When Sherri Liles’ flight on Lufthansa is changed, she and her husband lose their prepaid bulkhead seats. They’re still waiting for Lufthansa to refund their prepayment. Can our advocates speed things up?
Question: My husband and I booked a round-trip flight from Wichita, Kan., to Amsterdam via Houston on Lufthansa. We prepaid $200 for bulkhead seats because my husband is 6 feet, 4 inches tall.
But our return flight was canceled and we were rebooked on United. We were seated in economy class, and it was very uncomfortable for us because the passengers in front of us reclined their seats. We also had to endure a six-hour layover in Houston.
We sent a request to Lufthansa for a refund of the $200 prepayment, but Lufthansa has been very slow to get back to us. I’ve contacted Lufthansa three times about the refund and am still waiting for a response. Can you help us get Lufthansa to issue the refund? — Sherri Liles, Viola, Kan.
Answer: Ouch! Having been forced to sit behind reclining passengers in economy class (and I’m 5 feet, 3 inches tall), I sympathize. Hopefully the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will act soon on a recent court ruling requiring it to regulate airline seat pitch and size so that we aren’t stuck behind recliners who lean their seats into tight space.
And it didn’t help that your return flight was code-shared, an airline marketing practice that often leads to confusion when the airlines actually operating the flights don’t honor the practices and promises made by the airlines that sold the flights to their passengers.
Lufthansa’s general conditions of carriage provide that for advance seat reservation,
Advance Seat Reservation. Advance Seat Reservation allows passengers to request a specific seat category (e.g., window, aisle, middle, seat with more space) from a selection of available seats in their booked cabin class on domestic and international flights operated by Lufthansa. Advance Seat Reservation is subject to availability of requested seats. Depending on the seat category and for some booking classes charges apply for Advance Seat Reservation. There is no obligation for you to make an Advance Seat Reservation.
But the general conditions of carriage also indicate that
We reserve the right to assign or reassign seats at any time, even after boarding of the aircraft. This may be necessary for operational, safety or security reasons. If you purchased an Advance Seat Reservation and the flight is cancelled, or if seat changes are made by us for operational, safety, or security reasons we will refund the amount you paid for the seat reservation if your desired seat category is not available. If you cancel or rebook your ticket or purchase an upgrade or have made incorrect statements on your ability to sit on emergency exit seats the amount paid for the seat reservation will not be refunded.
So even if you make a specific seating request, as you did, Lufthansa does not guarantee that you will be assigned your requested seat.
But even though Lufthansa’s general conditions of carriage did not guarantee you the seats you prepaid for, it did promise you a refund of the prepayment.
After contacting Lufthansa three times with no result, you asked our advocates for help in securing the refund. (Contact information for Lufthansa executives is available on our website.)
Our advocates reached out to Lufthansa on your behalf. Lufthansa has agreed to refund you the $200 prepayment.