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Author Topic: Airline "onward travel" case: split ticket implications?  (Read 419 times)
Bmblbzzz
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« on: February 11, 2019, 10:19:51 pm »

Lufthansa is suing a passenger who'd booked a multi-leg flight for not using the last leg of their ticket. The essence of the case is that because flying from A to C via B is cheaper than flying direct, it's sometimes cheaper to buy an A-B-C ticket than an A-B ticket. For example Heathrow-Paris-Berlin might be not only be cheaper than LHR-Berlin direct but cheaper than LHR-Paris, so you can buy the Berlin via Paris ticket if your destination is the City of Light rather than the City of Indoor Smoking and Outdoor Drinking. Normally airlines ignore this but Lufthansa are suing one particular passenger: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/lufthansa-passenger-tariff-abuse-cheap-flights-lawsuit-tickets-missing-air-france-british-airways-a8773371.html

So it's not quite like split ticketing but similar. What do the Coffee Shop's legal eagles and brains might be the possible implications for split ticketing, if any? I doubt there'll be any actual legal repercussions but might something theoretically be applicable?
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didcotdean
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 10:42:51 pm »

Individuals have been pursued for this before but in the cases I am aware of it led to things like forfeiture of flyer points etc. Travel agents who have repeatedly sold such itineraries have been billed for the extra costs. However, up to now I thought airlines had avoided court decisions. It seems here that Lufthansa tried to withdraw its case when it could see which way the wind was blowing in the court, but then the passenger insisted on a verdict. However, this was somewhat on a technicality based on the exact wording of the T&Cs, and reformulating it, or how it is handled could close the gap until it was challenged just on the principle.

I can't see any relevance to split rail tickets, as long as these are within the NRCOT.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2019, 07:34:30 am »

The rail equivalent is buying an off peak day return from Melksham to Clifton Down for 10.20, but only using it as far as Bristol Temple Meads.  For Melksham to Bristol Temple Meads you would play 12.10 for an off peak day return.  Odd but perfectly allowed.   There is also a famed cased (well - it made a thread here - http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=4323. ) of someone getting off a Megatrain early and finding it was rather expensive, and getting off an Advance fare early is also not allowed.

On the buses, the fare from Bath to Chippenham via Corsham was at one time (it may have changed) lower than the fare from Bath to Corsham. I'm unable (years later) to recall how I found this out or indeed why I was making the journey, but the bus driver was awfully annoyed with me when I left his vehicle at Corsham and suggested in a not very nice way I was travelling against the rules.

Combined Rail / Ferry tickets from Xxxxxxx to Dublin via Holyhead are usually much cheaper than fares from Xxxxxxx to Holyhead.  Break of journey NOT allowed and for some journeys this involves really nasty waits at stations. Again we have had threads here - http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=17084
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2019, 09:31:46 am »

Thanks for the examples, Grahame.

So it's more like alighting short with an Advanced fare than a split ticket. Of course a practical difference is that on the train you always have access to all your luggage, there's no danger of it being sent on to your ticket's final destination without you.
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2019, 10:50:10 am »

So it's more like alighting short with an Advanced fare than a split ticket.

Exactly, and that's in the conditions. But given this is very much a legal issue, I was surprised to see so little in the reports about which jurisdiction was involved, and why. I can see three main kinds of law coming into it: contract law (between you and the airline and also an intermediary  in many cases), consumer law protecting you as a citizen), and underlying legal principles and logic (can a contract be invalidated by what you don't do after you finish using a service?). The question of jurisdiction would be complicated and have several answers, but is I think affected by treaties governing air travel.

All in all it looks a bit like the question of compensation for delays due to aircraft faults, where there were a number of national cases but, as the compensation regime was covered by a European directive, the ECJ could rule on it. I don't think there is a directive on this specifically, in which case different national interpretations of the law may persist.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2019, 11:06:47 am »

I thought compensation for airline delays was covered by the Warsaw Convention, but it seems that's actually more to do with death, injury and loss of baggage.
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stuving
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2019, 11:24:57 am »

I thought compensation for airline delays was covered by the Warsaw Convention, but it seems that's actually more to do with death, injury and loss of baggage.

The issue of airline delays and the claimed "exceptional" exception (known here as Huzar vs Jet2.com) was covered in this thread - where you'll see I was one of those waiting for the supreme court to tell the airlines to just go away and stop being silly (before the ECJ confirmed that position). I then got my compensation from BA, which was a lot more than the flight cost. But that was a (solely, I think) consumer protection issue.
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rogerpatenall
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2019, 11:45:29 am »

This is a subject that has exercised Brittany Ferries' corporate minds for some years now. Day return offers are always considerably cheaper than singles, and, unlike the railways, they have a record of who is travelling or not travelling - and they also have the customer's credit / debit card on file. They certainly have threatened (through the BF Enthusiasts site) to make the appropriate extra charge, but I do not know whether or not they have ever carried out this threat.
As a frequent customer of theirs, the possibility has often looked very attractive, but I have never succumbed! Sadly, it seems that even on that site - with some very special offers available - there are lots of people who will avail themselves, probably justifying it by their perception and interpretation of the BF pricing policies.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2019, 11:59:23 am »

This case was heard in a low-ish level German court. The Lufthansa T&Cs indicate that if you don't complete the booked itinerary then you are liable for the re-priced fare as if that had been booked originally. However, the court ruled in effect as Lufthansa never provides the amount of this repricing, that the defendant was not aware of the amount of the liability.

The number of people who do this are small. As said above, airlines will no longer check bags short routinely, but those that are clever about it have the final leg from a different airport (eg arrive at Heathrow in the morning notionally departing from London City in the evening), or just do hand luggage. The person here though was especially daring as he started from Oslo, terminated his return itinerary at Frankfurt, and then took a separately booked flight on the same day with Lufthansa to Berlin. This shows up front planning where the common 'I felt ill so had to miss my last flight' routine if questioned couldn't apply.
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Witham Bobby
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2019, 01:01:42 pm »

Likewise with the Channel Tunnel car shuttle.  Day returns are (or were, not checked recently) cheaper than return tickets of a longer duration, or singles.  So it's tempting to book two day returns and not to use the return portion of each.  I once got a fairly snotty letter from them for doing this, with a warning that they'd chase me for the fare difference if I dared to do it again.  I did it again, and there were no repercussions
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