’t have her suitcase.

            Only if she still has all her receipts months later… did they mention this at the critical time?

          2. Shame on LH for actually wanting proof that a traveler spent money. Seriously, who doesn’t keep receipts when they plan on making a claim for something?

          3. Shame on LH if they waited 4 months to tell advise her that this was claimable — and now she has to ship any such items back overseas at her expense.

            She doesn’t mention any such claim in the $1,400 in expenses she itemizes. Just the additional inconvenience and lost time. So it sounds like she toughed it out with their carry-on belongings, possibly based on the representation at the time that LH would not cover anything.

          4. All they have to do is refer to the Montreal Convention.
            There’s a link to it when you buy a ticket.
            That’s it.

          5. Well she did not get it back when she was denied boarding. So what else could be the basis of her claim? This is quite complicated by the fact the husband was not barred from boarding. So since I assumed they checked in together, it would be interesting what happened to his luggage, too. He would have voluntarily denied boarding and probably lost his ticket value since he cancelled too late. That’s another story.

          6. “So what else could be the basis of her claim?”

            The agent’s error in accepting her bag.

            The Montreal Conventions generally limit the carrier’s liability, but I don’t, at a glance, see where the Montreal Conventions protects the passenger in any way for a bag that wasn’t damaged, or lost or delayed to its destination.

          7. Re: The agent’s error in accepting her bag.
            Isn’t that what led to her bag not being with her.
            So hence the Montreal Convention applies.
            It’s delayed.

          8. How would she claim under the Montreal Convention? Would she have to do it in the UK? Germany? What about EU 261? It would be good to know more about the relevant legislation.

          9. Please, any “savvy traveler” knows you keep your receipts if you’re expecting to get reimbursed for something. And if she paid by debit or credit card, the charges on her account would likely work as per LH’s own rules.

          10. Based on her itemized expenses to Chris, she’s wasn’t expecting to get reimbursed for interim purchases.

            Did LH tell her at the time that she wasn’t eligible to submit a claim for her bag? Did she tough it out and refrain from making purchases based on such a representation?

          11. First thing I’d be doing is checking their contract of carriage and their website for reimbursement details. Waiting for someone to come hold your hand and tell you what the rules are is not the sign of a savvy traveler. But the simple fact remains that she screwed up by not making sure she had a passport valid for the countries she was traveling to. It’s not even a shame since it was negligence that five minutes at a computer could have prevented. I have no sympathy for her.

          12. Does their contract of carriage or website cover the situation of a bag that was neither lost nor delayed, but accepted for check in (due to carrier error)?

            LH screwed up too, but you seem to have plenty of sympathy for them.

          13. It has nothing to do with sympathy. LH is willing to reimburse, so they are accepting *their* responsibility for the bag issue. The rest is on the LW, because — again — the LW wouldn’t be in the position of having checked her bags if she’d checked the passport requirements before leaving the US.

          14. LH is willing to reimburse

            When were they willing to reimburse and why?

            If ‘rules are rules’, then I’m not sure there is any basis in their contract of carriage and I’m also pretty sure the claim deadline is long past…

        2. Maybe some of the travel agents can tell us: I thought that if a passenger missed a flight, the airline had to remove his or her baggage before the plane could take off in case there’s a bomb inside. If that’s true, why couldn’t she get her bags back right away?

    1. Personally, I don’t expect the airlines (much like the cruise lines) to take on the responsibility of keeping track of rules for every nationality traveling to every possible country. Yes, it’d help the passenger, but I can imagine the blowback if a country changed its rules, the airlines were slow to update and it inconvenienced the traveler. Visa regulations are murky at best and who’s to say that governments issue notifications to airlines immediately?

      I don’t blame the airlines for not getting involved in documentation.

      1. I don’t expect the airlines (much like the cruise lines) to take on the responsibility of keeping track of rules for every nationality traveling to every possible country.

        Except the carriers already do keep track, because the countries demand they keep track. Which is why the LW couldn’t board. Otherwise, the traveler would have reached immigration at FRA before the issue cropped up.

        1. No. TIMATIC is checked or the agent knows the rules when they looked at the passport BEFORE you are allowed to board. The carrier would have been fined has the passenger flown to FRA.

          1. No, Timatic is just the tool they may happen to reference to meet this requirement.

            Are you suggesting the agent manually types every passenger’s passport information and itinerary dates into Timatic during the boarding process? Wouldn’t it be a better use of their employee’s time to pre-populate this information and to do a preliminary check ahead of time, especially if the passenger has already supplied all the information?

          2. TIMATIC is used internationally and it isn’t that they happen to use it, they do use it. The airline is required to make sure each and every passenger has the correct documents. I am sure that seasoned agents know what to look for with basic destinations.

          3. Carriers are required to enforce certain checks. The particular commercial product they use is not especially relevant unless we’re discussing the technical limitations of that product.

            You did not address the questions I raised. The rule in question in this case hasn’t changed recently, so that’s just a distraction.

          4. I haven’t a clue to what you are asking. TIMATIC is used by carriers worldwide. It has passport, visa and health regulations for all countries. What are you questioning?

          5. I told what they do. There must be a reason why it isn’t set up as you think it should be. TIMATIC is set up for worldwide use and is what they use at the airport if an agent needs to verify documents.

          6. Other carriers (don’t you say they all use the same product?) apparently are set up differently.

  21. Chris,
    I don’t think the traveler should get any additional compensation, but I think you should try to get Lufthansa to admit that their online check-in system is not as good as it could be. You should suggest that they work on it so it flags this type of situation in the future at T-24h+ rather than at T-30min when the traveler can’t do anything about it. If they made a change like that, it would help other travelers in the future.

    1. I disagree. That puts Lufthansa in a quasi-immigration or…something, role that they shouldn’t be in. They’re asking for information in order to pass it on, not in order to determine validity of documentation. It also puts them in a place of liability if the system glitches, or what about the fat fingered people who transpose a date and are cleared to go until they get there and the mistake is identified. Nuh uh. The responsibility needs to remain on the traveler in my humble opinion.

      1. But wouldn’t it be a good customer service practice for an airline to notify a passenger when they enter their passport info into a web site when booking a ticket that most countries require a six month validity after travel to let you in? Maybe not deny them the ability to book the flight, but just put strong language in a notice on the webpage that the passport is expiring soon and the passenger should check the requirements before arriving at the airport?

        1. I think they could definitely have a flag. I booked an overseas flight last week, and it flagged that I was arriving the next calendar day, and also that I was flying into one airport and flying out of another (which was on purpose but I appreciated their checking). They could have a message come up when your passport is less than six months, saying “Please check for all countries you are visiting to ensure your passport is valid for entry”. Anything more specific than that, I think they are putting themselves in a spot where a law changed and they didn’t get their website updated timely, and the passenger could say they relied on that information.

        2. Sure… but there are so many “wouldn’t it be good customer service” things that they COULD do… just not sure where it begins and ends…*shrug*

      2. But they already are in a quasi-immigration role. The person at the gate and the person at the check in counter are already checking for this type of information. Online check in should work the same way as checking in with a person, that is all I am saying. I’ve seen lots of instances where OLCI was prohibited because of an unaccompanied minor, a need to verify a physical credit card, a pet attached to the reservation or a variety of other reasons. They should add passport validity to the list of checks that is done before OLCI is permitted.

  22. You shouldn’t bother Lufthansa with it. As they said, every country has their own rules and it should be the country itself taking care of it.

    While I lived in Italy, one prominent Italian politician once said “How can organized crime be so successful and hard to eradicate? Because they are organized, we are not.” Unfortunately, this applies to whole Europe. There are certainly places well and better organized then U.S. even, but the whole is just a bunch of fiefdoms and, as Kissinger once famously put it, there is not a number I can call when I need to talk to a person in charge.

    So, long story short, if European Union would simply organize itself and create a visa-waiver program like US and make you compile something like ESTA online … none of that would be a problem anymore. By the way, U.S. requires 6 months valid passport to obtain a visa or ESTA.

    So, Chris, barking at Lufthansa would be barking up a wrong tree. I understand it is an EASIER tree to bark at, but that does not make it the correct one.

    1. Errr… the European Union HAS organized itself and created a visa-waiver program like the US. It’s called the Schengen agreement. But just like the US visa-waiver program, you need a passport with a certain minimum validity.

      (And UNLIKE the US, you don’t need to jump through any bureaucratic hoops… show up at the border with a US passport good for six months and you go right in; no pre-clearance necessary.)

      1. I guess you selectively missed this part “and create a visa-waiver program like US and make you compile something like ESTA online …” If they would have you compile a form online (how hard can that be?) for a formal 6 months visa, then they could catch all document irregularities they deem are so important to enforce.

        1. I’ll take the FREE Schengen visa waiver process over a pre-authorization that inevitably is another fee to pay (and can often put a crimp in last-minute travel plans if something delays it clearing.)

  23. She does not say what area in the travel industry she works for, but as a travel agent, I am VERY well aware of the 3 month rule and in some cases 6 month rule applied to international travel. I am sorry about the hassles she endured but she needs to suck this one up.

    1. Depends on country. The Schengen agreement says three months, but many Schengen countries require six if you happen to enter the Schengen area in their country.

      However, given the number of countries (Europe or not) that require six, it’s a good idea to renew that early in general.

    2. She got to England because her passport met the entry requirement, but to get into Germany it didn’t. They broke up their travel with a layover in England, so it wasn’t until they checked in for the next leg of the journey that she had the issue.

  24. What? No one has mentioned travel insurance yet?

    By the way, don’t take the case. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and Lufthansa is not a law school.

    1. Alas … I don’t think Travel Insurance would cover this one… In fact, I think documentation issues are excluded from most policies

  25. She may consider herself a “savvy traveler,” but her not being aware of the passport issue says otherwise. A sad story, especially on her honeymoon, but I don’t think she has a case.

  26. Don’t mediate.

    By her reasoning, if she gets a ticket for speeding, then not only should she be able to get out of it because she wasn’t caught speeding that day before, but the police should reimburse her for the cost of having to go to court. Feh.

    I’ve only traveled internationally once, and I made darned certain that I wasn’t going to have my trip ruined by passport issues. If this was her honeymoon, she should have practiced even more diligence. When I checked the passport requirements for Europe it was pretty clear on the US Gov web site that you need a three month leeway. Seriously, you go to the main site, click on “Country Specific Information”, type in the country you’re travelling to (Germany), and it’s the FIRST thing on the page: Passport Validity: Must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area and contain at least two blank pages.

    If she’s a “very savvy traveler”, then she needs to suck this one up.

  27. “I am a very savvy traveler, as I work in the travel industry, and I was not aware of this three-month requirement. The passport was valid far after I was to return home and I have never heard of this law in all my experience.
    I understand it was my mistake that I didn’t know the law and I take responsibility for that.”
    Krista says it all. I am shocked that Krista would admit working within the travel industry and not knowing that different countries have different rules re: passport expirations. Many require 6 months, and every person working with international air knows to check that.
    I cannot blame a computer for accepting a passport number and expiration date. It very well was legal for other LH destinations.
    Dump this one.

    1. I like how she neatly sidesteps her own comment about taking responsibility: she knows it was her fault, but she still wants LH to pay.

      Responsibility. She keeps using that word, but I do not think it means what she thinks it means.

      1. I believe in this case the official definition is “I will pay lip service to the concept of fault, as long as I don’t face any actual consequences and someone else cleans up my mess.” I remember that “definition” very well from my days as a HS teacher 😉

      2. Hah, I was thinking about posting “Savvy – she keeps using that word, but I do not think it means what she thinks it means.”

    2. Pretty funny definition of “responsibility” she has there. She’s “responsible” but wants LH to cough up a large pile of cash anyway.

  28. As a traveler, I almost got caught in this, too. I think you should take it in order to point out (probably uselessly) that airlines could do something customer-oriented for a change.

    1. You use the phrase, “almost got caught” so presumably you didn’t and were able to travel or get your documentation squared away. Which means you found out the information ( through research?) ahead of time. And that is the point that everyone here is trying to make. The customer should have done her research, as well. Adults, old enough to get married and travel to Europe on a honeymoon shouldn’t need their hands held through the process.

      1. I wasn’t looking for it, wouldn’t have assumed there would be an issue, but it’s something my husband knew and told me. Never once did I read about this issue nor did it come up with a TA, airline, or in my reading of travel magazines and websites.So, no, I didn’t research it because it would have never occurred to me. It’s not on the passport and I would assume an expiration date is just that. An airline using existing technology to provide a considerate service to their customers is hardly holding their hands. We see little enough customer service as it is. I’m a VFF overseas and have been for maybe 30 years. I just don’t think it’s too much to ask that a company that makes money off passengers do this. Perhaps I’m just not as punishing as other travelers.

        1. Ok, so your husband knew. Apparently he was born with the knowledge and likewise didn’t research it or seek the information. But the fact is, he, and through him, you knew ahead of time. The OP and presumable her spouse, did not. I don’t think it’s too much to ask passengers that want to travel to foreign countries to take it upon themselves to learn the rules for doing so, rather than expecting the airlines whose job it is to TRANSPORT them, to do it for them, but perhaps I’m just not as needy as other travelers.

  29. Re: Why can’t the airline flag an expired passport before she arrives at the airport.
    Because the passenger is the one VISITING the foreign country and it is their responsibility to have the correct documents. And, because they do not have to. Why should they take on that responsibility?
    The airlines real responsibility is to the country of arrival and its stock holders since it does not want to get fined for carrying a passenger with insufficient documents and be required to return the passenger back to their origin. That’s the only reason they check your passport VISUALLY or through a scan.
    Again and again, passengers fail to realize the airlines are simply transporters.
    The only reason why they collect passenger information (APIS) is so they can give it to the departing and arrival (and transit if any) countries because that is required by law. It is garbage in, garbage out because that is what the law requires. The airline merely collects and transmits.

    They are not human travel agents who will advice their clients about passport, visa, etc. issues.

    You cannot blame an airline for your own stupidity.

    1. Isn’t it in the interests of their stockholders, and the country of arrival, to flag this programmatically as early as possible? Before the point where a small oversight by a human boarding agent (with pressure to get the flight out on time) would lead to fines?

      And isn’t it also in the interests of their stockholders to treat their customers better than their cargo, to minimize snafus and dissatisfaction and to encourage repeat business?

      1. MIchael the passport was valid for getting into England. Had it not been, she would not have been allowed to board. The carriers get fined for boarding passengers with improper documents.

        1. the passport was valid for getting into England

          Where did I suggest otherwise? In fact, I already wrote so in several other comments, and included the relevant links to Gov.UK and travel.State.Gov

          The carriers get fined for boarding passengers with improper documents

          Exactly. So isn’t in the interests of their stockholders to flag this before the point where only the sharpness of a human boarding agent at the entrance to the jetway avoids a fine?

          1. The passport information was fine for the first leg of the trip. It is the passengers responsibility to make sure their documents are appropriate for all parts of the trip. Shots included. The carrier has TIMATIC on their website for passengers to use….use it!

          2. The passport information should not have been accepted for a boarding pass to FRA or for checking luggage.

            You ignored the question. Even if one doesn’t care about the passenger and sees fit to treat them like cargo, isn’t it in the interests of shareholders to catch this sooner and programmatically, if only to better avoid fines?

            BTW, a search for Timatic (any capitalization) on lufthansa.Com produces no hits.

          3. The system is set up to submit a passport that hasn’t expired. Validity isn’t set up for each country. The agent at the airport has that responsibility. I can see an issue of error if you solely relied on a computer system. There still needs to be a human verifying things.
            I posted a link for TIMATIC. Bookmark it for future reference.

          4. Who said anything about relying SOLELY on a computer system? One of the agents at the airport accepted her luggage. Sounds like a reason not to rely solely on a single human being.

            I have flown with someone with a green card and can attest that the online ‘system’ could be setup (and sometimes is set up) in a more sophisticated fashion than you suggest.

          5. Several airlines I have flown internationally check passports before allowing bag check or issuing a boarding pass. Sounds like a deficiency in the LH system if either are allowed without the passport check prior.

          6. Must be a contractor in LON who got the husbands documents first and saw it was ok so tagged the bags. They were dropoff since they checked in online. This human mistake was caught by another human prior to boarding. So for LH the system worked. Deny boarding pax with improper docs. Success.

      2. No airline I know does what you want. So I have to believe they all have smart stockholders. The system in place today is fine. How many people complain? Just this very savvy one?

        1. This is just one more reason the airlines are not happy with online bookings. People don’t take the time to do their homework and it is causing the carriers a lot of headaches.

        2. It wasn’t the same circumstance or carrier, but a travel companion was unable to checkin online because of a passenger/passport information check that erred on the aggressive side.

          On this site alone, Chris has written several times about other passengers whose passports were due to expire too soon in the future. I bet it happens to passengers every single day.

          The cynic in me wonders whether, for some carriers, the short term revenue boost from these passengers (without utilizing a seat), and/or the licensing costs of additional checks against the Timatic system they use, trumps the other potential incentives I mentioned in their calculations.

  30. You can surely try to help her, but passport and visa requirements are fairly easy to research. If she’s in the travel industry, it is quite odd that she didn’t know to verify her passport validity and that bureaucracy reigns supreme when travelling internationally. “There’s no reason for it, it’s just the way we do things here.”. For the record, I believe your passport needs to be valid for 6 months, not three. There’s also a requirement of a certain number of empty pages but I’ve never researched that, since my passport was just renewed. While it would be lovely, an international traveller certainly can’t expect the airline to be responsible for her personal documents.

    1. The 6 mos rule of the thumb is really a good minimum.
      Thing that is interesting here is that is was a honeymoon.
      I don’t understand why she was not more prepared.
      Does not look the husband had a problem though, only her.
      Looks like real negligence to me.

  31. While I share your desire for better IT systems at airlilnes, my experience with Lufthansa would put it as one of the worst and compound that with subpar customer service for non-elites (even partner elites) and I’m not surprised she is out of luck. Commenters vituperation with her lack of knowledge is all too typical of blame the customer and an approach that that quickly goes legal…. My experience with jetBlue is 100% different on each.

    1. But she claims to be very savvy and is employed in the travel industry. That makes a big difference in how we are looking at her letter.

  32. Krauss could not seriously consider herself a savvy traveller if she does not know that basic rules relating to passports. It is common knowledge that your passport needs to 3 to 6 months validity. Yes the airlines IT should flag this, but how can someone say they work in the travel industry and not know such a simple rule??

    1. When I was a teenager I worked as a caddie at a golf course that was featured in Frommers. Maybe I can claim I worked in the “travel industry” now too?

  33. I think she used the wrong “lever” – I would stress that entry of the passport information at the time of ticket purchase and at check-in constituted acceptance of the documents for travel. The issue was not that she was denied boarding at the last minute, rather that she was allowed to proceed through security with invalid documentation. Laying out a case in terms of: “I arrived well on time, presented documents as requested, and was cleared to go to Security. I did not conceal anything… Had your people done their job, there would have been sufficient time to remedy this issue.” I’m not sure that the hotel and cab fare is in bounds – if the issue were found at check-in, this would be incurred anyway… If it were me, I would have dropped the hotel and cab, instead focusing on the 1400 ticket.

  34. such is a very common requirement. LH is simply enforcing the passport laws of Germany. she can return to the US with a passport that is soon to expire. She can also travel to France on Eurostar, then take another train to Germany since under Schengen, the Germans don’t care about interborder surface travel – but you are not flying anywhere in Europe.

    It is her fault for not knowing the rules.

    1. She couldn’t get into France either. The UK isn’t part of the Schengen zone (several EU members aren’t); they only require your passport be valid up until your return ticket. Since France is in Schengen, they have stricter requirements. (The State Dept. info page on Schengen says minimum three months, but some countries (France is one) require six.)

      1. hmmm – ok – I’ve never even been asked for a passport getting off Eurostar at Gare du Nord. Just get off and go . . . they’re looking at you carefully but its one of those things if you have the cash for the fare . ..

        1. Pre-clearance. Your basic passport info is sent to the destination country prior to travel. If they send over a passport that won’t meet the requirements, France would simply reject the manifest and instruct the carrier not board the passenger. (The US does the same.)

          (Yeah, French border control once you get there does seem to be a bit lax; last time I went to Paris, I just about strolled by the passport booth.)

        2. Your passport is checked before you get on the train in London — by French border agents. So you are officially already in France as soon as your passport is stamped in London. No need for additional check on arrival.

  35. Seems to me that the US embassy dropped the ball, too. She arrived before closing, in a foreign country, with a solveable emergency, and they told her to come back the next day?
    Worst. Customer. Service. Ever.
    Shame on them.

    1. A traveler forgetting to keep her passport up to date and not being able to continue on her honeymoon is not an “Emergency”. If she was trying to see a sick close relative on his/her deathbed, sure… But not a vacation.

      I, for one, don’t want my tax dollars paying overtime to keep the doors open (it takes time to issue a new passport; it’s not a matter of just scribbling a new date on the old one) because somebody didn’t read the most basic rules before travelling.

      1. Sorry, I disagree. For a traveler who’s in a foreign country and has no valid passport, it’s an emergency. And the embassy could have helped in some way. I’m not sure, but I would think it shouldn’t take too long to obtain an emergency extension of her passport.

        If you think your tax dollars would be higher if the embassy helped travelers with problems like this, you’re dreaming. First, if it took just a few minutes to help her, there would likely not be any overtime at all. And if there actually was overtime, a certain amount is already built in to the embassy’s budget. And helping travelers with problems – major or minor – would only help to justify the tax dollars we pay.

        Simple assistance like this is exactly what the embassy should be doing.

  36. if she is in “the travel industry” then she should know that any travel agent worth their salt now tells any traveler that their passport must be good for at least 6 months after their return date. then a client will not run into the issue that she had, where different countries have different passport expiration rules. yes, it is ridiculous that when she did her LH online check in that the computer did not tell her the expiration date wasn’t long enough, but she should have known.

  37. So sorry this happened to Krista, but the rule of thumb for most folks I know who travel overseas is to go with the 6 months validity of your passport since a number of countries require this. Granted some only require 3 months, but I never want to take chances so stick with the 6 month validity to err on the safer side.

    Planning for a honey money would have to have been well in advance, so not much of an excuse here in my opinion. It would have been courteous for Lufthansa to have covered her costs, but not their responsibility. Also, as expensive as London is, hard to believe that the cheapest hotel she could find was that costly.

    Just like in renting a car in Europe and prividing your age but finding when you pick up your car that the age limit for your rental agency is 70 and you are 71 so you cannot get your car! That happened to us and we accepted the responsibility was ours for not having read their fine print! Consumer beware. Always read the fine print.

  38. I rarely comment until I’ve read the rest of the comments beneath an article, but in this case I’m not even going to bother, as I can already imagine what most of them say.

    No. Don’t bother.

    I don’t work in the travel industry, and even I know that you never leave the country with a passport expiring less than 6 months from now. I don’t know the rules for all countries, but I’m vaguely aware that at least a few of them require that your passport be valid for 6 months. Hers was only valid for a month? Yeesh! I wouldn’t have set foot outside the US with that passport.

    And for my honeymoon? You don’t take chances with your honeymoon.

    Totally on her. And kudos to Lufthansa for being willing to pay for anything that at all. Just charity, as they owe her nothing.

    No, it’s not their responsibility to build a database to flag passport issues. Passport and visa requirements change all the time. That is the traveler’s responsibility.

    1. Good thing I bought a lottery ticket earlier in the day … must be my lucky day. First time the two of us agree in months!

      1. LOL! I was thinking the same thing, after I read your comment below. And just as I expected, the vast majority of comments are saying almost exactly what I’m saying (barring a couple of outliers).

  39. Whilst I have some measure of sympathy for the woman, because — well, because I have sympathy for someone who’s in a bind — I must say I think she’s asking for too much. And I think Lufthansa is being quite reasonable, even generous. Many other readers have already commented on the theme of responsibility.

    I do find it odd, and a bit sad, that Miss Krauss states, “This experience all but ruined our honeymoon.” Really? I should think a newly married couple would have plenty of reason to be happy on their honeymoon and not have it ruined by a bump in the road. Furthermore, it could be chalked up to an adventure they later tell their grandchildren about.

    1. You’d be surprised at the things that can “ruin” trips for many that write in. One person complained to Chris that they deserved a full refund because one of the three pools on their cruise ship was out of order.

      All good travel requires a bit of letting things roll off your back.. 100% safe options are the least interesting.

      1. Really? A pool?? And did the complaint get a sympathetic hearing?

        Quite agree with you about letting things roll off one’s back. That’s part of the fun of travel. People who expect everything to go perfectly should perhaps not be travelling.

  40. I don’t think you should take up her case as she should have checked. Yes, that was her responsibility. However, I do agree that maybe you should make a case to the airlines to flag reservations without a valid passport. Basically I see two different issues here. And the airlines will always win because they want more money in their pocket. So as a consumer advocate if using her case helps change policy, then yes, you should take it.
    I voted no, bit only because there wasn’t a “maybe” option.

  41. The couple flew into London, which England allows entry with a US passport that only has to be valid for the length of stay. Then the couple was flying to Germany which has a different requirement on a US passports validity.
    The passport entered met the requirement for the first leg of the trip.

  42. One thing to look at is “root cause” analysis. The root cause is the so called “very savvy traveler” not ensuring her paperwork was in order. It is somewhat alarming that someone who works in the travel industry is not aware of this.

    It is not an unknown rule, it is not a new rule, and I’m pretty sure that many travel sites, in addition to mentioning to check for visas, also state to make sure your passport is valid for six months past your anticipated return.

    This is not in any way Lufthansa’s fault, even if they let them fly to London. It is 100% the traveler’s responsibility.

    1. LH doesn’t fly from the US to LHR. She probably flew on UA and UA did their job on the first leg, since the couple stayed several days in LHR.

  43. I can’t believe anyone who travels often doesn’t know the rule about passports expiration date. I have had border patrol tell me “Looks like you will need a new passport this year” when they checked my docs. If you don’t have a permit to reside, most countries will only allow you visitors visa, and they have the right to tell you how long that visa will be for. They don’t want you to overstay your passport, for fear they cannot deport you to your home country if you break the law. I also think if she found a room in London for 222 pounds, she was lucky!

  44. I voted no. The airline does bear some fault for allowing her to check in at the start of her trip, but it is still the passenger’s ultimate responsibility to have a valid passport and to check the rules of the countries being visited. I find it extremely strange that although she works in the travel industry, she was not aware of the three-month rule. I don’t work in the industry and I have been aware of that rule for a long time. And her honeymoon was not “ruined.” It still happened, she just had to pay extra money for the new tickets.

    1. The airline was only required to verify what she needed for her first leg, as she was laying over in England. They did that and her passport met those requirements. They were not checking her on to Germany, that was London’s responsibility.

  45. Well. I finally went and read all the comments.

    Christopher, you must be thrilled! How often does your entire reader community come together and agree so fully?

    You’d think we’d never argued with each other before! 😉

    Hey, wait a minute…did you do this on purpose, just so we’d stop fighting and all agree with each other for a change? You rascal! ;->

  46. “Of course, Lufthansa is correct. It wasn’t responsible for Krauss’ passport. She was”
    I’m not persuaded. Originally, no doubt this is true. But by requiring the consumer to input their passport information, you are perhaps creating the reasonable expectation that you are properly vetting the information to see if they can travel with you. I’m not totally persuaded by this view either, but it’s a discussion, not a clear “Lufthansa wasn’t responsible.”

    1. All the system does is check that the passport hasn’t expired. Validity for each and every county on the ticket isn’t what the system does.

      1. I understand. But if that point is not clearly explained when you input your passport information, I could easily see somebody reasonably believing that it did check for whether they would be allowed to board their flight.

        1. I believe a message is given that it is the passengers responsibility to verify validity somewhere in the process as it was there when I booked my trip using miles to Europe.

          1. But it seems like a mixed message: “You must verify that your passport is valid to travel. Now please provide me with your passport information so that I can verify it.” I don’t know. I’m not sure what the legal theory is, but I do know that if there is a valid legal theory, it would definitely be possible (though not certain) to persuade a jury that the passenger reasonably relied on the airline to verify the information.

          2. The passport is only checked as not being expired. From United’s site during the booking process:

            Entry requirements

            All destination countries, including the United States, have travel document requirements for entry. In addition to any travel document requirements for departure, customers must satisfy travel document requirements for entry into the destination country and, depending on the itinerary, for transit through a country. Note that some countries require passports to be valid for at least six months.

            Passport, visa and health requirements for entry into destination countries and for transit through a country are provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on united.com as a courtesy and must be verified before travel. For entry into the United States, additional information may be found on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

          3. From my current United reservation, which asks me to enter my passport number and expiration date: “Passport, visa and health requirements may apply for your destination. Contact the consulate of the country of your destination or United Airlines Reservations for details. For U.S. Passport Services, including application information, visit the U.S. Department of State at http://www.travel.state.gov.”

          4. I think you bring up a valid point. Assumptions with DIY’ers. Not just in travel but in many things where permits, permission, etc is required. It isn’t easy finding things out if you don’t know the questions to ask. But when you take the job on yourself, you are the contractor and need to make sure you do things properly.

  47. “I am a very savvy traveler, as I work in the travel industry” would know that a passport should have at least 3 months remaining on it – and for some countries it has to be 6 months.

  48. I got a passport 2-3 years back and when I was getting it, I was told in writing that you would need to renew your passport x months ahead of time. basically it is a passport supposedly good for 10 years that really is only good for 9 years.

  49. I sympathize, but I voted, “No.” This is a lesson learned for future travel. I wonder whether any kind of travel insurance would have paid under these circumstances.

    I just sent my passport in for renewal, a full year and a half before it expires. Why? because it needs extra pages. I had only 2 unused pages left marked with the word, “Visa” plus the extra unmarked pages that seem to serve no purpose. I decided to save a couple of dollars by renewing early and getting one with more pages. (I hope I live long enough to fill it up.) If the LW is reading this, please be aware that different countries require a certain amount of blank “visa” pages at the beginning of your trip. It’s not just the expiration date that can trip you up.

      1. The things I learn from this site. When I get home the first thing I’m doing is digging out my passport to see if I have empty pages!

  50. It seems from the letter the airline sent that the LW had a travel agent. Shouldn’t they have know about the restriction and warned the LW?

  51. In some European countries passports need to be valid for at least 6 months of entry date. This makes perfect sense as if you stay your maximum allowed time in the country and then try to leave with an expired passport you will have problems.

    I have dual citizenship and follow my documents very closely. There are even fines for expired passport and ID in my country. A passport is a serious document and the expiration should be monitored.

    What could have been done by the airline: in the field asking you to input passport number, also have you input expiration date. Then it checks to see versus the country you are traveling to and issues a warning.

    1. The latter isn’t how it is set up worldwide. It only verifies that your passport has not expired.
      It is up to the passenger to verify validity for travel, not the carrier.

    1. They are checking for a current ID and that is what the passport entry is about. Not validity, just that your passport hasn’t expired.

  52. I’m almost always on the customer’s side, but I don’t find her situation persuasive. Every time I’ve ever had to fly internationally (very rare), somewhere I see this rule about a passport must last until 3 or 6 months after the trip ends. I’m sorry she’s out additional money, but every guidebook and website, almost, lets you know this. It’s in the first two hits of “Germany passport tourist” on Google (which I, at least would check just to know if I needed a visa or not).

  53. A lot of people (and the original article) posted wondering why LH IT doesn’t catch that.

    Easy answer: A full immigration docs check would make for a heckuva confusing form online. There ARE plenty of passports good up until their expiration date (namely, passports from Schengen area countries.) US passports? Well those are no good if near expiration, but don’t absolutely require a visa. But if you are going to be doing a docs check for anybody, now you have to do it for everybody.

    1. Not suggesting that each airline do a complete doc check at booking time. Just that they add a pop-up on the web page for DIY travelers that would state something like: “The passport you entered expires soon after your travel dates. Please check with the countries you will be visiting to ensure the passport is valid for travel.” if the expiration is 6 months or less after the end of travel.

      1. For something like that, the passenger would have to do a separate entry for each county that they have a segment to a different country. A pop up would not work, but a statement attached to the entry, so it could be referenced would be better. Or, have a link with information on their website…oh wait, they do!

      2. And then every Schengen citizen with an old passport is going to get a warning they could actually ignore.

        And what about travelers leaving Germany? Or going from the US to the UK? And what about Schengen-like agreements in other destinations?

        It quickly becomes a “solution” that is only valid for a few people, or a morass that would make it a pain to program and keep updated.

        1. Exactly. So instead, they put a page on their website for passengers to verify documents that are needed and a link to TIMATIC to check what they need. They place the responsibility squarely on the passengers shoulders.

          People are getting hung up on a technicality.

          1. So instead, they put a page on their website for passengers to verify documents that are needed and a link to TIMATIC

            Where is this link to TIMATIC? Either on lufthansa.Com, or on other carrier sites (aside from KLM)? I see KLM has a page, but it doesn’t appear to be linked from any of the pages in the booking process.

          2. I just found it on KLM’s website. LH’s is under Star Alliance. When I tried a booking with UA it gave me a page for things to know and a link to TIMATIC came up that way.
            I can’t post the links as it won’t show up here without approval.

          3. Here is LH’s English/US Star Alliance page (not seeing anything there):

            Here is their English/US Travel Preparations page (there’s promotional guides to 120 destinations, but not seeing anything about entry requirements there):

            Here is the full English/US Site Map (not seeing anything obvious there either):

          4. Ms Krauss flew UA for her outbound journey. She would have found TIMATIC there to check for her onward journey to Germany.
            This is from LH’s site. For all members of Star Alliance, even UA, TIMATIC is location on the Star Alliance site. I
            Which entry documents do I need for my journey?

            The entry documents you require for your trip depend, among other things, on your nationality and destination.

            Please note that the onus is on you, the passenger, to enquire about the entry requirements for your destination and any transit country, if applicable, prior to your trip and to have the necessary entry documents ready to hand.

            We, as an airline, cannot undertake any examination of passengers’ identities or travel documents when they book their tickets. This takes place at the airport directly before departure. At this point airlines are then also entitled to refuse carriage to passengers with incomplete travel documents.

            Please also note the information regarding data collection for the USA.

          5. If one types the question “Which entry documents do I need for my journey” into LH’s Help section, one gets back the generic response you quoted. There’s no link to TIMATIC there (nor links to anything else other than TSA Secure Flight).

            BTW, Ms. Krauss, according to the response from LH, booked with a Travel Agent.

            United does have a link three levels down in it’s Travel Information section, but it’s not part of their Site Map and as far as I can tell, and also according to Google, there are no links to it from the booking/reservations area, nor from any other indexed page of their site.



          6. Until today, I had checked the US government page but until today I had never heard of TIMATIC. Just answering the questions for my upcoming trip was enlightening. I am bookmarking it!

          7. It is extremely helpful if you tend to travel in 3rd world countries due to the health requirements going from one country to another while transiting through another. Lots of things people don’t often think about.

          8. The systems agents use can be helpful if you travel a lot. For the occasional traveler, travel.state.gov, confirmed by the consulate website for the country you would like to visit, is usually sufficient.

  54. I do so sympathize with her but her solution moves the responsibility and burden of being up to date on the laws, regs, and other immigration trivia of every country from the flier to them and I think that is unreasonable. Yes, the airline does check, it is at the gate and it is checking the traveler’s “work”. By shifting the task of being responsible for knowing what the rules are to the airline, then they become the fall guy for every mistake, or problem that comes up because they missed something. Who in their right mind would set up their company to be such a fall guy? That’s just crazy.

    There is amazing technology available to travelers called the internet. It took me 15 seconds to find http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/germany.html

    Sorry, she’s the one at fault and while the airline might have the capacity to be a help, we all know that would be a “no good deed goes unpunished” situation for them to do so.

  55. Although, “Lufthansa’s General Conditions of Carriage states that Lufthansa MAY REFUSE carriage if the passenger does not have valid travel documents”

    It did not say “must refuse”. Is there discretion here?

    1. No, not really. If a passenger arrives in a foreign country without appropriate entry paperwork, the airline is usually subject to a fine and the luckless passenger gets detained in the airport until they can be put on the next flight back to where they came from.

  56. I say yes.. But, only because I agree with you that they should check this at online check-in or at the time of ticket purchase. I’d only want to see you push for that change to be made.. Not for reimbursement of the costs this led to.

    1. It would have to be done with all carriers and do you know think that there is a reason this isn’t currently done? I am guessing there is a reason.

  57. If she were a savvy traveler, she would have A) known about this rule, and B) been able to find a hotel in London for less than 222 pounds.

    This rule is plastered everywhere. Going by the embassy and getting a new passport shouldn’t have been a major disruption in her travel plans.

  58. For countries to which I am admitted with a passport only, I’ve seldom been asked to enter my passport information into a record at the time of booking a ticket. I’m not sure at the point of sale that Lufthansa would have had any way of knowing this customer’s passport expiration date problem, nor at any time until arrival at the airport ticket counter. It is always the traveler’s duty to be sure documents are in order.
    I do think it’s too bad, and I think it’s fine for Chris to see what he can do, but the customer’s statement that “I am a very savvy traveler” doesn’t ring true with her actions. Savvy travelers get their passports renewed with plenty of anticipation, and check into the regulations before traveling abroad.

  59. And as an experiment, I put in an incorrect date of 5/27/2015 rather than the correct date 5/27/2020. It took the date with no warning. It also says entry of the passport information is optional. IIRC, it was not optional with American.

  60. I don’t think she has a case, and while I feel for her, as someone who has traveled extensively and even spent a summer in Europe traipsing about, it is pretty well known that there are some countries that you enter that may require a valid passport that does not expire for at least 6 months. Even when I spent the summer in Europe, I had to have documentation from my school of why I was there, it was just a letter, but it was required and I was asked for it upon entry. I don’t know why some countries have this rule, but I have run into it.
    I am also concerned about what hotel they stayed at, as she could have found something cheaper, a 300 hotel room, even in London, is pricey. And the taxi, well, I guess if she had been that concerned about funds, then the tube is great transportation. I used it many a times, to get to and from the airport. In fact, it was quicker than a taxi on many occasions, and quite a bit cheaper.

    Also, I don’t think I want to put airlines on the hook for knowing the laws and staying updated on the laws of each country. I realize they have sophisticated software that can do all sorts of things, but to me, having the airline keep track of this is above and beyond what they are responsible for. There are many laws and rules when it comes to international travel and the complexity can get mind boggling. I would also like to point out that the airline may not know if you are terminating in Germany or catching a flight elsewhere, possibly on a different airline, which may also complicate what the airline knows. I.e., your passport is good through to London, but then you switch airlines and go to another country, where your passport is not valid, well, which airline would have the burden, the one in the country you originate in, or the next. At what point does the traveler need to take responsibility for knowing and following the rules? Then, heaven forbid they give the wrong information to a passenger. I say, we, as travelers, are responsible and are the only ones responsible for knowing what documents we need, how long they need to be valid for, and any other information we need to know as the ones who have the privilege of traveling.

    The OP should chalk this up as experience, learn from it, and be happy she made it to her honeymoon location just a day late! And that she got to spend an extra day in London, I hope they caught an additional show while there. I do not think that she should be compensated by the airline for what, even the OP has admitted, was her own fault.

  61. I was talking with A US Park Service ranger one day and we got on the topic of railings and the like to keep people from falling. He said if they don’t put it, and somebody falls, people can’t sue. If they put it up, and it fails to prevent a fall, people can sue.
    I think the airlines believe giving guidance on visas, etc. opens them up to being responsible if some info is wrong or not kept totally up to date.

  62. She works in the travel industry and she didn’t know about the three-month rule? I think she needs to find a new line of work.

    1. It isn’t meaningless. You can use it for some travel close to the expiration date, but not for all. Just follow the rule of thumb to renewal by 6 months before the expiration date and you will be fine.

  63. Sometimes I fly out of my home country on one passport, and pass through immigration at my destination on my second passport. Even if airlines were to implement some kind of passport expiry date checking system it wouldn’t cover every possible situation, and even if it did, by the time you’re checking in for the flight it’s probably too late to fix anything anyways. This is not the airline’s responsibility.

    1. That’s interesting. I’ve never had a passport, but wouldn’t have thought you’d be allowed to have two of them. How does the work? Dual-citizenship? Thanks.

      1. Yep. The US doesn’t care how many nationalities you got. You can have passports as many as you want and are entitled to. Other countries may not be that generous, like China.

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