16

I am scheduled to fly from the UK to Singapore using Lufthansa (stop in Germany) on the 29th. If Germany bans all flights from the UK but Singapore does not, can I expect them to rebook me onto a direct flight e.g. with British Airways or Singapore Airlines or some other route if such a possibility exists?

5
  • @Willeke or a similar right to reside in Singapore.
    – phoog
    Dec 20 '20 at 17:51
  • Oops, I missed the direction of travel, yes, the right to reside somewhere else would help.
    – Willeke
    Dec 20 '20 at 17:53
  • They will more likely rebook you on an airline in the same alliance or other partner airline, but they may rebook you on other airlines. It may depend a lot on the fare, the passenger’s status, and the penalties they may have to pay (e.g EC261) compared to the cost of the alternate flight for them.
    – jcaron
    Dec 20 '20 at 21:13
  • 1
    At this time European countries do not even allow their own citizens to return from the UK. There have to be flights for you to be booked on.
    – Willeke
    Dec 21 '20 at 11:28
  • 2
    At this time, you can have no such expectations. Check with Lufthansa
    – Strawberry
    Dec 22 '20 at 10:04
21

Do airlines book you on other airlines if they cancel flights?

Yes, that happens from time to time. It happened to me last year. Because of a flight cancellation from Munich to Newark, Lufthansa booked me on a KLM flight from Munich to JFK via Amsterdam. They actually offered a few options, but I chose the one with the change in destination because I live rather closer to JFK than to Newark.

can I expect them to rebook me onto a direct flight e.g. with British Airways or Singapore Airlines or some other route if such a possibility exists?

I don't know whether you can expect that. It's very difficult to predict what may or may not happen in these unusual times.

5
  • 1
    I would not be surprised if all flights to the UK stop or get reduced to the absolute minimum and only UK nationals and long term residents allowed on when going to the UK, and with like restrictions, but based on the destination, when leaving.
    – Willeke
    Dec 20 '20 at 17:37
  • @Willeke and the planes leave the UK with no passengers?
    – phoog
    Dec 20 '20 at 17:51
  • Edited the above comment.
    – Willeke
    Dec 20 '20 at 17:55
  • I have been rebooked a few times but only within the same group or alliance. It would be interesting to know when an airline would offer their passengers to book them on a flight with a completely separate company ... I would assume that it's only if rebooking within their own group would imply a considerable delay. Dec 21 '20 at 0:53
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    @GrandTorini I’ve been rebooked a few times on non-partner airlines (e.g. BA to Lufthansa or AF/KLM) when my feeder flight to a long-haul flight got cancelled; the non-partner flight was the only option which allowed me to catch the connecting long-haul flight. Dec 21 '20 at 8:42
18

Do they sometimes do it? Yes. Can you count on it? No.

Unless there are specific regulations in some countries that require it (not the case in most major markets I know of), airlines don’t have an obligation to do so. So it’s purely a business decision.

If you are a valued customer (frequent flyer with status and/or travelling in premium classes and/or with an expensive fare), then they have a lot of incentive to do it, because they want you to be happy and fly again with them.

If they would have to pay substantial compensation (e.g. due to EC261) or assistance (hotels, meals, transport to/from the hotel...), they also have incentive to do so.

They will more easily reroute you through other flights of the same airline or group (e.g. the Lufthansa group also includes Swiss Air, so they could reroute you via Zurich if that made sense), then other airlines of the same alliance and other partner airlines, and probably only as a last resort completely different airlines, but trying to stay under late-arrival thresholds for higher compensation may affect the order.

Of course, there would need to be capacity available on the other flights, which would usually be an issue especially at busy times like holidays. Remember that the “target” airline lay as well have their own requirements to reroute their own passengers, so even if you are an elite frequent flyer flying first class full fare, they may not have any option available.

7

This is definitely possible, but I wouldn't recommend expecting it.

Most major airlines have what are known as interline agreements which include provisions for transferring passengers in the case of irregular operations (i.e. flight delays or cancellations.) These are especially common for airlines within a given alliance, but also commonly exist among competing major carriers. For example, in the U.S., Delta, American, and United will transfer passengers onto each other's flights when flights are getting cancelled, even though none of them are partners.

Lufthansa and Singapore are both members of Star Alliance, so it is somewhat likely that LH would be able to transfer you onto an SQ flight... if Singapore continues to operate those flights and neither the British nor Singaporean government prevents you from traveling. Currently, the British government's page on travel to Singapore says, "those in Tier 4 areas in England will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions," and, "Short term visitors from anywhere in the world are not able to enter Singapore."

Checking Singapore Airlines' website, it does appear that they are still (as of late Dec 21) selling tickets on the LHR-SIN route for Dec 29.

1
  • The flights are still operating, but Singapore no longer allows non-citizens who have been to the UK in the past 14 days to enter or transit. Dec 24 '20 at 14:33
5

It depends on the airlines and the local market.

  1. I was once stuck in Denver and saw United customer rep rebook people on Delta, American and even phoning a Southwest agent.
  2. I was once stuck in Toronto and an Air Canada agent wouldn’t even rebook me on UA (a *A partner).
  3. I once missed a connection in Munich and Lufthansa rebooked me on a later Czech Airlines flight (all Lufthansa flights to Prague had departed) even though the misconnect was weather-related and CSA is not a *A partner.
6
  • You are mistaken about Southwest. UA is not able to re-book passengers onto Southwest.
    – Doc
    Dec 21 '20 at 14:40
  • 1
    @Doc They were certainly phoning Southwest (much to my surprise I will admit). Actually I was quite impressed by UA that evening. Dec 21 '20 at 14:41
  • 2
    @Doc I'm aware of this but I did witness a CSR from UA talking to a Southwest rep on the phone. And it didn't sound like they were ordering pizza. Maybe they were just looking for seat availability. I edited my answer to clarify that I did not actually see the booking, just the phoning. Dec 21 '20 at 14:44
  • 1
    @Doc They can't transfer you onto Southwest (as you correctly note, Southwest doesn't do interline agreements,) but they could theoretically buy you a ticket on Southwest. This is unlikely to happen in most cases, but it is possible. It would be very much a last resort and rare even as a last resort, though. I could see them doing this for Global Services or maybe 1K, though.
    – reirab
    Dec 21 '20 at 21:28
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    @reirab yes I think it was something along the lines you suggest (refund from UA if WN was affordable and had space). I already had my hotel voucher and there was no point in sticking around but the pax has already turned down - somewhat sensibly - a Delta ticket via Atlanta with an overnight there and a long layover the following. (IIRC the final destination was somewhere in Wisconsin and they were also exploring airports within 60mi. of the initial final destination.) Dec 21 '20 at 21:37
3

No, usually they won't do so willingly; however, with flights departing from an EU/Schengen state, or arriving in an EU/Schengen state on an EU/Schengen country's carrier, they're obliegd to per the EC261 regulation if no flights of their own are available and the passenger insists on re-routing rather than reimbursement.

Had this happen with a Eurowings flight PRN-DUS (as part of a PRN-DUS-MAN itinerary) which was cancelled 3 days before departure. Wrote them an email instantly telling them (in German) "this obligation applies regardless of any extraordinary circumstances; as such I strongly advise against trying to weasel your way out of it using the COVID-19 card, and I WILL drag you to court if necessary". 1 day before departure they e-mailed me with an Austrian+Lufthansa itinerary PRN-VIE-FRA-MAN.

In your case, as you're flying from the UK, EC261 applies, so email or call the airline (or both) and tell them you're insisting on a re-routing at the earliest opportunity as per Article 8 of the EC261 regulation (borrow my wording if you wish). If they still refuse, pay for a new ticket yourself and then request reimbursement. If they refuse, contact the CAA at passenger.complaints@caa.co.uk attaching all correspondence as evidence, and they'll sort it out for you.

1

Happened to me in Feb 2018 when my direct Virgin Atlantic flight from Washington DC (IAD) to London Heathrow (LHR) was cancelled.

-They rebooked me on United (also direct) leaving next day.

-I called them up to see if they had any option for the same day so that could save me a day which is when they rebooked me from United to Delta (via Detroit).

-But then I showed up at the IAD airport on the day and time my original Virgin flight was scheduled and asked if there was any other option, so they rebooked me on British which was scheduled to leave in 2 hours.

-All of these changes without any additional charges.

1

Yes, most of the times. In my experience 5 times they did (All international flights in the past 3 months), 1 time they didn't (national flight within Argentina). Emirates and Qatar airlines did it automatically, Gol airlines (Brazil) I had to insist until they did it. I guess Lufthansa will do it without hesitation, but I could be wrong. The time I went from Australia to Argentina, the final flight (Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires by Gol Airlines) was cancelled long before I took the flight (like a month before-I had the flight booked three months before). Sill when I arrived to Sao Paulo, Qatar gave me another flight with Aerolineas Argentinas and paid my hotel and food for two days in Sao Paulo.

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