In an unusual move you do not see very often, German airlines Lufthansa has taken to court and sued a passenger who missed part of his trip from Oslo, Norway to Seattle, Washington but bailed in Frankfurt, Germany.
There is a method to the thinking as the airlines hope such measures will counter what is known as “hidden City” ticketing. The idea is that a passenger will book a series of flights from one destination to another with a layover spot along the way. Instead if taking the entire trip, the passenger will bail in the layover city and take a much cheaper flight to wherever they are going.
It is said that the unnamed passenger booked the trip out of Oslo and was heading towards Seattle and then back again. When it was time to make his return flight, he skipped out and used a separate Lufthansa reservation to go from Frankfurt to Berlin instead,
The airline is currently suing the passenger for €2,112 (or about $2,385 in American dollars). They say that making the detour is a violation of the terms of service he agreed to when he made the reservation originally. The case is being tried over in a Berlin District court.
The case is interesting besides the airline taking legal action one of its passengers though. The lawsuit was originally dismissed back in December but through appeals and other methods, the case is back on and presently will be looked at again.
Although the is unusual, it is not entirely unheard of. I similar suit was filed in 2014 by United Airlines along with Orbitz against a passenger who also ran a website that offered lower fairs using the “Hidden City” method. It was filed in the state of Illinois but was dismissed in 2015 because it was found that the person was not from the area and did not do any of his business in the state. The web address to his site is still running as of now.
This case is different as it seems to be an individual and doesn’t seem to be part of a business for a website or anything like it. The lawsuit also falls under German law which is much different than if it were under American jurisdiction.
It is not said if the passenger is even allowed to use Lufthansa after this incident but I would guess he probably wouldn’t want to anyway after this. The case may drag on for a bit in the German courts, especially after Lufthansa brought the case back to life after it was dismissed once before. It seems the airlines want to make a case out of this guy as an example for others that try to save money using the “Hidden City” technique for traveling by air.
Although Lufthansa will be affected directly by the outcome, other airlines are keeping watch as to find a way to cut down on the “Hidden City” technique of traveling as it costs the airlines money. As we mostly know, Airlines don’t like losing money on such things.
Currently, the stock held by Lufthansa trades at around 22 and is down for the day, but not by much. The airlines is not hurting either. in 2017 it posted revenue of 35 billion dollars.
Looks like the airlines will welcome passengers as long as they play by the rules and don’t try underhanded ways to save any money. Airlines are starting to fight back! Things may not be the “friendly skies” as much anymore as airlines are starting to play hardball!