Lufthansa disappoints with online bait-and-switch

I am looking to travel to Hong Kong again in January and looked at booking my ticket via Lufthansa.

I like their quality of service and I have never had a bad experience with them. I think that their frequent flyer scheme is one of the fairest available and they fly from London City Airport making my occasional commute to our Munich offices much easier.

However my online experience of Lufthansa when I went to book my tickets to Hong Kong didn’t live up to my expectations. The best way for me to show you what was wrong is for me to show you two screen shots.

If you want to see these pictures full-size click on them to take you through to the original flickr page that I have them hosted on.

lufthansa1.jpg

This a screen shot where I was asked to select my preferred dates for flying to and from Hong Kong. (I had already given them a date range and destination on the previous page). Ok the important things about this image are the price in the yellow boxes (1,002 GBP) and the text at the bottom of the page which says:

‘The total price is in Pound Sterling(GBP) and includes airfare, taxes, fees and other charges for 1 adult.

A Ticket Service Charge of 10 GBP per person applies for residents of United Kingdom, when choosing a ticket by mail.’

Seems fair enough, they are not the cheapest way to fly, but I think this looks like good value.

Contrast this with screenshot number two which is what I saw immediately after selecting one of the flights and clicking the continue button (the blue one on the bottom right-hand side of the screen).

lufthansa2.jpg

Whoah, with one click, the lowest price changes to 1,456 GBP a naughty 454 GBP price increase happens. That’s 935.83 USD at the time of writing (this was a public service announcement for our American readers.) This is what is known amongst grifters and con-artists as a bait-and-switch.

As you can imagine, I wasn’t terribly happy and booked instead with another airline (British Airways), despite their pretence that air travel is glamourous (yeah right) and poor baggage return rate. Now I am not saying that Lufthansa are a bunch of con artists or charlatans, but I am saying that it is a shocking user experience on their website. I am holding off judging Lufthansa more harshly, until I have answers to at least some of the following questions:

  • Why the sudden price hike over one screen change?
  • Why wasn’t it explained on screen?
  • Why can I not take advantage of the lower price?
  • Why had no one thought about the likely customer reaction to this?

I would be interested in hearing Lufthansa’s take on this and would be happy to publish their response.

Will I be flying Lufthansa in the future? It depends on how the online experience changes and whether they were deliberately trying to bilk me out of the money. At the moment I probably won’t fly with them if I am paying myself.