Germany strikes: Cancelled flights and trains cause travel chaos across the country

Passengers stand at the Lufthansa check-in area in Terminal 2 at an airport in Hamburg, Germany Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.
Passengers stand at the Lufthansa check-in area in Terminal 2 at an airport in Hamburg, Germany Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Copyright Marcus Brandt/dpa via AP
By Ruth Wright with AP
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How to find out if your flight or train is cancelled and how to rebook or get a refund.

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Flights and trains across Germany are severely disrupted until the weekend due to strikes.

Germany's flagship airline Lufthansa say they are "expecting extensive effects on the flight program." 

The official strike times of Lufthansa ground staff are: 8 pm on Wednesday until 7.10 am on Saturday.

At Hamburg and Frankfurt airports, there are no departures at all due to a security staff strike running until 10 pm on Thursday night.

It is the third time this year that a strike has caused mass flight cancellations for Lufthansa.

The strike on long distance and regional train services begins at 2 am on Thursday and, according to GDL union, will last until 1 pm on Friday. 

GDL have stated they anticipate rail travel will be "unreliable" so strike times could change at the last minute so that train operators can not plan ahead.

Why are Germany travel strikes happening?

Disputes between union members and transport companies have been ongoing for months in Germany.

Along with asking for pay rises, GDL union has been calling for working hours to be reduced from 38 to 35 per week without a pay cut, which train operator Deutsche Bahn has refused.

The Ver.di union seeks a 12.5% pay raise, or at least €500 more per month, in negotiations for nearly 25,000 Lufthansa ground workers including check-in, aircraft handling, maintenance and freight staff.

Chief Ver.di negotiator Marvin Reschinsky said the strikes come at a time when ground workers are barely earning the minimum wage, yet Germany’s Lufthansa is boasting a high profit margin.

"Nobody can understand that this company will be announcing record annual results this week, that bonuses for board members will be increased substantially, and that ground employees with hourly wages of €13 in some cases no longer even know how to make ends meet in Germany's most expensive cities," said Reschinsky in a statement.

With the warning strike, the trade union wants to increase the pressure on Lufthansa ahead of the planned fifth round of collective bargaining on 13 and 14 March.

Germany train strike: Which services will be affected?

The walkout by GDL workers will affect Deutsche Bahn (DB) trains.

During previous strikes, DB have operated emergency timetables. However these strikes are not going to be operated with 48 hours notice so it could be impossible for DB to plan ahead.

In a statement, DB say: "During the strike, DB will be offering a basic service on long-distance, regional and S-Bahn services. We recommend reserving a seat on long-distance services. The basic offer is available via the timetable information on bahn.de and in the DB Navigator. DB asks travellers to check whether their connection is available 24 hours before departure."

Full information from DB, including how to rebook or get a refund, is available here.

Which airports in Germany will be affected?

All airports in Germany are likely to be affected to some extent.

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Frankfurt airport has said: "A strike by security staff at Frankfurt Airport has been announced for Thursday, March 7, 2024. 

The strike will cause major disruptions and flight cancellations throughout the day. Security checkpoints will remain closed. Originating passengers departing from Frankfurt will thus not be able to pass through the legally required security checks. We advise all originating passengers to avoid coming to the airport. Please contact your airline or travel operator for information regarding your flight."

Hamburg airport have said there will be "no departures" on Thursday due to the sexcurity staff strike. For flights on the other days they say: "Affected passengers are asked to contact their airline for information about cancellations and rebooking options."

Munich airport say: "Due to the strike, there will also be considerable restrictions and flight cancellations at Munich Airport. Passengers who are affected by flight cancellations as a result of the Verdi strike will be informed by Lufthansa by email or via the Lufthansa app." They advise all passengers to check their flight status before coming to the airport.

Berlin Brandenburg airport advises passengers to contact Lufthansa to see if their flight is affected.

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Dusseldorf airport say they only expect "slight effects" due to the strikes.

How to find out if your Lufthansa flight is cancelled

Lufthansa say that only 10-20 per cent of their flights are still going.

In a statement, Lufthansa say: "Passengers who will be affected by an irregularity will receive information about cancellations and rebooking options by email or in the Lufthansa app."

Ensure that the contact details on your booking are up to date so that the airline can easily contact you.

They advise passengers to check this page on their website for updates.

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You can also keep eye on Lufthansa's X account for further updates.

If contacting Lufthansa via X, formerly Twitter, you should be aware of a statement the airline has issued:

"Please watch out for fake accounts that appear to be Lufthansa or Lufthansa staff, claiming to be able to assist you. 

Always check that the reply is from one of the official Lufthansa accounts found here http://ti.lh.com/9eMB and be advised that we do not offer assistance via WhatsApp despite the claim of fake user profiles. If you wish to seek assistance you can do so via the following page http://ti.lh.com/Mcbe."

Lufthansa strike: Can you get a refund?

Lufthansa have said: "Flights that have been canceled due to the strike can be rebooked free of charge at http://lufthansa.com, in the Lufthansa app or via the service centers."

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They also say: "Due to the strike, the rebooking desks are unfortunately not staffed."

If your flight is domestic, you can get a voucher for an equivalent train journey via the Lufthansa website.

Under EU rules, you are entitled to a full refund if your flight is cancelled.

Passengers compain about Lufthansa customer service

Many passengers have taken to X, formerly Twitter, to complain of hours-long waits on customer service phone lines, then not getting help when they did get through to an agent.

User raunaqpatel said he has had calls repeatedly dropped by Lufthansa then when he did speak to an agent, they hung up on him.

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User GaynorJSimpson took to X to tell Lufthansa: "Your customer service is non existent. The refund you are processing is not accurate, the customer relations email doesn’t work and the feedback forms online don’t apply to my situation. Chat assistant is useless."

In response, Lufthansa said they "have already escalated this matter to the relevant department."

In order to receive assistance via X, Lufthansa have been asking travellers to follow their X account and direct message them with a contact phone number.

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