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I have a Lufthansa flight with a connection in Frankfurt. I bought the ticket several months ago and connection time then was 50 minutes.

I checked my ticket several days ago and I see that the connection time is now 45 minutes. So, either my first flight arrives 5 minutes later or the second one departs 5 minutes earlier. There wasn't any notification about this.

I case I don't want to fly because of the shorter connection time, can I get 100% reimbursement of my non-reimbursable ticket? Do I have a right to request that, or can I ask to modify the dates for free?

Flight will be in one month.

5 minutes is not a lot but I'm scared to miss the next flight because I'll need to pass security check and passport control. I was thinking a lot before buying this ticket and after they even make the connection shorter...

  • Wow, 5mins sounds like a huge change... good luck trying to get a re-imbursement for that. For sure there is no obligation by the airline and I doubt their goodwill will go as far as that. – mts Oct 8 '16 at 14:12
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    @mts 5 minutes usually is nothing, but they can change a lot in case of change flight in Frankfurt with passport control and security check :) – Vitalii Oct 8 '16 at 14:39
  • @mts Logically, there must be a point at which 5 min might be the difference between a tight transit and being under the minimum transit time. Hopefully this would not happen in practice but surely, this would matter, no? – Relaxed Oct 10 '16 at 14:04
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I bought the ticket several months ago. What you contracted for was your transportation from origin airport to destination airport on a given day. That contract still stands, check the T&Cs. Perhaps 5 minutes earlier than you had expected, Lufthansa will get you to where you plan to go - or make alternative arrangements or provide compensation, in just the same way for a 45 minute connection that goes sour as they would have for a 50 minute connection that went sour.

You may think the risk of missing your connection has changed significantly but clearly Lufthansa consider there to be enough time. Bear in mind it takes time to fill an aircraft with passengers. If a planeload delay turning up at the gate until the time schedule for take off, the flight will be delayed. Hence gates 'closing' before ETD. But the people who 'close' gates are able, if they see fit, to hold open or re-open for connecting passengers. Once missed connections are the airlines responsibility you may be amazed at how little time is necessary to make a connection. First of all you will have about an additional 20 minutes (the time required to load every other passenger but you) between the rule that applies in general and what is likely to apply to a connecting passenger. Then you may have a few more minutes between when the aircraft should have been fully loaded, before the doors are sealed. Then there is also the possibility of delaying take off (though this is not likely unless there are several other passengers in a similar situation to you). If your first flight is delayed for example, and depending to some extent on where you are going, there is even the possibility of a Lufthansa representative waiting for you on arrival in Frankfurt and shepherding you through in very much less time than you might expect. They may drive you to the control points and have you jump queues.

can I get 100% reimbursement of my non-reimbursable ticket?

No. "I have changed my mind" is not enough for that.

Do I have a right to request that?

Of course, but you would probably be wasting your time. It is just possible that Lufthansa has realised, since you booked, that your flight out of FRA risks being overbooked, say, hence would welcome your rescheduling but the chances of such are not good. In all probability it would make little difference to them which flight out you choose, but rebooking you would cost them more than they would be inclined to suffer.

can I ask to modify the dates for free?

Again, you can ask but it is likely to make no difference. They are not obliged to accommodate a change, are not inclined to waste their money and would not want to set a precedent for others.

Lufthansa's Terms & Conditions - General Conditions of Carriage (Passenger and Baggage) (yours may differ) include within 9.1:

If, after you purchase your Ticket, we make a significant change to the scheduled flight time, which is not acceptable to you, you will be entitled to a refund in accordance with Article 10.2.

For reasons as outlined above, you will not be able to establish that 5 minutes is significant.

A chart might summarise much of the detail above:

Chart

It is optimistic to assess driving (maybe in an electric cart) as half the time of walking but there is also less chance of wasting time finding the right route and, in some airports, the possibility of taking a route not generally available to the public. A long time ago I went from an enquiry desk to aircraft via a walk through the building interstices and a car ride across the tarmac, bypassing control points (CPs). No check in, no Passport Control and no Security (and not even a ticket).

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What you are experiencing is very, very common. Airlines adjust schedules all the time so there is nothing special about this.

You can contact Lufthansa but I 100% guarantee the answer will be no refund. A 5 minute schedule change is no where near enough to qualify for cancellation. 4 hours is where this becomes an option depending on the airline.

Also, I would not expect a 5 minute change to qualify for any no-fee modification since 45 minutes is still within their, Lufthansa's, minimum connection time rule for that airport.

If both flights are booked with Lufthansa, then they will for sure protect you if you miss the outbound due to a late arrival. Meaning they will accommodate you no charge.

  • Oh, I mathed the wrong numbers. 50-45=5. Corrected. – Johns-305 Oct 8 '16 at 14:43
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The other answers detailed what the airlines' terms and conditions allow and provided some useful explanation about connections in general but did not really cover EU Air Passenger rights. Under EU rules (regulation 261/2004), you are entitled to choose to forego your trip and get a refund if a flight is cancelled, you are denied boarding or when the airlines expect a delay over five hours. Furthermore, case law established that a delay longer than three hours should be treated as a cancellation as well. None of these conditions apply here so you do not have any special rights to cancel your ticket.

The airline is still responsible for the whole journey as described on your ticket and if you end up missing the connection because of a delay on the first flight or it becomes clear that you won't make it, EU passenger rights might kick in.

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You could inform the cabin-crew on the first flight that "you have a 45-minute connection, are concerned that you might not make the second flight", and ask them if you can be first to leave the plane.

  • Being the first to leave the plane basically assumes getting seated in the very front row, aisle seat and jumping up as soon as the aeroplane starts turning towards its final parking position. Otherwise, the aisle will instantly be packed with people. (For some obscure reason, people like to stand crowdedly in the aisle while waiting for the plane’s doors to open.) – Jan Oct 11 '16 at 22:52

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