Lufthansa: Less Indian than you think!

India is a focus market for almost all carriers these days, given that with the huge number of people who are starting to fly outside the country, they all want to pick a piece of the pie. With only two long-haul carriers out of the country, namely Air India and Jet Airways, people around here look at the European and Middle-Eastern carriers to travel to Europe & Americas, which is a prime market for everyone now. Anyhow, Lufthansa India has been trying to get a piece of the action for a very long time, and they have indeed succeeded as well. Lufthansa and group companies Swiss & Brussels Airlines fly about 3% of India’s international traffic per annum as of Q22017.

They indeed made an advertisement as well to this effect where they claim to be More Indian than you think. Have a look.

Now, I’ve never flown Lufthansa from India so I won’t comment on their services personally, but there seems to be a large trend of their European operations mistreating the Indian passengers in case of irregular operations.

Just last week, there was an incident where Lufthansa flew a plane out of Frankfurt, heading to Houston. However, they brought back the plane to Frankfurt after flying it to Iceland on the back of a problem with the plane.

On this flight, there was an Indian passenger who clearly got taken for a ride because Lufthansa did not want to accommodate her, seemingly because she was brown. The full narrative has been deleted to protect the privacy of the concerned passenger, however I would sum it up for you via highlighting some part of the incident.

Lufthansa brought back LH440 flying from Frankfurt to Houston on September 11, 2017 on account of oil leakage issues. There were 500 people to serve, and one of them was this passenger who had already flown 8 hours from Delhi and had connected on this flight Frankfurt to Houston.

Lufthansa did not make adequate arrangements while they had 4.5 hours to do so when the flight was turned around. So, one had to wait in line to get to an associate. Only 7 associates worked the customer service on this flight, and as per the passenger 6 of them went home at the end of their shift.

An old lady who was waiting started to take pictures of the chaos, and Lufthansa called in the cops on her to get her to back off. After 4 hours of waiting our passenger gets to the front of the queue, she is re-accommodated on the same flight for the next day and is told she cannot be given accommodation since she does not have a Schengen Visa. She asks to be hosted in the hotel on the airport premises, and the airline tells her it is reserved for families and not for singles. On asking about how is she supposed to sleep, she is told to sleep on the floor.

Subsequently, she is refused food vouchers as well, and on pressing hard, she gets food vouchers, however the outlets have already shut down by this time. Also, the airline apparently deliberately gave her vouchers for September 11, 2017 telling her that she could use it for breakfast the next morning.

The lady passenger eventually paid for the room on her own and went to sleep. It was 288 USD for the night. On arriving at the hotel she realises other people who were behind her in the queue (including a single), were allocated the rooms by the airline. The passenger states that these were not Indian passengers and hence got the rooms.

In summary, she was not accommodated at the airport on various pretexts and was USD 288 out of pocket, apart from the long wait to even get her 20 Euro food vouchers. Others, on the other hand were accommodated by Lufthansa without giving them the same explanation.
But this is not even the first time Lufthansa has behaved in such a manner with their Indian patronage. A couple of months ago, they had a couple miss their flight from Frankfurt to Mumbai because their incoming connection from Brussels arrived 30 minutes late. They then gave these passengers confirmed flights for two days later, not even reimbursing them the cost of hotels.

And the Internet is peppered with other instances of how Indian passengers specifically are treated like this at Frankfurt and I’ve read some more back in the day.

Now, I’m not sure why exactly Lufthansa wouldn’t really put their best foot forward with the Indian crowd, but clearly an Indian airline behaved much better last year at an out-of-country station when I was almost going to miss my flight.

What has been your experience with respect to the German Efficiency v/s Indian Hospitality of Lufthansa? Any one else has had a similar experience on Lufthansa?

Comments

  1. I think the Flight attendants and the Lufthansa agents must get extra points for being rude and obnoxious to passengers preferably “Indian”. As they seem to revel and enjoy humiliating passengers. One time, they were late in serving food, and when the food finally came out the service was super – slow. When I mentioned my two year old was hungry, and if he could have something to eat, the flight attendant took it upon herself to mock me by making funny faces and whispering into the ears of another attendant. This went on for the entire flight. When I was leaving the flight, she proudly showed me her badge and said I could complain all I wanted…. Why would I or anyone want to pay for such a torture? That was 15 years ago, haven’t flown Lufthansa since then…

  2. All European airlines treat Indians poorly, especially in the economy “Cattle” class. Be it Lufthansa or Air France. They are good at pretending, Lufthansa offers masala chai and vegetarian food galore, while Air France will greet you with a Namaste while traveling from India, and that is where their hospitality starts and ends. Other than that, don’t expect anything else…..What can we Indians do about it? Learn to appreciate our own culture, fly Air India whenever possible and avoid European airlines.

  3. Pretty much every single time I’ve seen an Indian receive or perceive to receive bad service from a white person, they claim racism.

    Hard to take things like this seriously.

      • I’m Brown. But even if I wasn’t that doesn’t disqualify me from having an opinion that is equally as valid as yours.

        There’s a plethora of reasons for why people receive bad service. I would put the likelihood of it being racism (especially institutional company wide racism as this article implies) near the bottom.

  4. I love traveling via Europe. Not because the service is great, but because the laws are very very strong. I had a flight delayed out of Paris CDG and received a compensation of EUR 665 + USD 200 travel voucher. All you have to do is write to LH citing UE 261/2004 regulation and they will fall in line.

  5. Me and other Indian passengers were treated exactly the same few years back, I had slept on the bench at the airport. Even Indian families with children were not given any accommodation or food / milk.

    I live in US and since this incidence, I always avoid Europe transit.

  6. Name me an airline that hasn’t had CS issues during IRROPS. I’ll save you the time: there aren’t any.

    Now make me an airline that Indians haven’t called “racist.” I’ll save you the time: there aren’t any. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar’s Skytrax and Facebook pages are FILLED with complaints of racism.

    The issue here is less actual racism and more a cultural issue in India. The less fortunate Indians have no idea of what to do in any travel situation or how to act in the West and the well off ones are INCREDIBLY arrogant. Indians are also prone to immediately escalate conflicts to no end and always throw in the race card.

    That is in stark contrast to people of Indian descent who were born or raised in the West, who generally don’t behave that way.

    You can’t blame an airline for not having a visa and you can’t blame them for not paying you legal restitution if you haven’t requested it (as you’re supposed to.) the author is a spoiled little brat from an upper caste family who is clearly out of line calling people “racist” while talking about how they mistreated an old white lady. She’s just pissed she wasn’t treated like a special millenial upper caste person.

    • @George and you have the right to call people less fortunate in India because? Doesn’t that make you entitled? I’ve met Indians raised in the west who behave more idiotic than Indians raised in India. So, there goes your argument out of the window. And what gives mate? If Air India would have done the same thing you’d have been laughing, oh ho ho, this is Air India it is supposed to be a screw up. And when it is Lufthansa, then you siding up with the airline? Meh.

  7. Lufthansa CS is very mechanical and it can be really annoying for third world citizens during irrops. The U.S. companies do a better job by trying to understand the customer and find a solution rather than simply imposing random rules. I warn you that Germans really think that they know the rules better than the rest of the world but I have seen many cases where they didn’t fully understand the rules [yes visa rules are complicated for an average person] but they never admit their mistakes but try to push their logic until the end. Not a good way to do CS. These wouldn’t happen to Germans or U.S. citizens because visa rules are fairly simple for them. Maybe that is why a lot of third world citizens think Lufthansa is mistreating them. You see it a lot more on Lufthansa Facebook than other airlines and I have had my share with them until 2012, when I decided to stop flying LH. LH is very tempting if you fly out of Germany but I am happy that I left and don’t have to pause and think about my skin color when I face mechanical and rude white Lufthansa agents. But being in Germany for a few years I still think that a lot of Germans think or act as if they are better than the rest especially nonwhite people. Of course I noticed regional and generational differences within germany but I am not really surprised why Lufthansa stands out becuase it has a broad global network. I think it is time for lufthansa to think about discrimination issue deeper. It doesn’t matter if the agents didnt have any intentions to discriminate but all it matters is whether they made others feel uncomfortable. Many whites don’t get that becuase in their mind they are not discriminating. Of course there is the implicit bias thing but in general I feel like Europe is a bit behind of all of these arguments. But come on, global mega corporates should do better even if they are European

    • Did it ever occur you that the discrimination you’re supposedly encountering is just ‘in your mind’? Believe me, Lufthansa can be strict and stubborn regardless of your race or ethnicity. Being calm and respective will get you much further then playing the race card.

      • @Lack, mate. I wasn’t there. However I’ve been in touch with at least two sets of people who were there. Now, if LH decides to be selectively stubborn and infer the rules differently for different people, that would be the conclusion anyone would make. My allegation is that they are not caring, it is not that they are racial. That is the allegation of the girl who went through it. So, take your anger elsewhere please.

        • I’m not angry, I’m disappointed :-).

          Like someone pointed already, there’s finite space in the airside hotel, much lower then the capacity of big bus of passengers. That’s why the customer service desk has cots, blankets and pillows to hand out. I’ve seen plenty of people stranded in not only German but other European airports who couldn’t enter the Schengen zone.

          It would be much more helpful if you provided a survival guide for your fellow passengers in this sort of scenarios, since the situation could have been resolved much more peaceful and calm.

          • @Lack, yet again. LH had 4.5 hours to prepare for this scenario, and they did nothing all this while. I don’t get the part where LH provided another single pax a room/bed but not this one? Of course, I’m not there so this is all hearsay, but what about the other incident from LH as well, where they put out another two passengers out of their schedule for two days without any support

            • How do you know Lufthansa did nothing to prepare? Hearsay of a stranded passengers? That’s not exactly a solid source on the inner working of an airline, wouldn’t you say?

              Every passengers is a different case, so while technically LH system probably rebooked people automatically, CSR were putting the human touch to it (in a good or bad way). For example, the system has probably no idea if the passenger holds a valid Schengen visa since it wasn’t needed in the original ticket so it can’t assume a passenger would be able to switch from FRA-JFK to FRA-MUC-JFK etc. Each such intervention requires time to process, with the passenger present!

              In the other situation, if the delay for the feeder flight was indeed the cause of a misconnect (that’s very, very easy to verify!) then getting reimbursed for both lodging, meals AND possibly compensated (depending on the nature of the delay in BRU) should be fairly easy. Same with getting that 288 USD hotel bill back after diversion.

              And yet again – what the hell has that to do with being “more/less Indian then you think”?

                • And you’re claiming the opposite, based on those two incidents.

                  In case you missed it on my first comment – I’m trying to find exactly why is that (catchy title excluded)?
                  Being Indian means you don’t have irregular situations?
                  Being Indian means you don’t have customer service issues?
                  I’m sure you’re pretty well aware 30s with google can squash those claims…

  8. Feeling really glad I booked my Frankfurt flight for October in AMS 9W & then KLM.
    Seems extremely shoddy service on part of Lufthansa , esp. their ground team.

  9. Completely off-track , but I had a weird experience with KLM a few years back. I don’t know if anybody remembers this , but there was an ‘exclusive’ sale for Flying Blue members , notified to everyone via email. I sat down on the last day to book tickets to Europe , but due to some technical mistake , the sale ended many hours before the designated midnight. This error was even acknowledged by the KLM team here in India , but I decided to take this matter up with the HQ in Europe.
    You would be shocked , but I was told not once or twice , but multiple times by different channels ( email,twitter,etc.) that “there was no such sale at all , and I have ‘made up’ this entire promotion”. This was even after I forwarded them not just the promotion email from Flying Blue , but my multiple “authentic” interactions with the KLM office in India ( who too were equally amused by the way , once I told them about this ).
    I wish I could attach my twitter interactions with them , but I did make up my mind to avoid this specific European airline , which had zero coordination amongst its different units.

  10. That’s why as an Indian; i always prefer Gulf carries especially Emirates.
    They are the best in hospitality and their aircrafts are latest.

  11. Walk the walk and talk the talk – don’t give airlines such as these your business. There are an array of other options one can take to fly to Europe or North America either through the Atlantic or the Pacific.

  12. I’m not being judgemental based on this report, but my own experience with the airlines was quite poor, and I don’t care if they have improved since then.

    In this particular case, the airline might be technically correct in its stand, but seems to have forgotten the basics of customer care, and I say this regardless of the race at receiving end.

  13. “I was told that because I do not hold a valid Schengen visa I cannot get a hotel for my overnight stay at the airport and that I should have a visa if I am in Germany.”

    This seems to be the root of the issue. I think she got into a fight and in turn the airport staff misbehaved back.

    The hotel she is talking about is My Cloud, if it was Gate Z as she claims. There are no other hotels airside. My Cloud frequently rejects single women, is booked by the hour and has only 59 rooms which is shared by all delayed flights, if space allows. If Lufthansa had even 20% of the hotel *just* for this flight, they only has 10-11 rooms for every Non-Schengen traveller. It makes sense to accommodate families first. Then first/business. Then maybe singles. She could have negotiated for Sky Lounge coupons.

    I want to hear the other side of the story, although it is not hard to believe rude Lufthansa staff, which is common.

      • What should I ask them? Why are you campaigning under the slogan “More Indian then you think” if you have less then 100% reliability record?

        Seriously at a loss what rubbish customer service to do with marketing unless you’re just angling to place the race cards. News flash – Lufthansa can be assholes to people of all colors, shapes and sizes.

  14. It is dangerous to accuse anyone of racism based on singular reports on the Internet. People get angry and do not always tell the whole story. That being said I am German and had to deal with rude, uncompromising Lufthansa agents myself.

  15. I flew Lufthansa back in 2011 and decided to never give them my business again. Off late, I have heard good things, but the real test comes in case of irrops, and seems the airline had failed miserably.

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