Rant: Lufthansa.com

by kai on 03/07/2006

It’s time for another rant about bad user experience. I’m going to Europe in August for roughly 2 1/2 weeks because a very good friend of mine is getting married. The to-Germany leg of the journey is my rescheduled return flight from last December’s flight to New Zealand (when we moved here). That said, I just needed to book a one-way flight back to NZ. That was totally smooth because I used a proper airline with a proper booking system: Qantas – thank you guys, I love you for that. It is important to know though that my flight back to NZ leaves from Frankfurt.

The Frankfurt area is going to be one of my base camps as my parents live pretty close to Frankfurt. The other base camp will be the Ruhr basin as Diane’s dad lives there and we have a lot of friends in that area. The wedding (which was the main reason to travel overseas – you might remember…) takes place in Berlin. Given that I have no idea yet from where I would travel to Berlin but def. would have to travel back to Frankfurt to catch my overseas flight to Singapore, Sydney and Wellington, I had a look for a cheap one-way flight from Berlin-Tegel to Frankfurt Rhein-Main.

It turned out that Lufthansa had the best offer (ha, and now the real story starts): 19 Euros plus taxes and fees, ending up with something around 60something in total. I have a LH frequent flyer account and used to travel a lot with LH when I was living in Germany, as a ‘good citizen’ (and we all want to be good citizens, right?) I surely have changed my address details to New Zealand when I had moved over here.

The story goes on, started the booking, got the final fee and logged in to the site. BOOM – ending up on a crappy LH portal page for New Zealanders. Status: I’m logged in, but my ongoing booking process: gone.

Well, you might think that things such as this could happen. True, so with being on the LH’s NZ portal page, I just clicked on “Bookings”: BOOM, this site has been restructured, please click blablabla to do your booking. Clicked the link, back to the crappy NZ portal start page, still being logged in. Clicked on “Bookings”: BOOM, … you surely can guess how this story ends – infinite loop, Kai clicked himself to death.

At that point, I was still thinking that this might have been some technical issue, a fault, a lost session due to some weirdness – or whatever. So, my next try was to logout of the frequent flyer system and do the booking via LH’s NZ booking system, what surprisingly worked. Well – it seemed to work, because after picking Berlin and Frankfurt and my date, this bloody website told me that there were no flight connections for this date for people having a NZ residence – and obviously that was the reason why my booking approaches as technically being an NZ resident failed in the first place.

Aha, that’s apparently closer to the real issue. Lufthansa doesn’t want people living in New Zealand to book via their website and get the cheap rates. It’s obviously more interesting for them to pipe the potential customers through the overpriced retail travel consultancy channels in New Zealand.

Knowing that, I just went to the German website, booked my flight and didn’t register it via my frequent flyer account (which is a NZ one from their point of view) but just by using my German credit card, haha. To finally beat the system I additionally had to provide the address of my parents in Germany, but who cares.

Lufthansa folks, I hope you read that because it sucks. If this rate wouldn’t be so way cheaper than your competitors’ rates on that particular day, I would never fly with you, just because you provide such a stupid website and care a s**t about your customers!

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