Lufthansa foul-up and a dying mother--please review draft complaint letter

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Jun 19, 2018
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#1
Hello, all,

I was hoping I could get your expert advice on a letter I have drafted in regards to Lufthansa's complete mishandling of a return date change due to my mother's imminent death. Thanks to Lufthansa's error, and the delay it caused, I missed my mother's last few hours of coherent consciousness and the chance to say a proper goodbye. She passed away less than 36 hours after I got home.

Any advice you have on approach, etc., would be greatly appreciated. I know it is really long, but this was such a of errors, it's difficult to capture in only 2-3 paragraphs. NB: I have backup documentation, as I note in the letter below, but am not attaching it to this forum since it contains personally identifying information.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Lisa

DRAFT

I am writing in regard to Lufthansa ticket number XXX‑XXXXXXXX, and Lufthansa’s complete mishandling of a return date change so that I could return home ahead of schedule due to my mother’s imminent death. Despite multiple calls, Lufthansa representatives failed to complete ticketing of my changed return flight, resulting in a one-day delay in travel and my missing my mother’s last few hours of coherent consciousness before she passed away.

The itinerary for this trip was CID-ORD-VIE-KIV-FRA-ORD-CID, booked in Premium Economy, with an upgrade to business class purchased shortly after the original booking for the return flight. Because of the upgrade purchase, I was no longer able to make changes online and had to make all changes through Lufthansa’s Call/Service Center. The following is a detailed list of those calls:

Call 1. On June 4, I called Lufthansa’s U.S. Service Center (1-800-645-3880). I explained that I needed to change my flight to the next day due to my mother’s imminent death. The Call Center representative took my credit card information cover the change fee and the fare difference and promised that I would retain my upgrade to business class. However, when I received email confirmation of changed return date (see attached file beginning with the file name “Rebook 1”), not only was I not in business class, but I had been downgraded from the original Premium Economy fare to regular economy. I would later find out (in Call 6) that the representative also had failed to save the payment information, which meant that the changed date wasn’t re-ticketed and any other successive attempts to change the ticked also failed.

Call 2. I called Lufthansa’s U.S. Call/Service Center number again to try to restore my original Premium Economy booking class. I again gave the agent my credit card information, and I again received an email confirmation of the rebooking (see attached file beginning with the name “Rebook 2”).

Call 3. Because I was not able to check in online before my flight, I called Lufthansa’s Call/Service Center on the morning of June 5 before my flight to confirm, ask them to check me in, and assign seats. The agent said he could not check me in, but he did assign seats. He did not notice any issue with the booking.

At airport. When I arrived at KIV airport to check in for my flight on June 5, the desk agent informed that I had no reservation for that day. I showed her the confirmation email from Lufthansa. She showed me her computer screen (see attached photo), which showed that the only the last leg (ORD-CID) had been changed. She advised me to see the Austrian Airlines service desk at the airport (there is no Lufthansa service desk at KIV). I went to the Austrian Airlines desk and showed the representative the confirmation email from Lufthansa. She called Lufthansa on my behalf and was quoted a change fee of more than EUR 3,300. Assuming it was a mistake, she hung up and called again, and was again quoted a price of more than EUR 3,300. Due to call center wait times, I missed the KIV-FRA flight, the first leg of my journey.

The Austrian Airlines representative informed me that it had a later flight option (KIV-VIE-ORD-CID) that would require overnighting in Vienna but would get me home six hours earlier than waiting for the next day’s Lufthansa flight. Because I was already holding a Lufthansa ticket, I decided to call Lufthansa again to see if it could put me on that same flight.

Call 4. From the KIV airport, I again called Lufthansa’s German Call/Service Center. The agent confirmed that Lufthansa had made some kind of mistake in rebooking my ticket (she wasn’t sure what) and the change had not been completed. She agreed to put me on the itinerary through Vienna, and I gave her my credit card information to cover the change fee and fare charges. I stressed to the agent the urgency of the situation — the flight to Vienna was leaving in less than an hour. She promised to push it to the ticketing department and mark it as urgent. She said it should be ticketed within 10-15 minutes and promised to call me when it was. She never called me back.

After waiting 15 minutes, I returned to the Austrian Airlines desk to see if the flight had been ticketed yet. They didn’t have a record of it, but they informed me that the flight would be delayed due to weather in Vienna, so I should call Lufthansa again to push for the flight to be ticketed.

Call 5: I called Lufthansa again to push for the flight change to be ticketed. However, given the wait time to reach an agent and the fact that the agent herself had to sit on hold to reach Lufthansa’s ticketing operations, the change could not be ticketed before the scheduled 15:55 departure time. Although the plane was still in Chisinau, because the departure time has passed, it was impossible to issue a ticket. The Call/Service Center agent said it would be easiest for me to go to the Lufthansa desk at the airport to make the book me on the flight for the next day. I explained that there was no Lufthansa desk (only Austrian), and that the Austrian representative couldn’t get a price from Lufthansa that was less than EUR 3,300 (more than four times the price LH’s call center quoted). She again it would be easiest if I had the desk at the airport take care of the change. I again reiterated the reasons that wouldn’t work and insisted she called me back.

Call 6: The Lufthansa agent called me back to let me know she had discovered the problem—the agent I talked to during the original re-booking process (Call 1) had failed to save the payment information, which meant that not only was the change to the return date not completed, any other changes in the succeeding calls also were not completed. She said my case was now “famous” at the Lufthansa call center. I gave her my credit card info to pay for the change fee. I also asked her to either process the upgrade to business class or to confirm that the cost had been refunded to me. She said that would take more time and promised to call me back once she had done that. She did not call me back.

Call 7: Because the agent did not call me back, I had to call Lufthansa back to confirm the cost of the original business class upgrade would be refunded. (Note that it still has not been refunded.)

I always have been a loyal Lufthansa customer, and I have had Star Alliance Gold or higher status for most of the last five years, as I make several trans-Atlantic flights each year for work. Until now, I have always preferred to fly Lufthansa due to the airline’s quality of service. However, my recent experience with Lufthansa’s Call/Service Center has caused me to reconsider this position.

From beginning to end, this has been the worst customer service experience of my life. Thanks to the delay, by the time I reached my home, my mother was no longer coherent or capable of carrying on a conversation. If I had arrived on June 5 as planned, she still would have been capable of speech, and we could have said a proper goodbye. I will always regret that I didn’t have this chance.

While nothing can ever completely compensate me for the losing the opportunity to have a final conversation with my mother, given Lufthansa’s string of errors and their serious personal consequence, I am requesting the following compensatory measures:

· Reimburse the entire ticket cost of $XXXX.XX.
· Reimburse the original upgrade cost of $XXX, which still has not been processed by Lufthansa.
· Reimburse the ticket change fee for $XXX.
· Reimburse my lodging cost ($XXX.XX) for the additional night I had to spend in Chisinau (see attached receipt).
· Provide a reasonable allowance for the four meals purchased due to the delay.

As well, I ask that you remind all Call/Service Center staff how to ensure changes are actually ticketed and/or use this as a case study for future training of call center staff so as to ensure that others in emergency situations are not similarly affected.

I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Lisa XXXXXX
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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#2
Lisa, I am very sorry for what happened and my condolences on the loss of your Mom.

This certainly is a screw up on the airlines part but your letter is much too long. They wont read it all the way through.

I suggest you shorten it by using a bulleted format and stating facts only. Take all emotion out and stick to the facts.

We have company contacts :

http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/lufthansa-airlines/

Read the information on the main company contacts page about how to write and escalate the issue to the Executives and let know what happens.,
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
I am so terribly sorry about the loss of your mother. I do believe that your mother knew you were there even if she could not communicate; hearing the voice of her loving child likely gave her comfort for her last 36 hours of life.

How incredibly sad and frustrating for you. And what a mess one person made by not doing their job properly.

I do agree with Neil, though, you should edit the letter a bit, just to shorten it.

I also think you should not ask for the entire round trip ticket to be refunded. That is asking too much. The change fee, yes, and of course the upgrade which you could not use, and some other expenses.

Do send the confirmations and all.

Again I am so sorry.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#4
My condolences, Lisa, for your loss.
I think you could shorten the letter quite a bit. I don't think you need to detail every phone conversation.

Sample:

On (date) I was scheduled to fly (routing). Due my mother mother's imminent death, I called to change my return date to 05 June (called 04 June and name of call center rep if you have it). X incorrectly changed the return and failed to ticket the entire routing. He/She also failed to save my payment information which caused a cascade effect of errors.

6 further phone calls (see list below) and in person airport attempts failed to correct the issue and left me stranded at KIV overnight on 05 June. (add list of times of phone calls and the number called so they can listen to the tapes).

The delay caused me to miss the last conscious hours of my mother's life. She passed on (date).

I would like the refund from the downgrade of class, reimbursement of the ticket change fee as well as the cost of the hotel and meals I incurred due to the multiple Lufthansa errors. I also feel that a partial refund of my original ticket is warranted.

(Include your Star Alliance status and number with you name, address, and contact info)
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,450
13,077
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
My condolences, Lisa, for your loss.
I think you could shorten the letter quite a bit. I don't think you need to detail every phone conversation.

Sample:

On (date) I was scheduled to fly (routing). Due my mother mother's imminent death, I called to change my return date to 05 June (called 04 June and name of call center rep if you have it). X incorrectly changed the return and failed to ticket the entire routing. He/She also failed to save my payment information which caused a cascade effect of errors.

6 further phone calls (see list below) and in person airport attempts failed to correct the issue and left me stranded at KIV overnight on 05 June. (add list of times of phone calls and the number called so they can listen to the tapes).

The delay caused me to miss the last conscious hours of my mother's life. She passed on (date).

I would like the refund from the downgrade of class, reimbursement of the ticket change fee as well as the cost of the hotel and meals I incurred due to the multiple Lufthansa errors. I also feel that a partial refund of my original ticket is warranted.

(Include your Star Alliance status and number with you name, address, and contact info)
Excellent letter - it has certainly condensed this to a readable letter.
 
Jun 19, 2018
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#6
My condolences, Lisa, for your loss.
I think you could shorten the letter quite a bit. I don't think you need to detail every phone conversation.

Sample:

On (date) I was scheduled to fly (routing). Due my mother mother's imminent death, I called to change my return date to 05 June (called 04 June and name of call center rep if you have it). X incorrectly changed the return and failed to ticket the entire routing. He/She also failed to save my payment information which caused a cascade effect of errors.

6 further phone calls (see list below) and in person airport attempts failed to correct the issue and left me stranded at KIV overnight on 05 June. (add list of times of phone calls and the number called so they can listen to the tapes).

The delay caused me to miss the last conscious hours of my mother's life. She passed on (date).

I would like the refund from the downgrade of class, reimbursement of the ticket change fee as well as the cost of the hotel and meals I incurred due to the multiple Lufthansa errors. I also feel that a partial refund of my original ticket is warranted.

(Include your Star Alliance status and number with you name, address, and contact info)

Thank you so much--that's the perfect approach. I really appreciate your help.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#7
Lisa, I'm so sorry you lost your mother, but I agree with Christina ... she knew you were there. Globetrottinggal has given you an excellent example of paring the letter down. The slightest bit of blame often results in the email being immediately discarded. The people reading your email read complaints all day long. They have little experience travelling anywhere and think that a seat on a plane, anywhere in the cabin, is good enough. So your job is to make that person want to help you. The more honey you can apply, while still stating the facts, the better your chances. Good luck, and please let us know the outcome.
 
Jun 19, 2018
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#8
Hi, all,

In June, I posted asking for your assistance in crafting a letter to Lufthansa regarding their multiple errors in ticketing a flight date change, which resulted in my missing my mother's last hours of coherent consciousness. See: https://forum.elliott.org/threads/lufthansa-foul-up-and-a-dying-mother-please-review-draft-complaint-letter.8212/#post-84425

I am pasting below their response, as you requested.

Obviously, I am not satisfied with this response. I called Lufthansa three times before I arrived at the airport, and two times while I was at the airport in an effort to get on a plane home that day. Lufthansa had twice sent me confirmation emails. I plan to appeal to the North American customer service contact on your site. Any other advice?

Best regards,

Lisa


Dear Mrs. Gihring,

Thank you for your email dated June 24 and July 24, 2018. We appreciate your patience while waiting for our response.

We regret to note that the services provided by our service center representatives were not as you hope for and we are sorry for your loss. On behalf of Lufthansa, please accept our sincerest condolences to you and your family.

Rest assured that we have forwarded your experiences to our service center management for our on-going internal reviews to ensure that any necessary improvements are made. It is through the observations of our customers that we acquire the possibility of re-examining and optimizing our services.

Furthermore, upgrade fee has been refunded to your Visa card ending in 8709 on June 16, 2018. We will forward request to our refunds department to process rebooking fee to the original form payment and allow several days for the refund to be posted.

In addition, we are unable to grant your claim for ticket refund as flight was completed and costs for lodging and meals as such indirect costs are excluded from our general conditions of carriage.

It is important to us to continue counting you among our valued passengers and we would be pleased if you continue to trust Lufthansa in the future as well.

Sincerely,

Ray Ann Charisse Regis
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#9
Again, so sorry for your loss. Well, you at least are getting a refund of 2 items. I do not think you were entitled to a refund of the entire ticket, however, I do think they should compensate you a bit more for their mistake. I would say that generally airlines do not pay for hotels and meals if travel is cancelled due to weather (here in the US at least), but the extra night and eating out are on them.
I think you could try appealing and being very nice and stating that you are appreciative of the efforts they are making, but feel that due to their employee error, you are out for the hotel and food costs. If you are willing to take points/credit or voucher this may help your case even though I dislike funny money, sometimes it is easier to get concessions this way.
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
Are you planning on appealing the denial of reimbursing the entire flight? So far the change fee and upgrade fee have been reimbursed.

What would you accept in lieu of a full refund of the ticket?
 
Jun 19, 2018
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#12
Thanks, all. Just to clarify, the delay was not due to weather--it was because Lufthansa failed to ticket the changed return date (despite multiple calls). I do think I deserve compensation for the extra night and meals due to their failure.Based on your feedback, I also asked them to refund half of the ticket cost (for the return) because of their multiple failures to book the ticket, and the fact that it caused me to miss my mother's last few hours of consciousness.

But--get this--I just received this from Lufthansa. So, apparently now they are not even going to refund the re-booking fee. This is pretty appalling.

Escalating it up the executive chain....

Thanks,

Lisa



Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for contacting us. Please be inform that, as per Lufthansa policy rebooking fee is always non refundbale. Hence no refund due.

If you require further assistance please, contact our Customer Relations department at customer.relations@lufthansa.com

Yours sincerely,

Jitendra Yadav

TCS on behalf of Lufthansa Global Business Services
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,450
13,077
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www.promalvacations.com
#13
It would have been better for you to have continued this thread on your original thread instead of creating a new one so we could review the initial issue- most don’t click back and the-read the first.

How far up the executive chain have you gone? Sometimes it requires going up as far as the CEO.
 
Jun 19, 2018
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#15
My apologies--thanks for moving it to the original thread.

I have emailed the primary contact on your Lufthansa list (Senior Manager Customer Relations Manager). I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks again for all your advise and assistance.