Passenger Recounts Lufthansa Ordeal, Seeks Justice

A Netherlands-based Ghanaian, George Sam-Korsah, an entrepreneur, owner of Gino XXL Enterprises Europe, is seeking justice for the manner German carrier, Lufthansa maltreated him.

The matter, which has assumed a different dimension, has been charged to court with allegations that the carrier is out to frustrate the case which could cost the carrier huge sums of money in compensation.

Sam-Korsah, who is seeking €25,000 compensation for the humiliation and damage he was subjected to had on December 7, 2020, made a reservation for flights with the following booking codes VUSQ4C – Outbound (Including Brussels, Belgium to Malpensa, Italy) – VV- 9VIE – Inbound (Including Malpensa to Brussels via Munich).

Two days before the outbound flight, he visited the websites of all the airlines involved as part of the preparation and printed all the necessary reservation confirmations (documents). He checked in online for the first flight (Air Brussels) and paid for one handbag up to 23kg.

On January 4, 2021, he presented his ticket for flight LH 1855 and LH 2292 for boarding at the Malpensa Lufthansa’s check-in point. He disclosed that he was refused to board, the carrier’s claim that his details were not found in their system, but insisted he had the right ticket.

His words: “I was threatened with police when I refused to back off as I was told. After about 30 minutes of heated discussion, finally, they recommended that I go and consult another travel agent.

At first glance, I thought it’s a Helpdesk to help Lufthansa passengers, so I went, and when I arrived, I was told I had to pay a consultation fee before they could help. “In my mind, I already have the reservation made so I didn’t understand why I had to pay. Because I knew I had to pay for my luggage, I was only prepared financially for just that amount and nothing more.

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So, I decided to call Lufthansa on my own. I called Lufthansa through their number on my confirmed booking printout, and for almost half an hour I was not connected through to customer service (I’m a Dutch resident so you can imagine the cost for an international call).

“Well, boarding time was approaching, so I went back to the helpdesk and paid for their service (It appeared on my bank statement that the company I paid for was not Lufthansa, but rather A.R.E). I came back to continue boarding, at this point, I’m short on cash because I didn’t expect to pay any amount to any external- body,” he added.

 

George Sam-Korsah

He narrated further that he pleaded with the Lufthansa assistant to send him an invoice for the baggage allowance charge because he did not have enough to pay since he had to pay for the services provided by the helpdesk. He further stated that the lady at the helpdesk refused and told him that his luggage would not be allowed on the plane if he didn’t pay right then.

“At this point, I began to feel frustrated and didn’t know what to do. I felt heavily abused. I have been under attack for almost an hour by the Lufthansa assistants (a male colleague of the lady at the Lufthansa desk joined in and even  made a comment saying I’m being dramatic, called me names when I told them in an argument over the ticket that I have been traveling for a month to about six different countries on the same trip and never experienced this treatment by any of the airlines, including all the airports at the connecting flights on the same reservation).”

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The situation, he said, escalated to a point they eventually called the police with all manner of threats. “At this point, I was trembling, all eyes on me and everyone watching.

The presence of the police even worsened the feeling, I felt criminalised and humiliated, I have witnessed such incidents happening to people of color around the world in the news and on TV, but I could never think it would happen to me.”

“After that, I called for help, and money was transferred from my company’s account to me and finally paid for the baggage.

One could imagine the humiliation as my name was being announced at the airport because I’m the last passenger and the flight was about to take off considering I was among the first few passengers that showed up even before the check-in point/counter was open for check-in and boarding.

“Also, in the flight I felt I was monitored and isolated, flight attendants looking over my shoulders throughout the journey. I managed to keep myself calm by forcing myself to read till we finally arrived at Munich airport,” he added.

He consulted Lufthansa service point to make an official complaint right away, but because there was a lockdown in the country, which includes the airport service point was not open for such services rather they handed a brochure to him with the right information to launch a complaint through email.

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He did that when he arrived in the Netherlands but was not content with the response he received from Lufthansa customer service.

He explained that he took the case up to arbitration, lamenting that it took Lufthansa nine months to finally start paying serious attention to his complaints, lamenting that they initially tried to block the arbitration by stating that the reservation was a business trip and had details of the passenger, Mr. Sam-Korsah’s company Gino XXL

He said: “Conciliation continued for months, and all the while they tried all they could to stop me, to a point where they had people in the Dutch government hiding behind some excuses to get me to back away from the idea of seeking justice. I had police watching me and following me for months.

They finally decided to respond to my emails when I threatened to go public with my story if they did not handle the matter amicably.

“The arbitration procedure ended when I refused to accept the compensation offered to me, the amount equals the amount paid to the external travel agent at Malpensa, Milan airport. I demanded to be compensated for the harm caused.

The case finally landed on the desk of a senior official of Lufthansa. They are asking for a phone call to make an official apology but Mr. Sam-Korsah refuses to accept just an apology.”

Wole Shadare