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David Serras Pereira

In summer 2018, Lufthansa strike affected thousands of travelers. You might have been one of them. The thing is that you’re entitled to compensation ranging from €250 to €600 and I’ll tell you how to get it.

Have you ever experienced a situation when the airline cancels or delays your flight and tells you they don’t owe you compensation because such cancellation or delay was caused by a strike of airline’s personnel or crew? This post will give you an in-depth guide on how to handle such a situation and how to get your compensation.

Don’t want to dig deeper and only want compensation on your bank account? No problem, just file your claim in our online platform.

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Right to reimbursement of flight ticket or re-routing

If your canceled flight is covered by the EC261/2004 regulation, you must always be offered the choice between reimbursement of your original flight ticket price OR re-routing by alternate flights.

The reimbursement must be made within 7 days in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or checks or possibly in travel vouchers (only if you want). I guess it’s needless to mention that the reimbursement in cash is the most convenient way and I encourage you to insist on it, it’s your right.

If flight cancellation caused that your journey is no longer serving any purpose, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the part or parts of the journey already made, together with a return flight to your first point of departure… Click To Tweet

Moreover, the reimbursement must cover the full cost of the ticket at the price which it was bought. If the canceled flight is your connecting flight and the cancellation caused that your journey is no longer serving any purpose in relation to your original travel plan, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the part or parts of the journey already made, together with a return flight to your first point of departure at the earliest opportunity.

If you decide not to accept the reimbursement, you must get free tickets for alternate flights to reach your final destination. The re-routing must be performed under comparable transport conditions. It’s up to you to choose whether you want to be re-routed at the earliest opportunity or at a later date.

Right to care

Of course, provided that you were noticed about the cancellation at the airport, you are hungry and thirsty and don’t want to be stuck at the airport overnight and sleep on uncomfortable benches.

The airline must offer you meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time http://bit.ly/2PFLj2Y Click To Tweet

The airline must offer you meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time and, where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, you must be offered a hotel accommodation – everything free of charge!

Right to financial compensation up to €600

For a long time, this part was uncertain as the EC261/2004 regulation wasn’t perfectly clear in these matters. However, the situation has changed as a result of a recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Our legal team has made a thorough analysis and we want you to know the results based on our findings.

You may wonder if Lufthansa strike (or strike of airline personnel in general) is or is not considered an extraordinary circumstance. If you are into the topic of rights of air passengers you are probably aware that in cases of flight disruptions caused by extraordinary circumstances, you won’t receive a cent.

Let’s drop the bomb.

Based on our legal analysis, these strikes can’t be regarded as extraordinary circumstances, even though Lufthansa has taken the opposite public position.

Lufthansa claims that it shall not be obliged to pay compensation to affected passengers as Lufthansa:

  • either fulfills the requirements of article 5 1 c) of the EC261/2004 – in other words, that they informed you about a cancellation in sufficient advance notice,
  • or, if not the case, strikes are to be considered extraordinary circumstances – and we don’t agree with this

When talking about the right to financial compensation you should get it UNLESS:

Article 5.1 – you have been informed of the cancellation at least:

  • 14 days before the scheduled time of departure OR
  • between 14 and 7 days before the scheduled time of departure and re-routing would allow you to depart up to 2 hours before the scheduled time and reach the final destination in less than 4 hours after the scheduled time of arrival OR
  • less than 7 days before the scheduled time of departure and re-routing would allow you to depart until 1 hour before the scheduled time and reach the final destination in less than 2 hours after the scheduled time of arrival

Article 5.3 – the airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

As you can imagine, the latter is what Lufthansa takes for defending its position not to pay you anything.

Strikes of airlines’ personnel vs. Other strikes

As you can read in our ultimate guide to extraordinary circumstances, the following events that disrupt flights can be considered extraordinary, unbinding airlines from the obligation to pay financial compensation:

  • traffic limitations made by air traffic controllers
  • political instability
  • adverse weather conditions
  • safety risks

As a general rule, airlines are not obliged to pay compensation when strikes are held by airport officials or air traffic controllers. These types of strikes are simply out of airlines’ control.

Airlines wish that this interpretation extends to strikes held by airlines’ personnel but in our opinion, here it’s a different story.

The Court of Justice of the EU has made a decision

Back in April 2018, the Court of Justice of the EU (the top of the top of courts) decided, in case Helga Krüsemann and Others v TUIfly GmbH, that airline personnel strikes should not be considered extraordinary circumstances, for the fact that, in the ordinary course of business airlines face disagreements or conflicts with all or part of their members of staff and consequently, the risks arising from the social consequences that go with measures from the airline must be regarded as inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the airline concerned, and cannot be regarded as beyond airlines actual control.

This is a rule of thumb when evaluating extraordinary circumstances in general – when an event is inherent in the operation of an airline and is also under its control, it can’t be considered extraordinary.

When an event is inherent in the operation of an airline and is also under its control, it can't be considered extraordinary and airlines must pay compensation Click To Tweet

Although Krüsemann’s case was specifically focused on a “wildcat strike”, the interpretation could apply to other strikes of airline staff, as the court found that the restructuring and reorganization of a company is a part of its normal management, and in the course of the activity of airlines it is common for disagreements or even conflicts between them and the members of their staff or part of it to arise.

Therefore, the risks arising from the social consequences of such measures must be considered inherent to the normal exercise of the activity of the airline in question.

In addition, it was underlined that many of these strikes are precisely triggered by a decision of the same airline against which there are reactions. The salary conditions, the right to use parentage allowances, the termination of disciplinary proceedings on the basis of medical casualties, or the objectives inherent to sales on board, are all inherent activities to a life of a company.

Plus, we say it, the decision to cancel flights is exclusive to the airline (read: not your fault, not unexpected, but yes… their choice, and a consequence of their regular activities).

Let’s talk legal

The court has ruled that wildcat strikes were “under control” of the airline (TUIfly). We’re of an opinion that such strikes are clearly more “out of control” than the recent strike of Lufthansa.

That’s why we will never consider hundreds of canceled flights of Lufthansa (and other airlines) within a scope of extraordinary circumstances. And we’re ready to fight for rights of thousands of affected travelers.

It won’t be an easy and quick fight but we simply can’t accept the fact that airlines deny you financial compensation they owe you in addition to the reimbursement / re-booking.

We are not alone. Aviation authorities are with us!

Yeah, we know it’s a long construction and that it’s just our legal opinion, but you know what? We are not alone in this battle.

The Spanish Aviation Authority has assumed a public position on this matter saying that “The State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA), under the Ministry of Development, recalled that Lufthansa is required to pay each passenger compensation set by European legislation between 250 and 600 Euros for the cancellation of their flight as it has not warned cancellations at least 14 days in advance and because the strike is called by the crew, who are staff of the company itself and, therefore, not due to an “extraordinary circumstance” as Lufthansa points out.”

Also, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority took the same position (or even stronger), as seen in The Guardian and The Sun posts.

Last but not least, Spanish, Portuguese and Czech radios and newspapers have leveraged our expertise and have spread the word out by saying that you are entitled to compensation.

We just need to keep the flow and results (paid compensation) will come. With you on board, it will be extraordinary! As to the Lufthansa strike… not so extraordinary (circumstance)!

I hope you find this post useful and it would be great if you share your pieces of information with us through comments.

Safe flights!

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