Lufthansa Will Cancel Nearly All Flights Tomorrow

With staffing shortages and travel surging, airline unions are experiencing newfound leverage. And these shortages have been especially acute in Europe.

London Heathrow refueling staff just called off a strike. British Airways had also faced a strike of its Heathrow check-in staff, forestalled by a pay increase. Air France KLM’s Transavia flight attendants threatened to strike. Scandinavian entered a strategic bankruptcy n the face of a pilots strike.

Now Lufthansa is being forced to cancel nearly all of its flights starting on Wednesday as ground crew prepare to strike. The job action is expected to cripple the German flag carrier’s operations at Frankfurt and Munich, lasting through the weekend.

Europe’s biggest airline will cancel more than 1,000 flights in the two cities, warning that the disruption may linger into the weekend, when travel is due to pick up. There’s only very limited scope to rebook passengers whose trips have been canceled, Lufthansa said in a statement.

With passengers capped at London Heathrow there are fewer options for passengers to travel to and from Europe, and connect within the continent. If you can rebook travel in advance that seems wise, no matter how this works out.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Flights out of Europe are full but there is space on multiple airlines to Europe including via AMS, CDG, on Lufthansa Group airlines other than LH and on UA.
    Alot of vacations will simply start later if at all.
    Given that this has been known for days, some people might have bought tickets on other airlines where seats were available.

    Anyone that wants to talk about how bad air transportation is in the US need only look to Europe.

  2. @Tim Dunn – “Given that this has been known for days, some people might have bought tickets on other airlines where seats were available.”

    ‘Some’ is doing a lot of work here, most consumers don’t buy their tickets last minute or buy backup itineraries (even on the strong chance a Lufthansa cancel entitles a refund).

    You may be in the know enough to predict this, but I’d venture a guess it comes as a huge surprise to the vast majority of upcoming Lufthansa travelers based in the U.S.

  3. Well, if there is a strike, LH can then shift blame for cancelling flights to employees rather than itself. As Gary said three days ago:

    “This summer we’ve seen numerous airline meltdowns. The airlines blame weather, and the FAA (including air traffic control), and those are contributing factors. But fundamentally they haven’t had the staff, o sufficient staffing margins, to run their operations.”

    Interesting that staffing shortages are “especially acute” in Europe. I wonder what might be the cause(s) of that.

  4. London Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye forgot to add when flying through LHR, passengers receive the benefit of complimentary misconnected baggage storage for up to one-year which includes vermin and rain protection.

  5. We’ve been using TK for our Europe trips this year, good food and service and no issues with baggage handling via IST. Yes it’s a bit out of the way but I’ll take it for the low stress vs LHR or FRA.

  6. Gary,
    I should say SOME, perhaps a small minority, of LH passengers knew this was coming and bought their own backup tickets instead of waiting for LH to reroute them or tell them there are no options.
    Remember that there are lots of Americans in Europe or beyond – such as S. Asia or Africa – right now and adding days to their vacation or business travel could be too costly. The vast majority of Europeans coming to the US have no other options but LH is a global airline and there are alternatives. It will take days to clear the backlog of passengers

  7. August vacation time in Europe – maximum leverage on the part of labor. I have vacationed in Europe then, but it’s best if you can avoid it in any year. It clears up by the end of the month, then you’re safe.

  8. While I agree the EU is much better at compensation for late or cancelled flights there is one area the US clearly has the advantage. Under the Railway Labor Act targeted strikes like this that disrupt passengers and ongoing commerce are not allowed. IMHO this is why unions shouldn’t exist.

  9. As Tim Dunn points out, it’s not just in the US, it’s in Europe. And, the fact is that it’s not just the airlines, it’s virtually all industries in all countries. As Mark Twain said, it’s not one damn thing after another, it’s the same damn thing over and over again. Industries and individual companies will eventually stabilize but it is what it is for now. But, until then, as Gary points out, the average consumer is ill-equipped to deal with it and there will be much gnashing of teeth.

  10. I had a flight to Madrid via Frankfurt from San Francisco on 07/27/2022. The incoming flight from Frankfurt has been cancelled but they have yet to cancel our flight even though there will be no aircraft. I booked through United and after some resistance, they rebooked me through EWR on them. I am very thankful I was able to catch this, because it looks like LH will wait until tomorrow to let all the passenger know the flight is cancelled. Forget trying to call LH, you will never get through.

  11. Curious, will all these travelers be given EU 261 compensation? If so, that’s a hell of a hit for LH.

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