Lufthansa shouldn’t compel you to fly if you’re contagious, but its rules are no different from any other airline. In fact, this is a textbook cancellation, and the restrictions Lufthansa cited are fairly standard.
Most airline tickets are nonrefundable and can be changed only with a fee and a fare differential. That fee, which ranges from $250 to $1,000 on Lufthansa, often invalidates your credit, rendering the ticket unusable. It’s how airlines make money these days – they charge significantly less than a fully refundable ticket and then make up the difference in change fees when people change their minds.
In order to receive the credit, you have to contact the airline before your departure, otherwise you’ll be considered a “no-show,” and you will lose the entire value of your ticket, including the return flight. By the way, the airline is free to resell your seat, potentially doubling its money.
You can make two arguments for a refund. First, you can claim that the fare rules weren’t displayed clearly. It looks as if the EU regulators have gone in that direction. Door No. 2: You could argue for an exception to its refund rules on compassionate grounds.
I believe the second argument is stronger. Had you flown with an infectious disease, you might have sickened other passengers as well as the flight crew. Lufthansa should be grateful that you stayed home, and it ought to return the favor by refunding your ticket.
But here’s the problem: You can’t force a company to be compassionate. There are no rules requiring it to do right by its customers, at least not in this situation. All you can do is ask.
And that’s exactly what I did. This case crossed my desk more than a year ago. I contacted Lufthansa on your behalf then, and several times again. Finally, it offered you a full refund in June. Better late than never.