Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Lufthansa Sues Hidden City Ticketholder for Throwing His Ticket (cnn.com)
69 points by mchannon 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments

This is anecdotal, but I had an experience where I was flying from LaGuardia to Madison, WI with a layover in Chicago. The last leg of the flight from Chicago to Madison was delayed by several hours, to the point where it would be significantly faster for my boyfriend to drive down from Madison, pick me up at the airport in Chicago, and drive me back. I don't recall which airline I was using at the time, but the gate agent told me that it was their policy to refuse to pull someone's checked luggage if someone didn't "want" to complete the last leg of the journey, but if I told someone that I was not feeling well and wished to end the trip early due to health reasons, that would be the easiest way to do it. So that's what I did - I went up to a different gate of the same airline, told them I was sick and would not be getting on the connecting flight, and the luggage was downstairs in a special area of the baggage claim within 20 minutes. It felt like being in grade school and telling the nurse I was sick to get a day off...

That's pretty weird because you had a schedule change. Usually, they're more helpful during those. That should have been marked as an vol pax reroute or the like.

Assuming it wasn’t weather related, it sounds like the delay probably made OP eligible for some type of comp as well. The round trip from Chi to Mad is around 4 hours (depending on o’hare or midway). Often airlines will have a policy of comping if the delay results in arrival more than 3 hours after originally scheduled (and in the EU, is the law!).

There's no requirement for comp for delays in the US. (https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer...) EU261 only applies if you're flying to or from, or within the EU.

Airline pricing drives me insane and is what happens when you take price discrimination/revenue optimization to the (often idiotic) extreme.

It's very much possible for a one way flight to cost more than a round trip flight that includes the one way flight. For instance, a one way ticket on Delta flight #92 going from JFK to TXL at 8:39pm on May 15, 2019 costs $2,902 [0]. But if you add on a return flight (which includes the original DL 92 flight), the price drops to $957 [1].

[0]: https://www.google.com/flights#flt=/m/02_286./m/0156q.2019-0...

[1]: https://www.google.com/flights#flt=/m/02_286./m/0156q.2019-0...

Argh. I'm late to the discussion, but I thought I'd share my intuition between why hidden-city fares make sense (it took a lot of reading to figure this out):

Basically, the airline industry is competitive, but individual direct routes function like quasi-monopolies, and they have to make all their profits on the quasi-monopoly price charged to people who want the fastest route between two cities, say A and B.

But if Airline 1 has a quasi-monopoly on the direct A-C route, then Airline 2 can only compete by offering a cheaper, indirect route. Because 2 has a quasi-monopoly on the A-B and B-C routes, it wants to charge "legit" A-B and B-C travelers the full direct-route premium.

But if those people don't fill up the plane, and 2 wants to compete with the quasi-monopoly 1 (on A-C), then 2 ends up charging less for a combined A-B and B-C, because it has to undercut A-C's price. But that requires it to vigorously sort such travelers from the legit one-hop travelers.

With that said, cheaper-for-round-trip still doesn't make sense.

This happens in the opposite way as well!

In March a friend of mine is getting married in Panama. The Round-trip from Zurich to Panama was absurdly expensive. For around the same price, I will go to Italy by train, fly from Verona to Spain, hike for 2 weeks along the Camino de Santiago, fly to Panama from Madrid, and back in Zurich.

Are you searching for specific airlines?

Here's another option: https://www.google.com/flights#flt=/m/02_286./m/0156q.2019-0...

Yes. I picked that particular flight to illustrate my point.

The budget airlines don't play games like the legacy airlines (or rather at least to not as heavy of a degree), which is refreshing.

I hope that Lufthansa loses big for this. Extorting a person to complete the journey is just wrong.

This doesn't surprise me one bit from my experience with Lufthansa. They love to blame the customer for everything, especially when they (LH) screw up.

EDIT: This is a great example of where a corporation should suffer criminal charges. But given Germany's protection of their flag carrier.. it won't happen.

Anecdotal, but I was flying out of a German airport last week. Luggage, peculiarly, was checked at the gate, there was no separate area for checking hold luggage.

The gate was announced about an hour before the gate closure, and by the time we'd got to the gate (~5 minutes) we were informed that the bag drop was closed. We had a brief argument, and they reluctantly took the bags. Insane.

Berlin Tegel?

That airport has no centralized check-ins anywhere. I have no idea how you would spend any amount there without just going to the gate indicated on the screens everywhere. Most people who don’t know it don’t even notice the difference. They just see it saying “A21” and follow he signs to A21.

It’s actually a rather well-liked concept because check in, passport control, and security only serve that one flight at a time. It’s faster, and you will never miss your flight because of people in front of you in a queue booked on a later flight.

Alas, it requires more personnel, and the airport will close soonish.

Tegel is literally my most favourite airport in the world and one of the few reasons I still bear living in this city.

What are some reasons for wanting to leave?

I agree it's a different but good design, however the issue was our flights weren't even on the board, and when they were bag drop was already closed!

No, it's not extortion, it's breach of contract. If he didn't' want to perform the contract, he shouldn't have taken it on.

This is not a great example of anything else, despite your hyperbole.

I think you're taking it too far.

I agree that technically it's breach of contract. The trouble is that humans who aren't lawyers think of tickets as options instead of futures. They think they're buying the right to board instead of an obligation to board.

I can also see the human-positive side effect. The marginal cost of an extra bum in a seat isn't high, so it makes sense to fill up the plane, but the economics only work out if there's enough people who pay more.

There are lots of ways to differentiate between these sets of people - service levels, flexibility, calendar patterns. But the internet reduces the price information asymmetry that calendar patterns rely on, and so we've come to this court case: making it a hard constraint rather than hoodwinking the relatively price insensitive business traveller.

So, when the inverse happens and an airline overbooks a flight and someone gets bumps that should also count as a breach of contract and all airlines should have to pay airfare plus compensation right? And this should apply to volunteers as well.

Then we should also look at departure times, how often has a flight been delayed? Many people count on getting where they are going on time. That should also count as a breach of contract as well.

Edit: To take this to the absurd, you have to pay to make any changes to your ticket at after a certain point in time i.e. name. So when you receive the ticket and it has a gate listed, is that also part of the contract? I am not allowed to change anything printed there without paying, why should they be allowed?

Or do we say that things happen and we allow systems to be lenient?

It should count as breach of contract if it's against a provision in the contract. If there's a provision for it in the contract, the next question is if it is valid or not (e.g. compensation for late flights is defined by laws in many places, so airlines can't just not offer it), which is where a law (or a different interpretation of existing law) restricting this would start.

Not everything needs to be a contract.

Why can't we just pay our money, get our ticket, and then decide on our own whether we want to use it or not?

>Not everything needs to be a contract...

In that case, can the airline decide to simply not run the flight and keep everyone's money? It's a contract because both sides have accepted some number of terms. If it weren't you would forego all sorts of protections. When you (reasonably) want those back... guess what? Disputes are decided on the terms of the (sales) contract. How else would it work?

That's what they already do, airlines will cancel your flight for any reason whatsoever: overbooking, finding a first class passenger who pays more, choosing not to have enough personnel on duty, etc. Until your plane with you on it is actually airborne, you have no idea whether or not you will be allowed to fly, so there is nothing unfair about not turning up for (what might be) your flight.

Maybe if a ticket actually held some sort guarantee for getting a seat on an airplane things would be different...

>That's what they already do

No they don't. They overbook to maximize profits, yes. It sucks and is completely anti-consumer, yes. However, they do not simply send you packing. They re-book you. You also agree to it when you buy the ticket. Again, yes, it's buried in the contract and since every airline does it you really have no choice.

It's far from perfect/fair, but that has nothing to do with what I responded to. If "everything doesn't have to be a contract" then you have no legal recourse. Ever. Sales need to be contracts in the eyes of the law, but that doesn't mean everything is perfect.

Yes they do. At least in the US they will often cancel flights that end up mostly empty (they will certainly rebook those affected)

Not really a problem. If the passenger decided not to fly the last leg, that seat would go empty but the airline won't lose money on that leg.. it has already been paid for. So there is no real loss to them.

I’ve heard of airlines canceling the return flight if you skip a segment in the outbound leg. And that makes sense if their terms lay that out ahead of time.

I’ve also heard of airlines canceling “overlapping” tickets which would not be possible unless you skipped a leg. I’ve been hit by that when trying to book multiple flights for a business trip where I didn’t know exactly when I would be coming back, and the advance fare ticket was a small fraction of the cost of a refundable ticket.

Complaining that a customer skips a final segment on the return flight is poor sport. Except for one thing — if they have you in the system because you started your return flight earlier in the day, and now at your connecting flight they are calling final boarding again and again waiting for a passenger that never shows, it holds up the entire plane and is a drag on their resources trying to page you and track you down.

I can understand airlines refusing future service to someone who does this to them repeatedly. A 5 year ban or terminating their frequent flier account or something along that lines would seem appropriate.

The ban might be hard to enforce however since it’s not like Amazon where they can blacklist your address.

> I’ve heard of airlines canceling the return flight if you skip a segment in the outbound leg.

Yeah they do this, even for a direct return flight (A to B and back to A) if you miss the A to B, they'll not honor the B to A ticket. Happened to a friend who was supposed to go Wednesday and return on Sunday, but had a meeting at work in the origin city and flew on Thursday instead.

I think most of the "hidden city" travelers don't check any bags in, because as has been mentioned, it'll be hard to get their bag back/the time needed to unload the bag will massively piss off the airline.

Really? That's an international flight and you put in your passport number.

Good point! That seems like the best way to handle this. Getting blacklisted from the airline for causing delay by skiplegging is totally fair play IMO.

Except it's not if they refuse to listen when you tell them that you won't be taking the last leg.

Really there is an easy solution to this - don't have such batshit pricing structures that longer trips taken partway leaving empty seats is cheaper!

If it is cheaper for them to head to a third city first instead of directly just have the prices reflect it so it is x to layover and y to destination which is less than z a direct flight - if it is even offered.

I can't think of another business (outside of promotional activities) that requires you to accept something you don't want to reduce the price.

It does seem like a breakdown in their pricing logic rather than anything injurious the passenger did.

Comcast Internet in the United States. I technically have a VoIP phone because it made my internet cheaper than if I signed up for internet alone.

In Switzerland / Swisscom internet vs landline it's the same.

> I can't think of another business (outside of promotional activities) that requires you to accept something you don't want to reduce the price.

I've done it occasionally on shopping sites.

Product A - $48 Shipping - $10

Free shipping for orders over $50.

So I'll pick a random $2 item that I don't want and save $8 on the final price.

But that’s because shopping sites are retarded. Obviously the economically sensible (and environmentally friendly) solution is to only charge min(shipping fee, free shipping cutoff - current price).

I have done worse things. Buy two items 12€ And 18€ to qualify for free shipping then return 18€ item. It has worked with amazon so far.


Regular internet is frequently more expensive than the same speed internet + basic cable.

Ah, right! I actually pay more to not have cable, I forgot about that.

This makes a little more sense though, because presumably the cable companies get some kick back for delivering the ad network to more homes.

is it possible that airlines have arrivals quotas or limits in certain airports, or pay per passenger which arrives at an airport? this could cause what looks like "batshit" pricing.

Isn't it more just straight up price discrimination, which is totally legal?

Like, obviously they'd prefer to fill the NY -> SF jet with high ticket price customers, but if there are seats leftover, it's still better to fill them with people making lower cost connections to elsewhere than to have them be empty. And if they need to get those people to Tahoe or wherever anyway, then putting them on that plane may also be preferable to putting the last few NY -> SF ticket on fire sale and undermining the usual higher price.

I missed an outbound leg of a return flight from Sydney to London 15 years ago. When I got to Heathrow to get my flight back, they told me the ticket was void because I hadn't taken the outbound leg, then charged me 3k GBP for a 'standard ticket'.

I spent about 4 months arguing with BA about it and eventually got most of the ticket refunded.

I still think about that.

After reading the German court document linked in the CNN article (not a lawyer), it appears charging customers extra for not taking a leg of their flight is actually legal in the eyes of the court. They also cite a decision of the highest ordinary court in Germany (BGH) to that effect. I find that quite worrying.

The lawsuit was only struck down because of a lack of transparency in the pricing, as the customer has no way to check the fare they will end up with if they skip a leg. So if they publish prices for skipped legs, it would be a-ok I guess.

Legality and ethical correctness are not always the same thing. Just because the court doesn't see any conflict with current law doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. In that case, there should be a change of law.

> A Berlin district court dismissed the lawsuit in December, but Lufthansa's spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the company has "already filed the appeal against the decision."

So basically this lawsuit has already been dismissed by a lower court, and but Lufthansa is appealing. The entire dynamics here seem like Lufthansa is unlikely to win and even if it does the amount it is claiming ($3K?) is way lower than legal costs, but the publicity of the lawsuit is the entire point they're making. A version of SLAPP, if you will.

Note that the court didn't find that asking for money in this case was wrong, but that Lufthansa didn't justify the specific amount properly.

Can anyone explain to me why these flights end up being cheaper in the first place?

I know that airline pricing can be quite odd, but charging less for two flights than for one just seems to defy logic. What am I missing?

Basically because ticket prices have no relation to the airline's cost, only to supply and demand. So when a multi-leg journey happens to serve an underserved route along the way, airlines want to be able to charge that leg according to its own supply and demand, even though it's a component of a route that has higher supply.

IMO it should be illegal. A company can't stop you from buying a car for its parts. They shouldn't be able to do this.

Demand-based pricing and monopolistic practices.

Say SFO to DEN has the big four carriers, each coming in suspiciously close to the exact same price ($199 one week out).

Then Frontier decides to run that route, charging ~$99 one week out.

Three or four of the big carriers will magically drop their fares to match Frontier's.

Frontier, the most mercurial of airlines, will then drop their SFO-DEN route because it's no longer profitable (or shut down completely as they've done a couple times). The big four go back to their old fares or higher.

Now if I wanted to go SFO-SLC to see the Jazz play, that might be $299 one way. If I book the SFO-DEN on Delta, whose hub is in SLC, I get the benefit of the Denver fare. Most people would not think to do that (because they check bags and don't have time as cheap as I do).

Alternatively, one of the cheapest destinations is often Cleveland (go figure). Maybe SFO-CLE is $99 for the few people (and Skiplagged) who go looking for it. That might get you the ability to go to a dozen US cities for $99, all of which are way more expensive when booked directly.

Don't know if you're still following, but I think I grok the logic and explained it in this comment:


In addition to those comments, I should add, this may be socially-efficient in some non-trivial sense of the word:

1) There is legit value in a direct flight between two cities to people who "really" want to go between them.

2) You may not be able to fill up the planes for the A-B routes and B-C routes.

3) It is legitimately lower value, and thus should cost less, to provide carriage from A to C by putting someone on A-B then B-C, (vs a direct A-C route).

4) So, for an airline to capture the full value of the flights it provides, it needs to charge a high premium to people who really want to fly A-B or B-C, and, if it can't find enough people to fill the planes, to charge a discount to someone using the seats merely for a longer A-C trip.

In this scenario, with hidden city pricing:

1) People who get the direct routes pay more.

2) People who get an indirect route pay less.

3) All seats are utilized.

That coincides with our (or at least my) intuitive notion of what efficiency looks like.

So, who are you hurting when you get off at B with your cheap ticket? You're not paying your "fair[1] share", and thus making it harder to justify running that specific direct A-B route because it's harder to capture the full economic value of the route.

[1] yes, yes, "is a four-letter word" and all...

> I know that airline pricing can be quite odd, but charging less for two flights than for one just seems to defy logic. What am I missing?

This is quite common: in this case, Seattle to Frankfurt has a limited number of direct flights (Lufthansa and Condor only), and people are willing to pay a premium for direct flights; Seattle to Oslo has no direct flights, so Lufthansa is in competition with every other airline that has a hub along a reasonable route (at the very least: KLM/Air France, BA, SAS, Icelandair), and as such there's more competition there.

Aah, right, that makes a lot of sense.

Certain airlines have near monopolies on certain airports. These airports are called hubs. The airline uses these hubs as points of connection for multilegged flights. It also means that someone who actually wants to use the airline's hub airport as their final destination can be charged more due to lack of competition from other airlines.

I don't know for certain.

However, I recently read about the Freedoms of the Air, which define international airline abilities to move about in various ways; and some of that includes where you can stop temporarily (fuel planes, etc) and pick up passengers.

I wonder if some of this has to do with a cost structure that comes out of that? I'm also totally willing to believe that it's not a fully rational system and is more about demand/profit for certain routes.


When you buy flights, you never buy how you get there, you buy your starting point to your final point. (That's how they're priced) The starting or final point may have discounts or taxes associated with it.

It’s kind of like bundling cable and internet I guess? Or perhaps considering it like buying “in bulk” in a way.

I guess this headline makes one want to grab the pitchfork, but I don’t know if we will end in a better place if carriers are barred from following the pricing strategy at the core of this.

LH is simply routing passengers like IP packages, where sometimes it may be more economical to, for example, go the long way around to get to the destination. In those cases, they want to charge you the (lower) price of your trip’s usefulness to you, irregardless of the (longer) route it took you to get there.

Barring this practice will just make those flights more expensive, or potentially reduce competition on some rote that a carrier like LH does not service with direct flights.

The narrower court case is simply a matter of contract law. Sure, there need to be exceptions for sudden sickness or actual changes of plans, but those are factual questions, not ones of law at issue here. I’m no fan of naive contract fetishism upholding the right to sign away your first-born n &Cs. But this issue here really does not strike me as overtly one-sided.

Can someone explain the economic rationale to force passengers to fly more for a cheaper ticket from the airlines perspective? I understand the breach of contract arguments but why sell tickets priced this way in the first place?

Supply & demand plus transportation logistics, cross promotion, etc. Imagine Las Vegas has an agreement with airlines to subsidize airfair in return for a certain volume of inbound humans. The airline optimizes logistics, and finds that from your city to Vegas wouldn’t result in a full flight, but splitting travelers to higher volume hubs allows them to consolidate for a full flight, maximizing thier subisidy compared to their outlay.

They don’t care that the passenger is connecting in this case, they are not what is being optized for. However, if the passenger terminates their trip at the hub, the airline may lose the subsidy making the entire trip a loss for that passenger, despite using less resources on that one particular human.

I don’t know if those are the types of arrangmenta that exist, but it would be hard for me to imagine a scenario where cities that rely heavily on tourism aren’t spending money to encourage airlines to bring more people.

The other part of that is to the customer/passenger, there is a hidden shadow transaction on their flight with a third party. In other forms of logistics, this is common (last mile delivery by USPS, for example), but I don’t think most people like to think that they are thought of as cargo.

I don't get the problem here. He paid for the full flight, what's the problem with him not taking the connecting flight to the final destination?

This is so stupid! What if passenger changed his plan that day? Do you sue every single passenger who misses his/her flights?

Don't use Lufthansa's services.

He probably booked the other ticket in advance as well.

If he bought the second leg in advance, doesn’t it show that he entered the first contract in bad faith, against their terms of service?

Personally I don’t get the whole concept of suing your customers. I would just ban him if I was Lufthansa.

My guess is this might be similar to how company's sue people for trademark violations, even when they are not doing any direct damage to the brand i.e. to protect themselves from future legal liability. If too many customers use the hidden city in a foreign airline flight, they might be found not be in compliance with route agreements.

Some background on the subject: https://youtu.be/thqbjA2DC-E

Thanks for posting that video. I feel like every 10 seconds I'm learning something interesting and new about a subject I'd never really given much thought to!

With airlines checking in your bags to your final destination, isn't the "hidden city" trick a massive problem for others?

What's likely to happen is if the passenger doesn't show up, the flight will be delayed because their bags need to be unloaded.

You generally avoid checking bags if you try to do a hidden city trick, and also by paying extra for an early boarding group in case of gate checking.

Safe to assume someone pulling this "trick" plans accordingly, no? You don't HAVE to check bags.

I think most people doing this are doing carry-on only.

I can remember once in the past 5 years checking a bag.

You don't check in bags if you're using this method.

I have asked them not to check in my bag all the way several times. And Lufthansa had complied my request every time.

Assuming they write the contract right, this is pretty standard breach of contract, regardless of the propriety of suing your customers. (Skiplegged.com was thrown out for lack of jurisdiction, because United wasn't suing the people breaching the contract, only the people enabling it. Here, Lufthansa is suing the right people)

Hacker news never seems to like contracts that don't let it do whatever they want, but the person paid and agreed to do a thing, and didn't do it.

The fact that y'all think that thing is stupid is irrelevant. Don't make contracts you aren't going to keep.

I reply here because you also commented here:

Normal people who aren't lawyers think of tickets as options not futures; that is, an option to board, not an obligation to board. That's how most people's experience of tickets work, starting out with cinema tickets from a young age, and working up to bus and train tickets later on.

It may be that people need to get legal advice every time they buy a ticket, but that's probably not very efficient.

The internet is decreasing the opacity of differential pricing, but premium airlines rely on differential pricing for their business model. Thus this case trying to move to harder constraints than mere obfuscation. The case will have PR value too, in changing the public's understanding of the nature of a plane ticket.

I'm never going to argue making these things contracts is good policy, but it is in fact, the legal reality.

You are focusing on one specific act here (the requirement to use the seat) but your other examples are amenable to plenty of other contractual issues.

For example your cinema tickets include provisions not to bring in food most of the time, or to record/reproduce the movie.

They often include affirmative acts you need to perform as well (if you want to go in that direction). Sometimes minimal, sometimes not.

My "don't make contracts you don't want to keep" was based on the fact that literally every reaction prior to my comment was "this is extortion" or "this is unenforceable", and it is definitely neither.

People rarely think of legal consequences of anything, and that's actually fine and normal.

But if we want that to be the actual legal reality, changes are needed.

Those changes do not come by simply saying "This is all bullshit and stupid and unenforceable".

They come by explicitly realizing they are in fact enforceable and valid, accepting that, and then making these things not contracts (which would be hard) or otherwise setting up a different regime.

(For example, the non-contractual regime that exists to handle baggage liability, or in a bunch of countries, to handle compensation for being kicked off flights)

To be clear, unlike many people it seems, I don't disagree with the principle of differentiated pricing, because I value the upside - cheap marginal seats. And indeed I'm not disputing that tickets are contracts.

I do think that it's reasonable for people to assume, up until now, that tickets are options - that if you no longer agree with the terms before you've exercised it, you can just discard the ticket. That's the only real point I wanted to make, because you made it sound as if it's obvious that tickets may reasonably come with positive obligations to exercise, and I didn't think it was obvious to non-lawyers.

I found it interesting that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticket_cases talks about retaining the ticket being a condition for being bound by the contract, that using the ticket is equivalent to signing the document, and whether a reasonable person would have known about the terms. Sounds like there could be some edge cases in there, but I don't have the education to be enlightening.

In the case from the article, the passenger claimed these terms were surprising enough to not be valid part of the contract. The court said that because price differences between combination tickets and single tickets are common and well-known it shouldn't be too surprising that the terms include a rule about this.

Sure, and can I sue Lufthansa when their plane is late or flight is cancelled? The airline has all the power to enforce an extremely one sided contract where they don’t have to perform. Including near monopoly control of many routes.

you probably don't even have to sue them, they'll probably pay out the legally & contractually defined compensation if you just ask. If they don't, then yes, you can sue them.

the legally & contractually defined compensation

So nothing. My only option is to choose a different airline, except it is very difficult since I only have one choice unless I fly 1000 miles out of the way the next monopolized hub city where I still have no power. Airlines have almost all the leverage, so they can delay my flight, taking an hour, 10 hours, or a day of my time and there is no compensation.

At 40 of the 100 largest U.S. airports, a single airline controls a majority of the market, as measured by the number of seats for sale, up from 34 airports a decade earlier.

At 93 of the top 100, one or two airlines control a majority of the seats, an increase from 78 airports, according to AP’s analysis of data from Diio, an airline-schedule tracking service.


What makes you think that by buying a ticket you're now under contract to board the plane?

When you buy a ticket on Lufthansa you're required to agree to their conditions of carriage, which include this language:

> 5.6. A service charge may be payable by any passenger who:

> 5.6.1. fails to arrive for departure at the airport or any other point of departure by the time we have specified (or if no time has actually been specified, with insufficient time to permit completion of official formalities and departure procedures) and, as a consequence, does not use the seat for which a reservation has been made

The terms state that you have to take the flight or might be required to pay compensation. Mind the situation for the airline: the passenger is checked in, which means they have to call them out and wait for them on boarding and probably double check that they don't have stored luggage, which causes delays, thus cost to the airline.

You are not under contract to board the plane, but the contract says if you do not board the plane without a good excuse you agree to pay the difference.

That the contract you've entered into explicitly says this.

I'm pretty confident that this is not part of the contract. I doubt it would even be legal to enforce such a thing.


I couldn't find any example of such a thing in this united airlines contract.

Here it is in lufthansa:

"> 5.6. A service charge may be payable by any passenger who:

> 5.6.1. fails to arrive for departure at the airport or any other point of departure by the time we have specified (or if no time has actually been specified, with insufficient time to permit completion of official formalities and departure procedures) and, as a consequence, does not use the seat for which a reservation has been made"

Also, the court literally found it to be in the contract.

From the court document it seems like it is 3.3.3 from https://www.lufthansa.com/be/en/business-terms-and-condition...

If you have chosen a tariff that requires observance of a fixed ticket sequence, please note: if carriage is not used on all individual legs or not used in the sequence specified on the ticket with otherwise unchanged travel data, we will recalculate the airfare according to your altered routing. The airfare will thereby be determined in accordance with the fare you would have had to pay for your actual routing in your price group on the day of your booking. This fare may be higher or lower than the fare you originally paid. If the price group you originally booked was not available for the altered routing on the day of the booking, the cheapest available former price group for your altered routing will be taken as the basis for the recalculation.

If on the day of the booking for your altered routing, a higher fare would have been determined, we will subsequently recover the difference taking into account the fare already paid. Please note that we can make carriage dependent on whether you have paid this difference in price.

Are they trying to make the case that the service charge for missing a flight is over $2000?

You're literally commenting on a case where the court found that this is part of the contract.

Would the situation be any different if the man had booked the Frankfurt-Berlin leg with a different airline?

Well, for starters, Lufthansa wouldn't have any way to know that the passenger flew to Berlin; for all it knew, he could have just missed his flight to Oslo. But if somehow this came to Lufthansa's knowledge, would they still have a valid case against him?

That they included the Berlin leg into their calculation is one of the reasons the court rejected the claim, presumably the other one (no clear basis for how they calculated the price they assumed) would still stand.

I have done this many times (including with Lufthansa) but I would ask them to check in the bag only until where I want to stop the trip. I don’t know if they wasted time waiting for me during those times.

Not called out in the comments here yet, but as per both the terms of the case provided in the linked article, and as per reality - these trips may involve international border crossings.

But the airline isn't responsible if you decide to leave the airport in a country that requires a visa.

Okay, and what would be different depending on whether an international border is involved or not?

taxes, airport fees, etc.

What is the significance of that?

If you order the Lufthansa Burger with fries you better finish all the fries - or else you’ll go to bed without desserts in the future AND they sue you...

How can they force someone onto an airplane?

They can't, and that's not what they're trying to do.

You're right, they're not trying to use physical force, they're trying to extort him to do so.

It's a pretty big gap between "trying to enforce unpopular contractual agreements", which is clearly their right to attempt, even if the court found they didn't do it well enough and it's going to be a PR mess (which I hope it'll be) , to "extortion", which is criminal. The court didn't even find that the clause in the terms of service is invalid.

Explain this to me:

A person doesn't get on the flight. The airline can go after him for inaction. The whole transaction is based on purchases of services from LH. The customer elected not to accept all services detailed in the transaction.

Should you expect the grocery store to sue you for food waste?

Definition of extortion: the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

The analogy is hard to make work, but if the supermarket ran different prices for people that do not waste food and sold it to me under terms that require me to not waste food, then yes, that's something that might happen. You then can get into a legal debate if the terms were clear enough for me to understand in front of a court. Here apparently the court was of the opinion that the price difference between the tickets is well-known enough to accept the terms.

By that definition, any instance where someone is sued for money is extortion, that's clearly not how it works.

If you're in the UK, then this is completely valid on a rail journey.

If outbound then you can leave and come back in as long as it's the same day (rail days start at 4am). If it's an open return, then you have the entire month to split up and resume your journey. There's nothing to stop you getting off half way through and not returning.

Edit: Apologies, this does depend on ticket type, but should apply to most off-peak and super off peak and open return tickets:

"Break of journey is allowed on the outward and return portions of Off-Peak tickets unless otherwise indicated by a restriction shown against the ticket's validity code.

You may start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station along the route of travel on Off-Peak tickets unless the ticket restriction for the journey you are making does not allow it. If you intend to start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station, please call 03457 48 49 50 to check if it is available on your specific journey."


Right, it actually depends on the terms of the ticket. Advance tickets, which are linked to a specific train (or sequence of trains), don't allow you to break your journey or start/end short.

apologies, this does depend on ticket type:


I've updated my comment above with more information.

Still seems counterproductive. Why would they do that?

This is true for most train tickets. Not for boat tickets though: you can get very cheap return tickets (e.g., for the ferry Portsmouth to Saint Malo v.v., but doubtless many others) that are cheaper than a single fare, and the terms and conditions include a penalty that they say they'll deduct from your credit card afterwards if you don't actually take the return leg of the trip.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact